Album Reviews

Bowling For Soup- Sorry For Partyin’


With seven albums already under their belt, many questioned whether Bowling For Soup would serve us anything we hadn’t heard before. Whilst it’s obvious from first listen that Sorry For Partyin’ doesn’t mark a new direction for the band, it’s certainly anything but recycled material from their fourteen year career. What it does manage to do is consolidate exactly what fans adore about Bowling For Soup into a neat one-hour package, showing glimpses of maturity for a band that prides itself on being immature.

Not doing much to relinquish the lazy tag of “That Joke Band”, there are plenty of laugh-a-minute tracks, explaining just why Bowling For Soup are synonymous with having a good time. Opener ‘A Really Cool Dance Song’ acts as a scathing parody on the current music scene, resulting in an effort better than the majority of the bands they’re mocking. Catchy enough to be embraced by the drunken masses and for anyone else who doesn’t get the joke. Up next is ‘No Hablos Ingles’, a hilarious slice of sing-along sunshine pop punk, showcasing exactly how good a ‘novelty song’ can be. Typical BFS ground is lovingly trodden, with odes being sung to Beer and Penis alike, with ‘Hooray For Beer’ and joyously mirthful single ‘My Wena’ both satisfying the three-year gap from the band’s last effort.

It comes as no surprise that a band extolled for their witticisms and harbingers of bromance, hijinks and having fun are deft-handed at writing a comical three-minute ditty. The surprise comes from the ease in which the band navigates the deeper subject matter and the fact that there are clever and knowing lyrics hidden behind the jovial exterior. The soulful pseudo-ballad ‘Me With No You’ might just be the best song this band have ever written, emitting just enough emotion to smack you into the chest without treading into the dangerous slush-schmaltz territory that so many bands fall into. Beneath the expected song fare are some unexpected surprises, the Sugar Ray-esque ‘I Gotchoo’ is an eulogy to 90’s pop-rock, sunnier than a trip to the Equator and laced with a Motley Crue-inspired metal breakdown; it is perhaps the most bizarre song of the year and an undeniably guilty-pleasure. Equally as unexpected is the politically-charged ‘America (Wake Up Amy)’, showing that you don’t have to create an American Idiot-sized epic to give a subtle middle finger to the current state of affairs.

The only blotch on an otherwise flawless slate is that someone felt the need to shove two perfectly good and album-worthy songs into the dark depths of the bonus track list. Surely if Bowling For Soup can transcend what it means to be a light-hearted pop punk band, then they can manage a 17-track album without fear of reprimand? Despite the minor gripe, Sorry For Partyin’ showcases just how much depth, creativity and passion a so-called novelty band can have, so much so that if you still pin any band that dares to have a sense of humour as a joke then it will firmly be on you.

KISS- Sonic Boom



by Mr J

Anyone with a pair of ears, and a passion for rock will have heard KISS’ company line on Sonic Boom. For what seems like centuries, self-styled bass-demon Gene Simmons and velvet-voiced love-marksman Paul Stanley have extolled the “meat and potatoes” style of the upcoming album, boasting about it’s natural place in the pantheon of past glories Love Gun and Rock And Roll Over. Well paint me white and call me a Catman because the aging pyrotechnic-enthusiasts have pulled it off.

The newly-refurbished KISS juggernaut rolls into view with Modern Day Delilah. The stomping opener removes any doubt that the band would be forgoing modern bells and whistles, with not a hint of a vocoder disrupting Stanley’s trademark wail. Classic Paul bleeds effortlessly into classic Gene, with Russian Roulette featuring a godzilla-scaled chorus and bombastic if somewhat childish lyrics.

It is in this impressive vein that the album continues.  Not everything meets the high watermark, Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect) is a serviceable but forgettable mid-pacer for example, but for a band whose form fluctuated so violently during their patchy 1980s run, this release is laudably consistent.

Never Enough is the finest song this band have written since the Revenge album seventeen years ago, a flawless ode to not being held down. The ideal soundtrack to those days spent clicking your pen and wanting to smack your boss and/or lecturer. I’m an Animal sees Simmons milk his Demon character for all it’s considerable worth with a metal-plated cut that sits comfortably in the God of Thunder/Unholy lexicon.

In the grandest KISS tradition, it isn’t just the Demon and the Starchild who step up to the microphone. On All for the Glory, drummer and current Catman Eric Singer turns in a driving rocker, his throaty croon adds an earthier shade to the band’s sound. Meanwhile lead guitarist and studio album debutant Tommy Thayer quietens the whispers accusing him of being simply a hired gun (or axe as the case may be) with an impressive effort. Evoking the 80s glam metal scene of which his own Black ‘N’ Blue were a part, When Lightning Strikes is a creditable piece.

There is only one way to end a KISS album, and that is with an Optimus Prime-sized anthem, in this case Say Yeah. Say yeah? If KISS are your bag you’ll be screaming it. If they aren’t, this album isn’t going to change your mind. If you’re the latter, take solace that it won’t be long before Gene Simmons endorses some earplugs.


Taking Back Sunday- New Again

New Again acts as the rebirth of a band that have lost a long-time guitarist and undergone radical personal troubles all in just two years, whilst being set the not so simple task of topping their most successful album to date. Those worried that the absence of Fred Mascherino would leave a gaping hole in the band need not fear, the departure of the well-loved guitarist does nothing but bolster their sound. Newcomer Matt Fazzi allows Frontman Lazzara to take centre-stage, offering soft-tongued backing that forms a more cohesive five-piece, whose renewed faith in music sees a happier band both on stage and off.

New Again manages to capture the perfect blend of TBS’s back catalogue, combining the anthemic overblown rock songs of Louder Now, evident in ‘Cut Me Up Jenny’, whilst ‘Capital M-E’ finds Adam at his most sardonic and scathing, spilling personal injustice through the speakers and leaving no former foe of the past two years unwounded. For a man whose vocal abilities are sometimes the target of ridicule, Lazzara is more poised and confident than ever. The vocal acrobatics on ‘Summer Man’ prove every argument unjust, mounting and soaring almost effortlessly into a flawless piece of ballsy pop-rock.

New Again manages to avoid the flaws of previous efforts and stays consistent throughout, with the reeling punk-infused climactic chorus of ‘Everything Must Go’ paying tribute to the fact that the best is always saved for last. If Louder Now was TBS proving they could move on from their emo beginnings and turn up the volume, New Again is TBS proving that they can do more than just make noise,  creating an effort full of depth and maturity that catapults them into the realms of serious song-writers, still retaining their playful edge.

With New Again Taking Back Sunday prove just why every other new band on the planet is imitating their sound with a career-best album worthy of outshining even the best 2009 has to offer.

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