Quarters for the Jukebox

Album — For My Friends by Blind Melon

Blind Melon
Blind Melon returns from the land of the non-recording bands, after losing lead singer/songwriter Shannon Hoon from a drug overdose in 1995 (though they continued with a few posthumous albums up until 2001). The group reformed with new singer Travis Warren at the helm. His vocals are cutting in their own right, but his sound doesn’t stray much from the original Hoon-led Blind Melon (Warren sounds like he was born to be the lead singer for an 80s hair band or a reboot of Blind Melon). With Warren’s familiar singing, the album slides in nicely to the band’s discography, an easy continuation of the band’s early to mid-90’s work. The lyrics are generally uplifting and sound meant to be inspirational in some form or another, which doesn’t always seem to fit with how the music actually sounds. Overall, the album is consistent with a really rootsy feel to it. Original fans will enjoy, but if you weren’t a fan before, don’t expect to be converted. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: For My Friends; Harmful Belly; Last Laugh.

Worth listening, if you like: Collective Soul; Jane’s Addiction; Marcy Playground; Pearl Jam; Phish; Soul Asylum; Rusted Root; Toad the Wet Sprocket; Tonic.


Album — 3 Doors Down by 3 Doors Down

3 Doors Down
3 Doors Down walk the fine line the band has been balancing their entire career: producing melodic rock for the radio masses, while still enfusing a harder edge to keep their credibility as an actual “rock” band. The balance of genres has served the band well—and they haven’t deviated from it—with the new self-titled album debuting at #1 on the Billboard chart (I still don’t understand a self-titled album when it’s your fourth major release). The group said it was greatly influenced during the past few years during their concerts for the military (the band’s single “When I’m Gone” became an anthem for military personnel leaving for Afghanistan and Iraq). This lingering influence (and adjoining themes) can be seen directly in tracks like “Citizen/Soldier,” and indirectly with “It’s Not My Time” (video linked). Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Train; It’s Not My Time; Let Me Be Myself.

Worth listening, if you like: Nickelback; Alter Bridge; Matchbox Twenty; Default; Daughtry; Bush; Fuel.

Album — Anthems for the Damned by Filter

Anthem for the Damned
Filter is back after a six year hiatus and musically picks up where it left off. The album cover art features a helmet propped on a rifle, gazing over a darkened wasteland with little room for the sun to shine through. The visual cue is dead on for the music inside. The songs dwell largely in a world of war, consequences, hatred and uncertainty with a splash of hope. Per usual for a Filter album, the songwriting feels very personable and unguarded. The songs work well with each other and the whole thing feels somewhat like a concept album, creating a very bleak landscape. Within that landscape are a couple of songs with a shot at being successful singles: “Kill the Day” (or its remix) and “Cold” (echoes of “Take My Picture”). Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Kill the Day; Cold; Hatred is Contagious; Lie After Lie.

Worth listening, if you like: Army of Anyone; Audioslave; Sound Garden; Deftones; Nine Inch Nails; Stone Temple Pilots.

Single/Video — Pork and Beans by Weezer

Pork and Beans is the first single for Weezer’s upcoming “Red Album” (available June 3, 2008), and the video is flipping amazing. It pulls the resources of virtually every famous (or infamous) YouTube clip. Quite simply, it’s one the best music videos I’ve seen in awhile (and the song is pretty good too).

Album — The Black Swan by Story of the Year

The Black Swan Cometh
Story of the Year makes a run at staying socially relevant after slumping with their sophomore album, In the Wake of Determination. The anthemic emo-ish-post-grunge group keeps an edgier sound to a point, but adds a bit more melody and pop influences than their last album. The lyrics are also more politically focused, along with some dissertations on humans’ “delusions” of “a privileged position” in the universe.

Several of the songs are structured similarly with the “opening big riff, drop-off for singing, back to loud chords, scream a bit, get quiet, big finish” format. The album is constantly moving from screaming to piano solos to pounding drums to wind blowing to reverb to emo to power chords (often all within a three minute span). This balancing of differences (rock/pop, sing/scream, loud/soft) should attract fans of Page Avenue back to the band, with the potential of a return to radio play garnering some new attention as well. We will just have to wait and see if this particular breed of the genre has any legs left to it in mainstream play. One thing is for certain though—when they head out on tour—bring back New Empire! Also, props for the marketing and graphic design. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Wake Up; The Antidote; We’re Not Gonna Make It.

Worth listening, if you like: Rise Against; Hell is For Heroes; Fightstar; Lostprophets; New Empire; One Minute Silence; Coheed & Cambria; Deftones; Thrice; Used; AFI; Saves the Day.