Lady Gaga is the shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of ARTPOP

I like Lady Gaga. I do. I was a fan when she first popped up on the scene during NKOTB’s comeback The Block  way, way back in 2008 and loved her debut and was even more taken back by the follow-up EP/mini-album The Fame Monster. Am I a fan of the theatrics, the fanfare, the persona? Nope. I grew up in a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot era of shock rock/metal so maybe I’m just desensitized to it all but the extra flair does nothing for me. However, it’s incredible that just listening to a Gaga track instantly evokes images of what the dance routine will be like on stage.

That said, I do believe that Stefani is a phenomenal performer. She captures that perfect mix of Britney and Christina but just does it better and on ARTPOP she immediately brings to mind a musical icon when she at times channels Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Born This Way was not the album that needed to follow the breakout success of “Bad Romance”. For all you monsters out there that felt slighted by her second studio album (I don’t consider myself a “monster” by the way), her third full-length will instantly quell your fears.

“Aura” is this gorgeous opener that draws listeners in with a subtle flamenco line and Gaga’s effects-laden vocals before giving way to a larger than life dance pop party as the pop star belts out  “Aura-a-a-ah!” circling back to the “Ra ra…” chorus of “Bad Romance”.

From there on out, ARTPOP gets bigger and bolder. “Venus” is a raucous space jam, “G.U.Y.” is a divine electro romp, and “Sexxx Dreams” is a funky yet filthy little ditty about, um, you can use your imagination. It also features a nifty little bass line that one could picture John Taylor popping up for (Speaking of, why has there been no Simon LeBon/Lady Gaga duet yet?).

T.I. turns up along with Too Short and Twista for “Jewels n’ Drugs” which could be compared to Miley Cyrus’ recent foray into hip hop but unlike Hannah Montana, Gaga just executes everything better.

Midway through is when ARTPOP gets really interesting as the album traverses the stratosphere on the atmospheric “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly and the title track which takes listeners to a whole different realm of awesome.

The lack of ballads is a plus in my book as well and luckily (For me, at least) when they do pop up they’re back to back and towards the end and followed by the massive “Applause” to close out a triumphant third album.

ARTPOP is out on November 11th. Order it here and here.
Grade: A

Nachtmystium head into oblivion on new single “Voyager”

Blake Judd is heading towards the abyss. Drug problems. Band turmoil. You name it, he’s got it. One thing’s for sure, though, his musical integrity is still firmly intact. Despite his recent arrest, Judd is determined to power through and give fans one last hurrah and final albums from both his black metal supergroup Twilight and his main band Nachtmystium. Both are due out next year on Century Media and the first taste of the former is “Voyager”: a tumultuous 7 minute slab of sonic excess that once again reinvents Judd’s primary outfit.

At times hearkening back to 2008’s  Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1, “Vpyager” is a promising introduction to the already titled The World We Left Behind as Judd cries “No one can ever take away this lust!” repeatedly.

The World We Left Behind  is due in 2014 through Century Media. You can check out a stream of “Voyager” over on Stereogum.

 

 

 

Eminem is shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of The Marshall Mathers LP 2

While checking out the latest from Eminem I realized that I am a subscriber to your token “white backwards hat wearing frat guy dude” in terms of my hip hop likes. Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Childish Gambino and yes, Eminem are all staples in my collection (Although I will say I really only listen to the former three on a regular basis. Sorry Slim!)

In terms of hip hop, I’m not an expert. I just know what I like. Black Sheep’s A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing is probably one of my all time favorites but then I go straight to Ice Cube’s Raw Footage or the CB4 soundtrack. In conclusion, I’m all over the place. But enough about me, we’re here for Marshall!

In short, the Rick Rubin/Dr. Dre-produced  album sounds forced and contrived. Remember when Korn reunited with Ross Robinson and released III: Remember Who You Are? Of course you don’t because it was awful. Same thing here. You can never go home again and as an artist, why would you want to?

“Bad Guy” starts off The Marshall Mathers LP 2 promising enough and brings to mind the dense opening track from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy but like most of the bloated tracks you’ll come to experience here it soon devolves into a juvenile rant that would’ve been fine on Eminem’s debut but here in 2013 it just sounds silly (Ooooh! Stan’s younger brother has come back to seek revenge!).

There’s moments of course like on “Rhyme Or Reason” featuring a familiar sample of The Zombies’ “Time Of The Season” or, actually no, those “moments” are few and far between. It’s a lyric here or a beat there but mostly TMMLP2 is a been there, done that record of forgettable nonsense that doesn’t hold a candle to Em’s peers. I won’t even begin on the the laughable and already panned “Bezerk”! I mean, c’mon, your first single is getting sold to a video game off the bat?!?! Or “So Much Better” because we needed another song about how awful your life life is and how another blonde betrayed you. You’re 41 for chissakes! Get over it or at least start making better choices.

I had this epiphany about halfway through the album which was maybe I’m just getting too old to appreciate a new record from Eminem but at the end of the day it’s like I said: I know what I like and I know I don’t like this!

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is out now for those that are interested.
Grade: F

Middle Class Rut release “Dead Eye” performance clip!

I had the honor of interviewing Middle Class Rut drummer/vocalist Sean Stockham soon after MCR’s second album Pick Up Your Head was released and he mentioned how “Dead Eye” was a last minute addition to the record. Last minute or not, it’s undoubtedly one of the strongest songs on the album (And my favorite). While fans await the premiere of the “official” clip of “Dead Eye” (Filmed in Anchorage, Alaska), MCR have released a performance clip of the song filmed during their recent tour as a part of the Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival.

Pick Up Your Head is out now. Watch the video for “Dead Eye” below: