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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Omar Rodriguez Lopez: "Se Dice Bisonte, No Buffalo"

I've been a fairly faithful Mars Volta fan since the band's first LP debuted back in 2003. However, to say that my admiration for the group has never wavered would be a lie. In fact, with each full-length album that the Mars Volta releases, my love for the band deteriorates just a little bit more. This downward trend is caused largely by the group's insistence on forgoing the largely prog-rock stylings of their debut in favor of more experimental paths. The "Hey, instead of a song, let's just play random crap for 8 minutes" approach was fresh on 2005's "Frances the Mute" but it felt unbelievably stale on their most recent album, "Amputechture." It should be of no surprise then that "Se Dice Bisconte, No Buffalo" is not my favorite of albums. In many ways this album is the embodiment of everything that I've grown to despise about the Mars Volta.

That's not to say that this is an unimpressive collection of songs, however. Quite the opposite! Despite my waning feelings for Omar and Cedric, I can still recognize talent when I hear it. It's just that the talent of these two individuals has been misplaced in recent years. "Buffalo" is just another example of that. For example, the first two tracks on the album "The Lukewarm" and "Luxury of Infancy" are utter throwaways. The first being a 26 second exercise in changing the pitch of your voice, while the second is just more of Omar's signature electric guitar "scribbling." These two tracks serve no purpose on the album whatsoever, as they're pretty much over before you realize it.

"Rapid Fire Tollbooth" may sound familiar to Mars Volta fans who have been to the band's live shows. Cedric Bixler-Zavala lends his vocals here, and as a result the song sounds very much like a Mars Volta song that couldn't find a home on "Amputechture." In fact, several of the songs on "Buffalo" that features Cedric's vocals sound like they were made during the production of that album, but just weren't good enough to make the cut ("Se Dice Bisonte, No Buffalo," and "Please Heat This Eventually" to be precise). "La Tirania De La Tradicion," on the other hand, is a fantastic song, and the highlight of the album. In this frantic 5-minute long song, Cedric's vocals are all over the place, and the end result is amazing!

In the end, the best moments on "Se Dice Bisconte, No Buffalo" are the ones where Omar and company play actual music as opposed to just random noise. Tracks like "The Lukewarm," "Luxury of Infancy," and "If Gravity Lulls, I Can Hear the World Pant" only serve as a reminder to how self-indulgent these musicians can be. However there are a few others that remind you why you fell in love with these guys in the first place. As a result, "Buffalo" feels more like half of an album than anything else. While some devoted fans may find it to be worthy of a purchase, I'd be much more inclined to download my favorite tracks and live out my life pretending that the others don't exist.

Recommended for fans of The Mars Volta and the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Quintet.

Key Tracks:
1. "Rapid Fire Tollbooth"
2. "Se Dice Bisonte, No Buffalo"
3. "Please Heat This Eventually"
4. "Lurking About In a Cold Sweat (Held Together By Venom)"
5. "La Tirania De La Tradicion"

5 out of 10 Stars

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: "In Glorious Times"

"In Glorious Times" is my first encounter with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, a band whose music and lyrics are much more passionate and serious than their name would imply. Defining the band's sound is no laughing matter either. Drawing influences from every conceivable corner of the music landscapes, this band is near-impossible to define or label. At times they can sound like the better moments of Mars Volta, before anthem-ing it up a bit and going the route of Dream Theater. But before you know it, they've thrown another curve in your direction, and it sounds like you're listening to an entirely different genre of music altogether (Metal to be precise). While it's a bit cliched nowadays to call your band "undefinable," to say that you break musical boundaries, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is one of the few bands I've actually heard that fulfill such a boast. If "In Glorious Times" is on thing, it is proof of that.

"Angle of Repose" utilizes angular guitars and frantic violins to accompany the beautiful female vocals. When the female vocalist sings "I buried the dead and they came up stories. I planted the stories, they grew up singing" it is unbelievably effective. It's even more effective when she later moan/growls the same line, crossing into Bjork territory in the process. It is avant-garde to be sure! The epic gothic-opera styling of "Puppet Show" only goes to further emphasize this point, with it's powerful vocals and creepy pianos.

