New Weezer Album

Weezer fans rejoice…I’m listening to Make Believe, Weezer’s newest album on AOL.com, which isn’t going to hit stores until tomorrow. From what I’ve heard, it’s better than Maladroit, and definitely better than the lowest of the low the Green album. They also have hit a new record for longest album in their career of 45 minutes. Almost all their other albums were right around 28 minutes or so.

About 17 minutes through now, and it looks like Rivers re-learned how to play lead guitar. Now the jokey “We Are All On Drugs” sounds like a rockin’ remix of the kiddie song “diarrhea”, cha cha cha! Not there yet, but I see on the track list the last song “Haunt You Every Day” comes in at a little over 7 minutes…Maybe another “Only In Dreams”?

Change of Priorities…

As you may have noticed, the only posts that I’ve been putting up recently are the DOA reviews. These have gotten more and more “forced” as time went on. This site, as I’ve said many times on here before, originally started as a place to post my pictures from my camera phone. It quickly evolved into a place where I would post reviews of CD’s that I bought. I took it one step further and started to ask around at online music review sites if they need another writer. Delusions of Adequacy accepted me, and threw me into the fire of having to turn in reviews on a weekly basis. I have put more and more pressure on myself to write good reviews, but have started to (for lack of better words) half-ass the reviews. It’s a combination of only listening to each CD for an average of one week, then formulating an opinion and writing a review by every Saturday evening. Usually I would drag myself through my work week, which has gotten more and more demanding in the past few months, then scramble on either Thursday night or Friday night to pump out a review. At first I was in it for the free CD’s, to hear new music, be exposed to different sounds, to better my writing abilities, to have something to do, something to talk about on my site and to new friends – but as time went on, the less enjoyable it has become. I found myself staying in some nights instead of going out with friends, just so that I could get the review in on time.
Something I learned from being in a band with Dave, Andrew and Don, is that they had always said that the reason why they were in a band was to have fun. If it ever turned out to not be fun, and more business like, that they would drop it in a second. I feel like I’ve come to a crossroads where it’s turning more into business, and less fun. I had 100 times more fun when I used to write about CD’s that I actually went out and bought. The CD’s that I review, 99.876% of the time, no one will know who the band is, nor will they ever hear the music, unless I give the CD away. Music has always been a hobby and I’ve never wanted to turn listening to music into a “job”. Basically it boils down to my site being more and more irrelevant, and off path than it has ever been. I won’t stop doing music reviews, but I’ll do them on CD’s that I want to review…I feel bad because I just received a new shipment of promos from DOA, and just started thinking about stopping writing for DOA. The verdict is out, but I’m leaning towards stopping…

Name Taken – Hold On 65/100

LAST PROMO OF THE BUNCH + BEING TIRED FROM WORKING TOO HARD ALL WEEK + OVERPLAYED AND TIRED SOUND + OVERSATURATED GENRE = BAD REVIEW. It had to happen eventually. I guess too bad it was the band Name Taken which I’ve read some decent reviews on across the web while doing research for the review, but I guess I gotta tell it how I see it. I was not a fan of them, and was just glad to get the review over with. Hopefully I will be rejuvenated with the recent shipment of promos that I received in the mail just Friday afternoon. Already previewed 2-3 of them, and dug one of them already…Read the review below, hope I wasn’t too harsh…

As much as I really wanted to write a glowing review for Name Taken’s latest release Hold On, I don’t think that I can. This isn’t a negative review, just more of an I’m-reaching-the-saturation-point-for-this-type-of-music review.

There are a few tracks off the album that I enjoyed. “A Year Spent Cold” is an upbeat song with a dissonant lead guitar that fills in the silences during the chorus. The next track “Panic” has a noodling lead guitar that kept my interest for a short while. But overall, the songs just melded into the ocean of similar tunes.

Being a reviewer for DOA, I hear a lot of different music all the time, as we get to review a wide variety of music. But halfway through Hold On, I stopped my CD player, opened it up, and checked what CD I was listening to. To tell you the honest truth, I thought that I had already heard it before: a lead singer pouring his heart out over tastefully distorted guitars and a clean guitar plucking a complementary melody line. While the three characteristics that I just mentioned are definitely not a bad thing, you must have something more than that to make a splash. There has to be an X factor. With hundreds of bands fitting into this hard rock/emo genre, there has to be something about the record that differentiates it from the throngs of others just like it.

Name Taken never ventures off the beaten path that the many comparable bands have set before them. I wouldn’t recommend this album to new listeners, as they will find not much new or improved here.

