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Reviews (Album, Movie, TV)
Clay Cook's “North Star” PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Monday, 28 October 2013 14:58

Clay cook is known for a lot of things in the music industry. He got his start in a band called Lo-Fi Masters, a duo he began with John Mayer in 1996 while they attended Berkley.A few years later, they moved to Atlanta and the rest is history. Considering himself more of a producer, he co wrote “Neon”, “Why Georgia,” and “No Such Thing.” After parting way, He went on to play with Shawn Mullins, Sugarland, The Marshall Tucker Band, and most recently Zac Brown Band. Impressive huh? The later has lead to a Grammy award. Not to have his name secondary, Cook has released his third solo effort, “North Star,” on October 22, 2013, on Zac Brown's Southern Ground Records. Appearing on the record are John Mayer, The Wood Brothers, Steel Magnolia and Clare Brown. “North Star” is rollercoaster of emotion, but Cook has taken the ride and in the end, it is worth all the terrifying moments.

Comfortably sitting in a chair, plugged in and crooning, Cook is ready. “I am the man on the side/Hoping you'll make up your mind/I am the one who will swallow his pride/Life as the man on the side.” This year will end this notion. Cook will be at the forefront and easing into your radio.

North Star is packed full of the same influence he has on those listed above. The entire album from start to finish, is a great “on the road” travel companion. Full of longing and loss and breaking through, the listener is taken by the hand though hard endings and new beginnings. Cook is ready to break out. “How many dreams have died while waiting on the right time?” Cook asks.  With exemplary lyrics and raw harnessed talent, North Star is a shines. “I'll walk into fire if water is waiting on the other side,” and Cook is not waiting

On first listen, I am immediately drawn to “Terrible Timing.” At a cursory glance, it is reminiscent of my wilder years. Being thrown out of a girls house by her father...ah memories. This, however is a love song about falling and realizing that not being ready to be the man you have to be and that rushing in, can be the mistakes regretted most.

The quiet slide of a steel guitar and gentle pound of an acoustic guitar create a settling calm in “Falling Over You.” Cook is full of wonder and woe and the finally the joy of breaking through. “There's a maze I built around my heart bordered by mistakes” is the line that shines. Overly relatable and passionate, Cook feels like a character from a romantic comedy that you just have to root for.

“North Star” is well rounded. It is complex in its instrumentation and simple in its relatability. It is quiet and bold and caring and all the magical parts that make music the heart and soul of our existence. Cook has hit a home run. Get ready to know his name.

Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 15:52
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s "The Speed of Things" PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 October 2013 09:51

The two guys from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. may or may not be racing fans, but their second album sounds tuned in, revved up and ready for the checkered flag.

“The Speed of Things” turns up the energy, raises the danceability, and pours on the sugar, setting the bar even higher than their excellent 2011 debut. It’s a sweet combination of melodies, keyboards, the occasional folk elements, and dancable rhythms all into a nice pop package. And though these are all good things, sometimes too much of a good thing…

“Beautiful Dream” starts it all with just that, a dream- like arena setting somewhere between the Flaming Lips and E.L.O. Things keep bumping along with “Run”, the charming and sentimental love song “Knock Louder” and the perfect dance single “If You Didn’t See Me (then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor}” which is dreamy enough to have fallen off a Washed Out album.

The energy keeps going and going throughout “Speed” filled with enough gooey pop to give you a sugar rush, but that’s not necessarily a major complaint. Maybe the boys are trying just a little too hard to please, revving the engine a bit too high. And once you listen to second half numbers like “Dark Water” or “Gloria” separate from the rest of the happy production you can really appreciate how many well crafted gems there are on the album.

So maybe Dale Earnhardt Jr. jr. spends a little too much time on the sweet side of the track, they’ve still got the goods to finish with flying colors.


Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 09:54
Skytown Riot's "Soul or System" PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Alec Cunningham   
Sunday, 27 October 2013 10:57

Budding Knoxville rockers Skytown Riot have managed to go above and beyond expectations with the release of an EP titled Soul Or System. As the band’s second release as a group, this is an EP that suggests great things for the band in the coming years.

