Thursday, December 31, 2009

For the New Year...

CD reviews
Artist interviews
General jubilation

Egg Nog
"Can't do" attitude

Just to let you guys know, we're waiting on a few to come in for the New Year; unfortunately publicists are sitting out the holidays (not like us!) so we'll probably be out another week. Kick back with your friends and family, and just enjoy the New Year.
(And don't get caught driving in Boston, by all means.)

"Shape" needs more vocal form

Suz - "Shape of Fear and Bravery"
No.Mad Records
-out now

While we're kicking off the end of the year with this Italian electronica/ Trip Hop band, let's cut to the chase so you can resume your festivities: try out "The Gathering" and "Fear" for their flavor, but leave the rest behind. The main weakness of this album lies not with the backing sound effects and rhythm section (which is often strong), but rather in the somewhat monotone range of singer Susanna's vocals here: as the central focus of this album, the vocals need some more tension and modulation. Many of the tracks don't diverge enough vocally, while the backing music takes giant, somewhat successful strides in changing the sound. As a result, tracks such as "Unconditional" and "Little by Little" languish despite having strong performances from the rest of the band. The album has some good ideas, but unfortunately is not where it should be; take a pass.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays alls!

Wow, so that's it for this year. We're going off to Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya...
Actually, it snowed a ton. Key Largo is looking mighty fine right now, but we'll end the year with one quick album for review, and get started on the next lineup of stuff. Thanks for staying tuned, and we'll see you in a couple weeks,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top CDs of 2009: Friday

Top CDs of 2009: Our Big One!

This is it. Animal Collective have outdone themselves when it comes to complex, interweaving sound structures, Beach Boy-like harmonies, double choruses, and pure, distilled sonic bliss. Fair warning: "Merriweather Post Pavilion" is not necessarily for everyone, unlike Grizzly Bear's, which is more pop-oriented. But here, if you have a bit of time to give to the Collective, you'll easily find this one of the most rewarding listens in your collection. Their dense electronic pop somehow maintains both a nostalgic and modern feel to it (we're still trying to figure out how!), but enough description: listen to "My Girls," their clear single, the springy mouth harp on "Lion in a Coma," and "Brother Sport," an infectious little coda to the album. Crack this one open like a bottle of Champagne: let it bubble and froth, dizzy and warm you all at the same time. Utterly gorgeous, deep, and highly recommended.

Listen to "My Girls" (if you haven't already):, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Top CDs of 2009: Friday

Top CDs of 2009: Part V

As we're nearing the end, we find ourselves repeating what several other magazines must already have repeated: Grizzly Bear's album is a must-have. But so what if everyone on the indie scene is still talking about it? We're not afraid to jump on board and throw laurels at "Veckatimest," their third studio album. Quite frankly, it's chock-a-block with harmonies and flavor, and making their structured pop a top pick of this or any year. Among the several highlights are "Two Weeks," with an utterly Animal-Collective chorus, and "While You Wait for the Others," which crashes into you like a tidal wave. We reviewed this one on the old blog, and looking back, two lines wasn't quite enough. Unless those lines are these: buy it. Highly recommended.

Listen to "While You Wait for the Others":, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top CDs of 2009: Thursday

Top CDs of 2009, Part IV (con't)

Boom. Chack. Boom. Chack. From the opening synth of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's third full-length to the last strike of the drum, there is no doubt that Karen O is trying to get you up and dancing. The pure glissful disco-rock of "It's Blitz!" is engrossing, infectious, and glorious: there is little doubt that these ten electro-shock tracks are some of our favorites of the year (with "Zero," "Hysteric" and "Dull Life" the favorites of our favorites). It's simple, really: good performances, good lyrics, and crazy energy drive this album through and through, and if you're the kind of person who thinks only serious albums merit your time, then you deserve a crimson-fingerpolish slap. What keeps us coming back is the depth of the lyrics in these songs ("Shake it like a ladder to the sun" sure beats OutKast's "polaroid picture" remark), that and the fact the YYYs hold nothing back instrumentally and vocally. It'll keep you dancing all year long, and if not, you'll at least pretend like you can. Highly recommended.

