The Getaway – Album Review

Getaway

Indeed, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with brand new album The Getaway, their first major release since 2011’s I’m With You.

The latter may have been a decent album but the departure of John Frusciante was felt right away as a lot of the songs seemed like they had been tailored to the guitarist’s particular style so let’s hope this new effort gives replacement Josh Klinghoffer a fair shot.

The opener is title track “The Getaway” and it’s a funky slow-burn which builds to an atmospheric bridge and chorus. It’s never quite as catchy as it should be but it works and it’s an enjoyable lead-up to what comes next plus the final few verses are so good they leave you wanting more.

Then comes the first single “Dark Necessities” which cements the dancier, more Summer-friendly elements foreshadowed by the opening track with claps marking the beat, some excellent bass work by Flea and a reflective, memorable chorus. It’s everything you’d want and expect from a RHCP single: commercial yet catchy and ultimately irresistible. The solid piano work throughout helps give the track a pensive mood and Klinghoffer gets a simple yet effective and welcome solo near the end showcasing his own grungier sound.

Chad Smith opens “We Turn Red” with a thumping beat and the song soon reveals itself to be a good old-fashioned rap-style RHCP track with a genuinely pretty melody kicking in every so often. It evokes the likes of “Right On Time” or “All Around The World” in that it’s so disjointed it probably shouldn’t work but it totally does.

With “The Longest Wave”, Josh Klinghoffer finally gets the chance to show he’s not only nailed that core RHCP sound but he can handle softer, more melodic songs. The track itself is a ballad with an ambitious scale and although it’s not the most memorable one on the album, it’s still enjoyable. “Goodbye Angels” has a terrific build-up which should kick butt live and open gigs with a bang. Overuse of the gimmicky “‘ey-yo” line aside, it’s a solid track with some very good guitar and bass work, both of which really come into play during a thrilling extended dual solo ending the song with an appropriate jolt.

Next up is “Sick Love” and that one feels like a track you’d probably find on By The Way with added claps and an upbeat chorus. Josh Klinghoffer once again gets a short solo and it fits in well with the otherwise softer vibe and if you’re wondering who’s playing the piano, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s none other than Elton John. “Go Robot” instantly delivers one of the best bass-lines on the album and although the main verses kinda fizzle out, the solid chorus saves the song from being just a glorified instrumental and, with the help of that clappy beat and some nifty pieces of electro makes it a fun, worthy little track.

“Feasting On The Flowers” doesn’t give much for Anthony Kiedis to sink his teeth into at first but the chorus is creative enough to flesh the song out gradually as it develops into a dancy rag-time and a fun R&B tune. This leads us to “Detroit”, a more experimental track with yet another brilliant bass-line at its heart. The verses and the bridge are the real heroes here as the chorus, which could have worked in a Foo Fighters song maybe, leaves a lot to be desired.

The next track is “This Ticonderoga” and this one should please fans of the band’s rockier work as Klinghoffer gets to proudly grunge-out and mark the rhythm with short scratchy outbursts. By this point, you can really tell that the band has adapted to its new guitarist’s style and wrote those new tracks with this in mind. There’s a more melodic part to the song which also works really well.

“Encore” is not so much an encore as it is one of the catchiest, most melodically rich tracks on the album. It’s just one hell of a pretty song and it manages to not only keep those claps and that Summer feel but deliver a bittersweet vibe as well. Great work all around on that one: maybe the best of the bunch.

“The Hunter” is a slower, bluesier piano-led track with an overall 70’s mood. It’s not very catchy but it’s the Red Hots trying something different both vocally and musically, which is a good thing. It’s promising to see that the band is ready to experiment a little more with songs that may not sell loads of singles but bring something new and unexpected to the table nevertheless.

Finally, we have “Dreams Of A Samurai”, which opens with a piano and vocal choirs before turning into a rockier RHCP track. The song may be a bit all over-the-place but it works as a conclusion cleverly encompassing everything that made this album tick into an almost improvisational jazzy rock tune.

The Getaway does a lot of things right: the album uses Josh Klinghoffer correctly and, although it does provide some safer, more radio-friendly Summer singles, it’s also not afraid to experiment a bit and try some crazier ideas now and then, which is refreshing.

It doesn’t all pay off, most of the songs aren’t too catchy, but there’s something to be said about not having Chad Smith hammer down the same beat in every song like he did in Stadium Arcadium, giving the new guitarist a proper chance and letting Flea run wild with some of his best work in years. You can feel the teamwork that went into making this album and that makes for some good music for sure.

It’s 3 Red Hot Chili Fellas for The Getaway.

