Archives For Music review

need-to-feed

Our favorite Rhode Island band, Roz and the Rice Cakes, have come out with a new album titled Need To Feed (produced by Low Anthem). Some of you were wonderful enough to support this new album and helped overfund it. For those that didn’t, you should still check out Need To Feed on their bandcamp page.

To start off, I think the entire album is great, probably their best work yet (and that means a lot considering we loved their past albums), I absolutely love the title track “Need To Feed.” I can clearly picture this song being played during one of the many, many times I’ve been able to see The Rice Cakes perform at Firehouse 13. It’s a song that seems to fit perfectly with this band, yet seems different from their previous work. Most of the tracks on this album feels like a healthy departure from their earlier work. They’re able to walk the line of being bit darker and a bit lighter on the same track. “Simile Like Me” takes this a bit further. It’s nothing I ever expected The Rice Cakes to make, and I absolutely love it.

Available on Itunes

Dec 9

I went to Fred Armisen and all I got was J. Mascis

Fred Armisen came to Vermont recently. Yeah, that’s right, Vermont got the Portlandia guy to come perform here. Pretty nuts, right? Every time someone hears Burlington, Vermont, they’re all like ‘isn’t that a smaller Portland/Austin/Asheville?” And the answer is yes, it is. It is like that, especially with all the white people.

Fred Armisen came to the Unitarian Church, and I didn’t know what to expect. His tour was billed as a comedy tour, but if anything it was some weird variety show, saved by the special guestship of J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr). The show seemed haphazardly put together, the jokes went on too long (not a coincidence), and yet it was good. Quite good. J Mascis good.

It started with Armisen doing a ‘character’, a British punk rocker. He played a bunch of songs and had a good British accent. The audience laughed continuously at kind-of-punchlines, in the way that famous people are automatically funnier and more interesting than us boring losers are. There were some drum jokes (duh), and then the surprise Dinosaur Jr guest came.

We were shown some clips from Portlandia that didn’t make it into the show, both of which were funny and went on for a couple minutes after the punchline had ended. Then there was a Q and A, a quick way to kill a half hour. It ended with a soulful rendition of Waterfalls by TLC.

Fred+Armisen

It’s good Armisen has famous musicians friends to make all the crotchety Hipsters like me happy. At the end of the day he’s still a musician and sketch writer first, performing comedian second. I’m glad I saw him, but probably wouldn’t spend the money to see him again.

Haim is wonderful. How wonderful? GIF wonderful.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/014d95fb3ab641b8c4b88d9a30ae577e/tumblr_mo8n02AVdX1rjeefio1_250.gif

They’re musicians who want to have fun. Who will cover terrible shitty pop songs like Miley Cyrus in a non-ironic fashion. And somehow, it’s entirely appreciated.

Their album, Days Are Gone, is our generation’s Alanis Morissette. And this is coming from a guy who has You Oughta Know as his running pump-up music (…if I ever decided to try running). If you read our blog, or live in Hipster land, and haven’t somehow heard of Haim yet, you can peruse our archive of Haim info.

Long story short: They’re wonderful. Deliciously wonderful. Taking a multitude of influences and making the music their own. If you have Spotify, listen to the album here. If you don’t listen to it by next week we’re not friends.

I give this album 4.5 Halls out of 5 Oates. And I expect Hall and/or Oates to be guest producing one of their next albums.

hall-oates-fourhalf-star

drake-jewish

Ezra Koenig, lead singer of Vampire Weekend, was given the Godly duty to review Drake’s new album Nothing Was the Same. And boy oh boy do we have a review. It’s so good I don’t even think I can properly review Ezra’s review. I can’t even pull quotes from it because the entire thing is amazing.

Don’t believe me? Don’t feel like clicking on this link to read the entire review? Here is an excerpt.

I gotta be honest — I didn’t listen to the whole thing. Obviously, it’s good. You think a Canadian child actor would be this successful as a rapper if he wasn’t good? The dude was sitting on 25 mil at age 25! (I would love to see some documentation on that, by the way. I’m not saying he didn’t have 25 mil, I’m just saying some of that was probably real estate and maybe like potential earnings from complicated endorsement deals.) People love him because he’s good! He gets 10 outta 10, OK?

If this doesn’t get every girl I follow on twitter all jumpy, I don’t know what will.

Ellen Grossman, the wonderful, amazing, Jewish lady who was filmed on the R train with Jay-Z is back to review his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail.

SWOOON

Good move by MTV to get a smart older Jewish woman who won our hearts a few months back to come on and give a perfect review of Magna Carta Holy Grail, only to win our hearts again. We love you, Ellen Grossman.

//The Strut via MTV

Brad Paisley, LL Cool J, What are you guys doing with your lives?

