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Blue-Sky Research

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(88 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • Taproot are one of those types of bands that improve dramatically with each album. If you took a listen to their first album “Gift”, you’ll hear mostly standard nu-metal with very little originality or style. At the time of that release I almost wrote them off as just another band that were cashing in on the whole nu-metal craze going on back then. Sure they were a little better than most of the bands in the genre, but they still weren’t very unique.

    Several years later their sophomore effort “Welcome” was released and it was a huge surprise. I found myself shocked that the same bunch of guys who had written “Gift” had come so far in such a short amount of time. The songs were so much more developed, the sound was fresh, the band found an identity of their own, and they thankfully ditched all the nu-metal references they started out with. I knew then that Taproot were a band to watch.

    Fast forward a few years later and their long-awaited third studio album “Blue-Sky Research” (love the title) was released. The big question on my mind was whether or not they would be able to top “Welcome”. Well not only did they top it, but they went above and beyond. Once again they improved their sound dramatically from the last album, which to me is highly impressive because it’s just not seen very often in music these days. The songwriting on “Blue-Sky Research” is just so well-written and diverse than even the songs found on “Welcome” that it was a breath of fresh air.

    This time around, the band somehow managed to write even catchier songs without sacrificing their heavier moments. Some songs are more radio-friendly like “Birthday”, “She”, and “Forever Endeavor”, while other songs are much more heavy like “I Will Not Fall For You”, “Facepeeler”, and “What’s Left”. You’ll also get songs that mix both styles like “Violent Seas” and “Nightmare”. Each song is unique and sounds nothing like any other song on the album, which is never an easy task to perform.

    The bandmembers have also never sounded better. Stephen’s vocals are really quite phenomenal. His singing has become even stronger and more passionate but yet he can still scream his head off like the old days during the heavier moments. Mike’s guitar playing has become much more diverse and technical, while Philip’s bass playing is smooth and comes out really strong in the mix. Last but not least, Jarrod’s drumming is stylish and fits perfectly within the songs to give them the drive that they need.

    There will always be those that fell in love with Taproot’s specific sound on either “Gift” or “Welcome”, in which case this album may not totally be to their liking as it does not sound like either one. But for the fans who are willing to grow with Taproot as I am, I foresee many great changes the band will go through to get to the next level, thus making them a better band in the process. I have no doubt that their next album will once again prove that Taproot will never release the same album twice. Well done, guys.

    Posted on February 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • THE BAND: Stephen Richards (voice/guitar), Mike Dewolf (guitar), Jarrod Montague (drums & percussion), Phil Lipscomb (bass). The majority of the songs are written by Richards and Dewolf. Taproot is based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    THE DISC: 13 songs, approx 51 minutes long. Liner notes feature band pictures and song lyrics within. This is the band’s 3rd album – previous releases are “Gift” (2000) and “Welcome” (2002).

    COMMENTS: This album took me by surprise. After their “Gift” release sounded like any of the other Nu-Metal bands coming out at the time, and their 2nd album “Welcome” was just kind of ho-hum… this “Blue-Sky Research” floored me with catchy hooks, great singing (with an occasional well placed and never over done yell), and no filler. Every song is excellent… some of the tunes are downright finger snapping jazzy smart rock and roll. Typically, when I first buy an album, I like to give each song about 30-60 seconds just to get a flavor of it… first time I played this disc, I listened to the whole thing without hitting the fast forward button. It was that good. This is easily their best, most polished, complete work to date. Still is the influence of Alice In Chains (and solo Jerry Cantrell efforts), and even a touch of Tool, but they’re still a unique sounding band. Billy Corgan helped on 3 songs – and you can hear his Smashing Pumpkins influence on these songs. “Blue-Sky” is much more radio friendly and I predict big things for this band in the near future. The first hit is “Calling” and it’s an incredible song. Great guitar work with inspiring lyrics. I think many of their songs here are lyrically uplifting. My favorites being the opener “I Will Not Follow” with it’s hypnotic guitar, “Birthday” with it’s great melody and message, and “Calling” – simply the best. If you like this album from Taproot, check out other (fairly) new releases from Seether, Atomship, Staind, Breaking Benjamin, Alterbridge, Edgewater, 30 Seconds to Mars, Cold, Ra and Porcupine Tree. This is easily one of my favorite rock albums from 2005.

    Posted on February 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • When you are younger, all you want is music that is extremely aggressive and angsty. It seems like a multitude of people reviewing this record are not the same age as the band that wrote and recorded it. So let’s put that into perspective, if you think most “modern rock” bands are the pinnacle of song writing then your age is just showing. A lot of the bands that Taproot is currently touring with or that they are lumped in with are bland. That is just a simple truth and sure, it is just a matter of opinion but explain to me why CD sales are the way they are then? Yes, the RIAA is to blame as well… but I’m digressing.

