Beautiful Crutch – Album Review

American alternative rock band Dommin released their third studio album Beautiful Crutch last year and, with the promise of a darker yet more hopeful vibe after their somewhat downbeat previous efforts Rise and Love Is Gone, this looked like possibly the start of a new era for the goth/new wave metal group.

The first track, “Desire”, opens with a screech before settling into softer, melodic verses and occasionally building up to the rockier chorus. There’s a very good guitar hook keeping the song balanced throughout and a short but effective solo near the end. The vocals by lead singer Kristofer Dommin are passionate and bring a welcome edge to the song. “Show Me” is the first killer track of the album with its faster pace, its bluesier tone and its ridiculously catchy chorus. This is definitely one to open concerts with as it’s instantly recognizable and kicks butt no matter how picky you are with your music.

“The Scene” is next and it’s a solid, reflective, dramatic song with a stuttering rhythm, an emotional chorus and some clever breaks here and there. It’s also very catchy and another very concert-friendly tune for sure. It is followed by “This World”, which instantly evokes The Smiths with its darker lyrics and the Morrissey-esque vocals. It’s still very much a Dommin song, however, as it’s certainly heavier than anything the aforementioned artists ever did.

Then we have the title track “Beautiful Crutch”, a slow-burn where the vocals and the lyrics initially take centre stage before the rest of the song finally unveils itself through an evolving melody that gets catchier and catchier as it goes on. It’s certainly worthy of being the title track. “I Die” is a softer, darker and rather beautiful song about loneliness, loss and longing with a rockier chorus and a short but sweet guitar solo halfway through.

Song number 7 is “Vulnerable”, which opens with a faster beat and a melody slightly reminiscent of Blondie‘s “Call Me” but with a significantly moodier, more emotional vibe. The song somehow gets more hopeful and upbeat as it goes on so its constant evolution plus the catchy chorus make it never dull. Then comes “The Flame” and, right off the bat, this is a completely different animal altogether. With its violins playfully marking the rhythm and its musical-style vocals, this is an experimental track which tries something rather unique by mixing a couple of very different genres, similarly to how Muse went in a different, glammier direction with The Resistance.

It’s still a rock song, though, so don’t expect it to be so different you’ll be thrown.

“Madly” is another fun track. This one banks on its catchy, upbeat chorus but its real strength is the melody that permeates the verses. This is definitely one of the most commercial songs on the album but its radio-friendly nature is never off-putting. “The Saddest Dream” has a slow yet compelling build-up with an electro heartbeat marking the rhythm. You keep expecting it to suddenly rock out but it teases you until much later than you’d expect and it’s altogether a surprisingly epic track which should play really well at concerts, even an extended version with added solos and breaks. “Madly” takes its sweet time and is all the better for it.

Finally, we have “Outer Space” and it feels like the end track from the first minute with its airy, upbeat tone. This is basically a soul track with a bluesy tint which might not please fans of Dommin’s moodier, edgier stuff but after an album this strong, it’s certainly earned its final flight of fancy plus the vocals are top notch from start to finish and the proudly 80’s feel is enjoyably nostalgic.

There’s very little wrong with this new Dommin album: the songs are all well written, the vocal work from Kristofer Dommin is versatile and would even make Scott Stapp jealous at times, the whole thing is paced perfectly and the music itself is really good: you can tell there are genuinely talented musicians behind every track so Konstantine (keyboards), with the help of Cameron Morris (drums) and Billy James (bass) knock it out of the park. There are enough trademark motifs in the album to please the band’s long-time fans but also enough fresh ideas to bring in a new audience so I certainly recommend you try this album whether you think you’ll like it or not because, chances are, you will.

Beautiful Crutch is a very cool album which gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and one hopes to see Dommin get bigger and bigger because they deserve it.

You can find out more about Dommin on Soundcloud and their Youtube Channel.

Controversy – Song Of The Day

ControversyThe title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.

Funk Fujiyama – Song Of The Day

Funk

Our Song Of The Day for today is “Funk Fujiyama”, a funky Japanese tune released in 1989 by Kome Kome Club, one of the only bands in Japan who tackled soul and funk with great success back in the day. The song is quite simply tons of fun and it’s impossible not to love it right away with its bouncy rhythm and those energetic vocals plus the band itself is a riot when playing live. Gamers might remember the track from Youtuber JewWario‘s “You Can Play This” reviews.

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.

Pago Pago – Song Of The Day

Neoton

Can’t go wrong with Neoton Familia. You can always count on the Hungarian disco/pop group to deliver upbeat catchy tunes and hilariously cheesy videos and performances. “Pago Pago” was the first song from their self-titled 1983 album and it was pure kitsch Summer bliss complete with steel drums and one hell of a headspin (see below).

Earthling – Album Review

Earthling

David Bowie released the album Earthling back in 1997 and, although it wasn’t too big of a hit in terms of sales, it was critically well received.

Let’s see if it’s dated well.

The opening song is “Little Wonder” and it was the second single to be released from the album. In fact, it did better than any of the songs on Earthling reaching number 14 in the charts. The track kicks off with a disjointed garage beat which comes and goes. The whole thing is best described as playful experimental Brit Pop with a catchy hook buried in a sea of conflicting rhythms and Snow White references. It is followed by “Looking For Satellites”, which also has a clubby vibe and sounds a bit like something Blur and Oasis would have cooked up together if they had gotten along.

“Battle For Britain (The Letter)” is next and you can expect more of that garage beat and some grungy guitar work from Reeves Gabrels. It’s another track which purposely goes all over the place, even jumping headfirst into random piano solos near the end. Clearly Bowie was having fun playing around with remixes in this album.

