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    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Local Album Review- The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You"

    by: Jordan Muse

    Ah, the Avett Brothers, such a great band. What beautiful (predominantly) acoustic, banjo-laden music they craft, or used to. With their latest release, I and Love and You, they shed most of the banjo and any other folk instruments and adopt a more usual rock set up. They get poppy. Guess what though, it’s not bad, not by any means. It could very well be one of their best albums, but obviously that’s just personal opinion. All their albums provided quite a noticeable change in sound, but just because they made more changes this time around (maybe too many for some) it certainly doesn’t make it bad. Lyrics are strong and emotional just like always, only with a more radio-friendly vibe for a majority of the album.

    The album’s title track and opener is a heartfelt ballad, and while it may linger for a little too long, it packs quite the punch. “January Wedding” is a bit more in tune with their roots, re-plucking that banjo to aid with the lovely proposal the song details. “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise” evokes Emotionalism, and for most I shouldn’t need to say much more. One stipulation though: it sounds like they threw it through a Hollywood orchestra. “And it Spread” is certainly a poppy number, but it still retains the usual emotional intensity, with a great breakdown about halfway through. “The Perfect Space” is a piano-driven piece about loneliness, with swirling strings. It’s quite beautiful. “Ten Thousand Words” is on the folk side, enough said. “Kick Drum Heart” is way poppy, incredibly upbeat, with minimal lyrics. It’s definitely a hit-or-miss track. “Laundry Room” is almost too slow, but obviously its still an emotional song.

    “I’ll With Want” is haunting, the instrumentation, vocal delivery, lyrics, all piled up to make one intriguing song. “Tin Man” has an upbeat feel, but deep down it’s a terribly depressing song, yet wonderful. “Slight Figure of Speech” was issued on 7” vinyl, and there’s a reason: it’s happy, catchy, but not lyrically or musically lacking. “It Goes On and On” does not do what the title suggests, it’s just a good old fashioned love song. Finally, “Incomplete and Insecure” speaks on a pretty sad-willed character, with the perfect instrumental backing, definitely a rocking stand-out track. It’s catchy too.

    Overall the album is phenomenal, despite the notion of them abandoning their roots. They sound great, especially playing these songs live. It would blow your mind. A few listens are recommended, for the die-hard and casual listeners, and after that it ought to be greatly appreciated. 9 out of 10

    Download: “Kick Drum Heart,” “Slight Figure of Speech,” “January Wedding.”

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    WASU Top Ten & Adds: September 22

    WASU Top Ten

    1. Owl City- "Hello Seattle"

    2. Grizzly Bear- "Two Weeks"

    3. 311- "It's Alright"

    4. Pearl Jam- "The Fixer"

    5. Son Volt- "Down to the Wire"

    6. Asteroids Galaxy Tour- "The Sun Ain't Shining No More"

    7. James Morrison- "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You"

    8. Florence and the Machine- "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)"

    9. Howling Bells- "Cities Burning Down"

    10. Modest Mouse- "Satellite Skin"


    Brand New- "At the Bottom"

    The Dodos- "Fables

    Girls- "Laura"

    Monsters of Folk- "Say Please"

    Muse- "Uprising"

    Two Hours Traffic- "Territory"

    Album Review- Brand New "Daisy"

    by: Alex Mayfield

    Brand New returns with their next studio album, released almost 3 years after their masterpiece, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Daisy, their most recent album, continues with songs depicting the struggle between life and religion. Brand New’s Devil and God…, was one of my favorite albums of the decade and there is no way that such greatness was an accident.

    Track one; entitled “Vices” starts with a clip from the song “One Life’s Highway” written by Bertrand Brown. It starts slow and brings this hymnal feel and suddenly……..HITS YOU WITH A TON OF BRICKS! Jesse Lacey proclaims for the need for “Vices” as pulsing drums and distorted guitar rings in the background. It kicks of the album in an interesting way. It immediately drops to a more somber tone with the second track, "Bed," which drives on while Jesse Lacey’s lyrics discuss uncertainty and his voice sings discontent. Brand New continues their solemn journey through the track "At The Bottom" which falls into similar style used on Devil and God… The track itself bleeds a mysterious power while Lacey’s vocals provide an ominous, but still gripping, atmosphere while he goes on yelling, “Well I carry this box to its proper place, and when I lower it down, I let you fade away.” The pace gets faster with the track “Gasoline” as Lacey screams for understanding.

    The next track on the album, "You Stole," could very well be one of Brand New’s most powerful tracks ever. It drives with an unstoppable force that creates a sense of pure beauty. It pushes forward, demanding for your attention. "Be Gone" follows Brand New’s precedent of placing unique and weird things into their songs right before blasting into the high energy "Sink." The energy doesn’t lessen through the track "Bought a Bride," where powerful vocals and an intense arrangement, keep you engaged. The tempo takes break but the energy doesn’t on the title track. With this song being the title track you would expect for it to be superb, and it doesn’t disappoint. The backing guitar and the forceful drums create for a grave but powerful experience.

    It’s a good thing when the weakest song on an album is a good song. "In A Jar" lacks some of the pure emotion that the rest of the album seems to have an abundance of, but the emotion returns in the final breath with the song "Noro." The song screams out and bleeds a dark feeling that finishes the album on a high as vocals proclaims, “I’m on my way to Hell.”