The sort of talent displayed in these two songs is apparent throughout the album. The drums, guitar, and bass guitar on this album are also incredible, as can clearly be seen in tracks like "Salt Crown" and "The Ossuary." More often than not, complex orchestration is added into the songs to further accentuate the terrific instrumentation. In "The Greenless Wreath" for example, the song begins on a low note before being catapulted into the stratosphere by an amazingly composed string score.

My only real complaint with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is the bass-heavy, guitar-driven style of music that they often fall back on. Personally, I have never been a fan of this style of music. However, I have much respect for the band for separating themselves from the hordes of untalented metal bands out there today. "In Glorious Times" is a phenomenal achievement for any band of any genre! I highly recommend this album to fans of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and for people who have yet to hear the band, but have strong feelings for the metal and avant-garde rock genre. I cannot see how one could be disappointed by such an effort.

Key Tracks:
1. "Companions"
2. "Angel of Repose"
3. "Ossuary"
4. "Greenless Wreath"

7 out of 10 Stars

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Video of the Week - Week 21

"TV" by Headlights from the album "Kill Them With Kindness"

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Go News Go! The Weekly News Recap

Here are the only music stories that mattered this week.

That's all the news this week. Catch ya' later.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Top 5 Songs on My Running Playlist

I am not a runner. I run. But I am not a runner. Since I can remember I have loathed the experience. I was always slower than most people, I was never motivated, I never breathed right, and my chest always hurt me. I absolutely despise running. I think it's a safe bet to say that if it weren't for my iPod, I wouldn't run at all. However, thanks to this nifty lil' device, I often find myself motivated to go the extra mile. In my iPod, I have devised a playlist so amazing, so earth-shatteringly brilliant that it's hard not to run. The following list contains the top 5 songs on that playlist that really get me pumped. Feel free to add any of them to your playlist as well. You can thank me later.

#5. "Blood on Our Hands (Marczech Makuziak Remix)" by Death From Above 1979 - This song is better than the original, yet it still contains the same driving guitars and drums. If this doesn't get you pumped up, nothing will. The tempo will keep you moving fast...but not too fast. Why not too fast? Because death is bad, and I would die.

#4. "Sugar Assault Me Now" by Pop Levi - Pop Levi's debut album was largely a waste of time. However, it contained a few songs that will be memorable for some time to come. This song in particular contains probably the coolest guitar riff on the album, and it's steady drums will get even the laziest person out of their seat. Whether or not they'll run to it or just use it as motivation to change spots in front of the TV is their perogative. But for me, it helps me run.

#3. "Highway Robbery" by The Dillinger Escape Plan - I know I don't seem like the kind of guy that woiuld indulge in some good ol' fashioned Dillinger, but some songs are just too good to pass up. This is one of those songs that invokes rage and fire from within you. If you're smart, you'll use that as motivation to run and burn off some steam. If you're dumb you'll go kill someone or set a puppy on fire. I recommend the former, unless you'd prefer a few years in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Again, this is your perogative.

#2. "Light Grenades" by Incubus - I need to make myself perfectly clear that this is the song "Light Grenades" and not the album of the same name. While the album was a heaping pile of disappointment, this song actually manages to rock the stones just a bit. It's 100% sheer energy from start to finish. And even though it's run time is a bit on the short side, it gives me enough of a boost to keep me going for some time. Thanks guys. Maybe make a decent album next time. For me, k?

#1. "Yamkela" by Blindside - All the songs on my running playlist are really songs that I don't listen to on a regular basis. This song should demonstrate that point perfectly. I haven't listened to Blindside casually since 2003, when I still liked Blindside, and the album that this song comes from is particularly terrible. The fact that it still manages to be on my playlist, much less #1 on this list, should give you an idea of how awesome this song is to run too. The chorus is just plain awesome! If you can't get into this one, just sit down, eat Cheetos, and get fat. You're wasting your time.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 20

The Shins - "Pink Bullets" from the album "Chutes Too Narrow"

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stars: "Do You Trust Your Friends?"

Stars' "Set Yourself On Fire" is one of my favorite indie albums of all time, and my definite favorite on the Arts and Crafts label. The album built upon the romanticized themes of their first two albums, while also proving the band to be a truly musically talented group. As the cliche goes, the album will always have a special place in my heart. When I first heard that Stars' masterpiece was going to be reworked by some of the most talented indie artists around today, I was both excited and worried at the same time. Did I really want this great album to be messed with? Were these talented musicians qualified to tackle this project and do it justice? Can Stars trust their friends?

