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    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    WASU's Top Ten Albums of 2008

    It's that time of year when everyone in the whole entire world puts together lists of their favorite stuff of the year. Why should WASU be any different? These lists always cause a ton of controversy. So, this is the list of albums we here at WASU either played the heck out of, wished we could play more of, or we were just really digging. Without further ado:

    10. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
    The '59 Sound didn't catch my attention right away. I think it was one of those days in the office where every five minutes something was distracting me. Nevertheless, I knew it was good. When it came time decide whether to put Gaslight into rotation, we thought the title track was irresistible. A week or so later, our own David Edscorn decided the album was good enough to write a review of it for this blog. He describes their sound better than I'll ever be able to. Not only did we like the Gaslight Anthem, so did you, our listeners. We got dozens of requests for The Gaslight Anthem, even long after The '59 Sound was out of rotation.

    9. The Dodos - Visiter
    It seems like every time we played "Fools" from this awesome second LP by the Dodos, someone called in wanting to know who the song was by. Meric Long plays an acoustic guitar with more ferocity (just give "Jodi" a listen) than anyone I've ever heard. Matched with Logan Kroeber's thudding and snare-rim laden drums, this duo makes some of the most sincere and passionate music today. David Escorn also gave us a review of Visiter.

    8. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    With the release of Dear Science, TV on the Radio have catapulted to the forefront of America's musical consciousness so much so that Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Spin, Consequence of Sound, and the Pitchfork reader's poll named Dear Science the best album of 2008. The sounds on this album range so greatly that it's hard to pin this as solely an indie, rock, hip-hop, r&b, or funk record (yes, funk). It's hard to ever say that a band is completely and utterly unique, but TVotR is. Not since Radiohead blew everyone's minds in the 90's has there been a band this creative and original.

    7. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
    Consolers of the Lonely, the second LP from The Raconteurs, was purposely snuck into the marketplace before critics could review it before the release -- a bold move on the band's part. With only a week's notice before its release, Consolers has still managed to match, if not better, the success of The Raconteurs' debut (and rightfully so). From the opening title track to the eerie closer, "Carolina Drama," White and Benson showcase their ability to make rock music that their influences (The Who, Led Zeppelin, Badfinger, etc.) would be proud of. Forget The White Stripes, Consolers of the Lonely establishes The Raconteurs as Jack White's band.

    6. Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Before anyone had even heard the record, Radiohead was setting trends with In Rainbows. Their "pay whatever you want" release led Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails among others to follow suit. There's even an entire record label based on the precedent set by Radiohead, called Quote Unquote Records. As for the actual music on the album, it's classic Radiohead, though a few famous musicians feel it's a bit gray around the edges. Still, Radiohead was everywhere this year: consistently #1 on, a high-profile world tour, a few Grammy nominations. Gray or not, people like Radiohead.

    5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
    For a lot of people Vampire Weekend is a guilty pleasure. I can see it, with their clean-cut Ivy League backgrounds, comparisons to Paul Simon, and their videos premiering on FNMTV. If have to say though, once you see Ezra Koenig rocking some hardcore punk songs with Fucked Up, you gain a lot of respect for him and his band. Besides, Vampire Weekend make some fun, happy, chill songs about some pretty random stuff. What's not to like about pairing distaste for the Oxford comma with cocaine use?

    4. Dr. Dog - Fate
    I've always thought of Dr. Dog as Boone's band. When I listen to Dr. Dog and when I walk through town, I get the same feeling. Sometimes I'll hear some Dog when I'm in restaurants or in record stores, and people on campus will ask me if I've ever heard of them. Sometimes, too, I hear them in Naked Gods and The Major Sevens cited them as a big influence. Boone and Dr. Dog just seem to go together. When Juston from the band called up the station to thank us for playing Fate he said he had heard about Boone and the station manager encouraged him to play a show here sometime. Fate is filled with great songs that harken back to the past when things were simpler while remaining musically complex and interesting.

