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The Libertines – The Libertines

November 25th, 2004


Sure They’re Rock & Roll, But Is Their Music Any Good?

If we judge rock & roll bands by their eccentric lifestyles then The Libertines, behind the antics of co-frontman, Pete Doherty, could be in the running for greatest band ever. After abandoning a tour, forming another band called Babyshambles, breaking into a band-mate’s home, multiple arrests, and a double drug addiction, you need a sextant and an astrolabe to navigate all the twists this band has taken. Despite the turmoil, The Libertines have managed to hold together to record their self-titled, sophomore album. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

Cake – Pressure Chief

November 16th, 2004


Ten Year Old Cake Tastes the Same

Just looking at the cover of Pressure Chief with its simple printing press style, there is no mistaking it for anything but a Cake album. If the trademark cover art implies anything about this album’s sound, it’s that it does not break new ground for the ten-year old Cake. However, the distinct stripped down sound that they have consistently produced for a decade is what has cultivated and maintained much of their fan base. Though their familiarity will be welcomed by many fans, at times, such familiarity makes it seem like Cake is simply clocking in for work. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill

November 6th, 2004


Elliott Smith’s Fond Farewell

In the wake of Elliott Smith’s tragic suicide, the singer/songwriter not only left behind many grief-stricken fans, but also an unfinished album. A year later, those fans get From a Basement on the Hill, an effort comprised of Smith’s final recordings. Because he died before the album’s completion, family and friends oversaw the final production and track list. Though unavoidably it may diverge from Smith’s intent for the record, From a Basement still serves as an appropriate finale to a career defined by a sadness so readily accessible to his listeners. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

The Beta Band – Heroes to Zeros

September 30th, 2004


Heroes Who Retire Too Early

In recording Heroes to Zeros, The Beta Band has accomplished something quite rare – they have created an album with which they are satisfied. Perhaps it is simply because this time around, the notorious self-deprecators are their own producers. Whatever the reason, the result is an album that is more structured, accessible, and aggressive than their previous releases. It also enjoys a finer balance of the band’s instrumentation and their affinity for electronic compliments. Ironically, after creating a sound that they are happy with, the Scottish foursome has called it quits, declaring Heroes to be their final album. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

September 29th, 2004


Narrow Chutes Yield Good Tunes

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Exposure to this album will cause involuntary toe tapping and head nodding. That right folks, The Shins’ sophomore album, Chutes Too Narrow, will get you moving. The first track, “Kissing the Lipless,” opens with James Mercer’s soft vocals over sleepy guitars, but then it explodes into a rockin’ good time that will make you want to dust off you dancing shoes and strap ‘em on for the remainder of the album. Though the latter half lets up slightly, any loss of quality can only be measured against the exceptional nature of the first half. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

The Polyphonic Spree – Together We’re Heavy

September 15th, 2004


Together We’re HAPPY!

Together We’re Heavy opens with the musical equivalent of a sunrise, and with it the 25 robe-clad members of The Polyphonic Spree bring to their new endeavor the same sparkly optimism that permeated their debut, The Beginning Stages Of…. Opening with “Section 11 (A Long Day Continues/We Sound Amazed),” this latest effort is a clear perpetuation of the Dallas music collective’s unyielding feel-good marathon. Read more…

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

They Might Be Giants – The Spine

August 31st, 2004


TMBG’s Fractured Spine

If titles are ever an indication of a song’s quality, then tracks like “The World Before Later On” and “Prevenge” may well put They Might Be Giants’ The Spine in the running for album of the year. However, songs are songs, and music is the key. Accordingly, The Spine appears to suffer from an unbalanced feel.
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By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

July 18th, 2004


Sonic Nurse Will Cure What Ails Ya!

As of late, Sonic Youth fans have been suffering from a frustrating Kim Gordon deficiency as the band’s painful NYC Ghosts & Flowers, and even their redeemingly innovative Murray Street have seen very little of her. However, Sonic Youth’s latest effort, Sonic Nurse, offers a prescription for this malady–simply up the dosage of Kim Gordon and repeat as needed. And with Gordon contributing four of the ten songs, the prognosis looks good.
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By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

Wilco – A Ghost is Born

July 9th, 2004


A Newborn Ghost Can’t Fly Straight

To bring you up to speed: Wilco has undergone yet another lineup change, and front man Jeff Tweedy has weathered a stretch in rehab for a painkiller addiction. Yet for all the turbulence, the Chicago-based band has managed to release their latest effort, A Ghost is Born. However, the lingering hype of their widely acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot may have made their footing a bit unsure, for this inconsistent album will leave you panning for its gold. That said, when those gold nuggets do turn up, they are of the finest quality.
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By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews

Rhythm of Black Lines – Human Hand, Animal Band

June 25th, 2004


…To Their Own Rhythm

Though certain moments from Human Hand, Animal Band conjure memories of OK Computer and Kid A Radiohead, and other moments resemble the wandering atmosphere that is characteristic of All Night Radio, it is difficult to compare Rhythm of Black Lines’ sound to anything with much accuracy. This prog-rock band has a unique and innovative sound that has appropriately earned it a spot on Omar Rodriguez’s (The Mars Volta) label, Gold Standard Laboratories.
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By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews