Taylor Hawkins - Kota

Aside from Dave Grohl, the other true rockstar in the Foo Fighters has always been Taylor Hawkins. He brings his all to the Foo's live shows and can pull off the impressive feat of singing and playing drums at the same time. He's released his solo album Kota, and the mini-LP unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired.

The album begins promising, but slowly just loses sight in being a fun rock n' roll album. The Pink Floyd atmosphere from the intro of 'Range Rover Bitch' leads into groovy riffs, punctuated throughout by cool guitar lines and some powerful vocals - classic rock n' roll. That momentum attempts to carry on in 'Bob Quit His Job,' but if you couldn't tell from the title, this song really isn't great. It starts off okay, but the chorus is literally just "Bob quit his job, Bob quit his job / Did you know that Bob quit his job today," in a bombastic Queen feel, making it feel really tacky. The ending is just cluttered mess.

The truly sad part of this record is that it has such a misguided idea of what it is. It was supposed to be an epic, fun rock n' roll record that brought Queen and punk together. It certainly does, but in the tackiest and uninspired way possible. 'Rudy' is straight Queen vibes, bassline and piano included. It's down to the harmonies. But it's nothing more than that. It's a good track but doesn't quite feel like an original song. Like the songs that Foo often cover live, it feels like a Queen B-side, but a bad one. It also feels like he didn't really know how to do this project by himself. Closing track 'I've Got Some Not Being Around You Today' is as cluttered as the title is. Truly, this album is just a mess.

Taylor Hawkins is a rockstar, but his solo material does feel ready to show that yet. Kota is misguided and lost in an idea that it never executes quite well. It's truly unfortunate, given that you can understand the promise it has. It just doesn't make the cut, in the end.

Favorite Track: Range Rover Bitch

Least Favorite Track: Bob Quit His Job

Rating: 49 / 100

Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Dylan’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Seems hard to believe such a life changing year is ending, for me, anyway. Friends were made, lives were changed, dreams fulfilled. Who could care less, though? This is about music, not dreams. Well, in reality, the two go hand in hand. Music is made of dreams. 2014 was a great year for music on all fronts. Pop saw new efforts from Katy Perry, Ariel Pink and iamamiwhoami. Rock obtained new titles including Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways and Slipknot’s .5: The Gray Chapter. Metal saw new releases from Epica and Skyharbor. I can’t name a single genre that didn’t see an exceptional release this year.

Among the hundreds of albums released this year, these are a few that stuck out to me. Keep in mind, it is nothing more than opinion. I couldn’t possibly name EVERY album I enjoyed (I’m too lazy AND I’d probably break multiple character limits), though there were a myriad of such. Without further adieu, here’s number 10:


10) The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Between Bodies

It’s hard to even generalize what these guys are all about. Combining a bit of punk, indie and emo rock into their songs, they bring a very notable sound to the table. This album is all about speaking their thoughts. It’s pretty evident that they couldn’t give less of a shit about what they’re doing; they’re doing it because they can. From the haunting recollections of ‘Lioness’ to the enraged chants of ‘Autotonsolarialist,’ this album covers a lot of ground. Upon the resonating drums and pulsating guitars, the vocals feel like just another instrument in this whole. The album feels perfect for both politically angry adults and middle-fingers-to-the-establishment teens, all the while making sure they don’t seem caught up in being overly dramatic. All in all, an incredible release from an exceptional band.

Favorite Tracks: Lioness, Autotonsolarialist

9) Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of Slipknot until this year. I considered ‘Snuff’ one of the greatest works of art ever produced, and ‘Vermillion Part 2’ trailing in its footsteps, yet I never enjoyed their heavier material. That was, of course, until I heard this record. I remember hearing ‘The Negative One’ upon its release and being a bit uncertain of whether or not I would enjoy this album. It wasn’t until I heard ‘The Devil In I’ that I was sold on hearing this record. Despite not being a fan of Slipknot, I’m huge on Stone Sour, so this was a very inviting sound to me. The album is introduced with the eerie ‘XIX,’ in which Corey Taylor effectively claims that he has had enough. The album has its incredibly intense moments, namely ‘Custer’ and ‘AOV,’ but nevertheless delivers some truly meaningful moments that the band has proved they are capable of, namely in the chorus of ‘The One That Kills The Least’ and ‘If Rain Is What You Want.’ The satire of ‘Killpop’ and the brutality of ‘The Negative One’ keeps the album original every step of the way, as any good album should be. From barely being a fan to head banging along with the jams, this album has proven to me to be one of the best of 2014.

