Album Review: Helplessness Blues

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop, 2011. 50 minutes) Based in Seattle, Washington, Fleet Foxes is a folk rock band lead by vocalist Robin Pecknold. In addition to Pecknold, Skye Skjelset, Josh Tillman, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson comprise the full band lineup. Fleet Foxes released their self-titled, full-length first album in 2008 to much acclaim. Helplessness Blues is the band’s sophomore effort. Hate the Art, Not the Artist During my undergraduate years, I enrolled in a philosophy of art class. With a foundational principle based in the ad hominem fallacy, my time in this class reinforced the idea that one should never evaluate the merit of art through the life of the artist. In other words,… Read More →

Album Review: Wasting Light

Wasting Light by Foo Fighters (RCA, 2011. 48 minutes) Foo Fighters are an American rock band formed by lead singer and guitarist, Dave Grohl. Established in the wake of Nirvana’s end, the band’s current members are Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, and Pat Smear. Of the seven studio albums released, six of them have been nominated for a Grammy Award and three – There Is Nothing Left to Lose, One by One, and Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – have won Best Rock Album awards. Rock-Star-Ness As a junior high student learning guitar, I enjoyed spinning my portable CD player with headphones enveloping me like ear muffs and imagining that I was playing in a band in front… Read More →

Album Review: Build a Rocket Boys

Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow (Downtown/Cooperative Music, 2011. 52 minutes) Formed in 1990 in Manchester, England, Elbow is a successful British rock band. The band is comprised of Guy Garvey (lead vocals), Mark Potter (guitar), Craig Potter (keyboards), Peter Turner (bass), and Richard Jupp (drums). Although Elbow has released 5 albums in their career, The Seldom Seen Kid received the most notoriety after Elbow won the 2008 Mercury Music Prize. Build a Rocket Boys is Elbow’s latest release. Looking Back While I am still considered young, I’ve spent enough time on earth to have memories both of joy and regret. Looking back at the route my life encountered, my memories flicker like a vintage slideshow. No matter the circumstantial… Read More →

Album Review: Gold in the Shadow

Gold in the Shadow by William Fitzsimmons (Nettwerk Records, 2011. 37 minutes) Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to blind parents, William Fitzsimmons was raised with music functioning as a communicative necessity. Fitzsimmons began his music career after graduating from Geneva College with a master’s degree in counseling and working as a mental health therapist. While working as a therapist, Fitzsimmons began writing songs that functioned both as a preparative exercise for his profession and as way in which to encounter his personal demons. William’s first two records, Until We Are Ghosts and Goodnight, were self-produced and recorded at home. After some initial success with these records, Fitzsimmons wrote The Sparrow and the Crow as a personal apology to his wife of… Read More →

Album Review: The King of Limbs

The King of Limbs by Radiohead (Ticker Tape Ltd., 2011. 37 minutes) Formed in 1985, Radiohead is an alternative rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. Led by Thom Yorke (vocalist, guitarist, and pianist) and Jonny Greenwood (guitarist and multi-instrumentalist), Radiohead found notoriety through the 1993 debut, Pablo Honey, and the hit single, “Creep.” OK Computer, the band’s third record, launched Radiohead into international fame. With lyrics discussing technological alienation and the artistic use of sound, critics worldwide proclaimed the record as the defining record of the 90s. The next decade found Radiohead expanding their experimental sounds on Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows. Of noted significance, In Rainbows created extensive buzz when the band announced that… Read More →

Album Review: Barton Hollow

Barton Hollow by the Civil Wars (Sensibility Music, 2011. 40 minutes) An indie-folk duo composed of Joy Williams and John Paul White, the Nashville-based band, the Civil Wars, formed after the two met at a songwriters camp. Having found success previously as solo artists, Williams and White discovered an instant connection allowing them to release a live recording of their second gig as a free download titled,Live at Eddie’s Attic. Partnering with producer Charlie Peacock, the band started recording its first studio EP, Poison and Wine. The band first encountered national recognition when the song, “Poison and Wine,” from the debut EP played in its entirety over a climactic montage on Grey’s Anatomy. Barton Hollow is the band’s first release… Read More →

Album Review: Mine Is Yours

Mine Is Yours by Cold War Kids (Interscope, 2011. 44 minutes) Based in Long Beach, California, Cold War Kids is an American indie rock band featuring Nathan Willett, Jonnie Russel, Matt Maust, and Matt Aveiro. Formed in 2004 at Biola University, the band released its first EPs in 2005. After signing with Downtown Records in 2006, Cold War Kids released Robbers & Cowards to critical acclaim. Mine Is Yours, the band’s latest effort was released on Interscope Records in 2011. Made for the Radio In Cold War Kids’ latest release, Mine Is Yours, a gritty, blues-based indie sound is replaced with catchy and accessible tunes. Employing Jacquire King (he has worked previously with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, and Modest… Read More →

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 →