Man, too many interesting albums coming out these days, too little time to listen to and digest them. For a self-avowed music freak like me, that’s actually a predicament. Here are my brief takes on the online loots currently blazing on my player.
Hot Cakes by The Darkness. The band who, on their 2003 debut album Permission to Land, proudly proclaims that they believe in a thing called love only to retract it a couple of songs later by saying love is “only a feeling,” is back and telling us now that love is not the answer and, in fact, “will make you stupid.” Crazy dudes, these Brits are. But an album for heartbroken people this is not (despite the standout songs “Love is Not the Answer” and “Forbidden Love”). Actually, as one can expect from these Spandex-wearing glam rock worshipers, this album — their third after years of inactivity — is quite a party. Check out “Every Inch Of You,” “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us” and my personal fave “Everybody Have A Good Time,” which, to these ears, is as stirring and celebratory as KISS’ “Raise Your Glasses” from the Psycho Circus album. And that Radiohead cover “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”? Awesome. Just plain awesome, man. Chill those beers and start sending out invitations. Let’s party rock like it’s the Eighties. (Verdict: Three and a half stars)
Dig in Deep by Tyketto. Admittedly, this is my first exposure to this band. All I knew before listening to this is that they’re one of those late Eighties/early Nineties bands whose careers got nowhere because of grunge, and then regrouped in the 21st century to give it one more shot, delight their orphaned fans, and perhaps earn more paychecks along the way. No one can really blame them for doing so, especially if they bring decent enough cuts on the table. Album-opener “Faithless” is an attention-grabber, a good tune for initiates. A soundtrack for deep introspection, it has this perfect-for-late-night-driving feel to it. The good vibes continue in the next two tracks, “Love to Love” and “Here’s Hoping It Hurts,” both of which would be rightfully at home on a Black Stone Cherry album. With one or two exceptions, the rest of the songs are just as hummable, with heavy surges (the intro of “The Fight Left in Me”) and nifty guitar pluckin’ (midway through “Evaporate”) generously sprinkled here and there. Think Journey at their prime. If you like your rock smooth and unobtrusive, you’ll like Tyketto. (Verdict: Three stars)
Death Sentence by Dublin Death Patrol. Enough with the party-rockin’ and all this maudlin shit; time to get heavy and evil. And heavy and evil, of course, best describe this album. Just what can you expect when the band is jointly fronted by Testament’s Chuck Billy and former Exodus screamer Steve Souza, two of thrash metal’s most notorious vocalists? Pure aggression, man. That, and nothing else. Which could be either good or bad depending on the listener. On one hand you could ask what’s the point of having a side project if you will not deviate from your original band’s sound. On the other you could just choose not to give a fuck. If you just want to, say, “remember to dismember” (as a line from “Macabre Candor” goes), then you’re in for a sinister treat. (“My Riot,” “Blood Sirens,” “Conquer and Divide” and “Broken” are four other tracks to pulverize your eardrums until you cry out for Bon Iver.) The dual vocal approach — Chuck Billy’s ungodly barks and Steve Souza’s furious snarls — is a point of interest. Also, the obvious nod to old-school thrash metal. With these ingredients on the recipe, why go overly introspective over a side project that seems to have put more emphasis on having fun than exploring new avenues of creativity? Dublin Death Patrol is so brutal the United Nations or Amnesty International should be paying attention. (Verdict: Three and a half stars)