Midtown – Forget What You Know 77/100

Even though this Midtown album was copyright protected, and I couldn’t listen to it through my big stereo (I usually just listen to the albums I review with headphones anyways), I still really dug it. For some stupid reason, it wouldln’t read in a normal CD player because when the CD loads it starts up its own proprietary CD player application. I’m sure this was only because it was the promo CD, and hopefully the nationally released album will be able to play in any CD player. Or then again, maybe it is just because of the new-ness of copyright protecting music CD’s…Good thing or bad thing..? Maybe it’ll be an interactive post…Anyways, I first heard of Midtown back at JMU…I downloaded some of their MP3’s off of Napster (when it was free), and immediately downloaded the rest of their available songs. Much like Blink 182 this album is more grown up than what I remember hearing from them before, and also they have the knack of writing really good pop rock songs. No gimmicks, just good ol’ music. Read the full review below!

I’ll spare you the history of Midtown, and much like the band’s third full-length album does, I’ll get right down to business.

The slamming first track “To Our Savior” is energetic, hard-hitting, and multifaceted. Lead singer Gabe Saporta starts off the track by screaming “So hard to believe what you’re looking for!” as if he has something to prove. The guitars come with guns blazing, and a fuzzed-out bass line furiously thumps along in the breakdown towards the end of the song. What a great start! And just as I had hoped, this song sets the tone and energy level for the remainder of the album.

Showing a different side on “Whole New World,” Saporta reduces his generally abrasive vocal tone to a soft whisper during the verses, but he makes sure to kick it into high gear during the chorus. More serious and/or personal subjects are tackled in “Waiting for the News.” The lyrics are composed as a conversation between a father and son about the father’s separation with the son’s mother. Saporta shows yet another facet of his voice by singing in falsetto, and hitting the heart strings with revealing lyrics like, “Even though we sleep together we’re alone / Yes, we’ve all made mistakes.”

It seems as if Midtown is on the brink of hitting it big. Forget What You Know is filled with quality hooks worthy of heavy rotation. Although it was hard to place at first, there is something, albeit small, missing from Midtown’s picture: while the songs all have professional sound quality, there can be some rough edges. The sense of the basement pop-punk band is present in many of the songs. And although it isn’t a negative mark on this album by any means, the more raw sound is just something that differentiates Midtown from bands that have hit it big like Sum 41.

So, after most of the cards have been laid on the table about Forget What You Know, what is left is a hard-rocking album that isn’t monotonous but extremely entertaining from start to finish. Too many times bands in this genre hit the same chord over and over without showing any dynamics between songs. A good mix of pop rock, guitar hooks, and infectious lyrics, this album comes with a high recommendation.

Read the review on DOA!

Ten Foot Pole – Subliminal Messages 68/100

This marks my 30th review on jeffchin.com! As Dave is posting more and more interesting stuff everyday, my posting has become more and more sparse. This is partly due to the increasing amount of non-website worthy work that I’ve been getting done on my new house. Painting, cleaning, obsessing over where the furniture is going to go, etc. Fun to talk about in person, but bland on the internet. Not sure how impersonal this site has gotten…and trying to counteract that by posting these short views into my life before my music reviews that I write for DOA.

This weekend, I’m headed to OC with nick, amy and amanda. Hope it’s good weather, should have some pix up from this weekend early next week. Until this, enjoy these pictures, I found this first one in a 7-Eleven in Alexandria, and this second one as the default picture in a picture frame at a Bed Bath and Beyond. Anyways, onto the review…

Halfway through the album, I flipped the CD jewel case over to check the release date.

“Copyright 2004.”

Whoa, wait a second: 2004? Sounds like 1996 to me. With former fun-loving punk posterboys Blink 182 evolving from the playful Dude Ranch to the lewd Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and finally the grown-up self-titled release, you’d think that the band hase at least slightly changed the game for all aspiring punk bands on the rise. But there is always room for punk bands that are just out playing music strictly for fun. Ten Foot Pole is one of them. It shows in their energetic songs, often juvenile lyrics, and simple arrangements. But, then again, music is still allowed to be fun – this is punk rock isn’t it?

The first band that popped into my head was Nerf Herder. Ten Foot Pole is similar to that band in many ways, most noticeably the lead singer’s gritty, raw, and inevitably punk vocal tone. Many of the songs tackle serious subjects such as physical abuse and Rachel Corrie (a volunteer who was killed by an Israeli with a bulldozer after trying to prevent a Palestinian home from being destroyed). Subliminal Messages has its fair share of typical punk songs about being kicked out of kindergarten and relationships with girls. “Wake Up (And Smell the Fascism)” loses its seriousness when the song ends with lyrics like, “Happy cheese comes from happy cows / They’re so udderly happy, just fuckin’ ask them.”

