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    What We're Listening To
 
   
             
   
Linkin Park — Minutes to Midnight
Artist:
Linkin Park
Album:
Minutes to Midnight
Genre:
Nu Metal Pop
Rating:
3.5 Stars
Bottom
Line:
Nu metal progenitors grow beyond their roots.

You may have grown a little weary of nu metal, but perhaps that’s only because so many bands attempted to (unsuccessfully) duplicate the success of bands like Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine, and the kings of that musical hill, Linkin Park.

On their third studio release, LP weren’t content to rehash another album that sounded the same as their earlier works, and working with producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin, they crafted an album that is extremely musical, deftly performed, and (of course) superbly produced.

Gone are the record scratches, and outside of the first rocking track, “Given Up,” you can no longer reference the band in screamo conversations – this one is filled with singing and some rapping. Chester Bennington (singing) and Mike Shinoda (rapping) deliver strong emotional vocal performances throughout the record.

Guitarist Brad Delson used a variety of vintage amps and guitars on the record, and he explores a wide variety of styles and tones. Songs like “Shadow of the Day” really channel U2’s Edge (actually, the whole song plays like an updated version of “With or Without You”), while songs like “Given Up” and “No More Sorrow” drive into you with Delson’s classic Dual Rectifier tone.

We love the political rap in “Hands Held High,” and keyboards provide the glue that holds the entire record together as it weaves in and out of different styles. Joe Hahn deftly mixes beats that alternately share and trade spaces with drummer Rob Bourdon, and Dave Farrell rounds out the lineup on bass.

Metal, “light” rap, pop, alternative and dub all make appearances throughout the record. It is a highly listenable and enjoyable CD that takes you through a variety of styles and really showcases the band’s growth as both songwriters and musicians. Bravo!

– SK
 
Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band — Beatallica
Artist:
Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band
Album:
Beatallica
Genre:
Comedy Rock
Rating:
2.5 Stars
Bottom
Line:
Does Weird Al really need the competition?

Imagine if Metallica decided to put out an album of Beatles cover tunes. Now, imagine that it was performed by a Metallica tribute band with the attitude of Spinal Tap but the chops of Eighties rockers Scatterbrain.

Our first reaction to the CD was something like “What the f@#$ is this?” – we had no idea initially that the album was a comedic spoof! As such, vocalist Jaymz Lennfield tends to exaggerate some of his vocal embellishments (slightly), while the music is played with a truly excellent Metallica-influenced interpretation of the classic songs. Grg (yes, that’s Grg) Hammettson is a fine guitar player, while the rhythm section is held down by bassist Kliff McBurtney and drummer Ringo Larz.

We enjoyed the somewhat modified lyrics, particularly on songs like the classic, “Hey Dude,” that really captured the essence of what is, and what shall forever remain, Beatallica:

“Hey Dude, it’s true not sad
Take a thrash song, make it better
Remembah! Metal iz in your heart
And you can start to be a shredder”

Other memorable songs might include “Helvester of Skelter,” “Leper Madonna,” “Revol-ooh-tion,” and of course the band’s namesake track. After giving it a single listen (okay, two listens), we had to wonder, “What do we do with this thing now?” Perhaps it will be a big hit in biker bars and college frat houses? Check out http://www.beatallica.org – if these guys expect to make any money from this absurd venture, they’re going to need your help, or (at least) your money.

– SK
 
The Matt Schofield Trio — Ear to the Ground
Artist:
The Matt Schofield Trio
Album:
Ear to the Ground
Genre:
Blues Rock
Rating:
3.5 Stars
Bottom
Line:

Outstanding blues guitarist, if you like Robben Ford.

While a lot of blues music is confined to the same old I-IV-V progressions and predictable shuffle rhythms, the second studio release from the Matt Schofield Trio clearly chooses a path divergent from they typical blues fodder of yesteryear. 

Ear to the Ground provides an excellent showcase for Schofield’s smoldering guitar work.  Relying heavily on the influence of Robben Ford, Schofield seamlessly integrates blues and jazz to create a very sophisticated sound that definitely got our attention.  Aside from his phrasing and note choice, what really endeared us to his playing were the range of impeccable tones he captured on this recording, which (by the way) came primarily courtesy of a Two-Rock Custom Reverb Signature like the one we just reviewed.  He nails Robben Ford’s instantly identifiable tone perfectly.

That being said, there are some really great tunes on the record – especially the bop-inspired “Move Along,” which really showcases Schofield’s jazz chops and outstanding performances from his band mates, organist Jonny Henderson and drummer Evan Jenkins.  Notice something about this trio? Jonny does a fantastic job of left-hand bass along with his keyboard duties. At first, we didn’t even realize there wasn’t a bass guitarist in the band!

Overall, if guitar- and organ-fueled blues is your thing, the eleven tunes on this recording certainly won’t disappoint... which brings us to our only complaint. Everything about Schofield – from his vocals to composition, reminds us of Robben Ford.  While his playing is incredibly mature for a young player (30), we would really like to see Schofield forge his own path and show us what he really has to offer that is unique. Since he’s still quite young by blues standards, we really look forward to hearing how his playing evolves on future releases. 

– HS

 
 
 
   
             
             
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