    3. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    The Hold Steady's Craig Finn doesn't write songs, he writes stories. No lie, this semester one of my English professors broke out lyric sheets to one of their songs, and we spent half the class analyzing it like a short story. Musically they've garnered comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, but The Hold Steady are much darker than Springsteen ever was. Their songs are about drunken nights, parties, murder, and idealism. Craig Finn has said this album is about aging gracefully and holding true to the ideals of your youth. With their fourth album, The Hold Steady have certainly aged gracefully. The first five songs on Stay Positive could easily be the top five songs on anyone's list this year. 

    2. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
    Only By the Night was under attack from the get-go. Pitchfork and PopMatters gave the Kings scathing reviews. But, of course, Pitchfork has always held some kind of grudge against the Followills. The band has only had mild success in the U.S., but they're kings in Britain. With Only By the Night, Kings of Leon bring that success home. They've brought a more polished feel to their southern-twinged garage rock sound, and their mega-hit "Sex On Fire" is a guilty pleasure like no other. The first six songs on this album have been a mainstay on the air and around offices of WASU. 

    1. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    What is there to say about MGMT that hasn't already been said this year? They've gone from "college-dorm experiment" to one of the hippest bands in the world in less than twelve months. Instead of just singing songs about living lives of stardom, drugs, and models, now they can live the fast life for themselves (but hopefully not die young). Their psychedelic videos for "Time to Pretend" and "Electric Feel" and stage attire have even influenced the designer fashion world. The opening synth riff of "Kids" is as infectious as they come, and Andrew VanWyngarden's vocals seem almost otherworldly and chilling. Each song on Oracular Spectacular is as memorable as the next, each an essential part of an overarching metaphysical experience. These will be the anthems of our lives for years to come. 

    Local Albums
    Here are some of our favorite albums from North Carolinians and North Carolina natives:
    The Rosebuds - Life Like
    Naked Gods - Welcome Home
    Annuals - Such Fun
    Do It To Julia - Archie Carrol
    Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cardinology
    Sugar Glyder - We Cracked the Sky
    The Sammies - Sandwich
    Ben Folds - Way to Normal
    The Avett Brothers - The Gleam II
    The Groves - Simply Put EP

    Manchester Orchestra - Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind
    Wintergreen - Forest St
    Tom Gabel - Heart Burns
    The King Left - New York Nothing
    Annuals/Sunfold - Wet Zoo
    Mason Proper - Short Hand
    Blue Giant - Target Heart
    Bang!Bang!Eche! - Bang! Bang! Eche!
    Foreign Orange - Foreign Orange
    Audrye Sessions - Audrye Sessions
    Other Lives - Other Lives
    Past Lives - Strange Symmetry
    Be Your Own Pet - Get Damaged
    White Lies - Death

    Music Department Picks
    1. Why? - Alopecia
    2. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    3. Dead Confederate - Wrecking Ball
    4. Foals - Antidotes
    5. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    6. Dodos - Visiter
    7. Dr. Dog - Fate
    8. Deerhunter - Microcastles
    9. Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair
    10. Mason Proper - Olly Oxen Free

    1. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
    2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
    3. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
    4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    5. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
    6. The (International) Noise Conspiracy - The Cross of My Calling
    7. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
    8. Dodos - Visiter
    9. No Age - Nouns
    10. Dead Confederate - Wrecking Ball

    1. Young Widows - Old Wounds
    2. Paint It Black - New Lexicon
    3. Torche - Meanderthal
    4. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
    5. Algernon Cadwallader - Some Kind of Cadwallader
    6. Bridge & Tunnel - East/West
    7. Harvey Milk - Life...The Best Game In Town
    8. Naked Gods - Welcome Home
    9. Murs & 9th Wonder - Sweet Lord

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Best Places to Find Free MP3's

    With the RIAA cracking down more and more, illegally downloading music can be quite a sketchy endeavor. As an avid music fan and broke college student, how can you check out the newest and best music without blowing all your hard earned cash? Today, a number of blogs post free MP3's of bands' music for you to download. The idea of these free MP3's is that they will entice you to buy the band's album. But, between you and me, with so many blogs posting songs from the same bands, you can usually find half of an album on the web (sometimes even before it hits stores), and the best part is that you won't get hit with a hefty fine from the RIAA.

