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You may remember Darius Rucker as the croony lead singer from one of the more lasting bands form the 90’s Hootie and The Blowfish. During that time, I was listening to the likes of “‘Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” and “I Only Wanna Be With You.” It’s not often that a band could come across and tug on the strings of random memories from my childhood, but Hootie certainly takes me back to a time when things were changing in my life at a fast pace, and I was learning about new music and stations aside from B94(If you haven’t heard of it, it’s on old Pittsburgh station, its back again, but certainly not the original).

Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and the likes of Tool, were winning my heart over as I was becoming a teenager and falling into the traps of teenage aggression. However, I always had a place in my heart for Hootie, because for some reason, Darius’s voice was just so damn awesome. He hit every note with what seemed like perfection, and never had to strain himself to reach an emotional level to grab the user and bring them to a whole new level.

Now after his first country album release “Back to Them,” which received very sub-par reviews. He comes back with a highly touted monster of a country album, “Learn to Live.” This album is full of emotional tracks, that seems to be written for anyone who has had a hard time in their life, whether it be a traumatic experience like in the song “I Hope They Get To Me in Time.” Or when a father looks ahead to the future or back in time depending on how you look at it in the song of “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.” There is at least one track for everyone on the entire cd, that is made for someone, if your in love with the current country situation that is played on the radio.

My only real gripe with this cd is that its mostly, written in a stereotypical format, as far as the typical country music banter goes, spirituality, life, death, love, and drinkin’. I do however, feel that Darius Rucker’s voice is not given enough justice. While most of the songs are typical with a country album, he has the voice to knock most of the songs out of the park even while singing about something that has been done a bajillion times.

So my final comments come down to this. If you loved Hootie and the Blowfish, and enjoy the music they wrote about. This album will never be that good. However, I urge you to give it a try if you are a country fan as it has many country music stars, making musical cameos, well produced songs, and a voice that just doesn’t give up. For the next review, be prepared. It’s going to be heavy.

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Never Sleep Again Tour…

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So this past weekend I had the pleasure of going to the Never Sleep Again Tour, which had bands such as The Color Fred, Emery, and Hawthorne Heights. I was highly saddened at what I saw. Emery is my favorite band, in fact, they killed it that night.

They by all means should have played for at least an hour and headlined that tour instead of Hawthorne Heights. I can’t believe the type of crap some bands are willing to do to get their name over again and be relevant. Hawthorne Heights had their 15 minutes, in fact, they had another 8 minutes when their guitarist Casey Calvert died of a “apparent” drug overdose. I’ve seen them live before(not by choice) and they put on a decent show. But, last night, I haven’t seen a more incoherent money pandering show by one band who was more out to get theirs and provide a statement on the illegal issues of pirating and how much of a dick you were for doing it. As well as making statements such as “Its like If someone came in and stole your T.V., that’s what your doing to us, buy our album!”

I am all for bands who care about how they live and the money they make continue their tours. I however am not for making it known every couple of songs how much you care about us, and that we should buy your album because the fans love them. It pretty much sounds to me like “aww come on baby, I want to have sex…I thought you loved me.” Jesus, people will do what they want. Feel like your respected and be gracious that people want to listen to your music even if they download it. It brings in more potential customers than people buying it. In fact, many reputable bands have embraced it.

Now back to Emery, they came in, didn’t talk to much and provided a solid half hour of killer tracks from their new and old stuff. There was no begging, there were no statements being made about money and the life they live. They straight walked on, said hey whats up, I’m here to rock the shit out of you, then walked off. Honestly, I was not trying to be biased, but a lot of people felt the same way as well, more than half of the people left after Emery, while Hawthorne Heights was setting up. I figured I would stick around and hear how much HH has changed. I can safely say, I will never see them again, and will never buy/download their albums its just not for me, hell, I even downloaded the new Emery EP While Broken Hearts Prevail on I Tunes, then purchased it again at the show just in spite of what was said.

Keep on rocking kids, and lets get some more bands out there that are in it to make music and the memories that it has the capability to make, and not to blindside people with their corporate greed.

Emery - While Broken Hearts Prevail

Emery - While Broken Hearts Prevail

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Ever since the release of Burning Bridges, I have been hooked on Haste The Day.  I’ve seen them live twice, picked up all their albums and have been eagerly awaiting the release of their newest CD: Dreamer.  I will say this now and get this out of the way.  This CD is as good if not better than their last release Pressure the Hinges.

Dreamer starts off with a thought provoking first song(68) that immediatly brings on the typical heavy riffs and deep screams that the traditional listener is used to from this band.  These songs are well written and its evident.  In their first song called 68, Stephen Keech sings the words, “We wall fall to ruins if we don’t bury disguises that we’ve made, We will see the finish if we would carry ourselves to the end of the race, The judges will fall I am my own disease.”  This lyrical writing is totally typical and thought provoking, as this band totally envelops themselves with the Christian mantra and belief of good vs. evil.

Their systematic way of creating a headrush in everysong is evident.  Although, that’s the major drawback of the CD, alot of the songs flow right into each other without any notation of speed and or tempo change.  Meaning to the average listener one may come off as saying it’s repeated and hard to clarify the changes between songs.

However, the notable tracks are surefire monster’s that Haste the Day is used to writing and playing.  Haunting(track number 3) Is another great of example of great breakdowns and wonderful writing.  Stephen Keech again shows that he is above and beyond basic writing by singing “We are but captives. We are deceased. We know that one day we will be free.”  Each person has the right to take away the writing as how it applies to them in the daily world.  Which is why I praise Keech’s open end approach to suggesting questions and thoughts in his lyrics.

All in all this CD is a great pick up for $9 at most major retail stores.  I am incredibly happy with the purchase, even with times of many songs flowing into each other, there are not many filler tracks on this album.  Out of 11 tracks, I would say maybe 2 were just put there to take up space.  Finally, it’s just too good to pass up if your influenced by Christian bands, and still want something heavy to rock out too.

Grade of CD:  4.5/5

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has got to be one of the best bands I have recently discovered in a very long time.  They have captivated me from the moment I popped in the cd.  Their new album called “Fortress” is a screaming/break down laden/ heavy bass line tribute to what rock really should be.

The intricacies of the breakdowns/riffs, are mind blowing compared to the run of the mill bands that seem to be popping out albums faster than ever for their record companies to conform to the commercialism of this world today.

I have been frustrated lately with this kind of music, and I must admit, took a chance upon picking up their new cd in fear of it being more of the same.  I’ve heard their old stuff on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/protestthehero) and was immediately drug in to the music upon it hitting my ears.  I was kind of worried that it was going to be a few songs heavy and the rest of it laced with boring unoriginal tracks, but upon the first go around was dead wrong.  From the way everything was produced to signing and playing their respective instruments, every single member of the band is as clean playing as the next.

I just couldn’t believe it, I have simply found a band so great,  among the mundane and simple.  Keep on rocking Protest the Hero.  Come to Pittsburgh, and I’ll gladly pay anything to come see you!

Proest The Hero

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