Album Review: There’s No Leaving Now

There’s No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man on Earth (Dead Oceans, 2012. 39 minutes) The Tallest Man on Earth is the stage name of Swedish singer-songwriter, Kristian Matsson. Matsson has released three full-length albums and two EPs. He is heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. Matsson is married to fellow singer-songwriter Amanda Matsson of Idiot Wind. In Exploration of Top-Notch Analysis In case you didn’t notice, my previous review explored a book of poetry—the first poetry review on this blog. I’ve avoided poetry because I don’t know what to do with it. It has been said to critically review art one must question whether the artist completed her purpose. If you don’t like the art… Read More →

Album Review: The Idler Wheel…

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple (Clean Slate, Epic, 2012. 43 minutes) Born in New York City, Fiona Apple is a singer-songwriter and pianist. Apple first gained notoriety for her debut album, Tidal, winning a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The Idler Wheel… is Apple’s fourth studio album. Instability  I can’t say I’ve known a truly unstable person and I want to be careful about labeling Fiona Apple as such—I don’t know her and it would be rude to assume. But, I imagine friendship with such a person would be a roller coaster. Words might be volatile;… Read More →

Album Review: Ten Stories

Ten Stories by mewithoutYou (Pine Street Collection, 2012. 40 minutes) mewithoutYou is an American rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band includes Aaron Weiss (vocals), Michael Weiss (guitar), and Rickie Mazzotta (drums) with a carousel of supporting musicians. mewithoutYou signed with Tooth and Nail Records releasing their first four records with the label. Ten Stories is self-released and offers a return to the band’s earlier sound. Circular Narrative “All circles presuppose they’ll end where they begin, but in their leaving can they ever come back round.” – Aaron Weiss adapted from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Looking back on the music that defined my teen years, not much of it carried staying power. I liked ska, but the genre died in… Read More →

Album Review: By the Horns

By the Horns by Julia Stone (Nettwerk Records, 2012. 38 minutes) Julia Stone (b. 1984) is an Australian singer and songwriter. She is most known for the work with her brother in the band Angus & Julia Stone, which began in 2006. By The Horns marks her second solo record. Airy and Light = Good or Bad? Julia Stone’s voice airily permeates her newest solo album By the Horns, with a light and easy quality which is hard to ignore. But, I wish I could ignore it. Her voice grates on me, I think. It’s frankly hard for me to tell, as I love the music, the melodies, the mixing, and everything else on the album. The question has become… Read More →

Album Review: Strangeland

Strangeland by Keane (Island Records, 2012. 45 minutes) Keane is a piano-driven pop band lead by front man Tom Chaplin. Formed in 1997 in East Sussex, England, the band has achieved wide acclaim. Their most successful album is Under the Iron Sea, which topped charts and peaked at number four in the Billboard 200 in 2006. Melody Is Dead Melody is dead. Extinct. No more. It’s pushing up daisies. Melody takes up residence in the great musical beyond. The culprit? You. That’s right, you are solely responsible for grossly mangling melodic content to the point where it simply gave up and breathed its last. It’s sad really—mostly because you had no idea you were doing it. The current shift in… Read More →

Album Review: Valtari

Valtari by Sigur Rós (Parlophone, 2012. 54 minutes) Sigur Rós is an Icelandic band, originally formed in 1994. The band is known for ethereal sounds, and falsetto singing by lead singer, Jónsi. The band was named after Jónsi’s sister, Sigurrós.  Art and Song Most bands have to find a natural compromise between the art of the song and the ability to make money. Some bands fall into the full on “pop” world, while others try to fight the mainstream and do something completely original. Sigur Rós falls into the latter category. The band has created an art-form which is completely unique, and a song style which I would argue cannot be replicated. The band, and lead singer Jónsi have formed… Read More →

Album Review: Bloom

Bloom by Beach House (Sub Pop Records, 2012. 50 minutes) Beach House consists of French-born Victoria Legrand (vocals and organ) and American Alex Scally (guitars and keyboards). The band is often labeled as “dream pop” due to the slow, atmospheric progressions within its songs. Bloom marks the band’s fourth studio album. What’s in a Name? In hearing the name of the band, Beach House undoubtedly causes images of beaches, summertime, or perhaps sangria-filled afternoons. However, despite the name, Beach House’s music is stereotypically dark, monotonous (in a good way), and hypnotic. In a musical world that tries to remain under the same standard, Beach House has attempted to create a unique and artistic sound. On first glance, the newest album, Bloom,… Read More →

Album Review: Fear Fun

Fear Fun by Father John Misty (Sub Pop Records, 2012. 41 minutes) Father John Misty is the moniker of singer-songwriter and former Fleet Foxes drummer, Joshua Tillman. After dropping out of college, Tillman moved to Seattle and began recording demos. Damien Jurado, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter, discovered Tillman and took the budding songwriter on tour. Tillman has released 7 full-length albums under the name, J. Tillman. After four years of drumming with Fleet Foxes, Tillman has returned to solo work with Fear Fun. The Marketing Narrative  Sometimes, the marketing campaign surrounding a new album dives into the backstory behind said record. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver locked himself in a secluded cabin during a dark, Wisconsin winter to forge For Emma,… Read More →

Album Review: Beware and Be Grateful

Beware & Be Grateful by Maps & Atlases (Barsuk Records, 2012. 43 minutes) Maps & Atlases is Shiraz Dada, David Davison, Erin Elders, and Chris Hainey. The Chicago-based band blends pop and technical musicianship into a unique flavor of indie rock. In Praise of Songwriting  A good song requires an interesting rhythm and melodically rich instrumentation. Even more, a song requires a catchy melody, which soars over the well-crafted music. Perhaps most importantly, the song needs to say something. “Doo be doo be doo” lyrics might have a catchy melody but they do not provide a modicum of lasting depth. If, by chance, an artist succeeds in all three categories, an impeccable song is born. Good luck writing 9 more… Read More →

Album Review: Neck of the Woods

Neck of the Woods by Silversun Pickups (Dangerbird, 2012. 59 minutes) Silversun Pickups is an alternative rock band based out of Los Angeles. Formed in 2002, the band is comprised of Brian Aubert, Nikki Monniger, Christopher Guianloa, and Joe Lester. Neck of the Woods marks their third studio album. Horror! I’ve always loved when albums are albums, not single tracks put into a last-ditch mélange of sound. With Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups makes a whole album, in the classical sense, by playing on the listener’s sense of fear. When listening to the album, images of horror movie scenes overwhelm and attack, causing the listener to reminisce the adrenaline-pumping scenes of past. After a listen, it’s understandable why Brian Aubert,… Read More →