Review Roundup: Hole, Godsmack, Cold War Kids, Neon Trees, Lily Allen, Sevendust, Red, and Shinedown

Cold War KidsAudience
An odd end in a collection of tracks compiled in the Behave Yourself EP, “Audience” brings the Cold War Kids back to the delightful drum and piano pounding indie rock of 2006. It has the “Hang Me Out To Dry” vibe and shakes much of the sophomoric slump of “Loyalty to Loyalty” that silenced much of the bloggers out there-blame attention spans. The latest is a caffeinated jolt needed to get indie music’s attention, and they’ve got mine…
8.1

GodsmackCryin’ Like a Bitch!!
The lead single off of The Oracle lends much from the previous IV in turbine-like guitars; heavy as hell, and noisy enough to dwarf the others. Sully Erna ensured the post-grunge outfit does not resemble “Serenity” at all, nor succumb to simplification. Presumably about Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and celebrity-ism, yet never confirmed, the single is punishing as Sully aligns himself with the music as opposed to the downtempo singing that drew Godsmack ahead of the pack (see “Re-Align”).
5.9

HoleSkinny Little Bitch
With a Scott Lucas guitar riff, Courtney Love’s fuzzed grunge is the most recent revival on their first single in a decade. Or, if you’re like me, the first since “Awful” and “Malibu” off of 1998’s Celebrity Skin. Courtney sounds angrier and raspier, as if she’s been conserving that voice for this comeback. That snide sneering accompanied by an alternative fuzz is a declaration that while it may be the ‘noughties’, the nineties are not over yet.
6.1

Lily Allen22
The follow-up to “Fuck You”, depending on the country you were in (sorry States and the UK), “22” is a mature single dealing with maturity. Gone are Lily Allen’s sarcastic witticisms, replaced by societal reflections on women and contemporary expectations. Despite the swinging and snapping pop, and the freewheeling piano solo, it’s quite depressing if you get into the lyrics. Lily’s created a clever juxtaposition that no other pop singer has been able to yet match.
7.2

Neon TreesAnimal
The comparisons to The Killers are spot on. Accelerated simplified drumming, evenly spaced strumming, and a spacey keyboard. When Tyler Glenn distinguishes himself with “you’re killing me now”, and near shouting, that’s when the single actually becomes as much of a standout as its album artwork.
7.2

RedOrdinary World
In the world of covers, you typically do not touch certain artists nor songs. In the world of covers of singles as your own single, it is frequently a miss (unless you were The Ataris). Alternative metal band Red takes on Duran Duran, and emerges rather unscathed, even with the added string embellishments that thankfully disappear when needed. During the verses, Michael Barnes nearly conjures up Chester Bennington vocally. It’s a safe, accurate cover that captures the original fascination with the song without going overboard.
7.4

SevendustUnraveling
Concocted this winter in Chicago with producer Johnny K, “Unraveling” balances the weight between lyrics and music. “All that we never knew that could have been me and you. But you took everything, now we’re just here unraveling” serves one rarely mentioned topic in heavy metal, namely breakdowns in relationships. Lajon’s vocals reflectively teeter between tempests and tempered, while the Atlanta groups’ musicians frame the situation without encroaching on the vocal strength of this single.
6.7

ShinedownThe Crow & The Butterfly
Singles with orchestral flourishes in rock can fall flat, and often do. Shinedown pours it on with their latest single off of 2008’s The Sound of Madness. The band has moved from “45” to winged insects and animals, an equivalent to ‘selling out’ creatively akin to Nickelback in back catalog comparisons. While some of these singles, you’d want to tear off those wings and let the creature tumble, “The Crow & The Butterfly” is best left alone. It manages to successfully replicate “Burning Bright”‘s chorus with their newer, polished sound.
8.0

Two 2010 resolutions that need to be abided by: 1) Your videos on Vimeo for higher resolution playback and 2) Making them embeddable. Anyway, summer is coming around the bend as the snow melts, the fog dissipates, the floodgates opening, and our baseball teams head home. Oh, and another round of music. No real radio single surprises this round, though I did try to toss you a curve ball with Hindi Zahra‘s gorgeous Beautiful Tango-until I couldn’t embed the video due to Blue Note‘s restrictions.

Thoughts?