Archive for January, 2012

54th Grammys: Alternative/Dance

Posted in Album Reviews on January 30, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

I’m skipping around the list because I want to save the rock category and the General field/Pop category for last because I have a lot to say for all of those. Because there’s only one Alternative and only two dance categories I figured I’d combine the two.

Best Alternative Music Album: Nominees

1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

2. Code and Keys – Death Cab for Cutie

3. Torches – Foster the People

4. Circuital – My Morning Jacket

5. The King of Limbs – Radiohead

My Choice: Codes and Keys

First off, I think it’s a crime that Alternative music is so poorly represented in the Grammys(metal is also very poorly represented and Punk is nonexistent). Soon i’ll probably post a very angry video of myself ranting about about how much I hate the Grammys. Anyway, my choice was a hard one because they’re all really strong albums. The fact though that Bon Iver is seen in some of the more prestiges categories makes me think they’ll most likely win (like when Arcade Fire did really well last year, winning best album and song i think). Foster the People is also a very popular candidate receiving lots of airplay and Radiohead are also a huge name, but to me they’re a bit more rock than alternative. I think  the Death Cab for Cutie album is probably the best out of them all though (it was also they’re best album of their career in my opinion) with better more thoughtful lyrics, and better music to compliment one another. I’m no expert on this type of music though the way I would say I am for rock and metal, but I think Death Cab or My Morning Jacket should win above all else.

Best Dance Recording: Nominees

1. Raise your Weapon – Deadmau5 & Greta Svabo Bech

2. Barbara Streisand – Duck Sauce

3. Sunshine – David Guetta & Avicii

4. Call your Girlfriend – Robyn

5. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites – Skrillex

6. Save the World – Swedish House Mafia

My Choice: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

If’ll be honest, i’ve become a sucker for dub step. I think it’s really cool, but at the same time not cool at all. When you’re in college and you are well aware of the fact that your high school friends bang on about Skrillex all the time, you know somethings wrong. However, it’s a real guilty pleasure of mine that i’m not terribly guilty about. I think dub step will get very overrated and old very quickly so I really only pay attention to Skrillex and a few other dubstep artists because everyone else to come out of the woodwork will just be ripping them off. I think it’s kinda funny Skrillex and dubstep is in the dance category because I have no clue how you dance to something as sporadic and dare i say directionless as dubstep. This could be an important year for dubstep as a whole if Skrillex wins a lot of the awards he is up for.

 

Best Dance/Electronica Album: Nominees

1. Zonoscope – Cut/Copy

2. 4×4=12 – Deadmau5

3. Nothing but the Beat – David Guetta

4. Body Talk Pt. 3 – Robyn

5. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites – Skrillex

My Choice: 4×4=12 

I would’ve voted for Skrillex, but Scary Monster and Nice Sprites is an EP and not a full length album. If you want a full length album and specify that as part of the qualifications, then don’t contradict yourselves. That being said, 4×4=12 was actually a really good album. Now i’m not a huge fan of dance music, in fact I kinda hate it. I don’t even really like to call it music because I don’t think the computer is an instrument. If you can’t go to college to be classically trained in computers for musical purposes, then it’s not an instrument. I generally like popular dance music that you’d hear in clubs or something. I just can’t really appreciate it like some people can (I don’t know how they can though), however, I think Deadmau5 is more of an artist than any other of the listed candidates.

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Mayhem Festival Announcement!

Posted in News on January 25, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Earlier today, Mayhem fest released the first announcement of bands to be featured on this years stage. Based on what I said yesterday, it looks as though the Slipknot rumors are true. Slipknot are the confirmed headliners for this years festival as well as Slayer and Anthrax. I hoped Anthrax would be there and am glad they’re gonna be here, but I wasn’t expecting Slayer to be added. Don’t get me wrong, having two of the big four thrash bands is amazing and I’m not complaining at all, I just wasn’t expecting them.

They also stated that there will be a special guest band to make a few appearences. The website said that the band would be announced on March 5th, but due to conflicting Mayhem Festival facebook pages, I think Motorhead is going to be that special guest, which is fantastic. Not only will there be two of the big 4, but the one band that inspired all four of the big 4 thrash bands.

