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Campus Connections: Stellar Interstellar

22 Feb

So for those of you who don’t read my facebook, I’m planning on starting another blog for specifically West Chester people. So I Can’t Dance will be getting a sister. Or brother, idk, sister is used more often. Anyways, I’ll keep you posted on that development.

The reason I have brought that up is because there is someone here at Dub C that is significantly more educated on the indie scene than I am, which is nice for a change around here. He’s even got me going on Pitchfork…… And even though I’m still a loyal Sterogum follower, I have found that Pitchfork makes it MUCH easier to learn about albums. So the album on the top of the list is Interstellar by Frankie Rose.

Now Frankie Rose, a key member of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilits had tried going solo, but with a backing and under the title Frankie Rose and the Outs, which wasn’t exactly what she wanted. So she dropped the backing and subsequently the last half of the name and is now on her own as just Frankie Rose, and making much better music.

The record starts off with the title track “Interstellar” which literally puts the “stellar” into the name. The dreamy, spacey, smooth intro does not prepare you for the sudden burst of energy as the song gets to the meat. The harmony, though simple, is highly effective. The infectious “oh oh oh” that is the chorus is effective. It is evident that Frankie has traded in her punk adolescence and has promoted herself to twee-adolescence, which on paper seems like nothing, but yet is a big change. The twee is still even evident in “Pair of Wings”, as her voice just adds soothing layer after soothing layer.

Tracks like “Gospel/Grace” delves more into the pop aspect of this album, throughout the album Frankie’s voice just layers over each track like mist, with endless reverb to match. The track sounds like what Rubblebucket was trying to do but with better production quality. Tracks like “Had We Had It” has aspects of “L’Homme” by Rubblebucket, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Frankie asked Kalmia Traver to collab on her sound, it’s eerily similar.

Another change in style is her change to 80’s heavy synth and drums, displayed in “Know Me”. The main line will most certainly get into your head. Honestly, it’s like a John Hughes movie where either the main character is moping around after upsetting the one they’re crushing on, or the credits…..either way it’s super 80’s, and for anyone who knows me, I like that. The typical 80’s electronic drumbeat comes back up in “Daylight Sky”.

In conclusion, Frankie has stepped out of her punk lo-fi days and tried supplying a clean cut polished product. In that effort I feel that the album grows a tad mundane. She stacks her 3 best songs at the beginning of the album, with only “Apples for the Sun” to contribute to the last half. The rest of the album is good in its own right, but those four songs are the key tracks to the album and could have been spaced better. There are complaints that this album is a lot of the same sound with not much variation. In other words, it was too much dream synth for them to handle. Though that can be a deterring factor, I believe that to impressive on the count that Frankie knew what sound she wanted to create, and put out a whole album of that sound. She didn’t try to appeal to as wide of an audience as she could, she put out a product and said, “hope you like it!”. Some people won’t, most people will.

I leave you with tracks, and a video,

enjoy!

Interstellar – Frankie Rose

Frankie Rose – Gospel/Grace from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

Tyler

Campus Connections: Hello Sadness Review

26 Dec

So, as promised, I will review Los Campesinos! new album Hello Sadness for you all. So in my efforts to be unbiased, I will give you what I think and feel, but as you all know, me being unbiased towards LC! is quite impossible…

Anyways, the first track off the album is “By Your Hand”, and for anyone that has followed up on me knows how awesome this track is. An homage to their old sound whilst keeping their new style. The evidence of that is shown throughout the album. It was really sad that Harriet left the band, but when she left the band wasn’t really specified, yet it is highly obvious that there is a lack of strings throughout the entire album. Unlike Romance Is Boring which has Aleks in the entire album even though she took the same leave Harriet did.

Regardless of that, the loss of Harriet did not cripple LC! in their sound, even though their creativity and direction was changed. The addition of Rob Campesinos! to the group has proved time and time again an excellent choice. Not only is he featured vocally on “By Your Hand” (though unfortunately thats it) you can hear his prescience in the entire album. The absence of strings leaves a major musical hole in the sound, something that was easily filled by Rob’s talents. You probably can’t hear it in most of the tracks, but Rob is usually adding the extra instruments, whether it be percussion or synths (mostly synths) which would have sucked if he wasn’t there.

