Sunday, May 29, 2016

Leon Bridges Embraces The Lover’s Soul On River

Leon Bridges Coming Home Vinyl LP (click here)

Leon Bridges has put out one of the most soulful albums I’ve heard in a long time. But it wasn’t until I paid attention to “River” that I truly fell in love with the ideas pushed on the record. It’s in this song, that the nature of love is captured. But not just emotional connections with someone, but rather a larger scope. Obviously, music means different things to different people, lyrics can mean something but end up painting something else. For me, it is the structure of “River” that gets me every time.

A simple man’s song turns into a beautiful, soulful institution. It’s not just about love for someone else, if you think about it. You can think about it in terms of God, losing a loved one, church, sanctuary, or just home. I recall that in 2011 when I stepped off an airplane headed home, divorced, saddened, and lost, a song could bring me hope. Little did I know that the soundtrack for that memory would be this. It’s in the lyrics of “River” that my eyes bring about a sense of loss, communication, divorce, and sin. I grew up religious, and you know what, this is a religious song at times. “As my sins flow down the Jordan”, a reference that is so good, and such a wonderful note.

“Take me to your river, I want to know”

It’s in the lyrics below that I truly come apart, and perhaps you know it too. Perhaps you feel it.

“Oh, I wanna come near and give ya
Every part of me
But there is blood on my hands
And my lips aren’t clean”

Wow. Whether you have lost a love, you married the wrong person, you’re divorced, you’re young, you’re religious, or you just love good lyrical content, this is by far one of the most memorable lines I’ve heard in a long time.

Leon Bridges creates a portrait of so much in this song. So much so that I cannot recommend you picking up his latest. Check out the music video for “River” below, and see why this is such a powerful song. Wipe the tears, this is a song of incredible glory.

You can pick up Leon Bridges "Coming Home" on vinyl LP here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chevelle Point No. 1 (1999) Review

Chevelle "Point #1" Click Here To Buy 
I was only 16 years old when Chevelle’s first record came out. Many people to this day don’t realize that this was in fact their first record. It was released in May of 1999, and I got it immediately upon release. I’m a music nerd, through and through, and had heard that Steve Albini was producing this record, and was definitely looking forward to seeing what he came up with, since the band’s label was a Christian one. Squint Entertainment was an independent Christian music record label that put this one out, therefore the distribution put Chevelle’s record in Christian book stores, and throughout youth group airwaves. That led them to playing with a lot of the bands in the scene. I recall them playing with Project 86, Stavesacre and others right before their second album came out and they became superstars. The three-piece rock outfit, really impressed me with “Point No. 1”, and many still haven’t heard it.

Chevelle’s release was definitely a hard rock record. If you are a fan of Tool, then you’ll get a sense for the sounds that are on this record. The trio were able to tap into a “fuzz” metal guitar sound, and the singer’s vocals are very much like you’d expect from Maynard. This is a “softer” record, if you can believe that, as the record has a toned down experience through the tracks. However, their title track is perhaps one of the best songs that showcases that power of metallic influence.

You get a sense for the young band through the track listing. The second track, the title track, is a blistering hard rock song that leads into a lot more bass heavy and melodic heavy D tuned guitar work. You’ll find that this is a record that is definitely the beginning of a career as the band isn’t as fluid as some of their other work. Pete Loeffler’s vocals are good however, making this one a fascinating approach to the song’s structures of hard music. Look out for track eight, in which a 12 second scream from Leoffler completely blows you away. Once again, this is like Tool’s little brother, because of the structure and production that Steve Albini provides. That’s not a bad thing, it is just going to be apparent.

Overall, Chevelle’s “Point No. 1” is a classic for those that love the band. I think it’s a great introduction to a career that is still going strong. The three guys that make up Chevelle tapped into something great here, and Albini produced a very laid back, layered rock record. I recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.

You can pick up Chevelle's "Point #1" By clicking here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Hippos Self Titled (2003) Review

The Hippos 2003 Release (Buy It here)
If you were living in Southern California, like I was, in the mid-2000s then you loved ska. You had to. Ok, maybe not, but I was growing up in a religious community near Santa Monica, California and we loved our ska. I wanted to be a rude boy so bad. If you rewind to 1997 I saw my first concert, and it was MXPX, The Hippos, and Less Than Jake. The band put on a showcase of ska fused music that I just couldn’t get enough of. They toured the country with the other two bands and they even made it to MTV and radio airplay.

Then things started to change. The band went from ska punk to synthpop and completely disenfranchised their fans. I didn’t like the synth heavy record that came out in 2003, but hey, that’s just what happens. The band didn’t even put this out initially, they waited 3 years to get it out after fans wanted to hear it. That being said, this is not the traditional ska music that you knew from The Hippos.

This time around the band uses synth all over the place, and while they are still catchy and interesting, this is NOT ska music. It’s such a jump from their 1999 release, “Heads Will Roll”, that you are left wondering what happened.

At the end of the day, The Hippos “Self Titled” 2003 record is good at best. I’m not a huge fan, but I like some of the tracks on the record, as it still has the drum section and a few trumpets here and there.

You can listen to The Hippos and pick up their record by clicking here.

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