Sylvan Esso’s debut to the world may not be a revolutionary new sound, but it took elements of sounds that already existed, and bested the competition in my book. It was a cold, rainy day on a long drive back to Chicago as I was sipping on my own cup of joe when I first heard the song “Coffee”. Suffice it to say, it stuck out to me quite a bit. I distinctly remember the first time I heard the track because I remember thinking that it was the first new song from a new artists that I have really loved in a while. And by that I essentially mean that it was the best song I have heard yet this year. Little did I know that this new collaborative duo was about to rule my playlist with a few more songs than just “Coffee”, and become my favorite new artist of the year (so far). Continue reading “Sylvan Esso Review: Sylvan Esso”→
Conor Oberst, when speaking about his new album, Upside Down Mountain:
“For me, language is a huge part of why I make music. I’m not the greatest guitar player or piano player—I’m not the greatest singer, either—but I feel if I can come up with melodies I like that are fused with poetry I’m proud of.”
Notice, Oberst knows himself very well. He specifically points out that he isn’t the greatest guitar player, piano player, or singer. But, he never comes out and says he isn’t the greatest lyricist around today, because he may very well be. Confidence begets success, and even if Oberst isn’t completely confident in every facet of his life, he controls his musical output with a rare ease. Continue reading “Conor Oberst Review: Upside Down Mountain”→
Something magical happened to me this weekend. I found Sasquatch (or as we like to call it in the Midwest, Bigfoot). However, I am not talking about the mythical (or extremely real and terrifying) creature. I am talking about this glorious stage located on the beautiful gorge in George, Washington.
Random Access Memories is one of those records where it is hard to separate the immense hype and expectations from the eventual finished product. What we ended up with is an album with perfectly executed promotion without the deep satisfaction that we expected. The album reminds me most of a microbrewery releasing a trendy new beer with slick packaging, and finding the flavors don’t mesh into the clean finish you would hope for. In the same way, Daft Punk combines disco-era sounds with their electronic home base and even what I would call plain old adult contemporary to create a most confusing brew.
Three albums into their career, Vampire Weekend has only progressively gotten better at their craft. In 2008 they released their self-titled debut, which proved to be a cerebrally focused pop-punk album that was a half hour of smart, heavily influenced fun. In the 2010 release Contra, the lyrics only increasingly became more clever, and the music became more layered and complex. Now enter Modern Vampires of the City, where that tack-sharp wit has only seemed to have gotten sharper once again, and their music still remains fresh. The formula is still there. It’s still a concise forty minute album that is chock-full of iconic and modern pop references as well as heavy influences from the likes of not only the usual comparisons of Paul Simon and The Clash, but even some Dick Dale and Buddy Holly. Bundle all this up with Vampire Weekend’s own unique form of jangly baroque-pop music with a bit of a punk-ass attitude and you have Modern Vampires of the City. They truly have become a unique staple to modern music, and one of the more intelligent bands of recent years. Continue reading “Vampire Weekend Review Royale: Modern Vampires of the City”→
Kurt Vile left the band The War on Drugs back in 2008 after the release of his self-recorded debut album Constant Hitmaker garnered a fair amount of critical success. Since then, he has not turned back to his past band and instead fully embraced his solo career with his backing band the Violators. I for one am glad he did so. Vile has a knack of slipping in bits and pieces of Americana folk into grungy psychedelic pop tunes, all with a modern twist to it so it seems current, yet somewhat timeless. His styles have changed slightly from album to album, and with his newest release, Walkin On A Pretty Daze he has found a way to chill out more than ever. The album title is a proper summation for the feel of the album, which it perfectly encapsulates a very dreamy daze-like ambience floating through entire +60 minutes. His pop-grunge vibe is still there, but in a longer and more relaxed fashion. This makes for one of my favorite efforts from Kurt thus far.
Like the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had a huge place in reviving rock music in the early 2000s. Also like the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s latest album stands as their worst to date, with a hammy comic book feel and a slew of repetitive retread songs. It doesn’t help that Mosquito opens with its lead single and clearly best track in “Sacrilege” sort of like the comedy that released all its best jokes in the trailer. Beside “Sacrilege”, which has the band summoning the gospel ghosts of “Gimme Shelter”, the New York trio tries two other new tricks here in dub reggae (“Under The Earth”, “Slave”) and a cartoonish comic book theme (“Mosquito”, “Area 52”, “Buried Alive”) that just don’t really work for me. Continue reading “The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Review Royale: Mosquito”→