    Here are some of the blogs who offer lots of free MP3's for your consumption. - Check out the "Forkcast" section for videos, streams, and (more often than not) MP3's of the newest material from all walks of music. - Almost daily, the guys at Stereogum post MP3's for your enjoyment. Check out the player or the "MP3's and Streams" tab for their entire MP3 archive. For some reason they really like cover songs.

    My Old Kentucky Blog - MOKB is chocked full of free MP3's for your delight. Scroll through the posts to find out all kinds of wonderful info about bands, and more than likely a few MP3's about mentioned artists. The "Listening Party" posts are especially fruitful.

    Paste - Besides being one of the best print publications I've ever seen, Paste magazine has turned itself into a multimedia online experience. In their "Paste Station" player, is a link to downloads, exclusive videos, album streams, and artists to watch. Be sure to check both the downloads and recently added tabs to get the full benefit.

    Chromewaves - This one is new to me, but a quick glance shows a wealth of promisingly free digital music goodness.

    So, these are just a few of the many places on the web to find free legal music. If you know of any more places, please leave a comment. Let us in on the secret. With so many free and legal places to find music on the internet, who needs to risk a fine?

    Posted By: Daniel

    WASU Top 10 & Adds - Week of November 17th

    WASU Top 10
    1. Oasis - "The Shock of the Lightning"
    2. TV on the Radio - "Shout Me Out"
    3. Kings of Leon - "Crawl"
    4. Anthony Green - "Dear Child"
    5. Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - "Pages Written on a Wall"
    6. Department of Eagles - "No One Does It"
    7. The Subways - "I Won't Let You Down"
    8. Ryan Adams - "Fix It"
    9. Manchester Orchestra - "I Was a Lid"
    10. The Rosebuds - "Another Way In"

    What's New This Week
    Blackmarket - "Night In Question"
    J. Roddy Walston and the Business - "Used to Did"
    Vampire Weekend - "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance"
    Wintersleep - "Drunk on Aluminum"
    The Deep Vibrations - "Oklahoma City Woman Blues"
    The Soft Hands - "Lot to Know"
    The Loom - "Song for the Winter Sun"
    Naked Gods - "Mountain Smashing Song of Joy"
    The Groves - "Dive Down"

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    WASU Top 10 & Adds - Week of November 11th

    WASU Top 10
    1. TV on the Radio - "Shout Me Out"
    2. Oasis - "The Shock of the Lightning"
    3. Sleeping In The Aviary - "Write On"
    4. Cold War Kids - "I've Seen Enough"
    5. Kings of Leon - "Crawl"
    6. Anthony Green - "Dear Child (I've Been Trying to Reach You)"
    7. Margot and the Nucler So & So's - "Pages Written on a Wall"
    8. Department of Eagles - "No One Does It"
    9. Ryan Adams - "Fix It"
    10. The Subways - "I Won't Let You Down"

    What's New This Week
    Japanese Motors - "Crooked Gun"
    Whitley - "All Is Whole"
    Gringo Star - "Transmission"
    Audrye Sessions - "Turn Me Off"
    Little Joy - "Keep Me In Mind"
    Snow Patrol - "Disaster Button"
    The King Left - "The Storm in a Teacup"
    Bang! Bang! Eche! - "4 to the Floor"
    Woodward - "Take It Back"

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    WASU Top 10 and Adds - Week of November 3rd

    WASU Top 10
    1. Jenny Lewis - "See Fernando"
    2. Snow Patrol - "Take Back the City"
    3. Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts - "Sunrise Dolls"
    4. TV on the Radio - "Shout Me Out"
    5.Oasis - "The Shock of the Lightning"
    6. Cold War Kids - "I've Seen Enough"
    7. Sleeping In The Aviary - "Write On"
    8. Kings of Leon - "Crawl"
    9. Anthony Green - "Dear Child"
    10. Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - "Pages Written On a Wall"

