Music Review >> SafetySuit – ‘These Times’

Rock band SafetySuit experiments with their sound on latest record, These Times.

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James Durbin Discusses His Debut Record, ‘Memories of a Beautiful Disaster’

On November 21, American Idol season 10 favorite James Durbin released his debut record, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, on Wind-Up Records.

The 11-track album, produced by the highly acclaimed Howard Benson, is a well-crafted mix of rock music. From the roaring “Higher Than Heaven” to the nod to Aerosmith on “Love in Ruins,” to the power anthem “Stand Up,” 22-year-old Durbin proves to be a real contender in the world of rock.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Durbin, where we discussed his debut record, which collaborator he’s learned the most from, and what’s coming up next for him.

How does it feel to have all your hard work out there for people to hear?

It feels great. That’s exactly what it was; it was a lot of hard work. I actually finished the vocals on the record in two and half weeks. It was basically singing three songs a day and getting them finished, having to sing each song 15 times or so to really get the right one. That was a lot of wear and tear on my voice, but it was well worth it.

On the release date, were you more anxious or more excited about your record coming out?

Definitely more excited. Before the release, all my fans were counting down the days, and I was counting along with them. It was very, very exciting. I think it’s more exciting to have it out there. I found out today that I sold 28,000 copies my first week. It’s like, wow, you know? This is like the moment of truth. This is what all the hard work paid off for. It wasn’t just having a record out there, it was really seeing the extent of my fan following. It’s so great to know that I sold that many. It’s unbelievable.

So you had a signing in your hometown of Santa Cruz the day your album was released; what was it like being home on your big day?

It was great. Not only that, but one of my favorite things to do is to see all my fans; just to see all my fans face to face, see who’s buying this record, getting to thank them and shake their hand. And be like, “You know what, thank you so much for your love and support. It means so much to me, it means so much to my family.” This has been my dream. And now my dream’s come true. I get to work in music and support myself and support my family in the process. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

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Music Review >> Daughtry – ‘Break The Spell’

Daughtry is back with their latest studio album, Break The Spell. The album was released on November 21, which happens to be five years to the day that they released their self-titled record, back in 2006.

The band (Chris Daughtry, Josh Steely, Brian Craddock, and Josh Paul) made a conscience decision to go into studio without preconceived notions about what was going to result from the writing sessions.

“We said, ‘Let’s just write and see what happens,'” lead singer Chris Daughtry said in the band’s press release. “We came up with some pretty interesting tunes that sound nothing like anything we’ve done before. Even though some of them didn’t make the album, the process stretched us and took us to new places. It was an absolutely inspirational experience.”

Working with producer Howard Benson, who also produced the band’s first two albums, Daughtry co-wrote the entire album with his fellow band mates, as well as collaborating with Marti Frederiksen, Busbee, and Brett James. It was Benson who encouraged the band to think outside of the box with their new tunes.

“Howard called me and said he had some ideas for what we needed to do to differentiate this album. He said, ‘I really think we need to push ourselves,'” Daughtry shared in the band’s bio.

And push themselves, they did. Break The Spell is harder rock music mixed in with Daughtry’s classic sound that the core fan base has grown accustomed to over the years.

The in-your-face track “Renegade” leads off the album with high energy guitar riffs and Chris Daughtry’s intense vocals. This is a side to the band that I felt was starting to show itself on their last album, 2009’s Leave This Town, but now has fully come to fruition. Roaring on, the guitar-laden “Outta My Head” is bold step in a rockin’ direction. The gritty rocker contains one of the catchiest choruses on the album and is sure to get the audience moving at live shows.

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Music Review >> Good Charlotte – ‘Cardiology’

It seems that the guys of Good Charlotte have done a lot of growing up since their last album release in 2007. Their new album, Cardiology, touches on love, life, and family.

Originally formed in Waldorf, Maryland in 1996, Good Charlotte is Joel Madden (lead vocals), Benji Madden (vocals/guitar), Billy Martin (guitar/keyboard), Paul Thomas (bass), and latest addition Dean Butterworth (drums). To date, the band has sold over ten million albums.

When I talked to Good Charlotte’s guitar player, Billy Martin last month, he said that the recording process for this album was “a rollercoaster ride.” The band originally started recording Cardiology with producer Howard Benson, but decided to go in a different direction when the album wasn’t turning out how the band had originally envisioned it.

“We kind of just pulled the plug and started over later with Don Gilmore, who had done our last record (Good Morning Revival) and our first record (Good Charlotte),” Martin said. “We wanted to try something new with Howard, and it seemed like a good fit, but in the end it just wasn’t. We kept probably six or seven of those songs. We ended up throwing everything away and re-recording with Don and then a handful of new songs came out during the process.”

The result of going back into the studio with Gilmore is 15 of the best songs from Good Charlotte. The beats, melodies, and lyrics on Cardiology are nothing short of fantastic. There are a lot of different sides to this album; it really is as if they took the best parts of their previous albums, then went and made an album that all of their fans could really get behind.

“When I listen to our first records, it’s so innocent, and I think that we really managed to recapture that feeling with this record without actually repeating what we’ve done in the past,” lead singer Joel Madden explains in the band’s press release. “I get the same feeling of excitement listening to the record that I did when we first started making music.”

I have to agree with Madden on this. I feel like this album really throws back to the band’s first album, yet shows the progression of their music at the same time.  A great example of this is “Counting The Days,” which is reminiscent of their first album: it’s catchy, the melody is simple, yet there’s that something extra in the music that amps it up to the level where the band is at today. I think it would make a great choice for their second single.

Speaking of singles, “Like It’s Her Birthday” is a great bridge from Good Morning Revival to Cardiology. The song picks up from the last album, builds on it, and sets a great tone for this new album.

Also, I appreciated that “Like It’s Her Birthday” was not the first track on the album just because it happened to be the first single. The band really succeeded at making this album flow from song to song, making Cardiology a well rounded collection of solid music.

In songs like “Harlow’s Song (Can’t Dream Without You),” “1979,” and “Right Where I Belong,” you can tell how much the band has matured lyrically. These songs are a departure from the angst in some of their music from their earlier times, and the focus is on the good that they have had in their lives.

“A lot of the lyrics on this album are about being in a different place in my life,” Madden said in a press release. “There are some songs like “Harlow’s Song (Can’t Dream Without You)” that are directly about my kids or being in love and how being in a relationship changes the whole experience of my life, but a lot of the lyrics are introspective. Obviously we’re all in different places in our lives, but we’re giving our fans that same honesty we always have.”

As I was listening to the album, I kept envisioning hearing these new songs live, and the one that I think is going to be a huge crowd pleaser is “Standing Ovation.” It’s somewhat of a light-rock song, but has great sing-a-long potential. I think the band’s fans are going to really enjoy this track.

Musically, Cardiology really has its bases covered. There are the catchy pop tunes like “Silver Screen Romance,” the rockin’ party anthem “Last Night,” and the harder rock track, “Alive.” This album definitely shows progression in the band.

Cardiology is due out November 2. For more information on Good Charlotte, check out their official website.

Definite Downloads: “Counting The Days” and “Standing Ovation”

Originally posted on BlogCritics.