    I saw Taproot open up for the Deftones back in 2001 and in an anticipratory move, I bought “Gift”. It suited what I was into then but listening to it recently there were things I realized. There are only a few songs that still hold up because it did follow a formula. When “Welcome” came out, I was really bored with the band and felt like they were not going anywhere interesting. They called it “experimental” but it just sounded like average radio rock at that time. I used to be what you call a “nu-metal” fan and the thing is that you get older. You grow up, you realize that a lot of the lyrics that you used to identify with are really self centered and immature. I loved Korn up until this last record that came out but Jon Davis writes boring songs literally because he has like three topics he sticks to and I really don’t care how hard fame is. The Deftones are the only band from this grouping that I still say are in my top five favorite bands because they grow and were never really a mainstream act.

    As soon as I heard that Taproot was working with Billy Corgan on this record, I became really excited because his work in general tends to eclipse all others. The songs he worked on are some of my favorites on this record. I had no idea that Jonah worked on Calling but it makes more sense why that song sounds the way it does. That song and Facepeeler were sort of a letdown at first because it seemed like more of the same but the more I hear them then I more I like them. Is it just me or is there an influence of Poison the Well in the chord progressions in facepeeler? The opening riff is way nu-metal but the rest of the song redeems it.

    This is a really good rock record, it isn’t worried about being part of a sub-genre. Most people will snub it because of the bands previous work but it represents growth.
    If you like this record then check out Circa Survive’s Juturna album.

    Posted on February 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • GEEZ!! When will people stop bashing on bands who change up thier style of playing a little. If Di Vinci painted another painting of the Mona Lisa would anybody care? of course not! Its no longer original. Its the same with music, also an art. As bads(respectable ones) grow older their music matures and adds sophistication while still keeping their signature style, especially alt(not nu)-metal. They are artists, not musical xerox machines. If you look at legendary bands that most new bands idolize, you’ll find that their music changed alot from album to album. Blue sky research had some very well written and deep songs all around both instrumentally and especially vocally. Even right off the bat with I will not fall for you(their most beautiful song yet), which is where they lost most of you idiots who dont know what real music is, the vocals and music were smooth as silk. I couldnt believe their new found sophistication when i heard it. They kept it coming the whole album most notably with calling and whats left. For those who appreciate great music buy this album immediately. For the rest of you who bashed this album, keep walking over to the pop section and buy a Good Charlotte or Green Day album. Dont worry, they’re as cookie cutter as it gets. Shame on you!

    Posted on February 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • …Damn, this album is great!

    It takes a little while to catch on, but Taproot’s third album, “Blue Sky Research” really gets under your skin. On my first listen, it sounded like a mess of ideas compiled onto an album. But the more I listened, the more it creeped into my head. I would find myself, hours after having listened, having these sick melodies stuck in my head, courtesy of Taproot.

    For starters, this album is a huge departure from the sound of 2000’s “Gift” and their 2002 so-so follow-up, “Welcome.” Their sound definitely moves farther from the nu-metal label (although, they were always above that) and focuses more on catchy riffs and better songwriting. Don’t get me wrong, the band is still here. Songs such as the dark opener “I Will Not Fall For You” and “Facepeeler” are instant classics among the Taproot song-book. But then you have songs that, with a little help from some high-profile people, will shock more than a few ears. The first single, “Calling” alone is worth the purchase of this album, and it was even co-written by Jonah Matranga (Gratitude, Far), which is odd when you consider the music this man has made in his own career. The song is a perfect example of Taproot making an edgy, dark song into something very catchy and very addictive. The first day I had this album, I must’ve repeated this song a dozen times. A more well known collaborator in Billy Corgan helps out on three songs, “Violent Seas,” “Lost In the Woods” and “Promise.” Just like the songs he worked on for Breaking Benjamin’s “We Are Not Alone,” these tracks have the classic ‘Pumpkins stamp on them, and yet, sound just right when filtered through a completely different band. Despite the collaborations (which also include legendary producer Bob Marlette), Taproot still manage to keep their identity through the course of the album. “April Suits, “Facepeeler” and “I Will Not Fall For You” are just as good as anything else on this album, and the band did it themselves. Usually I hate it when groups use outside people to help write songs (the upcoming Korn album has me worried), as it takes away from the authenticity of the music, but I think Taproot have proven themselves before, and on this album, therefore, it’s just not an issue.

    I was very disappointed with “Welcome,” as I was a huge fan of “Gift,” and I must say, “Blue Sky Research” gets the group back on track. It may be a bit hard to swallow at first, but it’s a very interesting listen, and I’m sure I will still be listening to this in the years to follow (just like I still do with “Gift”). Just give it a chance. Don’t be turned off by the change. If you’re close-minded enough to shut yourself out by their style, then maybe Taproot just weren’t the band for you in the first place.

    Posted on February 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now