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Sound Check

Ryan Adams/ In Flames

9/10/2014

Ryan AdamsRyan Adams

Self-Titled

Pax-AM

Every time I listen to Ryan Adams’ new self-titled release, I get the mental image of a guy watching “Singles” for the first time and really “getting” Matt Dillion. The simple fact that Adams has described the album’s creation as “jamming with bros, smoking bowls and drinking tea” kind of says it all. The album is not, in any traditional sense, bad — Adams is far too talented a musician for anything like that to happen — but it’s certainly trite and more than a little derivative. Smacking heavily of Elliot Smith filtered through Tom Petty’s amps, Adams goes from sad to being a bit melancholy, followed by being depressed, then back to sad, though not quite as sad as before. Opening track “Gimme Something Good” is indicative of the overall feeling: when the guitars kick in, it’s a promising start, then Adams starts to sing, and you’re left feeling kind of “oh.” CV

In FlamesIn Flames

HIV

Siren Charms

Sony/RED

There comes a point in the lives of athletes when they have to accept the fact that they’ve lost a step. Time catches up to everyone, and we all have to accept that we just can’t do what we used to. In Flames front man Anders Friden isn’t an athlete, but the same idea may apply here. As In Flames continues its decade-long march further away from their death roots and into a more groove metal, commercially palatable vein, they’ve become more dependent upon clean vocals to carry the sound. That’s a bad thing, because Friden isn’t a very good vocalist. But now, after spending so long working on being melodic, he seems to have completely lost the ability to growl with any conviction. On the production side, the album is a mess, with songs sounding overly compressed. I suppose you can still be an In Flames fan, but the band is making that task increasingly difficult. CV

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