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It’s not vintage RHCP but still an enjoyable effort regardless.

Zoomed Way Out – Album Review

Zoomed Way Out

From Washington D.C. comes The Very Small, a brand new rock band with a cool 90’s vibe, a unique bubbly sound and the kind of creativity that’s sorely needed on the indie rock scene at the moment. Through a healthy mix of heavy guitar work, skilfully layered vocals and fun, instantly likeable and memorable melodies, The Very Small (Robin Smith, Aaron Mann, Zack Berman) are on their way up.

These guys have something special so it’s definitely worth checking ’em out.

Case and point: their new album Zoomed Way Out, which follows their first self-titled effort The Very Small, released back in 2008. While first albums bear the pressure of introducing us to a band, second albums usually face the struggle of either matching the first album’s fresh burst of “new” or solidifying an, as yet, not quite polished sound.

Have The Very Small managed to bypass the curse of the second album?

SPOILERS: yup.

The first song, dramatically titled “URGENT!”, is packed with energy, catchy riffs, defiant lyrics and vocals almost reminiscent of some of Big Audio Dynamite‘s work: there’s a punky Mick Jones-esque tone to parts of the song. Having said that, this first track does give you a decent idea of what a rockier, U.S. version of Blur would have sounded like back in the day.

The new single, “Said And Done”, is next and was definitely the right choice to represent Zoomed Way Out since it boasts one of the catchiest melodies on the album, a hook that quickly gets in your head and never leaves. Which isn’t a bad thing, especially since said hook is given space to breathe among a fast-paced beat and booming riffs, never allowing it ot get repetitive.

The following track, “Timers”, is a softer, more heartfelt track with a futher emphasis on mood. The varying, electric structure of the song taking you different places emotionally as the drums cleverly suggest a “timer”-style beat.

“Don’t Forget The Lie” follows and that one starts with ominous chants and a chilled-out beat, it’s another softer track with a haunting quality to it. It does pick up quickly, though, adding in the odd dose of anger and bitterness every now and then. “Unsaid” then tricks you into believing you’re listening to another slower track before plugging in and mixing it up playfully. There’s some great guitar riffs underlining the verses in this one and the drums, which get increasingly inventive, support the catchy vocals perfectly.

Title track “Zoomed Way Out” is next and seems to know it’s a title track and therefore has to be particularly good and particularly different right off the bat as it builds up slowly but surely with a blend of purposeful simplicity and an atmospheric, head-infesting melody. It’s easily one of the best tracks on the album and it lives up to its self-titled status. Do look out for some unexpected instruments making a cameo appearance and one of the coolest and best-timed breaks I’ve heard in a while near the end.

Next up is “PB & J”, a much more experimental track with some spacey, layered vocals, an eclectic beat and a mysterious feel. You might not know what to make of this one at first but, trust me, by the end of it (it’s a short one) it should have grown on you nicely. “Thinking Out Loud” is a sharp turn into heavier, Foo Fighters-esque territory and that proves to be yet another surprising direction for The Very Small to go into and, against all odds, completely nail. It’s this reviewer’s personal favourite on the album: its always evolving structure, screaming vocals and non-stop energy are simply irresistible.

“Sonidos Lupinos” brings with it more cowbell (gotta have more cowbell!), funky bass-lines and a dancier, more latino beat. It’s a thoroughly entertaining and playful track you’ll want to hear all the way through as, once again, it goes interesting, unpredictable places. Song number 10 is “At Her Sight”, a folk-style ballad in which the vocals choir around the chorus, turning it into a pretty, nostalgic refrain.

Finally, we have “The Worst Form Of Violence”, which starts with a simple-ish, regular piano rhythm before those uniquely layered vocals which would make The Proclaimers jealous show up, prompting another experimental track but one that tops off the album with a nifty mix of everything the band does best. You never know where the song will take you but wherever it goes, you’re more than happy to trust it and let it work its magic.

So there you have it, The Very Small’s second album and it’s one accomplished, remarkably well put-together piece of early 2000’s grungy angst, retro-friendly alternative melodies and vibrant, up-to-date freshness packed full of terrific ideas and songs you’ll want to discover and rediscover. There’s an effortless versatility to this band that’s undeniably promising and I, for one, look forward to what The Very Small has in store next!

In the meantime, be sure to listen to Zoomed Way Out and their previous album, including the new single “Said And Done”. You can find The Very Small on Twitter (@TheVerySmall), on Facebook, Bandcamp and www.theverysmall.com.

That’s 4 Red Hot Chili Fellas out of 5 from us for Zoomed Way Out.

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Deserved.

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