Why are you making songs called “Accidental Racist”? Boys, that’s just a recipe for disaster. Modern country already blows. Did you have to also try to make it an attempt to excuse racism? Why did you think that would work?

I get that the boys were trying to work together to break down barriers or something, but two rich, famous people who are honestly too wealthy to deal with any of the downsides of racism aren’t really going to cut it.

I’m going to say that  LL Cool J’s “RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean” is a very stupid lyric. Brad Paisley’s “Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the Southland/ Just like you I’m more than what you see” isn’t much better.

Accidental Racist

I expected better from you too.

I don’t think our country is ready for this.  Not because the song is too open-minded or anything but because it’s one of the worst rap/country fusions since “Over and Over Again” by Tim Mcgraw and Nelly.

Country and rap don’t go together. I don’t give a monkey’s buttocks about the race-based issue of the song. Everyone else and their mother has covered that concept. It’s like kicking a beaten horse. If you want someone’s perspective on racism and this song, just hit the googles.

The only thing I can say about this song is that country is good by itself. Yes. I stand by this. But not modern country because that’s stupid. And rap is good by itself. But the too just don’t mix. It’s an abomination. Sort of like mixed marriages.

Just kidding. Those are cool too

 

I’ve been a big fan of Josh Ritter since I first heard “Lillian, Egypt” on The Hype Machine years and years ago. He represents something of a confluence of genres–bluegrass, folk, rock–that has steadily gained in popularity until it finally won a bunch of Grammies this year, although Ritter himself has not. Given Ritter’s complicated and hyperliterate songwriting (the man is also a novelist on the side) and my own predilections for such things, I guess it should come as no surprise that he’s something of a darling over on NPR, where his new (and seventh) album The Beast In Its Tracks is playing on First Listen. I’ve given it six listens since it was posted on Sunday. I’ve been listening to it as I write this post.ritter2

I’ve never been divorced, or even married for that matter, so the album, which is written in response to Ritter’s own divorce from musician/sound engineer Dawn Landes, is full of subject matter that is probably a little beyond me. It’s in a vein to his previous album, So The World Runs Away, and like that one it is more ethereal and less aggressive than Animal Years or The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. My highlights from this new one are “A Certain Light” and “New Lover,” the latter of which I think offers a syncretism of the ballads of So The World and the bounce found in earlier songs like “Hello Starling,” and “To the Dogs or Whoever.” It’s that same syncretism, which I think pervades the album, which give it less of the luster (it doesn’t quite connect in the song “Bonfire,” for instance, which feels both too fast and too insubstantial) found in either So The World or Animal Years/The Historical Conquests. Which is to say that I like it, but wasn’t in love with it instantly in the same way I was with “Lillian, Egypt” and the rest of Animal Years. Which also isn’t to say that I won’t instantly buy it when it drops on March 5th (because I now have money to occasionally buy music created by my favorite musicians).

But maybe I shouldn’t. Perhaps I am being too hasty my support of the music of an artist I enjoy. Let me stop and consider what could be Josh Ritter’s rueful place in history. According to NPR Disqus commenter “Yogurt Head” (who notes he, supposing he is a he, is a professional musician), NPR would be better served ditching such producers of popular music. Indeed, Mr. Head goes on to offer this bit of profound wisdom:

 Just think about how music has devolved over the centuries, and how our cultural decline has been a direct result.

Do think on it. I mean, if we go back a century ago, to 1913, you could note that music was a lot less accessible to many people, as the first radio station in the United States would begin broadcasting in 1916, and the first radio station in the world had only begun broadcasting four years earlier. So most people only experienced whatever music existed within their own ethnic sphere unless they were some place foreign…like Louisiana. So, naturally, there wasn’t as much contribution to culture by people who were, you know…poorer. Which, according to Mr. Head, was better. With less riff-raff, contributing to music and such, “culture” was better and not in decline. And certainly, while there were fewer instruments in the past, meaning fewer different sounds that could be generated, music has devolved. Before, we used to just have orchestral music and early folk. Now we have stuff like jazz-infused post-punk revival music and other simple garbage like that.

So maybe on March 5th you shouldn’t bother buying Josh Ritter’s new album The Beast In Its Tracks. That would be contributing to the horrific cultural decline caused by the musical decline as epitomized by talented singer-songwriters like Ritter.

Because this is the fate the awaits a world with Josh Ritter in it.

Because this is the fate that awaits a world with Josh Ritter in it.

For the rest of the week, NPR will be streaming The Beast In Its Tracks over at First Listen.

*If I were Chicky there’d be some number of Hall and Oates here, but I don’t really like ratings and we don’t have much in the way of an established editorial policy regarding reviews, so if you desperately need a number to go with this review, um…312. You’re welcome.

