December 28, 2011
Thus, it requires something more special to be truly beautiful. True beauty is not something that can be shoved in your face. It may not even be something that is immediately evident. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present Feist. On her fifth full length Metals, we witness a subtle beauty, one that feels no need to flaunt itself.
Feist has been recording for more than 12 years now. After a few years spent bouncing around Canada covering old Bee Gee’s tracks, the Canadian singer-songwriter started releasing her own material. As early as 2004, Feist was releasing tasty music videos, something that, to this day, she continues to do. A cute cover of fellow-Canadian Ron Sexsmith’s Secret Heart earned Feist fair amounts of attention. Apple picked up on the first single off of her 2008 release The Reminder, and before anyone blinked 1 2 3 4 was officially “that iPod commercial song.”
Before I can say anything about her latest album, Metals, I must pay homage to this singer’s voice. Feist has perhaps the single most recognizable voice of any contemporary female singer. Her vocals effortlessly rise and fall with minimal accompaniment. She coyly teases you into The Circle Married the Line, while she knocks you back in your seat with a stunning performance on How Come You Never Go There. Her voice approaches and falls back into the instrumentation like a constantly shifting tide; you only need to feel the gentle foam rolling up the beach to know there is a powerful ocean behind it. However, with such a delicate vocal performance, Feist sounds best when the music drives the song; the strong instrumentation pushes Graveyard forward, one of Feist’s best songs to date. Although Feist loves to tug you through her songs with her voice alone, she does not acheive the same success of Get it Wrong, Get it Right and Cicadas and Gulls on each attempt. Feist is at her most vulnerable when she leads the music with her vocals alone. Bittersweet Melodies, altough beautiful, could use a bit of a kick in the pants to drive it forward. You could also find her guilty of lilting a bit too much on Anti-Pioneer as well.
However, what I love most about Metals is that no song feels like a throw-out. All 50 minutes of the record are well conceieved and laid out beautifully in front of us. To return to what I was discussing earlier, Feist does not overemphasize the beauty of her work. She lures you into each song, encouraging you find your own emotion between soothing organic instruments and stunning vocals. Having a totally unique experience with each track is an experience not many artists can provide. While her lilting vocals may lose you at first, the imperfections are just too beautiful to complain about. Sometimes thirlling, occasionally boring, but always gorgeous, Metals is well worth your listen.
December 11, 2011
Earlier this year, they released Castlemania, a departure from their familiar territory, as a chance to explore lead singer John Dwyer's intricate melody-making capabilities and acoustic side, and I really liked it. They knew that they needed a change at least once. But on Carrion Crawler/The Dream, we find these guys returning to their raw rock 'n roll spirit that can even date back to 2008's The Master's Bedroom. However, a lot of the songs here are much longer than we're used to with these guys, even reaching the 7-minute mark on The Dream. Now I'm all for long songs, but not when they stay the same throughout. That's what happened with the title track of their 2010 release Warm Slime, which started out awesome, then quickly lost my interest after 3 minutes. Basically, the long songs on Carrion Crawler are fantastic for the first couple minutes, then become tiresome, especially when we generally have one sound coming from these guys.
Also, it seems as though Thee Oh Sees are running out of ideas for hard-hitting tunes, so they just bang it away for 40 minutes, and after a while, the constantly banging drums and shredding, although spot on, starts to sound stale and monotonous. Each song sounds like a generalization of what The Master's Bedroom or Help sounded like as a whole. I can't say there are too many stand out tracks here because of that, but I do love the first two tracks a lot. Robber Barons is basically The Coconut, just duller, and almost nothing changes on Chem-Farmer. At least The Dream varies it up a bit, but still, why 7 minutes? The song could have been 3 minutes, and I probably would have loved it.
Carrion Crawler/The Dream, although fun, is just their previous efforts compiled together and made blunt and uninteresting. However I'm glad that they're back to their old selves, and I'm positive that their live shows are still amazing as ever.
1. Carrion Crawler
2. Contraption/Soul Desert
3. Robber Barons
6. The Dream
7. Wrong Idea
8. Crushed Glass
9. Crack in Your Eye
10. Heavy Doctor
Ways of Meaning is the follow up to Kyle Bobby Dunn's 2010 release 'A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn', which I probably should have given a higher score now that I think about it, because I listened to quite a bit of ambient/drone music after that, and that album is among the best I've heard so far. This album is more or less the same sort of stuff that was going on on that record, although definitely simplified and toned down. Where 'A Young Person's Guide' varied with each track, some of the songs on Ways of Meaning sound awfully similar. I guess you could say it's more of an album as a whole, rather than an album with individual songs where you can point out each song by a defining characteristic. With this one, you just sort of play the whole thing, and absorb everything at once. Although the track Canyon Meadows is the one track that is pretty distinct among the rest, and it ended up being my favorite track here. The track I felt really bored of though was Movement for the Completely Fucked, even though it had a slightly darker atmosphere, like New Pures.