Listen to "Zero":, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Top CDs of 2009: Thursday

Top CDs of 2009, Part IV

Breaking off from his homebase of the Felice Bros., Simone Felice took something of a gamble on this duo effort with Robert Burke. Naming their collaboration after a pair of river-bound rapscallions in Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the folk/pop work here is as gorgeous and flowing as the Mississippi, starting with the plaintive opener "If You Ever Get Famous." There are too many highlights here to piece them out, but let's say one of our favorite songs is still the spacer "Lose My Self;" it breaks the gorgeous pace set here, and is fantastic in and of itself. Throughout this album are some of the most delicate and emotional melodies sung this year, with fantastic lyrics, far surpassing his work with the Felice Bros. If this first album "Nothing Gold Can Stay" is a sign of things to come, then we'll have plenty of gold from him for time to come. (And feel free to read our earlier review over there to the left.) Highly recommended.

Listen to "If You Ever Get Famous":, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top CDs of 2009: Wednesday

Top CDs of 2009: Part III (con't)

We here at RMMM hate the 80s. Despise it. In fact, if there were one decade that was in need of a complete cultural retooling at the hands of superior cackling hens, that would be the one. Why, then, is the worst of our pop culture the best of this year? One answer: "Mallory." We're still digging the disco beat that permeates this long-player, and even if you're not a fan of retro-pop/rock, you have to appreciate that "Ancient Lover" is pure saccharine glee. There isn't a wrong note here, not a single "yawn" moment, and yet, for how polished this pop is, it's still incredibly engrossing, very danceable, and incredibly long-lasting. It's the kind of pick-me-up that you used to get out of Presidents of the United States, back when you ate can after can of peaches. We've got an earlier review of this one, too, so scroll over and check it out. Strong performance from a band that will only get better in the coming years; highly recommended.

Listen to "Mallory":, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Top CDs of 2009: Wednesday

Top CDs of 2009: Day III

It's strange, it's un- conventional, and it's a CD that certainly grows on you. Only St. Vincent's second solo LP, "Actor" uses atypical orchestration and gets a vicious, angular sound, especially in the opener "The Strangers." Strings, clicks and blaps, and breathy, gossamer vocals all in the name of... yes, pop. But it's deep pop, and if it doesn't keep spinning in your player for a while, then we feel truly sorry for you. We're still digging into smoother sound of "The Party," which gorgeously mimics the awkward swagger of feeling misplaced, and "The Bed," which has to do with kids, monsters, and a Smith and Wesson. We've got a more in-depth review on the site here, so feel free to go over and click on the left over there. Definitely worthy of your attention; highly recommended.

Listen to "The Strangers":, Top CDs of 2009 playlist

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top CDs of 2009: Tuesday

Top CDs, Part II

It's all about the Neko. Her third album since 2002's breakout "Blacklisted," "Middle Cyclone" is one of those rare CDs that, on paper, just doesn't work. Twisting, seemingly random song structure, strange, obscure lyrics, a killer whale as one of the narrators, all in all, it doesn't seem to add up as the top album of an artist's career. But it does work, and it's no fluke: marking 11th on's top albums of this year, we feel, is due to these unusual and poppy songs and Ms. Case's fantastic country-ish vocals (maybe the red hair, too). While it can easily top any list, we at the RMMM blog feel that, while popular, "Middle Cyclone" is still a little below "Blacklisted" and 2006's short but brilliant "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood," earning her slightly less than top honors. Still, any way you cut it (with a knife or a sword), this album should be in your collection. Highly recommended.

Listen to "People Got a Lotta Nerve":

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top CDs of 2009: Monday

Top CDs of 2009: Part I

So. First pick, it's going to be a bit more mainstream than most indie rockers are used to, but let's face it: you're out clubbing, it's late at night, and you still haven't found a better CD for it than Franz Ferdinand's. We understand. Having released in January, this album still keeps it's disco-funk beat, it's flashy, catchy hooks, and Kaparanos' swaggering vocals well into the next year. Even if you're not a big fan of Mr. Ferdinand, especially after 2005' "You Could Have it So Much Better" (a somewhat ironic title), this is the CD to get you back into your tight pants/shiny dress and hit the town. While "No You Girls" is already a top single on, our personal favorite is "Lucid Dreams," with opener "Ulysses" and "Bite Hard" rocking right behind. Find it, steal it, buy it if need be; just be sure to finagle this one into your collection. Highly recommended.

