Tag Archives: The Killers

Excellent New Rock from The Rival

The Rival Sands Album Review

The Rival Sands album coverPowerful and moving, indie rock band The Rival, bring their A-game to listeners on their new EP Sands.  The EP is the Nashville duo’s second in a planned three release set, and it is a collection definitely worthy of more attention.

Continue reading Excellent New Rock from The Rival

The Vinyl Kicks – Ambitions Don’t Age Well

Vinyl Kicks EP Review

The Vinyl Kicks came out with their first EP less than a year ago and fans will be happy to hear that a new release is on the horizon. Their first EP, Almost Young, established The Vinyl Kicks as a band and is still experiencing growing success. However, where Almost Young was good, the band’s upcoming EP, Ambitions Don’t Age Well is great. Listeners will be pleased to hear growth in the band lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally.

The quintet is comprised of Adam Cohen on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Justin Andrews on bass and backup vocals, Hope Finlayson on keys, Sean Acosta on lead guitar, and Jason Davis on drums and backup vocals. A band with so many elements is not easy to manage but the Florida natives, all under the age of twenty three, have great synchronicity, especially on the upcoming EP.

Instrumentally, the EP sounds somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd, or rather what I imagine Pink Floyd would sound like if they were born forty years later. Similar to Pink Floyd, The Vinyl Kicks are experimental, they’re groovy, but most of all they’re not afraid to be themselves. Where a lot of current bands are afraid of extended instrumental intros, The Vinyl Kicks tip their hat to Pink Floyd and let their intros take their time, building up sweet anticipation and letting each song unfold as it was meant to.

However, it’s not fair to only compare The Vinyl Kicks to Pink Floyd instrumentally, because they also sound like a lot of other things. At times the EP sounds a lot more like The Strokes than Pink Floyd, yet at other times it can best be compared to The Killers. The band has fused new and old really well on the upcoming EP. They remind me of bands from forty years ago, while simultaneously sounding like current bands. The band seems to have used forty years’ worth of albums as their textbooks and it’s clear they’ve been studying because Ambitions Don’t Age Well sounds like a collection of the best parts of indie rock over the last half decade.

The vocals on the EP are just as good as the instrumentals and I love them for the same reason that I love the instrumentals. They are what they are, and while they may take notes from some of the big names that came before them, at the end of it all they put their own spin on everything they do. At times, the vocals remind me a little of Pink Floyd, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon. Yet, to be honest the vocals on the EP don’t sound enough like the vocals from any of the aforementioned artists to be directly compared to alone. After I listened to the EP for days trying to figure out just who the vocals remind me of, I finally came to the conclusion that while The Vinyl Kicks sound a little like a lot of things, they really only sound like the Vinyl Kicks and their upcoming album is proof of this.

If you didn’t know that Adam Cohen, the lead vocalist had a hand in writing the lyrics, you’d figure it out just by listening to him sing. He has one of those voices that is emotionally in sync with each song and its lyrics. While Cohen has a cool, silky voice through most of the songs, there are parts of the album, like the chorus on “Broaden the Odds,” where he showcases a more raspy tone as he breaks into a yell. This works great for the EP, it’s just one of the subtleties that sets The Vinyl Kicks apart from other bands with a similar sound.

Lyrically, the EP is very poetic. It’s full of songs that show instead of telling. By that I mean that instead of coming right out and saying what they mean, The Vinyl Kicks paint the listener a picture and let the listener feel how they feel. One of my favorite lines is found at the beginning of “Broaden the Odds,” “slow she goes, slow she goes, tie me up some tangled souls.” Lines like this abound throughout the EP and paint abstract art in the listener’s mind. Ambitions Don’t Age Well features powerful enough lyrics that each song could be read in a monotone voice at a poetry event and it would still go over well.

All in all, The Vinyl Kicks have created something truly great on Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Everything about the EP just works – it’s everything their last EP was but better. Whether you’re a fan of the indie rock classics or the genre’s modern day hits, you’ll love Ambitions Don’t Age Well. Do yourself a favor and pick it up when it’s released on iTunes, May 15th of this year; you won’t be disappointed.

