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    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Album Review: Maximum Balloon "Maximum Balloon"

    by: Maggie Luckadoo

    With names like Karen O, David Byrne, and Katrina Ford on the track listing for Maximum Balloon’s debut self-titled release, it’s difficult to set the bar low for the album. And, after listening to said tracks, Maximum Balloon did not fail to meet my expectations. Best known for his role in TV On the Radio, Maximum Balloon is a side project of David Andrew Sitek.

    It is clear from the beginning that this project is a complete departure from TV On the Radio’s sound for Sitek. The opening track, “Groove Me,” featuring Thelophilus London, is heavy on synth and sets off the rhythmic, dance-like tone which flows throughout the entire album. With Katrina Ford’s vocals on “Young Love,” the dance club feel continues and doesn’t stop until TV On the Radio Kyp Malone lends his voice to the track “Shakedown,” which has a slower, jazzier tempo. But even when Sitek reunited with Malone on Maximum Balloon, the end product sounded nothing like tracks on TV On the Radio’s albums. Also standing apart from Maximum Balloon’s dance tracks are “The Lesson” featuring Holly Miranda and “Pink Bricks” featuring Ambrosia Nicole Parsley, which have more sultry vocals. Karen O’s contribution to the album, “Communion,” was not reminiscent of anything she’s produced with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but is pleasantly surprising and one of Maximum Balloon’s strongest tracks.

    Despite the wide range of vocals and sounds on each track, which vary with each contributor to the album, Maximum Balloon achieves a certain level of consistency. Those expecting to hear an album similar to TV On the Radio’s most recent releases, Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science, will be disappointed by Maximum Balloon. However, Sitek’s first solo venture can definitely be considered a success. Unique and upbeat, this album is full of solid dance tracks and unique rhythms. Hopefully, this will not be Sitek’s only release of this kind. 7/10

    Album Picks: "If You Return," Communion," "Young Love"

    Album Review: Street Dogs "Street Dogs"

    by: Ashley Burdette

    Boston-based Street Dogs (fronted by former Dropkick Murphys singer, Mike McColgan) released their fifth album at the end of August, which has been a great soundtrack for the beginning of the school year. It will draw you in from the very first riff and shrill of the bagpipes, making you want to drink green beer, slap on some Mardi Gras beads and have a Boondock Saints marathon in your dorm room. Following the traditional punk format, none of the tracks are longer than three minutes and roll right into each other with perfection. They’re the kind of songs on your iPod that make you walk, or tap your hand on the steering wheel, a bit faster to keep in time with the music.

    There is a balance though, if you want to listen to something a bit slower and more ‘ballad-y’, check out “Bobby Powers”, “10 Wood Rd.”, or “Poor, Poor Jimmy”— as opposed to “Punk Rock and Roll”, “Ghosts”, or “Portland”, which will definitely wake you up in the morning and get you going. Interwoven between the rather catchy beats and raw energy are political messages about the economy, something we all hate to talk about but deal with every day, making the members of Street Dogs seem like guys you could see yourself hanging out with in a garage somewhere on Route 421, not ‘rockstars’. This album could easily become a staple in every punks’ music collection, especially if you’re into Flogging Molly, Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, or (dare I say it?) ... Good Charlotte. So, I raise a toast to Street Dogs: may the next album be even more awesome, sláinte. 8.9/10

    Album Picks: "Yesterday," "Harpo," "Ten Wood Rd."

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Album Review: Grinderman "Grinderman 2"

    by: Clint Frost

    Say what you will about Nick Cave; you can’t say that he conforms to any popular music trends. Cave (Lead singer of Grinderman,‘80’s-to-now indie stalwart, of Bad Seeds fame), interestingly enough, is probably furthest away from conforming to the general mindset of today’s top “indie/alternative” music-by which I mean, high pitched vocals and lyrics that either induce sympathy from the listener or act as some sort of rallying cry to a legitimized cause (i.e., The Shins, Arcade Fire, respectively)- with Grinderman.

    Cave’s deep, preacher-at-the-Church-of-Satan- voice croaks lyrics that create dark stories about characters who far from inspire sympathy. Take for example the crazed siblings in the opening track “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man;” who are most likely holding a woman against her will and defiling her as the cops arrive at the door. Or the man in “Worm Tamer” who bluntly justifies running around on his wife by saying he “just loved her too long.”

