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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Aliens: "Astronomy for Dogs"

The Beta Band. You've either heard of them or you haven't. One of the most talented bands of the last decade, The Beta Band got tons of critical acclaim but never received the kind of success that they truly deserved. The Aliens, a band made up of three former Beta Banders, continue that tradition of releasing great records. "Astronomy for Dogs" may not be The Beta Band, but it is a fantastic album from this new group.

The album begins with what is also probably the strongest song on the album, "Setting Sun." The song describes a failed relationship and the desire to just get away from it all "just like the setting sun." The song utilizes a really cool guitar progression and layer upon layer of vocals to form a really lush 60s-style pop/rock song. In fact, many, if not all of the songs on "Astronomy for Dogs" feels like it was ripped right out of the 60s or 70s.

Take, for example, the awesome "Robot Man," with it's slurring synths, funky bass line, and steady groove. It feels like it's straight out of the disco era, right down to the ridiculous lyrics "I am the robot man!" Eventually, it collapses into a more traditional, radio-friendly song that sounds more like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists than anything else. "I Am the Unknown" is another fantastic song that features some fantastic harmonizing and really deep production. It too feels like a song that could've been from the 60s.

"Rox" is a great song. It sounds like a straight up tribute to the Bee Gee's classic "Staying Alive" before breaking down into a more modern techno song. "She Don't Love Me" is your token ballad complete with a string reprise, because, let's face it, you can't very well have a 60s tribute album without a ballad. At over seven minutes long, it feels like they're milking it a little too hard, but it's never as distracting as it could be.

The album's major flaw is the lyrics. There's nothing truly memorable about any of these lyrics, and more often than not they just feel like shallow sing-alongs than anything else. "The Happy Song," for example, is downright childish. However, what The Aliens lack in substance, they more than make up for with style. "Astronomy for Dogs" is a fantastic album, and The Aliens do a great job of playing this style of music. Though I would've preferred a deeper album, lyrically, I'll gladly take this one for the time being.

Recommended for fans of The Beta Band and anyone who really liked the 60s.

Key Tracks:
1. "Setting Sun"
2. "Robot Man"
3. "I am the Unknown"
4. "Rox"
5. "Honest Again"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

The week of April 23rd says, "Do not eat horses."

No, really that's it.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Random Site Updates (Updated)

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by today. Please allow me to fill you in on the lates happenings around these parts.

First, Audio Overflow now has a Myspace page. If you have a Myspace page and would like to receive bulletins telling you when the site has been updated, then add us as a friend. We need friends.

UPDATE: Due to an irregular and unacceptable amount of spamming, the Audio Overflow Myspace page has been removed. Thank Tom.

Second, you'll notice above that Audio Overflow has added a few buttons to help you and help us. If you're a user of Google or Yahoo's Feed Reader services, you can now quickly add Audio Overflow to your feed and receive updates regularly. Also, if you're a Digg or Technorati user and you like what you see here, feel free to link to us or favorite us. We won't mind.

Lastly, Cale is the Balls! (the original name of this blog) is officially dead. If you were using the old to get here, you'll need to change your ways. Audio Overflow can now be accessed from either or Of course, if you were still using the caleistheballs address, you're probably not reading this because you can't find us. Let us then take this opportunity to inform you that we hate you...and we always have.

--Audio Overflow

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Top 5 Indie Songs That Should Be On Guitar Hero

It's okay to admit that you play Guitar Hero. We all do. I, myself, am wasting away hours of my life to the game when I'm not busy preoccupying myself with this site. If you play Guitar Hero, which you do, you know that you can't really listen to regular music without determining whether or not it would be awesome on Guitar Hero ("Oh, this solo is pretty sweet. That would be awesome on Guitar Hero). Well, at least I do that. So this Friday, I present to you my list of the Top 5 Indie Songs That Should Be On Guitar Hero.

#5: "Time Is Running Out" by Muse - If the bass line isn't enough to get your palms all sweaty for a Guitar Hero appearance, than the sheer rock goddotry that ensues should probably due the trick. Muse is a band like no other, able to play amazingly complex parts without flinching. I doubt I could do the same, but I'd like to try.

#4: "Setting Sun" by The Aliens - It's upbeat, it's got a pretty sweet rhythm, and the guitar part would be an absolute blast to play! I just recently heard this song, but it's truly awesome. It's actually the song that inspired this list, because of it's great energy. Check it out if you haven't heard it already and you'll know what I mean. This would be a great addition to the Guitar Hero lineup.

