Review Rundown: Californication Soundtrack, Ari Hest, Clandestine, Amely, Dredg

 This time out the Review Rundown takes looks at the Californication Season 4 soundtrack, as well as new releases from Ari Hest, Clandestine, Amely, and dredg.

Purchase - Season 4 Music
File Under: Well Cultivated Soundtrack
Various Artists - Californication: Season 4 (Arrival Records): Ok Californication, we get it – David Duchovny can act well beyond X-Files. Californication, Duchonvy’s latest small screen vehicle has won gobs of awards, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and in addition to solid storylines and believable storylines, the show boasts a quality soundtrack as evidenced by the Californication: Season 4 soundtrack. Sure, this soundtrack does boast some recognizable names showcasing their wares (Better Than Ezra – “So Alive,” Cracker – “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me”) and some veteran acts that have shared some amount of spotlight (Eagles of Death Metal – “Stuck in the Metal,” My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult – “Sex on Wheelz”), though the nucleus of this Californication: Season 4 soundtrack is a band you probably have never heard of (Queens of Dogtown) though they have a familiar name within their ranks (Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz). The bands could of Alice in Chains’ classic “Would?” could have been far better, but the bands attempts at the Misfits “Last Caress” and Skid Row’s “I Remember You” more than make up for the former’s shortcomings. And speaking of covers, ironically enough the album is closed by Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” as performed by Crue’s drummer Tommy Lee. If you enjoy Californication, purchase this album and if you like cover tunes, purchase this album. It’s as easy as that. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: Queens of Dogtown – “I Remember You”

Purchase - Sunset Over Hope Street
File Under: Singer/Songwriter with An Accent
Ari Hest – Sunset Over Main Street (Mercer Street): It’s questionable if Ari Hest’s voice could be any better on his latest long player, Sunset Over Hope Street, a singer/songwriter clinic full of honest passion. The album moves along slowly throughout its 11 tracks, but the overall tempered pace doesn’t entirely depreciate the value of these songs, but Sunset Over Hope Street isn’t a record without its peaks (“Until Next Time,” “If I Knew You’d Say Yes”) and valleys (“Down the Mountain,” “Give It Time”). But as they say, it’s always darkest before dawn as the valley composed of those latter tracks leads into the albums strongest offering in “Swan Song.” Hest’s vocal delivery is at times subdued, though always emotive, sonic proof that he put all of himself into each and every word you’ll hear on Sunset Over Hope Street. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Swan Song”

Purchase - The Invalid
File Under: Female Fronted Melodic Metal
Clandestine – the Invalid (Nightmare): Clandestine is no doubt extremely technically proficient, but it seems the band was perhaps too eager to showcase their wares on their latest, the Invalid, because after a few tracks, hell maybe even one, you’ll see there’s just entirely too much going on. Though the guitars swirl and churn and the punishing drum work from former Apex Theory drummer Sammy Watson show a superb methodological prowess, unfortunately the electronic touches of the Invalid, along with the vocal contributions from frontwoman June Park, who resembles a blend of Eyes Set to Kill’s Alexia Rodriguez and the Material’s Colleen D’Agostino, get lost in the mix along the way. Park has a menacing bravado when need be (check the opening snarl of “Disappear in You”), but her usual inflectionless vocals tend to somewhat disappear amidst the endless crashes of sound. Her talents are well represented in the latter portion of the Invalid however, most notably on track “Phantom Pain,” which also happen to be one of the albums best cuts. Coincidence? Not likely. Clandestine has a boatload of Between the Buried and Me-esque talent which could leads them places, but it will be interesting to see where they go from the Invalid. At least they have room to grow. (          
Grade: B-
Go Download: “Fearless”

Purchase - Live Under Lights - EP
File Under: Six-String Powerpop
Amely – Live Under Lights EP (Fearless): If there was any way to make Amely sound any more heartfelt and anymore endearing, hell anymore emo really, the bands new Live Under Lights EP was it. It’s a simple equation really – turn down the house lights, unplug the amps and give the boys some stools and acoustic guitars. With three acoustic versions of tunes culled from their well-received Hello World EP (“Hello World,” “Sing to You,” “Come Back To Me”), joined by new track “I’m Not Missing You,” Live Under Lights might just find Amely at their most vulnerable yet (if that’s possible), and it sounds as if these fighting Floridians have a knack for this whole unplugged thing. Their penchant for soaring hooks is still prevalent, and even though the electricity has been sapped, Amely’s power has not diminished. The bands future is bright, that’s for sure, so let’s just hope that the Amely’s debut full length streets sooner than later. (
Grade: B+  
Go Download: “I’m Not Missing You”

Purchase - Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy
File Under: Atmospherics Denied
Dredg - Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy (Superball Music): During the early bars of “Another Tribe,” the opening salvo off of dredg’s latest Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, frontman Gavin Hayes sings “Here we go, go again, following all the trends, it’s become an obsession, it’s time to accept it,” lyrics that should send any true fan of dredg running for the nearest vomit bag. Though “Another Tribe” is one of the better cuts Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy has to offer, it’s words ring true throughout the next few tracks, notably “the Tent,” in which dredg’s new found penchant to experiment and further blur genre boundaries takes center stage, and at least the following “Somebody is Laughing” offers a classically lush dredg-esque hook encased in a haze. “Down Without a Fight” is near laughable, a track so drenched in synth its completely pulled asunder, immersed in a sound akin to a one-hit wonder lost in the sea in the eighties. Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy does present some saving graces however, in the form of tracks “the Ornament” and “Where I’ll End Up,” that find dredg revisiting, albeit briefly, the sonically verdant sound the band dabbled in before Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy hit store shelves. While there are a few tracks here worth listening to, Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy is probably best for one thing – finally answering the question of which dredg album is their worst, which honestly, is a damn shame. (
Grade: C-
Go Download: “Another Tribe”