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2009 Surprise of the Year Winner January 6, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in Creed, RMAs.
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Creed – “Full Circle”

Who would have guessed?  Given the supposed bad blood between Scott Stapp and the rest of Creed (also Alter Bridge), it was highly unlikely to think Creed would ever reunite.  Go figure though, because the band is back together and producing some pretty good music.  With a bit of the hard edge that makes Alter Bridge so great, not only did Creed release a new album, but it actually turned out pretty damn good.  What a surprise.


2009 Song of the Year Winner January 5, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in Marianas Trench, RMAs.
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Marianas Trench – “Masterpiece Theatre Pt. 3”

It’s like all of your favorite songs in one.  Masterpiece Theatre is a hell of an album, and part 3 of the title track is a fantastic reminder as it seamlessly blends every song from the album into a near seven minute epic of high voices, unique instrumentation, and fun upbeat lyrics.  2009 was full of strong songs, but there was just no topping 12 songs rolled into one.

2009 Disappointment of the Year “Winner” January 3, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in Papa Roach, RMAs.
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Papa Roach – “Metamorphosis”

Considering they had never really disappointed during their nine year tenure as the leading men of nu-metal, I guess Papa Roach was due.  2009’s “Metamorphosis” was a mess of an album, coated in uninspired lyrics, bland tunes, and mediocre instrumentals.  Though it’s clear it is Papa Roach playing on this album, it doesn’t feel like the same band that constructed great tunes like “Scars” and “Forever.”

2009 Hit of the Year Winner January 2, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in RMAs, Shinedown.
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Shinedown – “Second Chance”

The 2009 song of the year winner had a big year in 2009, locking up some bigtime radio play for the Jacksonville quartet and making Shinedown a household name across the country.  The lyrics to the chorus have become etched in the American mind, and the album that “Second Chance” comes from, The Sound of Madness, has continued to sell like hotcakes.  Releasing “Second Chance” as a single may have been the best decision of the year for a rock band, and it was it’s biggest hit was born accordingly.  Congrats to Shinedown.

One of the seven Rawkfist Music Award winners will be revealed each of the next seven days.

2009 RMAs – Album of the Year Nominees December 29, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in A Broken Silence, Breaking Benjamin, Daughtry, Hurt, Joan Red, Marianas Trench, Our Lady Peace, Red, RMAs, The Veer Union, Vaeda.
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Breaking Benjamin – “Dear Agony”

A Broken Silence – “All For What…”

Daughtry – “Leave This Town”

Hurt – “Goodbye To The Machine”

Joan Red – “Side Effects of You”

Marianas Trench – “Masterpiece Theatre”

Our Lady Peace – “Burn Burn”

Red – “Innocence and Instinct”

Vaeda – “Unsafe At Any Speed”

The Veer Union – “Against The Grain”

Hello? Is this thing on? December 28, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in Uncategorized.
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So news time kids, good stuff this time.

Rawkfist Music will be reopening it’s doors sometime in the next few days with brand new reviews, and will return to full time reviewing of stuff.  Why is this?  Well, I’m going to get to that.  Until then, just know that new reviews are on the way, big end of the year stuff I missed like Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace, as well as little bands I picked up by the names of Plan Three and A Broken Silence.  Look forward to all of that and more, as Rawkfist Music makes it’s big return to the internet.

Also, if for any reason you want to treasure one of the non-review posts forever, I’d save it now, as most of the podcast and other related posts will be deleted sometime in the next few days.  Other changes are going to be made as well.

OH!  And the nominees of the 2009 RMAs will be announced soon.  Rejoice.

Thanks, Andrew

Adelitas Way – “Adelitas Way” (2009) August 16, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Adelitas Way.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Promising new acts continue to burst onto the scene in 2009, continuing with Las Vegas rockers Adelitas Way.  True to the heritage of their hometown, Adelitas Way is all about putting on a show and blowing away their audience, as they’re happy to make apparent on their self-titled debut.  Strong hooks lead the charge through much of the album, propelled forward by vocalist Rick DeJesus, who stretches his vocal cords most prominently on album opener and first single “Invincible.”  Popular already thanks to the affiliation to WWE Superstars, “Invincible” has all the makings of a rock and roll smash, with it’s undeniable prescence and nonstop pace.  This trend rocks continually through songs like “Scream” and “My Derailment,” though both remain strong in their own ways thanks to notable choruses and great pacing.  The latter in particular is notable or these reasons.

