Archive for 2009

Random Quick Picks

Posted in Black Sabbath, blue oyster cult, Creature with the Atom Brain, Gorguts, The Residents with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Nicholas

So, Ryan has got me to join him in a random rotation album shuffle — basically selecting twenty-five albums at random from our collections and listening to them from start to finish before moving on to the next one.  Once the twenty-five are finished, we repeat.  It’s a good way to bust out the stuff you don’t listen to as much or that you haven’t listened to at all.  I completed my first five albums the other day, so here are some shitty thoughts on them.

1975

Sabotage

Black Sabbath

1975

NEMS / Warner Bros. / Vertigo

Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands.  From the Ozzy era, the first six albums are incredible, Sabotage being number six.  I do listen to this album somewhat regularly, but since it came up in the random shuffle, I gave it a good, solid listen.  For some reason I liked it more this time around than I remembered liking it.  Sabotage is an excellent mix of heavier Sabbath, such as “Symptom of The Universe” — which is a fantastic track — and some more experimental stuff.  The only song I wasn’t too crazy about is “Am I Going Insane.”  It feels a little too poppy for the rest of the album.  Otherwise this is a sexy slice of Sabbath. Continue reading

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I Am the Cosmos – Chris Bell

Posted in Chris Bell with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by Ryan

I Am the Cosmos

Chris Bell

1992 / 2009

Rykodisc / Rhino Handmade

Chances are, you’ve probably heard yourself some music by the cult legend Chris Bell. Along with Alex Chilton, he formed the band Big Star in the ’70s, co-leading the band for their first album.  His songs (solo and with Big Star) have been popping up for decades now, whether being the theme song to That ’70s Show or being influences of R.E.M. and The Replacements.  Hell, Bell’s song “Speed of Sound” was even in the opening credits of the God-awful film, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, or as I prefer to call it, Hipster: The Movie.

Struggling with depression and heroin addiction for most of his life, Bell unfortunately died (a member of the 27 Club) in 1978.  I Am the Cosmos is his only solo album, a collection of the songs he recorded over the course of a few years in the mid-1970s.  And it’s a beautiful collection, to say the least, sometimes showing the songwriter at his most fragile and other times proving his rock and roll influences.  Even with his troubles — or maybe because of them — Bell opens up these songs with feelings of purity, naivety, and honesty.

I am so not kidding when I say that I want that sweater.

Continue reading

Lungs – Florence + the Machine

Posted in Florence + the Machine with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by Ryan

Lungs

Florence + the Machine

2009

Island

So, I have a kind of confession to make.  It’s rather embarrassing, so I hope you don’t mind if I break down and weep a little while typing this.  You see, I… I… I never listened to Florence + the Machine until just recently.  Whew, that… that felt good to get off my chest.  Hear me, world: I only just recently listened to this critically acclaimed band! So cathartic.  I just want to scream it from rooftops.

Seriously, however, it’s true; not only did I not listen to Florence + the Machine until the other day, I actively ignored this band.  If their songs came on the radio, I’d switch stations.  If a commercial played with one of their songs licensed to it, I turned off the TV.  If a friend had free tickets to go see them, I’d take the tickets, rip them up, and burn my friend’s house down. Continue reading

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Posted in Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by Ryan

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

2009

Paw Tracks

It’s always a treat when the performers at concerts have a powerful stage presence.  Antics from the musicians might include joking around with the crowd, jumping off drum sets, or even windmilling their instruments a la Pete Townshend style.  However, it’d be a surprise if this came from a twenty-something kid wearing glasses and a sweater while playing the ukulele.

Imagine my and Steve’s astonishment when we saw Dent May (and his Magnificent Ukulele, which is always billed with him) live, doing all those stunts.  Hearing that Dent May would be opening up for A.C. Newman, I had bought this record to be accustomed to the music.  He and his band has put on a really entertaining show for the duration of their set.  If only the actual album kept up the level of excellence of the concert.

Now, none of the songs are really terrible, per se.  It’s just that some of them are lacking in ways that experienced musicians have already figured out how to adapt.

However, let’s start with the good.  May’s melodies are always catchy and soaring.  Songs like his single “Meet Me in the Garden” and album-closer “Love Song 2009” allow his crooning singing style captivating outlets.  On these and other pop-perfection songs like “Oh Paris!” and “You Can’t Force a Dance Party,” the bouncing of his ukulele brings around the fun atmosphere that is May’s niche.  On the surface, most of his songs are, sonically-speaking, pleasing.

