Friday, July 31, 2009

Let Ocean Eyes sail by

Owl City - "Ocean Eyes"
-Out now

It has all the elements necessary for it to succeed: plenty of echo, saccharine hooks, auto-pitched vocals and a catchy pop beat. But what "Ocean Eyes" seems to lack is the element of sui generis that it needs to distinguish its upbeat songs from other pop acts, such as Motion City Soundtrack and the more electronic PlayRadioPlay! Here you'll find pleasant enough songs, almost nauseatingly so, that stick the first few plays. However, there is little depth in songwriting, which seems solely intent on utilizing the "in crowd" of musical effects (see above), and likewise little depth in lyric writing (Umbrella Beach - "I'll spread out my wings/ And fly"). Overall, there is little new territory tread here that isn't already sufficiently tread by others; take a pass.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Duke and the King reign

The Duke and the King - "Nothing Gold Can Stay"
Ramseur Records
-due out July 4th
4.5 / 5

The opener to this debut album is nothing short of magnificent, calm, composed, and serenely honest. The duo, Simone Felice and Robert Burke, take their stage name from two of Mark Twain's rapscallions, but here is no trickery or deception; just simple, bare songs. Felice's vocals are soothing and understated: on "The Morning I Get to Hell," he demonstrates a soft-spoken passion and wonder, questioning "Where is all my fire,/ My missionary zeal?" "Lose My Self" and "Summer Morning Rain" are both winners as well, with the former's dreamy instrumental haze just as palpable as the latter's almost John-Denver pop serenity. This album is not perfect, with "Still Remember Love" coming off a bit harsh and electronic, but overall, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" is a quiet album and too easy to pass over this summer. "Gold" is worth your coppers; recommended.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Furnaces: Don't go away!

The Fiery Furnaces - "I'm Going Away"
Thrill Jockey
- Out now

The Furnaces, brother and sister combo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, have been known to frustrate typical music aesthetics, as well as the occasional listener, throughout their impressively fruitful six-year career. Their eighth album hearkens to their tradition of bizarre song construction and melody with the two opening tracks, the aggressively avant-garde title track and lull "Drive to Dallas." While these tracks are more abrasive than amusing, the rest of "I'm Going Away" is filled with strangely satisfying songs, such as the uplifting lilt of "Even in the Rain" and feel-good pop of "Lost at Sea." While there's a chance you might not catch on to the slightly off-kilter style of their melodies and some of their sudden changes, it's still worth the shot to listen to the Furnaces' fresh take on pop and rock. Recommended.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's alright, "Baby Darling," it's alright...

Band of Skulls - "Baby Darling Doll Face Honey"
Artist First
-due out July 28

We've come to expect a lot from the Brits: funny accents, crooked teeth, and their famous cultural restraint. Band of Skulls is a bit more reminiscent of White Stripes in their harder indie-stylings, and they yield some results: "I Know What I Am," which almost has a classic-rock straightforward grind, and "Honest," which diverges from the rest of the album with a beautiful acoustic solemnity.
Yet, in their music, there is some restraint keeping them from out-and-out jam and instrumental breakouts, which seems appropriate at several points throughout the album (the otherwise solid "Impossible" comes to mind). The songs here are still good, but without a bit of wildness, they don't quite surprise enough, don't bring a sense of awe and wonder that music is about, that this band seems capable of. Definitely check out the two tracks above and "Blood," with a good space-instrumental and solo; if you still need your curiosity satisfied, try for the rest of it. Otherwise, not enough highs for the dollar (or pound, as it may be). Beautiful cover, though.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If you're in the Newport area...

Just a reminder: The 3rd Annual Molly Finn Battle of the Bands takes place at Ballard Park in Newport this Saturday, July 18th (around 2 pm-ish). And if you're not in Newport, don't forget to stick your neck out for the little guy: remember, without local bands, we wouldn't have Fleet Foxes, crazy mosh pits, and the Fifth Amendment. Rock on!

Portugal. The Man is the man

Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist
Equal Vision Records
-due July 21
4.5 / 5

Portugal. The Man. Despite the bizarre name and punctuation, and the strange Zombies-era Cream-inspired psychedelic cover, it's fair to say this album is good. I've never heard this much falsetto since I bought an Earth Wind and Fire greatest hits, but still it comes off groovy and with a bit of funk to it; the songs are inspired a bit by the era portrayed here, but this is solid modern rock with a great pop slant. These songs are very listenable, with great lyrics and choruses ("We may make it through the war/ If we make it through the night" from the opener), and excellent construction. But what really pays off here are the first three songs, "People Say" which comes off thematically anti-war like Dispatch's "The General," and just as catchy; through the hip-hop beat to the infectious "Work all Day;" to the heavily layered electronica of "Lovers in Love." The album tones down a bit from this fantastic opening, but overall, Portugal is worth the exploration. Recommended.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome all! Again!

Hello faithful and generally bored blog viewers! Back from a recent vacay in the Kokomo, I'm ready to start heading into the fore again! It may take a little while to spin back into things, but I'm sure you'll find the same brief, and incise, musical commentary that you've come to expect from this blog. And also random ramblings, as well, though I figure there's no better place to grandstand about the parking ticket I got (is there really parking in DT Newport?) and how my toes hurt. Actually, it's the spot just above my toes, on my foot...

So welcome again! I'll be hunting down CDs to get you the lowdown and dirty on what's worth your dollar. Thanks for faithful support, as always.
-The Mgmt