#3: "Succexy" by Metric - When you think Metric, you don't think of guitars. You think of Emily Haines. That's understandable, but seriously, the guitar part in this song is pretty intense and it interacts fluidly with the bass line to make what would be a pretty cool co-op song in Guitar Hero. Plus, Guitar Hero II had way too many crappy metal songs. A little Metric would be a welcomed breath of fresh air.

#2: "Carry the Zero" by Built to Spill - You can't very well have a list about guitars and indie rock without including Built to Spill. "Carry the Zero" would be the perfect song for Guitar Hero, mostly because of the amazing guitar solo, but also because the entire song is just flat out ridiculous! I would have so much fun with this have no idea!

#1: "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" by The Mars Volta - Okay, seriously, someone over at Neversoft (the game's developer) needs to consider putting this track on Guitar Hero III. This would be GHIII's "Freebird." It's 10 minutes long, it's got an amazingly complex guitar part, and it's the single greatest Mars Volta song ever! I'm off to write a concerned letter to Neversoft and Activision. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 16

The Aliens - "Setting Sun" from the album "Astronomy for Dogs"

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Charlotte Gainsbourg: "5:55"

They say if you're not any good at singing, you should surround yourself with the best musicians you can find. Time after time, this little method of canceling out one's vocal flaws has worked with almost no one noticing. So when I first heard that Charlotte Gainsbourg, a rather accomplished (or at least, talented) actress, was making an album with the help of the guys from Air, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, and the one and only Jarvis Cocker, my first thought was that I was in for another lesson in "How Not to Sing." But I was terribly mistaken. As it turns out, Charlotte Gainsbourg is extremely talented. And wouldn't you know it? "5:55" is beautiful!

While not possessing the most powerful voice ever captured on an album, Gainsbourg does a brilliant job of blending her vocals in with Dunckel and Godin's Air-ish compositions. She accomplishes this by half-whispering most of her lyrics, but it sounds absolutely perfect. On the title track, "5:55," she sings, "Soon the morning will arrive. Can I begin another day whilst this old day is still alive, refusing to be put away," so beautifully that it feels like she's singing only for you. This brilliant lyric is penned by Cocker, as he and Hannon share most the songwriting duties on the album.

"The Operation" is perhaps the standout track on the album. It utilizes a steady electronic drum beat to accompany a great piano composition and bass line. The highlight of the song comes about half way through when the music drops out to leave Charlotte whispering, "Our love goes under the knife. Nothing is taboo here on the cutting edge of science..." It is yet another fantastic song.

'The Songs that We Sing" is the first time the album crosses into near-pop territory (later revisited in "Everything I Cannot See"). The music itself feels like it could've been ripped right off of one of Neil Hannon's albums. The song begins with an upbeat piano line and a xylophone syncopating along with it. Here, Gainsbourg asks the question, "And the songs that we sing, do they mean anything to the people we're singing them to?" over well-composed chord progression. "Beauty Mark" is a lesson in minimalism. The percussion on the song is largely forgotten in favor of creating the kind of lush soundscapes that have defined Air's sound for so many years. In what is extremely reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic short story, "The Birthmark," Gainsbourg sings, "This little death, this mark of sin, forever painted on my skin" over swells of strings.

The album is filled with examples of how my initial hypothesis was wrong. In fact, every song on this album is so gorgeous that it's hard to believe that Gainsbourg hasn't set aside her acting career in favor of this pursuit. Indeed, she is an unbelievably talented individual, and "5:55" is evidence of that. Of course, one could make the argument that without the talents of her constituents the album would not be near as good. My response is, who cares? "5:55" is amazing from the time you press play to when the final second ticks off. That's quite an achievement, and one that should not go unnoticed.

Recommended for fans of Air, Zero 7, and anyone who wants to define "beauty" more accurately.

Key Tracks:
1. "5:55"
2. "AF607105"
3. "The Operation"
4. "The Songs that We Sing"
5. "Little Monsters"

9 out of 10 Stars

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The Twilight Sad: "Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters"

If the boys from Dashboard Confessional or Interpol were raised in Glasgow, Scotland, had their mothers forgone the typical milk for pints of beer, if they were eating 72oz. steaks at the age of 3, if their body hair was rugged and manly, they might sound a lot like The Twilight Sad. At their most basic, The Twilight Sad doesn't sound too different from their run-of-the-mill whiny American counterparts. But they are so much more. They are louder, more powerful, more poetic, and worlds more talented.

