Collective Soul - "Afterwords" Album Review

Collective Soul's new album Afterwords was released on August 28th on Itunes and at Target. Unfortunately for me, my digital music store of choice, Rhapsody, does not have the new album. So I just decided to listen to the new album in it's entirety at where if you click on the boom box on the table in the group picture you can control each track. I was thinking of buying the album at Target but the listing on says that the album is 31.98 and will be released September 5th. You would think that if a great band like Collective Soul provided you with an exclusive opportunity to sell their new album that they wouldn't mess it up this badly. Hopefully they recognize their mistake soon and fix it before they lose out on potential sales.

This is the first album I have reviewed in a while but I decided that anything by Collective Soul is worth reviewing and at the very least giving a listen to. The album has eleven new tracks including their newest single, "Hollywood". The run time for the album comes in at just over 40 mins, a fairly short album with an average song time of about 3:40. This is their first studio album since Youth was released in November of 2004. The album kicks off with "New Vibration", a song with that classic Collective Soul sound, a solid guitar riff and Ed's signature voice. Should become a concert favorite similar to "Counting The Days" was on their last few tours. The next song is one of my all time favorites from Collective Soul, "What I Can Give You". It was one of those songs for me that I just had to listen to it over and over, and made it pretty tough for me to get through the whole album so that I could review it. It doesn't quite have the epic sound of "Run" or "The World I Know" but it comes pretty close.

It is tough to follow that up but the album continues with "Never Here Alone", a fun song with an upbeat tempo and a message of putting the pain of yesterday behind you and looking forward to the future. Next up is "Bearing Witness", also one of my favorites from this album. They slow it down a little bit and create a great love song that is not for everyone. The great thing about Collective Soul is that it is a band that draws in all kinds of fans with their broad range of appeal. They attract fans of hard rock with songs like "Where The River Flows" and "Heavy" and the more soft rock fans with "Needs" and "Run". The Fifth track, "All That I Know" was one of the songs that they played when I went to their last concert. It really is a great concert song and they had the whole crowd singing the "Do Do Do Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Doot Do". It a memorable song that can put a smile on your face every time you hear it. "I Don't Need Anymore Friends" is the next track and a unique one at that. Front man Ed Roland takes a back seat on this track as lead guitarist Joel Kosche sings his heart out. The song itself isn't anything mind blowing but Joel does a good job taking on the lead vocal job. Placed in the middle of the album it gives the album as a whole a nice break and welcome change for any Collective Soul fan. The seventh track, "Good Morning After All", is the longest one on the album coming in at 4:23. This song about God and hope is a nice addition to the album.

Yes, you guessed it. "Hollywood", the eighth song on the album is next. It's one of those made for radio songs that they really did a good job on. It's catchy and sure to be a crowd-pleaser just as "Better Now" was for "Youth". With only three songs left on the album, they give you one more foot tapper, head nodding, song before the slow it down with the last two songs. "Persuasion Of You" has a nice chorus but probably my least favorite song on the album. It's not a song that I would skip over but I think that the verses just fall a little flat. They bounce back with "Georgia Girl", a song where everything just seems to fit perfectly together. They add the sweet sounds of the piano in this one and it reminds me of how well the violins fit into "Needs". They finish out the new album with "Adored", a great song to finish off a far from disappointing album. A beautifully written love song is the way that all good albums should end and this album did just that.

To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this album. I got a taste of it at their concert this summer but wasn't sure if Collective Soul still had it in them to put out another solid album. Clearly, I should not of doubted them as they made a great album that, if I ever make it out to Target, I will surely pick up. Undoubtedly, I had my favorites in this album but I have to give them a lot of credit for making 11 more than solid songs. I have a feeling that a lot of these songs will grow on me the more I listen to it. It is clear that Collective Soul has been on the decline as far as mainstream popularity but I hope that all fans of this band give this album a chance because I can't see how you could be disappointed by an impressive effort like this.

I give "Afterwords" four stars out of five and hope that you give it a listen. Thanks for reading the review and hope you liked it.

Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity Album Review

SwitchfootSwitchfoot is a post-grunge band from California that made it big in 2003 with "Meant to Live" and "Dare you to Move" off their album The Beautiful Letdown. That album is one of favorite albums of the last few years. There is not one song on that album that I would ever think of skipping over. They then went on to release Nothing Is Sound with a fairly big hit "Stars". I was not as impressed with this effort as their previous album but there were plenty of songs to note, such as "Lonely Nation" and "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine".