    The music on Grinderman 2 is blues indebted rock and roll in its most raw and primitive form, except with tastefully precise modern studio touches. The band gives fresh new life to the archetypal Bo Diddly blues beat employed by “Worm Tamer” just by playing the hell out of it on what sounds like a cheap Wal-Mart guitar and amp, and by placing bits of snake charmer-esque synth noises in just the right places. So the music is just as brutal and relentless as the stories the lyrics tell, with their careless embrace of vilest depths of human desire. However, there are times on the album, though rare, where the smoke clears and the narrators feel a tingling of self-awareness and regret, such as on the heart-breaking “What I Know.” In this ragged acoustic number, Cave steps away from the pulpit, breaks down, and all but sobs about the cruelty of human nature’s inability to be sexually content.

    In the end, Grinderman 2 is a great album, though what casual listeners may find hard to digest is the fact that the album’s merits are in the raw beauty in which it exposes the dark, animal impulses that are bottled-up deep in the core of most humans, and what happens when those impulses gain control over all else. 8.1/10

    Album Picks: "Worm Tamer," "What I Know," "Palaces of Montezuma"

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Dave's Tasting Notes

    by: David Edscorn

    A look at what's new here at WASU.

    Black Mountain “The Hair Song”- Take some acoustic jangle, some 70’s rock muscle, and some nice male/female harmonies, and you’ve got this gem from Canada’s Black Mountain.

    Blonde Redhead “Here Sometimes”- Indie pioneers Blonde Redhead return with this slow-burner, lots of terrific electronics and haunting vocals to be found here.

    Crocodiles “Hearts of Love”- Classic noise-rock with a soaring chorus and infectious melodies. A bit of a surf-rock vibe inhabits this song from the San Diego band, making it perfect for late-summer/early-fall drives.

    Fake Problems “5678”- Florida’s alt-punk sons Fake Problems kick some tail on this banger, complete with vocal distortion, a sing-along chorus, and hand-claps.

    Grinderman “Worm Tamer”- Masters of a special brand of weird blues-rock, Grinderman return with this killer of a track. Lead singer Nick Cave (yes, THAT Nick Cave, normally found with The Bad Seeds) belts out every word like he’s Moses handing out some kind of twisted, vaguely evil version of the Ten Commandments.

    Lazerbeak “Dream Team”- You might know Lazerbeak as an important member of the Doomtree hip-hop collective, but this track is pure indie-rock. Piano, acoustic guitar, and actual singing make it an interesting highlight in this rap producers already impressive repertoire.

    Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s “New York City Hotel Blues”- The Indianapolis band’s newest features the impressive vocals you expect, with some new guitar chops and out-front percussion.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Album Reviews- Summer 2010 Part 1

    by: David Edscorn

    Music-wise, it’s been a huge summer. Tons of high-profile indie releases (remember the time when that phrase would have been considered a contradiction?) and another ton of unexpected pleasant surprises have kept my ears happy and my wallet empty since May. Here’s what I’ve been listening to this summer (I’m defining “summer” as Appalachian’s summer vacation, not the actual season), with a few notes on each. Also, check out the player at the bottom, with one of the "Standouts" from each album. Enjoy!

    The New Pornographers Together 7.5 (out of ten)- Great upbeat rock with a little class (most songs feature well-done string arrangements). Copious amounts of sunlight (read as: windows should be open, whether at home or in your car) recommended for maximum effect. Standouts: “Moves,” “Crash Years,” “We End Up Together”

    The Hold Steady Heaven Is Whenever 6.5- Not the finest offering from the Twin Cities’ favorite bar band, but worth a listen for fans. If you’re not familiar with the Steady, do yourself a favor and check out their other albums first (I suggest Boys And Girls In America and Separation Sunday). Standouts: “Sweet Part of the City” “Weekenders,” “Slight Discomfort”

    LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening- No score for this one. Not usually my style of music, I don’t feel comfortable rating it. However, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to certain songs on this album. If you enjoy electronic/dance music (and you’re not afraid of five-minute-plus songs), it’s worth a few spins. Standouts: “Dance Yrself Clean,” “All I Want” “I Can Change”

    Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record 7.5- Worth it just for the redemptive title, the music is great as well. Big, soaring songs with plenty of tempo-changeups to keep things interesting and some killer solos abound. Standouts: “World Sick,” “Forced To Love” “Sentimental X’s”

    The Black Keys Brothers 7.9- For Black Keys fans (such as myself) that enjoyed the branching out of 2008’s Attack and Release but missed the raw blues of the band’s earlier work, Brothers will be sure to please. Despite a plethora of muscle and soul, the Keys manage to remain lighthearted and seem to just have fun with this record (just look at that album cover). Standouts: “Next Girl,” “Tighten Up” “Sinister Kid”

    The National High Violet 8.5- Kings of the slowburn, sultans of the late-night jam, The National return with another killer. Mature, calculated, and masterfully crafted, this is an extremely rewarding listen. Depressing, maybe, but in an almost triumphant way (that’s only a contradiction if you’ve never listened to these guys). Standouts: “Terrible Love” “Afraid of Everyone” “Runaway”

    Gogol Bordello Trans-Continental Hustle 7.0- Here it is, my fascination with Eastern European music. Gogol Bordello have always been known (or not known, whatever) for wild ethnic parties of albums. With uber-producer Rick Ruben (no other name raises my hackles quite as much) at the helm, things are a little more controlled and calculated on the gypsy-punks’ latest. However, it’s still worth a spin simply to hear singer Eugene Hutz ramble shout in a mixture of wonderfully-broken English and Ukranian over a crazed violin-riff. Standouts: “Pala Tute,” “My Companjera” “In The Meantime In Pernambuco”

    Band of Horses Infinite Arms 6.5- For whatever reason, this album just never clicked with me. I wanted it to, believe me. Perhaps it was just bland next to the other stellar releases of the summer, or maybe it’s just flat-out bland. It’s not horrible, just not as good as the band’s previous offerings. Standouts: “Compliments” “Laredo” “Northwest Apartment”

    Sleigh Bells Treats 9.0- This album is scored high for two reasons. 1) It’s different. The elements are familiar (the crunk beats, the indie-sweet vocals, the chunky chords, the otherworldly synths), they’ve just never been mashed together in such a way before. 2) It’s an extremely well-done album. While many of the songs stand great on their own, listening to the whole thing through (cranked to the max, of course) is a seminal pleasure. Standouts: “Tell ‘Em” “Rill Rill” “Crown On The Ground"

    Tokyo Police Club Champ 7.0- TPC seem to be known for second-rate indie music that usually collapses into emo-pop, but on Champ they seem to rise above the meager expectations and deliver something quite listenable. It’s not challenging music, but it’s fun and great for the summer. Standouts “Breakneck Speed” “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” “Bambi”

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Dr. Dre's Telescope

    By: David Edscorn

    For the first post -summer post, let us focus on the inane and potentially stupid, just for fun (we'll get to the actually important news soon, I promise). Dr. Dre, who has been working for seven years on his new album Detox (let's call it his Chinese Democracy), has announced that he has other plans in the works. Big, epic plans of celestial proportions. Called The Planets, it’s an instrumental record based on, you guessed it, the solar system. Dre says “I’ve been studying the planets and learning the personalities of each planet. I’ve been doing this for about two years now just in my spare time so to speak.” Dre can speak to planets? Weird. Part of me wants to be inside this man’s skull, and part of me wishes this man really was locked in Eminem’s basement. Even crazier, this project, songs based on each planet’s personalities, has been done before! Gustav Holst did an orchestral suite in 1916 called The Planets, based on each planet’s influence on the psyche. Sorry Dre, some guy named Gustav beat you to it, and his concept sounds cooler anyway. However, Dr. Dre does say that he wants to do it in surround sound, cause Saturn would sound best in surround sound. Kinda makes you wonder...

    Via Vibe

    Thursday, May 20, 2010


    by Alex Mayfield

    It is that time of the year. The seats are filled, the lights are on, and it is baseball season. Though some might not be the biggest fans of the sport, it still has great songs tied to it. Certain songs remind us of the times we had watching baseball movies, enjoying games, playing catch, and we here at WASU want to honor America’s Pastime with a great baseball playlist.