Their most notable difference is the thick Scottish accent of frontman James Graham. When you first hear him "purr" out his Rs on "Cold Days From the Birdhouse," you know you're in for quite a different experience. The first time I heard him sing, "You make it your own, but this is where your arm can't go," I got goosebumps. I've been listening to the album for about a week, and the effect is still the same. It is definitely a standout on the album.

It is followed by the brilliant "That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy" in which Graham croons, "Kids are on fire in the bedroom" before erupting with one of the most authentic shouts I've ever heard on an album ("They're sitting around the table, and they're talking behind your back!"). It is beautifully composed and even features an accordion for good measure. The song is tense and feels like at any second it could explode into an all-out rock fest, but it never does. It's disappointing in a way, but at the same time you can't help but be impressed by it.

The biggest problem that I can point out on the album is the lack of variety in the songs. Each song is great, don't get me wrong, but they almost always start off calm before building into several layers of guitars, vocals, and drums in what is usually a distorted bridge or interlude. It is a small complaint, to be sure, but one that is definitely worth noting. Each song is great in its own right, but if you're not really paying attention, they might start to sound tired.

Overall, "Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters" is a pretty awesome album! Of all the albums to release in 2007 so far, this one has rocked harder than any other I've come across. The Twilight Sad is a band with a lot of character and even more talent. In today's crowded field of indie rockers, they should have no problem differentiating themselves from the rest of the pack. If they're lucky, and if the world is just, they might just rise above the rest.

Recommended to fans of Interpol, The Walkmen, and anyone who really likes a good Scottish accent!

Key Tracks:
1. "Cold Days from the Birdhouse"
2. "That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy"
3. "Talking with Fireworks/Here, It Never Snowed"
4. "Mapped by What Surrounded Them"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Boddicker: "Big Lionhearted and the Gallant Man"

When I was a kid, my mother and father used to take us on vacation a lot. However, while other kids were vacationing at Disney World or California, my family almost always went about an hour north of where we lived to visit my grandparents at their farm. It was cool, but really, I'd much rather be taking a "real" vacation. My grandfather always had farm dogs that would help him in his daily work, or just hang out with him and keep him company as he was riding in his tractor. However, I soon noticed that every time we visited the farm, my grandfather would always have a new dog, and this perplexed me. It seemed that his dogs were prone to run away, and for the life of me, I could never figure out why. Then one day I came across some evidence that I felt would greatly explain my grandfather's runaway dog problem. I witnessed my grandfather kicking his dog. Surely this animal abuse was the answer to the question that had long perplexed me. I don't remember why my grandfather was kicking his dog, but I do remember the sound it made. It sounded a lot like Caleb Boddicker's singing.

Caleb Boddicker, here known just as Boddicker, is a 20-year-old male from Mississippi. When he was just 16-years-old he produced a 22-track demo in his bedroom and proceeded to sell over a thousand copies of it. This caught the attention of several people in the music industry, including (allegedly) Issac Brock of Modest Mouse. The rest is history. But one question still remains unanswered to me. Who the hell bought this crap?

The album begins with "Giant," a short intro into the nonsense that will soon follow. "Interstate 55," one of the strongest tracks on the album, begins with a simplistic acoustic guitar riff and brief organ appearances. Caleb takes his vocals a little easy at the start, but by the time he gets into the song he's singing so loudly, so badly, that any hint of vocal talent gets thrown out the window. The lyrics here are confusing, to be sure, but at the same time they're some of the best on the album. Take for example, "Well there ain't no McDonald's yet in the woods and the Lutheran Adventist Church can be hard to find." It makes little sense taken out of context, but makes even less when you consider that the majority of the song is sung about a "Missouri Dinosaur."

