Album Review

Yonaka Remain Enthralling And Powerful On ‘Yonaka Stripped Back’

Originally posted on GENRE IS DEAD!

Depending on the circumstances, the words “acoustic set” can either fill you with excitement or dread. As much as I love artists going unplugged there’s always a fear it’s going to be underwhelming. The songs won’t pack the same punch or even worse, they’ll be dull. At its worst, acoustic renditions are underwhelming or boring. At its best, it lets an artist express a different side of themselves and transforms their well-loved songs into something new. Luckily, this is what Yonaka does on their new EP, Yonaka Stripped Back.

Though it only features three songs – “Guilty,” “Bad Company,” and “Rockstar” – the EP shows us a different side of Yonaka. Typically, their songs are high-energy, boot-stomping rock anthems made to get you moving. Here, they take those songs and turn them into aching ballads about anxiety and depression. Without the pummeling drums, buzzing guitars, and high energy we’re left with the naked emotion that lies underneath. These issues are prevalent in the songs already but with only singer Theresa Jarvis and an acoustic guitar, these feelings are highlighted and can’t be ignored with a catchy guitar riff or slick bass groove.

Read the rest of the review here.

Father of All Motherfuckers – Green Day

Image result for green day father of all

Release Year: 2020

Originally posted on GENRE IS DEAD!

Usually, you know what to expect from a Green Day album: punchy punk rock anthems with roaring riffs, big production, and the occasional ballad. So when the band dropped “Father of All” back in September, it was a shock to the system. Why does it sound weird? Where’s the loud, in your face Green Day we know? What the hell is Billie Joe doing with his vocals? It took everything we knew about the band and threw it out the window. This was only the beginning of what is so far the band’s weirdest era. But no one could have guessed it would give us one of their most fun and diverse records in years.

Green Day threw out their own rulebook on Father of All Motherfuckers. There are no multi-part songs, no heartfelt ballads, and the “classic Green Day sound” is downplayed. Instead, they give us a short and sweet record inspired by their love of Motown soul, 60s rock n roll, and dirty garage rock. And it’s a wild ride. Clocking in at 26 minutes, the songs are quick, energetic, upbeat, and sometimes unexpectedly bleak. While singles “Oh Yeah!” and “Fire, Ready, Aim” are the weakest points on the album, the rest of the album is unabashed, groovy rock n roll.

The stand out track “Meet Me on the Roof” has an irresistible vintage rock n roll swing, while “Sugar Youth” is the closest we get to “classic Green Day” with frantic guitars and pummeling energy that’s hard to keep up with. “Take the Money and Crawl” is a sleazy garage rock banger with lots of attitudes while “Stab You In the Heart” echoes the bouncy style of 60s rock even though it sounds suspiciously similar to “Hippie Hippie Shake).” While some tracks are better than others, there’s not a single skippable track. The songs may have the “fuck everything, let’s party” vibe, but there’s still a darkness lurking underneath the roaring guitars and upbeat grooves.

Read the rest of the review on GENRE IS DEAD!

The Head on The Door – The Cure

Image result for the cure the head on the door

Release Year: 1985

It’s easy to label The Cure as a bunch of gloomy Brits, especially when looking at their first three albums. But there’s more to them than their doom laden appearance suggests. There are many sides to The Cure from the dark and terrible to the upbeat and downright silly that fans have come to love over the years. They’ve developed a knack for blending pop sensibilities with dreary topics, which they explored on the psychedelic album, The Top. It wouldn’t be until 1985’s The Head On the Door where they’d perfect their mix pop and gloom.

Inbetween Days” starts things off on a happy note. The music is upbeat, bright, and downright giddy. It makes you want to get up and hop around. It seems like Robert Smith’s in a good mood until he sings “yesterday I got so old/I felt like I could die” expressing his fears of getting older. It may not be as depressing as past albums, but it’s clear that darkness is still there. This song perfectly blends both sides of the band. The pop music makes its catchy and appealing, but the lyrics bring on that gloominess The Cure is often known for.