Favorite Tracks: The Devil In I, XIX, The One That Kills The Least

8) IAYD - I Am Your Destruction

Nowadays, it’s risky to venture into certain genres, especially one as presumed as chiptunes. 8-bit music has always been a minority in the overall gist of things in the music community, only shining within retro games such as Castlevania and most games in the early phases of the Mega Man series. The guy has changed the bar. I Am Your Destruction, abbreviated to IAYD, released his eponymous album this year, and made sure it packed a punch. Full of thick beats and huge drops, this album is Mega Man taken to the next level, no pun intended. The album opens up strong with ‘Intro AF’ and the monster that is ‘No Closure’, continues to bring the power with tracks like ‘Too Turnt’ and ‘Get Death,’ concluding it all with the journey that is ‘Dolores.’ In a questionable genre such as chiptunes, this album has proven to be one of the reasons why it should not be ignored.

Favorite Tracks: Dolores, Kurai Heya

7) Pianos Become The Teeth - Keep You

It’s always interesting when a heavier band takes it down a notch. Pianos Become The Teeth have toned down their post-hardcore sound to take up a more approachable, alternative rock sound comparable to a fusion of Incubus and Framing Hanley. While not being too big a fan of their earlier work, I can play this album on repeat for hours upon hours. Something about it is so infectious, I can’t exactly put my finger on it. Perhaps it’s the atmospheric, understated instrumentals that intertwine throughout the album, or the flowing melodies of Kyle Durfey. Alternative Rock being my favorite genre, it’s hard for me not to enjoy an album. It is similarly as hard for me to truly love an album like I do with this one. The album opens up with ‘Ripple Water Shine,’ one of my favorite tracks of the year. ‘April’ continues the minimalistic energy whilst all the while keeping my attention, which can sometimes be proven to be a hard thing (I tend to multitask whilst listening to music). Overall, an incredible release.

Favorite Tracks: Ripple Water Shine, April, The Queen

6) Issues - Issues

The hype surrounding this album upon its release was definitely warranted. Issues took the post-hardcore world by storm, essentially creating a fusion of pop and scream in an elaborate way. The album features hits like ‘Late’ and ‘Stingray Affliction,’ which are definitely some monster tracks. The seamless mix between Oli Sykes-esque screams and Justin Timberlake-esque vocals leave you questioning what you really think about this. After all, it’s almost like Justin Bieber over metal (before you get offended in some way, just listen to ‘Late’ - there’s SOME truth to it). When your jamming to the likes of ‘Personality Cult’ and ‘Sad Ghost,’ however, those thoughts will make little influence on the overall quality. They don’t forget to mix it up, either - ‘Disappear (Remember When)’ features a choir to conclude the album on a high note. The power the band displayed in this album earned them a guest spot on Linkin Park’s Warped Tour performance earlier this year in Ventura, California during ‘Faint’ - you can’t get much better than that!

Favorite Tracks: Personality Cult, Disappear (Remember When), Late

5) You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth

Everybody loves a good anthem. Cavalier Youth is packed with these. You Me At Six is known for their relatable songs, packed with a punch and tons of emotion. This album is no exception. The idea of this album is that you should never let age stop you. Always let that childish desire burn within you and never let it die. A powerful thing to know. With songs like ‘Fresh Start Fever’ and ‘Wild Ones,’ that passion won’t be too hard to achieve. Truth be told, there’s not much left to say about this one. This album brings all the power, motivation and happiness that it does in such an unfathomable yet undeniable way, which is why it deserves the number five spot in this list.

Favorite Tracks: Fresh Start Fever, Wild Ones

4) Elk Road - Waiting For Your Waves To Pass

Understated and sophisticated, Elk Road’s Waiting For Your Waves To Pass is probably the best dubstep album to be released this year. While receiving relatively big attention amongst the Soundcloud and underground-dubstep community earlier this year, this album has only gotten some of the rightful exposure it deserves. Combining elements of jazz, blues, and funk into infectious beats and intense drops in a magical way. After shutting himself out from music for 3 months, he comes back and manufactures all of this from scratch. A truly incredible record, definitely worth a listen if you haven’t already heard it.

Favorite Tracks: Diamond, Pool On My Mind

3) Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Forget Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, Royal Blood is THE breakout artist of the year. They took the rock world by storm with their eponymous debut earlier this year, earning them rightfully deserved attention across the globe. The duo brings an interesting treat to the table - bass guitar as lead guitar. Questionable on paper but incredible in execution. Hailing jams like ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton,’ this album ROLLS. One of the hugest rock sounds I’ve heard this entire year? ‘Better Strangers.’ In today’s day and age, in an industry dominated by pop, it’s very refreshing to see such a pure and experimental rock album such as Royal Blood reach the levels of fame that it has.