    What's New This Week
    Kaiser Chiefs - "Half the Truth"
    Longwave - "Eyes Like Headlights"
    The (International) Noise Conspiracy - "Trashbins of History"
    Past Lives - "Strange Symmetry"
    Crystal Stilts - "Crystal Stilts"
    Tom Gabel - "Conceptual Paths"
    The Dead Trees - "Killer In Me"
    Shiny Toy Guns - "Ghost Town"
    The Decemberists - "Valerie Plume"
    The Knux - "Roxxanne"

    EP Review: Tom Gabel - "Heart Burns"

    By David Edscorn

    Against Me! is one of those bands that refuses to stop evolving. Starting as an anarchist folk-punk band from Florida that played sweaty acoustic anthems in crowded dingy basements, the band has changed slightly every album. This gradual change culminated in 2007’s New Wave, a highly-polished rock record with nary an acoustic song in sight. The critics raved about what they saw as progress, and die-hard fans raged about what they saw as selling out.

    Personally, I prefer the raucous energy of the band’s early albums, but I also accept their new stuff as having moments of brilliance. Therefore, I was very interested to see what front-man Tom Gabel would turn out with his new long EP, Heart Burns. These seven songs are split between more sonic experimentation as well as a few songs that represent a step back to the band’s earlier sound.

    Initially, I was disappointed with the first four songs. On these songs, Gabel experiments with different styles, and it doesn’t always work. The lead track, “Random Hearts,” is an almost new-wave (the style, not the album) sounding rock song. It’s interesting, but doesn’t really go anywhere. This seems to be a common problem on this part of the album. The songs have intriguing concepts, but Gabel fails to execute them to their full potential. “Conceptual Paths” attempts to mix acoustic guitar with electronic beats, and once again it doesn’t quite work. Lyrically, the concept behind “Cowards Sing at Night” (Senator McCain still fighting the Vietnam War in his head) is great, but I wish Gabel had taken us farther into this lost warrior’s psyche. These aren’t bad songs, they just could have been done much better.

    Thankfully, Gabel pulls off the last three songs with the unplugged passion and energy that I’ve come to love. “Anna is a Stool Pigeon” is an engrossing tale of an activist that falls in love with an FBI informant and winds up in prison for his trouble. It’s almost Dylanesque in it’s delivery, helped by the harmonica between verses. “Harsh Realms” is a haunting song about the stress of life in the 21st century. The album finishes with the bluntly-titled “100 Years of War,” which debates the future of our country over jangling guitars and an infectious chorus.

    All in all, this isn’t a bad album. The first four songs don’t quite work the way they could, but the last three more than make up for that. Personally, I would like to see Tom Gabel release a full album of all acoustic material. He’s at his best when he’s railing against the system without fancy gimmicks to distract the message. 7 out of 10

    Download: “Anna is a Stool Pigeon,” “Harsh Realms,” “100 Years of War”

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Caught Off Guard: Get Help's "The End of the New Country"

    By: Daniel

    Every once in a while -- a very long while -- I'm caught off guard by how good an album is. As is the case with The End of the New Country by Boston's Get Help. I had never heard of the band, its record label, or any of its members. The record wasn't sent to WASU by one of the many promoters who supply us with CDs. A one-sheet listing the tracks, giving a little background on the band, and imprinted with a, dare I say, unflattering picture of the two primary members was all that accompanied the CD. What cause did I have to expect great things from Get Help? How was I supposed to know The End of the New Country would be chocked full of beautifully dark post-punk goodness that brings to mind such masterful bands as Joy Division, The Pixies, and especially R.E.M.? 

    I would take the time to write a detailed description of the album, but why do what NPR has already done so well?