One other thing that sets this album apart is Kim Campesinos! Before, we had never really heard her sing except in octaves way too low for her, because a song was never actually written for her. Yet on a couple of tracks like one of my favorites “The Black Bird, The Dark Slope” Kim is featured, and she is actually really really good. She does a fantastic job with the chorus and has her own unique quality, an excellent replacement for Aleks, even if it took about a year for her to finally have a chance to come into the limelight.

One last thing that separates this album is the ballads. LC! has had some pretty good ballads in their time, songs like “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think About The Future” to “Heart Swells”, yet none of them really stood out. Yet there is one ballad on here that has so much power and raw emotion in it that you can’t help but love it. That track would be “To Tundra”. Yes, the song may take a little while to get going, but once it does Gareth pushes his voice to the volume and emotional limit. It’s brilliant.

Anyways, I love the entirety of this album. I know me and a couple other people were worried about the bands direction when their first edition of Heat Rash came out. Yet as soon as “By Your Hand” and “Hello Sadness” came out, I knew the direction would be different, yet they are still paying homage to their old style that all of us love so much with some of their tracks.

I completely suggest picking up the album, but if you don’t, besides the two I already mentioned, check out “To Tundra”, “Songs About Your Girlfriend” and “The Black Bird, The Dark Slope”. All fantastic tracks.

enjoy

Tyler

Campus Connections: Paradise

20 Dec

Hello folks,

So it’s been a while since my last post, been busy being a college student and all. But now it’s break and I have all of this “spare time” to put back into this blog. Yayyy. Anyways, missed you all. All like, 17 of you. I haven’t been keeping good track on the indie world, but I haven’t completely fallen out.

Matter of fact, in one of my writing classes, the assignment was to write a paper on a specific genre, like album reviews. Oh no, and album review…… So I reluctantly dragged myself onto Stereogum and Pitchfork and painstakingly listened to all of this indie bands, and totally suffered through listening to albums. To unfortunately do a review on this band called Slow Club.

Can you sense my sarcasm? Anyways, did the project, got an A, and got to listen to a kick ass album in the process. So let me indulge on you, an abridged version of my original review of Slow Club’s latest album Paradise.

Slow Club’s first album Yeah, So, was an album full of campy and fun songs that would get stuck in your head. It was a peppy, and full of youthful energy. That created a perfect first album for this “twee-folk” group out of Sheffield, England.  None the less their next album Paradise would be assumed to follow that same line, bright, catchy, and full of lovely immaturity. However, using some techniques similar to that of Arcade Fire and Battles, Slow Club’s sophomore album is far from sophomoric.

Even if the subject matter of Yeah, So had dark connotations, they were masked by the cheerful spirit or brighter tones. Paradise does not follow the same formula, yet it still maintains some of the aspects we know and love about Slow Club. Some tracks like “Where I’m Walking”, “If We’re Still Alive”, and “The Dog” still maintain the up tempo style. Yet tracks like “Hackney Marsh” and “You, Earth, or Ash” deliver ballads that blow the ones on Yeah, So out of the water. Paradise gives some of the ballads that are more focused on power, powerful vocals, powerful guitars, powerful electrics. The purpose of these ballads are not to lull you into a comfort zone, but to get you to feel emotionally what they want to portray.

If We’re Still Alive – Slow Club

Overall the album is bigger and louder. Yeah, So was loud enough, but it was cutesy and avoided the subject matter, whereas this album is throwing everything at you. Take a song like “Never Look Back” off of Paradise, the song is about a dead brother and the pain that accompanies the fact that a sibling is gone. The song is along the same style as the first song, however, though the song starts off slower, it is more emotional and eventually the song builds into this big power ballad where the two singers are just belting it out.

Another technique that gives this album a different identity is the use of percussion. In most of the upbeat tracks in Yeah, So it felt like you could throw a hoedown at any moment, which contributed to the youthful energy. This album uses more syncopation in both the snare beats and bass hits, which gives this a more pulsing, driving feeling. It’s like they’re frustrated and just trying to get somewhere now but they’re emotions are keeping them stuck behind somehow, and they are expressing that through the music.