Favorite Tracks: Better Strangers, Ten Tonne Skeleton


2) Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways

Foo Fighters are probably one of the biggest, if not THE biggest rock bands to have ever existed. Well, maybe not as well known as the next, but I digress. They’re huge. This record is a testament to that. Recorded in eight different cities of musical historical importance, Sonic Highways explores the interconnectivity and stories behind certain themes and places. Each song packs its own punch - everything between ‘Something From Nothing’ and ‘I Am A River’ promises to be huge, and delivers in a perfect way. Truly bringing out the best of the Foo Fighters, this album will definitely be one for the records. It’s made a powerful mark in my books, and its sure to leave a lasting memory in yours.

Favorite Tracks: Something From Nothing, In The Clear

Before I get into my favorite album of the entire year, here are some albums that I adored that were released this year but didn’t quite make the cut, in no particular order. Definitely worth checking out.


iamamiwhoami - Blue

Anberlin - Lowborn

Banks - Goddess

Memphis May Fire - Unconditional

Of Mice & Men - Restoring Force

Hanz Zimmer - Interstellar: OST

Against The Current- Infinity EP

Within Temptation - Hydra

Panopticon - Roads To The North


1) Linkin Park - The Hunting Party

Ah, Linkin Park. The biggest rock band the world knows today. Whether or not you like them is out of the question - they are undeniably the biggest band on the planet. Everyone knows them, whether it be for ‘In The End’ or ‘Numb’, or ‘Burn It Down’ or ‘One Step Closer.’ The fact is - they still exist, and they still kick ass. The Hunting Party is a testament to the current ideology that “rock is dead.” If this year has proved anything, it’s that rock is certainly not dead. Rock is bigger and stronger than ever - The Hunting PartySonic HighwaysRoyal Blood and more all prove that. From beginning to end, Linkin Park lays down relentless walls of noise that melt your face off while leaving you with a pleasant aftermath of wanting more. Opening heavily with the distorted screams of ‘Keys To The Kingdom’ to the heavy chorus of ‘All For Nothing’ featuring Page Hamilton from Helmet, this album opens up huge. Heading into the monstrous six minute ‘Guilty All The Same’ featuring hip-hop legend Rakim, the energy does not let up until the short reprieve that is ‘The Summoning,’ which immediately bursts into the punk rock, Bad Religion-influenced ‘War.’ The energy gets you jumping with the powerful verses of ‘Wastelands’ which transitions into the giant ballad that is ‘Until It’s Gone’ (which has one of the best instrumentals the band has ever performed). After that, the band jumps straight in to the heavy demon that is ‘Rebellion’ featuring Daron Malakian from System Of A Down (characeristically the only Linkin Park song in Drop C tuning) and into ‘Mark The Graves,’ which will throw curveballs at you left and right. The last moment to recover from what bombs just went off on you from the massive noises you just heard: ‘Drawbar’ featuring Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, a beautiful piano-driven track which transitions into ‘Final Masquerade,’ arguable one of the best songs the band has ever written. The album concludes with the odyssey called ‘A Line In The Sand,’ exploding with riffs and powerful screams.

This album topped off the list because it exhibits the raw, distinct need that music needs today. Too many bands have begun to abandon their rock sounds in order to cater to the more accessible crowds of the pop world. While many of these bands do manage to pull it off, rock is undeniably the most influential genre out there, and Linkin Park will continue to be at its head for years to come.

Favorite Tracks: Final Masquerade, A Line In The Sand, Guilty All The Same, Rebellion

And so, my list has come to an end. Sorry for wasting your time, and I do hope you enjoyed reading my silly opinions. What did you think of 2014 album-wise? Next on my Top 10s list will be my top 10 songs of 2014, which will be followed by my top 10 songs overall. Until next time.

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways

"Rock is dead," they said. Oh, were they wrong. This year alone has been filled with some huge rock releases, being topped off by none other than the Foo Fighters. Foo's eight album (in case you didn't pick up on the 8's scattered around the cover), Sonic Highways is a strong one, an appropriate follow up to 2011's award winning Wasting Light. Recorded in eight different cities, it holds true to Foo's sound while inhabiting every location at which it was recorded in. Full of huge, arena-filling moments, as well as having the down-to-earth, mellow moments, this album is nothing short of amazing.