    A self-proclaimed "supergroup of unknown musicians," Get Help makes gloomy but thoughtful
     guitar-rock that would fit comfortably in the post-punk era of the late '70s and early '80s. Get Help's two primary members, Tony Skalicky and Mike Ingenthron, were in elementary school when bands like Joy Division were making music. But on their new CD, The End of the New Country, the duo cribs from post-punk with enough honesty and talent to keep from sounding like a cheap knock-off.

    Skalicky and Ingenthron, who write and record in New York, take turns on lead vocals. Skalicky unabashedly channels Joy Division's Ian Curtis (or Interpol's Paul Banks), and for some listeners, that might be too much of a turnoff to get through the whole album. But Skalicky's time at the mic fuels the album's most compelling and memorable moments.

    The End of the New Country opens on a somber note with "Traveler's Shave Kit." Plaintive guitar strums, gentle rhythms, a little slide guitar and mellotron set an appropriate tone for an album that scarcely cracks a smile over the course of 15 tracks.

    The album's title cut, like much of the CD, is full of resignation, as Skalicky sings about a world on the brink of collapse, with mobbed streets lined by burning buildings. "I think we've reached the end of the new country," he sings. "And I think we know the rest of its history." It's grim, to be sure.

    But it could also signal a new beginning: By the end of the album, with the dramatic squalls of feedback on the closer "Growing Circles," the band seems to say that everything is going to be all right. "I am searching in growing circles," Skalicky sings. "And I will find you, I am certain."

    Despite its darkness, The End of the New Country isn't a downer, though it's undeniably brooding and introspective. But there's enough inspired beauty in the lyrics — and consistently impressive guitar work — to make the music uplifting at times.

    When not working as Get Help, Skalicky is the singer and guitarist for the Boston-based group The Beatings, while Ingenthron is in the New York group Strikes Again. The two collaborated on the songs for The End of the New Country over the Internet, with help from Rob Machold, William Scales, Daniel Parlin, Dennis Grabowski and Gene DiAvolio.

    --- Robin Hilton,

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Speed Reviews By Daniel

    Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Cardinology

    Ryan Adams, a North Carolina native, and the Cardinals put forth a commendable effort on Cardinology. Alt-country is a genre I haven't much explored, and thus my knowledge of Adams' work is also limited. I get that Adams is going for the whole rehabilitation/rebirth/finding the light thing, and that the music is graceful and sweet for that reason. Yet, at times the songwriting feels a little hokey, and I kept hoping the band would show a little bit more energy. Some tracks -- "Fix It," "Go Easy, " "Magick," and "Sink Ships" -- do show signs of life, but overall, the album is set on cruise control. Cardinology may be a faster pace for Adam's, but it's still too slow for my taste. 6.7 out of 10

    Rise Against - Appeal to Reason

    I may have at one point in recent history described Rise Against as one of the few good modern punk bands. That was before I heard Appeal to Reason. Don't fret; Appeal is still a progressively minded, humanitarian, stick-it-to-the-man power chord punk fest. Besides reasoning behind the lack of variety, all I want to know is why there isn't a law regulating the number of times you can work pick scrapes into an album? I'm not sure of the official count, but they're in 90% of the songs on this album. Stand outs on Appeal to Reason for me are (of course) "Re-Education (Through Labor)," "Collapse (Post-Amerika)," "Audience of One," and "Entertainment." 7.5 out of 10.

    WASU Top 10 and Adds

    WASU Top 10 Songs
    1. Blitzen Trapper - "Gold for Bread"
    2. Kings of Leon - "Revelry"
    3. Dead Confederate - "Start Me Laughing"
    4. Stereophonics - "Lady Luck"
    5. Toadies - "Hell in High Water"
    6. Jenny Lewis - "See Fernando"
    7. Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts - "Sunrise Dolls"
    8. Snow Patrol - "Take Back the City"
    9. TV on the Radio - "Shout Me Out"
    10. Oasis - "The Shock of the Lightning"

    What's New this Week
    Eagles of Death Metal - "(I Used to Couldn't Dance) Tight Pants"
    Ray LaMontagne - "Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's a Shame)"
    Astronautalis - "Two Years Before the Mast"
    The Dears - "Berlin Heart"
    Pretenders - "Boots of Chinese Plastic"
    Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band - "Time is Now"

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    EP Review: White Lies “Death E.P.”