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‘Creeper EP’ – Creeper

Image result for creeper band logo

Release Year: 2014

It’s rare that I fall head over heels for a band after hearing one song, but it happened with Creeper. I became obsessed with their debut album, Eternity in Your Arms, and quickly learned everything I could about them. I even started digging through their past releases, which only includes a few EPs. And now that the band is supposedly “over,” I thought it’d be fun to take a look at their very first release, Creeper.

The EP doesn’t pack as much punch as their full-length album, but it’s still pretty good. Everything that makes Creeper stand out, like the melodrama, the intricate stories, Hannah Greenwood’s flourishing piano, the theatrics, are all missing here. Whereas their album flawlessly blended elements of punk, Goth rock, and rockabilly, here they go for a straightforward pop-punk sound.

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‘Young & Dangerous’ – The Struts

Image result for the struts young and dangerous

Release Year: 2018

The Struts live up to their larger than life attitude on their second album, Young & Dangerous. The highly anticipated follow up to their 2014 debut finds them doing what they do best: glam rock songs about having a good time. While you won’t find anything drastically different from their previous output, they do take the time to branch out. They shake up their established sound by experimenting with different styles and genres, yet never stray too far from their glam roots.

The album kicks off with “Body Talks,” which has all the elements of a great Struts song: a catchy hook, Luke Spiller’s sensual vocals, and a playful vibe. The remix with Kesha is decent, but she doesn’t add much aside from some random yelps. “Primadonna Like Me” is another high energy, fun song with Spiller playing the role of a rockstar that knows he’s hot shit. Their glam rock sound is bigger with raucous music and an infectious hook. Songs like these perfectly capture what the band is about and their over the top persona, which feels made for huge crowds.

Listening to tracks like “Bulletproof Baby” and “Tatler Magazine” it’s clear The Struts have their sights set on playing stadiums. The hooks are fun to sing, the songs capture their energetic air, and feel crafted with larger crowds in mind. And their frequent use of gang vocals gives the tracks an anthemic quality. Unlike other bands with similar aspirations, The Struts don’t comprise their established sound for something generic and safe. Instead, they push their feel-good vibe even harder, yet leaves room for some change.

Though they mainly stick with their glam rock vibe, there are a few moments where they get outside their comfort zone. “Who Am I” mixes their glam rock vibes with a healthy dose of disco. Similar to other tracks, the hook is catchy and fun while the music gets you moving. And of course, Spiller’s tongue in cheek wordplay is still intact making it an album highlight. Spiller throws you for a loop on “I Do It So Well” when he opens the song with his spoken word style that’s more like rapping. It’s a bit strange but ultimately works for the track. “Freak Like You” is a mini-musical. Clearly influenced by Queen, the band celebrates the outcasts, misfits, and freaks pulling away from their glam rock sound and playing around with their sound, such as the unexpected sax solo.

We even get to see the more serious side of the band on tracks like “Somebody New” and “Ashes.” The former finds Spiller lamenting the loss of a relationship while admitting he’s not ready for someone else. Rather than being flamboyant, he expresses a quiet sadness. He sounds bittersweet as he sings “It’s not that I don’t feel the feelings you do/It’s just my heart’s not ready yet/For somebody new” giving us a rare side of the singer. “People” is another moment where the band sets aside their wild attitude. Written about overcoming everyday struggles different people face, it’s meant to be an uplifting moment on the album. It definitely sounds like an anthem but isn’t as gripping as the rest of the album.

“Ashes” has a similar moody tone. Serving as the counterpart to the celebratory “Fire,” it’s another somber track about the consequences of living fast and partying hard and how someone’s life was lost in the end. Though it deals with a heavy topic, the band brings back their musical sensibilities with sections that change the style. One part it’s a serious ballad, the next it’s a bouncing cabaret. You definitely get some “Bohemian Rhapsody” vibes from it, yet it doesn’t sound like a Queen rip off. It’s a strangely fitting way to end the album as if to say life isn’t always one huge party.

Young & Dangerous is a blast to listen to. It’s more of the glitzy, glam rock goodness we love from The Struts. However, they do branch out trying different sounds to keep things from getting stale or sounding too much like their debut. Every moment is captivating from the high energy dance anthems to the serious reflective moments. Filled with infectious music, the band’s devil-may-care attitude and hooks made for stadiums, it’s a high-energy, feel-good album we desperately need right now.