Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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.
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
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.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
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”