One of the things that I am impressed with the most for this album is Rebecca Taylor’s voice. When listening to Yeah, So, you heard her voice, but she never really showcased it. However, she does in fact showcase it on this album. In “You, Earth, or Ash” she absolutely wails in her upper octave and it’s so pure and clean, her range is absolutely phenomenal, in the song she hits a G as her lowest note but then manages to hit an E three octaves higher, and she belts out a D right under it for a majority of the song. It adds so much more emotion to the song when she is pouring everything into the song. Now they were not unfair, and Charles did get some solo time, and it is very interesting to hear him on his own. Most of the tracks of Yeah, So were either too soft to get a real feel for his voice or the songs were sung in tandem with each other. Even though Charles’ voice isn’t that great, the fact that he is putting himself out in the open adds to the vulnerability of the song and the emotions. It is still impressive that his falsetto voice can match Rebecca’s, or even go higher in some cases.

You, Earth, or Ash – Slow Club

I believe the purpose of Paradise was to in fact show that the two of them are mature musicians and not just another cheery and charming duo. The group could have still stayed on the “wahwahwahfitallthewordsin!” path as Rebecca likes to describe it. However, the two were adamant on showing that their music and their art is more than just the “twee” folk label. They managed to achieve that goal without alienating their regular fans. They even went as far as still showing their previous styles as proof of their musical journey in a small amount of time. So if you haven’t picked up either Yeah, So or Paradise, there’s no time like the present.

Enjoy

Tyler

Hello & Avett Brothers

11 Sep

Hi Everyone!  As Tyler previously announced, I am the new blog author (yayyy).  Anyways, I hope I can provide all of you with a few bits of new music every now and then!

If anyone watched the past Grammys, you may have seen The Avett Brothers perform alongside Mumford & Sons.  A year or so ago I found two of their songs free on itunes and since then have acquired their most recent album “I and Love and You.”  Bottom line: everyone needs to get at least a few of the Avett bros. songs.  I’m not familiar with their earlier stuff (they’ve been a band since the 00’s) but I absolutely loveeeeee this album.  Although classified as “folk” “folk rock” and “alt country,” it’s pretty hard not to like these guys, no matter what genre you lean towards.   Their guitars melodies are awesome (and make me wish even more that I could learn guitar) and the lead singers, Scott and Seth, (the brothers themselves), have distintive voices that provide brillant and smooth vocals.

My Favorites from the album:

Ten Thousand Words- If I knew guitar, this would be the number one song I would learn.  The song is simple but the harmonies of the vocalist are beautiful.

Kick Drum Heart- Upbeat and super-catchy

Slight Figure of Speech- The lyrics are smart and the ‘speed-talking’ in the middle makes me love it even more

Head full of Doubt/Road full of Promise-  One of the more popular songs of the album, along with the title track.  The lyrics are deep and it also has a great music vid.

All in all, go on itunes or wherever and get them…

Ttfn

-Holly

Helplessness Blues

6 May

So Fleet Foxes sophomore album titled Helplessness Blues, dropped at the beginning of this month. And frankly…its fantastic. The mountain folk kings of Seattle have done it again. An album that deals with the pains of aging and feeling like theres no place for you in the world, the effort that went into making this album is poured through to your ears.

This is a bit of a different sound, we are all used to the typical sound from their first album and EP’s. that sound would be the mountain folk, three part harmony with groove type licks going on. Don’t get me wrong, that still happens on this album (and how). However, thats not the main focus. There are many added instruments on all the tracks, with a bigger production value. And I love it.

The first track off the album is titled “Montezuma”, this is a good segway from old style to new style. The riffs are similar and the three part harmony is there. but as I said, better production value. Halfway through the song, everything gets bigger and louder, which is a good thing. So this is a great track.

The next track is “Bedouin Dress” which i’ve already done a review about.

The next track “Sim Sala Bim” starts off with a guitar lick and a vocal melody that has a style that is consistent with the rest of the album. Then everyone comes in, the hermony on the melody line is absolutely fantastic as always. The guitar lick shift from guitar, to guitar and piano, to guitar and piano and mandolin. From that point on it goes to a B section that preps us up for a great guitar solo halfway through the song that amps up the song till the end.

Next one is “Battery Kinzie”

The next song, is a two-part song type deal, called “The Plains/Bitter Dancer”. This song, is brilliant. “The Plains” is this long drawn out build up to something. As a first time listener we expect that the build up will be for somthing big. Yet “Bitter Dancer” starts off with absolutely gorgeous harmonies. When all the instruments come in, it adds depth to song and gives it almost a completely differnt texture. It is great. And then, AND THEN, the end of the song gives us the typical major chord three part harmonies we have come to love with Fleet Foxes. With the tamborine kicking for the whole back half of the song, this song is killer.