Another difference with this album is that each song has a reoccurring melody, or just simply a few chords that just repeat throughout the whole song, whereas his previous release was full of constantly changing melodies and ideas. I'm not saying that these tracks are boring though, in fact the ones that did have distinct chord progressions seemed the most interesting to me.
Although I generally enjoyed listening to Ways of Meaning, it didn't grab me like A Young Person's Guide did. While the atmosphere and intricacy is still completely there, ambition and ideas are lacking.
1. Dropping Sandwiches (In Chester Lake)
3. Canyon Meadows
4. New Pures
5. Movement for the Completely Fucked
6. Touhy's Theme
November 27, 2011
November 20, 2011
Tristan Clopet dove into the vast pool of independently recording singer-songwriters earlier this year with his debut LP Name It What You Want It. However, before I say anything about the record, I owe the guy I huge thank you. He mailed up not only a copy of his CD but also a pretty sweet custom t-shirt only to wait patiently while his CD racked up the plays in my stereo. Thank you Tristan, you're a gentleman.
There is a lot to talk about here, but I'll start with undeniably the strongest aspect of Clopet's music: his voice.It's been a long time since I've heard such incredible vocals. Clopet's voice rumbles over the piano's lower octaves in A Chat with My Brain, it gently pulls you through the slower ballad Idiosyncrasies of the Resolute, and it absolutely soars in Hold on Lover, Hold on Girl. The vocals on Name It What You Want It are near flawless. Clopet helps himself out; his well-written songs really help him show off his full range. Although harmonies make only a cameo appearance in the album, you can't find a much sweeter hook than in Summer in Sussex, the dynamic first track. Songwriting is very strong aspect of this album. Simply put, Clopet is a fantastic songwriter. Clopet's genre-bending songs are all absurdly catchy. Small hooks grab you at every turn leaving absolutely nothing feeling boring.
Clopet drives his music forward with a wide variety of percussion, and this leads to the only real problem I can find with Name It What You Want It. Especially on the closing tracks An Introduction… To Forward Thinking and Fife and Drum, Clopet leans on his drums just a bit too much to pull you through the song. Clopet obviously experimented the most with the last few songs and they still feel a little bit raw. Although unfinished, they are certainly not throw outs.
Regardless of the highs and lows of this album, Clopet has one ace that is unavoidable. This guy has great style. Not only are his songs well-written, well-sung, and well-orchestrated, they radiate cool vibrations. We can almost hear him crack a smile as he hits that perfect funky chord. For such a young artist, Clopet's intuitive sense of flair is impeccable. Clopet's verve adds an entirely new level to his work, one that allows you to keep coming back more and more.
Crafty songs, beautiful lyrics, and a great dose of panache characterize Tristan Clopet's debut LP Name It What You Want It. He is, without a doubt, one of the most promising young artists I have heard in a while. Well done, Mr. Clopet.
October 17, 2011
Naming the follow-up single to your successful debut album Vomit is nothing short of an audacious move. However, Christopher Owens and Chet White of Girls did just that (it seems appropriate to mention that Vomit is just one song on a growing list of deliciously-named Girls’ songs, including standouts such as Big Bad Mean Mother Fucker, Hellhole Ratrace, and Die). However, the much lauded 2009 release Album introduced Girls’ jangly instrumentation and lyrical focus predominately on angsty teenagers. Girls’ relaxed surfer-style ballads won over the hearts of many. However, while Owens and White hit several enormous highs on Album, the overall work felt patchy and unfinished. In late 2010, Girls dished out the Broken Dreams Club EP, a superb six song album-ette that showed great stylistic growth and maturity. Two years after an intriguing debut, Girls have given us Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
Groovy, jangly, and catchy as fuck, the opener Honey Bunny is everything you could want in a Girls song. The cute riffs and sweet harmonies exhibited here characterize the album. Owens turns his amp volume up from his usual four to maybe five or six on Die, a song that tries hard to mix things up and throw some White Stripes-style heavy guitar at us. Simply put, the song is too pretty to give off any harsh vibes. Exhausted after going all out, the amps are quieted down and Girls settle down into a really solid five song streak, including my personal favorites Saying I Love You and Just a Song. Girls once again channel Elvis Costello on Magic, a song led by White’s strong drumming. Likely under-appreciated, White’s consistently great performances on the drums tie any loose ends on the album together, such as the closers Love Like a River and Jane Marie.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost is another great album from Girls. Owens continues to establish himself as a strong songwriter in a band that is settling into its own style. With the exception of some extraneous minutes that could have been cut out, this is album is fucking great. As reminiscent and sentimental as it is innovative and original, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is one of the most interesting listens of the year so far.