The album's most flagrant offense is Caleb's insistence on shelving actual singing for what can only be described as yelping, howling, barking, or any other sound you might expect a dog in immense pain to make. "When I Go Out" is a prime example of how an otherwise decent song is slaughtered by Boddicker's inability to carry a tune. Here, Brian Deck's talents as a producer shines, but not much else. The strongest track on the album, "Pretty Baby (Part I),"would be the weakest on any other album by any other artist. It's essentially 5 minutes of Boddicker repeating "You're my sweet pretty baby and I love you so much. I want to t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-touch" to no end. It's catchy in it's simplicity, but at the same time, it's a song that a 10-year-old could write. But a 10-year-old could probably perform it better.

The album is filled from beginning to end with disappointment. I've listened to the album multiple times for the sake of reviewing it, but honestly if anyone manages to listen to this entire album without skipping a track or taking a break I'd be shocked. You may make it most of the way through, but once you get to "Bon Vivant" you're pretty much going to give up on it. "Bon Vivant" is the single worst song I have ever heard in my entire life. It makes you wonder, "Who listens to this and thinks 'Dang, that is awesome'?" At his absolute best, Boddicker sounds like a poor man's version of Daniel Johnston or Alec Ounsworth, but a direct comparison to either of those artists would be an injustice beyond compare.

When I first put Boddicker's "Big Lionhearted and the Gallant Man" into my CD player, I was pretty excited. I was familiar with Brian Deck's previous works with Modest Mouse and Iron and Wine, and had high hopes that Boddicker would be the "next big thing." Even as I listened through the album the first time, I was holding out for the greatness that I thought would surely be revealed as the album progressed. What I got, however, was an extreme disappointment in Boddicker and a dismal new outlook on the music world. "Big Lionhearted and the Gallant Man" is the single worst album I've ever tortured my ears with. It is unbearably disappointing; a thousand times worse than thinking you're vacationing in Disney World, only to find out that you're going to your grandparent's farm.

Recommended to no one. Do not support this garbage.

Key Tracks:
1. "Interstate 55"
2. "Pretty Baby (Part I)"
3. "First We Store Up"

1 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Week of April 16th, 2007.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Cocorosie: "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn"

Cocorosie has never been a group for the mainstream. Since their inception, the Casady sisters have captivated their audience, not by catchy hooks or flashy productions but with their unparalleled sound. For better or for worse, Cocorosie has sacrificed much of their success to remain true to the sound that they wished to create. "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn" is a step towards accessibility and the success that follows it, yet at the same time, it doesn't even feel like the group is sacrificing what has kept them unique all this time. If anything, the album is proof that the group is evolving and maturing as artists. The result is fantastic!

Beginning with the first single "Rainbowarriors," the album starts on a high note. While not the highlight of the album by any means, the song features the group's typically quirky lyrics over a half sung, half rapped melody. The chorus itself is less than catchy, but the real value of the song comes from it's incredibly deep production. "Promise" is a much better song, all around. Bianca's rap in this song is amazing, and surprisingly and uncharacteristically catchy. The beat box-esque drums in the song blend perfectly with the fluttering synth arpeggios that flood the song to form something that is really solid.

"Japan" is classic Cocorosie. It sounds more like a children's song gone awry. Here, Bianca quips "Everybody wants to go to Iraq, but once they go they don't come back." Of course, the song isn't about Iraq. Apparently everybody also wants to go to Japan, Californ-i-a, and Jamaica. It's humorous in it's simplicity, but that's really what makes the song work. It winds up being a stand-out on the album.

The best song on the album, by far, is "Werewolf," and it's an early front runner for song of the year in my book! The beat box drums make another appearance here, this time over a well-composed piano loop. The song starts off quite slowly, but by the time the chorus comes in at full force you will have already fallen in love with it. When the sisters sing, "I'ma shake you off though, get up on that horse and ride into the sunset, look back with no remorse" you can't help sing along. It's such a beautiful song, but one that is also incredibly entertaining. That song is followed quite splendidly by "Animals," a song that is pretty simple and straightforward. However, it's also quite moving and one that you'll want to listen to over and over again to get every last bit of magic out of it.

"The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn" is no "Noah's Ark," that's for sure! But that's not a bad thing at all. Personally, I could see the appeal of Cocorosie's previous efforts but could never get into them like I felt I should have. This album is different. From start to finish, I found myself captivated by the sheer versatility that Bianca and Sierra demonstrate throughout. The songs here are brilliant in their approach, and are simple yet seemingly complex at the same time. Anyone who devotes time to this album will not be disappointed. It is a work of art, and one that should be appreciated. One thing's for sure...they won me over.

