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Born Ruffians – Birthmarks

April 19th, 2013

Born-Ruffians-Birthmarks

Musical Rapscallions

While the last album (2010’s Say It) by Canadian indie scenesters Born Ruffians received lackluster reviews citing emotional immaturity, their latest, Birthmarks benefits from the very youthful exuberance their first was criticized for. Birthmarks presents 12 tracks of bouncy pop that has all the bubbly veracity of Vampire Weekend without the pretension.

The album as a whole is catchy and cohesive by largely sticking to the 3 minute song formula. It makes heavy use of reverbed vocals and twanging guitar riffs. Lyrically, the songs all have a meandering quality that really captures the carefree identity of a group of 20-somethings. Tracks “Needle,” “6-500” and “Dancing on the Edge of Our Graves” are the strongest examples of their happy, youthful sound. This is a departure from their earlier work in that it is more polished and cohesive. They still bring the crazy, however, with experimental sounds in “Rage Flows” and “Cold Pop.” Interestingly, despite their obvious youth, songs such as “Dancing on the Edge of Our Graves” and “Never Age” take on more somber themes of existential quandaries not normally tackled by a band just jamming. This is definitely a good sign for their continued development as songwriters working on introspection.

The band’s name choice is especially well-suited to their music – they are a lively bunch of young rapscallions having a ball making music together. Birthmarks is a solid step up from their earlier endeavors and provides a good jumping off point for the next phase of their musical careers.

By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Villagers – {Awayland}

April 11th, 2013

villagers-awayland

Not A Tourist Destination

Coming off the heels of their highly lauded 2010 album Becoming a Jackal, Irish folk band Villagers appear to have fallen into the sophomore slump with their latest, {Awayland}. While it evolves from their first offering in its exploration of bigger sounds (slight electronics and drum machines taking a page from Radiohead), the meat of the songs on this album still retain the world-weary traveling man aesthetic with dark, soulful vocals. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, it just doesn’t offer anything new and exciting.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Stornoway – Tales from Terra Firma

March 20th, 2013

Stornoway-Tales-from-Terra-Firma

Surreal Folk

With folk music making such a strong resurgence to the music scene in the form of heavyweights such as Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Of Monsters and Men, British band Stornoway has brought a solid offering to the mix with their second album Tales from Terra Firma.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

They Might Be Giants – Nanobots

March 11th, 2013

They-Might-Be-Giants-Nanobots

Not Just Kids Music

Rocking nonstop since the ’80s would take a toll on a lesser band. But in Nanobots, the 16th studio album from They Might Be Giants, TMBG finds themselves with the same flair for the upbeat and nonsensical. There isn’t much new ground covered on the album – they stick with what works for them, but it still feels strong and fresh thanks to their creative goofballery. Over the last ten years, the band has found success composing children’s music and interestingly, many of the songs on Nanobots sound as though they could have made the cut for Here Comes the Abcs, Here Comes the 123s and Here Comes Science.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

inc. – no world

February 28th, 2013

inc.-no-world

Atmospheric R&B

Thanks to the massive success of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, R&B has found a resurgence. This is abundantly clear on LA based inc.’s new album of slow jams, no world. Former studio musicians Andrew and Daniel Aged of inc. bring atmosphere and experimental beats to an album that serves as a throwback to ’80s R&B and soul.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Holy Wave – Evil Hits

February 13th, 2013

Holy-Wave-Evil-Hits

Modern Psychedelia That Still Pays Homage

Holy Wave, an Austin, Texas based 5-piece, brings back the spirit of ’60s surf psychedelia with their new album, Evil Hits. One part My Bloody Valentine, one part Pink Floyd, the band expertly creates a mellow listening experience.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Petra Haden – Petra Goes to the Movies

February 2nd, 2013

Petra-Haden-Petra-Goes-To-The-Movies

Movie Magic Through Voice

When first approached to cover jazz singer Petra Haden’s (daughter of the legendary Charlie Haden) new album, Petra Goes to the Movies, it sounded like your basic cover album of light jazz with sultry vocals. While there are a small handful of songs with this quality, the majority of tracks on this album are a capella renditions of theme songs from classic movies. And not theme songs that everyone knows and sings along to, theme music that you hum along to.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida

January 24th, 2013

camper-van-beethoven-la-costa-perdida

The Dark Side of California Surf

Thus far, 2013 seems to be all about reunions and new beginnings for storied artists that haven’t put forth musical offerings in a while. Included in this bunch is ’80s/’90s indie and alt rock outfit Camper Van Beethoven with their first release in nearly ten years, La Costa Perdida.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock

January 15th, 2013

Band-of-Horses-Mirage-Rock

Band of Horses’ fourth album, Mirage Rock, is aptly titled as the new pop sound the group experiments with is a mirage of their former selves. Mirage Rock is their second offering after being picked up by a major music label and seems to shed a lot of the melancholy and sweeping harmonies that gave them indie street cred. The result is a mix of songs trying at once to appeal to the indie crowd and to mainstream radio, but ultimately getting lost in the middle.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews

The Casket Girls – Sleepwalking

November 12th, 2012

The-Casket-Girls-Sleepwalking

A Ghostly Debut

Just in time for the dreariness of darkened fall days and winter nights comes Sleepwalking, a haunting and ethereal debut album from The Casket Girls. Formed as a side project of Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Ryan Graveface along with two vocalists he literally met on the street, the trio have crafted an eclectic mix of cacophonous synths and ghostly harmonies.
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By Jen Tartaglione Posted in Reviews