1. Honey Bunny
4. Saying I Love You
5. My Ma
7. Just a Song
10. Love Like a River
11. Jamie Marie
September 12, 2011
But unfortunately, it seems as though the memorable hooks have disappeared with the vocal crack as well. The record, on a whole, is pretty enjoyable, but it's hard to think of a memorable melody once it's done. It basically plays on vanilla the entire time, with occasional forays into catchy territory. The songs often blend together and sound the same as well, so much that you might just miss a track or two. A good example of this is the entire last half of the album. Though I should note that Same Mistake is a damn catchy tune. Maniac varies it up a bit as well. In Your Alien Arms is a decent track, even though the last two minutes are exactly the same throughout. In A Motel and Misspent Youth are both graceful tracks, the former with its beautiful string arrangement and an actually memorable melody.
And then there's the rest of the album. Nothing in those last 5 or 6 songs will make me want to give them another listen, except for Adam's Plane, the closer to this 50-minute-long record. At least that song left me off feeling a little happier.
Back in 2005, they were rocking the indie scene with their quirky exuberance and catchy hooks. Here, they've lost their quirk, along with uniqueness and energy. With the exception of a few key tracks, Hysterical is a mostly forgettable, mildly enjoyable record with too much form and not enough substance.
1. Same Mistake
3. Misspent Youth
5. Into Your Alien Arms
6. In a Motel
7. Yesterday, Never
9. Siesta (For Snake)
10. Ketamine and Ecstasy
11. The Witness' Dull Surprise
12. Adam's Plane
September 8, 2011
An awesome new video: Matt and Kim: Block after Block
Even though Matt and Kim's new album is no where near the powerhouse the 2006 "Grand", but "Block after Block" is one of my favorites off their new album. In the video for "Lessons Learned", Matt and Kim did their first ode to The Big Apple they love by getting completely naked in Times Square, ending with Kim getting hit by a bus. "Block after Block" brings back their love for the City by starting impromptu concerts all over the city as they sprint around avoiding cops and staying still. I love any video that shows the power of a good piece of music bringing random people together, especially if they all share a craving to party. Another thing I love about Matt and Kim is how every time they preform or make a video, they look like the happiest kids on Earth doing what they love and one can not help but smile along with them.
Watch the video here!
A music video I bet you have not seen: The Decemberists: Sixteen Military Wives
Seeing that The Decemberists seem to come out with a new album each month, none of us fans of them can keep up with all the music and videos they produce. Recently, I stumbled across this gem from the folk machine that is The Decemberists from their album "Picaresque". The video is a brilliant and obvious (in my opinion) to Wes Anderson's masterpiece "Rushmore". In the video, the band is in a high school Model U.N. club where The U.S. representative reigns supreme and the little countries band together for a mutiny. The video is goofy, well acted by the band and is gorgeously directed by Aaron Stewart and I'm sure good old Wes would be pround
Watch the video here!
September 6, 2011
This time, her quality-album-streak has continued with Strange Mercy. If you had to describe it based on sound, it's basically the same deal as Actor. Lots of fuzz, distortion, and of course, her lovely voice. There are a couple things that have changed, though. There are more electronic elements, and the drums are more prominent. The idea of more electronics might sound a little off-putting, but frankly they go brilliantly with the whole mix, especially on tracks like Cruel, Northern Lights, Champagne Year, and Dilettante.
My favorite track on Strange Mercy, by far, is Cheerleader. It opens acoustically with a beautiful melody, while Annie rolls out a few clever one-liners. "I've had good times with some bad guys, I've told whole lies with a half smile". After that, it's as if the four "I"s she sings are cracks being banged into the chorus, and then it just gives way and bursts open with overwhelming distortion, heavy beats, and synthy-goodness. This is definitely one of the best songs she's given us yet, if not the best.