    By: David Edscorn

    The alternative-indie scene has gotten a little crowded lately. Bands that sound a lot like the Killers and Hot Hot Heat seem to be popping up everywhere. White Lies is one of those groups, but in this case, that may not be such a bad thing. Their brand new “Death E.P.” doesn’t necessarily do anything completely original, but it still manages to sound fresh and exciting. The lead track “Death” is an excellently driving anthem. With plenty of crunching guitar, sweeping vocals, and swirling synthesizers, the band shows a lot of promise. "Black Song" isn’t quite as good a track as “Death,” but it’s not bad. The album closes with two remixes of “Death.” Both of them are decent, especially the second one done by The Haunts, which keeps the feeling of the original while adding a little something fresh to the mix. The first remix is done by the Crystal Castles who are making plenty of waves of their own but only put forth a passable effort here. White Lies may not be the band to change the genre, but they’re certainly worth keeping an eye on. 7 out of 10.

    Download: “Death”

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    Review: Old Crow Medicine Show - "Tennessee Pusher"

    By: David Edscorn

    Old Crow Medicine Show’s lineup is about as unique as they come. In the tradition of old-time string bands, the band consists (most of the time) of an acoustic guitarist, two banjo players, an upright bassist, and front man Ketch Secor (who alternates between singing, fiddling, and playing a wicked harmonica). Discovered by bluegrass legend Doc Watson while busking outside of Boone Drug, the band has gained popularity for playing music that successfully crosses the boundaries of the past and present.

    With their newest album, Tennessee Pusher, Old Crow stick to their formula of hard-driving old-time music with all the energy of a modern rock band. While the music is still as expertly crafted as ever, this is a much darker Medicine Show than found in previous albums. Bouquets of dogwood flowers have been replaced with the heartbreak of “Next Go ‘Round” and the lonesome roads of “Highway Halo.” Both songs are engaging ballads, but weigh rather heavily in the emotional department.

    Pusher does have its share of upbeat tunes. The album kicks off with “Alabama High-Test,” a rollicking yet cautionary tale of “down-home Dixie-fried home-grown.” Other foot-stompers include “Humdinger” and the sweet “Caroline.” These tracks, and the aforementioned ballads, are joined with several gritty downers, giving the whole album a sinister edge. “Methamphetamine” is a harsh tale of the dangers of the titular drug and its trafficking. The title track and “Hotel in Memphis” are both dark murder stories, the latter an anthem in the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Tennessee Pusher is a sprawling, impressive album, but it is a defiantly different direction for the band. The music is as captivating as always, but the lyrics carry more emotional baggage that may turn off listeners simply looking for a Southern-fried good time. 7 out of 10.

    Download: “Alabama High-Test,” “Highway Halo,” “Caroline”

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Review: The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound"

    By: David Edscorn

    I’ve always been a fan of classic rock and oldies, but generally find myself proceeding with caution when I find out that a modern band roots its sound in those genres. The result sometimes turns out to work perfectly and make me fall in love with it, but just as frequently crashes and burns in a conflagration of tired AC/DC or Righteous Brothers stereotypes. Fortunately, The Gaslight Anthem’s newest album, The ’59 Sound, falls firmly in the first category. The New Jersey band manages to perfectly toe the line between modern punk and old time rock and roll without sounding clich├ęd or boring.

    The album begins with “Great Expectations,” a hard hitting track that starts with a needle dropping onto a record before kicking into powerful drumming from Benny Horowitz and just as powerful vocals from Brian Fallon. A chorus with just the right amount of catchiness and guitars that would fit in fine on London Calling round out the solid opener. 

