CD Reviews: Nightmare River Band, Sans Jose, Korn

Nightmare River Band

If you happened to be at The Mill on Sunday, then you might have been lucky enough to catch the performance by the Nightmare River Band.

The North Charleston stop was the latest on the band’s tour in support of its new album, “Last Goodbye.” From here, the band was headed for Louisiana and Texas before heading back through the South on its way up to the final date in New York.

With any luck, the band hopefully will gather some new fans in each city along the way.

And the quality of the music on “Last Goodbye” should help.

The band’s sound is a combination of alt-country and modern rock with strong similarities to more established acts such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons.

The songs on the album are well-written and impeccably performed, especially tracks such as “Oh Me Oh My” and “Mary.” The album’s title track remains my favorite, though.

It’s a bold, brash song about putting things to rest. Midway through the song, it breaks down into a chantey of “la-da-da-da,” before building to a crescendo that will impress the listener, as well as possibly make them a bit misty-eyed.

The remainder of the album contains a couple of throwaway tracks, but for the most part, this is a solid release that will delight fans of the current alt-rock and folkie scenes.

A-

Key Tracks: “Mary,” “Oh Me O My,” “Last Goodbye”

There has never been a better time in this country to be a performer or a purveyor of garage rock.

Case in point is Charleston’s very own Sans Jose. (The band was once known as Go for Launch but changed it earlier this year.)

On the band’s new CD, “Go for Launch,” Sans Jose performs five songs in little more than 10 minutes. Between the distorted guitars, the frenzied vocals and the rapid-fire drumming, there is a lot to love here.

Each song, even with its collective brevity, has its own personality, from the retro-British Invasion sound of “Shoot Shoot” to the more contemporary “Red Giant” with its consistent wall of organ, guitars and drums.

Still other tracks have a surf-guitar vibe.

This is a must-listen for fans of garage rock that gives way to obvious admiration of bands such as The Specials, The Electric Prunes and Jan & Dean.

The CD is over in a flash. But in that brief time, you’ll wonder what hit you the first time you spin it.

I don’t know about you, but I love it when a record can do that to you.

B+

Key Tracks: “Shoot Shoot,” “Red Giant,” “We Should’ve Known”

I’ll be honest, I never really “got” Korn, or much of the whole nu-metal movement that came to prominence in the mid-’90s.

It had a very powerful and popular few years of life, then seemed to pass like so many other musical styles do.

Korn was easily one of the most popular bands among the legions of nu-metal acts that sprung to life during that time, and you have to give the outfit credit for lasting way beyond what most would consider its sell-by date.

Part of the reason Korn continues to be relevant in the music world is because it innovates. Take its latest studio album, “The Path of Totality.” Korn enlisted the assistance of some of today’s hottest DJs, including Skrillex, 12th Planet and Datsik, to enhance the new music.

They also played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hollywood Palladium in celebration of that album’s release. That live performance is now available as a CD/DVD set, and really shows off Korn’s stage prowess.

Again, I’m no Korn fan, but even I have to hand it to lead singer Jonathan Davis and the rest of the band for keeping what is essentially a dead musical genre somewhat interesting more than a decade after the fact.

The DVD is the part of the package to really pay attention to here. Between the light show, the swirling crowd of moshers (another throwback practice) and what has to be the coolest microphone stand I’ve ever seen, there is plenty to look at here.

You get plenty of Korn classics, including “Illuminati,” “Freak on a Leash” and “Got the Life,” as well as covers of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall” and Metallica’s “One.”

Heck, Skrillex even shows up to play guitar with the band on a few songs.

Like I said, it’s all about staying relevant through innovation, and Korn still seems to have it figured out.

B+

Key Tracks: “Freak on a Leash,” “Got the Life,” “Another Brick in The Wall”

By Devin Grant