Av­er­age al­bum from rock­ers

Kapi-Mana News - - REVIEW -

ROCK Van Halen – A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Truth (In­ter­scope) No pres­sure, then. Van Halen’s over­hyped al­bum is their first stu­dio ef­fort in 14 years and David Lee Roth is back af­ter 28 years, so it’s go­ing to be like old times, right?

Not quite, with a first lis­ten giv­ing way to the gnaw­ing scep­ti­cism that this is yet an­other age­ing band cash­ing in on for­mer glory.

I grew up with the riffs, tones and tech­niques of VH; Run­ning With the Devil, Panama and Why Can’t This Be Love. Epic gui­tars, epic sound. That still survives to a de­gree here – there’s no deny­ing the chem­istry be­tween Roth’s yowl and Eddie’s rhythm – but it’s ob­vi­ous much of . . . Truth’s songs have been cob­bled to­gether from un­used scraps left from days gone by. It’s built from the same ideas and per­spec­tive of the al­bums that made them world fa­mous (the key­board is back!) but just lacks that old school raw­ness and thun­der that made them.

Tat­too is not the ideal taster, a dread­ful choice for the first sin­gle; its mind­less cho­rus and cheesy lyrics drive me men­tal. But there are a few nuggets to be found – Bul­let­head is a thrill ride and one of the final tracks, Stay Frosty, is a blues jam high­light that builds to a crescendo. This al­bum touches on the great­ness that VH were in the 80s but is is too con­fused and has too much filler for it to be con­sid­ered a wor­thy book­end to their cat­a­logue. I can’t see many of the songs here mak­ing it on to their set list when they’re tour­ing. 1/2

Kris Dando KIWI Out­siders – Shal­low Grave ( Dead­boy Records)

Punk is an over­looked genre here in New Zealand, de­spite the fact we have a thriv­ing un­der­ground scene and plenty of bands that can hold their own on the in­ter­na­tional punk stage.

One such band is Out­siders, who’ve al­ready proved their met­tle over­seas, play­ing with the likes of leg­endary Cana­dian punk he­roes Propaghandi, and The Par­lotones, and tour­ing all over the US and Europe.

The Out­siders lat­est of­fer­ing, Shal­low Grave, owes a lot to their in­flu­ences. The guys have clearly honed their in­ter­na­tional sound too. And with nods to East Coast punk touted by bands like Hot Water Mu­sic, and even The Bounc­ing Souls, melodic jan­gle, and an­themic vo­cals abound.

A lit­tle muddy record­ing on the gui­tars lets the al­bum down, but their trade­mark cho­rus of voices – four mem­bers of the band sing as well as play gui­tars and bass – ring true and are as rous­ing as ever. With only five short, punchy, songs Shal­low Grave is re­ally an ex­tended EP, but there’s no room for fillers that way – ev­ery song stands on its own grav­elly-voiced mer­its and de­fies you to say it doesn’t. If you like Husker Du, Hot Water Mu­sic or The Scan­dals you’ll en­joy this home­grown take on the alt-rock-punk sound. Dig it.

Kylie Klein-nixon KIWI Will Saun­ders and the Low­est Fidelity – Cu­ri­ous Mal­adies (Dead­boy Records)

I don’t even know what this is sup­posed to be. Folk punk? Psy­che­delic punk? Post-dunedin folk rock?

I don’t know. But who needs la­bels, right? What we ac­tu­ally need is mu­sic it doesn’t hurt to lis­ten to. Cu­ri­ous Mal­adies is not that. This al­bum sounds ugly. There’s no nice way to say it. It’s a sham­bles, and not a good sham­bles like Lib­ertines or Gol­gol Bor­dello. Nasal vo­cals, whin­ing lyrics, lay­ers of in­stru­ments of­ten sound­ing like they’re play­ing dif­fer­ent songs, and a stri­dent har­mon­ica which frankly I could live with­out ever hear­ing again, does not help this al­bum.

Per­haps it’s some­thing that comes across bet­ter live? I’m not sure I want to find out. There’s some tal­ented gui­tar play­ing in there, un­der the echo and noise. Why would you drown that out?

Will clearly has some kind of John Len­non-on-an-off-day fix­a­tion, at times veer­ing into an un­for­tu­nate sub­Mor­ris­sey-es­que drone. I can tell there are lyrics, but it’s hard to hear them with my fin­gers in my ears from all the re­verb and echo.

A met­ric tonne of re­verb on vo­cals cou­pled with record­ing your gui­tar tracks in a toi­let can cover for limited re­sources when you’re mak­ing a cheap al­bum, but it can’t make up for a deficit of tal­ent. Please never sing any­thing again. Thank you.

Kylie Klein-nixon

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