Album Review: Kiss Each Other Clean

Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine (Warner Bros. Records, 2011. 44 minutes) Iron & Wine is the stage named of songwriter Sam Beam. Born in South Carolina, Beam now resides in Austin, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and received an MFA degree from Florida State University. Beam signed with the record label, Sub Pop, and  subsequently releasing his first three records – The Creek Drank the Cradle, Our Endless Numbered Days, and The Shepherd’s Dog. The current record is his first on Warner Bros. Records. Traffic Jam; Got More Cars Than a Beach Got Sand For some reason, Dave Matthews receives a disproportionately high amount of hatred from younger generations of music lovers…. Read More →

Album Review: The King Is Dead

The King Is Dead by the Decemberists (Capitol Records, 2011. 41 minutes) The Decemberists are a folk band located in Portland, Oregon. Led by Colin Meloy and backed by Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen, the band writes songs with a foundation in storytelling. Previous releases The Crane Wife and The Hazards of Love, are classified as concept albums and display many progressive rock elements. The Decemberists originally signed to Olympia-based record label, Kill Rock Stars in 2003. In 2005, Capitol Records signed the band and distributed the band’s last three records. In Green Pastures Fresh off of two concept albums, the Decemberists return with a straight-up, Americana-influenced folk record. The King Is Dead neglects the idea… Read More →

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X: A Novel by Keigo Higashino, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander (New York: Minotaur Books, 2011. 304 pp) Born in Osaka and currently living in Tokyo, Keigo Higashino is a bestselling Japanese author. He is the winner of the Edogawa Rampo Prize and the Mystery Writers of Japan, Inc. Prize. Alexander O. Smith translates novels, manga, and video games. He has been nominated for the Eisner Award and won the ALA’s Batchelder Award for his translation of Miyuki Miyabe’s Brave Story. He lives with his family in Vermont. Telegraphed Influences I enjoy Mumford and Sons but they bother me. Mumford and Sons is a Grammy nominated music group from London, England. Their… Read More →

Quick Hits: New Music

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz Out October 12th, The Age of Adz is the long-awaited follow-up to Come on Feel the Illinoise. Word has it that Stevens traded folk influences and acoustic timbres for glitchy electronic rhythms. Typically, I am a fan of change because when an artist makes three albums in a row, they become Creed. I expect good things from the Age of Adz. Junip – Fields A band fronted by José González, a famed Swedish singer-songwriter of Argentine origins. In content and feel, Fields resembles the González’s collaboration with Zero 7. José’s trademark voice and nylon-stringed guitar mold particularly well with electronic tones. The Walkmen – Lisbon This New York band bears raw tonal qualities… Read More →

Top 20 Albums of the First Half of 2010

20. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast Drawing comparisons to early Weezer, Surfer Blood’s debut Astro Coast is high on guitar quality and low on vocal melody. Since young, promising prospects in major league baseball sometimes turn into hall of famers, it is fair to project that the future is bright for these Florida rockers. 19. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks The Winter of Mixed Drinks illustrates the vocal qualities of Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer Scott Hutchison. With a slight slur of words, he rambles through verse and chorus. The Scottish band most resembles Snow Patrol in tone and texture. 18. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms Whenever a band releases three records that sound exactly the same,… Read More →