The rotating main stage includes The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying and Asking Alexandria. I think this is a pretty good lineup because I think The Devil Wears Prada are heavy and metal enough to garner some of the metal fans at an event like this and I think putting them on a bill with people who would most likely ignore them, might now be slightly turned on to them. As I Lay Dying are great for a festival like this. Perfectly metal enough and have great songs. Nothing wrong with this band. Now my big problem is Asking Alexandria. I could go into a whole rant about how much I hate this band now, but I don’t think they’re good enough for this bill. They’re too hardcore with electronic influences and even though TDWP is similar to that, TDWP are the bridge between the Mayhem Festival and Warped Tour which is where Asking Alexandria belong (Plus Asking Alexandria ripped off Slipknot’s “zero bullshit” live show feature and having both band potentially on the same stage is insulting to these metal legends). I can promise you’ll I’ll be physically booing Asking Alexandria and I don’t boo. They don’t even play their good songs during their set.

Whitechapel and High on Fire are also announced for the side stages so I’m not surprised that Whitechapel are booked, but High on Fire are a nice surprise. As far as I know, they haven’t appeared before and they’re a great band for this show. A little sludgy and stoner-y but I think a lot of people will show up for both bands.

Now, there are four more bands to be announced for the side stages. Based on what’s been announced and what i speculated yesterday, Volbeat is still up for grabs and very viable as well as All that Remains. Since TDWP and Asking Alexandria are a bit out of left field for this festival, it’s a little more difficult to guess who’ll appear because the net has just been widened, so we’ll have to see what happens.

Since the announcement was just made today we probably won’t hear about the remaining bands for maybe another month or so, but I’ll keep you guys posted. Until then, I recommend buying tickets just for the main stage alone.

Mayhem Festival Predictions

Posted in Album Reviews on January 24, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

As many of you are well aware, tomorrow is the day that Mayhem Festival announces the names that will appear on the 2012 Mayhem Festival this summer. I’m sure you’ve also heard some of the possible rumors of bands ranging from Slipknot to Napalm Death. Here’s my opinion of some of the bands I think are most likely to show up (In no particular order).

Slipknot – Up until a few hours ago, I would not have said Slipknot would show up in 2012 because of Corey Taylor’s work in Stone Sour and consistent diversion from talk about Slipknot, however, the ball might have been dropped that Slipknot will be more than active in 2012 and the possibility of them showing up is much greater. We’ve seen bands like Five Finger Death Punch and Disturbed appear on Mayhem bills more than once so we know that that idea isn’t out of the question for Mayhem so I think if the rumors are true, than this could be the best lineup just with Slipknot alone.

Lamb of God – They haven’t appeared since two years ago when they supported Korn and Rob Zombie after Wrath came out and I think that seeing as they put put Resolution recently, they’d obviously be great contenders for this type of festival. They’re one of the biggest metal bands around (arguably the best) so why wouldn’t you want them on your festival bill. They never fail.

The Black Dahlia Murder – Another fantastic metal band that released a phenomenal metal album last year. They’ve appeared before and are considerably heavier than the aforementined bands so theres a possibility that there might be a repeat of year 2 when Job for a Cowboy, Behemoth, Slayer, and Cannibal Corpse appeared. Obviously not all those bands will be here again, but it could be another death metal festival.

Testament – They appeared on I think only one show last year, but they have a new album coming out later this year so they’d be a great Main stage act along with Slipknot and Lamb of God.

Volbeat – These germans are gaining a lot of attention here in America and I think showcasing them on a festival like this would be perfect for this band.

Staind – Great record last year and they’re not completely out of Mayhem’s range either. They had Godsmack last year and Staind came out around the same time as Slipknot so they might show up.

System of a Down – They reunited after a short hiatus and did a round of European show last year so maybe this is Americas year for SOAD! I doubt it though because despite Mayhem having great bookings every year, they never seem to get the biggest of the biggest all on one stage. In a perfect world, it’d be Slipknot, LOG, SOAD and Black Sabbath but what are those chances?

