29 November 2014

Nickelback - No Fixed Address

Here is a band who've managed to stick around despite all the haters! For a while, these guys were all over TV and radio thanks to their particular brand of rock music which whilst it had a bit of a kick to it, was also melodic enough, catchy enough and - dare I say, anthemic enough - to give the band the odd hit or two. Their song "How You Remind Me" is an example of this. Whilst it may not be everyones cup of Buckfast, it certainly got a few sales as well as a bit of cash and more exposure for the band. As is their other big hit "Rock Star". It became apparent early on that they'd pretty much stumbled on a formula and strip-mined it to within an inch of it's life but, to be fair, most bands do that. Outside of Nickelback, lead singer Chad Kroeger did a song for the first Toby McGuire Spiderman movie which followed this formula pretty closely, and even signed a band to his record label called Theory Of A Dead Man who were pretty much Nickelback-lite (Although their lead singer looked like Officer Crabtree from "Allo Allo" so they get a free pass for that). He also married Avril Lavigne but I dunno much else after that.

My personal feelings on Nickelback are that it seemed there was no real heart and soul to their music, it was IMO about as exciting as eating a bowl of vanilla ice-cream. And it also seemed to me that their music was aimed at the most casual of casual rock fans, the kind of people who said they were rockers in High School but never ever got past "Use Your Illusion 1/2" and "The Black Album". The very people who'd get drunk in wine bars and think it was cool/ironic to sing "Rock Star" with all the grace and charm of a wounded bison. This wasn't a snap-judgement neither - I first heard one of their songs on one of those "Drilling The Vein" compilation videos that Roadrunner Records used to put out. This was back in early 2001, just before they hit it big. At the time, I just found the song to be very dull. I volunteered to do this blog just for the craic.

First song is "Million Miles An Hour" and it actually has quite a thumping riff! Shame the FX over the verse vocals bring it down a touch, they don't suit the song at all. A bit of ear candy now and again in a mix which teeters on "overproduced". As far as albums go, it certainly gets your attention. Would make a good concert opener.

"Edge Of A Revolution" is a protest song. Pretty much the same as the previous song in that it comes across like a stomper. Chad Kroeger is inspiring us to rise up against The Man! This song certainly ticks all the "anthem" boxes.

"What Are You Waiting For" opens up with ear candy and crappy FX over the vocals. I guess they're trying to soften the mood and add a bit of variety to proceedings but the song has a structure that is all too familiar. Quiet verse, loud chorus which has an undercurrent of 'keyboard'. It's well crafted but not landing with me. Although I can imagine a few people may like it.

"She Keeps Me Up". VERY interesting opening. Kinda sounds like the Queen song "Another One Bites The Dust" but with added funk guitar! Detailing about a femme fatale he cannot let go of, it's a tale of anguish that has a fucking stupid lyric - "coca-cola rollercoaster". What are you talking about? How exactly is a romance with a person of ill-repute equated to a popular soft beverage and a fairground ride??? The music itself is ok though.

"Make Me Believe Again" - Multi-tracked vocals over the kind of music made popular at WWE pay-per-views. Although you could stick any kind of sports montage in there and it would probably do the job. Or you could get an aftershave commercial out of it. Possibly for Hai Karate, I dunno. It's all a bit vanilla, to be honest.

"Satellite" starts with acoustic guitar and multi-tracked vocals. Keyboards as well. It's not too bad but again, it's all a bit vanilla. But in this case, it's the "expensive luxury ice-cream vanilla", not the "cheap knock-off store ice-cream vanilla" so that's good.

"Get 'Em Up" tries to readdress this by reverting back to the "stomper" type of song that was prominent at the start of this album. It tells the story of a couple of gangsta-types who steal a gun and attempt to rob a bank - but on a Sunday when it's closed and there are police right next to it...it's quite comical, really. The subject matter, not the song, which is decent enough. The only thing I got against this song is the way Kroeger sings the verses is VERY similar to Lady Gaga on "Pokerface". It sounds peculiar. I've also got this feeling the song was originally about strippers and called "Get 'Em Off" but maybe that's my wishful thinking! Good song.

"The Hammer's Coming Down" is trying to sound all epic and stuff with crashing guitars and drums and it works to a degree. Sounding nothing like a "stomper" or a ballad, it's possibly the stand-out track on this album. It's quite uplifting, really. Yes, I like this one.

"Miss You" is a bit twee, another ballad. It's ok but sounds quite ordinary compared to the song that preceded it. Sounds like it could have been written for any of those identikit solo pop starts from the last ten years.

"Got Me Running Round" features Flo Rida. The name rings a bell but I cannot recall hearing any of his stuff. More crap lyrics - "she tastes like the sunshine kissing me" against an adequate musical composition. It was pretty average to be fair. The music was good though.

"Sister Sin" is the last song and it ends the album on a high. An upbeat number, it doesn't rely too much on ear candy and leads us nicely to the end of the album.

So, there you go. I've sat through an actual Nickelback album and - it was good. My opinion of the band has not changed - they've pretty much stuck to the formula they stumbled upon twelve years ago and are pretty much a 'vanilla' band. But what they do on here is definitely done with a a hint of intention, not like they were on autopilot or something. Who will like this album? People who listen to and like it.

7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.

Top Track - "The Hammer's Coming Down".

Chris J.

This album is on iTunes.

Spotify link...
Amazon link...

The fact that you expected me to give this album a critical mauling...and I disappointed you...turns me on!

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