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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    Nine Inch Nails:Year Zero

    In times like these, even the most neutral of bands comes out of the woodwork with political messages. Nine Inch Nails has a history of writing about anger, death and pain, and its sixth album, Year Zero, expands on those themes to create an album about oppression, war and paranoia. Although their apolitical pasts don’t suggest it, Trent Reznor and company come off like they’ve been doing this all along.

    The instrumental “”Hyperpower!”” starts off the album, followed by “”The Beginning of the End,”” which is a classic Nine Inch Nails song in every respect. The track slowly builds up tension, but stops just short of exploding completely, setting the pace for the rest of the album.

    You can always count on the band to put out great singles, and “”Survivalism”” is no exception. The chorus shows that Reznor can still do interesting and unexpected things with his voice, and the lyrics are a great jab at sensationalist news media: “”I got my propaganda/I got revisionism/I got my violence in hi-def ultra-realism.”” Be sure to check out the uncensored version of the music video as well, as it really solidifies the themes behind the album.

    Like on their last album, With Teeth, their sound focuses on minimal electronic beats and puts guitars on the backburner. This doesn’t make the sound any less aggressive, a fact made evident on the apocalyptic chorus of “”My Violent Heart.”” Other standout songs include the second single, “”Capital G,”” another political diatribe, and “”The Great Destroyer,”” which features another great vocal performance by Reznor.

    For longtime Nine Inch Nails fans, Year Zero won’t be a disappointment, and for those who think With Teeth fell short, this is a great return to form. The songs are more interesting, and Reznor sounds as pissed off as ever.

    While some bands might seem like they’re cashing in with a new found sense of political relevance, Nine Inch Nails show that you don’t have to rant about the government all the time to get your point across.

    – Nick Hornung

    Rating: 8/10


    Avril Lavigne: The Best Damn Thing

    You have to give Avril Lavigne credit. In a time when pop stars seem to be falling into rehab on a daily basis and flashing muff every time they step out of a cab, Avril is showing signs she might make it through the decade unscathed.

    And her new album, The Best Damn Thing, isn’t that bad, either.

    Produced by her husband Deryck Whidbey from Sum 41, Avril’s newest album features none other than Blink-182’s Travis Barker on drums. However, this album is about as “”punk”” as shopping at Hot Topic. The songs are extremely simple and thin on substance, but fun. The first track, “”Girlfriend,”” is a tweeny anthem that will probably go down as one of the catchiest, if not most annoying, songs of the year.

    If you paint your fingernails black and still have a subscription to Seventeen magazine, go get this album. If not, perhaps someone can point you in the direction of the new Nine Inch Nails release.

    – Andrew Austin

    Rating: 6/10


    Spouse: Relocation Tactics

    Spouse, an experimental pop band hailing from New England, has released its fourth full-length album, Relocation Tactics, much to the happiness of music lovers alike.

    “”Coaster,”” the album’s opening song, works as a great introduction to the band, showcasing their steady drum beats and simple but effective guitar skills.

    Unfortunately, the album falters with the second track, “”Delta.”” The vocals sound forced and out of sync with the instrumental music, almost to the point of keeping the listener from the rest of the album.

    Don’t be swayed though – the album flows seamlessly thereafter. The music performed might not be technically difficult but it is thoroughly enjoyable, especially “”It = Love,”” where lead singer JosǸ Ayerve asks “”Do you want it/Do you need it/Can I have it/Do you mean it?””

    If you want this album, you are going to have to go out of your way to pick it up – it is only available at their shows (thankfully they are playing Plush on May 11) and through www.insound.com and www.cdbaby.com

    – Jamie Ross

    Rating: 7/10


    The Higher: On Fire

    The Higher takes pop-punk to a higher level, like Taking Back Sunday, but with the fun upbeat sound of New Found Glory, Cobra Starship and Sherwood. This is one of those albums where you instantly love every song and play it over and over until your iPod playlists “”Recently Played,”” “”Recently Added”” and “”Top 25 Most Played”” bleed into one. With songs about topics such as dancing, gambling, teen pregnancy, fear and awkward social situations, The Higher’s first release on Epitaph Records shows that these boys are going to be the next buzz-band that everyone loves.

    The Higher were previously signed to Los Angeles-based label Fiddler Records, which is now defunct, but has represented musicians like Chris Carraba of Dashboard Confessional, Name Taken, The Bled and New Found Glory before the bands switched to larger labels.

    It seems like The Higher will be the next big name to have been represented by Fiddler Records “”way back when.””

    – Alexandra Kassman

    Rating: 8/10

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