Friday, October 03, 2008

Metallica, Jack's Mannequin, Ra Ra Riot

Death Magnetic

Metallica's been in a lose-lose situation for the past 15 years. They've desperately tried to move forward but all their fans really want is the old Metallica. "Death Magnetic" is a calculated attempt to return to the pre-"Black Album" days.

The elements are all there. Songs are longer, darker and more complex. Kirk Hammett's guitar solos melt faces, Lars Ulrich brings back the thrash metal swing and James Hetfield is still growling. But it is a hit and miss affair. There are moments, such as on "The Day That Never Comes," that feel like vintage Metallica, but lesser tracks like "Cyanide" just feel forced. Though "Death Magnet" is no "Kill 'Em All," it does show the band still has some firepower left.

Rating: 3 of 4
For fans of: Metallica

Jack's Mannequin
Glass Passenger

"Glass Passenger" picks up where the Jack's Mannequin debut left off. Opening track "The Resolution" is an instantly engaging, piano-driven pop tune that wouldn't feel out of place between Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch. Though the album doesn't always maintain this same level of overt happiness, it is always full of life.

Frontman Andrew McMahon has a pretty interesting perspective on life, having spent the past few years fighting leukemia. This record reflects McMahon's desire not just fight, but to win. "You gotta swim/Swim when it hurts/The whole world is watching/You haven't come this far/To fall off the earth." McMahon doesn't waste any time feeling bad for himself. "Glass Passenger" is all about moving forward.

Rating: 3.5 of 4
For fans of: Dashboard Confessional, Early November

Ra Ra Riot
The Rhumb Line

If you love Vampire Weekend, you will love this record. If you don't, at least you will find Ra Ra Riot about 20 percent less annoying. Formed at the University of Syracuse, Ra Ra Riot definitely shares Vampire Weekend's Ivy League feel, but manages to sound less pretentious.

The songs are generally bouncy head boppers, propelled by Wes Miles' slightly-British accent and Milo Bonacci's understated guitar. The real highlight, though, is the weight given by violinist Rebecca Zeller and cellist Alexandra Lawn. The ladies' sweeping strings manage to push tracks like "Ghost Under Rocks" to whole other level and really give the band an identity of their own.

Rating: 3 of 4
For Fans of: Vampire Weekend, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

1 comment:

The Captain said...

Check out my interview with Mathieu Santos of Ra Ra Riot at