The tracklist to "Do You Trust Your Friends?" is set up the same as the album it is based on. As such, most of it feels like a tribute album rather than a full-fledged remix/cover album. Also, with the exception of a few tracks, most of the original fantastic vocal work has been left in. This is a good thing, as the vocals are arguably the most attractive aspect of Stars' music.

In "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," the lead-off and standout track from the first album, Final Fantasy takes on the huge task of recreating the cinematic feel of the original. It seems that this would be the best fit, as Owen Pallett is fantastic at composing intricate piano and string songs. However, despite his lush arrangement, the song feels very empty, and never builds into the epic grandeur of the original. It is a much more solemn song this time around, but not necessarily better. On Montag's version of "Set Yourself On Fire," layers upon layers of drums, guitars, synths, and electronics complement the vocals quite nicely without overpowering them.

My favorite track on the album has to be "Ageless Beauty" by The Most Serene Republic. Here, Amy Milan's beautiful declaration of "We will always be in love," is given new life thanks to the folksy guitars and piano that the band has implemented. I was never the biggest fan of the original, but this is a version that I can truly love. Not content to just reuse old vocals, Jason Collett opts to do a full-on cover of "Reunion." Like the songs that precede it, it offers a completely different take on Stars' music, and it does so nicely. The song now has a very southern rock feel to it, and it sounds great!

The album starts to drag a little bit with Minotaur Shock's version of "The Big Fight" which is a shallow and bland electronic rendition of a great song. If that wasn't enough, The Dears take it upon themselves to ruin what was probably the most exciting and uplifting song on "Set Yourself On Fire" with their version of "What I'm Trying To Say," which is inexplicably split into two parts. It's depressing that one of my favorite bands could completely destroy this great song. The Dears are capable of much better than this, to be sure. The album picks up again with "One More Night" covered by Apostle of Hustle. Their version of the song is not better than the original, but it is an interesting take on it nonetheless.

The Russian Futurists' version of "The First Five Times" utilizes power chords and breakbeats to make a somewhat decent reworking of the original song. This was never my favorite song to begin with, and this version doesn't change my mind about that. However, it is ambitious, and therefore worth a few courtesy listens. Metric's version of "He Lied About Death" is really the only other notable track on the album. While I'm a little disappointed to hear that the awesome saxophone solo from the original is not reused, it is refreshing to hear that the band was smart enough to leave out the absolutely childish lyric "I hope your drunken daughters are gay" (even if they do rely too heavily on the "Don't f*** with our lives" lyric).

So can Stars trust their friends? Well, they can trust some of them. Some bands like The Most Serene Republic and Jason Collett do a fantastic job of paying tribute to the original work, while others (The Stills and The Dears) completely destroy something that was once amazing. In the end, my opinion of "Do You Trust Your Friends?" is just as mixed as the quality of the songs it contains. This is not an album you'll listen to for months, or weeks for that matter. It's an album you pick up if you really loved "Set Yourself On Fire." It's an album you get if you want to hear talented musicians rework a classic collection of songs. But it's also an album that you'll wind up disappointed in. Despite the caliber of the artist contained within, "Do You Trust Your Friends" is a disappointment, plain and simple.

Recommended for fans of Stars and anyone who really likes to ruin works of art.

Key Tracks:
1. "Set Yourself On Fire" (Montag)
2. "Ageless Beauty" (The Most Serene Republic)
3. "Reunion" (Jason Collett)
4. "One More Night" (Apostle of Hustle)

5 out of 10 Stars

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Maroon 5: "It Won't Be Soon Before Long"

In a business as predictable as today's mainstream music industry, Maroon 5 has always been an enigma. When they first burst onto the scene in 2002, their music didn't fit in with the rest of what was playing on MTV or the radio. Perhaps that was their appeal. In the midst of emo, pop-punk, and guitar-driven crap rock this band came out of nowhere and reminded everyone what good music sounds like. It's been way too long since that album came out and many fans, like myself, have been clamoring for some new material from this great band. After all that time, Maroon 5 has once again taken over our speakers and our hearts with "It Won't Be Soon Before Long," an album that reminds us why they were so popular in the first place.