Then came Oh! Gravity., released on December 26th 2006 with 12 new tracks (3 bonus tracks at the end) and a running time of 51:57. This is their third album in four years and they continue touring rigorously. They are really dedicated to their fans and it shows. The album kicks off with their new single "Oh! Gravity", a song full of energy with politically charged lyrics. This is nothing new for them, as a lot of their previous songs have spoken out on political issues. The next song, "American Dream" is more of a social commentary on society's infatuation with money and material wealth. It has the same kind of high energy as "Oh! Gravity" which is not really my style. I think that yelling shows the passion for their message but these songs can do with out it. Next up is "Dirty Second Hands", song about how time flies and that you should make the most of it. This is where the album starts to turn around in my opinion. With "Dirty Second Hands" you can see that this album has the makings of a great album and the next song, "Awakening" only further proves this.

"Awakening" is the kind of song that Switchfoot has been creating for years and the reason why I think that they are such a good band. I predict that this song will be there next single and be a bigger hit then "Oh! Gravity". It seems that the trend with Switchfoot is to release the hard rock song first and then follow it up with a more mellow song. This song really showcases lead singer Jon Foreman's voice and the lyrics display a longing for something better which remind me of "More than Fine". Next up, they slow it down a little with "Circles". With lyrics of struggling through daily life with a search for meaning, the song evokes emotions of desperation. Another favorite of mine is up next with "Amateur Lovers", a more upbeat song musically. The lyrics speak truth about the search for love and the recklessness that pursues. The seventh song on this album, "Faust, Midas, And Myself" is another good song. This song expresses a lot of the same messages of Switchfoot pasts songs. It is about regret and that you should be careful in the life you lead.

Switchfoot - Oh GravityWe are now halfway through the album and ready for "Head over Heels (In This Life)". This song is great and makes me begin to think that this album has the potential to be just as good as "The Beautiful Letdown". This song sounds like a classic Switchfoot song and a classic alternative rock love song. "Yesterdays" is up next, this song will run chills up your spine. If you have recently lost someone close to you, this song could be playing on repeat for the next couple of months. It is a beautiful song about grieving and holding on to someone who has passed on. The next song, "Burn Out Bright", is another song about living life to the fullest and how short life is. It's a short song that picks you up after such a sad song, "Yesterdays". The next song is known only as "4:12" as it refers to the time mentioned in the lyrics and also to the length of the song. This song refers again to the materialist society we live in and that our dreams should be more than obtaining wealth. "Let Your Love Be Strong" is the last new song on the album. This song is about finding hope in the face of despair and holding on to "your love".

The album ends with acoustic versions of "American Dream" and "Awakening". They also throw in a remix of "C'mon, C'mon", which I believe is previously unreleased. These are great bonuses for the dedicated Switchfoot fan.

This album is everything that I hoped it would be and definitely fulfilled my expectations. I wasn't crazy about "Nothing is Sound", though it had it's moments. I believe that "Oh! Gravity." is a step back in the right direction and it is nice to see that Switchfoot is consistently releasing great music. I would highly recommend picking up Oh! Gravity. and I give it 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.

I'll end this review with a couple links for you.
(Check out the Tour Dates near you)
Blog about Switchfoot
Switchfoot Fansite
Oh! Gravity. Music Video on YouTube
My Favorite Songs from the Album
Head Over Heels (In This Life)
Faust, Midas, And Myself
Amateur Lovers

Our Lady Peace - A Decade Album Review

Our Lady Peace - A DecadeOur Lady Peace is a gem that I discovered around ten years ago. These guys have consistently produced hit after hit since they formed and the album, A Decade, is a great tribute to the work that they have done. If you only have one of their albums or flat out never decided to go out and buy an OLP album then I highly suggest purchasing this one. It includes one of my all time favorite songs from any band, "Thief". This song can be summed up in one word, fantastic. "Thief" is a slow moving, powerful song that is one for the ages. A Decade contains 12 songs that I have heard in the past and have thoroughly enjoyed. The album has a run time of 1:17:22 with a total of 18 songs including a previously unreleased track and a demo from their Healthy in Paranoid Times album.

The album kicks off with one of their biggest hits, "Starseed", from their first album Naveed. This song is one of those hit singles that you might have forgotten about because I know that I did. You probably heard on the radio all the time but never took the time to look it up. Its a good song and one of the few that I previously did not own but now enjoy. Next up is "The Birdman" and "Naveed", both again from their first album. These are two songs that I had never previously heard before but aren't too bad. I like "Naveed" better, it's a little slower and is a little more mellow. Those three represent their first album, and moving in chronological order we come to their next album, "Clumsy". They put in three songs from this album as well, all fairly big radio hits, "Superman's Dead", "Clumsy", and "4am". This might be the best trio of songs of any of their albums and though I think Happiness Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch is their best album overall, these three songs are gold. "Clumsy" is probably my favorite from this group, with lyrics like this, you can't really go wrong.

"I'll be waving my hand...Watching you drown...
Watching you scream...Quiet or loud...
And maybe you should sleep
And maybe you just need...A friend
As clumsy as you've been, there's no one laughing
You will be safe in here, you will be safe in here..."