Recommended for fans of Cocorosie, Xiu Xiu, Joanna Newsom, and anyone who thought that there was no originality left in the music world.

Key Tracks:
1. "Promise"
2. "Japan"
3. "Sunshine"
4. "Werewolf"
5. "Animals"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Top 5 Front Women

Another Friday, another Top 5. This week I'll examine the Top 5 Front Women in music. In order to qualify for the list, the women must be active (i.e. no Gwen Stefanis or Cranberries) and must be a lead vocalist for their band or group. Keep in mind that this is not the Top 5 Hottest Front Women, either. That, friends, is another list entirely.

#5: Kori Gardner of Mates of State - Clearly, Kori Gardner is not the most talented of vocalists. However, her unique voice, style, and chemistry with the rest of her band (i.e. her husband) is what makes Mates of State work. Without her, Mates of State would be nothing and definitely not worth listening to. So even though she may sound a bit off sometimes, take joy in knowing that it's not going to get any better...and that's the way it should be.

#4: Neko Case of The New Pornographers - Ms. Case is one of the most talented vocalists alive today. However, her spot as #4 on this list is due primarily for her lack of involvement with The New Pornographers. Sure, she's primarily a solo artist, and that's why we love her. But on the same note, the songs that she graces her presence with on each New Pornographers album is beautiful. If there were more of her, it she would be higher. But there isn't....and she isn't.

#3: Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley - Arguably the wet dream of every hipster in the world, Jenny Lewis has managed to charm her audience time after time with her unique mix of sugary vocals and witty lyricism. It is this same lyricism, however, that serves as Jenny's very own double edged sword. While some of her lyrics can be touching, others can be downright confusing or, dare I say, stupid. Regardless, there's no denying the presence that Lewis commands, both on stage and on albums. Despite also being the home band to another talented musician and songwriter in Blake Sennet, Rilo Kiley succeeds primarily because of Lewis' influence. If you don't like her, you're probably not going to like the band. That's power.

#2: Emily Haines of Metric - On the aforementioned hottest list, I feel fairly confident that Emily Haines would go ahead and take the top spot. But as stated this is not that list. Still, number two is no joke, and there's no better woman to fill that spot than Emily Haines. He lyrics range from poignant to sexy, and like so many others on this list, her band would be nowhere if it weren't for her. Haines is much more than a pretty face. She's the most talented frontwoman in indie music. And believe me, it's a long list.

#1: Nina Persson of The Cardigans - What? Really? Yeah, though I'm not the biggest Cardigans fan in the world, I still do like them and Nina Persson has one of the most precious voices that the music industry has ever been graced with. If you don't like it, you're deaf. That's the truth. It really is.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 15

Metric - "Dead Disco" from the album "Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?"

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Due to terrible occurrences, the Week of April 9th, 2007! is ending early.

Day off work tomorrow, YAY! Test that literally determines my future, BOO!

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Top 5 Radiohead Songs

Radiohead is one of few bands that got their start in the early nineties and is still going strong. Their music continually defies expections and conventions, album after album. With all that going for them, it's pretty tough to take all their amazing work and work it down to their top 5 songs. But hey, I love crap like this. So let's see what we have.

#5: "Karma Police" from the album "OK Computer" - A beautiful song, and one of many on Radiohead's 1997 masterpiece. Like I said, Radiohead has so many awesome songs, but this one just stands out to me as one of the best. That chord progression is genius and put to good use by Thom Yorke.

#4: "The Bends" from the album "The Bends" - "Creep" made Radiohead famous in the United States, but "The Bends" was the first time we ever heard the band rock out to their fullest extent. In many ways, they have not equalled the intensity of this song since. Though few would complain about such menial things.

#3: "No Surprises" from the album "OK Computer" - It's no surprise (sorry, I had to) that this song made the list. "No Surprises" is the highlight of OK Computer's more toned-down second half, yet it's easily the best.

#2: "Everything In It's Right Place" from the album "Kid A" - You'd think that because "Kid A" is my favorite Radiohead album that I'd have more than one song on the list. However, it's pretty tough to compete with the amazing songs from "OK Computer." I still think that Kid A is a better, more solid album, but the great songs on OK Computer really outshine most of the tracks on Kid A. If I were to do a top 10 list it would be much more lop-sided the other way around. Trust me.

