Category Archives: Review

Defend Atlantic City Live Review.

So I went to go see Neighborhoods, True Things, Handguns, and Man Overboard in Atlantic City yesterday. I didn’t expect too much out of Neighborhoods and True Things, I had already seen Handguns before so I knew what to expect, and with all the hype around MO I was really excited to see what they’d be like live. So this is how it went.

Neighborhoods, honestly I can’t do a fair review of their performance because half way into their first or second song some guy got knocked out, and I helped carry him outside and look after him until paramedics arrived. They weren’t exceptionally heavy enough to merit that kind of thing happening, some kids just like to hate mosh and crowd kill. From what I did see though, they were great, awkwardly tall, but great. No big slip ups, and a great frontman, I didn’t get to see their whole set though, so that’s all I can really say.

Surprisingly enough Handguns took the stage before True Things, and just like the last time I saw them, it was awesome. The thing about a Handguns show, is that Taylor is the shit, greatest frontman I’ve ever personally seen live. The amount of energy he can draw out of a crowd is ridiculous and he’s just so personal with everyone, taking peoples hats and smiling the entire time he’s on stage.

True Things went on next and I was completely caught off guard. I had no idea what to expect, but the reaction they got from the crowd, the energy and movement on the stage, it was all there. I did hear a slip up here and there from bassist/vocalist James Corbi, but considering how much he was moving around while singing, it’s completely passable.

Headliner time, the big dudes, Man Overboard. So these guys hop on stage and after taking a bit to set up and get things rolling, they get to it. Now I had never seen them live and my only impression of them or their fans was from their music, so I didn’t expect the 20,000 kids that flew over me as soon as Zac started singing. The crowd was absolutely insane, but MO themselves, I gotta say, I wasn’t impressed. A lot of musicians have this problem with being an energetic frontman and playing an instrument at the same time, but both Nick (MO) and James (True Things) had no problem hyping up the crowd and playing while Zac really fell short. The other problem I had with them was that their replacement guitarist didn’t really do anything, it was like a Zac and Nick show and it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Overall it was a great show though, tons of fun, I’d recommend anyone go see Handguns or True Things anyday, Man Overboard not so much, and I really need to check out Neighborhoods again because from what I saw they were putting on a good show, but I just couldn’t see enough, later.

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Norma Jean – Meridional

So I was suffering from a case of musical ADD yesterday, and while I was jumping from album to album I stumbled upon a pretty heavy band named Norma Jean. From what I know, these guys are pretty intense. So I decide to sit down and take a listen to their 11-track album Meridional. Well here it goes, 67 minutes of someone yelling at me, let’s do this.

It’s been 10 minutes and I haven’t played the first track because I can’t seem to figure out what’s going on in the album cover. An elephant giving birth to a human through his trunk? Another elephant taunting some wolves with a jellyfish? I am SO confused.

Opening track “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” started strong, I dug the first verse and the chorus is an awesomely catchy and strong mix of yelling and singing vocals. After that first chorus though, the song seemed to go downhill; essentially adding 2 more lines to the first verse and then running through the whole thing again. For all it’s crazy riffage and heaviness, this song really just kind of sputters out and leaves only that catchy chorus stuck in your head.

“The Anthem of the Angry Brides” is the next track on the album; extraneously, I accidentally read it as “The Anthem of the Angry BIRDS” the first two times I listened to it. At 2:33 this song was over before I even knew it started, and when you consider the hyper-spastic mathcore-esq guitar work, that’s so hard to focus on, you get a song with so much going on it just zooms right past you; but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a listen. From the bass intro (unexpected) to the ever-so-fancy guitar this is definitely a passable track.

“Bastardizer” in my opinion is a lot like “Leaderless and Self Enlisted” in the sense that it’s utterly forgettable with just one or two saving graces. In this case that saving grace is an out-of-the-blue punky drum intro, that lasts all of 3 seconds. The outro of the song should also get an honorable mention because it is pretty original, other than that though, I’ve already forgotten everything about it.