Listen to "No You Girls" -, "Top CDs of 2009" playlist

Friday, December 11, 2009

Plans for next week

...are as such:
Wow, so it's been a year already...?
Anyway, we're going to recap the top albums of this year, and you'll hopefully get an idea what to get the music-lover on your list. Not sure how big the list is yet, but it's going to be only the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the Tiger Woods of... okay, maybe we'll skip that last one.
Things you will not find on this list:
-CDs not reviewed on this blog, or on my MySpace blog (Phoenix, Monsters of Folk, few others)
-Movies, video games, or other things not "music"
-A sense of decency and/or restraint.

It's going to be a fantastic list, stuff that we've been listening to the whole year (so you know it's good). And I'll be taking the week after that off... whew, need some time with/away from the family. See you next week,

Sainthood's suprisingly upbeat

Tegan and Sara - "Sainthood"
-out now
4 / 5

Almost the perfect bookend to Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," Tegan and Sara churn up a beat-oriented popfest in their sixth full-length. While this album isn't quite up to par with Phoenix's there is still plenty here to recommend it: driving music, great melodies and choruses, and simple, sugary fun. Out of the thirteen presented here, "Arrow," "The Cure," and "Alligator" are the sure bets, with the best choruses out of the bunch, but that's not to say there is a weak track in the mix. Rather, the biggest complaint is that, like Phoenix, these songs are fairly similar to each other, both in structure and mood, and even in tempo. There are no ballads here, nor slower songs to break the status quo, unlike the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "It's Blitz." While this is a fairly big drawback, "Sainthood" is still good if you're in the mood for a boost. Recommended.

Listen to "The Cure":

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Wild Things are crazy good

Karen O and the Kids - "Where the Wild Things Are" (Soundtrack)
Interscope Records
-out now
4 / 5

With a fuller version of her excitable Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O would seem like the exact opposite of the person you'd want to make a soundtrack for a famous children's book adaptation. But here she plays dead on, with playful, organic music that both adults and children will enjoy. Her second album released this year, she loses no steam in conducting a fuller orchestra, bringing an incredible innocence by utilizing a children's chorus, fingersnaps and claps, and acoustic instruments. Performances on the simple and somber "Worried Shoe" and on "Hideaway," which is a personal favorite (next to "All is Love"), are all spot-on, capturing the simplicity of childhood as well as capturing the listener, who cannot help but to identify with Karen O's music, regardless of age. Providing all the songs on this soundtrack, Karen O's music on "Wild Things" plays almost as well as the original book, and many parents will find themselves likewise wanting to share this music with their young cubs. A treat, a fun gem, and definitely recommended.

Listen to "Hideaway":

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vanderslice's latest doesn't cut it

John Vanderslice - Romanian Names
Dead Oceans
-out now

While there is much to enjoy, including the opener, "Tremble and Tear," John Vanderslice's seventh studio album just doesn't quite cut it. Throughout the album, there is simply a feeling of sparseness, a sort of desertification of sound, and while that plays rustic and well for some, it leaves "Romanian Names" feeling unfortunately plain instead. "Carina Constellation" suffers especially from this, repeating the chorus a few too many times, and "D.I.A.L.O." also falls victim, with only vocals, synth and percussion. In addition, the somewhat unpleasant chorus to "Fetal Horses" doesn't help, either, but the main culprit is a lack of fullness in Vanderslice's sound. This works in the closer, "Hard Times," but even that has a satisfying completeness to its sound. Much of this album, unfortunately, doesn't.

Listen to "Hard Times":

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Antlers' trophy album

The Antlers - "Hospice"
-out now
4.5 / 5

The Antlers have taken a giant gamble on this ambitious concept album, and in many ways, it has paid off. Their fourth album is replete with synthesized sounds, hushed Grizzly Bear vocals, electronic buzz, and perplexingly, an achingly slow pace. But this all serves to the Antlers' advantage, as they pull off several strong tracks: "Sylvia," which burns slow and soft until the brash chorus; the strange opening lullaby of "Bear;" and the plaintive pulse to "Two." In general, you're likely to run into a good track on "Hospice," but it still has its few detractors: extremely soft vocals against loud guitars makes it difficult to distinguish the lyrics in several parts; "Prologue" and parts of "Thirteen" spend too much valuable empty space; and despite the 50 minutes, the album could use a bit more content, probably in slightly more complex song structures and layering. Despite all this, "Hospice" is still likely to make a home in many music collections for a long while, especially for those fans who don't mind having to sit down for repeat listens. Certainly not a CD you'd keep in the car, but that's a good thing here; recommended.

Listen to "Sylvia":