Slightly below the surface, though, is where the problem lies.

At the concert, I noticed all the hipsters around me knew all of the words to all of his songs.  I had listened to the album a few times in the weeks beforehand, not enough to memorize all of the words, but enough.  However, songs such as “College  Town Boy,” “Howard,” and “God Loves You, Michael Chang” were being chanted by most of the crowd.  Why had I not figured out the lyrics to these songs?

Take a listen to a lot of the songs on The Good Feeling Music and one will notice that they’re character-driven, boring, pop drivel.  Some, like the sneering “College Town Boy,” are cringe-worthy.  With lyrics like “He’s smoking reefer everyday now, his tastes are extremely high-brow,” it becomes an easily-skippable song.  Some songs are even worse.  “Howard,” for instance, doesn’t just have careless lyrics (“Howard’s getting fatter, he’s rusty in the sack”), but is musically boring as well, with a dragging feeling for the length of the song.

There are a few highlights on Dent May’s first release (on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks record company), however a majority of the tracks just feel drab.  May knows what his genre is, which is a good sign for his future, but he just needs to explore interesting facets of it.  The forced story-songs with excessive immaturity can be forgotten about. But, on the other songs where May has flashes of brilliance, well, those are the songs to look forward to seeing pure rocking out on his magnificent ukulele.

I Told You I Was Freaky – Flight of the Conchords

Posted in flight of the conchords with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by Steve

I Told You I Was Freaky

Flight of the Conchords

2009

Sub Pop

Flight of the Conchords are hilarious, both the music and the show in general.  Bret and Jermaine are masters of comedy, with a slightly wry and dry sense of humor.  They have more of a thinking humor, as opposed to The Lonely Island, which is more brash (although still funny).  So the Conchords’ first, self-titled, album was great, and tonight we’ll be looking at the follow up, I Told You I Was Freaky.  I haven’t seen much of the second season of the show, so I’ll just be talking about the music, and not the context of the songs in the show.

The opener is  “Hurt Feelings”, and the guys start off dispelling rumors about rappers, which they are.  They then go on to talk about ‘autobiographical’ situations where their feelings were hurt.  Some of them are more ridiculous than others, such as looking like a llama.  Still, the song is a funny start to a comedic album.

“Sugalumps” is next, and damn is it funny.  Seriously, I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days at a time, it’s that good.  It’s all full of double-entendres, which are brilliant.  Bret and Jermaine have a real talent with them.  Everything about this song is fantastic; it definitely needs a few listens. Continue reading

Albums of 2009

Posted in LISTS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2009 by Ryan

It’s the end of the year, two days before Christmas.  And what better time to give you our lists for best (and worst!) albums of the year?  And, no, it’s not just because we’re lazy and don’t want to write actual reviews right before Christmas.  The task of coming up with these lists was a difficult one, choosing between albums that all deserve to be up there combined with having albums that we just weren’t able to listen to, yet.  So, I’m sure these following lists aren’t particularly solid, as tastes, opinions, and the future changes.  These are changes that continually shape music, and I think we all hope that 2010 will bring more of them. Continue reading

Start a Culture – Amskray

Posted in amskray with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2009 by Ryan

Start a Culture

Amskray

2009

Unsigned

Today,  Stereo Control is featuring one of the local bands around our area (Ocean County, NJ – just so you know), the band Amskray.  Consisting of Don Scherr (Vocals and Guitar), Jake Hughes (Keys, Trumpet, and Backup Vocals), Brendan Lee (Bass), and James Mcauley (Drums and other forms of percussion), the band has been around for a few years now.  I remember seeing them play early on at a high school show, maybe five years ago (yes, I grew up with them and went to school with them, so no, this is probably not going to be an unbiased review, but who really cares?).  Recently, they’ve gained a large following by constantly playing gigs and having a generous internet presence – as you’ll see below on the links, they’re pretty much on every website ever made.

During these past few years, Amskray have dedicated themselves to developing a unique sound.  Their music consists of a blend of indie, progressive, and math rock.  Personally, they remind me of the math-rock stylings of (the unfortunately defunct band) Faraquet, as well as the progressive-rock music of The Mars Volta (a band who I respect though I don’t particularly like).  However, Amskray doesn’t rip-off their influences; they amalgamate these genres into their own idiosyncratic, original music. Continue reading