Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Album Review: Sleigh Bells - Treats


From the get-go, Sleigh Bells' new album is an assault. A very, very fun assault. Combining crunchy guitar lines that could scrape the rust off of junked cars, bombastically overblown beats n' synths, and summery girl vocals, it is easy to see where M.I.A. drew the inspiration for her new song. Though not quite as punky (or NSFW) as their label-creator's new material, the group comprised of a Bronx schoolteacher and an ex-Poison the Well guitarist shows their uncanny ability to create a wild, energetic soundtrack to summer 2010. The previously leaked tracks (Crown on the Ground, Ring Ring, Beach Girls) are here, though two have been reworked and retitled-- I am happy to note, though, that "Ring Ring" (now "Rill Rill") has held onto its sample of Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That,"a nice mellow touch to album that is mostly devoid of anything that could be construed as remotely chill. Alexis Krauss, the female half of the band, does a good job of avoiding direct impersonations of M.I.A., save for introductory chant of "A/B Machines;" one still cannot help envisioning this album also existing in an alternate reality where Maya Arulpragasm grew up in Brooklyn listening to girl-group pop and instead of meeting Diplo, joined forces with the lovechild of Slash and Timbaland. What this album lacks in depth and clarity, it makes up for in sheer noise and fun. I mentioned before that this would be a great summer soundtrack, but I think it would be better served for the nights you spend at pyromaniacal beach bonfires. So grab some scrap wood, a deserted beach and some homies: let the good times commence.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One of the sickest songs I've heard in quite a while


Found this track on P4K the other day. Apparently this dude is out of nowhere (aka Phoenix AZ) and in some other band (The Young Friends), but all that really matters to me his how insanely dope his debut track is. If you like things that are poppy, reverb-y and/or awesome, this one's for you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best of 2010's First Quarter

25 Songs:
Broken Bells- The Ghost Inside
Drake- Shut it Down (Feat. The-Dream)
Fang Island- Sideswiper
Gorillaz- On Melancholy Hill
Hot Chip- Thieves in the Night
Laura Veirs- Wide-Eyed, Legless
Local Natives- Wide Eyes
MGMT- Congratulations
The Morning Benders- Excuses
T-Pain- Reverse Cowgirl
Toro Y Moi- Talamak
Vampire Weekend- I Think Ur A Contra
Yeasayer- ONE

5 Albums:
Beach House- Teen Dream
Fang Island- Fang Island
Gorillaz- Plastic Beach
Vampire Weekend- Contra
Yeasayer- Odd Blood

Friday, March 26, 2010

New LCD Soundsystem: "Drunk Girls"

I've always been more of a fan of the electronica-based LCD Soundsystem than their exuberant, punky alter ego. Sure, "Daft Punk is Playing at my House" is a timeless classic, but LCD's other "rock songs," including this new one, do not match the quality of the other half of their catalog. When I first saw the title of this song, I was hoping for a cover of the similarly-titled Kanye song, but alas, all I got was this... hot mess. What confuses me is that you hear all this talk about James Murphy being a connoisseur of sound, a perfectionistic recorder etc, then he releases a new single that really causes you to question where all that energy is going. And then there's the subject matter. I'm all for party anthems, don't get me wrong, but a song has to be impressive to begin with before you try to drop lines like "drunk girls wait an hour to" [switch to falsetto] "peeeeeeeee!" With the new LCD album all ready to go, I have to worry if what is awaiting me is jumble of fuzz-rock in this vein, a terrible prospect. Please, just make a two-track album called "Someone Great and All my Friends, Pt. 2," and I will be satisfied. Oh and kick Free Energy off of DFA while you're at it, they're a bad influence on your sound.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some new tracks

Wolf Gang- "Back to Back"


What starts as a cross between The XX, The Big Pink and MGMT expands into a riff-tastic and falsetto-fueled head nodder. Here's the video, enjoy.

Drake- "Shut it Down (Feat. The-Dream)"


As seen a few posts below, I'm not Drake's biggest advocate, but I am a huge fan of this song. The main reason is because it's really only a Drake song for the first half, before Terius Nash (AKA The-Dream) takes it away. Nash relieves the young MC of his usual multiple-octave duties, which is fine by me, as I have already noted that this tendency slightly irks me. Oh, and it is Drake's best vocal performance as well. It's kind of a 90s slow jam with the added atmospheric elements of most Dream songs. Love it.

