Album Reviews

Aerosmith
“”Just Push Play””
Sony/Columbia

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It is rare when a rock ‘n’ roll band can maintain fame throughout generations. But every time my dad and I listen to the radio, Aerosmith always keeps us on the same station.

Emerging over 25 years ago, Aerosmith has defined the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Along with immortal songs like “”Walk This Way”” came the fame, the power and the women. Subsequently, internal conflicts and battles with substance addiction were also present. Yet through the ups and downs, frontman Steven Tyler and his bandmates forged through long enough to be inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame on March 19, 2001.

“”Just Push Play”” is the thirteenth studio album released by Aerosmith, and it is just what the fans have been waiting for: vintage Aerosmith mixed with more contemporary tunes.

From beginning to end, “”Just Push Play”” rocks. The first single off the new album, “”Jaded,”” is already climbing the charts faster than anything off their previous album, “”Nine Lives.”” Again, “”Jaded”” rings true to the contemporary style Aerosmith is mixing with their rock ‘n’ roll flair. “”Light Inside”” is one of the power ballads on the album, resonating with guitar-driven solos.

When will Aerosmith stop releasing super kick-ass, yet classic, albums? My dad and I are keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t be any time soon.

— Tara Jones

Rocket from the Crypt
“”Group Sounds””
TVT/Vagrant Records

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Three long years after their last studio release, San Diego rock band Rocket From the Crypt have thrown their fans a high-energy, intense album that gets inside your mind and doesn’t let go until you bite the head off a small furry creature (take it from me!).

Rocket From the Crypt are a six-piece rock band, complete with a saxophone and trumpet. Their guitar riffs are very powerful and extremely catchy, and the horns serve to build up emotion in the songs. They are one of the hardest bands out there and have a very strong underground following. In fact, their Web site has pictures of about a dozen people’s Rocket tattoos.

The new album is much more reminiscent of their 1995 release, “”The State of Art is on Fire,”” than of their most recent album, “”RFTC.”” It is a lot louder and contains more simple, crunching guitar riffs than “”RFTC.””

The names of their songs describe the vibe of the band, which include tracks such as “”Heart of a Rat,”” “”Return of the Liar”” and “”Ghost Shark.”” Songs that stand out on this album include “”White Belt,”” “”Out of Control”” and “”Savoire Faire.””

The album doesn’t experiment at all; instead, it is simply a reiteration of the group’s old style. It is done very well, however, and has been considered by many die-hard fans to be their best album yet. Overall, it is an awesome follow up to a somewhat disappointing previous release.

— David Pilz

Run-DMC
“”Crown Royal””
BMG/Artista

B

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Before listening to Run-DMC’s new release, “”Crown Royal,”” my opinion of the trio was that they were old. These guys began when most of us were “”terrible”” (i.e. 2-year-olds). I thought their style was the kind the Beastie Boys capitalized off of: one rapper finishes another’s rhyme and the last word of the rhyme is shouted.

That opinion changed at the sound of the opening song, titled “”It’s Over,”” which is probably the best track on the album. Jermaine Dupri talks over a haunting choral piece, “”Marcia Religioso,”” which was first used in “”The Godfather III.”” Run does the rapping, and it’s the fast-flowing rap characteristic of modern day.

A few songs later, I realized that the album actually features a conglomeration of styles and talents, perhaps the sign of a group laced with success — Run-DMC was the first rap group to appear on MTV, “”Saturday Night Live”” and the cover of Rolling Stone. They’ve sold over 20 million albums.

“”Queens Day,”” featuring Nas, has an easy, relaxed pace to it, as does “”Ahhh,”” featuring Chris Davis. “”Crown Royal,”” the title song, though not having the most catchy chorus, still features great lyrics, attesting the group’s right to the throne of rock. “”Them Girls,”” sung partly by Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, is a fun, comical song, though hearing the phrase “”them girls”” over and over may destroy your libido.

The album contains several songs with more of a rock guitar sound than a rap song beat. “”The School of Old,”” performed with Kid Rock, is the best of these because the tempo doesn’t shift and Kid Rock’s screams add to the entertainment.

“”Take the Money and Run,”” with Everlast, is done well but it’s not as good as the Steve Miller original. Another remake is “”Let’s Stay Together,”” a romantic song taken from Al Green. It’s the same as the “”Let’s Get Married”” song, if you’ve heard it. The beat is good, but how many times can a song be remade before it sounds like Michael Jackson?

Both “”Rock Show”” with Stephan Jenkins from Third Eye Blind and “”Here We Go”” are songs similar to the old-school style I expected of the group. “”Ay Papi,”” featuring Fat Joe, adds a spicy Latin flavor and the flow is more modern and more pleasing to the ear. The song with the best beat is the last: “”Simmons Incorporated,”” featuring Method Man. Sonically the song is very electronic and definitely intriguing.

Though some songs don’t come together as well as others, Run-DMC’s latest release proves that the group can still produce great music.

— Eric Dean

Halfbreed
“”Kontamination””
Siccmade Muzicc

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Halfbreed

Eminem and Kid Rock are by far the most popular hip-hop artists to come out of Detroit, but they are in no way representative of what’s really going on there.

The real Detroit sound is in its underground rap scene. Many undiscovered artists are awaiting an opportunity to be heard, especially Halfbreed.

Halfbreed, formerly known as House of Krazees, is comprised of rappers Sol and Skrapz, and their newest album, “”Kontamination,”” is their best collaboration to date.

Throughout the 21 tracks, Sol and Skrapz show off their versatility as artists and also their evolution as writers.

“”Don’t Get Caught Up,”” and “”Welcome To …”” represent your basic head-bobbing, smooth-style rap. Halfbreed embody a well-established base that allows them to branch out creatively.

That creativity is shown in “”Kaoz,”” which spews intensity and has a heavy-metal feel to it that instantly gets you hyped.

“”Unstoppable”” features raw, aggressive lyrics such as Skrapz’s intro verse: “”Run away, I’m chasing for your fears, and almost got ’em in my possession, my sweat is your tears. Smoke clears, repentance in the west side of bounds, disciplining wack MCs for all 10 rounds.””

“”What’s Wrong With Me,”” “”Porn Star”” and the self-titled song “”Halfbreed”” contain hypnotic beats, and mix in many intriguing sound effects. Prevalent are futuristic, robotic noises, people screaming, and howling whistles.

It’s important to stress that this genre of music is not mainstream “”TRL,”” Jay-Z or P-Diddy. It’s a style all its own. It’s hardcore, intense and wicked, and it reflects Sol’s and Skrapz’s views of society. It is horror-core rap at its finest.

Also, like many of Detroit’s underground artists such as Natas, Esham and Project Born, Halfbreed say they make music for their fans, not for money. They’re interested in quality and content rather than flashiness and notoriety.

Halfbreed’s “”Kontamination”” is unique and is a must-have for any underground collector.

— Mike Barker