Next up is my favorite album, Happiness Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch, with another trio of songs, "One Man Army", "Is Anybody Home", and the previously mentioned "Thief". "One Man Army" is a great song about reminiscing and marching through your troubles whereas "Is Anybody Home" is a fairly depressing song about loneliness but none the less a good one. I have already went over my thoughts on "Thief"; it's one of my favorite of all time. Spiritual Machines is next in order with their two songs, "In Repair" and "Life". "In Repair" is a song that I had not previously heard before reviewing this album but I have since found out why they selected this song for their greatest hits album. It is a song with a solid beat that will have you coming back for more. "Life" was one of the band's biggest hits at the height of their career getting significant radio play. This song has some universal lyrics that will have you singing along and give you hope for a better tomorrow.

We are already up to 2002 with Gravity and the two songs that they chose from this album, "Somewhere Out There" and "Innocent", another two big hits. "Somewhere Out There" is a song about hope and longing for a connection and "Innocent" is about kids who have great obstacles in their life and there is hope just around the corner. We have finally made it to the last original studio album for OLP, with "Healthy in Paranoid Times" and another trio of songs, "Where Are You", "Angels/Losing/Sleep" and "Will The Future Blame Us". My favorite of this trio is "Angels/Losing/Sleep" a classic OLP song highlighting front man Raine Maida haunting voice. "Where Are You" was their main single of this album and got significant radio airplay. "Will the Future Blame Us" was another song that I had never heard before but was not in the least disappointing, with strong vocals and very creative verses. The album wraps up with a unreleased song and a demo from their last album. "Kiss On The Mouth" and "Better than Here" are great treats for the hardcore fans and decent incentive for the dedicated fans to go out and buy their greatest hits even if they own all their other albums.

I would highly recommend this album for the Our Lady Peace fan that somehow lost sight of this group somewhere in their long and lustrous career and also for the alternative rock fan that somehow missed this superb group. I'll giv
e it 4 and a half stars, a great buy for all music fans. Once again thanks for listening, and go check it out.

Better Than Ezra - Before the Robots Album Review

Today is the day that I celebrate one of my favorite albums of all time. Before the Robots is Better Than Ezra's latest studio album, released in May of 2005. It was one of those albums you come across looking for new music and see that one of those fairly popular 90s post-grunge bands is under the new release column. I have always been a big fan of "Good" and "Desperately Wanting" as they were pretty solid rock radio staples in the late 90s. I wasn't expecting much from the album though I decided to give it a listen. I was actually more excited about the new Oasis album set for the same release date but that turned out to be a huge disappointment as "Don't Believe the Truth" did not impress me at all.

Before the Robots is a great album filled with epic and catchy songs that is capped off with one of my all time favorite songs, "Breathless". This song is slow moving and very powerful. It is the last song off the album and it's a great finisher. This is really one of those albums that is almost flawless. Some of the most popular songs on the album are my least favorite like "Juicy" which just feels way out of place when listening to the whole album. "Overcome" and "A Southern Thing" round out my list of least favorite songs. With those songs out of the way, we are left with a great crowning achievement foe the band from New Orleans. The album kicks off with "Burned", a great song about a love fallen by the wayside. The next is "Daylight", a powerful song about the a girlfriend that you love to hate, and hate to love, but you can't seem to get off your mind. "Lifetime", the third song of the album and their biggest hit off the album, is about letting go and holding on.

Next up is "It's Only Natural", a fun song about just fooling around and not feeling guilty about it. "Special" is just that, special. This song is just simply fantastic. "American Dream" is a very underrated song about how time flies and how quickly dreams fade away. One of Better than Ezra's best singles, "Our Last Night", is coincidentally about that last night with a special someone. "Hollow" is similarly to "American Dream" in that it is a look back at the past and how some things can leave you felling empty. Appropriate for the month of December, "Our Finest Year" is another look back, this time with a hopeful look at the future. It ends of course, with "Breathless" and a great finale to an outstanding album that will have you coming back for more every time you listen to it.

Thanks for listening and check it out. I leave you with a little snippet of some of my favorite lyrics.

Some are special.
They come back, racing through your mind.
You were special.
Your light, your heat
Will never die.

I was lost.
I was lost and I found you.
I will know no further love.
People move.
Come in close and fall away,
Love, you refuse to fade.

-"Special", Better than Ezra

Mat Kearney - Nothing Left to Lose Album Review

Mat is an up and coming artist from Oregon who released his first major label album in early 2006. Nothing Left to Lose, which is also the name of his first single, has done fairly well thus far. He did a summer tour with John Mayer and Sheryl Crow and is currently doing a few shows with fairly big acts like the Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, O.A.R., Sister Hazel, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, and Five for Fighting before he meets up with John Mayer again this winter. His future looks very promising as his fan base is continually growing and his rap style lyrics mesh well with his smooth melodies. I got a chance to see him live in concert about a month ago and he put on a good show. He played all the songs from his new album plus a Johnny Cash song with Griffin House at the end. He sounded exactly the same as he does on the recordings and played both the guitar and piano. In a small venue and Griffin House opening up for him, it was a good time.