1) Something From Nothing - The track begins as a light guitar track, a contrasting gentleness to what becomes a track that would probably punch you in the face if it had a physical form. The track gradually builds up in an epic fashion, beginning quietly and becoming a huge jam only halfway through. What makes this track is Mr. Grohl's huge "ALL RISE!" to conclude the bridge, reasserting himself as one of rock's strongest vocalists. A very powerful track on the album, one of the best on the album. 9/10

2) The Feast and The Famine - Immediately out of the eargasm that is Something, comes this upbeat, relatively standard rock track. While one of the more safer tracks on the record, it provides a huge sound all the same. The drum track does an excellent job of driving this track, understated yet powerful at the same time. Also, it's necessary to yet again point out how great Mr. Grohl's vocals are, specifically during the chorus. The song concludes with a powerful, almost thrash-esque breakdown of sorts, letting out on a strong note. 8/10

3) Congregation - This song is very reminiscent of the Foo Fighter's older sound, among the rest. The lyrics even hint at the classic rock-sounding track, with, "A jukebox generation..." The chorus is complimented with a great, happy riff that just screams "Victory!". The song has an overall upbeat tone to it, speaking to the spirit of the song. The bridge does a great job of showing off both Foo's ability to buildup a track flawlessly and the great guitar work that went into the album. Definitely a great jam, I can see it being a very "American" anthem to be blasted throughout households everywhere on Independence Day (coincidentally, they'll be performing at the 4th of July. Hard to get much more American than that). 8/10

4) What Did I Do?/God as My Witness - The track starts off with a burst of energy, probably as a filler in order to dispel the excitement from the album for a brief moment. This is one of the first moments on the album where the piano is brought to the front of the mixing, allowing for an intimate moment in an album constantly exploding with energy. Complimented by guitar chords, the track builds up to another very Foo Fighter-esque track. Once the "God as My Witness" portion of the song kicks in, it becomes an anthem for the lost. "God is my witness / Yeah, it's going to heal my soul tonight." A lot of emotion is clearly put into this portion of the track, and it pays off as the track doesn't lose any power while it fades out. 8/10

5) Outside - This track begins by introducing what is personally my favorite baseline on the record, very groovy. This song is mixed in favor of the instrumental taking power, but the vocals follow a great melody and have some wonderful meaning behind them. The first guitar solo on the song is an unforgettable moment on the album, the two guitar tracks harmonizing with each other fantastically before subsiding into the groovy baseline again, this time complimented by some bluesy guitar. The guitars yet again build up for a second, epic reprise of the guitar solos. Honestly, one of the most epic moments on the entire album. 9/10

6) In the Clear - One of the most uplifting riffs on the album right here. The big rock sound complimented by the addition of a brass section reminds me of myself, walking down the streets of a big city, about to fulfill my dreams. Gotta let each note inhabit you, man. Dave Grohl reminds you in the chorus that now that he's found success doesn't mean that the struggling is over. There's a constant battle between yourself and society that will never end. In the end, once you've fulfilled your dreams, it's all worth it. 9/10

7) Subterranean - Opening with a string section and acoustic guitar, you can tell this one will be the ballad of the album. The term "subterranean", in the context of the album, refers to digging down deep inside within yourself to find who you really are. The track seamlessly transitions from the sad, reminiscing first verse and chorus to a guitar-heavy track. The ascending baseline in this portion of the song is another great lower-register moment to pay attention to. The song soars throughout, concluding with a synth that transitions wonderfully into the next track. This track seems to lack something that the others do: a powerful vocal line. While they are more centered around the lyrics, there's no real power to them making it one of the weaker tracks on the record. 7/10

8) I Am a River - My personal favorite on the entire record, the song transitions from the synth ending of Subterranean and adding a wonderful delayed guitar into the mix. The formula of adding the drums and more consecutive layers after the first chorus, in this case the pre-chorus, of the track continues to prove effective. One of my favorite moments of this track is, in fact, the pre-chorus, in the sense that it reminds me of My Hero, in that uplifting (and even in a somewhat melodic) sort of way. The chorus could definitely be better, but Dave Grohl crying out, "I! I am a river!" in such a heartfelt way makes up for it. Everything after the first chorus of the track is full of emotion, every note, every beat. The strings coming in at the last part adds to the beauty and power of this track. I wouldn't have chosen a better way to end this incredible album. 10/10

The Foo Fighters are often acclaimed by many as the leaders of today's rock circuit, and for very good reason. With each effort, they continue to grow and expand their huge sound, all the while staying true to their roots. Each album proves that they can create some of the greatest moments in music history, as well as bringing true emotion to the plate. This album is nothing short of incredible.

Overall Rating: 9/10