Part of the band's appeal has always been their ability to blend elements of jazz, funk, rock, and pop to form a sound that is incredibly unique. "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" continues this tradition, while branching out into other territories as well. It begins with the near-perfect "If I Never See Your Face Again," a funky rock song that draws heavily from mid-eighties pop music like classic Michael Jackson. The production value is high, here, utilizing some fantastic samples and infectious harmonies to form a truly catchy pop song. "Makes Me Wonder," the first single from the album, has an addictive fuzz-bassline that drives the song throughout. Adam Levine is at his absolute best as he sings the chorus ("Cause I don't believe in you anymore, anymore"). The song may very well be the highlight of the album, but at only track two, there is much more to enjoy coming up.

Take, for example, "Little of Your Time" which sounds extremely reminiscent of Outkast in it's production (particularly "Hey Ya"). It's poppy, staccato guitars are contagious and Levine's performance is undeniably top-notch. "Wake Up Call" is a direct throwback to their previous LP, "Songs About Jane," while "Won't Go Home Without You" is the obligatory ballad that sounds too much like "She Will Be Loved" for it's own good. "Nothing Lasts Forever" is a hopeful song, but it share's it's hook with Kanye West's "Heard 'Em Say" (which Levine was featured on). While it may be entirely possible that this song was actually written before Kanye's song, the fact that it's used again just seems incredibly redundant, especially when you consider that it sounds much better in it's previous incarnation.

"Can't Stop" brings back the staccato guitars to form a truly rocking song, but it is followed by the uninspired and cliche-ridden "Goodnight Goodnight." The chorus is powerful in itself, when Levine sings "Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight..." but even then it sounds like we've heard this all before (especially when you consider that the opening guitar riff sounds just like 3 Doors Down's "Kryptonite"). "Not Falling Apart" is a decent song in itself, though there's very little that would distinguish it as Maroon 5 apart from Adam Levine's unique vocals. One could easily imagine Kelly Clarkson singing the exact same thing, which isn't really an insult at all. "Kiwi," however, is just aching for an insult. The song is filled to the brim with innuendos ("Sweet kiwi, your juice is dripping down my chin") and even some not-so-subtle sexual references. Like the opening track, the song sounds like old-school Michael Jackson at times; that is until it explodes into an all-out rock fest, complete with an impressive guitar solo.

The album closes out with two ballads, both worthy of praise. "Better That We Break" is a piano ballad in the vein of The Fray, while "Back At Your Door" is just all sorts of beautiful. It may very well be the best Maroon 5 ballad yet, which is saying quite a lot. Overall, "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" is a pretty impressive sophomore effort from a band that refuses to fully compromise their sound for more success. In an industry that has the tendency to leech onto a specific sound, milk it for all it's worth, and toss it aside for the "next big thing;" the fact that Maroon 5 still sounds fresh and unique speaks volumes about the talent that this band has. "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" may not be the flawless, magical album that "Songs About Jane" was, but it's far from a sophomore slump. While some songs should've been left in the studio, there are others that truly make this album worth the purchase. If you have ever liked Maroon 5, this album is for you.

Recommended for fans of Maroon 5, Kara's Flowers, Justin Timberlake, and anyone who wants to hear the most talented band in mainstream music...stil.

Key Tracks:
1. "If I Never See your Face Again"
2. "Makes Me Wonder"
3. "Little of Your Time"
4. "Can't Stop"
5. "Back At Your Door"

6 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

I was gone last week. Here is all the important news from the last two weeks.

No....really. That's it. I know.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The 5 Worst Albums I've Ever Owned

These days, my judgement is pretty much superior to everyone else's. This is why no one really visits this blog, because they can't handle such supreme opinions. However, there was a time when my judgement was...well, lacking. During these reprehensible years, I purchased many albums, most of which I couldn't even think of listening to today. So the following list is comprised of worst 5 albums I've ever owned. Consider it my gift to you.

#5: Joe Diffie: "Third Rock From the Sun" - Yeah, I'll admit it. When I was a kid, I was big into country music. Not the lame country music now, specially formulated to make you cry or to make you fall in love with your tractor. No. I listened to good ol' fashioned Joe Diffie. And let's face it, a lot of other people did too. He had a freaking sitcom named after one of his songs! This was by far his best album, which admittedly isn't saying much. It contained such classics as "Pickup Man" and "Good Brown Gravy," so you know it's good.

#4: TV on the Radio: "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" - As a music snob, I suppose I'm supposed to like these guys. Hell, everyone else does. But no. A few years ago, I bought this CD based on word of mouth alone. Never have the words of others failed me so greatly. TV on the Radio remains one of the most overhyped bands around today, and they lack the talent to warrant such exposure. Sure, I bought this CD...but I gave it away a week later. In hindsight, it would've been more productive if I'd just set it on fire. Oh well.

#3: Sugarcult: "Start Static" - I made some bad decisions in high school, but I believe purchasing this album was the worst of them. I had just seen a video for "Pretty Girl" on MTV and I was really in the mood to buy a new album. So I head over to Wal-Mart (of all places), and I see this CD. I bought it. And I loved it! Sugarcult is probably more talented than I give them credit for (see hidden track), but that doesn't really change the fact that this album is mostly garbage. Half of it is on the Van Wilder soundtrack anyways, and you know that teen movie sountracks are just horrendous! Did I mention that Sugarcult was on My Super Sweet Sixteen? Don't support bands that support rich girls. Seriously.

#2: Stabbing Westward: "Darkest Days" - I've had this CD in my closet for about 4 years now, and I can't find a single person who will willingly take it off my hands. Let's just leave it at that.

#1: Carman: "Revival in the Land" - What? Who? Carman was a force to be reckoned with in Christian music back in the early 1990s. His free concerts were legendary, selling out venues as large as The Astrodome. And yet, in the midst of all this success there were very few people willing to state the obvious; Carman sucked! His songs were cheesier than Kraft Mac & Cheese! "The Champion" was about a boxing match between Jesus and Satan. "Resurrection Rap" is a horrid, horrid excuse for a rap song ("Word up! It's fresh! Christ will rise from the dead!). "A Witches Invitation" chronicles the adventures Carman has with a neighborhood witch, and how he totally one-ups him with the power of Jesus. "Who's in the House?" answers it's question with an emphatic "J.C.!" What about the spaghetti-western stylings of "Satan, Bite the Dust?" Come on! Carman was terrible! TERRIBLE! But in my youth, he was my absolute favorite. I had at least 5 of his albums on cassette. What were my parents thinking?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 19

Stars - "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" from the album "Set Yourself On Fire"

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Playing Catch-Up: Impressions

So in general, I usually check out 5 to 10 new albums a month while only reviewing a handful of those. The ones that aren't fortunate enough to be judged by my superior music-reviewing self usually just end up in what I like to call "Cale's Big Box of Unreviewed Music." As a rule of thumb, if i don't review an album, I usually don't have strong feelings towards it. So in general, I either really like an album that I review or I really hate it.

Here are some albums that I never got around to reviewing and my thought on them. You may see some of these as reviews in the future, but I wouldn't count on it.

Air: "Pocket Symphony" - I've never really been an Air fan. Their music is very comforting and mellow to say the very least, but their vocals are usually fairly terrible. "Pocket Symphony" unfortunately falls into the category of albums whose best moments are when no one is singing. If you can get past the childish vocals of "Once Upon A Time," you may find something worth enjoying. While I value Air's musicality and talent, the vocals are just something that I've always struggled with.

6 out of 10 Stars

Blonde Redhead: "23" - I know that because I'm a indie-music blogger that I should be more familiar with bands like Blonde Readhead. But the truth of the matter is that, though I'd heard of them, "23" is the first album of their's that I've ever actually listened to. My final verdict is that I'm not too impressed. I can definitely pick out bands that have been influenced by their sound, but the album is full of ups and downs. More often than not, vocals are strangled by an overabundance of noise to form what are just talented distractions rather than actual impressive works of art. "Spring and Summer by Fall" is a fantastic song, as is "Top Ranking," but other than that, "23" suffers from overproduction. It could've been a great album, but it's just not.

5 out of 10 Stars

El-P: "I'll Sleep When You're Dead" - I actually kind of respect this album a lot. In fact, I sort of enjoyed it as well. I suppose the main reason that I never reviewed it was that I don't consider myself qualified to critique hip-hop at all. Suffice to say, El-P is probably the most daring emcee around today, and the production quality here is through the roof. If you're in the market for a truly remarkable hip-hop album, this is the best one I've heard all year.