The four musicians define their style as “Euroamerican Rock.” Simply put, it’s a sound that combines electronic with rock. These track are peppered with hard rock attributes that are then juxtaposed with electronic and pop characteristics that allow their work to come alive.

The EP, which contains a total of six tracks, finds solid footing at the forefront with the opener “Sensational.” The song begins with a strong introduction of piano and strings that creates an orchestra of sound that soon moves on to include drums and heavy electric guitar riffs.

They’ve thrown a fresh spin to a classic with their rendition of "House of the Rising Sun." This is a version geared much more toward an arena rock sound than its classic rock counterpart. "Runaway Princess" stands out as a track to be remembered. In fact, it has even become the EP’s first single. Though it comes as one of their heavier tracks both instrumentally as well as vocally, the melody ties it all back together, delivering a sound melodic structure. The releases title track comes last and supplies a solid end to the album.

Skytown Riot has delivered a sound that’s like a guilty pleasure for the ears; it’s a palatable, accessible sound that they have opened up to a number of separate genres and therefore a number of distinct listener fan bases. Memorable hooks and riff-driven melodies make these songs ones you’re not likely to skip over or forget anytime soon, and the amalgamation between electronic and hard rock is what really makes this EP stand out.

Their CD release party will be held Saturday, Nov. 16 at Preservation Pub and will feature two guest bands. The EP will be officially available through iTunes and other digital outlets on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This is a group whose music you can’t help but believe will be phenomenal live as well as on tape. If you’re a fan of similar artists such as Breaking Benjamin and Hoobastank, Skytown Riot is a group to add to your play list, and their release party is a show to add to your calendar.

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 11:04
The Royal Bangs, "Brass" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Damion Huntoon   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:50

Knoxville’s pride, The Royal Bangs, release the pondering pop of “Brass”

The new Royal Bangs album is good. Not good as in it may stand as the shiniest of beacons in the band’s eventual discography, but good in the fact that the Royal Bangs have come to learn who they are. They’ve grown up.

And like maturing, you come to find that you aren’t going be the next Michael Jordan, the next President or the second coming of the savior of the world, and in this reflection you find a humble peace that allows you to enjoy your life more fully while you have it. To find this peace you have to look back - sometimes way back - to your successes and failures. Were they worth it? What do I have to show for myself? Maybe I blew it a long time ago and just don’t realize it yet? That’s what the Royal Bangs are pondering on “Brass.”

Through the entirety of the album the Bangs give fans what they expect from the seasoned band. Chris Rusk’s drumming is impeccable, weaving in and out of Schaefer’s to and fro, suave pop motions. Sam Stratton’s guitar chimes like a diamonds bouncing on gold, counterpointing with Schaefer’s multiple keyboard tones and at times locking in with Rusk and recent addition bassist Dylan Dawkins’ fuzzy, poignant support.

These are things the Bangs know they can do.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:51
Show Review: The National PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Written by Jordan Knight   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:45

The National
Asheville, NC, 9/24/13

For so long I have waited, wanted, yearned to see The National. Okay, yearned is a bit too much. While running all over this great country catching concerts, for one reason or another I have never made it to see them and frustration is just the beginning. Today was different. The confirmation email appeared and dreams began coming true. With my girlfriend in tow, seats right up front and a tank full of gas, the reality set in.

We arrived to the loud, vibrant sounds of Frightened Rabbit. Their slow paced albums were nothing like this all out on slaught of sound. They were there to rock. For the final notes of the last song of their set, the lead singer Scott Hutchison smashed his guitar and the crowd reaction was palpable. This is the first and only time I have ever seen an opening band receive a full standing ovation.

The National were jovial, and by jovial, I mean frontman Matt Berninger was happily consuming wine and ready to play. The crowd was relaxed as the show slowly built. The fourth song, Bloodbuzz Ohio, a huge hit for the band in 2010, woke the crowd and had them screaming. As a lead into Sea of Love, off the new album Trouble Will Find Me, Berninger laughably stated, “I usually f**k that up.” Lead guitar, Bryce Dessner, responded, “you never f**k that up in front of people.” Berninger retorted, “I've f**ked it up in front of people. You're people! I'm going to f**k this one up!”

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:47
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