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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Show Watch: Houston

Here are a few upcoming shows in the Houston area that will definitely be worth your while. Click on any of the following shows to get more information and/or buy tickets!

I was thinking about doing a Show Watch: Texas but that would just depress you when you see all the great bands heading to Austin for SXSW but avoiding the 4th largest city in the U.S. I know, it makes no sense to me either.

Know of something I missed? Leave me a comment. That'd be swell.

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Video of the Week - Week 8

The Apples in Stereo - "Same Old Drag" from the album "New Magnetic Wonder"

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pop Levi: "The Return to Form Black Magick Party"

There's always one that you just don't understand. An album that receives near-unanimous praise, but you can't really understand where it's all coming from. Pop Levi has been around for a while, making brief appearances with several other artists, the most notable of which is probably Ladytron. "The Return to Form Black Magick Party," however, is the artist's first solo album and first opportunity to gain fans of his own. He tries, but oftentimes the album feels more like he's trying too hard to impress. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's just utterly confusing. One thing's for sure, in the 40 plus minutes of Pop Levi's debut there's probably something for everyone, just not enough of it.

The album actually starts off on a high note with the driving distortion and piercing vocals of "Sugar Assault Me Now." Despite a few deliberately missed notes, the song is energetic, fun, and admittedly pretty catchy. Here, as he does throughout the album, Levi stacks layers upon layers of vocals and guitars to make the songs sound fuller and more complete. It works quite well. This great song is followed by the album's first single and arguably strongest song, "Blue Honey." The song is plagued by a repetitive bass line, but is saved by the artist's vocal performance in the chorus ("It's the way you squeeze me, baby"). It sounds like the better moments of classic rock, often stepping into Led Zepplin territory, without fully sounding like a rip-off.

"(A Style Called) Cryin' Chic" has a steady groove to it, but not much else to offer. The lyrics here are repetitive to the point of being annoying. Essentially, Levi takes one line, repeats it four times, and then does the same thing with about a dozen other lines. The actual 2-bar guitar riff doesn't ever change throughout the song, which just adds to the repetitiveness of it. "Pick Me Up Uppercut" is probably my favorite song on the album, despite it being the most obnoxious song since Aqua's "Barbie Girl." It has a very unique appeal to it, and sounds like a mix between glam rock and The Go-Gos.

The album goes off the deep-end from here, never really recapturing the energy or appeal that it began with. "Dollar Bill Rock" is a futile attempt at classic rock n roll, though one could definitely assume that it would be a better song live than it is here. "Flirting" lends the help of a xylophone to give it a more friendly feel, but like so many other songs on the album, it suffers from being incredibly repetitive. To be honest, "From the Day That You Were Born" is the album's only real notable track throughout it's second half. Levi plays acoustic guitar and sings, but not much else is happening. On an album that is full of layers and layers of vocals, guitars, and other noise, the song serves as a peaceful and welcomed break. It ends the album on a positive note, which is always appreciated.

If "The Return to Form Black Magick Party" is the best that Pop Levi has to offer, his career will either be short-lived or elongated on a wave of hype. Fortunately for the artist, however, the album seems to really be the tip of the iceberg for Levi. Though it's really hit or miss, it's high points are good enough to get even the most skeptical listener excited for what this artist has yet to do. That's enough of a reason to give it a listen in my book. Pop Levi is a name you might want to remember, even if this album isn't your thing.

Recommended for fans of classic rock and anyone who wants to hear what the future of indie rock could very well sound like.

Key Tracks:
1. "Sugar Assault Me Now"
2. "Blue Honey"
3. "Pick Me Up Uppercut"
4. "From the Day That You Were Born"

5 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

All the music news stories you should care about, neatly organized as a weekly blog entry!

That's all the notable news this week. Go away.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 7

K-Os - "The Love Song" from the album "Joyful Rebellion"

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Monday, February 19, 2007

K-Os: "Atlantis: Hymns For Disco"

K-Os has long been the sole holder of the "best living emcee" title of my heart. The man not only has incredible skills on the mic, but he is one of the few hip hop artists alive today who aren't afraid to call out the genre's biggest stars as being fake and selling out for the cash ("They're steady scheming for that #1 spot, these emcees they won't last"). For that, K-Os will always have the respect of many artists in the industry, while also receiving the scorn of those whom he clearly parallels. Beyond that, though, K-Os has time and again proven himself as a well-rounded artist who can not only rap, but sing, play guitar, drum, etc. He's a fantastic artist. His latest album, "Atlantis: Hymns for Disco," clearly shows off the wide array of his talents, but at the same time, it feels less focused, and less powerful than his previous efforts.

