Hinder "Take It To The Limit" Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on November 17th, 2008.

The Oklahoma music scene has a lot to be proud of, but sadly, it’s most popular current act, Hinder, isn’t one of them. In fact, Oklahomans should be downright ashamed that Hinder calls Oklahoma home.

The Oklahoma City band just released their sophomore album, “Take it to the Limit,” and with it, the only thing they “take to the limit” is sleaze, stupidity and complete insincerity.

Hinder seems to desperately want to be the new Motley Crue, even going so far as to have Crue guitarist Mick Mars play on the title track, but the band clearly lacks the talent and ambition to create anything close to memorable.

It would be hard to talk about “Take it to the Limit” without mentioning its horrendous album cover. It features the band smugly leaning against exotic sports cars parked in front of a glamorous Beverly Hills mansion, a little too Hollywood for a band who just five years ago played at OKC’s awful “Bluenote” venue. The only things missing are the stacks of cash and terrible grills. This thing makes most bad, cliché hip hop covers look like works of art.

It seems the band has put far more effort into being edgy than their songwriting. Nearly every track is chock full of tired references to cheap sex, drugs, alcohol and general partying, but none of it comes across as sincere. Instead, it just seems to be trying way too hard to appeal to brainless teenage boys who still find such things cool.

The album also has its fair share of cheesy power ballads. On “Without You,” the band is blatantly trying to recreate the success of 2006’s “Lips of an Angel.” At least this time the tune is an actual love song.

Hinder is not only an embarrassment to Oklahoma music, but to popular music in general. Avoid “Take it to the Limit” at all costs.

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on November 10th, 2008.

Norman has a tight-knit music scene in which many bands and musicians collaborate and work together. A new addition to said music scene is indie pop band The Nghiems (pronounced “Nims”).

Formed late last year, The Nghiems consist of brothers David and James Nghiem. The duo has recently been joined live by Sethy McCarroll (Student Film, Umbrellas), Ben King (Cheyenne) and Becky Carman.

The group just released its debut EP, “The Traveling Coat.” The EP was recorded with Ben King and Ryan Lindsey (Starlight Mints) at Blackwatch Studios in Norman.

The title track, “The Traveling Coat,” is a light-hearted, upbeat song anchored by a pounding rhythm section and echoey guitars. The slow paced “Nothing to Fear” is next. David Nghiem’s soft piano is the main focus here.

David Nghiem doesn’t exactly have the strongest voice, but his songwriting and the general vibe of the songs more than make up for what his voice lacks. The album’s catchiest track is the incredibly fun “Dancing Shoes.” This song serves as the highlight of most Nghiem live shows.

The EP finishes with two bonus tracks, cassette demos of the songs “So Long” and “Nothing to Fear” recorded late last year at their home. The sound quality is poor on these songs, but their charm still easily shines through. It’s also interesting to compare the two versions of “Nothing to Fear.”

Considering the short length of time The Nghiems have been together, “The Traveling Coat EP” is a very solid release, but it really just serves as a teaser for the group’s debut full-length, due out sometime next year.

AC/DC "Black Ice" Album Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on October 31st, 2008.

Ah, Wal-Mart ... Where the only thing lower than their prices is the quality; where the shelves are stocked with clothes, electronics, groceries and despair, and now, where you can exclusively get the AC/DC album, “Black Ice.”

AC/DC’s move to have their first album in eight years be a Wal-Mart exclusive says a lot about the album and where the band is in their career.

They seem to have completely abandoned any sense of creating music for artistic or creative expression, and are doing so now for only financial reasons.

AC/DC has been a corporate rock band for a long time, but the Wal-Mart deal puts an even bigger emphasis on the corporate part.

AC/DC’s always been known for repeating themselves. They even changed lead singers and managed to retain their same exact sound. But the repetition featured on “Black Ice” is far more obvious and lazy than it’s ever been before.

The album, just like every other AC/DC album, is filled with big blues riffs, chugging verses, pointless solos and an endless barrage of lyrics about partying, sex and the importance rock ‘n’ roll. The word “rock” appears in not one song title, not two, not even three but four song titles.

The song structure is bland and boring, with each song following the exact same song structure as the one before it. Something is seriously wrong when a 55-minute album feels like an hour and half.

AC/DC claims that they are still an “album band,” which they say is the main reason they made the Wal-Mart deal; people would have to buy the album in its entirety. But if they really were an album band the new album wouldn’t consist of so much filler.