The softer side of Adelitas Way is exposed a few times throughout to distribute the weight of the disc a bit.  “Closer To You” is atmospheric and emotional, standing as one of the most noteworthy cuts on the album.  The same cannot be said of it’s late-album sibling, the aptly titled “Brother.”  Though lyrically “Brother” is one of the better tracks from Adelitas Way, it’s sadly remiss of anything else.  The pacing of the song doesn’t fit the emotional baggage of the theme, and it makes this closing track a downer for all the wrong reasons.  Still, “Brother” is one of the few misses on an album full of gems like the intense “So What If You Go” and the ethereal “All Falls Down.”

While some of these tracks showcase the lyrical potential of Adelitas Way, tracks like “Scream” and “Dirty Little Thing” seem to lower the bar the band has set for themselves.  Although strong in instrumental quality and hook, the band jumps on the cock rock bandwagon a little too comfortably with lyrics like “I like it when we’re up against the wall.”  While I’ve never been one to crucify a band for hopping on the party traditions of old school rock and roll, a band with as much potential as Adelitas Way seems to be squandering chances on pleasing an album-wanting audience.  There’s no denying the hooks of each cut on this disc though, and the debut album from Adelitas Way will offer up plenty of replay on your MP3 player to whet your rock appetite.

8 out of 10 – Download “Closer To You”

Adelitas Way is | Rick DeJesus – Vocals | Chris Iorio – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals | Keith Wallen – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals | Derek Johnston – Bass, Backing Vocals | Trevor Stafford – Drums, Backing Vocals

Sick Puppies – “Tri-Polar” (2009) August 6, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Sick Puppies.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Nothing will get you attention like an Australian accent, an attractive bass player that tears the house down, and a bunch of free hugs.  What band could possibly have all three?  How about a band of three, calling themselves Sick Puppies, who roar into 2009 with a sophomore effort that’s catching on like wildfire.  After their 2007 single “All The Same” roared throughout the world thanks to the “Free Hugs” campaign, the australian threesome have stormed into the current year with songs like “War” used to promote the Street Fighter IV video game, and “You’re Going Down” being used in professional wrestling.  The newly acquired tough guy persona is a big shift in persona, but how well does it work with a band known for interesting lyrics and relatable subject matter?

Well the aforementioned songs are certainly a trip, that’s for sure.  Though shallow and anything but chivalrous, “War” and “You’re Going Down” are visceral and addictive from the drop of a hat.  Flooded with rough, angry vocals and unstoppable instrumentals, these two singles and their counterpart “I Hate You” are quick standouts on an album that takes a lot of listens to fully grip.  Once you slip past these easily accessible anthems, you’re suddenly swimming in subject matter that brings you back to Sick Puppies’ debut effort.  “Riptide” is an odd song from this batch with it’s big change in tone from verse to chorus, but it still stands out as a strong and relatable track.  Just about the biggest standout is “Don’t Walk Away” which is also one of the biggest changes in sound.  Toned down and acoustic for great portions of the song, “Don’t Walk Away” is a big change from tracks like “War”, but it’s soaring and catchy chorus will have you coming back time and again.

Tri-Polar, as the album is called, is not without faults.  Many of the songs blend into each other too well like the period from “So What I Lied” to “Maybe”, a stretch that contains four songs.  While each is fine on it’s own merits, none really stand out on a straight listen of the disc, especially the bland “Maybe.”  “Odd One” is also a poor song overall, lacking any sort of memorability.  On top of these issues, tracks like “War” and “You’re Going Down” may be addictive and fun, but their shallow lyrics are a major step down from many of the songs on the Puppies’ 2007 debut.  Many of the stronger lyrical songs are the least accessible ones, and thus it takes many spins to figure out Tri-Polar. While there is a decent amount of material to enjoy on this album, there is also a lot that wouldn’t be missed, which makes for an erratic experience.

