Archive for the ‘tokio hotel’ Category

Everclear – In A Different Light

November 23, 2009
Everclear - In A Different Light

Written By: James Swigart

Label: 429 Records – Rating:

Art Alexakis has an unique and potent voice that he uses refreshingly and heartily on Everclear’s warm and engaging In a Different Light. On this disc, Alexakis and his crack band remake 9 of Everclear’s biggest hits and compose 2 new tunes. The new songs, “Here Comes the Darkness” and “At the End of the Day,” are excellent and blend seamlessly with the others. Alexakis produced In a Different Light (Like all Everclear records) and his production is brilliantly similar to that of one of rock’s legends, Jeff Lynne.

On In a Different Light, Alexakis sings with the distinction and restrained force of such masters as Cash, Reed, and Dylan. Art’s voice is smooth like Don Henley’s and distinctive like David Lee Roth’s. Alexakis doesn’t show the greatest vocal range, but his passion and talent are clear and more than make up for a few high notes here and there.

“Father of Mine” has the pace of Wild Gift and More Fun in the New World-era X. Acoustic guitar, drums, serious keys, and vocals drive the song. The backing vocals are muted and subtle and create a fantastic effect. Tommy Stewart’s drumming throughout the album is forceful and consistent like that of X’s amazing DJ Bonebrake.

On “Fire Maple Song,” there is a beautiful little Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque guitar solo. The guitar chords are reminiscent of Johnny Marr’s while Marr was with the Smiths. Davey French and Alexakis play guitar throughout the album. “Rock Star” is a guitar driven medium rock song with a message that we love and respect and with excellent backing vocals and sonic force that bring to mind the Traveling Wilburys.

“Learning How to Smile” has backing vocals that sound like Exene at her most subtle and powerful. The lyrics “I was working in New Jersey/Hitching Rides in the Rain” bring to mind the everyman quality shown by great artists like Holly, Cash, Dylan, Springsteen, Cobain, and White. Typical of the songs on this album, the music never strains or gets too fast or too slow and Alexakis’s singing is near perfect. This song relaxes us so much that we could listen to this and similar tunes for hours on end.

“I Will Buy You a New Life” shows Everclear at its best. Beautiful guitar and keys, restrained, powerful vocals and drums, and positive lyrics make us feel what the best rock ‘n’ roll wants us to feel – uplifted, renewed, and relaxed. Alexakis, like Cuomo and the beyond legendary Cash, makes us viscerally feel his message without straining or yelling.

The backing vocals on “Everything to Everyone,” “Wonderful,” and “At the End of the Day” are essential like those on early records by the Babys. The acoustic guitar chords combined with keys on “Everything to Everyone” keep us engaged without overwhelming or boring us. Josh Crawley’s keys on In a Different Light are wonderful like Ray Manzarek’s while he was with the Doors and on X’s album of staggering genius, Los Angeles. Sam Hudson’s bass playing is understated and keeps an excellent beat throughout.

The mood on this fine work is relaxed, playful, and swinging. We wish that at times Everclear rocked harder or swung freer. We also wish that there was greater variety among the songs. However, Alexakis and his mates’ consistency and commitment is laudable.

Art Alexakis is one of the most important figures in rock over the last fifteen years. He continues to evolve and to try to bring relevant music to our fortunate ears. His subtle yet powerful excellence is all too rare in rock and extraordinarily influential. Here’s to hoping that he ages as well as Dylan has.

Like Everclear? Check out: The Wallflowers, Better Than Ezra, Third Eye Blind

Want more Everclear?
Download Everclear’s “Here Comes The Darkness
Everclear Feature – 10 Reasons Why Everclear is Still Relevant
Rock/Metal Editor, Jason Coldiron interviews Art Alexakis
Everclear Tour News
View all of Ed’s Everclear Photos (Roxy)
View All of Ed’s Everclear Photos (House of Blues)

Tokio Hotel – Humanoid

November 23, 2009
 Tokio Hotel - Humanoid

Written By: Heather Wysocki

Label: Interscope – Rating:

Break out the black eyeliner, shine up those glittery Chuck Taylors and stock up on hair gel, because Euro-pop young’uns Tokio Hotel’s latest release is all the disco ball-and-Doc-Martens fun you’d expect. Bill and Tom Kaulitz, the super-coifed supertwins behind Tokio Hotel, are finally legal, and that slight bit of maturity shows on Humanoid, their already-charting-on-the-Billboard-200 third disc. The German emo quartet that turned heads in 2005 with debut album Schrei and kept on going with 07’s Scream proves with Humanoid that Bill, and the band that provides his awesome backing, deserve recognition for more than Kaulitz’s Sonic the Hedgehog hairdo and propensity to wear more makeup than Janet Jackson.

Though Tokio Hotel – consisting of the aforementioned pompadour-and-more Kaulitz twins, plus Georg Listing, Gustav Schafer, and a host of European songwriters – might be young bucks, they certainly know how to thrash like their older eight-pointer competition. The songs range from the standout piano-driven “World Behind My Wall” to the decidedly more haunting title track and the kinky come-on “Hey You.” All are full of the androgynous vocals and crunchy guitars the band has become known for. Anthemic choruses are beautiful, while background guitars range from understated to crashing, a soulful mix that elevates Humanoid from simple emo dance-pop to emo dance pop to think about (even if those thoughts are about eyeliner and adolescent sorrow).

Bill Kaulitz’ vocals are a mix of Robert Smith and Michael Jackson, hitting the lowest of lows but nailing the highs, too. This is the sort of well-crafted pop that Depeche Mode perfected years ago and Tokio Hotel emulates magnificently, its robotic feel not cold, not formulaic, but sexy and deliberate.

Like a lot of their young emo counterparts, there’s more than just a dash of pop-culture influence on Tokio Hotel’s Humanoid. Japanese overtones and perfect-for-Twilight song titles like “Pain of Love” and “Love and Death” are a reminder that the members of Tokio Hotel are still young, though expert arrangement and an uncanny knowledge of what vocals go well with what music ensure that Tokio Hotel will experience well-deserved recognition longer than most. That said, songs like the slightly juvenile “Automatic,” a clumsy ode to love, are a hint that Tokio Hotel’s finally legal dudes should still be a wee bit careful around anything besides light beer.

Humanoid is before-its-time pop that has finally hit its epoch, a gorgeous musing on deep emotion with the perfect teenage twist. Love has never been so bittersweet.

Like Tokio Hotel? Check out: Silversun Pickups, Blaqk Audio, The Cure