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Debuting in 2013 with a self-titled EP, Glass Animals stormed onto the scene with the song “Black Mambo,” a quirky indie-pop song about being outmatched by someone. Hailing from Oxford, England, the band grew quite an audience with their hip-hop inspired beats and fun, sexy melodies. The band released their first full-length album ZABA in 2014, which featured more or less the same sounds from their EP with more realized songwriting. Their creativity continued to shine with the release of How to Be a Human Being in 2016. The album is a light concept of stories that people had told front man Dave Bayley on tour. Overall, it wasn’t too different from ZABA, but with songs like “Youth,” “Season 2 Episode 3,” and the beautiful closer, “Agnes,” the vocals became just another instrument and made the songs even more powerful. Their new album, Dreamland, unfortunately falls flat and continues to milk the same sounds that gave them success. Don’t get me wrong, as with their two past records, there are quite a few good songs. However, the concept is inconsistent musically and some songs are so by-the-numbers for Glass Animals that they come off as filler. That being said, there are a number of notable tracks that stand out and save the album.
The thought of Bob Dylan, who has proved to be a masterful lyricist/musician/poet/artist for over 50 years, playing in Muncie, Indiana, is a thought I’m sure surprised everyone in the city. Emens Auditorium at Ball State University was packed with people on the night of Nov. 2. There was one merch booth and one bar with a mile-long line. The band started playing promptly at 8 p.m., without an announcement or introduction. At 78 years old, Bob Dylan and his Band managed to play an incredible 19 song set, with a surprisingly good stage presence and performances.
Coming from the crumbled ashes of Creed, Alter Bridge took mainstream rock by storm in 2004 with songs like “Metalingus,” “Broken Wings,” and “Open Your Eyes.” Since then, they’ve put out one album every three years, keeping their releases pretty consistent, which is a good quality to have in a band. 2007’s Blackbird released to critical acclaim, taking the band further away from the stigma that they’re the same as Creed. Throughout their career, the band has come further into their own sound. AB III (2010) found the band experimenting with song structure, different musical styles, and having lead guitarist (Mark Tremonti) on vocals. Their magnum opus, Fortress (2013), featured the band’s strongest songs one right after the other, collecting every great aspect of the band into a single record. But, the band has not been without missteps; 2016’s The Last Hero was a record of clear intention that unfortunately fell flat with the songwriting. While it had some interesting and unique songs, a few others ended up sounding generic. On their latest album, Walk the Sky, the band continues to bore with bland songwriting and a safe, radio-friendly sound; however, there is still good to be found in this mixed bag of an album.
Kanye West needs no introduction. Coming out of one of his biggest and most controversial years in 2018, West announced the album Yandhi, similar to his 2013 record Yeezus. After delay upon delay, Yandhi never saw the light of day. Flash forward to 2019, and West has rebranded himself as a born-again Christian, leading many Sunday Services and eventually touring it. Throughout 2019, speculation started for when West would release his next record to follow 2018’s Ye. It was then announced on his website that Jesus Is King, an entirely new record, would release on Sept. 27, but it was also delayed. The album kept being delayed while West held listening parties in various cities, probably testing the audience reception of this new sound. The album ended up releasing Oct. 25 alongside a short film that shows his Sunday Service choir. At a short 27 minutes, Jesus Is King fills its role as a gospel album. Great production can be found throughout, but its length and missing potential makes some tracks feel unfinished, leaving holes throughout the record.
There is no denying that Korn changed metal music back in 1994 with their self-titled debut album. Their completely raw approach to sound and inventive, groovy riffs were groundbreaking for the genre. The tracks were full of hard-hitting riffs mixed with atmospheric guitars and instrumentals. Jonathan Davis’ demented voice and twisted lyrics shook the metal world. One could say that it was Korn that introduced the world to “nu-metal,” a late 90s and early 2000s fusion of groove metal and hip-hop. By the time their third record Follow the Leader came out, Korn was on top of the world. However, once the band started to pander to a more radio-friendly audience, their sound gave way to a clean, straight-edge production that made the band lose their edge.