Okay here we go, song five, “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” one word, three syllables, BEAU-TI-FUL. This song has everything that every other song was missing, it’s understandable for one, and feels like it has more structure than the others. It also stays true to what Norma Jean seems to be all about, it still has an awesome lead and the lyrics still don’t make any sense to me, but I know that in this song there’s more of them, so at least there isn’t so much repetition and a lot more: “They provide their nectar and then I am released. I am a grain of sand underneath the floor and so far out of reach, but I am safe from harm. Against this shelter they are always hammering, against these ears they are always deafening.” whatever that means; and the breakdown at the end of the song is more than heavy enough to do it’s job, overall, my favorite song so far.

Interlude time, “Septentrional” is about a minute and a half of white noise that sounds like ocean waves, and about half way in it’s accompanied by some chanting that I can assume was really awkward for their producer to record. Other than that, not much else to it, moving along.

Track seven is titled “Blood Burner” so I know before I even start it to prepare, since it’s probably going to melt my face.

Turns out that it did melt my face, but in the end, that’s all that it did. There’s no two ways around it I just don’t like this song. It doesn’t contribute to the album musically, I still don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, and it’s just not a track that sticks in my mind for any reason whatsoever, other than being a track that doesn’t stick in my mind.

Take everything I said about “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” multiply by two and you have “High Noise Low Output” I wouldn’t be able to fit all the praise I feel this song deserves onto this post. The big difference between “High Noise Low Output” and “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” is that the former seems geared more towards fans of more complex music, on the account of the random start-stops and drum and guitar technicality that “A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse” doesn’t have. Regardless though, both songs are at this point the best on the album.

“Falling from the sky, day one. You never learned to fly. Falling into the ocean, day seven. You never learned to swim.” I start the review of “Falling from the Sky: Day Seven” with lyrics from the song because I can actually tell you what it’s about and I think that deserves some lyrical homage. This six minute masterpiece is the albums necessary down tempo tune all about how some atheist is going to hell because he doesn’t believe in God “Your death will bring you all the answers that you’ve been looking for.” Personally I don’t believe it, but it’s still a well written song, lyrically and musically, and a breathe of fresh air from all the yelling and loud noise on the rest of the album.

“Everlasting Tapeworm” is another song just like “Basterdizer” it’s easily forgettable with the exception of some odd, but good, lap steel guitar work in the verses. That’s really all there is to it. On to the last track in this hour long journey.

“Occidental” is an instrumental outro to the album with some gibberish spouted here and there, and honestly, I’m relieved. As for the song itself, I don’t see it’s purpose in the album and maybe if I could make out what that gibberish is then the track would be more significant, but I can’t, so so much for that.

Overall, I thought I liked this band, turns out that they write the kind of songs I would love to hear at a live show, fast, strong, yelling, all that good stuff. In Album form though, it just doesn’t have the same affect on me. Most of the songs are forgettable and it’s hard for me to tell them apart from each other, I can’t understand the lyrics and when I look them up I still don’t understand what they mean. It seems like the songs are just like the album as a whole, forgettable, with a few gems that all in all, can’t save a broken album.

Go Steal: 

  • A Media Friendly Turn for the Worse
  • High Noise Low Output

Go Kill With Fire:

  • Blood Burner

[Note]: I still have no idea what’s going on with that album cover.

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Track by Track Review: Patronize Me: Darkest Shade of Blue EP

January 2012 and Perth Amboy locals Patronize Me release their maiden effort Darkest Shade of Blue EP.

Patronize Me @ The Basement in Perth Amboy, NJ

Everyone is tired of Pop-Punk, there I said it, and if you agree with me, even a tiny bit, you should really check out Patronize Me. These guys ARE the new wave, they’re Pop-Punk influenced, NOT inspired, and can go a long way in opening eyes to another side of music that I haven’t heard anything from in a while.

The opening track of Darkest Shade is “Give Up” which, given it’s softer disposition, is a surprisingly catchy song and really highlights vocalist/guitarists Patrick Minogue’s vocal versatility and indie inspired guitar playing. Initially hard to detect is Arcadio Rivera’s subtle but precise keyboard work that, along with Patrick’s Muse inspired vocals, carry the song and guided, rather than forced me, as a listener, to really feel what the song is about. It isn’t without blemishes though; the awkward interlude before the final chorus seems a bit sloppy at times before fixing itself and overall providing a taste of the other side of Patronize Me that we hear more of in their title track “The Darkest Shade of Blue” and the closing track of the EP “The Last Bridge.”

