250 word album review: Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

Tom Morello - The Atlas Underground

Stars2.5

Tom Morello ditches his “The Nightwatchman” moniker for his latest solo release and thankfully so. This album couldn’t be further from the coffee shop militant we met on 2007’s “One Man Revolution.”

In Morello’s defense, this record isn’t intended to be in line with that material. I’ll start by answering the burning question, yes, he still whales on his guitar, although sparingly. It is mixed with club sounding songs and tons of keyboards, canned drums and instrumentation that takes songs in an entirely different direction. On “One Nation”  featuring Pretty Lights the guitar is missing and the song sounds like a bad dub dance remix of a song you never really liked in the first place. Other times songs land a little better like on the Marcus Mumford aided “Find Another Way” that sounds like a Gotye version of Mumford & Sons. The lyrics here still have a heavy political pull like on “Rabbit’s Revenge” that goes straight hip-hop with the help of “Bassnectar, Big Boi & Killer Mike. Another hip-hop inspired song serves as the album highlight thanks to the helpful hands of Vic Mensa on “We Don’t Need You” that definitely has a bit of a Rage Against The Machine feel albeit with far less rock involved.

At best this album shows Morello’s versatility in a solo career that began with a lone man and an acoustic guitar and now features guests on every track and heavy added instrumentation. This version of Morello is still talented but it leaves you holding out hope that The Nightwatchman will one day return.

Key Tracks: “We Don’t Need You”

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