    In my opinion, it will be almost impossible for Brand New to create an album that is better than Devil and God… However, Brand New comes very close. I challenge you to find a band that puts as much pure energy and emotion into every note they play. “Some Men die under the mountain just looking for gold” and Brand New found it! 8.5 out of 10.

    Download: "You Stole," "Daisy," "At the Bottom"

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Album Review- Sea Wolf "White Water, White Bloom"

    by: Jordan Muse

    Sea Wolf captivated me with the song “You’re A Wolf.” The mellow, autumnal feel of the song hooked me into the band. With their latest release, White Water, White Bloom, they eschew that mellowness.

    The album’s opener, “Wicked Blood,” is proportionally heavy for the band, with a mildly more poppy edge. One contention of the song is that it will get stuck in your head, thankfully I do enjoy it. Medieval sounds flutter about in the next track, “Dew in the Grass.” It features a heavy chorus that seamlessly bleeds back into the medieval setting. Another notable feature is the scratchy guitar solo, making it one grand track. “Orion & Dog” is a children’s story-esque tune laden with lush strings, bringing back those beloved autumnal feelings just for a bit.

    Darkness arises in the next song, “Turn the Dirt Over,” but light shines down throughout. Interesting plucked arrangements twirl around throughout it, and more of those strings as well; it’s pretty unique. “O Maria!” contains some serious distortion, and wonderful shouted vocals. It calls to mind the imagination of a child…having a nightmare. It’s definitely worth a listen.
    The title track has a slight Norwegian feel to it, with sounds seemingly emitting from a cold forest. The chorus is certainly very catchy in this track, and I don’t mean that as a dissention. The wind chimes are also another great feature. “Spirit Horse” has a twanging, sliding, pop-and-go set-up, backed by the perfectly aligned vocals that sound like they sung in a cave. “The Orchard” is a tad haunting. The instrumentation in the beginning is very minimalistic, though it picks up after about a minute, moving somewhat in a rush.

    “The Traitor” is really poppy. The lyrics and obviously vocals aren’t bad, but the instrumentation, fueled by way too many strings and claps or clicks or whatever, is way too obnoxious. This song just drives me bonkers. The albums closer, “Winter’s Heir” is pretty chill. It’ll bring to mind images of a snowed in cabin, sitting by a fire place. It serves as an astounding ending to a predominantly well-crafted album. 8 out of 10.

    Download: “Dew in the Grass,” “O Maria!” and “Spirit Horse.”

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Hip-Hop Album Review: Kid Cudi "Man on the Moon: The End of Day"

    by: Jordan Muse

    Kid Cudi’s debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day was much awaited by me after the two massively entertaining singles of “Day’n’Nite” and “Make Her Say,” the latter beautifully sampling a live rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”

    The wait almost seemed not worth it after the opener, “In My Dreams,” played, but persevering through it got me to a highlight of the album: “Soundtrack 2 My Life.” This track hits hard, with intense flow, swirling synthesizers, and deep meaning that continues throughout the rest of the album. “Simple As…” is pretty crazy; a fun listen though not a very meaningful track in comparison to the many stronger ones. “Solo Dolo” has this mighty funky, yet subtle, island feel to it, but sadly the lyrics seem to fall into the sea. “Heart of a Lion” starts with Cudi spitting pretty rapidly, then swiftly transfers to anthem territory; it’s a solid track. “My World” has a mild Oriental feel to it, particularly in the intro, which is nice, but the flows a little too tame, and the chorus is just agitating. “Sky Might Fall” is tragically wonderfully; it almost makes you feel bad enjoying such a depressing song, but I guess Cudi’s optimism makes it alright. “Enter Galactic” is a love story about tripping out, with an impressively catchy hook and danceable beat; the song’s just fantastic.

    “Alive” is one of two tracks featuring Ratatat, certainly making it one of the highest points. It sounds like a blend of Daft Punk’s funkiness with Ratatat’s trademark swirls turned into a trance-inducing mantra. “CuDi Zone” is rushed and happy, yet the lyrics are conversely stark and dark. “Pursuit of Happiness” is phenomenal. It features MGMT and Ratatat wonderfully aiding Cudi’s accounts of his night terrors and his methods of coping with angelic vocals and beats. “Hyyer” is easily the weakest track, despite evoking Chicago House music. Lastly, “Up, Up, and Away,” is a joyful anthem that serves as a great track to close the album on.

    Overall, the album is pretty stellar. I thoroughly enjoy it, playing it on repeat through all this stormy weather. However, non hip-hop fans may want to shy away from the album as a whole and just stick to the Ratatat tracks, and maybe “Enter Galactic.” That said, I still recommend it to anyone interested in spacey hip-hop. 8 out of 10.

    Download: “Pursuit of Happiness,” “Enter Galactic,” “Soundtrack 2 My Life”

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Album Review: The Calamity: "Songs From the Gold Coast"

    By: Alex Mayfield

    Style of music seems to fit a pop/country station better. Though it seems to have its roots into alternative, it comes off as pop and sometimes even sounds a bit country, mostly due to the poor vocals. Though some songs start out with promise, it doesn't last. Waiting for July starts off upbeat and enjoyable till the vocals pop in with lack of depth in lyrics and a wanna-be Rascal Flatts feel. Whisky Sour seems like it is going to bring something interesting up to the table but the chorus brings the band back to its comfort zone of poor guitar riffs and bad harmonies in the vocals. Overall the album would work for a pop/country station listened to by 13 year old girls who like simplistic beats and simplistic vocals. 3.5 out of 10

    Download: Whisky Sour, Island, 45