Former Rage guitarist bares his soul on new release
The Fabled City Epic3.5 stars of 5After so many years hearing Tom Morellos unique, iconic guitar parts giving buoyancy to Zack de la Rochas angry vocals in Rage Against the Machine and Chris Cornells raspy screams in Audioslave, its hard to imagine him as a mellow folk singer. But thats just what Morello is on The Fabled City, his second solo project as his alter-ego, The Nightwatchman.The album is full of Morellos political points of view, which should come as no surprise to anyone who follows his career, but instead of presenting them in the bombastic manner in which Rage did, Morello slows down the pace, picks up an acoustic guitar and keeps his voice at a reasonable decibel level.In the title track, Morello sings about the working class struggle for success: Ive seen the fabled city/ Its streets are paved with gold/ But an iron fence runs round it/ Its iron gate is closed. Theres also references to President Bush and Hurricane Katrina and while Morello doesnt raise his voice too often, the emotions conveyed by his voice let you know his take on each subject.But for all the serious, fight-for-your-rights solemnity of The Fabled City, there are moments of up-tempo fun. The Lights Are On In Spidertown is reminiscent of an Irish drinking tune and The Iron Wheel will make you want to pump your fist in righteous anger at all of societys ills. The rock and roll Morello is most known for may not be in this CD, but the social commentary is, even if its just sold in a different package. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Music For People Self-release2.5 stars of 5Lovers of electronica and inspirational hip-hop will get the best of both worlds on the new release Music For People from San Francisco-based electro hip-hop group BLVD. An interesting collaboration from the get go, BLVD combines two very distinct genres with dedicated fan-bases and melds them into one; the result sounds like an emcee battle at an inner-city rave. Or just picture Linkin Park performing while half asleep.Not to say that BLVD is boring, far from it, they just dont have the edge Linkin Park gets with all the screaming and heavy guitar riffs. BLVD is a much more mellow, peaceful act with positive lyrics spit in a formidable fashion by MC Souleye. Hes backed by Dylan McIntosh on drums, Curtis Sloane on the electronic guitar and Tripp Bains on the bass and keys. Live electronica, like the kind from BLVD and bands like STS9, has been growing exponentially for years now but has never really had any luck in the mainstream music scene mostly because the artists could care less about such things. Music For People is the kind of genre-mixing album that probably wont change the status quo, but fans of this sound will dig the fluid, danceable vibe and upbeat message it promotes. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
The Stand Ins Jagjaguwar4 stars of 5Okkervil River makes music that is both joyous and reflective, crafting albums that are easy and worthy listens. The band keeps its solid track record with The Stand Ins, a carefully orchestrated but rocking follow to 2007s acclaimed The Stage Names.One of those bands that has a way of distilling years of rock n roll institutional knowledge into pristine records, Okkervil River succeeds in writing pretty little melodies with ugly little themes.Lost Coastlines is a jangly, upbeat, banjo-sprinkled story of drifting away. Starry Stairs pairs smoky organ with anthem-driven horns and lines like, Im alive, but a different kind of alive than the way I used to be. Pop Lie isnt the semi-ironic lesson in pretense you might expect from its title, instead embracing a pop rock style with all its ridiculous handclaps and bass line pulses while it mocks the idea.Album closer Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979 is as epic as its title, linking pastoral strings and brushed drums with an ode to a glam rocker who died of AIDS in the 80s. Leadman Will Sheffs earnest delivery keeps this or any song from sinking into too-serious or too-heavy territory, and the rest of the bands ease with building up musical emotion pushes Bruce and The Stand Ins into a welcome wave of energy before it ends. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
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