“Seven Years In Tibet” is a slower track and it’s also the last one to be released as a single. There’s a regular core beat to the song with increasingly elaborate effects and instruments backing it. The chorus is simply fantastic with the guitar kicking in and turning the song into a rocky anthem. You get the feeling that the band TV On The Radio were influenced greatly by this one.

“Dead Man Walking” is another erratic dancy single you could probably find in quite a few clubs in the late 90’s but this one has a much more Bowie vibe, at least in terms of melody. It was used in the film The Saint and includes a guitar riff once used in Supermen which was taught to Bowie by Jimmy Page. Far prefer the terrific acoustic version to this one, personally.

“Telling Lies” opens with whispers floating over a repeating garage beat. It’s a very layered track as Bowie accuses using the song’s title both in real time and in slow-mo and the whole thing speeds up and slows down at unexpected times. The chorus is the most accessible part of this one, which is another experimental exercise in controlled messiness. As is its follow-up “The Last Thing You Should Do”, which also goes all over the place. At this point, the album has become basically impenetrable and it couldn’t care less: it’s having too good a time.

“I’m Afraid Of Americans” is much more involving in that it’s got a more interesting rhythm to hang onto and the hook kicks in early. The track was co-written by Brian Eno and it’s surprising it wasn’t released as a single since it’s got loads of attitude and a raw energy to it which would have played well on the radio despite its not-so-pro-US lyrics.

“Law (Earthlings On Fire)” is the final track on the album and it’s a dancy one with distorted voices, melodies popping in and out and a purely electronic structure. It’s a far more enjoyable clubby tune than some of the others on Earthling as it keeps throwing musically interesting little bits and bobs throughout.

What to make of Earthling, then?

Here’s one album which should divide David Bowie fans completely. Earthling really is the artist going for something radically different, tackling new remixing techniques and jumping into a Brit Pop techno vibe completely. The good news is this makes for some truly wacky songs full of creativity, the bad news is it’s a little too hard to pierce through the wall of eclectic beats and distortions to enjoy Earthling as an album rather than just a curious piece of late 90’s frenzy. Those who enjoy club music should have a ball with this one but others will probably be turned off by the album early on.

That’s only 2 Ziggies out of 5 for Earthling, mostly because it just doesn’t sound quite Bowie enough making it a much less likeable outing than any of its successors.

Still cool to see the man tackle yet another musical style altogether and keeping up with the times, though. Plus the cover art for the album is one of my personal favourites.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAsk

‘Hours…’ – Album Review

Hours

In 1999, David Bowie released the album ‘Hours…’ and it enjoyed mixed reviews, some critics calling it a masterpiece, others a lesser work from the music icon.

Is it one of Bowie’s best?

Let’s take a listen.

The first track on the album is also the first single to be released from it. “Thursday’s Child” has a pensive, moody vibe to it with a very 90’s beat underneath it all and choir-style backing vocals. It’s a song that’s both upbeat and downbeat somehow making it an intriguing listen, even if it’s not that catchy. It is followed by “Something In The Air”, an initially slower track which builds up confidently to a rockier and, in fact, very cool bridge and chorus. Great guitar work throughout this one, I should point out.

“Survive” is next and it’s a bit like a mix of the first two songs in that it’s both nostalgic and hopeful but also has an effective build up and a terrific guitar sound. It’s an atmospheric tune which aims to get a particular feeling, mood across and it does that perfectly. It’s the third single to be released from the album and its video sees a long-haired Bowie float around a kitchen.

As you do.

The following song is “If I’m Dreaming My Life” and Bowie goes down low vocally for this one. It’s a moody, kickass track which a growing and shrinking rhythm, poetic lyrics, a fab melody and a fantastic chorus. One of the best tracks on the album, definitely. Why this song wasn’t a single I’ll never know.

Speaking of singles, “Seven” was the last song to be released as one from ‘Hours…’. Written by both Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, it’s a beautiful, mostly acoustic track with a perfect build-up, an irresistible melody, a catchy hook and, again, a terrific guitar. My personal favourite on the album. Screeching guitars open the more retro “What’s Really Happening?”, a killer rock tune that feels like a classic from the very first note. Again, this is a single if I ever heard one.

The album picks up even more with really fun single “The Pretty Things Are going To Hell”, another rockier track with heavier guitars and a chorus designed for maximum live effect. This is probably the closest you’ll hear David Bowie get to doing metal so it’s pretty awesome, as you can imagine. Expect more excellent work from guitarist/co-writer Reeves Gabrels.

The next track is “New Angels Of Promise” and it’s another cracking, very Bowie tune with a cool chorus, some simply brilliant vocal work and a grungy, punky vibe throughout. This feels more like an early 90’s/late 80’s effort than a song recorded in 1999 and that’s a good thing for sure. “Brilliant Adventure” is more of a transitional ambient track and it has a very Eastern, Middle Eastern even, feel. It’s short but very pretty.

Finally, we have “The Dreamers”, which opens with short booms, then gives way to a faster rhythm and then a more disjointed, dancier one. It’s a retro-sounding, experimental track which tries a whole bunch of different things, all of which somehow work. It’s typical Bowie throwing something unpredictable at you to end the album on a high, creative note.

It’s surprising that critics were not all that emphatic about ‘Hours…’ as it’s easily one of David Bowie’s most underrated efforts. For such a short album, you’ve got a lot of great, memorable stuff in there. From the more atmospheric, slower tracks to the rockier ones, it’s pretty much all good: the singles prove themselves to be worthy and even the non-singles sound like they could have enjoyed a comfortable release of their own.

‘Hours…’ is an under-appreciated gem from Mr Bowie and it gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us.

Ziggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAskZiggy MAsk