As I mentioned before, the music is simple but has plenty of hooks, breakdowns, and palm muting to fill the 32-minute, 12-song disc. Don’t expect lots of crazy guitar solos or innovation within punk music here. Ten Foot Pole’s Subliminal Messages is an all-too-familiar album that is at least entertaining at face value.

Read the review on DOA!

Haymarket Riot – Mog 77/100

4th of July weekend coming up, and still no plans. Have a few things that have potential but will probably stay in town. I just got my condo yesterday, complete with parking stickers, pool passes, etc…so I look forward to being poor. but at least I have a pool! In the next few weeks, it’s going to be a whirlwind of house projects like painting and stuff. If any of you suckers out there want to help me move in this saturday, let me know!

As for the review this week, Haymarket Riot was a decent band, but their sound was a little recycled as you’ll learn in the review…As with all my DOA reviews now, you can request to borrow the CD from me after I review them. I have so many CD’s now, it’s a little selfish to hoard them all for myself. Read on!

I know what you’re thinking as you glance over at the RIYL section of this review. “Oh no…not another Fugazi…” Many reviews of this and previous albums by Haymarket Riot almost always mention that similarity, but I have to admit, it’s undoubtedly there. The big drums, the crunchy guitars, the quirky guitar melodies, the loosely executed guitar fillers, and vocals that range from talking to barking, aren’t a “deal breaker,” but they are just there and somehow play a large part of how this genre of music is identified.

The abrasive tones of the guitars work well together. While one is noodling away at the main riff of the song, the other will be either palm muting away at the main chords or adding harmonics. The energy on Mog is inescapable because it isn’t an over-polished album and each track has a raw live feel.

One of my favorite tracks is “Uneasy Consequence.” The guitar riff is simple yet intriguing. Vocals take a backseat on this track and often meld in with the melodies and rhythm section. “Plastic Bottle Kid” uses a derivative of the main riff from “Uneasy Consequence.” Although the music is memorable, the lyrics are not.

After a few times through the album, the only lyrics that stuck in my head were from “Pushing Air”: “All the Same, all the same. Megabyte, gigawatts – all the same.” No not because they’re well-written lyrics, but because they’re off the wall and odd. Without the lyrics in front of me, I would’ve never figured out what they’re singing about. Maybe it’s better that way.

Haymarket Riot puts forth a strong effort but only falls short because of the use of a sound that feels a bit tired and recycled. So while many songs off of Mog are good for a mix CD every once in a while, an entire CD wasn’t the thing for me.

Read the review on DOA!

Peter Searcy – Couch Songs 77/100

Another week, another review. This CD was pretty good, dave you might enjoy this CD, it’s a little on the softer side, but had good melodies and the sound quality (even though it was recorded in his basement) is professionial. This Saturday, I’m headed to NYC for the day and night. Maybe headed to good ol’ Reading, PA for 4th of July to hang out w/ the groomsmen and soon to be married Ben Dowd, who is back from San Diego with his fiance…So, definitely more pics to be up soon. Enjoy the review…Dave, or anyone else for that matter, if you read one of my DOA reviews, and think you might want to check it out, let me know, and I’ll let you borrow it…Onto the review!

From the second I received the album, I had a pretty good idea of what kind of music I was about to hear. There couldn’t be a more descriptive title for the album than Couch Songs. Aside from the occasional brush drums, subtle strings, or piano arrangements and doubling vocals, the whole album is predominantly Peter Searcy (singer of Squirrel Bait, Big Wheel, and Starbilly) and his acoustic guitar. The album was actually recorded in his basement nicknamed “The Litter Box” compliments of his cat.

(Adopting an announcer’s voice) “This episode of the O.C. features music from…Peter Searcy,” as the the album art flashes across the TV for millions of teenagers and 20-somethings across the nation to see. Laugh now, but when you hear this melodic, simple and very clean sounding album, you will understand why the first thing I thought of when I heard the first few songs, was how each song could fit seamlessly into an episode of Dawson’s Creek and/or The O.C. Cue up “Rewind” during a scene in which the two main characters realize that they’re soulmates and get back together after a recent breakup. Play “Loneliest Girl” during that dialogue-less montage for the outcast character searching for a place in her new town. Anyways, you get the idea.

This is sentimental stuff, mostly about girls and relationships, but it’s done with a simplicity that isn’t around much in mainstream music these days. The problem with this album is that it’s the same thing the whole way through. The tempo rarely changes, and you could probably set a metronome to it. So if you’re up for an album of medium paced, acoustic songs powered by Peter Searcy’s acoustic guitar and gentle voice, this might be the album for you.

Read the review on DOA!