Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

Latest from Aloha, Home Acres, blasts indie prog into perspective

The latest effort from American indie outfit Aloha is bold and refreshing: While not necessarily the pinnacle of progressive indie rock from Aloha, it’s 1) something new, and 2) something good. How many other indie rock bands are out using marimbas and bells? Home Acres features plenty of their musical trademark, but we get some delicious additions. The guitars are  magnanimous in their distorted quality, and I think at one point, we may hear an idiophone with gourds — maybe the balafon — resonating and buzzing away. Home Acres hits shelves tomorrow.

Purchase Home Acres

Matt Pond PA’s “The Dark Leaves” is a musically mature, folk influenced, indie-pop/rock masterpiece

Matt Pond PA (credit: Jacob Pritchard)

With their upcoming release, The Dark Leaves, Matt Pond PA has made some positive adjustments to their usual indie-rock-influenced style. Matt Pond PA, while retaining their notable pop sound, seem to be floating into folk territory with this album with the soft-spoken lyrics, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and accompanying strings — dropping much of the electronics heard in their previous album, Several Arrows Later.

The first track, “Starting,” sets us off in the right direction — poppy, flowing lyrics, strings, and keys provide us a genuinely delightful music listening experience that begs the listener to snap right along with the music. “Starting” is done in a style mostly reminiscent of their previous album, Several Arrows Later, unlike the rest of the album which gives us a new and unique style.

Matt Pond PA — “Starting,” from The Dark Leaves (2010)

Vampire Weekend’s new album “Contra” is just as awesome as you hoped it would be

Vampire Weekend's Contra

Vampire Weekend's Contra

Vampire Weekend’s Contra really isn’t new news, since it was released last month on Jan. 11. However, the album has recently spiked in popularity due to their celebrity-filled video for “Giving Up the Gun” being released last week. Featuring Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil’ John and RZA, the video is a perfect blend of band members vs. actors. “Giving Up the Gun” isn’t as tropical sounding as their songs tend to be, but other tracks such as “Diplomat’s Son”, “Run” and the bonus track “Giant” make up for that.

Thankfully, their second album raised my lowered-expectations. They managed to pull off almost a completely different feel without leaving their old sound behind. They’ve also included a free download of “Horchata”, the first track on the album, on their website. But if that’s not enough for you, the album is available for purchase at $9.99 on iTunes.

Sit back, listen to Contra and go on, go on, go on.

Green Day’s ‘Warning’ an album screaming political transition


Green Day is an influential and largely controversial punk-influenced rock band that came out of the punk/ska scene of Berkley, Calif., in 1987. The evolution of their albums suggests a move from self-involvement, indulgence, and youthful unrest to a higher, more universal, and more political purpose. Warning, released in 2000, is a pivitol album on the road to later, more politically charged, albums. It mixes angst, sex, and social commentary and is their most musically eclectic album to date. Their political voice is more honed and relevant with every album — everything about Warning screams transition. The band is made up of three extremely talented men, and the music is only getting better as they get more popular, more visible, and more political.

The first and title track addresses a society that is concerned with their safety and taking great measures to ensure it:

“Better homes and safety-sealed communities
Did you remember to pay the utility?
Caution: Police line, you better not cross.
Is it the cop, or am I the one thats really dangerous?
Sanitation, expiration date, question everything.
Or shut up and be a victim of authority”


REVIEW: Panther Attack! gives us heart-pounding, funky post-rock

Panther Attack! @ Club Tropical (credit unknown)

Panther Attack!’s full-length album, Martyr Bonus, was released in 2007. The quartet, from Seattle, Wash., is composed of a bassist, guitarist, and two drummers — with one drummer often trading out as the second guitarist. Martyr Bonus is their first and only full-length album to date, with Sharp Moments EP being their only other recorded release. Martyr Bonus is a wonderful instrumental album tilting from groovy post-punk to shoegaze.

The first track on the album, “Frolic, Just Don’t Lick, is slow to crescendo and has a shoegaze feel. It lays out the groovy standard to come throughout the album. The guitars have a muddy feel in this track and, appropriately, croaking frogs. Layered cleverly through the guitars, the bass pulls us slowly forward through the mud, reminiscent of plodding through a swampy, hazy field. The drums are absent through the entirety of this track.

