Review Roundup: Singles from Noah and the Whale, Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, and AFI

Noah and the WhaleBlue Skies
The debut album from Noah and the Whale is an indie pop/folk tempered romp, coupling intelligent folk with vocals from Charlie Fink supported by Laura Marling. 5 Years Time (Sun Sun Sun) got commercial airplay in America and some notable press. In an effort to eradicate the sophomore slump, they’re running at that hill intending to surmount it, or even raise it higher than you expected with their upcoming The First Days of Spring. Blue Skies, first hinted in the trailer for the accompanying movie, holds restrained optimism funneled into the lyrics while achieving a new instrumental depth. Intricate guitarwork laced with chorused vocals will quell those who wrote off Noah and the Whale as just another run of the mill, quick folk pop fix.
8.8

Alice in ChainsCheck My Brain
Instantly the drone decrees Alice in Chains’ return as the second single, following A Looking In View released a short time ago. Jerry Cantrell succeeds in creating a sonic alarm in Check My Brain, putting new vocalist William DuVall in the shotgun seat aside the driver. As an allusion to Jerry’s drug use, Check My Brain easily stuns as one of the heaviest, intense singles to come out this summer.
8.2

Breaking BenjaminI Will Not Bow
Rain and Polyamorous brought Breaking Benjamin to the forefront of hard rock in the decade, I Will Not Bow attempts to meld the two styles-symphonically melodic and driven alternative-into their lead single for the upcoming Dear Agony, to be released September 29th. The post-grunge track, with staggered symphonies coupled into a wandering solo guitar, is indistinguishable compared to the previous. It tries to incorporate too many styles without being distinctive, as if confused on which direction to follow.
6.2

AFIMedicate
Medicate pulls the Ukiah, California punks back towards Sing the Sorrow territory, alway from Miss Murder‘s rapturous dance elements. It lacks the pop hooks, focusing more on Davey Havock’s classic lyrical build-up. It’s speed stumbles, not quite gaining traction until halfway through when the band gives into a light piano trickle. It’s when the song starts to show promise before regressing into common punk guitar riffs.
6.8

Thoughts?

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