Fear Inoculum just might be the most anticipated album release of all time. The alternative metal masters, Tool, have not only returned to the music scene but entered the streaming era for the first time. Fans of the band have been waiting 13 years for a new release (about the length of Taylor Swift’s entire career) and have finally been given a 90-minute epic consisting of seven tracks and three interludes. But the question remains: Is Fear Inoculum worth the 13-year wait? The answer is: It’s complicated.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have been one of the hardest working bands since their start in 2011. So far, they have released 15 records, with five records coming out in 2017 alone. On their new album, Infest the Rat’s Nest, Gizzard has made the exact opposite of their April album, Fishing for Fishies. Infest the Rat’s Nest finds the band at a whole new level. The songs are short, sweet, and to-the-point; the drums are using double bass, the guitars are chugging, and the vocals are menacing. Yes, Gizzard has made a metal album. The album tells stories of planet Earth burning to a crisp, superbugs being made out of bacteria and antibiotics, and humans colonizing space, all with ferocious riffs and a wide variety of metal subgenres. While not being their most eccentric album to date, there is still plenty to unpack in what’s certainly their heaviest album yet.
Twenty years have passed since Slipknot’s debut album, Slipknot. Since then, the band has released five successful records and played hundreds of huge bombastic live shows. Slipknot became one of the biggest names in metal throughout the past 20 years with their nine members, unique sound, and pure rage and aggression. Five years have passed since their last album, .5 the Gray Chapter, and during that time, longtime percussionist Chris Fehn left the group due to a legal dispute earlier this year. All of the troubles the band have been through resonate perfectly through the record. The aggression and brutality returned along with the band’s experimental side working together perfectly. Slipknot used the same producer from the last record, Greg Fidelman. However, We Are Not Your Kind (WANYK) has a rougher edge to the production that .5 the Gray Chapter was missing. The songwriting is as strong as ever, the songs are heavy, and the album actually feels as if it were made by the entire band.
With their last full-length album, The Dream Is Over, PUP (Pathetic Use of Potential) provided excellent punk tunes with catchy choruses and strong guitar riffs. Now they have done the exact same thing three years later. The songs on Morbid Stuff are engaging, exciting, and well worth the wait. Listeners will find diversity throughout the music, along with fun choruses and great punk riffs. If Morbid Stuff says anything about PUP, it’s that they show no signs of slowing down.
Back in 2018, Alaria Spurling, lead guitarist and vocalist of Four Fates, needed three people to back her up for a tiny music festival in Bloomington, Indiana. This led to the formation of a band. Some of the songs they performed at this festival would end up being on their EP. After playing a show at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, the band began working on Realms, which released April 6. On this EP, a completely unique sound emerges as Spurling sings about sadness and trouble. Ian Chambers brings his own flair to the songs with his excellent drumming, Evan Tusing adds an Alter Bridge style to the guitars, and Adam Schaefer completely nails his bass lines. However, Realms’ faults lie in the production and a tiny bit in the structure.
Australian band King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard made 2017 their year. The band put out five records throughout the year, with only a couple months in between each: Flying Microtonal Banana, Murder of the Universe, Sketches of Brunswick East, Polygondwanaland and Gumboot Soup. The five records added up to a total of 13 albums in their entire discography since 2012, making for an incredible work ethic. In 2018, however, the band took a much-needed break, letting the five records sink in with the fans to decipher where they fit in the “Gizzverse”.
American Football were ahead of their time back in 1999 with their first record, American Football. The album had a sound like no other. But shortly after, they broke up. Fifteen years later, the band and many fans celebrated the 15th anniversary of the record. That led to a tour, which eventually led to the band getting back into the studio. American Football (LP2) was released in 2016, to the surprise of many. While mainly a sequel to its predecessor, the record truly captured the band’s sound back to the ’90s. With no signs of slowing down, American Football just released (LP3). Yes, it still has the American Football sound they became critically acclaimed for, but this album has a whole new flow. This album breathes, and the listener can feel it. A more atmospheric sound takes control and meshes with the lyrics to where they build each other up. Gorgeous arrangements, great guest appearances and incredibly poetic lyrics create an honest album filled with emotion.
