Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: Death Cab for Cutie, Permalight, Phoenix, Rogue Wave, The Shins
Part of our ISSUE 21 coverage!
PREVIEW VISIT Rouge Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT 10/20 Watts
With Permalight, Rogue Wave don’t offer many good reasons to listen to their new album twice. Not because the album is terrible, but because Permalight is, for lack of a better word, boring. Its sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock is cut from the same mold as what you hear in a thousand Toyota commercials. Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape – essentially a poppier, twee-less Elephant 6 band. But now they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab for Cutie’s less talented cousin.
Songs like “Per Anger” and “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” with their jangly guitars and sing-along Continue reading
Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: Animal Collective, Brian Burton, Broken Bells, Danger Mouse, Gnarls Barkley, James Mercer, Monsters of Folk, Paul McCartney, Peter Bjorn and John, The Beatles, The Cure, the Postal Service, The Shins, Them Crooked Vultures, Velvet Revolver
Part of Issue 21 Coverage!
PREVIEW: VISIT Broken Bells’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
It’s hard to call Broken Bells just another “supergroup,” because the sound of their debut album is so authentic, soulful and melodically experimental. Broken Bells is made up of The Shins’ James Mercer and Gnarls Barkley’s Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, but they’re not a match made in heaven – they just sound great together.
Even though the album drops on March 9, the group teased the world with its groovy, smooth opening track, “The High Road” on Dec. 29. The cleanly coordinated lead single may flow with the innocence of a post-Beatles Paul McCartney song, but its electronic whirs and blips resound with the sultry edge of Danger Mouse’s Gnarls Barkley influences. Continue reading
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Death Cab for Cutie, Elephant 6, Permalight, Phoenix, Rogue Wave, The Shins
PREVIEW: VISIT Rogue Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 9/20
There is hardly a reason to give Rogue Wave’s new album Permalight more than a single listen. Not because the album is terrible, but rather because Permalight comes off as boring. Mind-numbingly, ear-dullingly boring. It’s sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock, just you’ll find in a thousand car commercials. Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape; essentially a Elephant 6 band with the twee removed and a poppier sound. Rogue Wave were never great, but they were likable enough. But now, either in a misguided attempt to sell out (one that obviously isn’t working) or an even more misguided attempt to follow their muse, they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab For Cutie’s less talented cousin. Continue reading
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Astro Coast, Florida Gators, James Mercer, Releases of the Week, Surfer Blood, The Shins, Tim Tebow, University of Floida, Wavves, Weezer
PREVIEW: VISIT Surfer Blood’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
It ends up that all-world Gators quarterback Tim Tebow may not be the most interesting thing to come out of the University of Florida in 2010. Surfer Blood, who also perfected their own craft at U of F, have one of the early, most anticipated debuts of the year. Their initial effort, Astro Coast, is ambitious, catchy and youthful– not necessarily atypical of a band out of college, but nonetheless, there’s something still inherently different about Surfer Blood.
Filed under: Positive Jam Reviews | Tags: album reviews, Arcade Fire, Brand New, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Colin Meloy, Jeff Mangum, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists, the Get Up Kids, The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Shins
PREVIEW: Download The Rural Alberta Advantage’s “Luciana” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts
This review is part of 20 Watts’ exclusive Positive Jam coverage. Check out the rest here!
When I sat down to listen to The Rural Alberta Advantage for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I’d read the hype and seen the countless comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel, but as someone who is skeptical of lofty expectations, I had to investigate for myself. Ten seconds into the band’s full-length debut, Hometowns, I was convinced it was all true. For a band that’s only existed for about four years, and has lived in virtual obscurity for three and a half, it’s quite a feat.
A myriad of things struck me about Hometowns, even on the first listen. Lead singer Nils Edenloff’s voice sounds incredibly like that of Jeff Mangum, of NMH fame. This was to be expected as I’d read similar comments in a review or two beforehand. However, what the commentary I’d read beforehand failed to address was the diversity of sounds on this record, including boatloads of energy reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and crushing blows that can evoke Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. For a band I’d never heard before, it all seemed so strangely, and pleasantly, familiar.
What’s most intriguing, if not baffling, to me is how they’re able to fit it all in. The descriptions above are simply of one song! The list could continue to include elements from bands such as Arcade Fire, The Shins, The Get Up Kids and even Brand New. It’s jarring to see this many sounds in one place, though not for an instant do you feel unsettled by its presentation. On this album, rarely does a track’s end even remotely resemble its beginning, making shifts like indie pop to post-punk, and noise to ambient electronic, in a matter of seconds.
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Creaturesque, folk rock, Fruit Bats, George Harrison, Infomaniac, Modest Mouse, Moonbeams, My Morning Jacket, Nightmare of You, No One's First and You're Next, pop rock, Releases of the Week, The Beatles, The Ruminant Band, The Shins, The Strokes, Throw Me the Statue, Tribute To, Yim Yames
PREVIEW: Download Throw Me the Statue’s “Cannibal Rays” MP3
Every week, 20 Watts rounds up the new releases on our radar; click the link for our full review.
Have suggestions? Leave a comment or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following up on 2007’s Moonbeams, Throw Me the Statue delivers the logical progression with Creaturesque. Littered with youthful charm and a broad ambition, the band manages to expand their sound into a more comfortable vehicle than before. It’s varied and bright, adding to the large collection of thematically positive music to come out already this year. Still, it seems to stand out with its large collection of influences appealing to a diverse group of fans.
Giving fans a look into their best non-album material of the past five or so years, No One’s First and You’re Next is just what Modest Mouse fans need to whet their appetites until the next full length. The eight-song collection shows some great continuity for tracks devised so separately, and overall, ends up being a real treat for Modest Mouse faithfuls. As a word of caution, there will be a few unexpected, but enjoyable, moments sprinkled in as well.
With their fourth proper release, Fruit Bats set out to further distinguish themselves with their own brand of folk rock. For the most part, mission accomplished on The Ruminant Band. Steady and energetic, the album provides a great summer aesthetic, and also distances the band from other similar acts. For anyone who’s spent any extended time with lead singer Eric Johnson and the gang, you’re almost sure to approve as they manage to progress entirely separate of The Shins.
Eight years after George Harrison passed away, Yim Yames’ (My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James) heartfelt cover collection finally comes out of the dark. On Tribute To, Yames looks to give a special thank you to Harrison for meaning what he did to him, as well as close the book on his own personal grieving process. As skeptical as one may be of tribute albums, especially those involving any portion of The Beatles‘ library, this one delivers surprisingly well, giving unique re-workings of the songs Harrison’s fans love so much.
After all of the accolades involved with being 2006’s “next big thing,” everything was going great for Long Island’s Nightmare of You. Then they took a few years to release the follow-up. The result is a much-changed sound, sampling the pop rock stylings of The Strokes, while abandoning some of the edge that made their first release so popular. If you’re just starting with them, perhaps head for 2005’s self-titled debut before continuing.
— John Cassillo, Reviews Editor