Posts tagged ‘reviews’

Neon Review: ‘Day & Age’ by The Killers

November 24th, 2008

The Killers
Day & Age

Day and AgeWe’re going to deviate from the typical, one-sided, subjective album review you’ve come to know and hate for this latest studio effort from Las Vegas’ own The Killers in favor of something far more interesting: a two-sided, subjective album review. Today, VEGASinsight’s Pj Perez welcomes special guest Roger Erik Tinch, art and online director for the CineVegas Film Festival, as we present two very different takes on Day & Age, which hits stores in the United States today.

Pj: As usual, The Killers keep Day & Age lean, with only 10 tracks over 41 minutes (not counting the bonus tracks which we media types don’t get to preview). But that doesn’t mean they’ve cut the fat musically. Rather, the boys from Sin City try to cram so many different sounds into not only the album but each song – from dance to funk to Latin to rock to pop – that it seems along the way they just forgot to write a good song. It feels as though The Killers are overreaching even more than on Sam’s Town, whereas they’d be best off stripping back the horns and orchestral overtones and simply scratching out some palatable hooks and melodies.

Roger: OK, do some of the songs rip off The Clash? Sure. But four (three studio) albums in and the band is stilling putting together fully encompassed songs, unlike some of my other favorite bands, Coldplay and Radiohead. They rip from the playbook of The Beatles (yes I said it) and make rhythmically catchy tunes on top of seemingly simple lyrics that get more complex the digger you deep. Is it their best album? No, that is still reserved for Sam’s Town, a dystopian cowboy’s guide to the desert. But it is once again a cohesive album that raises the bar on their musical eclecticism without fully changing their “sound.”

Let’s look at the album, song by song:

“Losing Touch”
Pj: Hmm … it sounds like E.L.O. I guess I’m biased against ’70s retreads but totally alright with ’80s do-overs, as I very much enjoyed The Killers’ debut, Hot Fuss. Come on, if you’re going to dip back into the ’70s, at least make it David Bowie or Iggy Pop or, hell, go the Billy Joel route.
Roger: A great introduction to a new sound from The Killers. Pay attention to the sax as that’s the driving force behind the intriguingly fresh soundscape for the lads. (more…)

The Neon Review: ‘Joe’s Shanghai’ by The Vermin

October 1st, 2008

joe's shanghaiThe Vermin
Joe’s Shanghai
(Wood Shampoo)

What is there to say about the Vermin that hasn’t already been said? After listening to every Vermin album recorded in this incarnation’s 13-year history, they all tend to blend together a bit. That’s not a bad thing. Much like Social Distortion, Dirk Vermin’s namesake band is so good at what it does – playing retro punk rock fast, loud and without apology – that there’s not much need to deviate from the formula.

Oh, sure, the boys throw in a few tricks, such as the jazzy, spoken-word styling of “Where’s Nikki?” or the Rob Ruckus-led country romp “Oh Lord, It’s Hard to Be Humble,” but otherwise, Joe’s Shanghai is 29 minutes and five seconds of unrelenting, four-on-the-floor, growling dirge, equally informed both by late-’70s, sneering British punk and mid-’80s SoCal hardcore.

Highlights include fan favorites such as “Boredom (Was the Reason),” “Molotov,” and the Vermin’s take on M.I.A.’s arrangement of Petula Clark’s “Las Vegas.” And in an interesting twist, the band decided to repeat all 17 songs from Joe’s Shanghai on the 18th track, because, well, why the hell not?

(Full disclosure: Everyone in Las Vegas knows the Vermin, so that’s not necessarily a bias, nor is being a tattoo client of Dirk Vermin, but this reviewer is mysteriously thanked in the album’s liner notes as well, so even though the review’s objective, you might not think so. And to that, we say: Get over it.)