Reviewed by Hannah Song
17, Keppel HS (Alhambra)
The edgy lyrics and creative incorporation of classical music added to Muse’s signature fusion of rock, metal and electronica impressed me so much that when I got the band’s latest album I listened to it twice, back to back.
Lead singer Matthew Bellamy writes lyrics that echo the album’s title, The Resistance. “They will not force us/ They will stop degrading us/ They will not control us/ We will be victorious,” sings Bellamy in the song “Uprising.” Throughout the album, his lyrics are poetry. The song “I Belong to You (+Mon Cœur S’ouvre À Ta Voix)” is a pseudo-French love song: “I traveled half the world to say/ you are my muse/ Ah! Réponds à ma tendresse (Answer to my affection).” Muse combined two universal themes—defiance and love—into one album.
But lyrics are only half the story. The Resistance includes a 13-minute, three-part classical-influenced piece, titled “Exogenesis: Symphony.” Bellamy has described it as “space rock,” a combination of orchestral and rock music. These songs tell a story of the apocalypse—when humanity, unable to survive on Earth, would have to begin again elsewhere. The unconventional theme and composition was unlike any of the teeny-bopper pop-rock you see on the Disney Channel. It also wasn’t repetitive head-banger music, or droning guitar chords, like other modern rock bands.
I strongly recommend The Resistance. Not only is it thought-provoking, it explores many universal themes that everyone can relate to.
Reviewed by Chantelle Moghadam
16, Viewpoint School (Calabasas)
The album cover of Big Echo by The Morning Benders is a beautiful painting of people playing in the ocean, a perfect choice to reflect the music. The light-sounding instrumentals mixed with soft, echoing vocals create the feeling that you are lying on the beach, looking out at the calm ocean.
Sixties influences abound on Big Echo. The Morning Benders write simple songs. Most of them have one or two word titles, such as “Stitches” and “Mason Jar” and they use a lot of “dum dum dums” and “ahhhs” to fill the spaces where there would normally be lyrics. But this makes the soft tone of the music stand out.
Big Echo opens with a soft and airy piano and strings on “Excuses,” which is one of my favorite songs on the album. Listening to it feels like waves crashing on the beach. Then, when the vocals come in, about a minute into the song, they blend so well into the instruments that you hardly even notice.
The Morning Benders’ debut album, Talking Through Tin Cans, had a more poppy feel, while Big Echo is much deeper. Some of my favorite lyrics on the album are from the chorus of “Promises,” when lead singer Chris Chu sings, “But I can’t help thinking we grew up too fast/ And I know, I know, I know this won’t last/ a second longer than it has.”
Even when it gets cold outside, I can always listen to Big Echo and feel like I’m on the beach again, lying in the sun.
Reviewed by David Garcia
14, Monrovia HS
I hadn’t heard much about Them Crooked Vultures when my friend lent me their self-titled debut album. With Queens of the Stone Age’s Joshua Homme on guitar, Foo Fighters lead guitarist (and former Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl on drums, and the multi-talented former Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards, this band should have been a huge deal. All three of these musicians are famous and masters of their craft.
Their sound is part Led Zeppelin, part Nirvana, with dashes of Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age thrown in. Still, the band manages to form a very connected sound.
The album’s most memorable track, “No One Loves Me and Neither Do I,” has everything you could want in a good song—catchy lyrics, skilled guitar playing and an excellent rhythm. About two depressed and desperate people who meet each other, the song shows Homme’s dark and moody writing style, “Then she said, no one loves me and neither do I/ You get what you give/ I give goodbye/ And if I should vanish/ Don’t get caught off guard/ Don’t hold it against me.”
Other notable tracks include the fast-paced “Scumbag Blues,” which could easily pass for an early Led Zeppelin song. Toward the end of the album is “Gunman.” Despite the guitar riff that’ll get stuck in your head, Homme’s haunting vocals and the almost scary lyrics about a soldier, make a great song. This album was one of the best I have heard in a long time. But when I look at the band members’ pasts, I would expect nothing less.