Blastweek #1 – "Ch-Check It Out!"

It took a bit of time … ok. It’s been six years since New York natives, the Beastie Boys released an album with new material (Hello Nasty in ’98), but that is about to change. On June 15, the rap trio will unveil their long awaited project, appropriately titled To The 5 Boroughs. In the meantime, we are left with “Ch-Check It Out,” a preview to their overdue compilation.

It seems like the Beastie Boys picked up right where they left off. The sample used in “Ch-Check It Out” sounds like a faster version of the hook used in “Intergalactic” (their 1998 hit). With the beat in place, they start trying to get people hyped, especially nerds and couch potatoes when they spit, “All you trekkies and TV addicts/Don’t mean to diss, don’t mean to bring static/All you klingons in the f—–‘ house/Grab your backstreet friend and get loud!” The rap trio also plays word association with occupations, such as being a scientist, electrician, magician and mathematician. Even the world-famous cartoon celebrity, Ms. Piggy gets a shout-out! Although they joke around, the song isn’t entirely shits and giggles. The Beastie Boys express that the people they care about prevent their heads from getting too big (except when it comes to rhyming). They spit, “I’ve got friends and family that I respect/When I think I’m too good, they put me in check/So believe when I say I’m no better than you/Except when I rap, so I guess it ain’t true.”

With an old-school flavor and friendly, but humerous touch, the Beastie Boys definitely have not forgotten their roots. After all, their album is called To The 5 Boroughs, and after hearing the leadoff track, “Ch-Check It Out,” this album should be worth checking out.

*** (3 Stars out of 5)

Staff Views

Aki’s View: *** (3 Stars out of 5) “The Beastie Boys just ranting and raving, as they do best. It’s good, but nowhere near the quality of their earlier work.”

J’s View: ***1/2 (3.5 Stars out of 5) “Typical anthem-like beastie boys song, complete with absurd fun rhymes and simplistic beats that the Beasties rock so excellently. They group has a unique signature style that no one can even come close to imitating. Somehow, they make bad come off a sheer genius in an utterly enjoyable way, using old school methods and an off kilter dork humor in their rhymes. While it’s no classic, it shows an intense amount of potential and skill, but much like their other work, it fits into a niche and either you “get it” and enjoy it or you don’t. This is nowhere near as acessable for an average radio listener as “sabotage” but a true fan might like it that way. The Beasties are back in a big way.”

Hansen’s View: ** (2 Stars out of 5) “The genre isn’t a favorite of mine, but I respect them for their longevity. This song has a solid old-school style beat, which is usual Beastie Boys and I admit it is quite catchy.”

Thanks for checking this out and leave a comment. Let us if you agree or disagree and like or dislike Blastweek. What do you think of “Ch-Check It Out?”

Yellowcard's Ocean Avenue – The Review

Who loves trends? I do, I do … cheesy ones at least. It seems that if artists want to become the hottest commodities in the music industry, then they need to stand out. Even if an artist gets a makeover and an edge, he or she could be a carbon copy of the mainstream icons. I rolled my eyes during the ‘Boy Band’ craze. MTV spoon-fed me hours of the Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, 98 Degrees and LFO in ’98. Soon thereafter, I was possessed when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore sang their little songs, danced their little dances and shook their little saltshakers.

Enter 2004: the era of “New Age Boy Bands.” These beach warriors are equipped with ripped shorts, preppy shirts and spikey hair. Throw them a few instruments and they’ll sing about how they regret pushing their ex-girlfriends away. Listen to them and you’ll get two things: a bunch of Green Day wannabes and the best marketing scheme since AOL 4.0. Just like Good Charlotte, New Found Glory and Simple Plan, Yellowcard has joined the ranks of super pop-punk stardom.

In the middle of 2003, Capitol Records unleashed Yellowcard’s first major-label album, Ocean Avenue. It was introduced to the mainstream with, “Way Away,” a song about leaving everything behind. The Florida rockers didn’t generate much buzz and in this business, if there isn’t buzz, then the die-hard teeny-boppers won’t flock to the stores and spend their money. The next step for Yellowcard was perhaps their smartest: they released their catchiest tune, “Ocean Avenue,” a song about recalling great memories with a former love and hoping to get it back (why does this sound familiar?). Ryan Key (lead singer) screams, “If I could find you now, things would get better/We could leave this town and run forever,” which perfectly matches the soap opera video. With lyrics centering on places like Ocean Avenue, Cherry Street and the beach, this could be one of the biggest songs this summer.

