Posts Tagged ‘tvt records’

The Blue Van – The Art of Rolling

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

TVT Records, 2005

One of the great things about buying one dollar bands is getting other one dollar albums by the band.  I reviewed the Blue Van’s 2006 record “Dear Independence” and thought it was a great surprise from a bunch of Danish rockers, so in this case I managed to get their debut album.  This could go one of two ways.  In one instance, the debut album could be worse than the second record due to shoddy production or meandering direction of interest.  The other possibility is that the debut album is a near match to the sophomore effort, meaning the band decided not to change anything (and thus get pegged as ‘limited’ or ‘stuck’).  Really, for a buck I wouldn’t mind the consistency.  Now that I think of it, there is a third tack that the band could have taken, and that was to change their sound completely.  So, ulp, I could have purchased the band’s initial love of covers of Danish traditional songs, a misguided attempt at modern Danish disco, or recordings of actual blue vans driving around a parking lot.  Now you know that there truly is a lot of danger involved as a bargain bin music reviewer.  I live on the edge… of taste!

Well, I lucked out.  It turns out that this record sounds very similar to their follow up album, though it seems to actually have more energy.  The opener of “Word From the Bird” is a warm cacophony of guitar, drums, and organ with vocalist Steffen Westmark’s ceiling-touching efforts completing the scene.  Even though it’s just over two minutes in length, “Product of DK” and “I Remember the Days” seamlessly continue the romp.  These early songs, as well as the rest of the two to three minutes rockers spread throughout the record, easily emit a sense of having a real good time.

As the tunes continue their rousing level to “The Remains of Sir Maison” (yet another good rock song), one begins to wonder if the Blue Van will ever take it down a notch.  You may say “Hey!  When should anyone ever wish for the party to end?”  I agree with that, and yet the continuation of the same level of volume and excitement can work against a band if the songs all blend together.  Westmark’s voice continues to reach the high register, the organ is constantly present, and the cymbals never seem to cease reverberating in my ear.  For five songs in a row, the Blue Van make a case for an amazing band, but one will more likely be left with just that impression more than a favorite song in particular.  Some diversity helps appreciate the band’s talents further.

It almost seems that the band knew it had gone on a little too long with the same old thing, as the Blue Van suddenly veers into the leisurely “Baby, I’ve Got Time” where Westmark relates his hesitancy to hurry out of the warm confines of a bar with his girl.  The light electronic piano introduction to “The Bluverture” reminds me of a Beatles song, but then it turns into a dramatic instrumental that could be used in “Kill Bill, part 3” if ever a movie was going to be made.  It’s a curiously interesting interlude to the bombastic nature of the record, which thankfully allows some pause to soak in what the band had completed up to that point.  Then, of course, it’s back to the party.

“Revelation of Love” and “What the Young People Want” are par for course, but “Mob Rules” at least tries to invoke a bluesy swing before erupting in the second half of the song.  The final song of “New Slough” is probably what the band could have done at the beginning of the record in that it’s eight minutes of sheer rock out.  Why make five songs that sounds somewhat similar when you can make one really long one?  Granted, a long one with such stomach-churning lyrics as “1-2-3, I’d like to look at thee” and “I’m a rebel with a cause/but I ain’t no Richie Rich”.  I know these guys are from Denmark, but reading around a bit it seems that the Danish start learning the English language in the third grade or so.  Okay, so they stink at lyrics, but I suppose if one didn’t care what Westmark was screaming out then this record serves nicely as a fine boost of rock ‘n roll energy.

The Blue Van has an immediately musical website (as in, make sure your speakers aren’t too loud) and a potentially musical MySpace page.  Check out their new stuff on either site … it sounds good.

Whenever I give a Golden Dollar to a band, I always keep an eye out to see how that band is doing.  Even if this was a record that was released before “Dear Independence”, I am still excited that such a band exists in Denmark.  They must (should) be loving these guys over there.  I’m not sure if the Blue Van will ever make it over to the States that often, but if their new album “Love Shot” is any indication of how good they are now, the group should at least pop over to open for someone like the Black Keys.  They’ll likely get pegged as some kind of posthumous garage rock revivalists that are trying to pick up the remains of the Hives’ efforts, but I bet the crowd will love them.  I look forward to the next Blue Van record that comes my way.


Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

TVT Records, 2005

Sometimes I look at an album that I bought some time ago and think “Why did I buy this?”.  I suppose I had wondered if Lil Jon could actually carry an album.  All I know about him is that he likes to yell out “Yeah!”, “What!”, and “Okay!” on the various songs that he cameos on for other artists.  Perhaps that’s all he says on his own songs, so I could have been terribly curious as to how this would go when I picked this record up.  I also saw one heck of a party on that front cover.  Okay, the East Side Boyz look a little pathetic and the girls, well, they give off the air of being bored.  But look at Lil Jon!  That guy is an animal!  He doesn’t even want to finish his crunk juice as he pours it on the stage (Yeeeeaaayuhh!).  It’s coming back to me now.  I want in on this party.

The “Crunk Juice Intro” claims that this is going to be most incredible experience I’ve ever felt in my life.  I should also sit back, smoke a blunt, and turn the volume way up.  With the terribly echoed vocal effects and stumbling production, I had my doubts of whether or not I should believe the East Side Boyz on this one.  “What U Gon’ Do” starts this self-proclaimed incredible experience with those heavy bass thumps that have to sound great with the car windows open.  As for the lyrical content, ah, I have no idea what is going on.  Apparently if my hos are acting up in a club and I step up to them, they don’t do sh*t.  Yeah!   What!  And if the bitches don’t … oh, you get the idea.  Essentially, make sure the ladies and you are on the same page about your feelings for each other otherwise there could be disillusionment.

“Get Crunk” shows that Lil Jon, who happens to also be the producer for this album, likes to constantly repeat words and lyrics in close proximity.  Whoever the drugged up East Side Boy is that begins the song ends up sounding like he has a stutter thanks to the constant mixing and repeating of his words.  The same thing happens on “White Meat”, which again portrays one of the East Side Boyz as a stuttering spliff-dangling amateur that is neither engaging nor revolutionary.  The only noticeable part of the song is Lil Jon’s bludgeoning delivery on the chorus, which has him railing against his fellow club goers.  It’s no wonder he’s more known for his cameos than his rapping, for his voice is atrociously guttural.  If one wanted to frighten children with a voice that sometimes is manipulated to sound even deeper than it is, thus resembling a certain demon, throw some Lil Jon on.  He’s got that charm.

For the rest of these songs, “Lovers & Friends” attempts to be the slow jam except for that very distracting repetitiveness that Lil Jon keeps doing.  Totally ruins whatever mood was attempted.  I was amused at the practicality of the vocalist when, during his portrayal of a love making session, he offers his girl a pillow to bite.  What a conscientious gentleman!  There’s also “Real N*gga Roll Call” which lays out the rules as to who is real and who isn’t real.  What do people do when they listen to this song and determine that they’re one of the unreal ones?  Where do you go?  I wouldn’t go anywhere near Lil Jon and this East Side Boyz, that’s for sure.  I would leave town.  When Ludacris and R. Kelly show up on “In Da Club”, I’m only mildly disappointed that it isn’t a 50 Cent cover.  Well, there goes any possibility of meager redeeming value for this record.

Lil Jon and his crunkin’ can be found on his website and MySpace, but you probably have better things to listen to anyway.

Alright, honestly, why would anyone listen to this crap?  There are so many better crunk artists, never mind hip hop artists, out there.  And forget the lyrics, there are even better drum ‘n bass artists out there!  Who needs Lil Jon and his hack producing skills?  Those weak beats?  Those annoying East Side Boyz?  This album is garbage and a waste of plastic.  To think that has labeled this record Lil Jon’s best is just unbelievable.  There is absolutely no reason to go listen to his other records if this one is considered one of his best.  Yeesh.  Oh yeah, this is some serious Golden Trash Can material.  What!