Archive for the ‘review’ Category

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Album Review: Girls and Weather (Rumble Strips)

August 11, 2008

This is with out a doubt the second best album I’ve enjoyed all summer. Well, maybe not best, but second most enjoyable. So Many Nights by Cat Empire is still better.

Regardless, this album is really truly great. It’s got a garage rock sound that doesn’t trade melody for noise (like so many other garage rock bands) and really brings in a lot of soul influence. The band finally manages to prove that Britain can supply the modern world with a sound that’s not Oasis, U2, Amy “How the hell are you still alive and who still cares about you” Winehouse, and whatever the Britpop flavor of the month is. They’re upbeat, but not fast upbeat. They have horns, but stay away from ska (thank god- more ska is the last thing the world needs. I mean seriously, what “wave” are they on now? And what’s the difference between the waves? And who wants to call dancing skanking? And why the plaid?)

Ahem. It’s fun music. Meant to be played loud. Possibly while driving. They’re not particularly deep songwriters, but are a hell of a lot of fun. Great example, Motorcycle. It’s a song about how the singer’s life would be better if the bike he was riding on was a motorcycle. And it basically says he’d be a mad cool pimp. And he’d be halfway home.

Alarm Clock, another fun one. A great example of the sheer fun and cheerfulness of their lyrics.

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Looong Album Review: Pretty. Odd. (Panic At The Disco)

July 29, 2008

I’m embarrassed. Really seriously embarrassed. To review this album I had to listen to it, which would normally be embarrassing enough. But it gets worse: I like it.

But the thing I’m embarrassed about the most is that I’m embarrassed about liking/listening to it. Because it’s good. Damn good. But there’s this idea that Panic can never be good, and even listening to this as I type and loving every second of it I get a bit confused.

I mean, let’s face it. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was a joke of an album. I’m sure you could listen to the same album by buying Fallout Boy and playing it at 2x speed. And there’s no reason to expect Panic’s sophomore release to be this good. The lyrics on A Fever… were trite and contrived, the music was, well, basic and written by 12 year olds. They wore top hats, makeup, and were generally mocked by the music world.

So here comes Pretty. Odd and it gets, weirdly enough, good reviews. Like, really good reviews. I hear about it everywhere.

I ignore all of this. I mean, Fallout Boy’s second album got good reviews, yeah? And that was more of the first album. Then one night, I’m watching SNL and Panic comes on. I reach to mute it, but my remote dies and so I’m stuck in bed ready to be terrorized. And I’m mesmerized.

I don’t know what happened, maybe the band heard a real album that wasn’t written by Pete Wentz. I don’t care. THIS IS GOOD.

So it’s not the best thing since Pet Sounds. It’s still really really good. There are a couple of weak spots, like the album opener We’re So Starving, which is rather arrogant in that they apologize for being gone to write songs for “you”. When they sing that, a crowd cheers. It’s not a bad song, but annoying. Since I never missed them.

But most of it is, well, fantastic. Even if the lyrics are possibly pure nonsense (Do You Know What I’m Seeing is a great example of this).
One of the best songs is Folkin‘ Around, a Byrdsish (I hate comparing band sounds, but it’s unavoidable here) track.

Another great song is Northern Downpour. It’s quiet, soft, and sweet. Everything this band seemed to avoid on the first album.

My personal favorite though, for no particular reason other than it has a great chorus, is She’s A Handsome Woman.

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Album Review: Modern Guilt (Beck)

July 12, 2008

Oh Modern Guilt. I have no idea how to describe you. You have this 60’s psychedelia thing going on, you have this funky thing going on, but most of you have this Beck thing going on. And at your heart, that is what you truly are: a Beck album at its finest.
You are beautiful through and through, whether you’re being a serious song or a fun song, it manages to be atmospheric and danceable.

Your opening track, Orphans starts simple and builds so well and flows so nicely into everything else.

Everything that follows is beautiful. No one song stands out, they all have the same feel but manage to be different.

Honestly, this is the best Beck album since Odelay. It’s lyrically sharp, fun, dark, well produced, and always interesting. I don’t really know what else to say about it.

Here’s my favorite track, Profanity Prayers.

Tomorrow I’ll post about my newest love: Charlotte Sometimes.

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Album Review: The Information (Beck)

July 7, 2008

The Information was the first (and until Tuesday) only Beck album which I was aware of at the release date, which makes my thoughts on it a little different than most Beck albums. Basically, it feels tired. At no point did I sit and think “Wow- this rocks”, just occasionally “Hey, that’s not too bad.”

I suppose I should clarify: it’s not a bad album by any means. If it were any other artist, it’d be the album of their life. But it never really lives up to Beck’s discography. It has a lot of the Odelay feel, but none of the energy or momentum. And it’s not a quiet Sea Change album either.

However, there are a few bright spots. The first is the atypically sweet song called I Think I’m In Love. It’s not so much the music that’s strong here, but rather the lyrics and subject. He’s singing about being nervous about his own feelings. Honestly, who besides Beck would think to sing about something that true?

The other high spot is the slower Movie Theme. This is probably the strongest song on the album. I almost feel like this was the sort of album he wanted to make but didn’t for whatever reason. It feels like it’s the song he cared about most, it has the most real emotion and feeling.

I dunno, The Information isn’t awful. But in comparison to, well, everything else, it’s just not worth more than a few listens.

Tomorrow: Sea Change.

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Album Review: Odelay (Beck)

July 4, 2008

If I fell in with Beck through Guero, then it was Odelay (buy on Amazon here)that made me want to get on one knee and propose to him and his beautiful music. Odelay is the seminal Beck album. It’s upbeat, danceable, ridiculous, quirky, but not without social satire. It has a party feel. It’s fun.

Released in 1996, it’s his fourth album, and first major one, earning him a Grammy (and rightfully so).

The album starts up with Devil’s Haircut, which helped solidify Beck’s, well, strangeness. Even he makes fun of the bizarre song lyrics/name in an episode of Futurama.
Here’s the quote:
Beck: You know, when I’m upset, I write a song about it. Like when I wrote Devil’s Haircut, I was feeling really… what’s that song about?
Bender: Hey, yeah! I could write a song! With real words, not phony ones like ‘odelay.’
Beck: ‘Odelay’ is a word! Just look it up in the Becktionary!

Anyways, after that song comes what is the most overlooked song on the album, Lord Only Knows. Honestly, it starts off weird. With a scream. But then it hits this jam. And it’s smooth. And catchy. And fun. And the lyrics are near perfect. And you can listen to it right below.

The other two highlights (though the whole album is exceptionally strong) are Sissyneck and Where It’s At. The latter is especially fun. To say the least. It’s
got a fuzzy sound, some organ/synth going on, and that delicious Beck rap dealio that I don’t know he pulls off.

Basically what I’m saying is Beck needs to get back with the Dust Brothers, who produced this album.

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Album Review: Guero (Beck)

July 4, 2008

Guero (available on Amazon here) was my first introduction to Beck. Now, a lot of people would consider this a tragedy, nay, sacrilege. Or would that be Beckrilege? The point is, I was a kid when everything previous by him was released, so this was the first thing I had exposure to. A friend gave me a mix CD with Que Onda Quero, E-PRO, and Girl. These songs blew me away. They changed how I saw music, heard music, and thought about music.

Anyways, the album is great. Well, not great in a Pet Sounds great way, but pretty good. It definitely starts strong too with E-PRO, Que Onda Guero, and Girl kicking off the album and being the catchiest, most fun, upbeat songs. The album gets a little less fun after that, but no less enjoyable.

Que Onda Guero is probably my favorite track, aside from maybe Girl.

What I love most about the album is the Spanish influence. It really feels like it was written in and for some barrios in LA, Vallejo, or, hell, just about any California city that’s not Oakland. It’s got that tejano feel, while still being Beck.
The last half of the album is infinitely less catchy, but no less good as I said before. There’s just nothing worth pointing out on it really.

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Beck! Beck! And more Beck!

July 3, 2008

In honor of Beck’s new album, Modern Guilt, being released on this Tuesday, the 8th, I’m going to be reviewing my favorite Beck albums. Tonight I’ll cover Guero, my first introduction to Beck, then I’ll hit up Odelay, Seachange, and The Information. Basically my favorites. I’m also going to start setting up this blog for submission to The Hype Machine eventually, so that means with each album review I’ll have mp3 download links, and links to buy the albums on Amazon.

In the mean time, enjoy the first single from Modern Guilt.