The Radio Dept.- "Heaven's on Fire"

Pickup lines don't get much better than the opening line "When I look at you, heaven's on fire," turning the "hell freezes over" cliche on its head. Take that, Eagle's reunion album! What starts with an annoying Thurston Moore audio clip about "youth culture" and "big businesses"
etc., turns into a sunny pop gem. A Ben Folds-y piano line and sax solos ensue. It's a good time for sure.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Album Review: Fang Island- Fang Island


I feel like Fang Island is something that evolved out of an intense love for playing "Rock Band." But aside from that comparison, it seems as if this idea was spawned purely by the raw desire to have fun. Three guitars attack like the Blue Hornets from every side and accompanied by ELP-y organ progressions and rollicking hair-metal drums, make an impressive assault. Anthemic Queen-meets-Fleet Foxes group vocal sections pop up every now and then, only adding to the grandiose feel of their debut album. "Treeton" sounds more akin to the indie rock of today, almost folky despite an amped-up, rollicking coda with which it closes. At times the almost Dragonforcey guitars lines get a bit obnoxious, and you might wonder how this band maintains its constant state I like to call "epic party mode," but this eponymous album from yet another Brooklyn buzz band gets my vote. Prog on!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why I'm so "Over" Drake

Drake's new single, the first off his upcoming debut album, tells of his abrupt rise from low-level "Degrassi" star fame to his present "next big thing" status in rap. Over a nicely orchestrated track by Boi-1da, the Toronto MC proclaims "I know way too many people here right now that I didn't know last year" in his signature auto-tuned drawl (can Canadians drawl?). The young singer is blessed with a range that spans from the baritone of the chorus in this song to the pretty-boy falsetto of the line "Cause she holds me down" in his hit "Best I Ever Had," but what he possesses in skill, he lacks in restraint. The switches in pitch that populate most Drake songs (seen here in transition from high-pitched nasally rapped verses to the smooth chorus) seem very show-offish and more importantly disrupt the flow of the song. That being said, the man has a knack for rhyming. His penchant for clever, chuckle-worthy one-liners is impressive to say the least. But for now Drake is still a puppy to me, paws too big for his body, trying to run too fast. He needs to find his Andre 3000 spot: a happy medium between rapping and singing that also shows his respect for songs as full entities, and not just stomping grounds for his newfound talent. Oh, and here's the track.

Album Review: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach


Some artists are inspired by retro cinema, many are inspired by the seasons, but I'm quite sure that Damon Albarn is the first musician I have heard of that has been influenced by trash. His latest product, The Gorillaz' (Gorillaz's? Gorilla'z? Gorillazs'?) new album "Plastic Beach," draws its title and much of its subject matter from Albarn's recent encounters with garbage in landfills in London and Mali and the junk littering his beach. Despite how depressing the inclusion of decrepit plastic items in nature sounds, the mastermind and former Blur frontman adopts a surprisingly optimistic (and probably very sarcastic) attitude towards the man-made substance. But forget the concept, how is the music?
The Gorillaz, an animated four humanoid collective, have been responsible for some of the most memorable pop music of the early 21st century-- the most notable being the hip-hop infused hits "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good Inc." Nowhere on the new album will you find such radio-ready songs. This is not necessarily a bad thing. A cooler, groovier, more chill vibe that inhabited previous Gorillaz tracks such as "Last Living Souls" and "Tomorrow Comes Today" become fully fledged with Middle Eastern strings, brass bands and trip hop beats. The opener (not counting a minute-long intro) is a building, swirling, head nodder that utilizes wonderful horn stabs and the best Snoop Dogg verse I've heard since "Drop it like it's Hot." Note the line: "Drinking lemonade in the shade/Gettin' blazed with a gang of Pilgrims" which simultaneously reaffirmed the Doggfather as a badass and caused me to LoL at the mental image I was getting.
On the topic of Snoop, one thing that has not changed here is the impressive guest list that always accompanies Gorillaz albums. Albarn was able to drag in some big names that include Mos Def, Lou Reed, De La Soul, 70s soulman Bobby Womack, and two guys from this band called The Clash, making this the most rando collaboration in music since the "Blame It" video. Those weirdo cartoon characters sure make it work though. Unlike Ron Howard's awkward old white dude in the Jamie Foxx video, Lou Reed adopts a creepy-uncle persona (very similar to Dennis Hopper's on "Demon Days") that fuels the dreamy "Some Kind of Nature" and shows that he can still rock with the best.
The best things about this album are the unexpected and beautiful hooks that pop up everywhere- like the 60s-via-the 80s bounce of "On Melancholy Hill" and the keyboard assault on my personal favorite "Rhinestone Eyes." Damon Albarn has never ceased to amaze me (post-Blur, mind you) with his inventive and highly unorthodox album-crafting abilities, but therein also lies this album's slight downside. This will never be recognized as one of the year's best albums because of its inconsistency; not in quality but in style. The most critically acclaimed albums of 2009 (Merriweather Post Pavilion, The xx, Veckatimest) varied very little in sonic style from track to track, unlike this album that regularly transitions from bright oddball pop to downtempo brooding trip hop. The final verdict: one step short of masterpiece, but one of the most listenable collections of eclectica I've heard in a while, and one that will doubtlessly be played on many lazy late nights.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pit Er Pat - Water

Too indie to be top 40 or too top 40 to be indie? That is the question seemingly posed by the recently relocated and one-member-shorter LA duo Pit Er Pat. These two get all Timbaland/Missy Elliot on us in what is quite possibly the funkiest song about H 2 the izz-O that isn't by Jay-Z. I don't know much about PEP, but I am definitely keeping my eyes out for future offerings. Download it here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Album Review: Vampire Weekend- Contra

Score: 7.75/10

I was never convinced by Vampire Weekend. Their self-titled debut album was indie rock's equivalent of the Cold War- in that the country was swarmed by hype and anticipation, but the final product lacked the expected explosive product. Well "Contra" is that nuclear holocaust. Of course, there are those that would call the new album the band's second masterpiece. "Vampire Weekend" was well received by critics across the spectrum, which I find somewhat hard to fathom. Retrospective mud-slinging aside, it cannot be argued that VW really stepped their diversity game up in their latest offering. The most noticeable changes of direction are seen in the M.I.A.-sampling of "Diplomat's Son," "California English"'s autotuned warbling, and the surprisingly handsome crooning Ezra Koenig whips out on the semi-title track, my personal favorite. In contrast to the mild and "kind of on time" drums of "Vampire Weekend," "Contra" unleashes the beats in a different way: BIG. With the thundering drums of "Giving Up The Gun" and the Lion King-on-808s "Horchata," VW creates a more cohesive and stable album while simultaneously maintaining almost extreme multiformity. Contra is by no means a perfect album, but it definitely made me believe a large portion of the hype surrounding the quintessential buzz band.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Info on Downloading Songs

To download songs I have provided links for, such as "The High Road" below, simply control-click the link (or right-click for our PC-using friends) and select "Download Linked File." Enjoy!

The Odd-er Couple

If hooks were currency and the Gnarls Barkley masterpiece "Crazy" didn't exist, Dangermouse (the white guy and producer in Gnarls) wouldn't exactly be that rich. If cultural relevancy were currency and the film "Garden State" didn't exist, James Mercer (the lead singer of the Shins) would not be near the top of the list of GQ's "Richest Men in Indie Rock." That is until now. Who would have thought that the voice in Natalie Portman's headphones and the guy behind "The Grey Album" would each be the antidote to each others' musical weaknesses? The new group, Broken Bells, sounds pretty much like a way cooler Shins (and I am by no means a Shins-hater), at least according to their first cut, "The High Road." The album drops March 9th, and I'm already psyched.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best 50 Albums 2000-2009

50. The xx- XX
49. Band of Horses- Everything all the Time
48. Deltron 3030- Deltron 3030
47. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It's Blitz!
46. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular
45. Kanye West- The College Dropout
44. Explosions in the Sky- The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place
43. Decemberists- The Crane Wife
42. Daft Punk- Discovery
41. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
40. Outkast- Stankonia
39. Death Cab for Cutie- Transatlanticism
38. Passion Pit- Manners
37. Arctic Monkeys- Whatever People Say I am, That's what I'm not
36. Rilo Kiley- More Adventurous
35. Coldplay- A Rush of Blood to the Head
34. The Strokes- Is This It
33. Lupe Fiasco- The Cool
32. LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver
31. Beck- Sea Change
30. Blue Scholars- Bayani
29. The Killers- Hot Fuss
28. Ryan Adams- Heartbreaker
27. Jay-Z- The Blueprint
26. Amy WInehouse- Back to Black
25. Kanye West- Late Registation
24. John Legend- Once Again
23. Radiohead- In Rainbows
22. Girl Talk- Feed the Animals
21. Arcade Fire- Funeral
20. Coldplay- Parachutes
19. Death Cab for Cutie- Plans
18. Ra Ra Riot- The Rhumb Line
17. Justin Timberlake- Futuresex/Lovesounds
16. M83- Saturdays=Youth
15. Lil Wayne- Tha Carter III
14. TV on the Radio- Dear Science
13. Gorillaz- Demon Days
12. Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
11. MIA- Kala
10. Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
9. Postal Service- Give Up
8. Outkast- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
7. Bright Eyes- I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
6. Bloc Party- Silent Alarm
5. The-Dream- Love vs. Money
4. Stars- Set Yourself on Fire
3. Kanye West- Graduation
2. Girl Talk- Night Ripper
1. Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots