blink-182 – California (Deluxe Edition)

Chi Stars_3

1200x630bbFLOW: The big difference this time around is the addition of new guitarist/vocalist Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio (replacing founding member Tom DeLonge) and producer John Feldman. The last 2 efforts blink released before DeLonge left were Neighborhoods (2011) and Dogs Eating Dogs (2012). With those two releases we saw them head in a more adult, less dick jokes direction and I enjoyed it. It felt like a natural progression from their 2003 Untitled album. California sees the band going back to a sound that’s reminiscent of Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. It feels like a step backwards maturity-wise. Why this is I’m not sure. Maybe they felt like DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves influence was seeping into their sound too much and straying from the blink-182 formula.

The songs on the first disc are full of 2-3 minute pop-punk bursts that you would come to expect from blink. The trouble with that though is that some of the songs almost sound like they’re trying to emulate their earlier material. The songs are littered with “Na na na na na’s” and “Whoaaaaas” (“No Future”, “California” and “Sober” for example). It gets to be a bit over the top. I think John Feldman had a major hand in those parts. On the flip side, the second disc features more intimate and experimental songs that feel influenced by Matt Skiba’s other full-time band, Alkaline Trio. These songs sound more in line with what I was hoping for with his addition to the band.

REPEATABLE: I may be biased as a diehard blink fan but I’ve been spinning this daily since the original came out in July. The deluxe version may not be for the casual fan but if you’re a fan like me, I would suggest checking it out.

PRODUCTION: California was produced by John Feldman (frontman for Goldfinger) at Foxy Studios in Woodland Hills, California. This is blink’s first album with a new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn (Finn passed away in 2008 from a cerebral hemorrhage).



Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

Chi Stars_3

MSTD_EOS_CD_grandeFLOW: Mastodon’s seventh studio album Emperor of Sand is a concept album that deals with the loss of time, losing loved ones to cancer and tells the story of a desert wanderer who’s been sentenced to death. Throughout the album you’ll pick up on little context clues like the lyrics in “Precious Stones”: Don’t waste your time/Don’t let it slip away from you/Don’t waste your time/If it’s the last thing you do. I dig that Mastodon aren’t your stereotypical metal band who just blatantly bash you over the head with nonsense. These guys actually have something meaningful to say.

REPEATABLE: Emperor of Sand definitely has some solid hooks. I know for a few diehard Mastodon fans this has been a topic of discussion. Longtime fans don’t really like the fact that they’ve abandoned the mathy, aggressive screaming/yelling aspect of their earlier works like on Leaviathan and taken on a more clean singing, traditional song structure sound. It works for them though, they all sound like Ozzy and it’s pretty sick. Bands are supposed to evolve anyway and that’s exactly what Mastodon have done from one album to the next. I’ve been spinning this one pretty regularly. It’s personally one of my favorite metal albums I’ve heard this year.

PRODUCTION: The album was produced by Brendan O’Brien. O’Brien’s worked with a ton of great artists (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Springsteen and Dylan just to name a few). It was recorded at the Quarry in Kennesaw, Georgia and mixed at Henson Recording Studios in L.A.



Chris Cornell Dead at 52

FullSizeRenderChris Cornell, frontman for ’90s alternative rock band Soundgarden and supergroup Audioslave died Wednesday night hours after performing in Detroit. Cornell was found on the bathroom floor of his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Detroit. According to a statement released by the Wayne County medical examiner’s office, Cornell’s death was a suicide by hanging. A full autopsy is yet to be completed. He was 52.