It’s hard to believe that Weezer has now made 13 albums and It’s crazy to think of how far they have come. Blue Album took the world by storm with excellent singles like “Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Undone.” Their second record, Pinkerton, was initially hated by critics, but later praised for its raw sound and incredible depth. After those two, however, Weezer has never crafted another stand-out record. Each album after, from Green to Hurley, has been inconsistent with a couple of strong singles to keep the band afloat. Each record offers a good listen but still suffers from poor songwriting and frontman Rivers Cuomo trying desperately to add every trending sound into each album. This trend temporarily stopped when White Album was released. On this record, the band went back to their roots with fun, catchy songs that felt just as delightfully awkward and nerdy as Blue and Pinkerton. The record after, Pacific Daydream, fell flat on its face in the most disappointing way. It added to Weezer’s ever-growing inconsistent discography. Their newest album, Weezer (The Black Album) remains pop-friendly with catchy tunes and predictable song structures. While some songs may be bland and lifeless, a majority of the record remains fun and memorable.
Bring Me the Horizon is a band that is not tied down to a certain genre; the group never said they would make metal music for the rest of their career, and yet their own fans are criticizing them because of their musical evolution showcased in their latest album, amo. Back in 2006, they released Count Your Blessings, their first full-length album. It’s a wild, sporadic deathcore record that shatters the earth with double bass and heavy riffs. But apparently, BMTH did not want to be viewed as a metal-core band forever, as they started to transition from that to a more pop sound. On their third record, There is a Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There is a Heaven Let’s Keep It a Secret, the deathcore sound is still prevalent, but we hear more open chords, choirs, orchestras, and even electronics.
Deerhunter may not ring a bell to the common music listener but, in the Indie music world, the band brings something new to the table with every release. Each album is something different from psychedelic rock, to alternative, pop, garage rock, and straight-up indie. The band broke new ground in pop-rock with 2010’s Halcyon Digest, a beautiful pop album with a wide soundscape and captivating hooks. However, that sound would not last forever—not even for another album. In 2013, Deerhunter turned up their amps and plugged in their fuzz pedals for Monomania, which is exactly what it sounds like, but with Deerhunter hooks. The point is: the band is always doing something different with their discography. It was no surprise that they would bring new sounds to the table with Why Hasn’t Everything Disappeared Already?, but the real surprise came in the lyrics and structures. On Disappeared, Deerhunter creates beautiful soundscapes that are complimented by melancholy lyrics. However, the songs themselves aren’t entirely memorable.
Three years have passed since Earl Sweatshirt’s (aka Thebe Kgositsile) second record I Don’t Like Sh**, I Don’t Go Outside and his fans have been wondering when he was going to make new music. Over 2017 he tweeted that new music was being made to get buzz circulating. However, this album is far from what his last two albums were instrumentally and sonically. On Some Rap Songs, Earl creates a sound that is unlike anything out now in hip-hop. He creates a mood that sticks with the listener throughout the entire record and even after. His lyrics stay mostly as in-depth and introverted as they usually are. On this album, the lyrics are sadder and more introspective about his life, state of mind, and current emotional state after the tragic loss of his father.
J Mascis is not a household name and neither is his three-piece indie rock band of himself, Lou Barlow, and Murph that make up Dinosaur Jr. Mostly known for their hit in the ’90s called ‘Feel the Pain,’ Dinosaur Jr. made their underground stride known with albums like You’re Living All Over Me, Bug, and Where You Been? (which is interestingly classified as ‘Adult Alternative’ on Apple Music). Roaring, fuzzy guitar solos, loud crushing bass, and a mumbling low-toned voice carried Dinosaur Jr.’s sound back then. The band broke up in the early ’90s, and suddenly, Mascis (vocals, guitars) was left to do whatever he wanted with the band.
Tenacious D is a comedy rock/metal band, they are not supposed to be taken seriously and never have been by their fans. Jack Black and Kyle Gass have been making wacky rock music since 1994, and with each record there came a new theme. The first, a group of crazy rock songs, the second, a movie, the third, a ginormous tour with a giant inflatable penis onstage. So, what is new about this one? Well, Jack Black confirmed that it is a direct sequel to their second album and movie ‘The Pick of Destiny,’ but this album did not spawn a movie. Instead, Jack Black drew an entire YouTube cartoon series himself.