The Strokes – Angles
From the very first track, “Machu Picchu,” The Strokes relieve the five-year wait for this album, Angles. Probably best known for their Guitar Hero fame with the song “Reptilia” and creating the genre coined “garage indie,” The Strokes were formed in New York City by lead singer Julian Casablancas. They became famous almost instantly after long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich discovered them. The band has released four albums since their 2001 formation, and the aforementioned “garage indie” is the best way to describe them. Much of the band’s guitar has a keyboardist feel to it, and Casablanca’s vocal delivery lends itself much more to the independent rock scene than it does to punk, the genre most people associate with them. A couple of favored tracks from Angles would be “Taken for a Fool” and “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.”
Protest the Hero – Scurrilous
Formed in Ontario, Canada late 1999 by lead singer Rody Walker, Protest the Hero has been shredding their way onto the progressive metal scene. With the 2006 release of their first album, Kezia, many fans perked their ears at the speed of the guitars, the vocal range that Walker showcased, and the deemed “epic” lyrical construction that rivaled Iron Maiden.
After that first release, reviews were calling them “a young band to watch.” In 2008, they blew away anyone that speculated about their ground-breaking qualities with the release of Fortress. The most well-known songs from this surprising album were “Sequoia Throne” and “Bloodmeat.” However, the entirety of that album is so precise and calculated in its construction that it’s almost difficult to listen to it continuously; their music “melts faces,” for all intents and purposes. This week, the band releases their third studio album, Scurrilous. Much like the band’s last album, it’s obvious to the listener that there’s immense talent behind these musicians, yet their sound still rings like a challenge for me. However, it’s a very enjoyable challenge. Scurrilous is like a desirable punch to the ear, and each track has the ability to astonish. The single is “C’est La Vie,” but my favorite tracks are the final two on the album: “Tongue-splitter” and “Sex Tape.”
Panic! At the Disco – Vices and Virtues
The album begins with the single, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” and immediately showcases a repetitive lack of creativity on the band’s part. They’re simply giving into their fame and turning out less than credible material. Being honest, I had a closet love of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, the band’s first album when it was released in 2005. The best way I’ve heard to reference these types of musical decisions would be to say, “It’s catchy.” In other words, it’s hard to say that “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” was a bad song because it was so catchy and relative. With a combination of break-ups and the confused high school aura that most of lived, it was easy to get into that album. Since then, the band’s never released an album to outdo their debut. “Five in the Afternoon” was a decent single that luckily made its way onto the Guitar Hero playlist, but the album on which it was a single failed to amuse.
Vices and Virtues just may be a step further toward the band’s musical downfall, but with the majority of people buying albums for the labels, I doubt they will suffer much of a financial struggle. With this new release, it’s hard to tell where Panic! At the Disco is headed. Are they trying to be My Chemical Romance; maybe Maroon 5? Either way, their lyrical ability on this album has dropped significantly since their freshman release. I remember the first time I was a preteen girl with piercings in all the wrong places and a fake problem with authority, but this album is absurdly and poorly constructed. With track titles like “Let’s Kill Tonight” and “Nearly Witches,” it’s easy to pass on this album. The first thirty seconds of “Let’s Kill Tonight” is actually enough for me to illegitimize them since their discovery, as it’s very obvious the band took the route of ignorant repetitiveness and simplistic song-writing instead of pursuing the sounds from their original debut.