The slow-going Surgeon is another superb number, with its playful guitar blips and shuffling drums. The random cheesy synth solo toward the end, though it spices up the track a bit, is pretty annoying to be honest. The title track, however, is a beautifully-crafted piece with drums that chug along, and a softly rolled out melody, but towards the end she turns up the amp and busts out the fuzz box, to my utter enjoyment. There are a couple tracks that I couldn't really get into, mainly Neutered Fruit, which is a bit too kooky and all over the place for my taste. Hysterical Strength is a pretty forgettable track which feels like a filler. Luckily the album concludes really well with Year of the Tiger.
Strange Mercy is an album filled with pleasurable grooves, blissful pop tunes, plenty of messy distortion, and of course, Annie Clark's endearing vocals. Yet her ability to blend all these elements together is just as outstanding as ever.
1. Chloe in the Afternoon
5. Northern Lights
6. Strange Mercy
7. Neutered Fruit
8. Champagne Year
10. Hysterical Strength
11. Year of the Tiger
September 4, 2011
And they haven't just done so with subtlety, no no. The opening 7-minute track, Art of Almost, is chalk-full of searing guitars, courtesy of Nels Cline, muddled distortion, electronic blips scattered about, and many layers of sonic epicness. They always knew how to open an album well, but this just takes the cake. Next up is the firm-footed I Might, which I wasn't taken with immediately upon first listen, but I'm finding myself warming up to it. More distortion and a rhodes organ make this song quite enjoyable. Now the next track, Sunloathe, is probably my favorite one here. It's got beautiful harmonies, a beautiful, heart-warming melody, and a nice, light feel to it. This is not Wilco, but I'm loving it.
After that, we've got a string of excellent songs, including Dawned on Me, which is just tons of fun, the softer Black Moon, which also has a stunning melody and a lovely blend of pedal steel, rhodes, and finger-plucking, and Born Alone, which has a great guitar lick. Capitol City is another great one, with a San Tropes-esque melody, and the ascending rhodes line makes this song even better. Rising Red Lung is another beautiful little number. The only ones I don't love as much are Open Mind and the title track, although they're still pretty decent.
So yeah, terrific melodies, terrific tunes, just overall a terrific album. Great job, Jeff and friends. You had me smiling all the way through the album.
By the way, if you ever get the chance, you have to see these guys live. They're incredible.
1. Art of Almost
2. I Might
4. Dawned on Me
5. Black Moon
6. Born Alone
7. Open Mind
8. Capitol City
9. Standing O
10. Red Rising Lung
11. Whole Love
12. One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
August 30, 2011
July 10, 2011
Handsome Furs is a name under which former Wolf Parade guitarist and complete badass Dan Boeckner and his wife record sandpapery electronic music. The duo blasts simple melodies constructed with heavy guitars and powerful beats. The follow-up to their solid ’09 release Face Control, Sound Kapital is another Boeckner-taught lesson in badassery.
Despite my profound admiration for Dan Boeckner, I was a little nervous when I heard that Handsome Furs’ latest album was written entirely on keyboards. Why would Handsome Furs, a band that lives, eats, and breathes harsh and fuzzy guitars, ditch their guitars for infant-sized synthesizers? Simple, they were just too busy doing badass shit to spend time in the studio with their guitars. Keyboards would fit in the tiny van they used to illegally tour in southeast Asia. That seems like pretty awesome excuse to me.
This transition has, amazingly, resulted in an overall improvement in the band’s sound. Boeckner’s vocals mesh well with the in-your-face attitude of their electronic style. The concise melodies that are a staple of the Furs’ sound are now more fleshed out. Although Sound Kapital may at first feel cold, Handsome Furs have successfully injected a blast of life into their electronic music, not by any means an easy task.
Sound Kapital, like all of Boeckner’s works, is very consistent. The band gets going with the brilliant Damage and never looks back. Sound Kaptial is great. Pick it up.
June 10, 2011
June 7, 2011
Though he said he was trying a more pop-enthusiastic record, it's not completely obvious that he's shying away from the rough, raw garage rock approach. He's still retained the lo-fi aspect (don't mean to sound snobby or anything, but thank goodness), and the raw power of most of the songs still shines. I Am With You even borrows the melody from The Drag, a song off of his debut. But I suppose the poppiness is more apparent on tracks like 'I Can't Feel It', whose light-hearted dual guitar line totally lightens up the whole song, and the opening track Goodbye Bread. The songs here definitely feel more thought out too, whereas back on his first couple albums, it seemed as though he was just picking a few chords, going with it, and rocking the fuck out.
At a certain point though, the songs start to blend together, and the melodies get monotonous at times, especially on Comfortable Home, My Head Explodes, The Floor, and Fine. That's probably because all of the songs use the same four elements. An electric guitar line, sometimes two, drums, bass, and lazy vocals. I can see liking this album a little more if he had varied it up a bit, like on his previous album.