    The title track is an infectious nostalgia-filled first single about death and what comes after. Bleak as that may sound, the band manages to carry it out in an upbeat and hopeful manner. Nostalgia is a common theme on the album, even though the young men in Gaslight and their target audience aren’t old enough to remember much of what they sing about. Nonetheless, the tracks manage to create time long gone in such a way that you feel like you know exactly what they’re singing about. Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen are obvious influences (Petty’s name and one of his songs get dropped on several songs), as well as fellow Jersey act The Bouncing Souls and punk band Against Me!

    The album is crammed full of good tracks, but standouts include the gritty “Film Noir,” rockabilly-infused “Casanova, Baby” and the anthematic closer “The Backseat.” At first listen the album seems rather repetitive, but repeated play shows that this is not the case. Each track has its own sound and its own story. Although The Gaslight Anthem have only been around for a couple of years, they have managed to produce an outstanding album. 8.5 out of 10

    Download: “The ’59 Sound,” “Film Noir,” “The Backseat”

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Review: Dead Confederate - "Wrecking Ball"

    By: Daniel Earney

    With a name like Dead Confederate, you have to expect something at least somewhat Southern from this band. On their debut LP, Wrecking Ball, Dead Confederate take Southern rock, turn it on its head and cover it in thick, heavy mud. But that's a good thing.            

    Previously named The Redbelly Band, kicking around the Augusta club scene, and playing a Phishy jamband style of rock, the guys of Dead Confederate graduated from college and decided it was time for a change. They moved to the big city (Atlanta), changed their name, and adopted an entirely new sound. The band is already drawing comparisons to Sonic Youth, Band of Horses, and (what really caught my eye) Nirvana. Sonic Youth, for both bands' use of highly distorted atmospheric noise, I can see; Band of Horses, not so much; and Nirvana, though I had to make sure Tulsa’s Carter Tanton didn’t have a side project, at times, and not too often, the vocals are spot-on Cobain.  If it weren’t for the sometimes weeping, sometimes screaming slide guitar, I’d place DC among Seattle’s elite.

    I was scared at first that Dead Confederate would let me down: “Heavy Petting” starts abruptly and awkwardly enough with Hardy Morris belting out the song’s title, a pinch of Southern drawl showing through. Slow, soaring guitar permeates the first half of the track. Then the song erupts halfway through with an ominously fierce guitar solo mixing with Jason Scarboro’s heavily crashing drums. All the while, Hardy’s voice scratches and cracks in true Cobain fashion. Walker Howle’s guitar takes off a few more times before the song fades.

    On the Album’s first single, “The Rat,” Morris continues the screechy wail as it becomes clear that the dark, war-torn lyrics are a common theme. Dead Confederate’s live performances, so far, have drawn positive reviews, and seeing the band perform “The Rat” on KEXP’s website made me, for the first time in a long time, intensely miss going to concerts.

    At times Wrecking Ball can be slow, but the payoffs for being patient are immense. 2:50 into “It Was a Rose,” Howle’s slide is at once eloquent and overwhelming; later in the song, it’s simply insane.  “Yer Circus,” “All the Angels,” “The News Underneath,” and the 12-minute “Flesh Colored Canvas” showcase DC’s slower, more melodic and elegant capabilities, but are not without their powerful punctuations. “Start Me Laughing” is a pure gem worthy of Nirvana’s songbook. The album finishes out with the title track, in all its destructive glory. The album, however, is not without its flaws; you have to listen too closely to make out John Watkins’ keys (when they’re present), and Brantley Senn’s bass is often buried beneath drums and guitars.

    Wrecking Ball begins with a furor nothing short of Sherman tear-assing his way through Georgia circa 1864. (Luckily Sherman wasn't a Confederate.) Yet, instead of glorifying war, Dead Confederate show us that war indeed is hell; it’s loud, it’s painful, and it’s sad. A man can toil endlessly only to find that he has brought about nothing but death and destruction – a wrecking ball. 8.7 out of 10.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Review: Paper Route - "Are We All Forgotten"

    By: Tyler Sloan

    There is not enough that I can say about Paper Route’s latest EP Are We All Forgotten. After listening to it 15 times or more, it continues to grow. It is so magnificently layered and mixed that you hear something new every time. The vocals are clean, the drums are epic, and the lyrics are powerful. Sometimes, as in “Empty House,” Paper Route reminds me of Band of Horses, and at other times I think back to the days when U2 was actually very good, as in “Are We All Forgotten.”

