MUSIC WE LIKE
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 03:36
BAD RELIGIONTrue NorthReviewed by Michael WoodWhen I first started listening to True North, Bad Religion’s brand new release, I was a bit anxious. This happens every time one of my aging favorite bands releases a new album; I think I have good reason for these feelings. The folks in Bad Religion are about as old as my parents and still releasing records. As admirable as that is, I would not like to listen to a pop-punk album put out by my parents or their friends. Naturally, I approach these albums with apprehension, particularly when I remember the disaster that was 21st Century Breakdown that ruined Green Day’s music to me forever. Luckily, however, Bad Religion has remained master of its domain, and I found True North to have some great merits. Bad Religion, for those of you who don’t know, pretty much de!ned the new generation of pop punk. Compared to the earlier bands in the genre, who for the most part, sounded like The Kinks with a faster tempo and more juvenile lyrics, Bad Religion writes more serious music, touching on social, economic and political issues (a holdover from the hardcore punk scene in the early 1980s where these themes were prominent). But the key element is Bad Religion have a fantastic pop sensibility, consistently turning out catchy guitar ri#s and athematic choruses without losing that hardcore edge, unlike the 30 second songs of screamed vocals and crass guitar ri#s that de!ned the era.I was pleasantly surprised with the opening tracks, including the song “Fuck You” which is incredibly fun to blast in your car while driving down the freeway. The first third of the album is fast paced, catchy and aggressive, with songs like the eponymous “True North” and “Land of Endless Greed” that lure you in and get you stomping your foot in unison with the beat. "ese songs are dripping with Bad Religion’s trademark vocal harmonies, referred to by fans of the band as the “Oozin’ Aahs” (Say it out loud if you didn’t get it the !rst time). But the tone changes halfway through the album with “Dharma and the Bomb” (A rare appearance of the guitarist Brett Gurewitz as the lead singer) and “Hello Cruel World.” The rest of the album is spent battling through musical highs and lows !nally resolving at the middle ground with a somewhat hopeful “Changing Tides,” which is not nearly as satisfying a conclusion as I would’ve hoped. However, the rest of the album makes up more than enough for the somewhat disappointing conclusion. Overall, True North is not a ground-breaking or revolutionary album and I thank god for that. Musicians get too old for gimmicks and Bad Religion recognized this and did well by its fan base and the ears of the nation as a whole by releasing an album that doesn’t attempt to border on the avant-garde or the strange. Just a straightforward, thought-provoking and well-constructed album of what these people doing what they do best: making athematic music that sticks in your head and leaves a couple thoughts behind for you to chew on after the music is over.FLATBUSH ZOMBIES D.R.U.G.S.
Reviewed by Marco BeltranDeep down, a part of me wants to believe that Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice of Flatbush walked into a studio and just laid out the vocals freestyle, which producer Erick Arc Elliot stitched together in one night in an insane druginduced moment of inspiration. That’s how crazy this mixtape is at times. D.R.U.G.S. is off-putting at first because the start of each song feels like the beginning of an improv sketch, where someone in the audience yelled out “Al Bundy” or “Breakfast at ePiffanies” and Flatbush just went, “Yeah, we can rap about that.” It’s not a bad thing. One minute Meechy is rapping about how rap today is all about selling your soul to the devil to get big and the next about how it is to fit in a world where every rapper is too busy blogging or some other acid-induced philosophical shit and transitions to having sex or getting high with no pause in between to let the listener savor some of the shit that’s coming out of his mouth. That sounds kind of bad, but it gives the lines a lot of potency. Every time you listen to it you catch something new that you missed the last listen because you were too swept up in Erick Arc Elliots’ amazing beats. Like today, I realized that Zombie Juice throws in references to wrestlers from the ‘80s in three different songs (Roddy Piper in “S.C.O.S.A,” Psycho Sid in “Mary, Nothing Above Thee,” and Shawn Michaels “Breakfast at ePiffanies”).There are a lot of fun moments on the album. These moments, juxtaposed with the intensity of Meechy Darko and Zombie’s delivery and the loopy, melodic beats throughout, and you have something that deserves an honest listen. Well, that and the fact that the Flatbush Zombies have made it available online for free. My only problem with D.R.U.G.S., (which, as I’m writing, begins to seem like a personal problem), is that there are way too many songs about drugs. I don’t know what I expected, but after a while I felt like, “Fuck, how many songs can include drug references?” I know this is an overarching theme in rap, but with D.R.U.G.S., it’s like Flatbush went out of their way to include a drug reference in all the songs. Overall, it’s a great listen if you’re not deterred by all the pillow talk and drug stuff.