There’s a bunch of albums that were released in the last month or so and I was a little overwhelmed on which ones were priorities for me to pick up and rock out to. Here’s two albums I’ve had on repeated listens.
Foo Fighters – Concrete & Gold
I loved Wasting Light, but wasn’t wowed or interested in Sonic Highways. I thought the Saint Cecilia EP had some good tracks, which was a bonus for being free (and thanks for that, FF). Concrete & Gold is the latest and one I was completely unaware of being released, considering that I was under the impression they were taking a break, but that’s what I get for not subscribing to Guitar For The Practicing Musician or some other music magazine.
Every song here sounds like an epic ode to 70’s radio friendly arena rock if those bands were all trying to make the same inspiring hit you’d hear during some movie’s scrolling credits. It gets kind of boring because there’s no edge or aggression to it, but that is more on me because that’s the sort of thing I personally look for, and they certainly don’t need to ask me. There’s plenty of heart and some great choruses, I get lost in the first half of the album because it runs together a little bit and I can’t remember what song is what. Things pick up with “Dirty Water,” the absolute stand out track on this album, which then remains solid from there on. So, good job on some genuinely rocking tunes. Two coffees up.
Prophets Of Rage – S/T
Anthrax scrapped their finished album with singer Dan Nelson, who was also being scrapped, and announced they wanted to get back with previous singer John Bush. Bush said no because he’d want to do an album from scratch, writing and recording wise, and by then several years had passed, so they had to move on to their perpetual 2nd choice, Joey Belladonna, and put out Worship Music. I don’t have anyone in Anthrax’s phone number, for many good reasons, but I may have shouted “CALL CHUCK D AND HAVE HIM DO VOCALS!” into the wind a few times.
Prophets Of Rage features Chuck D of Public Enemy, there of the guys from Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and DJ Lord. I don’t know much about the latter two guys but I’ve not been impressed with RATMachine & Audioslave for the most part minus some great songs hither and yon. That’s kind of a bummer considering how much talent they have, but they’ve made an impact on a lot of fans and have left their mark as both a sound of solidarity in protest and collaborators with one of the greatest rock voices ever.
The reviews for the album are mixed, and I can see why some people are indifferent: the music is a little generic. You’ve heard it before; it sounds like Rage Against The Machine material you’d nod along with but probably couldn’t differentiate from album to album, aside from a few good riffs. Maybe it’s what might sound like disposable lyrical content of tumultuous times sold to the kids until they graduate from college and no longer think about these things from their parents’ basements. I disagree, because if there’s a time we need a voice like this, it’s now.
And what a voice it is! Songs are pretty much split between Chuck D and B-Real, but it’s Chuck’s booming voice that adds commanding weight to the music, with some seriously powerful albeit simple chorus lines. You LISTEN to Chuck D when you hear him, and this will definitely pump you up. That doesn’t mean you will commit to the call to action, but Chuck & the rest of this band sound like they have your back when you do. The standout track, lyrically and musically, is “Who Owns Who.”
I’d normally shrug this kind of stuff off because who knows if we’ll be revisiting it down the line and if it will still be relevant (probably, because “it looks like those morons in Congress did it again”), but it’s saved by Chuck D’s participation. This is the kind of project I’d hope to hear from him for a long time. Kudos. Two coffees up, absolutely.