    Baseball Playlist:

    Pre Game - Jimi Hendrix – “The Star Spangled banner”: How can we not start off a great game without “The Star Spangled Banner?” It is the song that starts off each and every ballgame and I figure that a playlist should start off the same way. However, we cannot just choose any version. The version has to be one that represents WASU. So who better to play it than Hendrix?

    1st Inning – AC/DC – “Hell’s Bells”: Once the game starts, only one song really comes to mind. Starting off with the bells that ASU students know so well and getting this playlist into gear. “Hell’s Bells” really pumps one up for any game.

    2nd Inning – John Fogerty – “Centerfield”: This song is a given. I find it hard to not put this song on a baseball playlist, mainly due to its phenomenal use in a music montage in the film Little Big League. Even if it had not been used in that movie, the song is clearly meant for the baseball season. I dedicate this song to all the fans who wish they were on the field.

    3rd Inning – Thin Lizzy – “The Boys are back in Town”: This song is for all those who are excited to see a home game after your team has been on the road for a week or two. Well Thin Lizzy’s classic song is perfect for celebrating this special occasion. It helps that the song is fun to listen to.

    4th Inning – The Clash – “Should I Stay or Should I Go”: The most asked question to the third-base coach by the runner on first. The Clash is simply asking whether or not they should steal second. Though the reasoning might be flawed, for some reason, when this song plays, baseball comes to mind.

    5th Inning- Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Fortunate Son”: Since Baseball is simply American, we needed a song that matched the level of patriotic power. Creedence Clearwater Revival reminds us of the sun, summertime, and the diamond. This is why it makes a great addition to our list of songs.

    6th Inning – George Thorogood and the Destroyers – “Bad to The Bone”: This song doesn’t really have much to do with baseball, but what is more “Bad” then jacking a homerun over the leftfield wall. It just seems to be that piece of the puzzle that fits. And who doesn’t like George Thorogood and the Destroyers?

    7th Inning – The Hold Steady – “Take me out to the Ball game” : “Take Me out to the Ball Game” is always played during the 7th inning stretch and this is another song that we needed a cover version of and let’s face it, The Hold Steady do this song justice.

    8th Inning – Neil Diamond – “Sweet Caroline”: For whatever reason, when this song comes on, it takes every ounce of strength not to start chanting with the song. This holds especially true when inside a ballpark. This song just screams October and had to be placed on this wonderful set of songs.

    9th Inning – Dropkick Murphys – “Tessie”: Whether you are a Boston fan or not, this playlist needed the a song made for champions, and since this song was created to celebrate the Red Sox World Series win, it seems rather fitting to make it the final chapter.

    Hopefully you all are ready to start your road trip to the nearest stadium and enjoy some peanuts and cracker jacks. Since you are now properly equipped, WASU wants you to go enjoy 9 Innings of pure bliss this summer!

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Artist You Should Know NOW!!! - Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves

    by Alex Mayfield

    The first time I discovered Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the True Loves I was at a Say Anything concert in early 2008. When listening to Say Anything, an alternative band known for doing exactly what their name implies, you really do not expect to hear Soul/R&B at the same show. However, once the True Loves came on stage, the crowd was immediately won over, as they should have been because the True Loves put on quite the show. Their sound blends doo-wop with horns and throws in some wailing vocals. Eli “Paperboy” Reed shows a lot of emotion while he sings and though the lyrics make for simple songs about love and heartbreak, it doesn’t matter because each track from this guy is a blast. Reed’s modern take on the 60’s soul genre provides a gateway to the past and is simply pleasing. With the blaring horns, up-tempo percussion, and swinging vocals, “Paperboy” Reed and the True Loves guarantee a great time.

    Album to Download: Roll With You (2008)

    Songs to Download: “(Doin’ the) Boom Boom”, “Am I Wasting My Time”, “Stake Your Claim

    Roll With You LP (2008)

    Album Review: The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards

    by Alex Mayfield

    Sea of Cowards is the second album from The Dead Weather, Jack White and Allison Mosshart’s side project. The Dead Weather certainly has a more experimental sound than The White Stripes and Raconteurs but proves that Jack White rarely does anything poorly. Though filled with more effects and ambient noises, Sea of Cowards brings forth a sound that is gritty and powerful. Mosshart and White’s vocals are dark and mysterious but blend together insanely well (“Die by the Drop”, “Blue Blood Blues”). On top of the vocals, Dean Fertita (Guitar) produces rhythmic fills and solid solos which create a down and dirty sound that really comes off sounding great (“Gasoline”, “I Can’t Hear You”). What makes this album even better is that it is continuously moving and flows incredibly well. Each song seems as if it was tied to the next with a deliberative purpose to create a cohesiveness that spans across the entire album. When the filthy guitar and these intermingled vocals come together, they produce a great album and though it might be an acquired taste, it is fantastic.