8 out of 10 Stars

Feist: "The Reminder" - I really do like Feist, especially "Mushaboom." That's probably why I'm not too crazy about "The Reminder." There's not a song on the album that matches the creativity or genuineness of "Mushaboom." Sure, "The Reminder" does pack a bunch of decent songs, and it does validate Leslie Feist's position as one of the top female songwriter's today, but these songs seem to be lacking the magic that made "Let It Die" so special.

6 out of 10 Stars

Again, these are just a few of the albums that slipped through the cracks. I highly recommend you give them a listen and make your own opinion. Although, mine will always be superior. That's just the way it is.

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Back From Vacation

Hey Readers!

I'm back from my well-deserved and well-timed vacation. A few days of beautiful weather and I'm back inside huddled up close to my computer ready to serve up music snobbery at it's best! Thanks for putting up with the lack of updates. I hope you survived.


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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Video of the Week - Week 18

Youth Group - "Daisychains" from the album "Casino Twilight Dogs"

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bjork: "Volta"

It's becoming cliched to shell out praise to Bjork. With every album she releases, every single that hits the airwaves, more and more people are giving her the attention and accolades that she truly deserves. I mean, come on! How could you not love her? Aside from possessing what is arguably the strongest voice of any female vocalist today, she is also the most imaginative and one of the few artists who are willing to steer clear of mainstream music. Her previous effort, "Medulla" was genius in it's use of the human voice and managed to become an all-time favorite for me. As such, "Volta" has pretty big expectations to live up to. Thankfully, Bjork has once again succeeded in creating an album that is both musically amazing and deep in complexity.

The lead-off track and first single "Earth Intruders" is a fantastic way to begin an album. It's upbeat and frenetic production, done by none other than the always-awesome Timbaland, is the true appeal of the song. The mega producer does a stand-up job of blending his flawless production with Bjork's sometimes overpowering voice. The song is amazing from start to finish, and without a doubt the best example of what "Volta" is all about. "Wanderlust" introduces brass instrumentation into the mix, an ongoing theme throughout the album, and adds layers upon layers of Bjork's vocals. It's a very strange way to make a song, but at the same time it's incredibly rewarding with a good pair of headphones.

On "The Dull Flame of Desire" the brass horns lead off with a fanfare-ish segue into this beautiful duet with Antony Hegarty. His voice is just as strangely awesome as Bjork's, and the two vocalists complement each other extremely well here. "Innocence" increases the pace a little bit, with a beat that is 50% energy / 50% genius. Bjork sings the catchy chorus "When I once was innocent, it is still here but in different places" perfectly, while adding some periodic falsetto to deepen the vocals.

"Vertebrae by Vertebrae" once again utilizes the brooding brass band to form what is a somewhat frightening songs. When she softly sings, "Vertebrae by vertebrae" you can't help but freak out just a little bit. "Declare Independence" features a literally screaming Bjork, obviously touching on a subject that she takes very seriously. Though it almost seems silly at first, by the time the song comes to an end and Bjork is screaming "DON'T LET THEM DO THAT TO YOU!" it's hard not to let it find that soft spot in your heart (Primarily, because it beats itself in). The song uses a guitar synthesizer (more specifically "FL Slayer" from Fruity Loops) brilliantly to create a truly amazing song.

In the end, "Volta" is not Bjork's greatest album, neither is it her worst. Like most of her other albums, it contains some truly memorable tracks that will undoubtedly go down as classics and others that miss the mark. "Volta" is a terrific album in spite of it's dragging moments, and there is more than enough magic contained in it's playtime to sustain even the most cynical of Bjork's fans. If you're a fan of Bjork, there's no reason for you to not check out this album. If you're not a're probably not even reading this.

Recommended for fans of Bjork, especially those who have been longing for a new addition to their collection.

Key Tracks:
1. "Earth Intruders"
2. "The Dull Flame of Desire"
3. "Innocence"
4. "Declare Independence"
5. "My Juvenile"

8 out of 10 Stars

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Go News Go! - The Weekly News Recap

This weeks was awesome! Right?

