Friday, July 17, 2015

Quick Review: Attitude City

[Disclaimer: This album is NSFW, and as such, this review might be slightly NSFW as well.]

Released on July 17, 2015, Attitude City is the third album from the band Ninja Sex Party. The band, made up of the fictional characters Danny Sexbang (Daniel Avidan) and Ninja Brian (Brian Wecht), describes their music as '80s-style comedy jams'. I would describe Ninja Sex Party's style as 80's rock with heavy emphasis on synths and harmonies. Of course, the lyrical content of their music is always comedic, and usually concerning sex in some manner. For example, some song titles from previous albums include "No Reason Boner", "FYI I Wanna F Your A", and "Three Minutes of Ecstasy". However, not all of their songs are about sex, such as "Unicorn Wizard" (in which Danny fantasizes about being, well, the Unicorn Wizard), "Best Friends Forever!" (in which Ninja Brian murders all of Danny's other friends), and "Dinosaur Laser Fight", which is about what you'd imagine from a song with such a title.

Attitude City is, without a doubt, the best album Ninja Sex Party has put out to date. Listening to their older albums in order, from NSFW to Strawberries and Cream and finally Attitude City, it is easy to hear the development of Danny and Brian's musical talent. The drastic contrast between the auto-drum and single-keyboard-part style of "The Decision" from NSFW and the booming arena rock anthem-styled "Dragon Slayer" from Attitude City is staggering. Some of the best songs from Attitude City include "Attitude City", "Peppermint Creams", and the aforementioned "Dragon Slayer". These songs in particular highlight the booming chord progressions and especially Danny's magnificent vocals, both melodies and harmonies. Ninja Sex Party also bring it down a notch with the 'ballad' "Why I Cry" and the softer "Party of Three", showing that they are capable of making great music without relying on loud, booming chords. The album ends with the progressive epic "6969", an homage to Rush's "2112" done as only Ninja Sex Party can. "6969" demonstrates phenomenal songwriting ability, as like "2112", the song frequently changes style and tempo while still sounding like a concise package. If I had one complaint about the album, I'd say that the mixing still doesn't sound 100%; some of Danny's vocals are a bit too echo-ey, and not everything sounds as tight as it could be. Also, the album is a little on the short side; although it has 13 tracks, five are short interludes or skits.

The Verdict: Attitude City is Ninja Sex Party's best album to date. They have improved tremendously over the years, and their latest album perfectly demonstrates their style of booming chords and soaring vocals.
Best Songs: "Dragon Slayer", "Attitude City", "6969"
Listen If You Like: Starbomb, Strawberries and Cream (Ninja Sex Party), humorous, synth-driven 80's-style jams

Final Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, June 5, 2015

Video Game Review: Splatoon

[So, I've decided to expand my blog a bit and talk about stuff that isn't just music. Hey, the blog's called Sean's (Mostly) Music Notes, so I figure I should exercise that 'Mostly' a bit. Other than music, one of my biggest passions is video games, so this feels like a good thing to try: video game reviews! I'll separate the review into three areas: Presentation, which covers the aesthetics of the game - its graphics and music; Gameplay, which covers the mechains of the game - how it actually plays; and a section I'll call "More Thoughts On...", where I'll discuss one of the game's concepts in more detail - this will vary depending on the game. So let's get started!]

Splatoon is a third-person shooter from Nintendo, released on May 29, 2015 exclusively on the Wii U. It marks a bit of a departure for Nintendo, as Splatoon is a completely new IP and focuses heavily on an online multiplayer experience, an area that Nintendo does not have a large amount of experience with. The game is setup somewhat similarly to games like Team Fortress 2, but the key difference is that, instead of focusing on getting kills, your objective is to cover as much of the stage with your team's color by shooting ink all over the place. The characters are called "Inklings", half squid/half humans who can swim through ink of their own color in squid form.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Album Review: Adventure


Adventure is the first full-length album from French house artist Hugo Pierre Leclercq, better known by his stage name Madeon. The album was released on March 31, 2015 and was preceded by singles "Imperium", "You're On", "Pay No Mind", and "Home".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Album Review: Smoke + Mirrors


Smoke + Mirrors is the second full-length album from Imagine Dragons, released on February 17, 2015. "I Bet My Life" was the album's lead single, with "Gold" and "Shots" also being released as singles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Review: American Beauty/American Psycho

[What is this? This is an idea I just had: instead of taking the time to review every single track on an album I really wanted to review, I could do a "quick" review of a moderate-interest album. That means I won't review every track, but I'll go into a little bit more detail. Think of it as an extended conclusion section from one of my other reviews. I'll still do full track-by-track reviews for certain albums, but maybe this'll give me a bit more motivation do put more stuff on this blog. Without further ado, here's my review.]

The follow-up to their previous album, Save Rock and Roll (which I reviewed here), Fall Out Boy's sixth studio album, American Beauty/American Psycho, was released on January 20, 2015. I stated in my Save Rock and Roll review that, despite its title, the album was pretty poppy and heavily produced. With American Beauty/American Psycho, Fall Out Boy wished to create a more stylistically cohesive album, and the style chosen is, frankly, not really my style. The album is still more pop than it is rock, and the production is once again heavy. You've probably heard the lead single from the album, "Centuries", and if you have, you know that the song has an arena-rock style chorus with hip-hop influenced verses and beats. The hip-hop influence is felt in other songs as well, like "Irresistible" and "Jet Pack Blues", and many songs feature easily crowd-singable choruses, like "The Kids Aren't Alright" and "American Beauty/American Psycho". These choruses distinctly remind me of newer Maroon 5 songs, namely "Maps" and "Animals". I will state that I am not really a fan of this style; I subscribe to the Dave Grohl school of rock, where it's the human element of a song that makes a song great, not its production.

That being said, for what it is, American Beauty/American Psycho is not totally terrible. In fact, I found myself somewhat enjoying many of the songs on the album, and really liking a select few. One of my biggest problems with the album is the fact that it's so overly produced. Sometimes it's hard to even pay attention to the lyrics because of the overly-produced instrumentation. For example, I was reading the Wikipedia article for the lead track, "Irresistible", and read that it was about "deadly love", but I had barely been paying attention to the lyrics. Also, some of the choruses are so pop-infused that they don't sound genuine; this happens most notably on "American Beauty/American Psycho" and especially on "Fourth of July". However, I do enjoy "Centuries", and I really like "The Kids Aren't Alright" as well - it reminds me a lot of "Save Rock and Roll" (the song) from the previous album. And the album actually ends on a pretty good note with "Immortals" and the possibly-grammatically-incorrectly-named "Twin Skeleton's (Hotel in NYC)".

The Verdict: American Beauty/American Psycho is not necessarily a bad album for what it is, but I don't really like what it is. Its ultimate downfall for me is that it's too overly-produced, and the songs (especially chorus melodies) sound too much like they're written for pop radio. Select songs will make it into my playlist, but all in all this album won't get a whole lot of playtime from me in the future.
Best Songs: "Centuries", "The Kids Aren't Alright", "Immortals"
Listen If You Like: Save Rock and Roll (Fall Out Boy), V (Maroon 5), modern pop-punk with emphasis on the 'pop'

Final Score: 7/10