Yellowcard has so much energy that they don’t need to drink Y2 Stinger. On tracks like “Life of a Salesman,” “Miles Apart” and “Twenty Three,” peace and quiet doesn’t exist. These songs replicate parts of Blink 182’s Enema of the State. Yellowcard doesn’t just play the fast-paced, thrash punk stuff; they have a sensitive side too. “One Year, Sixth Months” and “Only One” are deep tunes, both of which are flashbacks of failed love (I swear this sounds familiar). If you enjoy the fiddle, there is a great solo in “Believe.”

There’s no doubt that this band could blow-up. Look at heartthrobs like Blink 182, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. These groups constantly write new songs, tour non-stop and appear on TV more than a Truth.com commercial. Their faces are on posters, buses and lunchboxes. This could be Yellowcard’s fate, if they’re fortunate enough. Assuming they continue producing bubble-gum songs (“Ocean Avenue”), use creativity (“Believe”) and showcase their energy (“Life of a Salesman”), then Yellowcard might as well be Golden Visa. But eventually, they could be lost in the shuffle. All trends usually die.

Yellowcard: Ocean Avenue
Rating: 2 1/2 Stars
Record Label: Capitol Records
Official Website: Yellowcardrock.com
Future Plans: The 2004 Warped Tour

Show Review: No Doubt & Blink 182

The Living End/No Doubt/Blink 182
June 1, 2004
Verizon Wireless Music Center
Noblesville, Indiana

Okay, so I was only going to this show to see Blink 182 and didn’t care to see the other bands on the bill. I’ve been into them for a while now and have never seen them live. I’m not a fan of No Doubt, though I do like several of their songs. I still wasn’t much looking forward to seeing them. We arrived a bit early, and when we first got to our seats, The Living End was still playing. We managed to catch three or four of their songs before they ended their set. They weren’t too bad, though I doubt I’ll be buying any of their albums any time soon.

Before The Living End finished up their set, I went in search of the merchandise areas. I wanted to check out the T shirts as well as buy a disposable camera. See, at this venue, it varies from show to show if you’re allowed to bring cameras or not. The tickets might say no cameras on them, but at the door there’s a sign that tells you if you can bring them or not. If they don’t allow you to bring cameras in, they usually have disposable cameras for sale inside the venue. When they do allow cameras, it’s only the disposable kind. Problem is, you never know until you get there if they’ll allow them. I showed up with no camera, figuring either way I could buy one inside. Much to my surprise and disappointment, they were allowing disposable cameras to be brought in, but they were not selling them inside. Bastards. So we head back to our seats and No Doubt is getting ready to go on.

We Will Rock You by Queen began to blast over the sound system as the lights went out. Then Gwen’s voice blasted through the speakers as she did their own introduction. Something about “a long time ago in Anaheim, California” and a “long battle being fought over the airwaves.” Then “and their biggest weapon of all, was their fans,” and the curtain dropped revealing the band. Their backdrop was a large LED screen which displayed words and designs throughout the show, a banner on each side of the stage that read No Doubt in Old English lettering, and two silver crowns which stood on the stage itself. They went directly into I’m Just a Girl. Okay, a song by them that I know and like. I can get into this, I thought to myself as I danced (see: bobbed head). Then, one by one they blasted out their radio hits, all of which I had heard before and enjoyed. Don’t Speak, Underneath It All, It’s My Life, Ex-Girlfriend, Hella Good, and Hey Baby were all covered as well as several tunes that I hadn’t heard before, (hence, I don’t know their titles) but enjoyed nonetheless. Midway through the show, the curtains closed, only to reopen a few minutes later with some added stage props. The props included a couch, a bathtub, and a piano. The drummer was also moved closer to the front of the stage, right near the edge to be exact. Gwen was lying down in the tub and slowly, and sexily danced out of it while singing Bathwater (I think). The whole entire show, Gwen had excellent energy, worked the crowd well and made great use of the entire stage. She took the time out to thank her female fans for supporting her all these years, then went into an acoustic version of Simple Kind of Life with just her and the guitarist. Towards the end of the song, the rest of the band began playing as well, though they were still behind the curtain. To finish off their set, they played Spiderwebs and promptly left the stage without saying a word, which leads to the now overused encore. Encores don’t even mean a whole lot anymore. They used to be reserved for special nights, when the crowd was extra good or the band was feeling the show a bit more. These days, they’re expected at most shows. But anyway, after reappearing on stage and Gwen introducing each band member, they encored with a song called Sunday Morning. At least, that’s what I believe it was called. It was a good song, and a nice way to end their set.