Skeletonwitch – A bit out of left field, but they put out a great album last year and would serve very well on a festival like this.

Whitechapel – In the same vein as a band like Skeletonwitch or TBDM, they’re very heavy and could show up as easily as any other band (like the year with Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse and Job for a Cowboy)

Other potential candidates: As I Lay Dying, Veil of Maya, Mastodon, Winds of Plague, Hatebreed, Death Punch (again), All That Remains

Ok, so let’s assume Slipknot is the headliner and there is a rotating mainstage of three bands like last year. Here’s what I think is going to be the setlist:

Rotating Main Stage

Side Stages:

Veil of Maya, Whitechapel, Volbeat, Skeletonwitch, Winds of Plague, All That Remains

Well there you have it. Those are my predictions. We’ll just have to find out soon enough if i was right about anything. I’ll check back with you guys tomorrow after it’s all been announced.

Luke Helker

54th Grammys: Rap

Posted in Album Reviews on January 20, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Just like Country, Rap and Hip-Hop in’t my speciality and therefore I may have the complete opposite wrong opinions of the Academy, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Best Rap Performance: Nominees

1. Look at Me Now – Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

2. Otis – Jay-Z & Kanye West

3. The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco

4. Moment 4 Life – Nicki Minaj & Drake

5. Black and Yellow – Wiz Khalifa

My Choice: Otis

This was a really tough choice for me because I’m very against songs that sample or rip off other songs, so in this case we would eliminate “Otis” and “The Show Goes On” because of that. But then when you look at some of the other choices, I don’t think the others are all that great either. Chris Brown is an asshole and shouldn’t win anything and the song sucked anyway so it doesn’t matter. Wiz is just like Lil Wayne now in that he just raps about weed and shit and I don’t think a song like that really deserves a Grammy. The Nicki Minaj song isn’t horrible, despite the fact that she ripped off her entire style from Lil Kim, so there’s no originality to be had with anything here, but I chose what I chose because I think it’s the best song out of all of them, I guess. Feel free to argue with me on this. I think Otis Redding is alegend and this song is like a real tribute to him more than ripping him off like Lupe rips Modest Mouse off.

 

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Nominees

1. Party – Beyonce & Andre 3000

2. I’m On One – DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

3. I Need a Doctor – Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey

4. What’s My Name? – Rihanna & Drake

5. Motivation – Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne

6. All of the Lights – Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

My Choice: I Need a Doctor 

Eminem and Dr. Dre have always been working together, but never sang together until now and now they brought in newcomer Skylar Grey into the mix, and what a mix it is. I think the fact that everything that’s sung is like a story about Dr. Dre’s history in the eyes of Eminem and then they bring in Dr. Dre at the end to wrap it all up just makes it so much more personal, monumental and biographical than everything else.To me, rapping is supposed to be autobiographical right? I mean, that’s the whole origin of the style Plus Lil Wayne and Drake always work together so they shouldn’t win and Beyonce’s song was boring as well as Kelly Rowland’s. Rihanna and Drake was a good pairing though and that song could just as easily win, because she’s got great songs. However, if Kanye wins, Taylor Swift better come out and tell him that Beyonce’s song was better.

 

Best Rap Song: Nominees

1. All of the Lights – Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie

2. Black and Yellow – Wiz Khalifa

3. I Need a Doctor – Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey

4. Look at Me Now – Chris Brown, Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes

5. OTIS – Jay-Z & Kanye West

6. The Show Goes One – Lupe Fiasco

My Choice: I Need a Doctor 

(Same as above)

 

Best Rap Album: Nominees

1. Watch the Throne – Jay-Z & Kanye West

2. The Carter IV – Lil Wayne

3. Lasers – Lupe Fiasco

4. Pink Friday – Nicki Minaj

5. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West

My Choice: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Even though I hate Kanye West and he’s the proper village idiot of hip-hop, he put out a really strong record. His record with Jay-Z was also really good and I think both albums are up for grabs, but i think this one is the better of the two. Again though, I could be totally wrong. I haven’t studied hip-hop like i’ve studied rock and metal and therefore my opinions could be way off, but i really liked this record a lot as well as the Jay-Z/Kanye mix. Despite what Lil Wayne may say, these guys are the best in the biz.

