Archive for the ‘Track Reviews’ Category

Track Review: Lotte Kestner – “Halo”

Lotte Kestner

Even the meekest and most pretentious hipster on earth should clearly admit Beyonce Knowles has a voice that can call upon the angels of the midnight hour tstare the world down until all of their children are safe.  We also know, based upon the words of the one of the finest artists of the modern world, that she made “THE GREATEST VIDEO OF ALL TIME!!!”.  But, what happens when the king of modern R&B is unintentionally outdone?  Is it possibly that a goddess from the independent music world could legitimize a pop princess?  The answer is yes.  Yes, because the great Anna-Lynne Williams decided she would strive for such a feat.

Lotte Kestner — “Halo” | download

Lotte Kestner’s (Anna-Lynne William’s solo project) latest album, a collection of somewhat obscure covers, is obviously beautiful.  Her interpretations of Trash Can Sinatras and Interpol are obviously commendable as she spews her beautiful vocal chords upon the world.  But, somewhere on the bonus disc of the aptly titled Stolen, we find the wife of the hip hop legend Sean Carter.  We find Williams creating something so sensual and captivating, it is extremely hard to believe these words did not come straight from her heart, but from any given songwriter who will probably always remain nameless.

Beyonce can sing.  This is obvious.  But, anyone who hears Lotte Kestner spill out her heart to the same words the lady of R&B once did, should instantly realize that an improvement was made.  Should Mrs. Carter ever come across this track, I can feel that even she would agree that she was trumped.  Hopefully she can understand.  And if she doesn’t, we can still be entirely thankful that we have beautiful voices all over the world.  From Knowles to Williams, we can be happy for these tones of beauty that plague even our darkest moments.  Within these folk’s talents, we can find peace.  We can find love.
Lotte Kestner’s latest album “Stolen”, and the 5 song bonus EP, featuring “Halo”, can be found at  The critically acclaimed debut of Lotte Kestner, “China Mountain”, can also be purchased from the site as well.

Bright Eyes preview track “Shell Games” leaves my head spinning

Bright Eyes - The People's Key

There’s about as much variety in the latest song from Conor Oberst (this time, as Bright Eyes) as you could probably pack into one single four-minute outing without sounding, well, messy. “Shell Games” manages to avoid that mess by establishing a theme early on, and sure, the post-punk interludes mesh without too much trouble with the crowd shouts, stomping synth, and Oberst’s vocals, but there’s something off here.

[audio:|titles=Bright Eyes – “Shell Games”]

The track opens with ragged piano and some sort of warbly noise (perhaps it’s the signature warble from Conor Oberst transplanted,) but the road it goes down isn’t just a little back-and-forth: It’s almost wacky in its machinations. Still, sometimes, I can’t help but tap my foot to the beat, and sometimes, I find I’m really caught up in the song — it’s certainly no travesty, but it’s all over the place.

It’s nice to hear Oberst knee-deep in Bright Eyes again, because his solo material just droned on and on as he looked for heartfelt country-folk-rock (or whatever he decided to term it,) but I, for one, hope the rest of the album manages some sort of consistency. If it’s all as disjointed and scatter-brained as “Shell Games” is, I doubt I’ll be able to listen more than once or twice.

Rural Alberta Advantage issues anticipatory track

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departed

My love for The Rural Alberta Advantage is not really a secret. Their full-length, Hometowns, held a very special place in my record player, and it was easily one of my most-listened albums of 2009, when it was reissued. When Departed was announced, I became, well, a little giddy. I don’t think this should come as too much of a surprise — I get giddy at the merest mention of new things from bands I enjoy, and when it’s a band I have an unabashed affection toward, make no mistakes: I’m like a little school girl. Well, I mean, I’m like a little school girl in some respects, not all.

At any rate, I snagged an e-mail this morning from Paper Bag Records advertising a track from the upcoming Departed, which is due out March 1. I jumped from the couch I’d fallen asleep on, grabbed my laptop, and the listening took off.


Music Geek: The Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion”

See, I can look classy every now and again.

See, I can look classy every now and again.

Whilst listening to the latest episode of All Songs Considered from NPR — it’s on the decade defined — The Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion,” from the group’s seminal 2004 full-length debut Funeral, imparted upon me a certain unusual zeal; it is a sort of zeal, I find, that is only imparted by the occasional realization of a song’s power and the inner workings behind such power. Radiohead’s “A Wolf at the Door,” most recently, hit me the same way; for weeks, I diagrammed the structural intricacies in an attempt to understand why, exactly, the song just… worked. (more…)

Track Review: Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Fashionable People”

Joel Plaskett EmergencyJoel Plaskett Emergency
Ashtray Rock
“Fashionable People”

Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Fashionable People” | download

“Fashionable People,” named for the falsetto-inflected chorus line from this song, a track from 2007’s Ashtray Rock, is an entertaining romp in power pop that experiments with a variety of instrumentation styles to reach its easily listenable destination. Top it off with an entertaining video (embedded after the jump,) and you’ve got a song that sounds almost Weezerish (if I can coin a term, like all good music journalists) in its methods; however, there’s an unrestrained feel here that would place it above most recent efforts from the band Joel Plaskett undoubtedly drew some influence from.


Track Review: Chris Cotton – “Going Home”

Chris CottonChris Cotton
The Big Sea
“Going Home”

Chris Cotton – “Going Home” | download

“Going Home” is shocking in its immediacy: a track from Chris Cotton’s latest, due out September 2nd on Little Fish Large Pond Publishing. This vintage-style piece, recalling some of the earliest recorded American folk music, is a refreshing blast from distorted guitars and whining vocals. There’s something strangely enthralling about anachronistic music, isn’t there?

Track Review: The Ritz – “It’s The…” from The Night of Day

The Ritz - The Night of DayThe Ritz
The Night of Day
“It’s The…”

Content warning: Lyrics involve use of the ever-ominous “f” word. I don’t mind.

The Ritz – “It’s The” | download

My first thought, after hearing this track from the debut album from The Ritz? I was impressed, honest. The combination of bass-heavy beats with string samples and a nice use of stereo rapping (Elliott Smith influence, maybe? Likely not.) is fairly evocative and engaging. My only real complaint? The bass is mixed a bit too heavily, as it ends up slightly excessive and punchy on my well-balanced headphones (Sennheiser HD 485s, nothing too expensive,) distracting from the rest of the track, a well-mixed hip-hop introduction track.There’s nothing too adventurous about this track, but its efficient execution bodes well for the full release, due out August 19th.