Album Review: The Rip Tide

The Rip Tide by Beirut (Pompeii Records, 2011. 33 minutes) Originally the music project of New-Mexico-native Zach Condon, Beirut is an indie rock band which combines Eastern European music, Balkan folk, and Western pop music. While traveling through Europe in his youth, Condon fell in love with world music. This love prompted musical experimentation that resulted in the band. While attending the University of New Mexico, Condon recorded his first record, GulagOrkestar, in his bedroom. He shopped the record to labels and ultimately signed with Ba Da Bing! Records. Before releasing The Rip Tide, Condon founded Pompeii Records giving him full control over his music. Evaluative Difficulty I find it difficult to review music. Of all art forms, it is… Read More →

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: 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: 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 →