6 out of 10 – Download “Don’t Walk Away”

Sick Puppies is | Shimon Moore – Vocals, Guitar | Emma Anzai – Bass, Backing Vocals | Mark Goodwin – Drums

Our Lady Peace – “Burn Burn” (2009) July 21, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Our Lady Peace.
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Written by Andrew Hart

It’s been a long time since the latest effort from Canadian four-piece Our Lady Peace.  Way back in 2005, Our Lady Peace continued their endeavor to add as much variety to their career as possible with the mellowed-out Healthy In Paranoid Times, adding to a collection that has seen everything from grunge influence to falsetto-laced concept albums.  In the time since 2005, the band has postponed their seventh studio album with two greatest hits collection and a solo album from lead singer Raine Maida, but at last the time has come for some new music from the band in the form of a disc called Burn Burn. At a mere 10 tracks, Burn Burn has a lot to live up to in a short amount of time, but per usual, Our Lady Peace does not disappoint.

Lead single and kickoff track “All You Did Was Save My Life” is easily the most accessible and radio-ready of any track on the CD.  Uptempo and unrelenting, it’s one of the most rocking tracks Our Lady Peace has written in recent memory, and while certainly not as catchy as most stuff one would hear on the radio, it’s got all the makings of a song to be lodged in your mind for days.  The rest of the disc is quick to depart from this theme, and quickly create a new one, revisiting the old days.  While “All You Did Was Save My Life” is certainly a throwback to the hard-rocking days of early Our Lady Peace, the next track “Dreamland” is quick to invoke the name of the more recent, toned-down incarnation of the band.  Much of the CD is focused on sounding more streamlined and it succeeds with this with tracks such as the two aforementioned as well as “Never Get Over You” and “White Flags.”

It’s certainly not the last of the Our Lady Peace throwbacks though.  “Monkey Brains” is about as vintage as you’ll ever hear from this band, a song with a quirky sound and strange lyrical content that sounds like it would have fit happily in with the sounds of the band’s earlier work Happiness…. The tempo shift in mid-track even pulls directly from the influence of that album’s “Stealing Babies.”  Those who miss the days when Raine pulled out that signature falsetto will get a small bit of fanservice as well, as he shows it off briefly, for the first time in nine years, on the album’s closer “Paper Moon.”  Most of the album dwells on sounding like the more mainstream works of Our Lady Peace, but each track seems reminiscent of various parts of the band’s career, making this disc an excellent retrospect for fans.

Taking a moment to assess the band, they all seem as in sync as they’ve ever been.  Maida as always turns in a great vocal performance, singing all over the board with various tempos and tones and even ringing out that falsetto briefly.  The music is so well written however, that all the other members of the band have moments to shine despite the overall mellow atmosphere of the disc.  Guitarist Steve Mazur gets to turn in some memorable riffs on tracks like “Escape Artist” and drummer Jeremy Taggart continues to impress with his sheer talent behind a kit.  A great technical drummer, Taggart impresses not with speed, but with variety throughout all of Burn Burn. Our Lady Peace has for years been a fantastic all-around band and this album certainly continues that trend.

At a mere ten tracks, and run time of just over thirty-eight minutes, the biggest fault of Burn Burn’s may be it’s short stay.  And, while still interesting and a great retrospective, the album does not feature the kind of creativity of past Our Lady Peace efforts.  The same band that once wrote an entire concept album based on robots and machines is now writing straightforward ballads like “Never Get Over You.”  While of course, this change has been happening for a few years now, it’s still a disappointment.  Many of the songs retain some of that creativiy however, and Maida is still a fantastic songwriter when he can play off these cliches well.  There’s plenty of that genius songwriting of old too, with lines like “This whole world has gone crazy, God’s got a little lazy,” from “White Flags.”  All things said, Burn Burn is another fantastic showing from Our Lady Peace, and one which will be even more rewarding for longtime fans of the band.  For old fans and new however, this album will serve as a great disc sure to please plenty of alternative rock fans.