It's not as though his music is groundbreaking (not to say any of the music in the garage rock scene is), plus his melodies have never stood out for me that much, and his vocals leave a little to be desired, but there's something about his music that just draws me in and makes me feel good, and for the most part, that feeling remains on Goodbye Bread.
1. Goodbye Bread
2. California Commercial
3. Comfortable Home
4. You Make the Sun Fry
5. I Can't Feel It
6. My Head Explodes
7. The Floor
8. Where Your Mind Goes
9. I Am With You
May 14, 2011
It's safe to say that Thee Oh Sees have severely toned down the whole loud, raw, in-your-face garage rock approach that admittedly made me fall in love with them in the first place, and replaced it with an even more raw, psych folk sound. In other words, the raw electric guitars have for the most part been replaced with raw acoustic guitars. Unfortunately I can see this being a major turn-off for more than a few people, but it's totally refreshing to hear these guys out of their comfort zone. Above all, the melodies are still top-notch, especially on Corprophagist, Stinking Cloud, Pleasure Blimps, A Wall A Century 2, and The Whipping Continues. The psychedelic aspect is still there too. If anything, it's even more so.
Other stand out tracks include the sheer raw power of Corrupted Coffin, the addicting little 1-minute track Spider Cider, the cleaner-sounding Blood on the Deck, which has a nice solo, and their excellent rendition of The Creation song If I Stay Too Long, which is a little bit ironic, because both are bands that should be more popular than they already are. All of the other tracks are highly enjoyable too, with the exception of the title track, which though pretty epic-sounding, is a little too hectic for its own good, and too ill-fitting to the rest of the album. I Won't Hurt You and the closing track What Are We Craving? also get old pretty quick, and set the album back a little, which sucks because those are the two main tracks with long time Oh Sees member Brigid's vocals, and she has a really likable, soothing voice.
Coming in at a little over 40 minutes with 16 tracks, Castlemania is a refreshing, fairly strong comeback from the mostly tiresome misstep 'Warm Slime'. It didn't come close to reaching the heights of Thee Oh Sees' strongest effort 'Help', but I didn't expect it too. For now, I can't stop listening to it, and that has to count for something.
P.S. - The link for I Need Seed is actually a link to an awesome stop action music video.
1. I Need Seed
2. Corprophagist (A Bath Perhaps)
3. Stinking Cloud
4. Corrupted Coffin
5. Pleasure Blimps
6. A Wall, A Century 2
7. Spider Cider
8. The Whipping Continues
9. Blood on the Deck
11. AA Warm Breeze
12. Idea For Rubber Dog
13. The Horse Was Lost
14. I Won't Hurt You
15. If I Stay Too Long
16. What Are We Craving?
May 13, 2011
The problem of bands that base their sound on childish instruments and melodies is that, at some point, they have to grow up. The cute niche of indie rock, now far distant from its 90s predecessor, the twee scene, has, in recent years, become characterized by childlike instruments. Xylophones and kazoos made bands like Architecture and Helsinki. However, Architecture could only clap their hands and sing together at circle-time for so long. After relatively positive reception of their debut, Fingers Crossed, Architecture in Helsinki released a few redundant follow-ups which wore thin their welcome in the genre. After 2007’s weak Places like this, it was clear the band had to mature. With Moment Bends, the latest release from the Aussie cute-pop group, it was make or break. In all honesty, it sucks.
Perhaps the strangest novelty of Moment Bends is its instrumentation. The joyful bounce that made Architecture enjoyable to listen to is surprisingly absent for long spells on Moment Bends. Synthesizers, cold and lifeless, weigh down parts album, especially the central tracks W.O.W and Sleep Talkin’. But most importantly, you won’t find all the instruments used here in a fourth grade music classroom. The instrumentation is much less carefree, but, at the same time, shamelessly produced.
As a matter of fact, the production on this album is a huge double-edged sword. The studio effect can take credit for the surprisingly catchy hit Contact High and the euphoric instrumentation of Escapee. However, the hyper-produced, often artificial production virtually nullifies any hipster-cred that the Aussies had left. The cute-pop fans, who, to be fair, represented a massive percentage of this band’s initial success, are likely burning any Architecture in Helsinki albums they owned. Whether this abandonment of a great portion of their band’s fan base was a wise move or not is still up in the air. Architecture in Helsinki are no longer playing with recorders and recording in tiny closets; they’re trying to make it big.