54th Grammys: Country

Posted in Album Reviews on January 18, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Now I’m just as surprised as you are about the fact that I’m starting to discuss Country. But the fact of the matter is it’s another form of music (despite what some may say) and there’s quite a big market for country music, so I’m merely trying to understand what it is about Country that makes it as popular as it is. I’m obviously no expert in this field, but I’m still gonna give it a shot. For this post we will discuss two out of the 4 Country awards:

Best Country Solo Performance: Nominees

1. Dirt Road Anthem – Jason Aldean

2. I’m Gonna Love You Through it – Martina McBride

3. Honey Bee – Blake Shelton

4. Mean – Taylor Swift

5. Mama’s Song – Carrie Underwood

My Choice: Dirt Road Anthem

The reason I chose this song was that in my opinion, this song best captures the essence of Country music as a whole and it doesn’t sound like it was ProTools’d to death like the Taylor Swift and the Martina McBride song sounded. The Blake Shelton song also sounded really good and would be my runner up, but I think Aldean will clean house this year.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Nominees

1. Don’t You Wanna Stay – Jason Aldean w/ Kelly Clarkson

2. You and Tequilla – Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter

3. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars

4. Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not – Thompson Square

My Choice: Don’t You Wanna Stay 

The reason I chose this was partially because I think Jason will win everything he’s up for. I also think this track is important because it brings in Clarkson, who’s voice compliments the song perfectly and is responsible for putting some more life into her career. However, I think it’s important to pay attention to Thompson Square because that’s a really good song as well.

Best Country Song: Nominees

1. Are you gonna Kiss Me or Not  – Thompson Square

2. God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton

3. Just Fishin’ – Trace Adkins

4. Mean – Taylor Swift

5. Threaten Me With Heaven – Vince Gill

6. You and Tequilla – Kenny Chesney w/ Grace Potter

My Choice: Are you Gonna Kiss Me or Not

First off the fact that there’s no Jason Aldean song is slightly discomforting and may prove to be a monkey wrench in my logic. That being said, I think the Thompson Square song is the best mainly because I think songs  like the Blake Shelton song and the Taylor Swift song aren’t their best songs to offer for this category and so I think that this song is better and it just seems to own the Country sound better than the other.

Best Country Album: Nominees

1. My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean

2. Chief – Eric Church

3. Own the Night – Lady Antebellum

4. Red River Blue – Blake Shelton

5. Here for a Good Time – George Strait

6. Speak Now – Taylor Swift

My choice: My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean

Honestly, I thought the Lady Antebellum album was better than this album and I want that album to win. However, they aren;t really up for many other awards, which is weird and something you need to take into account. That being said, I think in terms of popularity (something I try to stray far from when it comes to music), I think the Jason Aldean album will win. Not to say that it’s not a good album. It’s a great album but I just love everything that Lady Antebellum have done (except for “Need you Now” because that songs bee shoved down our throats for far too long).

54th Grammy’s: Overview/Production

Posted in Album Reviews on January 18, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

For a couple of years now, I’ve looked at the nomination list for the Grammys and voted on the ones that I personally believe should win in that particular category. I did this to see if the Grammys were a reputable award show and to see how my answers compared to the actual winners. So for this year, I figure I’d post some of my opinions on who I believe should win. There’s obviously way too many categories to focus on so I’ll only focus on the big 4 (Best record, album, song, and new artist) as well as other sub categories such as rock, rap, and yes even country.

I’ll start off by reviewing some awards in the Production, Non-Classical category.

Producer of the Year: Nominees

1. Danger Mouse – Danger Mouse is responsible for a Broken Bells EP and some of his own stuff. Personally, Danger Mouse isn’t that great of a producer. He’s got a big dance and R&B background from being in Gnarls Barkley with Cee Lo Green and everything, but he overproduces everything and makes it sound very one dimensional in terms of dance recordings.