I discovered Mat Kearney when I was experiencing insomnia late one night last summer. I flipped on VH1 and Mat Kearney's video for the single "Nothing Left to Lose" was playing. When I first heard his voice it sounded very similar to the Lead Singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin. When I went on to Rhapsody to check out his album, I found that he also did a little rapping in some of his songs. That voice seemed to be very similar to the singer from Fort Minor and Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda. After those connections were made, I began to listen to the album more and more. I listened to the album in its entirety about 5 times the day after seeing the video.

This is one of those great albums that you don't feel the need to skip over some songs and can just listen to the whole thing without feeling anxious about changing the song. I feel like I need to highlight a few of the songs because they should not be overlooked. You can listen to the album in its entirety at at his official website, where there is a player in the top right corner of the page. Besides the obvious pick, "Nothing Left to Lose", the songs, "Undeniable", "Wait", "Bullet", "Girl America", and most recently "Renaissance" are my favorites. "Undeniable" is a great song with rap style verses and a great chorus, the first song of his new album. "Wait" is probably my favorite song off the album, a very mellow song with a great message. "Bullet" has some great lyrics, proclaiming, "It doesn't matter if they call me wrong / Doesn't matter if they steal my song / Doesn't matter if we're all along / It doesn't matter at all / Cause I would take a bullet for you". "Girl America" has a touch of religion embedded in it and carries a good social message. "Renaissance" is a song that grows on me every time I hear it. It is a very powerful song that just continues to build up and has a great chorus.

This is a great album and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 stars, two thumbs up, 10/10, it surely won't disappoint. Thanks for listening, go check it out.

A Review of Big City Rock's Self-Titled Debut

One of the bands that I had the pleasure of seeing live in concert this year is a relatively unknown band, Big City Rock. They were opening up for Everclear and I wasn't really expecting much from them, as with most opening acts, I really don't really get my hopes up. They played 7 songs off their new debut CD, all of which I enjoyed. The lyrics seemed a little over the top but they spoke some truth and were pretty catchy.

When I got back from the concert, I looked up a little background on them and it turns out that they only have one album out which is self-titled. With about an average of 3 minutes a song, the album only amounts to about 35 minutes. While it is rather short, it surely doesn't disappoint. My three favorites from the album include, "I Believe in You", "Kind", and "Shelter". One of the songs on the album, "Human", shows how simple yet powerful are their lyrics. "I am just a man / Man in a city / City in a State / State in a country / Country in a world / Part of a System / Driving through the city / Stereo is on". Not the most mind blowing lyrics but nevertheless powerful. I definitely recommend you go out and buy this album but at the very least go and give it a listen. To end this artist/album review, I'll leave you some food for thought with some lyrics from "Kind".

"I don't know why
We have to try so hard to be kind to one another
When its hard enough living and
We don't know where to go
What can I do about it?"

A Tribute To The "Bringing Down the Horse" Album by The Wallflowers

Today I thought that I would pay homage to one of the great albums of the 1990s, Bringing Down the Horse by The Wallflowers. This is one of those great albums filled with very memorable songs. This album is most known for the #1 hit "One Headlight". That song, though great, is just the tip of the iceberg when you look into great detail the beauty of this masterpiece.

They scored two more successful singles on Bringing Down the Horse with "6th Avenue Heartache", and "Three Marlenas", both of which got significant radio air play when they were released but are seldom heard on the radio today. With the exception of "I Wish I Felt Nothing", the last song on the album, Bringing Down the Horse can be defined in one word, perfect. The album kicks off with "One Headlight", one of my favorite songs today, nearly ten years after its release. This song has such a cool beat and the guitar solos are great.

My favorite line is: "Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same."

I am not going to go through every song on this album, but trust me, there all good. However I would like to highlight the third song of this album, "Bleeders". This song, in my opinion, is the best on the CD. With lyrics like " I need somethin' better / Than a nail and a hammer / To put me back together", there is no question of how universal The Wallflowers songs can be. This song may push you away with the title but it will consume you the first time you hear it and will continue to do so for years there on after. Before I wrap up this outstanding review of superior music, I would also suggest listening to "Laughing Out Loud", the seventh song on the album. With a solid beat and meaningful lyrics, it is an unstoppable force. I suggest listening to the album in its entirety, but if you don't have the time at least check out these two songs.

Thanks for listening to this edition of "A Tribute to" and stay tuned for more outstanding music reviews and suggested listening.