The lead-off track on the album is "ELEctrik HeaT - the seekwiLL" a song that really captures the emcee skills of K-Os in ways that many of his previous songs have failed to do. It has a classic hip hop sound to it, and it's much more friendly that his previous opener "Emcee Murdah." It's a fairly decent track, though lacking anything that will make it truly memorable. It's followed by "The Rain," a song in which K-Os forgoes rapping for singing in a very bluesy/soul style. The chorus finds the artist asking, "When the rain comes down will you be around? When the sun comes up will you always steal my fire?" His vocal abilities are full displayed here, and the song is memorable if only for that reason alone.

"FlyPaper" is the next track, and by far my favorite on the album. In it, K-Os weaves meaningful lyrics with an unbelievably catchy chorus. He contradicts himself, saying, "I'm not one to repeat myself, but if it ain't broken, don't fix it," but it's difficult to get upset as you're almost guaranteed to be singing along to it in no time. "Equalizer" silences anyone who has ever criticized K-Os for his lack of complicated rhymes, and it's difficult to keep up with them a lot of times. Never fear, however, he's sure to give you a break with a nicely-sung chorus and a catchy bridge. "Sunday Morning" is probably K-Os' most accessible song to date and really transcends genres like no other song of his has done before. Here, he proclaims "Every day is Saturday night, but I can't wait till Sunday morning" over a great drum beat and intricate instrumentation.

From here, the album is really a mixed bag. There are high notes, like the high energy "Born to Run" or the classic K-Os sounds of "Mirror in the Sky," but there are also a few missteps such as "Black Ice - Hymn 4 Disco," which is K-Os' misguided attempt at creating a disco song. "The Ballad of Noah" features an excellent performance from Buck 65 and K-Os, where the artist once again revisits his childhood. It's complemented by the chorus, "When you reach a dead end trail, pray to God. It never fails."

Overall, "Atlantis" carries on K-Os' tradition of blending and blurring genres and redefining what hip hop can be (or rather, keeping true to what it was meant to be). But in the end, fans of K-Os' passionate lyricism as demonstrated in the past by songs like "Emcee Murdah" or "The Love Song" are likely to be disappointed. This is definitely K-Os' lightest album, but at the same time it just might be the album that gets him recognized by the millions of people who have always turned a deaf ear to the artist. Whether that's selling out or not is really up for the listener to decide. Fortunately, "Atlantis: Hymns for Disco" has enough good songs on it to keep anyone who listens to it entertained and inspired for some time. In the end, that's probably all K-Os was hoping for.

Recommended for fans of K-Os and anyone who finds boredom in grills, rims, and the objectification of women.

Key Tracks:
1. "FlyPaper"
2. "Equlilizer"
3. "Sunday Morning"
4. "Mirror in the Sky"
5. "Highway 7"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

2/17/2007: Of Montreal w/ Elekibass - Houston, TX

Back in the day when The Beatles took on Ed Sullivan and the rest of the continent, people were instantly captivated, and a love affair with a nation began. In many ways, that love continues to this day with many Americans citing The Beatles as the greatest band ever without hesitation. In much the same way as The Beatles came on the scene, Elekibass is going to take this country by storm. Not on the same scale, but slowly, club by club, this amazing rock n roll band from Tokyo, Japan will captivate the hearts of Americans willing to overlook a slight butchering of the English language. Their music is eclectic, ranging from odd ragtimey pop music to a high energy rock sound like The Rolling Stones. But the comparison does not end there. This great band has their act down, charming their audience from the get go by ply playing their instruments acoustically as they march through the crowd on the way to the stage. The lead singer prances around like Jagger and syncopates his movements with every guitar hit. They end their final song, say "Thank You," when met with applause, say "One more time" and play the chorus of their song again. Then they repeat that about four times, each time met with more smiles and laughter. And on the final "one more time" they play an entirely different song. They charm you, and if the world were a right and just place, they will explode across this nation like a awesome, awesome, plague.

Of Montreal hit the stage later, once again bringing their unique electro/indie pop sound to a more-than-eager audience. And once again they did it flawlessly. It never ceases to amaze me how the band can take Kevin Barnes' complex arrangements and play them as if they were their own. As it turns out, all that money they made from the Outback Steakhouse commercial went to some good use. Awesome, flamboyant costumes, lots of cool lighting, and three projector screens are the obvious result of a little "selling out" on the band's part. Though it was clear from the visuals displayed on the screens were the result of a still-limited budget. Overall, the music was great and their new songs sounded fantastic live, especially "She's a Rejector." As always, if you've never seen this band live, you are missing out. There are only two artists that I've ever seen more than once, and Of Montreal is one of those bands. There's a reason for that. They consistently put on great performances. I guess that's what happens when you tour non-stop.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Post Here

Tired of reading the work of the same old pretentious music journalists?