Joey Farese

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The Killers Entertain Orlando


he Killers at Hard Rock Orlando
The Killers at Hard Rock Orlando – Credit: Torey Mundkowsky

The Killers Concert Review

All Killer, No Filler! Yup, I know that was a Sum 41 album, but it’s also the perfect tagline for the fantastic rock show put on by The Killers last night.  Brandon Flowers and his band mates commanded the Orlando’s Hard Rock stage and blew the crowd away with a stellar set that quite literally was highlight packed from start to finish.

The Las Vegas based quarter (turned sextet for this tour) sounded superb from the opening notes of “Mr Brightside” to the last rousing flourish of “When You Were Young.” It’s nothing short of impressive that this talented band has turned out so many superb songs in their brief four album career and that they were able to fill almost the entire hour and forty-five minute show with hugely popular hits.

Guitarist Dave Keuning and drummer Ronnie Vannucci were rock solid all night, and bassist Mark Stoerner truly shined with his hard driving bass lines, but this band revolves around the charismatic Flowers, and on this night, he was damn near spectacular. His voice was superb on every song, his keyboards were excellent, and his showmanship top-notch. Permanent smile plastered on his face, he was all over the stage interacting with the fervid crowd constantly.

With the Who’s classic “Eminence Front” playing over the P.A., The Killers took the stage with all of the house lights on to Mr. Brightside, one of many cuts off of their impressive debut Hot Fuss. Playing the track with the lights on was one of a handful of nice surprises throughout the evening. At one point early in the show, Flowers slid behind the piano and played the first verse of “Human,” before the band kicked into “Bling (Confessions of A King).” From there they played a few other songs, before ultimately returning to finish “Human.”

“Tiffany stole this from Tommy James, we’re stealing it back,” offered Flowers before the band launched into a searing version of  “I Think We’re Alone.” The band tore into a raucous, chaotic cacophony before melding into a slick version of “Somebody Told Me.” And on the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw a cool duet between Flowers and Keuning during a tender version of “A Dustland Fairytale.”

The crowd was vocal all night, whether prodded by Flowers or not, and truly shined during “Bling (Confessions of A King),” “Human” and “From Here On Out,”  But, the singalong moment of the night was clearly the main set finale of “All These Things That I Have Done,” where the 3,000 folks in attendance boomed the chorus “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” for a full two minutes.

The Killers at Hard Rock Orlando
The Killers at Hard Rock Orlando – Credit: Torey Mundkowsky

The highlight of the night was the four song encore. Members of the opening band The Virgins joined The Killers on-stage for a cover of Neil Young’s “Albuquerque.” From there it was a great version of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” that was presented with a much darker feel which fit the song perfectly. The final two songs, again had the crowd thoroughly engaged, explosive versions of “Battle Born” and “When You Were Young.”

The Hard Rock venue was perfectly suited for the band, and the sold out crowd was in rare form, dancing and answering every call with loud vocals throughout the show.  It was also nice to see such diversity in the crowd, with fans from the single digits to senior citizens – all of whom who left pretty damn happy.

Setlist

Mr. Brightside
Spaceman
The Way It Was
Smile Like You Mean It
Human (Part One)
Bling (Confession of a King)
Change Your Mind
Miss Atomic Bomb
Human
Somebody Told Me
I Think We’re Alone Now (Tommy James & the Shondells cover)
For Reasons Unknown
From Here On Out
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
Runaways
All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore:
Albuquerque (Neil Young cover)
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Battle Born
When You Were Young

Check out the entire The Killers catalog on

Best Rock Songs of 2012


2012 was blessed with some fantastic rock songs, and it has taken weeks to whittle down the long list of worthy songs to find the 25 best of the year. Not quite sure this is perfect, but damn sure that these are 25 great rock songs.  Check out the list and see if you agree.

At the conclusion of the list, you’ll find a playlist on iTunes that links to all 25.

Enjoy!

25. “It’s Time” – Imagine Dragons: It’s Addictive. It’s always cool when the drummer is lead vocalist. It’s great to hear a viola in a rock tune. It’s good stuff.

24. “Bully” – Shinedown: Love the message in this one, and the song is pretty damn good, too. One of three bands with two songs on this year’s list.

23. “Little Talks” – Of Monsters and Men: It’s Mumford & Sons with a bit more of an edge from the amazingly talented band out of  Iceland.