Up next, obviously, was Blink 182. The lights went out and from behind the black curtain, a guy stepped out to the edge of the stage and began waving around a Blink 182 flag. Then the curtain dropped and revealed the band who went directly into Feeling This. It was a nice energetic way to start our their show. The backdrop was several screens hanging, which played different videos along with each song they performed, while Travis and his drum set were on a platform which was raised several feet up from the actual stage. I had heard many bad things about Blink’s live shows. Maybe it’s the new attitude and seriousness the band has taken on, but the live show was great in my opinion. The band was real energetic and seemed to work the crowd well. They interacted with the crowd between songs, and tossed in some humor for which they’re known for. Most of it was Tom and Mark ragging on each other, which was quite hilarious. Also, if you’ve ever seen or heard the band play live, you already know that they play most of the songs quite a bit faster than they sound on the albums. They covered a decent amount of their latest album with their opening song, combined with I Miss You, Down, Violence, and Obvious. Older material was represented quite well also. They performed First Date, which Tom said was Travis’s favorite song ever. Razzing him, I’m sure. Naturally, they tossed in their hits like All The Small Things and What’s My Age Again, much to the delight of the crowd. Partial way through the show, they said that the next song was a slow sad song. Since we’re in the “age of technology,” rather than holding their lighters in the air, to turn on their cell phones and hold them in the air. Holy shit, there was a lot of cell phones there that night. It was pretty cool actually, looking around and seeing all of these little blue and green lights all over the place. They then played Stay Together For The Kids. They then played Rock Show, Adams Song, and Reckless Abandon. Tom then asked the crowd if they were ready for some old shit, and they proceeded to play the first half of Dumpweed before going into a medley of several older tracks such as Josie and Man Overboard among others. They then finished out the rest of Dumpweed. About three-fourths way into the show, a wheel chair was pushed up a ramp to the side of Travis and he hopped in and was wheeled away as Tom & Mark both played softly on their respected instruments. The Fallen Interlude from their latest album began to play. A minute or so later, there was a commotion in the crowd near me. I look over, and what do I see? Travis sitting behind a set of drums, rising out of the ground on a platform ten feet from our seats. The crowd went nuts as he pounded away on the drums for a good five or six minutes, while the platform he was on spun around in a circle. I was really regretting not having a camera at this point. Soon, the platform was lowered again and he disappeared. The lights on stage went out with the exception of the screens in which a video was playing. Over the speakers, the introduction to The Stockholm Syndrome played. For those unfamiliar with the introduction, it’s someone reading letters that Marks Grandfather wrote to his wife (Marks Grandmother, duh) during World War Two, over a piano tune. It makes for an interesting introduction. Once the intro was done playing, they jammed out The Stockholm Syndrome, which is a real fast and energetic track. In closing their set, they played a song that I hoped they wouldn’t forget but was sure they would. They finished out their set with Damnit, a move which both surprised and delighted me. They then thanked the fans for coming and waved good-bye. A lot of fans began chanting “one more song,” but it was useless. The house lights came on and a great show had came to an end.

Overall, it was a great show by both bands and I’m really glad that I went. I had said before arriving that I hoped Blink played first so that I could skip out a bit early before No Doubt finished up and beat the traffic. I’m honestly glad that No Doubt played first, because I had no other choice but to watch them, and I enjoyed it quite well. They did tend to stick to mostly radio hits, which was good for me because that’s all I knew of them. But for the diehard fans, they might have wanted some more older material tossed in. Blink represented most of their albums decently, while they did seem to stick to the new album quite a bit and completely ignored Cheshire Cat. I do wish Dude Ranch was represented more, though they did do both of my favorite songs from that album, Josie and Damnit. They did a good job combining their radio hits as well as fan favorites, making sure they offered something for everyone.

Highlights:
Gwen Stefani, period.
Acoustic version of Simple Kind of Life
Damnit
Travis Barkers drum solo in the middle of the crowd

Disappointments:
No camera
Waiting 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot after the show