No news updates next week. I'm terribly sorry about that. Vacation is calling and it'd just be rude not to answer.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

5 Totally Awesome Road Trip Albums

When I was a student in Dallas, I often traveled between Dallas and Houston. It is one of the most boring rides you could ever take; 3+ hours of flat land and pine trees. Boo! One thing that always got me through was music. A good road trip album has in be moving. It has to inspire introspection. It has to feel complete. By the end of it, you feel as if you've accomplished something, like you're a better person for having listened to it. So here are my Top 5 choices for road trip albums. If I took a road trip and could only bring 5 albums, these are the albums I would choose.

#5: Eagles: "Hotel California" - Recently featured on my Anniversary Special, "The Unquestionable 10s," this classic album is the only classic rock album that is perfect from beginning to end. A lot of old records put the good stuff on side A and left the crap on side B. On "Hotel California" the B-sides were better than most album's A-sides. Beginning with the undeniably road-trippy title track, the album take you on a journey through rejection, love, and regret. All of its songs are relatable, classic, and totally awesome. This is a must-have on any road trip.

#4: The Decemberists: "The Crane Wife" - Last year's spectacular 4th album from The Decemberists is brilliant any way that you cut it. Like all road-trip albums, it takes you on a journey through worlds that you can only dream about. Crane wives, a murderous gang of Irish hooligans, feuding families; what's not to love about this album? By the time you get through the final track, you'll want to listen to it again and again. Fortunately, there are 3 other albums to take your mind off of it.

#3: Bright Eyes: "Cassadaga" - Pretty much every Bright Eyes album is going to be a perfect companion for your road trip. I chose "Cassadaga" because I believe it is his best yet. Besides, "I Must Belong Somewhere" is such a beautifully moving song, that it lends itself perfectly to this list. "Cassadaga" is a journey of self-realization. It's about awakening. And, for once, it's not all about Oberst. That's enough reason for me to put it on the list. Plus, I listened to it on a trip from Huntsville a few weeks ago, and I'm totally right about it being a great road trip companion. Of course, was there ever any doubt?

#2: The Postal Service: "Give Up" - Unlike a lot of the albums on the list, "Give Up" is one of those albums that you just have to sing along to. While I totally enjoy taking it easy on a long trip and just taking in everything, there are times where you just have to sing like an idiot to your music. In my opinion, there's no better album to sing along to than The Postal Service's 2003 masterpiece. Gibbard's lyrics are flawless and inspiring, and his melodies pretty much beg to be sung-along with. For a boring trip through the middle of nowhere, singing wildly is the best way to pass the time. Trust me.

#1: The Elected: "Sun, Sun, Sun" - While every other album on the list feel like they lend themselves to road trips, only this album feels like it was crafted specifically for this purpose. It begins with the somewhat saddening chorus, "'I realize why I cannot fly' said the bird with the broken wing. 'Though my lift is gone, my voice is strong, and I can still sing,'" and is followed by a few songs that seem to be soft reflections rather than empowering introspections. However, the album goes through a sort of metamorphosis and before it comes to a close you'll be drumming on your steering wheel, singing along with "Biggest Star," and feeling a rush of self-empowerment. The album ends with the same chorus it began with, but this time over a springy, upbeat guitar. Suddenly, the "I can't fly" is no longer important. "I can still sing," says the bird with the broken wing, and you realize that despite whatever life throws your way, you'll be okay. Awesome!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Album of the Month: April2007

The Winner
Bright Eyes: "Cassadaga"

This actually a bit harder of a decision than you might think. True, the rating of an album largely determines how 'good' I believe the album to be. However, I also rate based on artistic value, long-term listenability, and level of genius involved. So just because Charlotte Gainsbourg technically got a higher score than Conor Oberst et al does not mean that she gets my Album of the Month honors. No, sadly that honor is still reserved for Bright Eyes. Her album is fantastic, thus warranting the higher rating, but I believe "Cassadaga" to be a better album right now. The novelty and greatness of the album may wear off over time, and it's highly likely that you'll find "5:55" at the end of the year. But for right now, there was no better album to release in April than Bright Eyes' masterpiece. Deal with it.

Runner Up:
Charlotte Gainsbourg: "5:55"

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Video of the Week - Week 17

Bjork - 'Earth Intruders' from the album "Volta"

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