However, the worst and most important change on Moment Bends is the singing. What the hell happened? Like, actually, what the hell happened? Architecture in Helsinki’s vocals have been butchered on Moment Bends. This slaughter is best characterized by the closer, B4 3D, which reeks of the singing and dancing boy bands of the early 00s. The vocals on W.O.W make Architecture in Helsinki sound like they’re rolling over and begging the radio to fuck them (to loosely quote Johnny Borrel discussing the Kooks).
Similarly to the cute-pop genre as a whole, Moment Bends’ pluses are its minuses. The lyrics are both cute and immature, the instruments are both peppy and annoying, and the vocals, well, those just suck. The overall coat of polish on the band just looks tacky in the end, and perhaps subtly hints at the lack of overall quality of the band to begin with. Moment Bends reveals that Architecture in Helsinki might just have been a one trick-pony, and a mediocre one at that. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed.
1. Desert Island
3. Contact High
5. Yr To Go
6. Sleep Talkin'
7. I Know Deep Down
9. Denial Style
10. Everything's Blue
11. B4 3D
May 8, 2011
My Review: B
My review: C
May 6, 2011
10. The Godfather: Part III: Marlon Brando: The greatest. Al Pacino: awesome. Andy Garcia: meh.
P.S. Sofia Coppola, please dear god never act again.
9. Spiderman: The scene where he dances down the street. Enough said.
8. Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over: I actually enjoyed the first two, but Robert Rodriguez put absolutely no effort into this terrible film, which was just a bunch of annoying teenagers that were far too old to play little kids playing a terribly boring video game.
7. Ocean's 12: Whenever I see this movie, it's just like all the actors are saying "There is no plot or demonstration of any effort put into making this film, but we are pretty so fork over the cash."
6. Terminator: Judgment Day: In retrospect, this film was actually not that bad of a movie. I think I only didn't like it because the first sequel blew the first away and might have been one of the best sequels of all time, so I expected this movie to be a gift from God when it ended up just being okay.
5. Batman and Robin
4. The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day: A film that once stood for one of the most thought-provoking messages in indie cinema, came back with this meaningless violence once they knew it had become a cult flick. If you are a real true fan of the original, you hopefully have never seen this.
3. Men In Black II: want an effective way to ruin a sequel to a decent movie? A talking pug-dog, that will do the trick.
2. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: I don't know this is one of the clearest things I remember about this movie, but I saw it when I was pretty little and seen all the others already and when I saw it in theaters, all I could think about was "Is Jar-Jar Binks mentally disabled?" I still wonder this today and if you re-watch this crappy movie with that question in mind, you will see it completely differently.
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull: I can not give you a brief one sentence synopsis of why this film sucks so hard because when ever I think about it, its like I go into the stages of grief. First, denial ("I bet it was just a goof, the real one will come out in a couple years!"). Then, anger ("A FLYING SAUCER? REALLY? THAT'S YOUR ENDING?") and finally, i go into a deep depression ("They pissed on Indy's grave, there is no hope for the world"). I think later I might transcribe the tangent I give about this terrible film to random people on the street that takes hours to explain.
My review: C-
May 5, 2011
I have been insanely busy with school and all that stuff that I have had no time to write. I feel so crappy that I have been such a deadweight as Owen and Julian have kept up writing the awesome reviews, that I have created the Movie Fortnight. for the next two weeks, I will write at least 2 reviews/articles a day. I promise to stick to my goal and will write many more as we move into summer.
May 1, 2011
After giving w h o k i l l about ten thorough listens all the way through, I think I can confidently say that this is one of the freshest things I've heard in a while. The main instruments of this album are Merill Garbus' amplified ukelele, and her unmistakeably unique voice. Saxophones, primal drum beats, and a booming bass are also prominent. Oh yeah, and there's tons of looping, drum-wise and vocal-wise, which is an automatic plus in my book. Apparently she went to Africa before the recording of the album, and that seems to rub off on the music quite a bit.
Not only is this one of the freshest things I've heard, it's also quite strong, and in-your-face. Right out of the gate, the album opens with an unexpected beat, and Garbus' powerful vocal delivery. Not the most inviting way to start off the album, but it worked just fine for me. I only had to hear the first minute of the quirky next track Es-So, and I knew I would love this album. Gangsta only pulled me in further, with it's upfront beat and brilliant bass line. It's honestly something I can listen to for hours on end. Plus Garbus contorting her voice to sound like an ambulance makes the track amazing. The saxophones are a nice touch too.