22. “45” – Gaslight Anthem: Great straight forward rock tune from the Garden State’s newest successor to the Boss. Also love the lyrics and the 45 metaphors.

21. “We Take Care of Our Own” – Bruce Springsteen – Yup. still on top of his game. At times this reminds you of vintage E-Street band, but it also has a nice modern flair, and a big sound.

20. “Oh Love” – Green Day: What’s old is new again. this one brings back nice memories of songs from across the band’s past two decades. Billie Joe sounding great again.

19. “Love Interruption” – Jack White: The sparse arrangement works great. The guitar and Wurlitzer fling you back into the 60’s but the vocals and lyrics are totally 2012.

18. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers: Amazingly successful debut song from American Indie rockers that’s impossible not to singalong to and as a nice bonus, it features nice mandolin.

17. “Gold On the Ceiling” – Black Keys: Great organs, hand claps and a blast to listen to. Dan Auerbach channels his inner Paul Rodgers. Nice guitar solo, too. They had two songs on last year’s list and two more this year!

16. “Simple Song” – The Shins: Beautiful harmonies, chaotic guitar played off against sweet piano and James Mercer singing fantastically.

15. “Reboot the Mission” – Wallflowers: Jacob Dylan makes a killer comeback – with a ska single! And, joined by Mick Jones of The Clash. Super cool.

14. “Tongue Tied” – Grouplove: Another great song off of 2011’s Never Trust A Happy Song. It’s a blast to listen to with great boy/girl vocals and stellar music.

13. “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes: It’s an instant classic with such a comfortable Southern Rock feel, coupled with Brittany Howard’s soulful vocals that evoke memories of the great Janis Joplin.

12. “Burn It Down” – Linkin Park: The same roaring electro-power rock we’ve come to expect from the lads from Aurora, California – this time with even more memorable hooks.

11. “Breathing Underwater” – Metric: Excellent song in which Emily Haines offers up beautiful vulnerable vocals in a song about a relationship still struggling to survive against the odds. The only band with two in our Top Dozen.

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10. “Default” – Django Django: A cool dance rock track that at different times reminds me of surf rock, classic T-Rex and 80′s new wave. Yeah, it’s a crazy mix, but it’s pretty damn fun.

9. Polarized – Luke Dowler – Great song about a relationship that just isn’t working. The music is excellent, but the lyrics are phenomenal.  So many different scenarios where they are perfectly fitting.  Every time I hear this, I think about our dysfunctional government (both parties) in the nation’s capital.

“He’s left, you’re always right
Polarized, You think he’s weak because he won’t decide
We’re disconnected – we’ve been infected
We’re building up defenses – protecting deadly interests”

8. “Kill Your Heroes” – AWOLNATION – My favorite inspirational lyric all year in a song that is both powerful and addictive. “Never let your fear decide your fate.”

7. “Little Black Submarines” – Black Keys: Really two songs in one love the tender opening, and LOVE the electronic jam on part two – sweet, powerful guitar and drums.

6. “Runaways” – The Killers: They’re back after a four year hiatus, this saga is a Springsteen-esque anthem that is pure old school Killers. Brandon Flowers at his best.

5. “What Makes a Good Man?” – The Heavy: Soulful rock from the Bath, England quartet with screaming guitar that would make Jack White proud.

4. “Youth Without Youth” – Metric: A great driving beat on a song that reminds me a bit of the most rocking Smiths’ tunes. This is a dark one about a young person who has grown up in a troubled environment and raced past their youth.

3. “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well” – A Silent Film: It’s a grandiose rocker you’d have expected from The Killers. Love the keyboards, the vocals and the story!

2. Unity – Shinedown – Soaring melodies, Brent Smith’s superb vocals and fantastic guitar in yet another uplifting song from one of the year’s best albums, Amaryllis.

1. “Everybody Talks” – Neon Trees: OK, so, this is a wee bit overplayed – Got it. But it is an absolutely fantastic song. Tyler Glenn’s vocals are mesmerizing, and the guitar and drums are pure old school rock.

Let us know what you thought.  Was your favorite on our list?  Also, we’d love to see what you think about our 2012 Rock Albums of the Year.