    With the days of electronic music upon us, I did not know it was possible to be this innovative. The synthesizer and piano are used ingeniously and appropriately in each track. The opener, “American Clouds,” sounds as if it came out of the 80’s electro movement when Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode were making their best music. These tracks never get old and while “Waiting for the Final Leaf to Fall” is by far the most thought-provoking of tracks, if you were to only give the album one shot check out the title track, “Are We All Forgotten.” From what I hear, Paper Route has much more to offer, which means I begin my anticipation of a full-length album. 

    What is most impressive about Are We All Forgotten is that Paper Route produced, engineered, mixed, and

    designed the EP themselves. If you enjoy listening to Paper Route, check out the other artists on their indie label, Low Altitude Records. Lydia is a new signee to the label and Patrick Wolf rounds out the roster. 

    My biggest complaint about this EP is that it is short, but I guess EP’s are supposed to leave you wanting more. 9 out of 10.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Review: Sing It Loud - "Come Around"

    By: Tyler Sloan

    Come Around
    is Sing it Loud's debut album with Epitaph records. Epitaph, one of the most well respected independent labels boasts great artists such as
    Pennywise, The Weakerthans, Sage Frances and Danger Doom. Honestly, I'm not sure what label head and Bad Religion guitarist, Brett Gurewitz, had in mind when he signed the band. At first listen, Sing It Loud sounds like a mediocre punk band turned pop from earlier this decade. I can't quite decide what band from that era they remind me of, but it is apparent that they are trying their best to emulate Motion City/New Found Glory. If they were to succeed in just doing that, it would sound better than this album. The album lacks one ingredient crucial to the pop/punk genre and that is catchy choruses. After listening to the album multiple times, I can't remember a single line.

    On the plus side, I'm a huge fan of the synthesizer, which Sing It Loud utilizes. On the down side, the synth that opens track one, "I've Got A Feeling," is cheesy at best. It didn't take long to realize that this is a
     pattern. The bright spot on this album is the title track, "Come Around," the vocals mix well and the track has a very upbeat arena rock feel, which makes your foot tap, even if you don't want it to. I'm pretty sure every song is about a girl, and I'm pretty sure I have heard the lyrics before. The CD drops September 23rd, and while I think Sing it Loud would fare better in 2002, I look for much better things from them and Epitaph in the future. 3 out of 10.

    Review: The Dodos - "Visiter"

    By: David Edscorn

    the second LP from The Dodos begins unobtrusively with the sweetly banjo-laden "Walking." Right as you think that this is just another indie-folk band riding in the wake of Iron & Wine's success, they smack you across the face with "Red and Purple." This track takes everything you thought that folk was and throws it out the window. It's here that the Dodos establish their belief that acoustic instruments can rock just as hard, if not harder, than electric ones. From here on out the album is a journey through what exactly these instruments can do, and more importantly, what these two young men from San Francisco can do. Meric Long switches between delicate picking and rapid machine-gun-paced strumming of guitars, while Logan Kroeber gives the drums plenty of energy but never allows them to dominate the show (although they certainly drive "It's That Time Again"). The lyrics delivered by Long are packed full of emotion, even if their meaning isn't always discernable. "Fools" starts off sounding like it belongs on the Braveheart soundtrack, then turns abruptly into a fun upbeat romp. Other highlights include the gentle folksy "Undeclared" (which showcases Long's impressive falsetto), and the unplugged anthems "Paint the Rust" and "God?" The latter is an appropriately powerful album closer, smooth and epically driving at the same time. Visiter might not be an album that will change the music industry, but it certainly challenges the definitions of music that have been set forth, and is therefore definitely worth a listen. 8 out of 10.