The blissful eccentricity continues on tracks like the primal-sounding Bizness, where Garbus' vocals are especially enchanting, the light-hearted You Yes You, and Killa, the upbeat closing track with a bit of added sass and another classic bass line.
Now, a word of warning. Like I said, this stuff is very strong, and the kookiness only lets up on a few tracks, those being Powa, which is probably my favorite track here, Wooly Wolly Gong, and Riotriot. I can see this album being very off-putting to a lot of people. I can't promise you that you'll like it. You may even find it completely revolting, I don't know. You'll just have to see for yourself. But I can guarantee you that you won't forget it.
1. My Country
8. You Yes You
9. Wooly Wolly Gong
April 28, 2011
1. Nerve Jamming
2. GB City
3. Get Found
4. Velvet Itch
5. High School Roaches
6. Spare Room
7. Young Pros
8. Heart Attack Kid
10. I Could Never Be Your Man
11. Religious Girls
April 27, 2011
If you don't know Fleet Foxes, they're characterized by their wonderfully smooth-flowing harmonies, intertwining acoustic guitar lines, endearing, sometimes sad lyrics, and pleasing melodies. They sound like sweethearts, right? At least that's what their music suggests, it must be true.
Helplessness Blues shows more or less the same of what they displayed on their debut, except some of the songs here seem to strive to be more ambitious, which I like. And that certainly rubs off on tracks like Helplessness Blues, my personal favorite here, and The Shrine/An Argument, which actually changes it up a bit towards the end with Andrew Bird-esque string arrangements and a bunch of cacophonous saxophones playing at random. Totally un-Fleet Foxes. And I'm cool with that, I'm glad they're trying something different. Other stand-out tracks include Grown Ocean, a track which seems to sum up the music on the album perfectly, Montezuma, whose harmonies seem especially resonant, and Bedouin Dress, which takes a slightly different route and is lead by a jiggy-sounding violin line and drum combo.
Overall, the songs here are extremely pleasant, and there is just the right amount of exploration past their usual boundaries, but it's missing a lot of the hooks that made me fall in love with their debut. I can see myself listening to this a lot, but I won't remember the songs as well as I did on their debut (with the very strong exception of Helplessness Blues). And that's why this album falls short of something that could have been really great. But none the less, this is actually a really good album, and for everyone who was worrying that this would be a disappointment compared to their debut, I can guarantee you that you'll enjoy this to say the least.
2. Bedouin Dress
3. Sim Sala Bim
4. Battery Kinzie
5. The Plains/Bitter Dancer
6. Helplessness Blues
7. The Cascades
9. Someone You'd Admire
10. The Shrine/An Argument
11. Blue-Spotted Tail
12. Grown Ocean
April 25, 2011
The next big difference is that Burst Apart is less moving than its predecessor, and the level of depression has gone way down, lyrics included. Another reason why this will make for an easier listening experience. Easier, but unfortunately less memorable. The first time I listened to Bear, I literally couldn't stop, I had it on repeat for days. Same goes for Sylvia, Two, Kettering, and almost all of the others. From this album, I'll certainly remember the raw scratchiness of the guitar chords on Parentheses or the catchy melody of Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out, but I can't say the same for the rest. It'll take a lot of listens for these songs to really stick. But this doesn't mean I don't like it. It's even one of the best things I've heard all year, and I can see myself returning to it several times in the future. And despite what I said about it being less moving, there are moments of sheer beauty here, like on the opener I Don't Want Love, Corsicana, and even Tiptoe, which puts me in a 1950s New York kind of environment, just kind of roaming the streets on a rainy night, and I love that. There are some other really chill tracks here too, like Rolled Together, which, to me, seems like it could fit in nicely with The Moon & Antarctica, and Hounds, which is one of the most touching, though one of the least memorable.
Overall, The Antlers have taken the safe route for this one, and I'm kind of glad that they did. Though much more accessible, these tracks don't hit as hard as most of the stuff on Hospice, but enough with comparisons. I definitely recommend this album to fans of The Antlers, new and old.
1. I Don't Want Love
2. French Exit
4. No Widows
5. Rolled Together
6. Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out
10 Putting the Dog to Sleep
April 18, 2011
First, Kip Berman is now Kip Berman. The Pains have a definite front man on Belong, their second studio album. Berman’s voice was an integral part of The Pains’ precious sound, and his delicacy was responsible for much of their debut’s success. Vocals, sunk deep into the shoegazing style, were also essential to the group’s initial throwback sound. However, on Belong, Berman's vocals are clearer and more pronounced. This change could have proved costly for the band, yet, surprisingly, it wasn't. Thankfully, The Pains haven’t lost their magic. They’re still as cute and as shameless as they ever were.