Rock On!
Cretin


Top Rock Albums of 2012


As I looked back on the 2012 rock landscape and reviewed the year’s best rock music, I realized that I’ve definitely become more of an Indie Rock fan over the past few years. 2012 brought us lots of great Indie rock, but we also heard some rocking albums in the mainstream.  You may see a few albums here that you’re not familiar with, but I implore you to check them out. You’ll open your ears to some killer new rock, and impress the hell out of your friends. (After each selection, you’ll find a link to check them out on iTunes as well as our recommendations if you just want to grab a few tracks off of each album).

So, here are the Farmer’s Dozens in reverse order. The two dozen best rock albums of the year:

Bonus Selection: Each farmer’s dozen comes with a bonus, so here are two:  Grouplove,  Never Trust a Happy Song and The Black Keys, El Camino.  Both of these albums would be at the top of our 2012 list… if we had not already recognized them in 2011.  Here’s our Top Rock Albums of 2011, to see what else we visionaries were thinking last year.

24. The Lumineers, The Lumineers – Impressive debut album from these “pop-folk” rockers out of Denver. Best tracks: “Hey Ho” and “Stubborn Love.” The Lumineers - The Lumineers

23. Lovedrug, Wild Blood – These Indie rockers out of Ohio are powered by Michael Sheppard’s unique voice and a nice Kickstarter campaign. Best tracks: “Premonition” and “Ladders.” Wild Blood - Lovedrug Read our full review

22. Halestorm, The Strange Case of… Lizzy Hale’s powerful vocals lead the way for these masterful metal rockers. Best tracks: “Love Bites… So Do I” and “I Miss the Misery.” The Strange Case Of... - Halestorm

21. Green River Ordinance, Under Fire – Great rock ‘n roll harmonies from this quintet out of Forth Worth.  They offer up a diverse selection of tunes on another self-funded effort. Best tracks: “Dark Night” and “Lost in the World.” Under Fire - Green River Ordinance Read our full review

20. Mumford and Sons, Babel – A nice follow-up to their hugely successful 2009 release Sigh No More for these barrier-breaking folk rockers.  Best tracks: “I Will Wait” and “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel cover). Babel - Mumford & Sons

19, Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky – The Massachusetts Alt-Rockers continue to put out solid Alt-Rock with their distinctive brand of guitar rock. Every song is good on this one. Best tracks: “Rude” and “Pierce the Morning Rain.” I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr.

18. Luke Dowler, Polarized – Dowler’s music offers raw vocals with an urgent passion, mixed with poignant lyrics about world affairs, relationships and deep personal faith: Good stuff from Big Sky Country. Best tracks: “Polarized” and “Gun.” Polarized - Luke Dowler Read our full review

17. Jack White, Blunderbuss – White breaks away from the shackles and structure of his former band mates in The White Stripes and Raconteurs and it works nicely. Best Tracks: “Love Interruption” and “Trash Tongue Talker.” Blunderbuss - Jack White

16. The Shins, Port of Morrow – Fantastic lyrics, beautiful harmonies and rock and roll that just oozes likability  I just wish these New Mexico natives would put out album more often than every four years. Best tracks: “Simple Song” and “It’s Only Life.” Port of Morrow - The Shins

15. Muse, The 2nd Law – The band, built for stadium rock, took some chances on this, their sixth release. This stuff is nothing like what we’ve heard from them before, but it is intriguing and captivating. Best tracks: “Madness” and “Survival.” The 2nd Law - Muse

14. The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten – Talented New Jersey rockers who offer up their most polished record to date. Strong heart felt rock and roll with excellent lyrics. Best tracks” “Too Much Blood” and “45.”  Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem Read our full review

13. The Killers, Battle Born – Brandon Flowers and the band never disappoint.  One of the year’s best produced albums and it shows the band moving in a more mature direction. Best tracks: Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb.” Battle Born - The Killers

12. Neon Trees, Picture Show – Everybody talked about “Everybody Talks,” but this album was much more than one hit.  Tyler Glenn is a future superstar and highlights his broad talent throughout the band’s third album. Best tracks: “I am the DJ” and “Everybody Talks.” Picture Show - Neon Trees

11. Django Django, Django Django – Hip, cool, groovy, rock ‘n roll with an oddly familiar feel considering this is the band’s debut. Mixes the best of the sixties, eighties and modern times. Best tracks: Default” and “WOR.” Django Django - Django Django

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10. Metric, Synthetica – From the opening lines of “Artificial Nocturne,” where Emily Haines offers “I’m just as fucked up as they say,” this album demands your attention.  Some deep introspective tracks disguised as excellent pop rock songs. Best tracks: “Youth Without Youth” and “Breathing Underwater.”