#1: "Paranoid Android" from the album "OK Computer" - Was there ever any doubt? Of course not. I've stated on numerous occasions that this is not only my favorite Radiohead song, but my favorite song...ever! So to put it at #1 is not a big surprise, but when you compare it to the other songs on this list you see that it has some stiff competition. It's one hell of a song! Listen to it.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 14

Pop Levi - "Pick Me Up Uppercut" from the album "The Return to Form Black Magick Party"

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Bright Eyes: "Cassadaga"

After 2005's brilliant "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" and out-of-left-field "Digital Ash In a Digital Urn," Bright Eyes was due for a well-deserved break. Two years later and fans are once again graced with the group's presence, this time in the form of "Cassadaga." I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest Bright Eyes fan out there, mostly out of my lukewarm feelings for front man Conor Oberst, but I'm wise enough to point out talent when it's apparent. And Oberst is one of the most talented and gifted songwriters out there! "Cassadaga" not only serves as a powerful reminder of this fact, but as one of, if not the best Bright Eyes record to date!

The album begins with the haunting string orchestration of "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)." Two minutes into the horror movie-esque intro, and they suddenly drop out, leaving only a simple acoustic guitar and Oberst's classic rumbling vocals singing, "It's a kill or be killed..." It's a fantastic way to start out the album, and it leads into what is probably one of the best Bright Eyes songs in recent memory, "Four Winds." Here, the strings take the stylistically country route, or what can affectionately be called "fiddling." Oberst is at his absolute best, conveying his emotions spectacularly as he howls, "When great Satan's gone, the whore of Babylon, oh she just can't sustain." The song is infecting, and entertaining. So much so that you might even find yourself singing along after a few listens on repeat.

Likewise, "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" is another fantastic song that has classic Bright Eyes written all over it. It features a particularly memorable melody, in which Conor sings, "Got a cricket for a conscience, always looks the other way." "Hot Knives" features an uncharacteristically distorted guitar and even more of Oberst's insightful and inspiring lyrics. Once again, the strings are at full-force when Oberst sings "So give me black lights, so give me hot knives, on a dance floor no one tells time." This powerful and upbeat song, gives way to the exact opposite in "Make a Plan to Love Me," an unabashed love song complete with beautiful female vocals in the background. At times, it can sound like a 50s-style ballad, something you'd imagine hearing at an Under the Sea-themed prom in 1959.

"Soul Singer in a Session Band" features the worst aspects of Conor Oberst's vocals, but at the same time it offers up some of his better lyrics on the album. Take, for example, the ironic "I had a lengthy discussion about the power of myth with a postmodern author that didn't exist" or the more-realistic "I was a hopeless romantic, now I'm just turning tricks." The band feels as cohesive as they ever do here, and the fiddling is once again in full-force. "Cleanse Song" features a barely-there band, and instead showcases some impressive percussion and what I believe is an Oboe (though I must admit it's been a while). "No One Would Riot for Less" is a haunting glimpse at the state of the world. Oberst's vocals are effective here, as he laments "Little soldier, little insect, you know war has no heart. it will kill you in the sunshine or happily in the dark." It is a beautiful song. Disturbing, but utterly beautiful.

By the time the album comes to a close, you can't help but be impressed by it. "Cassadaga" is a pleasant surprise for me. As I said, I'm not the biggest Bright Eyes fan in the world and had this album been anything less than brilliant, I would've been happy to dismiss it as such. But "Cassadaga" is an amazing album that is filled from end to end with brilliant songwriting, awesome production value, and unquestionable power. Like most Bright Eyes albums, the listener is sure to experience a wide array of emotions while listening to it, and the listening experience is made so much better because of it. If you've never heard a Bright Eyes album before, you absolutely have to listen to this album! On that note, if you've been a fan for years, Bright Eyes has given you their all in what is sure to be one of 2007's best albums.

Recommended for fans of Bright Eyes and anyone who wants to be a fan of Bright Eyes.

Key Tracks:
1. "Four Winds"
2. "Hot Knives"
3. "Make a Plan to Love Me"
4. "No One Would Riot For Less"
5. "I Must Belong Somewhere"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Dntel: "Dumb Luck"

It has been six years since Dntel last released a full-length album. Since that time, Jimmy Tamborello has undergone quite a transformation; from underground electro programmer to full-fledged indie pop god. Whether he was busy being one half of the uber-successful The Postal Service or putting out albums as James Figurine, Tamborello has found countless ways to stay busy. "Dumb Luck," the long-awaited follow up to 2001's "Life Is Full of Possibilities," sounds like an expected mixture of everything that Tamborello has accomplished over the last six years. In doing so, it largely abandons the sound that separated Dntel from Tamborello's numerous other projects.

