Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just so you guys know...

The blog might take a mini-hiatus, as the main and sole contributor has started a new job. No worries, he'll get booted and be back to the blog in no time (not like he needs to try). Send him the best of wishes here!
The year's gone off to a great start, with Bright Eyes and Iron and Wine releasing within a month of each other. So what do you think the hot albums are going to be this year (other than My Morning Jacket)? Anything you want to see reviewed on the blog? Keeping you guys in mind, so peace out with extra peace,
-The Mgmt.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Edition: Sharon Jones rocked!

Wow. So we don't usually post on the weekends, only in times of complete and utter emergency (like hearing the Decemberists streaming their new album), but we felt this rated somewhere between "Five Alarm Fire" and "Twelve Car Pile-Up," as far as emergencies go. Speaking of fires, Sharon Jones, the one and only soul singer in our hearts, nigh well burned down the house at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH last night, and shout-outs are especially deserved for her (and her Dap-Kings') performance. Let it be said, there was much a-singing and a-ringing, shaking and shimmying, and a general good time was had by all. Especially by the rather corpulent gentleman to whom she crooned on-stage ("Give it Back," we believe was the love song), and doubly-especially by some mysterious haberdashed "Tom" figure, who go the full onstage treatment for "Window Shopping" (was the scarf thing too much? Nah, just enough). Did this blog mention Jones was a fantastic soul singer? Perhaps it's somewhere on one of these posts. But in case you want a fuller experience (no photo pass this time, sorry!) suffice it to say Jones was in fine form, and the double-encore was definitely necessary.
So. What are you still doing around here? Go out and watch her!
(Ultra shout-out to the girlfriend for landing these tickets!)
Peace out,
-Mgmt

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shimabukuro's latest full of peace, love, and yes, ukelele

Jake Shimabukuro - "Peace Love Ukelele"
Hitchhike Records
-out now
4 / 5

So then, you think you know everything about the ukelele. Not until you've heard Jake Shimabukuro's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the infectious cover from 2006's album of the same name (YouTube it!). How does "Peace Love Ukelele" measure up to that high water mark? It's still good, it's still an impressive talent on display, and it still gives solid originals and covers (one of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," strangely enough). And while Mr. Shimabukuro is in excellent form, we're going to suggest that "Gently Weeps" is still our favorite; nonetheless, "Peace Love Ukelele" delivers all that: peace, love, and ukeleles. This album showcase a powerful musician who has settled in with a diverse setlist, and we suggest you try out "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Hallelujah." Strongly recommended if you want to kick back, turn the heater on "blazing," and quaff Hawaiian drinks in this icy weather. Mini-umbrellas strongly suggested.

Visit Jake's site and listen to samples of  "Peace Love Ukelele"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fergus and Geronimo come off too unlearned

Fergus and Geronimo - "Unlearn"
Hardly Art
-out Jan. 18
2.5 / 5

There's nothing wrong with lacking polish. Some acts benefit from it: it often shows frustration, or grit, or is just a style in and of itself. The blues band Jimi Hendrix started with complained he was out of tune; Coltrane, too, received harsh criticism early on for a lack of a full sound: yet there's no denying either musician's pure technical talent. But on the Denton, TX duo's premiere, a lack of polish is an obstacle to understanding "Unlearn." One thing that we don't get is a clear sense of Fergus and Geronimo's ability to craft simple, clear songs, which may be why the more complex selections here don't grab the listener's attention; rather, they flounder and frustrate like a fish out of water. Writing and performing music is a life-long task, and hopefully these two musicians will come to a stronger understanding along their music career sometime down the line, because some of the concepts are interesting: "Powerful Lovin'" and the title track surprisingly take their cues from Motown. While the album doesn't pay out like it should, one hopes a bit more practice and, yes, learning would help out these two. Until then, take a pass.

Listen to "Powerful Lovin'"

Monday, January 10, 2011

No analog(ue) to Tapes 'n Tapes latest rock album

Tapes 'n Tapes - "Outside"
Ibid Records
-out Jan. 11
4 / 5

There's no "magic bullet" to what works in music, no specific tempo or chord changes or guitar hooks, but if there were one element we'd have to pin on the success of Minnesota, MN's Tapes 'n Tapes latest album it would have to be Josh Grier's pushing his vocal boundaries. The punkish color to his vocals is in part what makes "Outside" more successful than "Walk it Off;" it charges these rock songs with an energy lacking in their previous release. The other part of it may well be the whimsical attitude of the instrumentals on some of these songs (guitars on "One in the World," for instance), which keeps the heavy instrumentation in check. Tapes 'n Tapes aren't here to make particularly deep music, but that's okay when you get something joyous and synth-heavy like "On and On and On," our first looped and relooped single of the year. It's pop/rock in its finest form, and deserves your listen. The remainder of this album is strong, and though "Nightfall" seems a bit heavy in comparison to the other material, Tapes 'n Tapes arrive in fine form and end on a high note. Pull out that Strokes album you've been listening to for the past decade, as it's time to crank something new. Recommended.

Steam "Outside" at Spinner.com!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Weekend Edition: Decemberists stream album on NPR

So here it is, finally: The Decemberists' latest album. We're prickling with anticipation, and figured, "Hey, since you can listen to the full thing, why muck this up with a review right now?" Decide for yourself whether The Decemberists' "The King is Dead" deserves to be on our year-end list of 2011. And feel free to post comments galore here; just keep in mind it's only going to be up until the release on Jan. 18, so be sure your listen in before you crack open that (warning: "Pulp Fiction" reference) "Bad Motherf*#!er" wallet. Here's the link to the NPR stream:
"The King is Dead"

Tell us what you think!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

For a "Toxic Apartment," it's got some charm

Ethan Gold - "Songs from a Toxic Apartment"
Gold Records
-out Jan. 11
3.5 / 5

Nothing's ever perfect, but at least with Ethan Gold's "Songs from a Toxic Apartment," you won't have to put up unsanitary listening conditions. These off-kilter pop songs give you solid choruses, good beats, and strong song structure; and when the sound opens up, the album can be unabashedly satisfying, if in a strangely predictable way. Still, when you're given a song like "Poison," it's hard not to appreciate funky guitars, the steady drive of the vocals, and the full sound Gold is capable of. The album presents a diverse sound within rock/pop, and the moments where it pays-off is generally in the earlier parts of the album. Unfortunately, some of the later tracks are plodding and a bit undeveloped ("I.C.U. (Toxic)"), but it wraps up well, and overall you find a few tracks on here that you'll be happy with. Like we said, nothing's ever perfect, but Gold gives a strong enough performance to garner a recommendation from us.

Listen to "Come Beat it Down": http://www.planetarygroup.com/newmedia/pages/ethangold/mp3/comeonbeatitdown.mp3

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Soft Collapse offers album for DL

It's a tough time out there. That's why Brooklyn's Soft Collapse is offering their album "Little Songs" potentially for free on Bandcamp .com. We'll give you the link in a little bit, but considering the following: "Easy" is a somber little track with National-styled vocals; "Black on Black on Black on Black" references Johnny Cash AND Batman; and though the best things in life are free, you probably wouldn't mind supporting whoever gave them to you. So we suggest you try out those two tracks up there, and determine what you think is a fair price for this pleasant, patient, shy-from-the-light indie release. So help them out a bit, as they're working on a new album as we speak. Now here's that link:

http://thesoftcollapse.bandcamp.com/

In lieu of a full review, tell us what you think! (It's pretty good, no?)
-Mgmt