Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Mayfield Four - Second Skin (2001) Album Review

Cutting to the chase - this is one of the best rock albums I've heard in a long time. Just to be nitpicky, I'd say the music is "post-grunge", with a very strong 90s vibe to it, particularly reminiscent of old Stone Temple Pilots, with a singer that sounds a bit like Chris Cornell, though he doesn't use his nasal cavity as much as Chris does, therefore better.

I'm talking about Myles Kennedy. Yep, that's a name you've probably heard before. Singer-extraordinaire of Alter Bridge. You know, that band with the ex-Creed members. (Correction: ex-ex-Creed members.) "Blackbird" was actually the first album that got me hooked with Alter Bridge, and after realizing how much of a good singer Myles is, I decided to check out some of his old stuff since most people seem to talk about it a lot. So here we are.

This wasn't the first M4 album I've heard. Heard "The Fallout" first, and while it had its merits, particularly Myles' heavily-influenced Jeff Buckley singing, it wasn't until I heard "Second Skin" before I was compelled to dig up this blog and hastily write something about them.

The Mayfield Four
This album is surprisingly accessible, for a band that struggled to break into the mainstream during the turn of the millenium. I love the musicianship found here, and as a sort of a musician myself, you could tell after listening to a few songs that it came easy for them. The chemistry is undeniable, and all tracks blend in perfectly with each other. You'd be surprised you couldn't find one filler or out-of-place song anywhere. It's absolutely a gem from start to finish. It flows perfectly, barely changing gears or pace, just a constant assault of good old (post) grungy rock, until it slows down to climax into the magnificent end track "Summergirl" - a song that perfectly demonstrates just how high Myles' voice can soar.

It's sad to hear they've already broken up. I actually "sort of" prefer M4 over AB. And this album over AB's "Blackbird". Wait... I take that back. It's a hard choice. Blackbird is a bit beefier and much more deliberate, while Second Skin had musicians that I felt were a bit more relaxed and musically in-tune with each other, churning out a much more effortless piece of music. And it shows.

- post-grunge at its finest

- none (besides the band broke up).

10 out of 10

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kaskade - Fire and Ice (2011) Album Review

Kaskade belongs to the masses now. Coming a long way from being a deep house impresario to a big beats producer, one can't be certain if what we hear in "Fire" is his way of signaling the crowd that he has completely abandoned his deep house roots. Or, on second thought, he may just be flexing his arena muscle - wondering how fast he could fill the dance floor and make ravers lose their minds to ear-piercing synths, jaw-dropping thick bass kicks (probably taking pointers from Deadmau5), and an endless stream of build-ups that eventually explode into a mass of syncopated synths and bass. Fire. And it burns.

Ah... what do we have here? "Ice"? So this is where he keeps his left-overs. Kidding aside, this mix explains a lot - the alienation generated from "Fire", for one. It's a friendly nudge that he hasn't really left his roots, he's actually just experimenting with the extremes of his new-found musical range, from all-out dance to lounge-like easy listening. For the latter, he decided to cram a soulful take on "Fire" in disc number 2 which kind of feels like The Calm: Part 2. At this point, you have to wonder why the album isn't called "Ice and Fire". Nuh-uh. Booty-shaking is top priority for Mr. Raddon apparently - and quite obviously so. As I said, Kaskade belongs to the masses now.

"Ice" also gives him an excuse to go insane in "Fire", purposely making the former more chill than your usual Kaskade deep house track to excuse the excesses of the latter. For as long as anyone has listened to Kaskade, we've never seen him create music this excessive- the synths particularly. An artist trying to transition whilst saving face? Who knows. For all we know this might be his way of bidding a final goodbye to deep house- but we'll just have to wait and see won't we?

- Dance, dance my child, dance!
- "Ice" caters to those wishing to just chill-out

- "Fire" can get too loud with ear-splitting synths (best left at the dance floor)

7 out of 10

PS: Can any of you distinguish Becky Jean Williams' voice from Mindy Gledhill's? Uncanny.