2. Paul Epworth – Paul here is responsible for producing a few Foster the People tracks and a few Adele tracks including “Rolling in the Deep”. Personally, I’ve got nothing against this guy, he did a good job with these tracks and they sound real tight.

3. The Smeezingtons– The Smeezingtons for those of you who don’t know are actually a three piece production crew featuring Bruno Mars as one of the producers. I may be taking things too literally here but I don’t like the idea of three producers worming together with a special club name to begin with let alone have all three of them nominated as opposed to just one of them.

4. Ryan Tedder – He’s got a few Colbie Cailliat tracks, as well as Beyonce, Gavin Degraw and Adele. Again, not bad, I don’t have anything against him really.

5. Butch Vig – The only thing Butch Vig did to get him nominated was that he produced the Foo Fighters album Wasting Light. An incredible record in an of itself, Butch Vig is also famous for producing Nevermind by Nirvana so there’s some credentials for you.

My Choice: Butch Vig

Not only is Butch the most experienced, but he produced Wasting Light in analog, which means there was no Protools or anything fancy like that, because that’s how Butch originally learned how to record and because thats how Grohl wanted to be. The way analog works though is that because you can’t be super picky and be extremely precise like Protools, it requires the musicians and the producer to be extremely sufficient and I think the fact that the album sounds as good if not better than any other album that’s come out using Protools means that Butch Vig must have done a hell of a job producing it.

 

Best Remixed Recording: Nominees

1. Cinema (Skrillex Remix) – Original song by Ben Benassi

2. Collide (Afrojack Remix) – Original song by leona Lewis

3. End of Line (Photek Remix) – Original song by Daft Punk

4. Only Girl (In the World) (Rosabel Club Mix) – Original song by Rihanna

5. Rope (Deadmau5 Mix) – Original song by Foo Fighters

My Choice: Rope (Deadmau5 Mix)

This is surprising even to me because I hate this version, but I think it’s really gonna be between Rope and Cinema because Deadmau5 did the best at completely remaking the song so that   it’s easily recognizable as Foo Fighters, but still almost like Deadmau5’s own song. Skrillex did that too, but I’m not sure yet how popular dubstep is with the academy. This years awards will put dubstep to the test seeing as Skrillex is up for more awards than Lady Gaga. We’ll see what happens I guess and we’ll talk about dubstep more I assure you.

Enter Shikari: A Flash Flood of Colour

Posted in Album Reviews on January 15, 2012 by lukesreviews1014

Britain’s very own Enter Shikari, who have gotten very popular in combining post hardcore with electronic music, have just released their third studio album, but unfortunately, I didn’t really feel that whole flash flood that they mentioned in the title of the album. It’s a good album and if you’re a fan of them because of their looks, their accent and the fact that they have dub step in their music, then you’ll still really dig this album, but it just kinda washed over me. Maybe I’m totally wrong about it, but it was just so-so for me.

See, when “Destabilise” was first released, I considered that to be a real high point in their career and I still think that it’s the best thing that they’ve ever done. I guess because I really like that track, I expected the rest of the album to be as strong as that and it really wasn’t. “Meltdown” is a solid track and it’s got some moments here and there where it really clicks, but it really dipped in the middle for me and got kinda boring almost.

I was overall disappointed in it because even if I set the bar high in my mind with “Destabilise”, then they should have done so too and try to recreate that throughout the rest of the album right? I mean, “Destabilise” wasn’t even on the record unless you get a special edition with bonus tracks on it.

There really isn’t much to say. I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of the band to begin with, but I’ve seen them live twice and they haven’t been able to really capture their live sound on record and they just didn’t really have any real stand out tracks on this record either. Everything was just decent. But like I said, I may be totally wrong and part of a minority here, so please use the facebook page to express your feelings for this record. I’d be happy to discuss it with you guys.

Well, even though I wasn’t jizzing over this record like the new Lamb of God one, I still think this is a really great way to kick off the year and hopefully it’ll get better from here.

Luke Helker