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Framing Hanley – “A Promise To Burn” (2010) May 28, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2010, Framing Hanley.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Framing Hanley’s debut album, ‘The Moment’, was a difficult album to describe. At times mundane, other times vibrant, the album proved to be a sparkling debut, but not one that left a lingering taste. For the three years since, I’ve seen Framing Hanley as a band with great potential. The Nashville quintet has a good sense of song writing, and a talented and unique set of performers. Their newest album ‘A Promise to Burn’ sees the band take their second stab at greatness, an attempt highlighted by a much greater variety of music, and a realization of potential. ‘A Promise to Burn’ is not hard to describe; it is quite simply amazing.

Read the rest of the review at Tunelab Music

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Drowning Pool – “Drowning Pool” (2010) May 2, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2010, Drowning Pool.
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Written by Andrew Hart

No band has had worse luck with lead singers than Drowning Pool.  Made men thanks to their early singles like “Bodies” and “Tear Away,” Drowning Pool has since lost two vocalists and have acquired frontman Ryan McCombs, formerly of Soil, to take over singing duties.  Now, unlike the two before him, McCombs has been given the chance to do a second Drowning Pool album, the follow up to 2007’s Full Circle, an album which sorely needed a standout track.

Read the rest of the review at Tunelab Music

Envy on the Coast – “Lowcountry” (2010) April 21, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2010, Envy on the Coast.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Nothing gets me worked up over a band more than a unique sound, which might explain the immediate attraction to New York’s Envy on the Coast, a band which defies genre and preconceptions.  Going by nothing but straight up “rock,” their newest album Lowcountry is easily one of the most interesting albums of what has been a rather lackluster year up to this point, and it’s driven mostly by some different-sounding stuff and a niche that just can’t be owned by anyone but themselves.

What Envy on the Coast does right is pretty evident after one spin of Lowcountry.  The band’s sound is unlike any other, led largely by some killer vocals that I’ll do my best to describe as a mix of Incubus and Madina Lake with a little Papa Roach sprinkled it.  If that doesn’t get your attention, then something on this album surely will.  “Head First In The River” is the most immediately noticeable tune that has an irresistible hook, and “The Great American T-Shirt Racket” is a brilliantly paced song that may just be the best song I’ve heard in a few months now.  The verses are cool and calm, while the chorus is certainly not shy about screaming out “now I’ve got a t-shirt to go with my scars.”  The lyrics are a bright point on this album, though sometimes they are used to merely dance around material that is already familiar to the genre.  Another of the album’s gems is “Made of Stone,” which an unconventional ballad that doesn’t really hit the mark until it’s climax, but it does it in a big way.

The biggest problem with Lowcountry is how front-loaded it is.  With most of the best songs towards the beginning of the album, there is a noticeable difference following the terribly useless intermission track called “*” (which is an entirely different pet peeve of mine that I won’t get into).  “Made of Stone” aside, much of the back half of the album is hardly memorable, and that’s when the song formula starts to show.  Envy on the Coast has a tendency to go low then high with almost every song, and it gets pretty monotonous by the time you reach the very lame “Just South of Heaven,” which is far lesser of an album closer than “Made of Stone” would have been.

Envy on the Coast has a really diverse and unique sound to their songs, which has sadly become cliche by album’s end.  Despite the cool sound to the band, the album itself isn’t diverse enough to warrant a ton of playthroughs.  I was committed to calling this the best album I’d yet heard in 2010 after the first two or three listens, but since then I’ve become less sure as I realize that Envy on the Coast wears out their welcome pretty fast.  With the exception of a few songs, there aren’t a lot of reasons to go back to Lowcountry, which is a shame given how much promise the band’s sound has.  Still, the album is definitely worth a spin or two, and for a bit, it’ll be pretty entertaining.

6.5 out of 10 – Download “The Great American T-Shirt Racket”

Rawk out to Envy on the Coast on Myspace and Facebook

Lostprophets – “The Betrayed” (2010) March 24, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2010, Lostprophets.
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Written by Andrew Hart

A lot of people weren’t all that content with the latest album from the U.K.’s Lostprophets, a disc called Liberation Transmission that was a real amalgam of poppy rock and crazy-long song titles.  While myself and others may have been pleased with the more upbeat and hooky material, it was certainly a deviation from earlier Lostprophets work, which focused primarily on atmospheric transitions and unique song structure.  All of that is well in the past now, Liberation Transmission was released in 2006, so maybe it’s time to move on and accept the long-awaited The Betrayed. I can’t for the life of me fathom the idea behind the title, all I can say is it’s been way too long since Lostprophets have broken through with some new material, and there’s plenty to be excited about on this eleven song gem.

First off, those who miss the heavier and more transitional material of days gone by will love “If It Wasn’t For Hate, We’d Be Dead By Now.”  Don’t freak too hard, the long song title is all this intro track has in common with the previous album.  Track one is a powerful, drum-fueled, quickie that packs a heavy punch.  A lot of the album focuses on refining what the band has done for it’s last three albums, but the opening track is a significant standout from that.  Similarly, the Lostprophets have a grand finale in “The Light That Burns Twice As Bright.”  The song itself is airy and beautiful, similarly to 2004’s “Sway,” with a really fantastic crescendo.  The fun does not stop there though, as the final eight minutes of the album are a cluster of interesting beats and sounds, an instrumental that would fit well on a sci-fi movie soundtrack or Nine Inch Nails album.  These two tracks certainly pack a unique punch.

That’s where the real big differences end though.  As stated before, The Betrayed feels more than anything like a refining of a craft.  Each track contains reminiscence of at least one Lostprophets album before it, whether it’s the non-stop electricity of “Dstryr and Dstryr” or the insane poppiness of leadoff single “Where We Belong.”  Song transitions make their return from the Start Something years, making this album a smoothly flowing experience marred only by brief gaps between songs.  However sometimes there is too much similarity for comfort.  “Dstryr and Dstryr” takes a lot from 2004’s “Burn Burn,” while “For He’s a Jolly Good Felon” borrows a great deal of it’s tempo from the 2006 single “A Town Called Hypocrisy.”  While it does seem like Lostprophets are working on perfecting their style, they need to be a little more unique in the future.

Ultimately though, The Betrayed is a delight of an album packed with memorable songs that aren’t too poppy nor too dark for a casual listener.  Lostprophets have achieved a good balance with this album and have churned out some great gems like “Dirty Little Heart” and “Streets of Nowhere,” each having a boatload of great traits that make them songs that can be listened to again and again.  A lot of songs on this album can get burned out fast, but for each of those (like “Next Stop Atro City”) there’s a gem of a song that takes a few listens to really get under your skin.  In all, The Betrayed is not a brilliant album, but it is far from a failure, and is a worthy addition to a consistent catalogue.  Now if only it would see an American release any time soon.

7.5 out of 10 – Download “Streets of Nowhere”

Rawk out to Lostprophets on Myspace and Facebook