Do you have opinions on music that you just need to express?
Do you disagree with every music review ever written?
Fight Back!
Audio Overflow is looking a a few qualified writers to join the team! No experience is necessary, but quality writing skills are a must! The best part is you can write about whatever music interests you! Hip Hop, Indie Rock, crappy bands like Hinder, whatever! If you think you have what it takes, or are just looking for something to fill the time, shoot us an email at
For more information regarding the expectations of an Audio Overflow staff member, CLICK HERE.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 6

The Boy Least Likely To - "Be Gentle With me" from the album The Best Party Ever!

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Field Music: "Tones of Town"

As a reviewer, one of the most difficult things to do is review an album that you're entirely infatuated with. It would be easy to rant on and on about how great an album is without pointing out it's flaws or shortcomings. And here I find myself with Field Music's newest release. I am not familiar with their previous work, so I'm beginning with a fresh slate here. However, I cannot get over the greatness of "Tones of Town." In many ways, it is a perfect album, stringing together 11 solid pop songs effortlessly, and completely enthralling me in the process.

Why would I call it perfect? Because these songs are all really great, and there's really not one song that I could do away with on the album. Whether it's the heavy guitars of "Give It Lose It Take It," the playful melodies of "A House is Not a Home," or the haunting harmonies of "Kingston," there's not a moment on this album that fails to impress. Every song is rich with complexty without foregoing a steady, upbeat pop feel. Take "Tones of Town," for example, a song that merrily floats along in the beginning but eventually erupts with distorted guitars and vocals, only to melt away into a friendly bopping guitar solo before it's over. Field Music is a very talented group, but unlike so many other talented bands, they're immediately accessible. They're not going to beat you over the head with complex riffs, and mind-boggling melodies. The mere fact that they can fully display their vast talents while still being fun is awesome.

In "Working to Work," the singer nonchalantly notes, "Leisure is useless when you find that nothing ain't easy when you're working to work" over a steady guitar and drum beat. It's a great song, and one that you'll probably find yourself singing along to after just a few listens. Then there's "A Gap Has Appeared" a song that opens with the delicate flutters of piano and violin before sounding like a collaboration of Queen and The New pornographers. It runs head-on into the undeniably catchy "Closer at Hand" where the singer states, "The questions we tend to ask are useless if time is too fast."

It's very difficult to convey the awesomeness of "Tones of Town" to someone who is not familiar with Field Music. Their music has a very timeless feel to it, and as I've already stated numerous times, it's pretty flawless. It's only real downside is it's brevity, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. But during that time you're almost guaranteed to smile, sing, dance, or some other carefree activity. Fans of bands like The Shins should have very little trouble liking this album as it's not too different from that bands better moments. While 2007 has already begun to show it's great selection of music, "Tones of Town" is definitely the most solid and enjoyable album to release thus far this year. You absolutely have to listen to it!

Recommended for fans of Field Music, The Shins, The Hidden Cameras, and anyone who wants to hear what will probably be one of the top five albums of 2007.

Key Tracks:
1. "Sit Tight"
2. "A House is Not a Home"
3. "Working to Work"
4. "Closer at Hand"
5. "Place Yourself"

9 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Grammy Awards Recap

Ah, another night of musical travesties courtesy of people who "know" something about music. Oh you need proof. Well....


...beat this!

And if that wasn't enough, this...

...beat this!

It just goes to show you, the Grammy awards aren't about music, they're about influence. Enjoy the videos, and congratulations to The Flaming Lips, who walked away with a couple awards, but then again, they were also robbed by this!


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Friday, February 09, 2007

The Shins Come to Houston!

Today, The Shins announced new tour dates with their tour buddies Viva Voce, including a stop in Houston on March 6th at the Verizon Wireless Theater. Don't let this opportunity pass you by.

Tickets will go on sale next Tuesday, February 13th at 5:00pm. You can buy them HERE when the time comes!

