CD Reviews: Rise Against gives an Appeal to Reason |

CD Reviews: Rise Against gives an Appeal to Reason

Daily staff reportsnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
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Appeal to Reason Geffen / InterscopeLike all polemical punk bands since at least hard-core pioneer Minor Threat, Rise Against faces an elementary challenge: Finding enough melody to keep the message from becoming a tedious, preachy diatribe.The Chicago quartet pulls it off on its fifth album, a collection of lacerating broadsides against what the band regards as American aggression overseas and misplaced priorities at home. Hard-core punk is a clear influence on singer Tim McIlrath, who flings accusations in a voice stretched thin with intensity on Collapse (Post-Amerika). He shows a more tuneful side with the sing-songy pattern of Audience of One and dials back the volume, if not the fervor, on the mournful tale of would-be military valor gone wrong on the acoustic Hero of War. That tune aside, most of the songs on Appeal to Reason are packed full of galloping drums and serrated, chugging guitars. The pummeling rhythm on Kotov Syndrome gives way to a bristling, tuneful breakdown, while Entertainment is a relentless, breakneck-speed assault on vapid pop culture.There is an element of cognitive dissonance that comes with a band skewering the entertainment industrial complex from within the ranks of a major record label, a coveted perch deep within the entertainment industrial complex. Yet Rise Against makes no apology for the seeming contradiction. Maybe its a case of wanting to bring down the system from the inside. Eric R. Danton, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post

A Different Me GeffenKeyshia Cole is 27 years old, a grizzled vet by modern R&B standards, and yet shes just now discovering her sexier side, a part of her personality she politely asks to introduce on the intro track that begins her third album.A real diva, of course, doesnt need permission, which is one reason Cole has yet to join the hallowed ranks of Beyonce, Christina and all of the other singers who have outgrown the need for last names. Still, Cole gets points for agreeability, something A Different Me has in spades.Although the disc also has its share of filler, gems like Please Dont Stop, a mix of future-sexy funk and Pleasure Principle”-era Janet Jackson, suggest that Cole could establish herself as something more than an above-average genre singer.She also deserves credit for Oh-Oh Yeah-Yea and Playa Cardz Right, tunes on which she inspires pro-monogamy raps from Nas and 2Pac, respectively. (Granted, Pac died when Cole was 15, so its doubtful he had the singer in mind when he recorded his verse.) On This Is Us, Cole scrubs off the nightclub makeup from the previous track, the ladies anthem Thought You Should Know, and sings her man a sweet, unadorned love song. The acoustic guitar and Wilson Phillips-like chorus again underscore the idea that Cole, while a gifted performer and songwriter, is more reliable craftswoman than superstar force of nature. Kenneth Partridge, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post

Glasvegas Columbia RecordsTo many American ears, the Scottish band Glasvegas might sound like U2 as fronted by the dad played by Mike Myers in So I Married an Axe Murderer. But singer James Allans overwhelming brogue is a formidable instrument that livens up some otherwise boilerplate epic rock on the bands self-titled new album.From the cheeky band name to the monsoons of Creation Records production effects, everything about Glasvegas screams subject to heavy popularity tariffs if exported out of the U.K. But the earnestness of the bands vision occasionally hits a Darklands”-era Jesus and Mary Chain sweet spot. The hook of Geraldine is a sweet-hearted falsetto catcall, and Daddys Gone and S.A.D. Light could have been Marvelettes singles if the Wall of Sound was instead an Acre of Delay Pedals.Too often, though, the album slogs through droning nonstarters such as Go Square Go and Polmont on My Mind, and thats even excepting Stabbed, a ridiculous spoken-word soliloquy that jacks Beethovens Moonlight Sonata so flagrantly itd make J.R. Rotem blush. Its a bull market for fetishizing exotica in rock music today, but though Glasvegas certainly sounds like Scotland, it feels more like its eponymous Sin City: sprawling and glittery but ultimately artificial. August Brown, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post

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