Here’s something all you hip-hop pseudopods can get charged up about. After an absence of almost six years (their last album was 2004’s Til Death Do Us Part), everyone’s favourite doobie-rappers return with more of what they do best. And this time, they bring some friends too. Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park on Carry me away, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave on Rise up, Daron Malakian of System Of A Down on Trouble seeker and even long lost Latino brother and JLo’s hubby Marc Anthony on Armada Latina (which also features Pitbull) are featured on the album. Other obscure artists such as Young De, Evidence and The Alchemist are in attendance as well. As for the album, well, like I said, it’s more of the same. How different can you get musically talking over a beat, except for a melodic chorus attached from time to time? For those with an ‘organic’ frame of mind only.
For those who might not remember, this alternative rock band was an intrinsic part of the alternative scene in the mid-nineties. And like most hit alternative bands, it has struggled to maintain a foothold when ‘alternative’ became mainstream. But all said and done, the band’s strength remains in good, powerful songwriting, which is amply on display here. The opening song, Needle and haystack life has a great epic feel to it, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Needless to say, the passion and emotion is strong with brothers Jon (guitars, vocals) and Tim Foreman (bass), who form a large part of the songwriting team for most of the songs. But I still feel that bands need to limit album length to 10 songs at the most. Any more becomes a bit of a stretch, if you know what I mean.
Heaven is Whenever
The Hold Steady
Rough Trade Records
One of the mainstays on the international indie-circuit, this Brooklyn-based band has grown from strength to strength, to become one of the most sought after bands. Although they still await their global breakout, this is as good as it gets for now. This is their fifth album and continues in their rootsy-folk-bluesy style of songwriting. And the fact that it’s a tight 10-song album makes it a breeze to listen to (as I mentioned in the earlier review). Vocalist and guitarist Craig Finn has a conversational style of singing his lyrics which give it a quaint ‘Springsteen-ish’ vibe and also keeps you interested. Check out songs like Soft in the centre, Rock problems and the epic seven-minuter, A slight discomfort.
Thank You Mr Churchill
New Door Records
For all those who thought Peter Frampton disappeared after his 1968 multi-million selling Frampton Comes Alive, think again. Peter is a Grammy award winning singer-songwriter and guitar player from England, and has continuously released music through the years. This new album sees him in fine form, with his guitar- playing skills in full force. Another child and student of the blues, his playing would be looked upon as retro by nu-age
guitar snobs but Peter brings an undisputable feel that is largely absent from most modern guitar playing. But to play devil’s advocate here, this is a sixteen-song album that wears out its welcome by the time you reach the seventh song. And then even covers of Black hole sun and While my guitar gently weeps cannot salvage its excess. But all said and done, it’s always wonderful to hear Peter play.