April 6, 2011
Let me start by saying that this is a fairly different record than Person Pitch. On Tomboy, although constantly there (he still managed to keep me guessing how he makes the sounds that he does), the experimentation takes a step back and leaves more room for Noah's vocal harmonies to shine. The production is much tighter than the tinny sounds on Person Pitch. Also, while that album contained short loops repeated for long periods of time, the melodies here are stretched out, and the songs open up more. This makes the songs more immediate, especially songs like 'Slow Motion', 'Late Night at the Jetty', and 'Alsatian Darn', which are actually my three favorite tracks here (although I have to say, I don't like the reworking of Noah's vocals on 'Slow Motion' here as much as on the single).
The weak points on this album, though few, are pretty distinct. Friendship Bracelet is a pretty unpleasant experience, I'll admit, Afterburner, being just shy of 7 minutes in length, gets pretty boring after 2 minutes, and even after several listens, I still can't warm up to the title track, whose melody is almost aggressively repetitive. But that's pretty much all that's keeping this album back. Other highlights include 'Scheherezade', a beautiful, single-chord piano ballad that shows Panda Bear in a totally different light, and more unexpectedly 'Drone', which starts off sounding like it will be the most annoying track on the album, but turns out to be one of the most gratifying. And I couldn't think of a more perfect closer than the wonderfully dreamy 'Benefica'.
So there you have it. It's weird enough to hit the spot of experimental-loving Panda Bear fans, but accessible enough for newcomers, and that's why this album succeeds so well.
1. You Can Count on Me
3. Slow Motion
4. Surfer's Hymn
5. Last Night at the Jetty
7. Alsatian Darn
9. Friendship Bracelet
*highlighted = highlights (duh!)
April 5, 2011
Although I have to say, the opener 'Maccu Piccu' is a damn catchy track, and the power beats and synths are simmered down just enough to make it enjoyable. 'Taken for a Fool' is a good little number too. 'Metabolism' is decent, but it tries too hard to be the cool, out-of-place track, however 'Gratisfaction' is the most unfitting one here, with its poppy beat and happy guitar strums, and those tracks just happen to be elaborately placed right next to each other.
Angles closes on a slightly positive note (positive compared to the previous tracks) with 'Life is Simple in the Moonlight', a pretty neutral track that sounds nice with the rest of the album, but pretty boring alone. Another thing to add is that Casablancas has lost his attitude almost completely here, which is partially why I loved them so much in the first place. No more screaming into the mic for this guy I guess.
Overall, it's just descent. 'So decent' would sound too much like a compliment.
You literally can't even compare their music with anything from Is This It anymore. The songs are all polished and shiny now. But then again, they're evolving, that should be a good thing. So I guess it would be naive to say that I WANT THE OLD STROKES BACK!!! Especially in all caps like that. But I think that this case is different.
1. Maccu Piccu
2. Under Cover of Darkness
3. Two Kinds of Happiness
4. You're So Right
5. Taken for a Fool
7. Call Me Back
10. Life is Simple in the Moonlight
March 25, 2011
Destroyer is Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Bejar's most consistent project. Bejar has collaborated with The New Pornographers and Spencer Krug in recent years, but his best work has always been with Destroyer. On Kaputt, his ninth studio album under that name, Bejar is at his best. Often, on indie rock/pop albums, guitars are blissful, harmonies sweet, or xylophones pretty, but it is rare to stumble on something truly beautiful. Kaputt is just that. Bejar's gentle vocals and soothing saxophones and synthesizers are the best they have ever been.
A genre is hard to place on Kaputt. Equally as fit as a backdrop to a quiet dinner party as a late night drive, Kaputt is incredibly soothing. Bejar sings softly over natural synthesizers and saxophones for the majority of the album. He slides into a groove within the first few notes of Chinatown and rides it to the finish of the album. Kaputt has many small crescendos; it is filled with subtle peaks and grand valleys between them.
Occasionally rambling but always meaningful, Bejar's lyrics tie everything together. His voice is a little raspy and a little low by itself, but combined with the gentle swells of the music and lyrics, it fits. His lyrics, his melodies, his harmonies, and his instrumentation all fit together amazingly.
You'll never guess just what I've seen...
A horse abandoned midstream...
Quatrain etched on a dirtpile...
Quatrain etched, hey that's your style!
Bejar sings and we can almost hear the smile on his face. Bejar opens up his heart on Kaputt, letting us join in for the ride. On his ninth album, Bejar has made something special: Kaputt is beautiful.