9 out of 10 – Download “Escape Artist”

Our Lady Peace is | Raine Maida – Lead Vocals | Steve Mazur – Guitar, Backing Vocals | Duncan Coutts – Bass, Backing Vocals | Jeremy Taggart – Drums

Daughtry – “Leave This Town” (2009) July 11, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Daughtry.
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Written by Andrew Hart

Okay, I’ll admit it, I have been known from time to time to give into the satanic cult that is American Idol.  The reason for this of course being that once in a great while, an act like Chris Daughtry will pop up and remind me just how totally awesome someone can be.  See, despite not winning American Idol that year (instead Taylor Hicks won), Daughtry put some people together and in very Bon Jovi-esque fashion formed a band based on his namesake and went on to sell a bajillion records with their debut album.  Now, an excruciating two years later for those of us who fell in love with aforemention debut, Chris and Co. return with Leave This Town, and attempt to duplicate all that magic of 2007.

I’d love to start this off by saying “You Don’t Belong” is every bit as good of a disc opener as the 2007 smash “It’s Not Over” but quite frankly, it’s not.  What it is however, is an explosive rock radio hit waiting to happen.  The opening riff is more intense than anything on the debut, and leans far more to hard rock than this band has dared to tread before.  This is actually a pretty common trend too, and Chris wasn’t lying when he claimed at one point this was going to be a harder record.  “Every Time You Turn Around” and “Ghost of Me” are both bombastic hard rockers that definitely flow in the same vein of harder songs of the genre.  Powered by Chris Daughtry’s incredible voice, one built from the ground up for this kind of music, the hooks are heavier than ever, and most importantly, much catchier.

The album’s not all eardrum explosions however.  Obviously drawing from the formula that created the song-so-good-it’s-freaking-everywhere known as “Home”, there are plenty of awesome ballads to round out Leave This Town. Leadoff single “No Suprise” is arguably the weakest, which is saying something since it’s still pretty good.  Really it’s biggest flaw is there’s no obvious hook, a rare moment for this album.  For it’s flaw however, the others step up.  “Life After You” is a major standout four songs in, and “Open Up Your Eyes” is an awesome blend of ballad and rocker much as “Breakdown” was on the previous album.  While songs of this nature don’t stand out as much as the heavier songs, they’ll be getting your attention just as much as the others after a few listens, again with a lot of thanks to Daughtry’s vocal power.

The two tracks that really need to get addressed are “What I Meant To Say” and “Call Your Name”.  The former is one of those hard-hitting slobberknocker tracks I’ve already mentioned thousands of times in four paragraphs, but it pulls it off brilliantly.  It’s a song of epic F-U proportions, driven by the line “I know I said I’m sorry but that’s not what I meant to say.”  You know those moments when you just really hate someone or something that happened and you need a song to blow at the guy next to you in traffic.  This is that song.  Getting back to “Call Your Name”, we find a totally different song from anything on the album.  Demonstrating Chris’s voice and songwriting abilities better than anything better than recent memory, “Call Your Name” is one of those brilliant escalator songs, one that gets bigger and better as it goes.  Kicking off with some light falsetto and instrumentation, and ending with a crash of guitars and drums, “Call Your Name” is an epic ending to Leave This Town, and a track sure to leave a lasting memory.

So where does Daughtry go wrong?  My thoughts are this, Daughtry goes wrong without Daughtry.  There’s a reason this band bears Chris’ name, and that’s because it would be lacking without.  The instrumentation throughout the album is never stellar or all that ear-grabbing, but instead most of the disc is driven forward by Daughtry’s amazing vocal prowess.  I hate to throw so much of this band out the window, but I’d be lying if I said that his voice isn’t priority numero uno for this project.  The lyrics and song structure are strong enough, so all in Leave This Town is really good music.  I can’t take much away from it for it’s flaws, because as long as Chris is part of the band, these guys are the real deal, and have once again crafted a CD full of addictive radio rock sure to please casual and hardcore listeners alike.  Don’t doubt it, Daughtry is no one-album wonder, but is in it for the long haul.

9 out of 10 – Download “Call Your Name”

Daughtry is | Chris Daughtry – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar | Josh Steely – Lead Guitar | Brian Craddock – Rhythm Guitar | Josh Paul – Bass, Backing Vocals | Joey Barnes – Drums