Average album from rockers
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.