February Playlist 2014

As a disclaimer, this list doesn’t necessarily mean music released in February 2014; it’s just a reflection of what I’ve been listening to.  Without further ado! Mogwai — RAVE TAPES Early adopters of the post-rock genre, Mogwai have been a high-output act for years. They’ve mastered the difficult balance of releasing albums with distinctive elements yet maintaining a proper “Mogwai-sound” throughout. RAVE TAPES adds some electronic elements to the band’s sound, as well as a fun vocodor in “The Lord Is Out of Control.” RAVE TAPES is perfect work music. Damien Jurado — Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son Damien Jurado is one of those artists that have orbited on the periphery of my conscience for years. Every year,… Read More →

January Playlist 2014

In an effort to switch things up and keep better track of my listening habits, I have decided to shift music reviewing strategies. Instead of trying to unpack an album and try my best to make sense of its artistic milieu, I will instead track music in short snippets on a monthly basis. Hopefully this direction can help get me out of the writer’s block I often experience when it comes to music criticism. As a disclaimer, this list doesn’t necessarily mean music released in January 2014; it’s just a reflection of what I’ve been listening to. Neko Case — The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You An indie-rock veteran,… Read More →

Album Review: Post Tropical

Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow (Vagrant, 2014. 42 minutes) James Vincent McMorrow (b. 1983) is an Irish singer and songwriter. His debut album Early In The Morning was released in Ireland, February 2010, and in US/Europe in 2011 to widespread acclaim.  Suited for Winter Despite what the title may indicate, McMorrow’s sophomore release Post Tropical is an album perfectly suited for the winter months. Lucky for McMorrow, much of the country has been under blankets of snow and vortexes of polar doom. There is something of the stark calm of winter that McMorrow adheres to inherently, something which begs us naturally to move forward after a much needed season of calm. McMorrow, through his haunting falsetto voice, finds a way to communicate music in a way few… Read More →

Andrew’s Top 20 Albums of 2013

I have a theory, even if it is slightly unfounded, that when Arcade Fire took the Grammy win for Album of the Year a while back, the entire music industry changed. Suddenly loner acts and those without a record label signing them became viable artists doing more than just breaking even. I tried to limit my choices to a mere ten, but couldn’t do it. There’s a lot of good music out there. So, here are my top twenty for the year. Every day the order changes, but this is where I’m at now. 20. Lady Gaga — Artpop I have always loved Lady Gaga. Her performances border on depraved artistry, wearing meat coats and the like. Nevertheless, her music is a constant… Read More →

Donovan’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

The day of reckoning fast approaches for the music industry. Without the subsidy of a massive release from Adele (granted acts like Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga sure tried to replicate her superhuman feats this year), 2013 feels like a transitional year. Many have written on the shifting music scene, the death of genre, and the inability to cash in on massive marketing campaigns. In fact, the most successful album of the year might have been successful because it wasn’t marketed. I’m speaking, of course, about Beyoncé’s middle-of-the-night release. In short, music is rapidly changing—from the method of listening to the financial model necessary to support the artists. Amongst this turmoil, artists continue to make great music. My… Read More →

Album Review: Days Are Gone

Days Are Gone by Haim

Days Are Gone by Haim (Columbia, 2013. 44 minutes) Haim is a band from Los Angeles, California comprised of sisters, Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim. A Trend Is But a Repeat of the Past With music, it seems as if we’re repeating ourselves every 20 years. The 90s mirrored the 70s. The aughts mirrored the 80s. Now it sounds like we’re giving a run at the 90s. When I was heavily involved in music during high school and college, I had a tendency toward demonizing these repetitions. I would mock popular music and be the first to point out how a musician sourced influences from the past. If I had to look at it introspectively, I would say my views… Read More →

Album Review: The Last Ship

The Last Ship by Sting (Cherry Tree, A&M. 66 minutes) Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on October 2, 1951. He is best known for his singing career, both with the 1980s band The Police and as a solo artist. Sting is also a distinguished songwriter and actor, as well as an active philanthropist in causes from environmentalism to human rights. Telling the Story in Music Arguably, it’s been since 1999 since the venerated former frontman of The Police came out with a good solo album. But, with The Last Ship, Sting has joined the elite circle of 80’s musicians who have joined Broadway. Of course, Elton John is in the circle as well… Read More →

Album Review: Mosquito

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Dress Up, Interscope, 2013. 47 minutes) Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an indie rock band from New York City consisting of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase. The band has released 4 studio albums, 3 of which have been nominated for Grammys. Mosquito Metaphors Have you ever felt like your significant other is a parasite? Have you experienced those days where you continue to give and he continues to take? Is it frustrating trying to balance the ship? Is it even worth continuing? Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or have only been dating for a couple months, relationships ebb and flow. Thus, it can be easy to liken relationships to warfare. Someone lives… Read More →

Album Review: The Weatherman

The Weatherman by Gregory Alan Isakov (Suitcase Town Music, 2013. 41 minutes) Gregory Alan Isakov is a singer-songwriter. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he immigrated to the United States as a child, and was raised in Philadelphia. He began touring with a band at the age of 16 and has been influenced most by the music of Leonard Cohen, Kelly Joe Phelps and Bruce Springsteen. He now resides in Colorado.  Heavy Mellow I was sitting in my car driving down the road in the middle of the night. I knew there were a few albums that I needed to get into, so I put on Isakov’s newest release, The Weatherman. I found it a suitable audio journey as I braved the dark freeways of the night. At the same time, I found that Isakov’s… Read More →

Album Review: Amok

Amok by Atoms for Peace

Amok by Atoms for Peace (XL Recordings, 2013. 44 minutes) Atoms for Peace is an experimental rock super-group consisting of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M. and Brazilian instrumentalist Mauro Refosco. Still Ok Computer It all started with Ok Computer, perhaps the most iconic and acclaimed record of the 90s. In an era where the Internet and computers in general began to emerge as a dominating force in everyday life, Radiohead and Thom Yorke embraced technology with open arms. They said “ok” to these advances and their music reflected that response. Where the band used to record music in the general style alternative rock, everything post OK Computer… Read More →