Backstreet Boys, Papa Roach, and More! January Lightning Round

Here’s my thoughts on a few albums I missed in January, 2019!!

Bring Me The HorizonAmo

Bring Me The Horizon is one of the fastest changing acts in rock n’ roll, evolving from a simple and heavy death core act in the mid 2000’s to a pop-rock/emo-punk act just over a decade later. Amo is the band’s foray into the worlds of industrial and electronic rock and, while there are a few bright points, most of the album falls flat and lifeless. The lyrics are weak, the instrumentation is uninspired, and the band’s pop sensibilities make reaching the interesting side of industrial rock virtually impossible. Worst of all, the bland production sucks all life from record, leaving only a shell of whatever potential was there.

4/10

Backstreet BoysDNA

This record is a lot of fun. One of the most successful boybands of the late 90’s and the minds behind one of the most successful albums of all time in 1999’s Millennium, Backstreet Boys are still hard at work dropping their 9th LP. DNA is every bit as cheesy and indulgent as one would expect, sporting some fairly well made instrumentals, some nice vocal melodies, and a few very tight harmonies. On the other hand, we get some of the worst lyrics I’ve heard in several years and the production doesn’t seem to have changed since their debut. Ultimately, it’s a relatively enjoyable project that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

5/10

Papa RoachWho Do You Trust?

The first half of this album is slightly better than you might expect, and the latter half is even worse. Papa Roach was one of the best selling bands of the Nu-Metal movement, but today, they’re largely viewed as an embarrassing phase for rock music. Who Do You Trust does little to dispel that idea as it ranges from completely forgettable to totally unlistenable. The lyrics are cringe-worthy, the production is horrible, and it is virtually devoid of an interesting or listenable melody across the thankfully modest runtime. A very weak showing for the nu-metal veterans.

2/10

Sharron Van EttenRemind Me Tomorrow

I regret missing this album more than any other on this list. Sharron Van Etten is a prolific, indie rocker from New Jersey and Remind Me Tomorrow is her 14th LP since debuting in 2005. The album shows every sign of an experienced writer in its solid pacing, thematic cohesion, and tight, 40 minute runtime. The influences of 80’s and 90’s synth-pop are strong and with the aide of great lyricism and vocal performances, Remind Me Tomorrow is an enjoyable record for a wide audience, despite a few meandering moments. It also features the best album cover of year thus far.

6/10

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Logic, Slash, Behemoth, and More! October Lightning Round

Believe it or not, I missed a few this month! Here’s the first of what will become a new series on the last day of every month. Lightning round!

Luca Brasi 3Kevin Gates

     Luca Brasi 3 is one of the most bland projects of the year. A few of the beats are fun, the lyrics range from inoffensive to cringeworthy, and Gates’ flow often struggles to find the beat. This album is nothing but basic trap and autocrooning with average execution which likely will not age well.

3/10

TracesSteve Perry

   If this album did anything for me, it made me appreciate the role played by the rest of the members of Journey. Perry’s voice has scarcely lost a beat, but the instrumentals behind him are often boring and at times unlistenable. The production is over polished, the lyricism is unimpressive, and the pacing is awful. True Journey fans may find something to enjoy here, but it’s a shell of Perry’s former glory.

4/10

Young Sinatra IVLogic

   To enjoy this record, you’ll need a love of two things: boom-bap and Logic. For me, I had the former in spades and the latter grew on me a bit. The beats are fun throughout, Logic’s flow is hard hitting, and the Wu-Tang feature is impressive. However, much of the lyricism can be a bit corny, a few of the hooks run a little long, and the second half sees a severe drop in quality.

5/10

Elephants on AcidCypress Hill

   One of the more unique experiment rap albums I’ve heard in a very long time. The combination of rock, boom-bap, and international, particularly Indian, influences make for a set of constantly surprising instrumentals. A few of the flows aren’t as hard as I’d like them to be, and there are far too many repetitive, instrumental only tracks, but much of the experimentation works very well and it’s an interesting listen for fans of progressive trip-hop.

6/10

I Loved You at Your DarkestBehemoth

   Unsurprisingly for fans of the Polish death metal outfit, their 12th LP is a brutal slog. The Zbigniew Prominski’s drums are fantastic, and the lead vocal screams are guttural and powerful. At times, the group gets bogged down in their own virtuosic abilities, and some of the production leaves a bit to be desired. However, for fans of extreme black and death metal, this is worth a try.

6/10

Living the DreamSlash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators

   I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this record. Avoiding the possible pitfalls of sounding out of touch, two of the best rockers of the 80’s and 90’s craft a brazen celebration of that period, complete with roaring guitars and powerful vocals. The lyrics are a bit lacking and the production isn’t perfect, but the tempo rarely drops and the instrumentation will keep heads banging throughout the 50 minute runtime.

6/10

Hurry Up & Hang AroundBlues Traveller

   Nearly 30 years after Blues Traveler’s debut, we find them in 2018 with a creative, singable, and above all, fun album. Joh Popper’s vocals and harmonica are excellent, as always, the lyricism is thoughtful and unique, and none of it overstays it’s welcome. While a few of the tracks are certainly misses, there are far more hits. Overall, it’s an enjoyable entry to a classic catalog.

7/10