No Doubt Push & Shove/Interscope Records
From the mid-’90s into the mid-’00s, No Doubt was one of the hottest bands on the planet, and even when lead singer Gwen Stefani went solo she continued to burn up the charts. Now the band has released a comeback album, its first of original material since 2001 and it appears that the reign of these pop-punk superstars is in doubt after all.
Push & Shove is littered with sappy mid-tempo numbers (“Dreaming the Same Dream”), copycat ’80s pop rock (“Gravity”) and synth-heavy numbers that somehow sound tired and bored (“Heaven”). “Looking Hot” is a cringe-worthy kissing cousin of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” whose lyrics make the Pussycat Dolls “Don’t Cha” look like something that was written by a Rhodes scholar. One has to wonder what the thought process was when most of these songs were being made.
The echoing rock of “One More Summer” is a welcome sigh of relief, and the lead dance hall single, “Settle Down,” is the closest the band gets to re-living their former glory, but it’s too little, too late. Half the album sounds like it has no idea what it wants to be and the other half sounds uninspired and contrived. Push & Shove is one hot mess.
Paper Route The Peace of Wild Things/Tree of Hearts
Indie rock band Paper Route is back with a second full-length release, and this is the sort of album radio has been screaming for. With soaring melodies, ethereal guitars, spine-tingling vocals and lyrics that cut to the bone, The Peace of Wild Things reminds you that in an age of singles and short attention spans it is still possible to make great albums.
“Rabbit Holes” is a potent blast of rock that is atmospheric and epic in the visuals it depicts, while “Two Hearts” is the sort of radio-ready rock that is catchy and (thankfully) led by vocals that are not auto-tuned. First single “Better Life” marries pianos, synths, and beats with skyscraping vocals in a most pleasant way, “Glass Heart Hymn” combines otherworldly sounds with a chilling choir of voices, and the power and energy of second single “You and I” will hit you like a ton of bricks.
J.T. Daly sings and writes about love with a passion and insight that is matched by few singers today, and it makes this album simply mesmerizing.
The Bloody Angle The Bloody Angle/Self-released
Billing themselves as a Southern-fried swamp rock band, The Bloody Angle’s self-titled debut is a rollicking good time. If you like gritty, straight forward tales and dark, melodic tunes, then The Bloody Angle is right up your alley.
With vocals and a cadence reminiscent of Neil Young, Matt Singleton leads the charge on the title track, and the crunchy guitars, thunderous drums, foreboding harmonizing and tale of murder make “Sarah (Don’t Come Around)” one of the album’s killer numbers. Religious nuts are featured seriously and humorously on tracks like “The Devil’s Running Scared” and “Jesus and the Dallas Cowboys,” respectively, and the band proves on “Long Black Rifle” that you really can have a love affair with a gun.
Singleton gives his vocals enough chutzpah to keep you engaged, Jason Butler dazzles on the guitars, and the stories expertly range from the silly (“Alligator”) to the profound (“Ol’ Ben Haley”). Whether pulling from the past or the present, The Bloody Angle is a darkly beautiful ode to life in the South.
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