The $25 Tunes: May 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve done The $25 Tunes segment on this blog. That’s because, during the last couple of months, I was too preoccupied with RIFT to find some time and search for good music. But enough with the excuses. Let’s get to the good part.

Hisengen Blues by Graveyard – $7
The first time I played Hisengen Blues, I couldn’t stop my head from nodding. This album is just flat out awesome and one of the best I’ve heard in 2011. Its sludgy retro sounds, lyrics and songs titles screams classic rock. The band’s influence is very wide and can be traced to almost every artist from the 60’s and 70’s, be it Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. So, if you love classic rock, you’ll love this album too.

Score: A

“Hisengen Blues” by Graveyard

The Collective by Scale The Summit – $9
I was at awe when I heard Scale The Summit’s album, Carving Desert Canyons. It was so heavy, yet atmospheric. The same can be said about The Collective. But its sound is clearly more mature than the band’s previous works. The rough metal edges have been smoothed out by jazz tones and it’s not guitar-centric anymore, which gave all members equal roles, enabling them to create a full-bodied sound.

Score: A-

“Whales” by Scale The Summit

Hymn of a Broken Man by Times of Grace – $8
When I found out that Dutkiewicz and Leach (ex-Killswitch Engage members) have an album out under their project, Times of Grace, I thought it would be worth checking out. But since it didn’t break new grounds, I was slightly disappointed with it. Although, Hymn of a Broken Man, with all its melodic metal, hard hitting riffs and surprisingly optimistic lyrics, I also find it a bit enjoyable to listen to.

Score: C+

“Willing” by Times of Grace

So, those are my picks for this May. I hope that you guys will enjoy them all. Especially Graveyard’s album, Hisengen Blues. That one is a gem.

Mastodon at the Aragon

Woodstock ’99 was the last concert video I saw at the comfort of my couch. This was 12 years ago, and I’ve never done this ever since because: a) I can now watch a real live concert whenever I want to; and b) watching live concert on your TV is just depressing. Although, recently, I did get Mastodon’s live DVD, Mastodon: Live at the Aragon. But I only bought the DVD because I’m more of a Mastodon completionist. I wasn’t really dying to see the band play on my TV. However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the DVD.

This DVD really captured how awesome Mastodon is when they’re playing live. Even though their music is pretty complex, their performance here didn’t falter even once. They stayed tight from start to end, not missing a note on all their songs. Which just shows you that they really are excellent musicians. The vocals, however, seems drowned out. Although I’m not so sure if its the result of a crappy editing or if my TV speakers really suck that much. Other than that though, the sound and video quality of this DVD is amazing.

However, I’m a bit disappointed with it too. Because I was expecting this DVD to give me a heck of a show. But all it ever did was show Mastodon playing a full set of Crack The Skye, some songs from their old album and a Melvin’s cover song. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there were no stage theatrics, trash talking the crowd and other things that’ll make you feel you’re part of the concert. Worst of all, there are no solos. I was at least expecting to see Brann Dailor showing off his insane skills on the drum set.

But, overall, Mastodon: Live at the Aragon is awesome. Just don’t expect too much out of it though because it’s no Guns N’ Roses: Live in Tokyo. It doesn’t have instrumental solos or other weird outtakes that you usually see in concerts. But if you’re a big Mastodon fan, who only wants to see them live at any time, then this DVD is perfect to add to your collection.

Score: B-

The $25 Tunes: January 2011

January is always a quiet month for me. Not only because I’m broke due to the holidays. But also because there’s nothing new out there. So, I always get the good things I’ve missed from the previous year, and I’ve missed quite a lot in music. Good thing is, some of those albums I’ve missed, are only $5 on Amazon until the end of January.

Animals as Leaders by Animals as Leaders – $5
This album kept popping up on my iTunes Genius sidebar every time I listen to Periphery. So, since I like Periphery, I decided to check them out. All I could say is that I’m vey impressed with them. Their brand of progressive metal –melodic jazz tones combined with heavy riffs, while not unique, is really great to listen to. And if you’re a guitarist, there’s a chance you’ll be awe-stricken by Tosin Abasi’s skills.

Score: B+

“CAFO” by Animals as Leaders

Broken Bells by Broken Bells – $5
When I heard that James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse were doing a project, I thought it was odd. But, then, “The High Road”, their single, became one of my favorites last year. Both their styles blended well on this song. So, I thought their album would be as good. Sadly, the rest of Broken Bells wasn’t. It didn’t click the way their single did. Good effort though. But the pair didn’t reach their potential.

Score: C+

“The High Road” by Broken Bells

Warp Riders by The Sword – $5
I’ve always been a big fan of The Sword, ever since Age of Winters. Now that they’re in their third album, The Sword has stepped it up a notch. Warp Riders, while still as heavy as their previous albums, is more psyched out and the production is way much better. Sure, their music is nothing original. It’s a throwback metal. But it’s fun as hell to listen to, from start to finish.

Score: A-

“Tres Brujas” by The Sword

Ain’t No City by The Biggest Car in the County – $10
I’m not into country music, I admit. So, when I asked a guild mate in Warhammer Online about his band, and found out that they played Country, I almost regretted my inquisitiveness. But I still gave it a chance and listened to their songs on MySpace. Surpsingly, they sound a bit like Drive-By Truckers, and I like it. Especially their song “The Corporal’s Brother”. It’s so honest and it humanizes soldiers everywhere.

Score: B-

(Sorry, no preview for this one. I don’t have mp3’s, just ACC’s, and it won’t work. You can listen to them on MySpace though.)

So, these are my picks for this month. I hope you guys like them, and I hope Amazon keeps their mp3’s cheap.