• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: Green Day, Gabriels, Sleater-Kinney

Green Day – Saviors
East Bay, CA

Not unlike Muse, Green Day hit a point in the 2010s where their back-to-basics period almost alienated the fans they’d built up until that point. But it seems like they’ve course-corrected and found the best of both worlds. Delivering easily their best record in over a decade, Green Day thread the needle between catchy and riotous, this time with a burning fire. “The American Dream Is Killing Me” sets the whole thing off with an explosive rush of bouncy punk, easily chant-ready vocal pops and so many little riff moments that you’ll be looping it just to catch them all. Recalling early 2010s indie rock and bands like Hollerado, “Bobby Sox” may be the band’s sharpest single on the record, letting that chorus line punch in with blistering intensity, and the more global sense of love in the song feeling like something that will make it only gain favour in the next few years. The more traditional thrashing track comes on “1981” as the trio throw viciously quick power chords and soaring bass lines into a succinct punk banger. Even the more acoustic 90s Green Day stylings of “Suzie Chapstick” feels wonderfully finessed to a lush finish, with touches of 70s melodies and a great feeling of emotional longing that the band has sorely missed for a while.

PACKS Melt the Honey

Mixing parts of noisier Toronto bands and more psychedelically-focused bands from the East Coast, PACKS’ latest album sees Madeline Link finding a unique niche to play with. Almost like the sonic representation of a too-hot summer, this record has constant sizzle around its indie pop. There’s a chunky rhythm to “Honey” that lets its simple guitar swing soothe and test your ears all at once, giving you a bit of a sunburnt feeling in how its light touches of effects wash over you. “Her Garden” is even more angular, giving you the feeling of drifting between a bad trip and a come down. For a more summer-day haze, “Paige Machine” hits the relaxing highs you need, sweeping in and out like a breeze and warm rays in its soft drums and raspy vocals. The most confident stomp on the record comes with force on “Missy,” where a grinding guitar flow and Spanish spoken-word segments show the versatility of the Link’s writing, and where it can go from here.

Sleater-Kinney Little Rope
Olympia, WA

While there was a bit of shock to bear with Sleater-Kinney’s shift in sound after the departure of powerhouse drummer Janet Weiss, Sleater-Kinney has kept the roar loud in the following years. Though the album swings in what kind of momentum it brings, it feels like the perfect meld of the band’s eras over the years. There’s a combustible tension to “Hell” that feels like a wrecking ball every time its released, with each burst of guitars and drums feeling like a rush of dire pain and angst pushed through the sonic fold. “Say It Like You Mean It” takes a more neon synth-infused vibe, feeling at times close to a similarly named Killers song, and bringing with it a sense of powerful drive to stand with conviction. The angular drive of “Don’t Feel Right” sends the band in a deranged spin on their classic dual-guitar flow, weaving in and out of harmony, discord and blown-out booms for a warped take on their entire trademark as a group. Though it may swing with a much slower and brash stroke, “Untidy Creature” blooms into a cathartic beast of self-empowered rock, wailing into the destruction the song presents and accepts itself.

Joseph Luca– My Best Dancing Shoes (Single)
Ojai, CA

Between the worlds of rejection and self-love, Joseph Luca’s “My Best Dancing Shoes” is an inspiring call to never stop loving yourself, even when romance is at its worst. The melancholic strings and synths bury you in the deep end of doubt and loneliness, but the pianos and rolling harmonies glide to give that sense of loving warmth that’s still possible. While the track seems to accept that initial setback in all its sadness, it uses the same void in the track to call out to the true love that’s seemingly just a moment away. This space between those two people is the song’s best bit of tension, as you feel more stranded by that immediate painful moment than the hope of what’s to come.

Gabriels Angels & Queens Part II
Los Angeles/England

Bringing in touches of lounge and jazz, and a bit of experimentation in places, Gabriels finds a sophisticated yet truly spiritual soul and R&B combo that hits like nothing else. Groovy one moment, and uplifting the next, this album goes all the way and makes your emotions sing. After its chaotic build up, “Offering” drips its smooth groove out like caramel, letting the strings glide and vocals ring out like heavenly aide, as this power ballad drives you forward. There’s a more immediately funky punch to “Angels & Queens”  as it rolls like a Cadillac, evoking cool at every turn and doubling harmonies with such a lush precision that it’s nearly unbelievable.  There’s an electricity in the soul of “Glory” that grips you from the outset, ready to follow its every move, as the train gains piece after piece, and then swings into a great mountainous rush of a track. Add Jacob Lusk’s full vocal range to treat your ears, and this track is a feast to behold. Though it almost feels like it might slow the album, “Great Wind” picks up like a force of nature, with every new voice chanting next to the strings giving Lusk an even bigger spirit to charge and shout like a man possessed, even as the track hits a crazy key change and an ecstatic high note.