The lead-off and title track, "Dumb Luck" features Tamborello's stylistically unflattering voice offering tidbits of self-pity such as, "Don't forget that it's dumb luck that got you here" or "you can't trust your friends, they will betray you." The song begins with the largely disjointed flutterings of Jimmy's production, but eventually collapses into a simple acoustic guitar with minimal electronic effects in the background. It is a decent song, but like most songs sung by Tamborello (i.e. James Figurine's 2006 album), the production value far outweighs the vocal performance.

In many ways, it feels as if "Dumb Luck" is less of a Dntel album and more of a "Jimmy Tamborello featuring All of His Friends" album. Aside from the title track, every song is sung by a guest performer. Some of these tracks work rather well, while others feel stale and generally unmemorable.

"To a Fault" featuring Grizzly Bear, for example, is a rater awesome track. Here, it actually sounds like a Dntel song should sound like, with minimal emphasis placed on vocals and more on everything else. As such, most of the song is comprised of evidence of Tamborello's unwavering skills as a producer/programmer and it stands out as one of the better songs on the album. On the contrary, "Roll On" is dominated by Jenny Lewis' trademark quasi-country voice and as a result the song sounds absolutely nothing like any other Dntel song to date. Like so many other songs on the album, it features the standard "verse/chorus/verse/chorus" setup. Tamborello's skills are entirely subdued here, and one has to wonder what even classifies this as Dntel and not James Figurine or The Postal Service (aside from the fact that that's what Tamborello says it is).

"Rock My Boat" featuring Mia Doi Todd, is a pretty good song that does a fantastic job of balancing the talents of both artists. Even if it's a bit clichéd to hear an artist sing, "You rock my boat," Mia Doi Todd does a fantastic job of complementing Tamborello's stellar song. Similarly, Andrew Broder offers up the best vocal performance of the album on "Natural Resources." At it's best moments, the song sounds like it could have been pulled right off of Radiohead's Kid A.

Arguably, the most notable vocalist on the album is Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes on "Breakfast In Bed." However, Oberst tones down his trademark emotionally wrought vocals and presents a completely uninspired melody, sounding almost exactly like another one of his songs, "Kathy With a Ks Song" (without the aforementioned emotion). Though his emotionally-vacant vocals actually blend rather well with Tamborello's song, one can't help be disappointed by their absence.

Overall, Dntel's "Dumb Luck" should satisfy any fan of The Postal Service or James Figurine. However, Dntel fans who were expecting a revival of the artist's unrivaled sound from previous albums might be a little disappointed. Personally, though I enjoy this album a lot, I can't help but feel a bit cheated. I am a huge Dntel fan, and this album offers nothing that would even suggest that this is the same Tamborello moniker. If the artist insists on using multiple monikers to promote his music, he should do a better job of defining each one. "Dumb Luck," though good, sounds absolutely nothing previous Dntel albums, and more like everything else Tamborello has done in recent years...for better or for worse.

Recommended for fans of The Postal Service, James Figurine, or any of the artists who lend their vocals to this album.

Key Tracks:
1. "To A Fault (featuring Grizzly Bear)"
2. "I'd Like to Know (featuring Lali Puna)"
3. "Rock My Boat (featuring Mia Doi Todd)"
4. "Natural Resources (featuring Andrew Broder of Fog)"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

Week of April 2, 2007.

Ha! More like Weak of April 2nd.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Album of the Month: March 2007

The Winner:

LCD Soundsystem: "Sound of Silver"
Dance albums aren't for everyone, so I'm not expecting a lot of readers to agree with me on this one. But LCD Soundsystem's second LP completely shattered my expectations and made me a believer in his overwhelming talents. After his first album he had the world singing his praises, but I wasn't buying it. This one is different. Brilliant from start to finish, if you haven't heard it you have to check it out! Period!

Runner Up:
My Brightest Diamond: "Tear It Down"

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Video of the Week - Week 13

"When You Wasn't Famous" by The Streets from the album "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living"

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