Now before you even go out and illegally download this CD, I’ve got to warn you all, “The Darkest Shade of Blue,” is probably going to be one of the most interesting tracks you’ve heard in a long time, perfectly mixing Pop-Punk with an Alt-Rock sound that’ll make your jaw drop and curse yourself for not thinking of it first, or maybe it’s just me. Starting with a quick drum solo and then lending itself to a guitar complete with Pop-Punk-esq triplets and start-stops that seem to melt into a mid-90s blues track, right of the bat you know this is something special. Filled with great bass work and the same triplets and start-stops throughout this is just an overall amazing composition. Even the guitar and bass solos seem to fit perfectly together, and from a musicians standpoint, that’s a hard thing to do, it’s obvious that these guys have a lot of musical chemistry and know each other pretty well as musicians. The only honest downside to the track are the keys that feel a little out of place in the forefront of the song whenever they show up, during the production process it might have been a better idea for them to have been more in the background of the song like they are in “Give Up,” as opposed to being the loudest things in the musical field, it just sounds a bit off, not bad, just misguided.

“Just wait … and You’ll See:” initially I was very turned off and disappointed in this song solely because the vocals seem to be in the same key as in the opening track, and in a bands first five song EP ever produced, you almost expect each song to be as different as they can be while maintaining that sound that sets it apart apart from the rest. But then I got over it. In  the 90s with Cobain’s monotone vocals and today with A Day To Remember’s every-song-on-the-album-in-the-same-key style of writing, songs sounding slightly the same isn’t too much a problem, but rather a pitfall to try and avoid whenever possible. Vocal key aside, the song itself really gives the band a personality, after listening to the entire track I knew who these guys were and what they stood for. The bouncy guitar break about midway through the song seemed a bit random, but that’s in no way a bad thing, unlike Patrick’s repetition of the word “sick” shortly after that,which WAS random in a bad way, and a bit awkward to listen to.

I’ve got a little story for you, writer sits down in a smokey, hemp filled room with his friends to listen to and review a CD for his blog, writer blasts music and everyone shuts up and starts grooving, that’s exactly what happened to me when I turned on Patronize Me’s next track off of Darkest Shade, “The Best of Solitude.” Immediately I was bombarded with “Who are these guys?” and “This is the kinda s**t I’m talkin’ about.” It seemed like everyone had something good to say about this song and it’s all because of groove dropped by bassist Alberto Roa and complemented flawlessly by drummer Tony Bonilla and Patrick’s guitar. While writing this review I had to restart this track about 20 times, half because of friendly requests by people in the room, and half because I was enjoying myself way too much. This track, 10/10, no question, by this point in the EP Patrick’s vocals are so unique and dominating that I’m anticipating seeing these guys live just to find out if he sounds the same in person. Everything in this song blends together just the way it should, from the keys to the drums and guitar and bass and especially the vocals. All in all, this track just cannot get enough praise from me, top shelf boys, top shelf.

We’ve arrived at the final song on the album fittingly titled “The Last Bridge”. So I play this guy and I hear some very nicely written piano, and some pseudo-experimental drums and then BAM, distortion, muffled vocals, grooving bass, a blast of power that this EP was missing to give it everything an Alt-Rock aficionado needs to validate Patronize Me as a force to be reckoned with. Just as fast as it starts the distortion and power ends and Patrick’s unique voice forces it’s way in with a note that may be a bit too high for him at the moment, but still sounds pleasing overall. Just as in “Give Up” Arcadio manages to play perfectly in the pocket and deserves an honorable mention for the intro and outro of the song.

CD over, I find myself in awe. I started this review with the intention of trying to pick out the great from the good, and I ended up having to force myself into finding what was wrong with most of the tracks. In the span of five short songs I went from thinking this was an EP made by just another band, into respecting every member of Patronize Me so much more than I already did. Every slight hiccup the EP has ends up as just a forgettable little flaw in an otherwise great effort by a band truly doing their own thing and seeming to not care about what anyone else thinks. If you want to listen to some Patronize Me or give them a thank-you-for-being-awesome post just stop by their Facebook page (opens in new tab) and show them some love, until next time, peace.

Artist: Patronize Me

Go Listen To: The Best of Solitude

Final Word: Alt-Rock gods beware.

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