Also, my experience with NIN tickets allows me to give you this precious piece of information: have a T3 Internet Connection

Good luck!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 5

Field Music - "A House is Not a Home" from the album Tones of Town.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Of Montreal: "Icons, Abstract Thee"

Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal live for the music. Somewhere in the midst of non-stop touring around the world, Kevin still manages to find time to write and record brand new music. Of course, it's never enough to release a great LP every one or two years, as they have consistently done since their inception. No, Of Montreal is also all about the EP, ususally releasing one in conjunction with their main releases. "Icons, Abstract Thee" is the thematic companion to the group's latest release, "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?" For those smart enough to preorder the album from Polyvinyl Records' website, you are probably the proud owner of this nice little EP. Everyone else has to either order it separately from the Polyvinyl Records website, or pick one up the next time the band comes through your town, as they will be made available on tour. Is it worth it though?

Kind of. You see, Of Montreal's EPs are largely collections of songs that didn't work on the full LP. For example, the Bonus EP that was released with "The Sunlandic Twins" was thematically similar to the album itself, but the style of the songs just didn't mesh well with the rest of the album. It's the same here. "Icons, Abstract Thee" is a collection of five songs that deserved to be heard, just not on "Hissing Fauna." There area couple songs about depression and relationship turmoil ("Derailments In A Place of Our Own" and "No Conclusion"), as well as your typically joyful songs about a band touring an evil kingdom ("Du Og Meg"). The standout track on the EP is arguably "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum To Muted Da" in which Barnes reflects on a relationship, saying, "You gave me your hand, I gave you a fist. Please don't lose any sleep over me, baby. I hardly exist." Of course, that upbeat dance track is countered quite beautifully by "Miss Blonde, Your Papa Is Failing," an acoustic guitar ballad that has Barns singing "When I look in your eyes I see me looking back" to what I'm assuming is his own child. It's an extremely touching song that sounds like it could've been ripped right off of "Cherry Peel" due to it's lack of electronic flourishes.

Overall, the EP has a much heavier feel to it, tackling the same subject matters as their latest LP, but doing so much more bluntly this time around. On "No Conclusion" Barnes cries out "Tonight I feel like destroying myself," followed ever so gently by "I'm O.D.-ing on your c**ksucker blues." It probably wasn't a bad idea to leave these songs off of the album. None of them are really all that terrible, and most are actually really good. But musically, these songs would just be a distraction on what is otherwise a fantastic album.

The hardcore Of Montreal fans should definitely check it out, but I have trouble recommending it to anyone else.

Key Tracks:
1. "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum To Muted Da"
2. "Miss Blonde, Your Papa Is Failing"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, February 05, 2007

The Apples in Stereo: "New Magnetic Wonder"

There came a time that the true meaning of pop music was lost in popular culture. Somewhere along the line Britney Spears, *Nsync, and dozens of other now-forgotten "artists" came to exemplify pop as a here-today, gone-tomorrow music made to satisfy the wallets of record label executives more than the public. And while the pop explosion of the late 90s came and went, The Apples in Stereo were subtly staying true to what pop music was all about. Over a decade after the band released their debut album, The Apples in Stereo are back with their first new album in about 5 years, "New Magnetic Wonder." For fans of The Apples, it's been quite a long time coming.

The album starts out about as strong as The Apples have ever sounded, with a vocoderized "Turn up the stereo-o" leading into a full-fledged guitar driven pop-rock sing along called "Can You Feel It?" Here, Robert Scheider's unique voice calls out "Oh, Turn up the stereo! Oh, drown out the static on the FM radio!" It's an amazing way to start out the album, and a fantastic toe-tapper at that! The opener runs head-on into "Skyway," yet another great guitar and vocal-driven pop song, complete with an all-too-catchy "Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo" complementing the chorus.

Taking a page right out of former Elephant 6 pioneers, The Olivia Tremor Control's, playbook, "New Magnetic Wonder" almost has as many short sub-minute tracks as it does full-fledged pop songs (10 to be exact). While these tracks can be somewhat distracting to the overall feel of the album, they also serve as quick-breathers on what would otherwise be a non-stop upbeat pop album. On that note, both "Mellotron Pt. 1" and "Mellotron Pt.2" are kind of funny to listen to, if only to hear The Apples in Stereo try their best at lo-fi 40s lounge music. It seems as if a few of these tracks are just excuses to play around on a vocoder, but some, like "Non-Pythagorean Composition Pt. 1" are just really short, beautiful instrumental songs.