Next song is the title track, “Helplessness Blues”

The next song is titled “Cascades”, this is a completely instrumental track, and a really nice change up from the rest of the album. A good song to chill to.

The next song “Lorelai” is a drastically different song from anything Fleet Foxes has ever done. The beginning guitar riff doesnt even sound anything like them. It reminds me of Bishop Allens “Click Click Click Click” rather than anything else. It then basically becomes a waltz, which i’m not sure if I’m a fan of…

The next song “Someone You’d Admire” is the definitive ballad of the album. It’s pretty good, its only two part harmony, like most of the hit tracks off the album are. Its a pretty decent track. great to listen to on slow days.

The next song is another two part song, “The Shrine/An Argument”. This song is all about emotion and aggravation and pain. You could tell that this song was concieved in the process of the stress putting a strain on Robin Pecknold’s relationship with his girlfriend. Robin really gets to the edge of his voice on “The Shrine”, and it pays off. The struggle with the top notes adds so much emotion to it. The rest of “The Shrine” is a full out rock type feel with even more pain and anguish. “An Argument” sounds like a dip into modern compositions. The beginning gives us a lull with lushious harmonies. Then not soon after, it sounds like all the band members picked up a saxaphone, and none of them know how to play. Not a big fan of the second half of this song, but its…artistic?

The next song is a song called “Blue Spotted Tail” which confuses me because as most of you remember, when Robin “previewed” the album in the summer, the song that we would come to know as “Battery Kinzie” was originally called “Blue Spotted Tail”, so I kind of want to know the backstory of that. But anyways, this is a really really chill track to even us out from the whole modern composition that was “An Argument”, perfectly placed, and extremely well performed.

The last track, “Grown Ocean” is a great send off track. A big, loud production song, with a culmination of all the new things tried on this new album with some lingerings of their first album.

All in all, fantastic album. There were some new things that they tried that I don’t know if they worked (“An Argument”, “Lorelai”) However, there are some absolutely brilliant tracks like “Bitter Dancer”, “Bedouin Dress”, and “Helplessness Blues” make up for those. My first listen to this I was blown away, the further I listen, I find very few things I don’t like. Whether your a hardcore listener of their previous material, or just a straight up Fleet Foxes fan no matter what they put out, this is a great great album, I definitely suggest picking this up.

vafflehausfb

Nine Types of Light

22 Apr

So earlier this month TV On The Radio released their third full length album titled Nine Types of Light. This album has been heavily hyped for the last month and a half and has received alot of buzz since it first leaked the track “Will Do” about two months ago.

Well, i finally can afford to actually buy music now, so i went ahead and bought the album on iTunes and am now ready to give you the full blown review on Nine Types of Light.

btdubs, when i review a song, ill also review the music video that corresponds. seeming as they released basically a short film thats a collection of music videos for every song off the album.

The album starts off not with already leaked song “Caffeinated Consciousness”, but ironically a song called “Second Song”. This song is about as close as im gonna get to the sound they had in Dear Science. An excellent track, it goes into their soulful type sound with the brass behind them and presence of heavy bass. The video is pretty good. Idk what material everything is made out of, it looks like solidified white chocolate, and then scenes of when you used to put food coloring into milk as a kid. Anyways, the video follows this spiritual native american wolf-man (“Wolf Like Me” reference?) in this strange ever changing world. Really good track and vid.

The next song is “Keep Your Heart”, I guess this is like their ballad for the album. Its good i guess, its just that the lead singers voice really never does well with slow songs. The video is kind of weird too. It’s filled with crime, betrayal, death, creepy severed gold limbs, and rejuvenation. So it’s interesting to say the least.

The next song is titled “You”. It’s probably the weakest song on the album. Not to say that its terrible, its just not as strong as the others. The video starts with a presumably fake conversation with the band members. And then the lead singer pretending to pretend to be Prince. It’s weird.

The next track “No Future Shock” is definitely the most “dance” type song, (and not just because the video is one progressively ridiculous dance competition). It has the aspects of like a group dance song. That aside, its a pretty good track.

The next track “Killer Crane” is in fact a killer. This is a great and simple track. The really typical major chord happy sequence really does work. The melody line is simple but effective. And when it gets to the melody half way through (“sunshine, I see you from the hanging vine”) with the entrance of the banjo, it works perfectly. This is probably my favorite slow tempo song of the album. The video is cool too, its a highlight reel of the groups past tours. Which now is unfortunately, a tribute to lost band member Gerard Smith. Really touching. Great track.

I’ve already done a post about “Will Do” so i’ll skip this one.

Another song is called “New Cannonball Blues”. This song has a kind of heavier rock type feel to it, not as bright as “Second Song”, especially during the chorus. Not a particularly great track, but still a pretty good one. The music video i don’t really get, it’s like a multi-colored native american paper doll dance off turned marathon…

One of the better tracks near the end of the album is actually a very minimal song in terms of music density and progression. That song is called “Repetition”, Im pretty sure its the same chord progression the entire song. However, its the drum beat that changes a quarter of the way through the song that makes it change, and then eventually the actual literal repetition kicks in and just adds to the rest of the song. I honestly have no clue what the video is trying to say or do. so…

“Forgotten” is another pretty good track that eventually picks up at the end. Not much to say about it except don’t watch the video, it’ll distract you from the song and is kind of dumb.

The last track and ironically first video is “Caffeinated Consciousness”. Ive already done a song review. So the video is actually really good. Probably the best one besides “Second Song”. Though I don’t understand whats going on, it’s entertaining and the song is good. So it’s all around great. (You can tell i’m witing this very late at night because I don’t make any sense).

Overall, this is actually a pretty good album. Its an album that is moving back towards its Return to Cookie Mountain days, while keeping aspects of its Dear Science days. If you don’t want to invest in the full album, pick up tracks like “Second Song”, “Caffeinated Consciousness”, “Repetition”, and “Killer Crane”. Those are the best tracks on the album imo. The video that they made is interesting, im not sure what they were trying to achieve, and it seems like they were just making fun of themselves near the end.

enjoy

vafflehausfb

Beirut

6 Oct

Beirut (Zachary Condon) has been my obsession lately. I recently purchased Gulag Orkestar and I am completely and utterly impressed. The album has been the best I’ve heard since Romance is Boring. It’s filled with complex composition, virtuoso trumpeting, and a dirty, drunken, gypsy orchestra feeling. It conjures images of the Mediterranean coast, The hills of Ireland, and abandoned factory towns in Romania.

The single from the album is certainly “Postcards from Italy.” With a folksy and Distinctly European tone Condon’s beautiful vibrato rings and can only help but pierce the most callused mans heart. The lyrics tragically describe a fading romance with a true love left in Italy; it’s melancholy, and indirectly but purposefully speaks to the inevitable heartbreak that every human being experiences.

It is impossible to mention Beirut without giving at least some mention to Condon’s multi-instrument prowess. He is featured on trumpet, ukulele , synth, and vocals. What makes Condon’s story particularly impressive is his lack of traditional education, musical or otherwise. As a teenager Condon dropped out of four universities and a high school. His musical experience included a brief stint in the high school Jazz band, and he knew only fractured Portuguese. Condon spent a significant amount of time in Europe, fully immersed in the culture of both the European elite, and the nomadic gypsies. It is from these experiences that Condon draws a majority of his musical inspiration from.

To wrap up the album I must finally give praise to my favorite song, “Scenic World.” The song is unfairly short at two minutes eight seconds, but never could I have believed that so much musical emotion could be pent-up in an absolutely fleeting moment. I must admit that the song drove me to tears. The lyrical value is abstract enough to have universal meaning, yet contains diction so perfectly sensible, sharp like daggers, soft like a blanket, wet like a stream. It is perfect. Mournful. Melancholy. Hopeful. The song tells of a cry for understanding, a fear of both the known and unknown. A rational fear of one’s self. A plea for a better world, a non-existent world. A life perfect, free from pain, free from the torment of other human beings. It pulls at your heartstrings, and maintains a pertinently depressive tone without drifting into the clichéd realm of over-emotionality. The song is beautiful. An absolute masterpiece.

Modestly this album is sincerely wonderful, but no form of description hyperbolic or otherwise will ever do this album justice. It is certainly one of the greatest albums of all time.

Here’s the link to Postcards from Italy, but please if you purchase no other music in the next five years, get this album…