Saturday, December 31, 2011

Track Review: The xx - Open Eyes

This track was released a little over a week ago and is a demo The xx did while they were working on their new album. 

I am excited to hear what The xx come up with on their second LP, but this song did not fuel that excitement. It is a very simple, slow song that isn't close to what we come to expect from this type of band. However, this is only a demo and might not even appear on the album. Lets hope they can come up with some more revolutionary tracks than "Open Eyes" on their next album set to be release in 2012.

Album Review: The Youngbloods - Elephant Mountain

This is a rediscovered band for me. I was unaware of The Youngbloods until my Dad asked about finding one their albums, Elephant Mountain, online for him. This was a long forgotten band of his and he really wanted to get ahold of their album again. After listening to the album I have to say that my Dad had great taste back in 1969. The Youngbloods are your typical late 60's folk band, but the only song of theirs to make the Top-40 list was "Get Together", but Elephant Mountain was a great album. Here are some of the songs I enjoyed the most...

Track Review: Now You're Just Somebody That I Used to Know

A friend sent me a link to the Gotye song, "Somebody That I Used to Know" off Gotye's second release, "Making Mirrors" (2011). When I first started the video I was a bit perplexed--"a naked man with body paint? What is this?" However, as the light musical intro slowly built I was drawn in and continued to listen. As Australian folk musician Gotye, aka Walter de Backer began to sing, I was hooked. A brief interlude introduces another beautiful and haunting voice-- New Zealander, Kimbra. She takes the song to another level as she and Gotye begin to argue harmoniously near the end of the song.

This is the tune that made Gotye famous in the US and I can certainly see why. Where I picked up a similarity to The Shins others heard early Sting or Peter Gabriel. Enjoy this song and check out a few others while you're at it. There is a live (clothed) version of this song recorded at KCRW on Youtube. It is a truly unique viewing experience. I found myself perplexed by the lack of keyboards. It appears they use some sort of sampling pad instead. Enjoy!

Track Review: Girls - Love Like a River

Girls' frontman Christopher Owens is a odd character and I will not try to understand him.  But he has done a few things that I find interesting.

Owens finds "strength" in Miley Cyrus.

He tweeted Justin Bieber saying he should sing for their band.  Owen would still write the songs.

And then in an interview with Pitchfork he said he could hear Beyonce singing Love Like a River, and if she did it would be a number one hit.

Usually I do not seek background information for songs but it helps me enjoy this song way more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jeremy's Top 10 Albums of 2011

With 3 days left of the 2011 calendar it’s time to share our favorite albums of the year...

This was another great year of music and while there are some albums by artist that have made my top albums list in the past, there were some new artist that I discovered this year. Enjoy!

10.   The Strokes - Angles
Five years after their disappointing album First Impressions of Earth I did not have very high expectations for this album. Going into it I had only heard their single "Under Cover of Darkness" which was growing on me. But after listening to the album as a whole I enjoyed their single and many other tracks on the album ("Machu Picchu", "Taken for a Fool", and "Games", to name a few). This album was a surprise pick, so it makes the list because The Strokes impressed me and just about everyone else who listened to their album. It's no This Is It, but it is a good, solid album. 

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - It's a Corporate World
This was a new band for me this year and while their sound isn't anything original, it is enjoyable listening to and each song on the album has its own sound, separate from the other tracks. The opening song "Morning Thought" caught my attention the first time I heard it and I found myself singing along with it when I went back to it. Their sound is similar to other bands I've listen to, such as, Dr. Dog, Badly Drawn Boy, and Miniature Tigers. However, that isn't to say that they don't deserve credit for this album. Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott created a great album that is easy to listen to and has many catchy songs ("An Ugly Person on a Movie Screen", "It's a Corporate World", and "If It Wasn't You...” etc.) that you will find yourself humming long after listening to this album.                                                

8. The Roots - undun
The Roots have always been a Hip-Hop band I have enjoyed. However, I haven't heard a good solid album from them since Game Theory back in 2006. That has changed since listening to undun. Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) has such a strong, honest voice that goes perfectly with his lyrics. "Sleep" is a short, but great song that grabs you right from the first verse. The album flows well and every song fits in the right place. "Kool On" and "The OtherSide" are my favorite songs on the album and arguably are on the same level of songs like "Game Theory" and "The Seed". There isn't anything revolutionary about undun, but this is a great album worth listening to.

7. David Bazan - Strange Negotiations
This is yet another solid album by David Bazan and probably my favorite out the ones he has recorded since breaking up with Pedro the Lion and going solo. His lyrics are deep and his sound is unique and I have yet to hear anyone else have such an identifying sound. I find myself breaking down every song on this album ("Wolves at the Door", "People", "Future Past") and trying to understand what Bazan is referring to or trying to say, which is enjoyable in itself. I feel like every song Bazan writes have meaning on a personal level, which is something rare in today's mainstream music scene. Bazan keeps his music career away from any organization that would sell out his music, but famous artist (Ben Gibbard, Robin Pecknold) respect Bazan and realize his talent and that deserves a lot credit today.

6. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for TV on the Radio ever since I first heard "Wolf Like Me" back in 2006. They are the most consistent band I have listen to and I have never turned down a song they have produced. TV on the Radio has always had a sound unlike any other band. Their vocal melodies in every song are perfection, in my opinion, due to Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone ("You", "Keep Your Heart"). The instrumental sounds that David Andrew Sitek and the rest of the band create ("Killer Crane", "Forgotten") are so enjoyable that I find myself just in my own world when listening to Nine Types of Light. Not only did TV on the Radio create a great album, they produced a wonderful movie music video, so that one can listen to the album while enjoying a music video for each song on the album. While their bassist Gerard Smith sadly passed away shortly after the release of Nine Types of Light, I hope this lost does not keep this band from creating great albums like this one in the future.

5. Generationals - Actor-Caster/ Trust (EP)
This band is so catchy and easy to listen to its ridiculous. I have yet to find a song from them that I did not care for. They have a modern doo-wop sound that works really well with their singing and lyrics. Their first LP Con Law was an instant hit for me after I saw them open up for Apples in Stereo last year. Trust came out at the beginning of the year and their single "Trust" soon became my favorite song they have recorded in their young career yet. With songs like “Ten-Twenty-Ten”, “You Say It Too”, and “I Promise”, Actor-Caster continues their streak of creating great, fun music. I see this band going far in their career and everyone should check them out before time and fame may start sending them on a downhill slope.                                               

M83 isn't a new band for me, but this album opened up a new window about this band I never thought I would hear from listening to their previous albums. While M83 still uses a heavily electronic sound, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming has much more natural sounds and wonderful melodies that I really enjoyed listening to so much that I found myself looping the album multiple times while working at my computer. With a collection of 22 songs on two discs, just about every song has its own identity which allows the album to flow very well. "Midnight City" grabs you at the very beginning with its catchy electronic melody. "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire" isn't an original idea to have a child tell a story while playing a child like sound in the background, however, this song is awesome and I found myself really following the girls story. The buildup of the music during the story telling would make anyone feel better on a bad day. I am not the biggest electronic music person, but Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is a great album that heavily uses electronic sounds without straying away too far from the traditional alternative rock sound that I enjoy so much, and that deserves a lot of credit in my book.                                          

3. tUnE-yArDs - WHOKILL
Wow! Talk about something fresh and new. WHOKILL blew me out of the water right from the get-go. Merill Garbus has a sound that I had been searching for when it came to finding an artist with something new to bring to the table. Her lyrics are very feminist and her music is so powerful that it really grabs the listener's attention, but it doesn't go too far and try to drill her message into the listener. tUnE-yArDs single from the album "Bizness" is a great song to sum up her music into one song. It's probably the easiest listening song and is usually the one song I find sharing with people who want to know what her music is like. However, in my opinion, it isn't her best song on the album. "Gangsta", "You Yes You", and "Powa" is Garbus at her best in this album musically and vocally. If you are looking for something different than your typical alternative rock/pop or modern electronic music, check out this album.                                                

2. The Antlers - Burst Apart
While I did enjoy The Antlers previous album Hospice, it never stuck like Burst Apart did. Peter Silberman's vocals are what separate this band from many other modern Indie Pop/Rock bands. Songs like "Kettering" from Hospice are beautiful sounding musically but most importantly vocally. The Antlers step it up in Bust Apart by creating new sounds and moods that really allowed this album to stand out for me. I felt like every song was great in itself and the mixing for each track was so enjoyable that I found myself just wanting to listen to the songs and do nothing else. While songs like "Rolled Together" are much like songs off of Hospice, songs like "I Don't Want Love" and "Parentheses" are a great example on how different and unique The Antlers can be in Burst Apart. This album has become a standard in what I want in a band with wonderful high range vocals, great mix of musical sounds, and poetic lyrics.                                               

This band deserves so much more credit than websites like Pitchfork give them. Ever since a friend of mine introduced me to this band with their previous album Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free I knew there was something special about this band, but I didn't know what until I heard Akron/Family II. This band has a "jam band" like playing style, but they are also gifted musicians who can create some amazing sounds and mystical rhythms. After putting on an amazing performance last year at Boomslang and performing songs off this album, I was anxious for the release of Akron/Family II. With already having a strong dedicate fan base, this band might not have the super star energy of bands like My Morning Jacket or Radiohead, but they are nonetheless a band that can become a very successful live band for those who have yet to see them in person. Songs like “So It Goes”, “Another Sky”, and every other song for that matter, have a great, energetic live sound that makes you feel like everyone of their songs were recorded at a live concert. Each song on this album seems like masterpieces on their own and when you hear them all together on this album, it creates my favorite album this year and of this decade... so far.

Honorable Mentions
Cults - Cults
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Atlas Sounds - Parallax

New Album Review Blog

Welcome to Final E Chord, a new blog site where people review and comment on new albums and tracks or older albums recently discovered by our writers. 

This blog site is still in the works but will hopefully become a full run website sometime in the future.