• Category Archives Music Reviews
  • Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye (2016)

    Yeasayer has been one of those bands that you find and you continue to wonder how their fan base never grows any bigger. They have infectious pop songs and crazy world music-infused rock electronic. They’ve done straight rock and reduced synthetic sounds, while maintaining a consistent originality that is hard to find these days.

    I saw them in a little club in 2010 and then again in the same little club this year. Both times, I was blown away at the mastery of their craft. I also loved how some of the songs took on a very different feel when played live. I gained a new appreciation for the bassist, Ira Wolf Tuton, who played almost the entire set on a semi-hollow body fretless bass. At one point, he played the bass solely by fretting with one hand while shaking a maraca with his other hand. Another part had him doing a high up solo that I had always thought was played on keyboard or guitar from the recording.

    Live music digressions aside, this new album is an excellent addition to their body of work. There are some serious gems, from the lead single I Am Chemistry to the dance-inducing Silly Me. What they do best are the harmonious chorus arrangements on songs like Half Asleep and Gerson’s Whistle and I Am Chemistry. This time around, they’ve also added a female vocalist to fill in the frequency gaps and it works very well.

    The instrumental interludes are a bit of a weak point, but otherwise, I think this is a solid album and serious contender for year-end best lists.

  • Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being (2016)

    how to be a human beingApparently, I only listen to U.K. bands anymore. These guys are relatively new. They released their debut album Zaba a couple of years ago. If I had to classify their sound, I would say it’s “indie electronic rock” but that really doesn’t capture the finer nuances of what they do. If I had to classify them in D&D terms, they would probably be chaotic neutral.

    This new album is a step forward for them as the songwriting seems a bit more honed or at least the theme was more obvious than Zaba. It’s like each of the songs is a little window into the human condition across many walks of life. It’s almost like watching a TV and flipping the channel between songs. I hate commercials so much.

    Before the album came out, they released “Life Itself” and “Youth” and I enjoyed them, but they didn’t really grab me. Then about the time the album came out, something clicked with “Youth” and I’m not sure if it was reading the lyrics or what. I proceeded to listen to the song on repeat for about a week. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect song (due to repetition), but I love the melodies and the lyrics (after reading them).

    This is a solid album from beginning to end and I found myself wanting to listen multiple times after digesting the music. It grows and evolves with every listen.

    Don’t be a punk ass. Go check it out.

  • Wild Beasts – Boy King (2016)

    wild-beasts boy kingI’ve been a loyal follower of Wild Beasts since I heard Two Dancers. They are from the U.K. and they have a fairly unique style that encompasses many facets of the rock landscape. They also have two vocalists, one with an airy falsetto and one with a deeper baritone.

    This new album, Boy King, is heavy on the synth pop and it’s delicious. The songs are so infectious and riddled with carnal testosterone-laden subtext. Hell, the title itself is a hidden gem, not to mention the cover.

    As the opener, Big Cat, says: “You can look, but don’t touch.” The whole album is like window shopping wet dreams. Each song is a little peak at something salacious, but hidden enough to make you wonder: “Hmm, what is under that blanket?”

    The production is absolutely superb. It sounds so crisp and yet kind of fatty analog style like it was produced in 2085 (it’s a time paradox). There are meaty beats and fuzzy synths with such clarity. I actually looked up the guy who produced it, John Congleton, and I’ve listened to some other albums he’s produced (St. Vincent). He’s kind of the shit.

    Basically, this album is amazing and I’ve listened to it close to 15 times. It doesn’t get old and it keeps pumping along like a moist well that never dries up. You can interpret that however you choose.