Album Reviews

Alien Ant Farm

ANThology

Dreamworks

Is Alien Ant Farm destined to ascend the throne of rock royalty once held by bands like Led Zeppelin, U2 and Radiohead?

No. But with that said, their sophomore release, “”ANTthology,”” recorded in North Hollywood and produced by Jay Baumgardner (Papa Roach, Slipknot, Coal Chamber), is not half bad. It’s a good rock record. Good, but not great.

If you’re looking for jagged, four-minute fixes of typical themes like relationships and fantasies, you will certainly find them on “”ANThology.””

Singer and lyricist Dryden Mitchell admits that “”many of the songs were written during a breakup. Writing them was better than me chasing someone around who didn’t want to be chased.””

However, some songs, like “”Courage,”” with the lyrics, “”Contrary to the matter/Who you are, you are not/ Come with me, I’ll show you Saturn/ Planets don’t quite align,”” makes me think he should have just chased her anyway.

While the lyrics may be far from poignant, there is something about “”ANThology”” that makes it better than your average rock record. “”Movies,”” which compares a bad relationship to a movie, stands out as an especially good track.

“”Flesh and Bone”” is another track that moves particularly well. The reason these songs work is that they go back to the tried-and-true formula of sparse verses broken up by heavy melodic choruses that make you want to throw your hands in the air and bang your head.

Of course, the one track that can’t be ignored on “”ANThology”” is the rock remix of “”Smooth Criminal”” because stylistically, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Among a collection of songs that are straight-faced, this tongue-in-cheek cover just throws a slice of cheese onto the tail end of the album and disrupts its overall appeal.

Those who buy “”ANThology”” because of the popularity of “”Smooth Criminal”” will not be disappointed. However, the throw-back to the 1980s seems like a blemish on an album where all the other songs belong together. But that’s knit-picking. “”ANThology”” really is good.

— Lindsay Boyd

Dredg

Leitmotif

Independent

With a few good listens to “”Leitmotif,”” I have slowly begun to realize that this is one of the most unusual rock albums I have heard in a very long time.

Dredg has created a rock symphony. If I had to force them into a genre, it would be progressive rock. But this is progressive rock without the connotations that title implies these days — an over-produced and hard to follow New Age-like album.

“”Leitmotif”” is a concept album that spans five movements. Unique guitar riffs noodle around incredible drumming. Even though the vocals tend to be weak, the musical approach of Dredg more than makes up for it.

Dredg breaks away from the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern with a constantly evolving sound as hard electric guitars sweep in and out with acoustic guitars. The drums and the guitars work in harmony as they drive the album to its end.

The development of different themes creates brilliant songs that melt into each other, and before you know it, you’re at track five.

The songs are also cryptic, with titles like “”Traversing Through the Arctic Cold, We Search for the Spirit of Yuta,”” “”Penguins in the Desert”” and “”90 Hour Sleep.”” There is definitely a sense of mysticism behind the songs.

The odd atmospherics and the electronic noises found throughout the album are reminiscent of Radiohead and some Queens of the Stone Age. In the liner notes, Dredg proudly states that “”All instruments and sounds are real, no samples.””

With their music, Dredg sends you on an epic journey. Dredg includes an actual story in their sleeve notes, and their tale begins in San Francisco before they head toward the Arctic to the mythical underwater city of Natoma.

Throughout the album, they make their way to Northern Asia and Mount Everest in their quest for truth. Ultimately, they find themselves and discover how each piece of culture fits into the puzzle of life. This realization comes after their “”90 Hour Sleep.””

This is an album that you have to play from track one to the very end or you will lose the entire artistic concept of it.

You must listen to all of “”Leitmotif”” to see the entire journey unfold before you.

— Joseph Lee

Remy Zero

The Golden Hum

Elektra

The story of Remy Zero does not start in 1988, when Shelby Tate and his brother Cinjun Tate along with Cedric LeMoyne, Jeffrey Cain and Greg Slay started a band. In fact, the Remy Zero story starts about 50 years ago, with a fellow named Remy Boligee.

By 1969, Boligee and friend Sam Bruno committed over 30 hours of tape with music, conversation, ramblings and long periods of silence. Bruno lost track of Boligee and gave the tapes to a 12-year-old, Shelby Tate, whose parents were good friends with the Brunos.

That’s where the Remy Zero story begins. The band, as we know now, recreated, rearranged and reinterpreted the works of Boligee. They even recorded sections of the tape into their recordings.

They released their self-titled debut album in 1996 and released “”Villa Elaine”” in 1998. Now, nearly three years later, they have released “”Golden Hum.””

Even though the band is from Alabama, their sound seems to be distinctively British. One could even compare them to early Travis with more of an edge and crunch to their guitars. They have also toured extensively with Travis, which may account for the Travis influence in their “”Golden Hum”” album.

Remy Zero’s use of sweeping strings on “”Out/In”” give the song a more anthem-esque quality. Comparisons to a less-produced U2 album wouldn’t be too far off.

The haunting wail of Cinjun Tate in “”Save Me”” could be mistaken for the wail of Fran Healy from Travis or Thom Yorke from Radiohead.

The driving pulse of “”Belong”” is a wonderfully polished pop song with a steady pulse that gets your head nodding in no time.

My personal favorite is “”Over The Rails & Hollywood High,”” with its Weezer vocal influences and thick guitar crunches during the chorus.

Most may not know about Remy Zero, but the opportunity to check them out is at hand. They will be playing in support of Travis on Oct. 21 at Spreckles Theatre. Tickets are on sale now.

— Joseph Lee

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