Junior Senior "Junior Senior" (Atlantic Recording Company)
2.5 / 4 stars
WARNING: The songs on this album will get stuck in your head for days, potentially even weeks. But it will be a week filled with bright colors, happy tunes and upbeat energy. That is, until the listener wishes he never heard "Go Junior, go Senior, go Junior, Junior Senior" from Danish duo Junior Senior's opening track. The band mixes a B-52's style with undertones of Jackson Five-era Michael, the Beach Boys and a little classic rock, all with a twist on its self-titled debut album.
Junior and Senior use colorful lyrics and dance-tune beats to combine songs like "Boy Meets Girl" with lyrics that suggest boy meets boy, as well. By far, the best track on the album is "Move Your Feet," a live recording. But this, too, will undoubtedly remain bouncing around in your brain indefinitely. "Junior Senior" also has two award-winning video tracks worth checking out.
- HOLLI CHMELA
All Out War "Condemned to Suffer" (Victory Records)
2 / 4 stars
All Out War's third album, "Condemned to Suffer," delivers nearly 40 minutes of heavy, angry, bone-crushing metal. You can expect to hear a lot of double bass drums, screaming and distortion on the recurrent guitar breakdowns and riffs.
This album will definitely only appeal to those who really love serious heavy metal, but it will not leave this niche audience unsatisfied. The one area where this album lacks, however, is vocals. The tone of the screaming would perhaps lend itself better to a hardcore album than a straight-up metal album like "Condemned to Suffer." It's also probably better not to read the lyrics, which tend to employ many Christian apocalyptic themes, but generally have little worth and can be hackneyed at times.
Past All Out War fans and anyone who just wants to hear a genuine metal band ripping up a record will enjoy this album. People who want meaning or a finely-honed voice growling along with them will be disappointed.
- STEVE GOEHRKE
Obie Trice "Cheers" (Shady/ Interscope)
2.5 / 4 stars
Detriot's Obie Trice, megastar Eminem's latest prot?g?, brings a mixture of violence and humor to the rap game. With the popularity of gangster rap once again on the rise, many of Obie Trice's tracks deal with the violence that he grew up with.
Obie covers many of the same gangster ideals as fellow Eminem-signed rapper 50 Cent, but with much better vocabulary and clearer vocal delivery. Not all of "Cheers" is about hood life, but instead about comical situations that Obie imagines. Obie is strongest on these funny raps about hoping to hook up with a girl who at least has teeth in "Got Some Teeth" and ditching ugly girls from the hood in favor of hot models and actresses in "Hoodrats."
"Cheers" features awesome beats produced by Eminem, Dr. Dre and Timbaland, an all-star guest rapper roster and Obie's promising rap style. The biggest problem is the lack of originality of the rap subjects. Listeners can only hear about gang squabbles, Ja Rule jabs and near death experiences for so long. "Cheers" is a good debut for Obie Trice, but it leaves a lot of room for improvement.
- JORGE DEL PINAL
Lucky Boys Confusion "Commitment" (Elektra)
2 / 4 stars
Lucky Boys Confusion is not just another punk band. It is a group of talented musicians who have shown, through a series of albums, a fusion of ska, reggae, punk and hip-hop. Its new album, "Commitment," is a step in the wrong direction for a band that has done a wonderful job of trying to stand out. It is an album full of songs that are catchy but do not show the variety that Lucky Boys normally shows.
The songs range in message from suicide and alcoholism to "leave me alone and let me play video games" on a fan favorite, "Atari." While the songs have less variety than their first national release, "Growing Out of It," it is an album worth getting for true Lucky Boys fans. This album is its first national release of all new material, since embarking on national tours.
For those who are looking for a great album to add color to their punk/emo collection, buy "Growing Out of It" instead.
Azure Ray "Hold On Love" (Saddle Creek Records)
4 / 4 stars
Azure Ray combines breathy vocals with various instrumentation on its third album in as many years, "Hold On Love." Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, both former members of the ever-changing Bright Eyes lineup, comprise the duo and released the new album on the Saddle Creek label of Bright Eyes introverted front man Conor Oberst.
On the opening track, "The Devil's Feet," a piano intro is coupled with Cat Power-esque vocals to set the mood of the record as a brooding-but-beautiful exercise in pop catharsis. Like Bright Eyes, Azure Ray manages to take what would be simple pop songs and convert them into complicated anthems of indie-rock. On "New Resolution" a drum machine is mixed with acoustic guitar and various percussion, woodwinds and orchestral pieces that accompany the despondent vocals. Other songs are more stripped, such as the achingly beautiful "Look To Me," and the piano ballad "Across the Ocean."
- DANIEL LONGINO
Campfire Girls "Tell Them Hi" (Interscope Records)
3 / 4 stars
"Tell Them Hi" is a good album, but not exceptional. It is rock in its most general sense with songs ranging from terrific to bland.
There are some songs that just sound too produced or packaged for radio. "Someday," one of the songs the sticker on the CD case says to check out, lacks both musical and lyrical creativity and sounds uninspired. "Tell Them Hi" does have a few songs that stand out. The opening track, "Junkman," is a slow but powerful rock song that shows the Campfire Girls have a lot of talent. The track "Homework" also succeeds by combining driving harmonic guitar chords with melodic vocals in the same way that the band Hum did.
Check out "Tell Them Hi," but don't expect a masterpiece.
- GARRETT KARRBERG
Hatebreed "Rise to Brutality" (Universal)
3 / 4 stars
The first song on "Rise to Brutality" is entitled "Tear it Down" and is a continuation from the "Outro" or last song on the band's last album, "Perseverance," which was a really cool idea and starts the album off on the right foot. Some good songs on "Rise to Brutality" include "Live For This," "A Lesson Lived is a Lesson Learned," "Another Day, Another Vendetta" and "This is Now," which is the first single off the album.
The album is typical of Hatebreed, in which the listener knows that initially he'll feel a little awkward about it since it goes in a slightly different direction than the previously released albums, yet remains true to hardcore. After each listen the album grows more and more on the listener and becomes just as good as the previously released albums.
This album is definitely worth picking up. Hatebreed is tentatively scheduled to return to D.C. on the Stillborn festival tour with Sick of it All.
- FRED NETZBAND
Jet "Get Born" (Elektra)
1.5 / 4 stars
Australian band Jet is void of anything to define itself from its blazer-wearing, guitar-driven counterparts seen frequenting MTV2 as of late. "Get Born" manages to cover all the bases that render an album crap. Not only does the cover art scream of a pedes-trian attempt to rip off The Beatles "Revolver," but also they squeak in some harmonies and progressions that are familiar to The Beatles, minus the brilliance.
"Look What You've Done" also demonstrates Jet's ability to write something so simple and sappy that it couldn't be listenable anywhere but at a middle school dance. In "Move On," Jet breaks into a jammy oddly-Kid Rock-esque tune about "not bein' afraid no more." But to call Jet alt-country would be blasphemously ranking them among greats like Wilco.
"Get What You Need," an example of Jet's utter lack of lyrical prowess, sloshes out a painful lamentation about an absent lady friend, because "now I'm in a rocking band, and no one is to hold my hand." Ouch, guys. Not everyone gets to be Jason Molina or Charles Bissell in the game of profound lyrics, but Jet clearly needs to look into a College Writing course.
- JEN TURNER