My Jerusalem came out with a new album recently, titled Preachers. It is a wonderful, dark, brooding Southern departure from My Jerusalem’s earlier music. Jeff Klein’s throaty, baritone voice seals the album as one of my top 10 favorite albums of 2012.

The self-title track, and first track off their record, Preachers, sets the tone for the ominous southern indie rock that My Jerusalem gloriously shreds.

Born in the Belly is another track that drips hard rock; with screeching lyrics, hard drumming. It’s everything you want when you’re in a shit mood drinking whiskey. But if you happen to be in a forlorn mood whilst drinking whiskey (if you are listening to this record, you’re a fucking whiskey drinker), then This Time is the track for you. It’s a fast paced southern jaunt with an expressive horn breakdown, steeped in 60s folkier southern rock. And if you’re looking for something with a bit more pop, a bit of the older My Jerusalem, then hit up Oh Little Sister.

It’s all wonderful. Each track offers a wonderful array of indie rock goodness, from southern hard rock to indie rock/pop, with a sprinkling of sexual healing. I give this album 4.5 Halls out of 5 Oates.

Feel free to stream the entire album here, and then buy THIS ALBUM. This is THE album for the Jewish Hipster who wants nothing that you like. Seriously. Right now on vinyl it’s $10 and digital for $5. You wont get a better deal than this, you cheap bastards.

Although they are almost done touring, they have a few shows left in California to promote the record.

12.21 – The Fonda Theater – Hollywood, CA#
12.22 – The Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA#
12.27 – Ace Of Spades – Sacramento, CA#
12.28 – Slims – San Francisco, CA#
12.29 – Slims – San Francisco, CA#

So almost a month late I’m reviewing an album that caught the eye of the editor here. I’ve taken a break from summarily dismissing everything put under my nose as “too mainstream,” since this guy is on bandcamp, with no label and only himself to do his hyping. That’s underground as fuck, so here I am to break this thing down.

A Far Off Horizon was produced by one guy alone (presumably in his bedroom, but who knows), just like all the other breakout chillwave (circa ’09 or so). A promising start, as a lot of newer chillwave has been taken over by labels and producers, recorded in modern studios, losing a bit of the rough around the edge quality that was arguably one of the selling points. SO Mkaio gets some points there, even though it wasn’t really his choice to do it in this fashion.

The music itself, while very well structured and written, is a bit of a different story. I hate to make a sweeping generalization about an entire genre or an entire group of people, but here goes: if you liked chillwave before, you are going to like this stuff. If you’re not sold on chillwave, this album isn’t going to convince you of its merits. While the music is finely written and produced well enough, there’s nothing about the content that will make you say “I haven’t heard anything like that before.” And while you can argue that chillwave as a whole has never done that, I’d point out a few albums that have done that for me personally. But, “A Far Off Horizon” wouldn’t be on that (very short) list.

Not quite on the “cream of the crop” tier, but a very good first effort and deserves to be put in the “silver medal” tier along with artists such as MillionYoung, Blackbird Blackbird, and Brothertiger. And much better than the inconsistent performers like Small Black or Work Drugs. I’d give Mkaio a solid three Halls out of five Oates. And I’d also advise all y’all Hipster Jews out there to keep an eye out for his sophomore release, whenever that might be.

From the opening glitchy synth tones of “Crawlersout” to the spoken word oddity of “Shuck,” Purity Ring’s debut is something that no one has really been able to accuately categorize. “Lofticries” has garnered the attention of chillwave enthusiasts since it came out a few months ago as the first single, but this is not your average chillwave album. It has way more glitch to it, the beats are much more related to hip hop than anything that, say, Washed Out or Neon Indian has come up with. And listening carefully to the lyrics will provoke some “what the hell is she singing about?” reactions. (PROTIP: the numerous mentions of dripping liquids, lips, and thighs probably means this albums is primarily about doing it.)

Shrines

Not to say that this is at all bad. It certainly makes for a unique listen. As of right now, Purity Ring can rest on their laurels as having crafted a record that doesn’t sound quite like anything else out for listening. The vocals are treated as not just a vehicle for the lyrics, but also a musical layer to be sampled, looped, warped and generally worked with like any other element of the song. Synths come and go, swell and fade, warp and arpeggiate. And the drums beat and thump steadily, giving each song a hip hop attitude that is either used to unify the rest of the parts, or providing a bit of contrast.

One of the great things about “Shrines” is that the second half of the record is stronger than the first, leading to something you won’t put on and get bored halfway through, switching to something else. You’ll find yourself looking forward to track six (or flipping over to side B, if that’s how you roll). An album that has a very good blend of oddness and catchiness, making it good for listening by yourself, or recommending something different to a friend. I’d give “Shrines” a deserved four Halls out of five Oates.