Guided by Voices
Now in their third decade of existence, the classic Dayton, Ohio indie-pop outfit Guided by Voices shows no signs of throwing in the towel. After a less than stellar series of albums on TVT Records and a failed attempt at mainstream success, GBV have released Earthquake Glue, their second album on their old label, Matador.
While the band offers nothing that hasn’t shown up on their past fifteen (or so) previous releases, GBV does more of the same with enough style and flair to ensure that this album will please fans, new and old alike.
Everything one can expect from a GBV album is here, including catchy, lo-fi hooks (“I’ll Replace You With Machines”), genuine, solid pop songwriting (“A Trophy Mule in Particular”) and the occasional minute-long acoustic rant featuring completely random lyrics (“My Son, My Secretary, My Country”).
Singer Robert Pollard is the only original GBV member remaining with the group, but that’s not really important. Pollard is the heart and soul of this band, and he always assembles a talented group of musicians to play with him on the records. Earthquake Glue is no exception. The musicians’ playing is rock solid and not too flashy. This helps illuminate Pollard’s talent, showing that he’s one of the most prolific songwriters of our time who gives his fans exactly what they want.
– Chuck DelRoss
Are they death metal? Not quite. Are they techno? Not really. Are they death metal techno? Yeah, that’s more like it. Melotron, a death-metal techno trio from Germany has invaded the U.S. with their booming beats and ravenous rhythms.
Envision a calm ocean. There are birds flying in a sky with a bright yellow sun and happy fish swimming below. Now imagine a kill-crazed robot clunking through the water, beeping and banging his metal body to rhythmic dance beats, trampling your tranquil state. Oh yeah, he’s also screaming German at you.
This is the idea behind Melotron’s latest album, Sternenstaub. The record sounds very similar to something one would hear at a club, but once the lyrics begin, it’s dance party no more.
Sternenstaub is the band’s sixteenth release, and their experience definitely shows. The entire album is in German. While this may be a problem to more English-centric audiences, there is little room to mistake the album’s mood. Regardless of the language of the lyrics, they are passionate and definitely show musical talent through their intense rhythms and soundscapes.
Melotron’s music offers a Euro-hip-underground flavor. There are several different styles of music on their album, from computerized futurism, as displayed in “Kein Problem,” and “Immer Noch,” to a calmer, more flowing feel, which they lay out in “NGC 1006.” There is even a techno-pop sound on “Kein Morgen.” Their eclecticism might explain why Meletron is so prolific.
Though it’s very, very rough around the edges, Sternenstaub is extremely dynamic. One listen will have you dancing with reckless abandon, running in fear, and experiencing just about every reaction in-between.
BETTER THAN BEFORE
Garage rockers The Singles are the latest in the ever-growing list of indie lo-fi knock-offs. Their debut album, Better Than Before, goes a step further by combining ’60s British pop rock and Detroit garage indulgence. The formula has been done many, many, many times before, but the group still manages to make it work. The album follows suit as Vince Frederick hams it up through 15 tracks of dirty guitar riffs and break-neck pace. Frederick sings about what almost every other garage rock outfit sings about: heartbreak, future flings and rock romance. Emphasis is placed on the latter for almost the entire album.
Synchronized hand clapping and the occasional keyboard lick pop up in straightforward rockers like “I’m In Love With You” and “I’ll Be Good To You.” Most chart-toppers place emphasis on the dirty boogie of the ’60s Detroit rock scene. Frederick and company expands on the formula by incorporating the mod savvy of early Beatles and Stones’ tunes.
On “It’ll Never Be The Same Again,” guitarist Will Yates hammers away like a young (and pre-mummified) Keith Richards. The title track recalls early Lennon/Harrison harmonic riffing.
The arrangements and production are slick and well crafted. The melodic undertow and pop-friendly harmonies keep the album fresh and almost a step ahead of its garage rock brethren.
TO MY SURPRISE
TO MY SURPRISE
No pun intended, but much to my surprise, To My Surprise is the hook-friendly, feel-good album of the year. On their debut album, To My Surprise revels in pop synchronicity and melodic carnage. Drummer and founder M. Shawn Crahan’s tenure on the skins for Slipknot pays off. His machine gun drum technique adds plenty of muscle to Brandon Darner and Stevan Robinson’s one-two guitar attack.
Darner croons his way from one chorus to another with style and ease. His delivery is matched by swaggering guitar riffs and toe-tapping choruses. “Get It To Go,” “Easy or Not” and “Come With Me” combine tinges of lush new wave with blistering guitar solos and pulverizing drumming.
The band finds time to dip into its softer side on “Blue.” Darner swoons with fiery pop passion amid the irresistibly catchy, albeit somewhat cheesy, chorus of “Blue belongs in the sky/not on you or I.” “Sunday” is about as close rock can get to country without being either, while “Say Goodbye” is a haunting and powerful piano-driven ballad.
Somehow the band even finds time to sound-check The Beatles. On “Who’s To Say,” Darner’s voice eerily mimics that of Paul McCartney atop a chorus melody that sounds nearly identical to the classic “Penny Lane.”
To My Surprise is unique because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio. It conjures up punk, rock, pop and even traces of country without conforming to a particular style. Sounds tricky, but the band pulls it off while making it seem almost too easy.
Not bad coming from a founder who once made his living drumming in clown makeup and prison uniforms.