9.  Thousand Foot Krutch, The End is Where We Begin – The songs are positive Christian rock but these guys don’t slam you over the head with their beliefs.  It’s solid, active rock music that any hard rock fan will enjoy. A very diverse selection from a band returning to their Indie roots. Best tracks: “War of Change” and “All I Need to Know.” Read our full review

8. The Wallflowers, Glad All Over – Jacob Dylan continues to evolve as a musician and has never sounded better than he does now.  Excellent music with soulful vocals on a selection of tracks guaranteed to grow on you with each listen. Best tracks: “It’s a Dream” and “Reboot the Mission.”

7. The Drowning Men, All of the Unknown – They’re back with their second full-length album release, their first on Flogging Molly’s Borstal Beats label, which builds on the success of their fantastic debut album Beheading of the Songbird, and shows the talented quintet continuing to grow. These Indie rockers remind me a bit of the layered harmonies of Arcade Fire, with a clear West Coast U.S. bent. Best Tracks: “A Fool’s Campaign” and “Lost in a Lullaby.” Read our full review

6. Green Day, ‘¡Uno!‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong needs to be recognized as the prolific rock songwriter he is.  He and his longtime band mates never fail to put out good music and this is another prime example.  A great fresh punk/pop sound from our favorite So Cal trio. They released three good albums this year, this one was the best of the bunch. Best tracks: “Oh Love” and “Let Yourself Go.”

5. Fun., Some Nights – So much more than “We Are Young.” This masterfully produced album is a great vehicle for the talented vocal stylings of Nate Ruess and is packed with memorable addicting ditties. Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost round out the trio and lend their voices to create impressive harmonies throughout.  On Some Nights, Fun. has developed a unique sound and carved a nice niche in today’s Alt-Rock landscape. Best tracks: Why Am I the One” and “Carry On.” Read our full review

4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal. This talented Icelandic band has taken advantage of the revitalized interest in folksy rock courtesy of Mumford and Sons, but have kicked it up a notch.  Great, fun rock songs with amazing boy/girl vocals and meaningful lyrics; as well as a few tracks that are strictly fantasy adventures like the addictive “From Finner.” Best tracks: “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks,”

3. River City Extension, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger – The second release from this talented octet out of New Jersey is a musical and lyrical journey well worth a listen. It’s a folk rock/Americana album packed with original sounds and with each listen a different track stands out. Joe Michelini, the band’s singer and guitarist is the primary songwriter and he takes us through a varied collection of memories. He offers: “Half of this record is love songs, and the other half is ‘I’m sorry that I fucked up’ songs,” and he writes about both in a compelling way. Best tracks: “Glastonbury” and “Ballad of Oregon.” Read our full review

2. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – I had just about written off the sage of the Garden State, but this is one of Springsteen’s best efforts in years.  The music is superb, and the lyrics even better.  It’s a bitter, but honest look at what Corporate Greed and idiot politicians have done to his country, and Springsteen pulls it off by surrounded the words with excellent music At times, he evokes memories of the E Street Band’s greatest anthems, at other times he has us heading down an entirely new path, such as the Celtic rock feel in the fantastic “Death of My Hometown.” Best other tracks: “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball.”

1. Shinedown, Amaryllis – I loved “Bully” the moment I heard it and was pleasantly surprised to hear the excellent diversity on the rest of the album.  It’s aggressive, powerful, passionate rock that’s impossible to put down.  The Jacksonville based band has only put out four albums in their decade plus together, and each one has gotten just a little bit better.  Rolling Stone hated the album, which in itself is proof that it’s mainstream rock for the masses.  Amaryllis is one of the best hard rock albums in years and it’s packed with great songs.  Best tracks: “Unity” and “I’m Not Alright.”

There you have it – the best rock albums of 2012, according to me.  Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

Click here for the Top Rock Songs of the Year

Rock On!
Cretin