Moving forward two tracks to “Stands About, With Dumb Look On Face,” we are immediately greeted face paced guitar and dual drum kits wailing away. Jazzy scales take us from fast and loud to quiet and slow, and back again. The drum kits in this track are a delight. They are responsible for much of the feverish feeling throughout this six-minute-long track. From here on out, the entire album feels much more jazzy than the initial two tracks.

SPOTLIGHT: Lightspeed Champion releases new full length LP

Lightspeed Champion

Lightspeed Champion is the brain child of Devonté Hynes and has been active since 2005. In 2007, he released Falling off the Lavender Bridge to critical acclaim. This record was recorded and produced in Omaha, Nebraska with the help of Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis.   Mogis is most famous for his work with Connor Oberst and Bright Eyes. Falling off the Lavender Bridge has a star studded guest list, including Nate Walcott, pianist and trumpet player for Bright Eyes, and The Faint drummer Clark Baechle.

Now, in 2010, Hynes has finally released the followup to 2007’s Falling off the Lavender Bridge, titled Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You and is a bit more complex than the initial Lightspeed Champion release. Where Falling off the Lavender Bridge is often simple and poppy, the new record is thick and speckled with new sounds. Now, it’s not to say that Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You doesn’t feel like the same band that captured the indie folk scene’s heart back in 2007, but it is definitely a departure from the earlier release. Devonté’s voice is definitely stronger on this release. The 2007 release had a kind of sweet nervousness to the vocals, which have since been replaced with vocals soaring with confidence and intention.

You can currently purchase the both Lightspeed Champion albums at Domino Record’s website on vinyl for $12.99, CD for $8.99 and digital for $7.99. The band is currently touring the UK and western Europe.

Incendiary new Alkaline Trio album smashes into stores

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio

On February 23rd, 2010, Alkaline Trio released their 7th studio album, This Addiction. The album opens with the explosive title track, “This Addiction.” Fast paced and full of catchy guitar riffs, if the opening track is any sign of what’s to come with this album, it’s sure to be an instant hit. The album continues with “Dine, Dine My Darling,” which is full of big guitars and anthemic vocals. From the first two tracks alone, it’s obvious that the band is trying to get back to their punk rock roots, and it seems to be working.

Alkaline Trio started in 1996, releasing their first full length EP in 1998, Goddamnit. In the last 14 years since Alkaline Trio’s inception, they have seen great success with their often dark and macabre lyrics mixed with catchy punk rock guitar. The band saw their first big success with the release of From Here to Infirmary in 2001. Nine years later, the band has left their major label and self-released the new album on guitarist and vocalist Matt Skiba’s own Heart and Skull label, in conjunction with Epitaph. Skiba has attributed Alkaline Trio’s move from major label Epic to their own label to releases such as Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV (2007) and Radiohead’s In Rainbows (2007).


Brief: 900x – Music for Lubbock, 1980

Album coverThis is the first post in the Albums in Brief series on Albums in Brief aims to inform quickly, offer a preview, and call it a day: No over-the-top aggrandizing here, for better or worse.

Music for Lubbock, 1980, the first full release from Asthmatic Kitty artist James McAlister, known primarily for remix and soundtrack work, is a refreshingly bold work of electronic music that still slots nicely into a regular listening slot for those interested in more “traditional” methods of music creation. Of course, it’s closer to a Stereolab than, say, most things you’d hear at a club with flashing lights and pounding music, and some would say it fits well into the growing folktronica movement — regardless, it’s engaging enough for me.

900x – “101805” (remix) | download

While this album as a whole may lack a bit in coherency — the tracks don’t always mesh with the greatest of ease — they’re individually solid, and the diversity makes for fun active listening. Don’t go into this expecting the latest and greatest in experimental exploration, because it’s not, and I don’t think it claims to be. Don’t get me wrong: Music for Lubbock, 1980 is great from start to finish, and I wouldn’t hesitate to drop into my regular rotation.