#4- Octahedron by The Mars Volta
Now even though this one comes in at #4, in its own way it was the most disappointing. The first song, Since U Been Gone Since We’ve Been Wrong is a seven minute, twenty second epic that starts slow in typical album-opener style and builds up to a powerful ballad-esque song which could easily call the middle or end of the album home. And that’s the problem. This song SCREAMS Frances the Mute, my personal favorite MV album, and that really got my hopes up. All of their releases since Frances have what I call Donkey Kong syndrome: they’re all very GOOD albums, but not great. I really wanted something great. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but apparently I’m an asshole and don’t deserve anything (I’m looking at YOU Justin). Once track one has your expectations set nice and high, the rest of the album proceeds to, in an act of sheer cruelty, destroy them one by one along with all of your childhood hopes and dreams. It whispers sweet sweet promises of an excellent album cut with all kinds of incredible guitar work and beautifully atonal sounds in your ears and right when your neck is tingling from its hot breath it bites you and pulls your hair like an angry toddler. They meant well with this album, but it just comes short of what you want (but that’s assuming you want good music). Now if you were a fan of Bedlam and Goliath or Amputechture, then I can guarantee you’ll love this. How can I do that? BECAUSE IT’S THE SAME FUCKING ALBUM.
#3- Black Clouds & Silver Linings by Dream Theater
Dream Theater is a band I long since cast aside. As a guitar player and someone who is generally interested in music, I could appreciate the level that these guys are playing at. And then something weird happened. Every time I listened to them, I would get mental images of all five of them waving their dicks at me (no homo) and that got old real fast. Except for one album, Scenes from a Memory, Dream Theater became a novelty to me like Dragonforce or GWAR or Twinkies; an entity focused on the experience, with little real substance or value. But at least with Dragonforce and GWAR there are cleverly disguised elements of silliness that make them fun (Dragons and space penises, respectively). And Twinkies help me deal with various psychological problems. What this album boils down to is Dragonforce without the fun. I imagine somebody formed Dream Theater as a joke and when they told their buddies at Berkley about it, they left the joke part out of the explanation and just rolled with it. I can’t even point out specific songs for you because they all run together, all twelve tracks. All two hours. For fuck’s sake, you can only alter between tapping and sweeping for your solos so many times before all the math geniuses out there like myself figure out the complex algorithms used to compose Dream Theater’s entire discography and expose the truth to the world. They’re robots.
#2- Genesis Underground by Eye Alaska
If you remember Eye Alaska from way back when, they’re awesome. Yellow & Elephant, even though it was just an EP, was rocking from my speakers for quite some time. Naturally when news of their full length reached me, I was overjoyed. So, like a good little fan boy, I illegally downloaded the album weeks before it came out. There is one song on this album that is absolutely awesome, catchy, well written, and just all around a killer tune. That song is also the reason why this is the second worst album of the summer. The best song on the album is Roll Right Over. Again. Again? Rewind to 2008. Yellow & Elephant just hit the shelves and you read my review, so you purchased three copies, naturally. Anyway, you start with a song you recognize Through the Willows and Streams, the one that I previewed, and then work your way through the rest of the EP. Then, you hear Roll Right Over, and it’s smooth, groovy jams work their way into every playlist and mix CD you make. Apparently, so many people loved that song that they just decided to reuse it. I guess it’s been remastered or rerecorded or retarded. That’s not the only place the album fails, unfortunately. The unique sense of adventure Eye Alaska brought to the EP spiraled out of control, and it shows on Genesis Underground. The songs seem shoddy, and the album is like a golem, constructed from bits and pieces of different genres and styles laid out on a table and then duct-taped together. Just because you’re made of the limbs of several athletes doesn’t mean you’re going to be an Olympian. Everyone knows you have to eat their hearts to gain their power. The hearts dammit, the hearts! I’d like to quote myself from the Yellow & Elephant review, not to be vain but to point out how fucking good I am at predicting the future. So ok, to be vain. Anyway, I mentioned how Eye Alaska
“serves up an EP full of songs which really get me excited to hear the band’s full length when it finally hits shelves sometime this year. I mean, the flipside is I could be setting myself up for another traumatic heartbreak when the album is released and it doesn’t meet the ridiculous expectations I blindly set way too high because I’m delusional and live in a fantasy world where every album I buy is exponentially better than the last”
#1- Daisy by Brand New
It’s bad. I tried, I really tried.
Well that gets the dumb albums out of the way. Next is an album from this summer I actually enjoyed!
Manners by Passion Pit
Passion Pit has been around for almost three years now and I wish I was cool enough to have known the name before this past summer. But I’m not. Manners is their first full length and hopefully not the last. It’s nothing short of a magical journey. Highly electronic, lively, and infused with pixie dust (I’m assuming), the album is light hearted and extremely smartly written. The song structure varies enough that the synths and effects they use don’t become repetitive or boring, which is good because the album is so stylized that any imperfection would really show. The vocals are airy, compliment the music very well, and, despite the high pitch of lead vocalist Michael Angelakos’ voice, they don’t detract from the music as is want to happen in other bands with unusually high-pitched male lead singers. Do you have any idea how many people feed me this line of bullshit: “OMG I LOVE COHEED AND CAMBRIA… except for that guy’s voice, it pisses me off”. The high pitches aren’t for everybody, I understand. Passion Pit is bringing fun, danceable, listenable pop to the masses and I predict good things for their future. But I did that with Eye Alaska, and we all saw how THAT turned out, didn’t we?
It feels good to be back. Be excited, there’s plenty of new, cool, hip, trendy, catchy, fun, enjoyable, good music on the way. Tune in next week for something you can’t even understand!
Here's a sample of Passion Pit for you: