Radiohead had a lot to live up to after the release of their masterpiece in 2000, Kid A. Fortunately for them, they're a band who delivers. Amnesiac was recorded at the same time as the aforementioned record and it shows. There is the definite electronic influence, but with a bit more rock added into the mix. Track five of the record, "I Might Be Wrong" is one of the signature smooth, but still powerful songs that Radiohead has always been wonderful at crafting. Like many of the songs on Amnesiac, it starts simplistic but slowly progresses into a layered and expertly produced look into Radiohead's psyche. They've always been a tad bit strange, but "I Might Be Wrong" shows them at their strangest - and that's a beautiful thing.
Monday, December 27, 2010
It's odd how appropriate the album art for Pegasus Bridge's debut LP, While We're Young is. The young boy wearing the get-up of a full grown business man is almost a self-aware message of what's to come from the record - a mostly young band trying to show themselves off as seasoned veterans in order to get their name into the industry. They wear a indie-pop veneer akin to that of a watered down version of The Killers but with a lot less gaudy theatrics to make themselves an easier pill to swallow for newer audiences. As unappealing as that may sound they manage to not break the barrier between catchy pop music and unbearably polished radio-electronics. For the first track, "Like Dogs", we receive the utilization of the classic clap-along beat to hook us and an explosive chorus to reel us in. The tried and true methods of former British indie-pop groups both help the group establish their voice, while ultimately bogging them down with their lack of variation and unwillingness to try anything fresh or unique. For a debut LP, While We're Young is everything that Pegasus Bridge desires it to be, but never quite reaches the heights that the band seems capable of.
But in a scene so easy to please, what sense does it make to try to break the mold? They provide the energy and the catchy tunes to make radio stations jump all over them, as well as a young luster to make them a band young listeners pine for. With the electronic fueled energy of "Ribena" (paired with an acoustic version for the sake of filler) sure to be a hit, along with the sing-along appeal of "Yoko" (also paired with an alternate version), there is a definite appeal to the group in terms of just pure fun, but the lyricism leaves much to be desired. The snappy drum beats and swift guitar licks try their best to make up for lines like "She gets jealous when I'm away/I've got nothing else left to say/Yoko Ono" but unfortunately fall very short. As much as the catchiness of While We're Young begs to be embraced, it barely holds its own in the overwhelming number of bands trying to do the same. However, there still remains potential for the young band, so here's hoping Pegasus Bridge takes up the challenge.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas, now I go back to eating ham.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 10:45 PM
Friday, December 24, 2010
Brand New has never been a band known to compose the most cheerful songs in the world, however on their now adored third LP The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, the emotion they convey is nearly pure dread. It's sorrowful, dark, and brooding, but still it finds a way to be completely capturing. Track nine of the record, "Luca" is easily one of the best that Brand New has done to date, as it builds slowly and explodes with raw energy toward the end, much like many of the tracks throughout the rest of the record. Jesse Lacey's wonderful vocal control building up to the blowup, as well as the smooth guitar at the begging all make this track memorable as well as moving. Without a doubt one of the top tracks of the record.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 3:24 AM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
"Ape Dos Mil" is one of those strange songs that lasts more than five minutes, but doesn't feel like more than three. Perhaps it's the change in flow and tempo throughout the song that keeps it interesting or perhaps the creeping instrumentals that carry the listener with ease. No matter the case, it's a fantastic song that encompasses practically everything that Glassjaw's critically acclaimed Worship and Tribute has to offer. Some really fantastic instrumentation paired with solid lyricism and the strange vocal work by Daryl Palumbo makes "Ape Dos Mil" an enjoyable listen and a nice sample of what Glassjaw has to offer.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 1:32 AM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Titus Andronicus is inspiring in the strangest of ways. In every single aspect of their personality, they should be shunned. They're angry, depressed, and plagued with what appears to alcoholism - but yet they perform music in such a riveting and grandiose fashion that one can't help but be attached immediately. The speech from Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of track one of The Monitor is a wonderful entrance to what comes for the rest of the record. "A More Perfect Union" is Titus Andronicus in a not-so-miniscule nutshell. Patrick Stickles throws himself onto the audience with pure force and exhilaration to declare one thing - Titus Andronicus is a name you better know. By the end of the record, you'll know damn well.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 1:17 AM
Monday, December 20, 2010
I'm a sucker for catchy drum beats. There's something in the rhythmic pounding of a snare drum that hooks into my brain so easily, and because of this Thrice's "Between the End and Where We Lie" couldn't escape my mind after a single listen. This paired with the ever-smooth vocals of Dustin Kensrue setting the subtly intense atmosphere of the beginning of the song up until it explodes with the chorus and sustains that energy until the creeping conclusion makes it a very fulfilling listen. Everything about this song works so well and is a real gem in Thrice's Vheissu, an album certainly worth your time.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 4:24 PM
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Kenny Vasoli's shout to begin the inspiring "Untitled" is so goddamn energizing that sometimes I can't help myself from starting the song over just to feel that rush again. His newest band, Person L, stemmed from the pop-punk stars The Starting Line, but they couldn't be any more different. This group has a much more focused indie sound which works well with Vasoli's vocal style as he is able to flow easily with the melodies that the group backing him stirs up. However the pinnacle of their abilities is shown superbly on the aforementioned title-less song, as it explodes with such pure force and energy that it's almost a testament to Vasoli's shift from his former work. From one of the best records of 2009, "Untitled" is by-far one of the best songs that Person L has created.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 10:16 PM
Saturday, December 18, 2010
In Alkaline Trio's earlier days, Matt Skiba could have easily been labeled as one of the greatest lyricists in punk rock. On his group's debut LP, Goddamnit, he sings about hate, love, drugs, and drunken mistakes - everything that would become the band's forte. Arguably the best track on the record, "San Fransisco" contains everything that makes Alkaline Trio so alluring. Skiba's heartfelt and passionate shouts for his hometown break the rough exterior that he creates with the angrier tracks on the record, showing a different side to him. It's his ability to express himself so easily, but with such lyrical finesse that makes him one of the best in the industry. Now if he could only bring back the writer we knew from his early years.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 6:06 PM
Friday, December 17, 2010
It would be a fair argument to say that The National are the reason why modern indie isn't completely dead. For the years proceeding the release of their 2005 LP, Alligator, they've been releasing wonderful albums one after another with no signs of slowing down. On their 2010 release, High Violet, they again cement their place among the best of indie rockers in the scene today with its pristine production value and beautifully bleak instrumentation and lyricism throughout it. The final track on the aforementioned record, "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks", is a beautiful portrayal of The National's talents. The slow, melodious melody paired with Matt Berninger mellow vocals swell as the song progresses with strings and crashes of the cymbals bringing it to a wonderful conclusion. It is a superb end to the record and one of my favorite tracks of the year.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 8:51 PM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The moment that Mumford & Sons' lead single, "Little Lion Man", hit the radio, there has been an almost constant buzz surrounding them. Garnering the attention of record labels around the globe and hitting the number one spot on several stations, they have literally blown up in the music world with their attempted resurrection of classic folk techniques. "Little Lion Man" is the most prominent and well known track on their debut LP, Sigh No More, and for good reason. It is ridiculously catchy. Lead man Marcus Mumford (for which the band is named) has a wonderful voice for the folk style he's attempting to pull off - and mixed with the banjo and madolin, they succeed with a surprising authenticity. Sure, it didn't need any more hype, but I sort of have a soft spot for catchy music.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 5:02 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Justin Vernon, lead man of Bon Iver, is a unique gift to the modern indie scene. On his group's debut LP (which was mostly composed by Vernon himself), he utilizes his soulful and dreary voice to craft a cold and desolate atmosphere which is most excellently displayed on track one, "Flume". The soft strumming of the acoustic guitar with a quiet humming in the background is all that's needed to encapsulate what the record is composed of. Vernon's vocal delivery sustains the perfect amount of exasperation and anxiety to capture the derelict and distraught feeling that went into his recordings from a lonely cabin in Wisconsin. If anything, it's a relaxing tune for a cold winter day huddled inside watching the snow drift past the windows.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 4:14 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
As futile as the question may be, I always find it interesting to ask somebody why they listen to the music they do. Whether it is just for fun, relaxation, motivation, or even therapy, everybody has their own reasons for what they enjoy. The reasons for me are as diverse as anybody's - it's all entirely dependent on the mood I'm in and the music that comes along with it. Angry? A little Alkaline Trio goes a long way. Happy? Why not some Bomb The Music Industry! to accentuate it? As of recently I've come to discover that at night, when the sounds of the world flush themselves out and all that can be heard is the call of a train in the distance or crickets on the windowsill, the soft, flowing sounds of Stag Hare's Sandpaintings are exactly what I crave. The atmosphere that Garrick Biggs' creates with his plethora of sounds and instruments contains the slow, tender feel of a warm summer night, watching as the stars shine impeded only by lonely clouds passing by. His simplistic methods of crafting music through synth, subtle chimes and drum pats is impressive in the ways that it captures the ear so easily, while still being relatively stripped down in its presentation. It's this straightforward, yet still technically impressive methodology that helps Biggs' sophomore effort excel at not only providing a superbly relaxing experience, but also proving that it doesn't take a mass of substance to help an album devoid of lyrics be capturing in its own right.
The slow, creeping start to the first of two tracks on Sandpaintings, "Holy Person", contains the general feel of what's to come for the rest of the album. When described in simple terms, the entirety of the two tracks sounds nothing short of boring; but under certain circumstances it can really grasp you. Soft picks of a guitar and the gentle patting of bongos over the rising and falling hum in the background is all that is needed to keep the song flowing like a calm stream moving almost silently behind whistling grass. The same goes for track two, "Holy Wind", which utilizes the same tiny variations to attempt to capture the same peacefulness that Biggs is so talented at creating. For what it's trying to be, Sandpaintings excels in nearly every aspect. Biggs isn't trying to become the next superstar flooding the radios; he simply wants to create the music he is passionate about. Isn't that what we all want from an artist, anyway? We all have our own reasons for listening to what fits us, and when we hear somebody who is passionate about it, we cling to it like fresh dew on the morning grass. Lay back and allow Sandpaintings to flow over you, and perhaps you'll feel what Biggs did while creating it.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 5:28 PM
Before the release of their 2010 LP, Long Live, The Chariot were never the band to break any barriers or shatter any formulas. They were your typical metalcore band, and a reasonably good one at that, but they never moved past what lead singer Josh Scogin established with his previous band Norma Jean. However, on their aforementioned 2010 release, he finally took his group in a new direction, while still staying somewhat the same. Along with the tried and true methods of their previous record, Wars and Rumors of Wars, they incorporate interesting additions to their music and this is perfectly summarized on their first single, "David De La Hoz". Accompanied by the pounding drums and suffocating guitars, there's the appearance of Dan Smith (of Listener) who jumps in mid-song for a spoken-word surprise. His poetry adds wonderfully to the song, creating a contrast not often seen in recent metalcore tunes. Along with this, there's the soft, atmospheric harp and harmony at the end to flow smoothly into the next track of the album. These unique features help separate The Chariot from the rest of the modern metalcore scene, which is certainly in need of a little variety.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 3:44 PM
Monday, December 6, 2010
It's an interesting sensation when after listening to album time after time, something finally clicks. It's as if something was hiding beneath the notes and words that your ears couldn't register until another twenty plays on a song, or perhaps just another play through the record. While the occurrence is fairly commonplace in music, it still remains perplexing the way music can grow on you, and this exact sensation came with Listener's 2010 LP, Wooden Heart. Led by Dan Smith, Listener is one of the more unique bands hiding in the poetic indie underground. They utilize a style, which Smith named "Talk Music", which is more a poetic reciting than a standard musical structure. This may be rather off-putting upon first listen, but it soon begins to grow a rather intimate feel to it, feeling as if you've known Dan Smith for years after hearing the record. He shouts passionately in his disjointed manor, his voice twitching and jumping sporadically with the lyrics, but it adds a certain intensity which slowly grows and builds as the album swells until its passionate conclusion. The substance is there and the poetry is remarkable in the way it flows effortlessly, but for the listener it may take several efforts to fully digest what Wooden Heart offers -- and therein lies its beauty.
The record begins with a timid plucking of the banjo, supplying all that is needed for Dan Smith to enter with his shouts in a charming southern twang. His manner of singing, or rather speaking, is what makes this record so appealing. It strays away from natural and flowing vocal work for a more personal and passionate touch much like that of mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss. However strange it may appear on the surface, it's his vocal work that holds the record together. The poetry he shouts could be told in a variety of ways, but this raw, unrestrained style helps slam the message and emotion across. This holds most true on "Seatbelt Hands", where the story of a waitress in the south never seemed more gorgeous. Smith's descriptions like "She's the kind of lady that calls everybody baby/Honey, sugar, sweetie, she's always making friends and she keeps us all locked outside her thick leather skin" are the most impressive moments of the album. He represents these characters in quick, concise descriptions but makes it seems as if he wrote a novel over them. Paired with the music, which composes mostly of electric guitar and pounding drums, along with a few scattered instruments here and there, Wooden Heart has the makings of a poetic magnum opus for the band -- and it's just waiting to explode.
And the group couldn't deserve the attention any more. Often performing in the basements of anybody who will take them, Listener are one of those groups who appear like a star in the space of the modern underground music scene. Like a diamond in the dirt, stumbling upon them is a true delight, and their fourth LP contains some of the best music of 2010. It rises and falls with its intense, compassionate songs like "Save Up Your Hopes Friends" and the slower, more flowing songs such as "You Were A House On Fire" which holds the diversity to make it worth the several listens it requires to fully digest it. Fans of poetic and passionate lyricism will be immediately attracted to Dan Smith's presentation and lyrical brilliance, and in no time will be hooked. Listener's Wooden Heart, could easily grow to be one of the several excellent records of the year, and for good reason. It holds everything that makes music what it should be.
Posted by Nevin Baker at 11:07 AM