    8.5 out of 10

    Songs to Download: “Gasoline”, “Blue Blood Blues”, “Die By The Drop”

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010


    by Alex Mayfield

    So WASU is starting a new blog segment called WASU PLAYLIST! This is simply to put up a nice playlist that we feel fits the moment. So what better way to end the school year with a playlist about starting summer? So for our inaugural playlist, that is exactly what we did. So here it is.

    1. "School's Out" - Alice Cooper

    2. "Magic Carpet Ride" - Steppenwolf

    3. "Where'd You Go" - Mighty Mighty Bosstones

    4. "Sagaba" - Blues Scholars

    5. "Total Bummer" - NOFX

    6. "California Waiting" - Kings of Leon

    7. "Soul To Sqeeze" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

    8. "Doin' Time" - Sublime

    9. "Mellow Mood" - Slightly Stoopid

    10. "Hard Sun" - Eddie Vedder

    11. "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" - Led Zeppelin

    12. "Summertime" - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

    13. "All Mixed Up" - 311

    14. "Maggie May" - Rod Stewart

    15. "Moonsurfin'" - Malachai

    16. "Ocean Breathes Salty" - Modest Mouse

    17. "Hook" - Blues Traveler

    18. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

    19. "Soil to the Sun" - Cage the Elephant

    20. "Burning Man" - Third Eye Blind

    21. "Dry The Rain" - The Beta Band

    22. "The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley

    23. "Wasting Time (Isle Vista Song)" - Animal Liberation Orchestra

    24. "Take On Me" - Reel Big Fish

    25. "Tiny Dancer" - Elton John

    The best part about our new segment is that we want you guys to get involved with it. If you have a playlist that you want to tell us about, do it. It can be about anything. Road Trip Playlist, Beach Playlist, Workout Playlist, Bedtime Playlist, whatever. Shoot us a post on our Facebook Fan Page and you could find your playlist as the next segment of WASU PLAYLIST!

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    WASU Top 20 Songs of the Spring 2010 Semester

    We realize that some of you might not of been able to hear the Top 20 Countdown show of the best songs this semester, so we wanted to make sure that you got a chance to catch what you missed. So here they are. The top 20 songs of the Semester based on your request:

    20. “A More Perfect Union” by Titus Andronicus

    19. “Heaven Can Wait (ft. Beck)” by Charlotte Gainsbourg

    18. “The Mighty Sparrow” by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

    17. “Die by the Drop” by The Dead Weather

    16. “Sleep When We Are Dead” by The Organ Beats

    15. “Hurricane J” by The Hold Steady

    14. "She's Got You" by Cosmo Jarvis

    13. "Hide It Away" by Retribution Gospel Choir

    12. "Beat the Devil's Tattoo" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

    11. "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons

    10. "Flash Delirium" by MGMT

    9. "In the Sun" by She and Him

    8. "Rhinestone Eyes" by Gorillaz

    7. "Here We Are Juggernaut" by Coheed and Cambria

    6. "American Slang" by Gaslight Anthem

    5. "Mountains" by Biffy Clyro

    4. "Romance is Boring" by Los Campesinos!

    3. "Bang Pop" by Free Energy

    2. "Run" by Vampire Weekend

    1. "Snowflake" by Malachai

    Those are your Top 20 songs of Spring 2010. We had a number of songs that just barely missed the cut. We felt that it was appropriate to give these songs a little recognition. Your Honorable Mentions are:

    "Burning the Bowery" by Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social

    "I Lied" by Gobotron

    "Triskaidekaphobia" by Shooter Jennings and Heirophant

    "You Know I'm No Good (Amy Winehouse Cover)" by Wanda Jackson

    "All My People" by Portugal. The Man

    And Just in case you wanted to hear some of the music on the Top 20, we decided to put a couple of the songs up so you could listen. Aren't we just the greatest?

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones