#livinthesweetlife

For a couple of years, some of my friends and I have been sharing music with one another. We’re supposed to review/rate whatever’s shared with us, but that doesn’t always happen.

Osaka Punch – Stonk (2016)

From the name and cover art, I’m sure you’ve already guessed these guys are Australian heavy alt. experimental prog. funk pop rock or something. Yep. Me too.

This is just a single and you can only find it on bandcamp (for now).

The guitars were heavier than I expected and the some of the keys were Nintendo-ier than I expected. The whole song, from the synth voice choices to the song structure to the lyrics (which I didn’t really listen to closely), were an interesting mishmash of a fistful of different influences and ideas. It was like mixing the psychedelic vibes of Smash Mouth with the prog. metal of Dream Theater or Avenged Sevenfold. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t love it. It’s like they couldn’t decide what they wanted to do and made it overly complicated. I like prog. rock and some metal, but this was just a little much. 2/5

I liked it enough that, since Spencer just shared this single, I decided to listen to their one other album, Voodoo Love Machine, as well. I think I liked it more because there was more to listen to and get a better sense of their music and style. And it was less heavy. Or rather they balanced the heaviness out better. The two songs I didn’t really like were Battleworm and Livin’ the Dream. The instrumental parts of both (as were the entire instrumental tunes on the album) were okay, but I didn’t love the screamy vocals (especially on Battleworm). Stonk was similar, but the vocals were better and I didn’t like the instrumentals as much.

My favorite tune was Funky Brother, partly because it was the least metal. Eat Red Carpet was pretty good, too. It had a little Incubus in there, which I liked. I’d give this album a flat 3/5, and everything I’ve heard from Osaka Punch a 2.91/5.

Here’s what my friends had to say:

“I’m with Paul on this one, in the sense that I liked the album better than the single track (and for the record, the album is on Google Play). It was fun, but I felt like they just didn’t have enough polish yet. It just seemed like they think they are better than they actually are. I’m trying to find a good analogy, but it’s like watching a local news caster on the top rated local channel, then turning channels to watch Walter Cronkite deliver the national news.” 2/5 – Tim

Backstreet Boys – Millennium (1999)

Tim really wanted us to move past “the saccharine sappiness that would make even Willey Wonka gag.” I make no guarantees, but I really tried to be open-minded.

There was enough sap on this album to [insert Jurassic Park amber joke here]. But that wasn’t the only reason I didn’t like some of these songs. Their voices and annunciation on It’s Gotta Be You and Don’t Want You Back were nasally and annoying. Which seems pretty nit-picky, but it was really annoying. Don’t Want You Back had some obnoxious bass synth going on, and Back to Your Heart had some cheap Clavinova synths.

I didn’t hate all of it. Larger than Life is probably the best on the album. It was good dance pop. It was the only song which made me want to move my body, which is almost always the sign of a good song. The One and Back to Your Heart weren’t bad.

Gratefully, despite Tim’s assurances, none of their songs got stuck in my head. 2.2/5

I also took the time to listen to five bonus tracks, which I wasn’t impressed by. But if you liked the main album, check them out. There’s also an unplugged version of As Long as You Love Me and a different vocal mix of Quit Playing Games (with My Heart) which I couldn’t find, and a dozen different remixes of Larger than Life and Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely which I skipped.

From my friends:

“In Jr High school I got too cool for the boy bands. Then in highschool I realized every guy was too cool for them, so I switched and decided to like them because I was too cool to be too cool. Or something. I loved to make eclectic playlists that would have a metal song followed by backstreet, then a punk song, then some jazz etc. I always enjoyed watching people’s reactions as the mood changed so drastically.

Really, the three mega radio hits have some nostalgia value, and these are masterfully crafted pop hits, but the rest of the album seems like forgettable hits and the song about his mom being the greatest fan seemed so soulless. So the nostalgia puts this in the 4 regions but even when I do actually look one of these up for fun, I really can’t finish a track without skipping. That makes it a 2. So we’ll average it out to a 3.0.” – Spencer

Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)

Monday morning (after my alarm went off the first time but before it went off the third time and I actually got up) my wife was flipping through her email or Facebook feed or something and came across Get Right, a new Jimmy Eat World song which you can download for free from their website (for now anyway). That made me feel like sharing Jimmy Eat World, and while I haven’t listened to their two latest albums, there’s only one album to share.

This was their most successful album, and I think in part because it’s the most accessible. It’s less emo punk than their earlier stuff (although that’s still in there). The Middle is probably their best known song, but I prefer Sweetness. Hear You Me is another good one. The only song on the album I don’t really care for is the album closer, My Sundown.

And there are even more bonus track with this album than there were with Millennium (remixes included), but I don’t expect anyone to listen to those. Here’s what my friends had to say about Jimmy:

“Of all the albums that I hated when my brother played them when we drove to school (I was too cool for anything contemporary), this is probably the one that I go back and listen to the most. Its a great album. Like Paul, Sweetness is my favorite track. Its HUGE! Jimmy Eat World just has a way of carrying so much emotion in the track without sounding overly emo (to me at least). Cautioners is another favorite with the slow grind feel that seems so powerful yet has quiet, soft vocals. Probably fueled by nostalgia, but I’m giving this the big 5.0.” – Spencer

“This was a very listenable album. I enjoyed it over all, but I didn’t find that it was beyond a solid good album. At times I didn’t feel the songs flowed well together, but it wasn’t too distracting. I did however feel like they do a really good job of blending the music with the vocals.” 3/5 – Tim

Tell me what you thought about Osaka Punch, the Backstreet Boys or Jimmy Eat World down in the comments.

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