"Energy" is a spirited affair that just begs to be clapped along to. It's highlighted by it's incredibly catchy chorus where Schneider sings, "And the world is made of energy. And there's a lot inside of you. And there's a lot inside of me." "Same Old Drag" is piano-heavy pop song that's hard not to consider perfect, at least when it comes to pop music. Of course, an album with 24 tracks is sure to have it's set of missteps, but The Apples are fortunate to have these kept to a minimum. "Sun Is Out" is more of a repetitive meditation than an actual song, and at over two-minutes, no one's going to blame you for skipping ahead.

Other highlights of the album include "Sunndal Song" and "Sunday Sounds" both sung beautifully by drummer Hilarie Sidney, as well as the heavy pop-rock sounds of "7 Stars" and "Open Eyes." Above all, however, is probably "Beautiful Machines," a powerful 4-part song that's played out over 2 tracks. By the time Part 4 comes around, you'll have forgotten that you're listening to The Apples in Stereo, as it sounds more like Doves or even Snow Patrol. Of course, the band is sure to remind you who you're listening to with the short, yet catchy "My Pretend," a song that caps off a wonderful album flawlessly.

The Apples in Stereo have been out of the indie music scene for some time now. During that time, other bands have risen up and tried to take their place at the top of the indie pop-rock totem pole. Though The Apples may have died long ago in the minds of many hipsters and college students, true fans have been eagerly anticipating this album for some time. They will not be disappointed. "New Magnetic Wonder" not only brings The Apples in Stereo back from the dead, but it puts all the lesser, would-be dethroners in their rightful place; miles below this great, American band.

Key Tracks:
1. "Can You Feel It?"
2. "Energy"
3. "Same Old Drag"
4. "7 Stars"
5. "Beautiful Machines"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Album of the Month: January

January always sets the tone. Ultimately, the albums released in the first month of the year are usually a good indicator of how awesome the rest of the year will be. Last year, The Elected, Jenny Lewis, and Sia all dropped some huge albums and 2006 never really disappointed. This January totally whooped the hell out of last January, so I really can't wait for what 2007 has to offer.

The Winner

Of Montreal: "Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?"

Kevin Barnes is one of the only people I know of who can record an entire album by himself and make it sound like it's a full-band effort. Every single second of Of Montreal's latest indie-pop masterpiece is overflowing with depth, creativity, and so much complexity that you'll need a c-clamp and a few rolls of duct tape to keep your jaw from dropping. On top of all that, it's also a fun, energetic album at the same time that it is poignant, depressing, hilarious, or even confusing. "Hissing Fauna..." is such an accomplishment for Of Montreal and a huge step forward after their last two albums. Though a thousand times more difficult than their most popular albums, it is ultimately much more rewarding in the end. After a few listens, you'll be glued to it.

The Shins: "Wincing the Night Away"

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: "Some Loud Thunder"

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has never been a band for the masses. Their self-titled debut was fairly good, but the album's hype far outlasted it's replay value. Though laced with great songs like "Heavy Metal" or "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," once the initial appeal wore off, there wasn't much to keep you coming back. So the band is faced with a dilemma. How do you follow up one of the most-hyped indie releases of the last decade? The band's answer is "Some Loud Thunder," a respectable sophomore album from a band that proves that they are more than hype.

That being said, "Some Loud Thunder" isn't really a departure for the band either. It seems as if little musical progress has been made between their debut and their second album. Most, if not all, of these songs could easily have been placed on their debut without interrupting the flow of the album . But "Some Loud Thunder," while lacking the initial magic of the first, does have some terrific songs on it. "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles in the Air and Burning" is really the first standout song on the album, followed soon enough by the perplexing, yet enchanting, "Satan Said Dance." The latter of the two is my personal favorite on, and one of the greatest songs Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has released. "Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove" has a surprisingly soft, subtle sound to it and it eventually builds into a semi-anthem, carried by sweeping harmonies, while "Underwater (You and Me)" utilizes a steady rhythm and bass line to create an enthusiastic sing-along feel.

When it's all said and done, not much has changed with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. People who had the opportunity to listen to their first album and enjoyed it will find little to complain about here. Though I would have liked to see a musically different album, hearing the band rely on their formula yet again isn't as disappointing as it should be. After all, their unparalleled sound is part of the reason that the band is so beloved. That being said, if you weren't a fan of their first album, you may want to pass this one up. If you are new to the band, there's no better way to be introduced to the quirky sounds of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah than by picking up a copy of their album and giving it a spin.

Recommended for fans of Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, and anyone who wants to hear some of the most peculiar music around today.

Key Tracks:
1. "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles in the Air and Burning"
2. "Satan Said Dance"
3. "Underwater (You and Me)"

6 out of 10 Stars

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