Oct
29


Matt & Kim, the too-cute couple duo from Brooklyn, present their third full-length album. Their sound hasn’t changed too much from their previous albums: upbeat indie pop/rock with nerdy male vocals. Fans of previous albums should be pleased. I’m personally not as crazy about this as I was for their first two albums, but I could see this growing on me if I give it more spins. I don’t think it’s as immediately catchy as their previous releases, but it seems to have more potential for staying in rotation. The songs seem to have more happening and won’t wear thin after a few plays. So for that, it could very well end up being my favorite album by these two kids. For those that are curious, “Cameras” is the album’s first single and “AM/FM Sound” is my favorite track after my first play of the album in its entirety.

www.myspace.com/mattandkim
www.mattandkimmusic.com

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Sep
20


Weezer’s eighth studio album. I remember back in 2003/2004 when Weezer fans wondered if there would even be a fifth album (eventually, 2005’s Make Believe solved that dilemma). Now, Weezer has released three albums over the past three years, and by the few recent interviews with frontman Rivers Cuomo that I’ve read, they aren’t planning on waiting multiple years between albums anymore. We’ll see how that works out, though.

Anyway, Hurley is named after Jorge Garcia’s character from the show LOST and features Mr. Garcia on the cover as well. I guess no one knows what this has to do with the album itself, so we’ll just continue on our merry way. I’ve listened to this album a few times now and I guess the best way to sum it up is that it sounds exactly like how a Weezer album is supposed to sound these days. Alternative pop. Just the typical upbeat power-pop/rock sound that we’ve come to expect from these guys. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s not all that memorable either. I know that a lot of people, myself included, listen to new Weezer albums when they come out for catalog completion’s sake. But after that, we rarely return, instead opting for Weezer classics like “Blue” or Pinkerton. So, thanks, Hurley, it was kind of fun while it lasted — now go back in your case.

www.myspace.com/weezer
www.weezer.com

Jul
22


Ra Ra Riot were formed in Syracuse, NY, so I always feel a sense of hometown pride when I hear them mentioned (even though I’m not from Syracuse and most people from Syracuse probably have never heard of the town where I grew up or the town where I now live). Nonetheless, their ascent to the indie rock royalty throne is certainly a story that will inspire kids from these parts for years to come. You could even call them a comeback story. At any rate, this band is a major player in the indie scene and beyond – but we’re all wondering, can they repeat the success of their debut, The Rhumb Line?

The initial response to that question comes in the form of Boy, a quaint EP of three songs that clocks in at just over 10 and a half minutes long. The first song, the title track, is the only one that will also make an appearance on The Orchard, RRR’s sophomore album that is scheduled to be released on August 24.”Boy” is also the best track on here; hopefully, it is an indication of what the full-length album will be like. It’s got great drums and an upbeat tempo. Our favorite string instruments give the song texture that most bands could only dream of. Love the bubbling bassline and that quickie guitar solo. Fantastic.

The other two songs on this (“Saccharin and the War” and “Keep It Quite (Bear)”) didn’t strike me as immediately as “Boy” did and while they would be at the top of the output heap for many other bands, I know Ra Ra Riot can do better. These songs are “growers” and maybe I’m just being too judgmental – I didn’t have to wait for “Ghost Under Rocks” or “Dying is Fine” to grow on me since I was instantly attracted to them! I am enjoying these other two the more I listen, but still. I have very high standards here and hope for more instant attraction with the rest of the new material.

Definitely looking forward to The Orchard based off the strength of “Boy”. August 24, here we come.

www.myspace.com/rarariot
www.rarariot.com

Jul
07


Libraries is North Carolina’s The Love Language’s second album. I liked their first album and I like this one, too. I like the faster songs the most – they are at their best when they get the tempo cooking and the instruments rocking and everyone singing and yelling and making noise all at once. File under: indie/college pop/rock.

www.myspace.com/thelovelanguage
thelovelanguage.com

Jul
06


The Waves were the predecessors to Katrina and the Waves. Shock Horror, their 1983 debut EP, was recently re-released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the hit single “Walking On Sunshine” which was found on 1985’s Katrina and the Waves. Shock Horror is chock-full of guitar-driven pop and New Wave music. I like it a lot. It has a “We recorded this in our garage and it still sounds awesome” vibe to it and it just seems really badass. I also have to mention the fact that there is a song on here called “Strolling On Air” – I guess it just didn’t have the right ring to it to be a hit song but at least they tried again.

www.katrinaandthewaves.com/

Jul
05


From Los Angeles, Teen Inc. was formed by the sibling duo of Daniel and Andrew Aged. They were both studio musicians (apparently for big-name artists like Pharell and Raphael Saadiq) so we know right off the bat that they’ve got the playing chops, but can they write their own stuff? I decided to give this single a listen after hearing it being compared to Prince. I suppose the vocals do have a Prince-like feel, but they’re buried so far in the mix that they don’t have the same confidence attached to them that Prince puts on his. The music does have a funk appeal to it but I’m not impressed yet. I could see myself giving a Teen Inc. full-length album a spin to see what happens to them, but it’s not going to be on the top of my list.

www.myspace.com/teenincstuff
www.teen-inc.net

Jul
04


The Brooklyn quartet finally releases their first full-length album, after tempting us constantly with singles and an EP. They sound like they came straight out of the 1980’s post-punk/indie scene. I’m shocked they’re not British. Their music is great and if they’re not huge by the time I post this review then I am sure they will blow up soon. Recommended if you like The Smiths, Voxtrot, that sort of thing.

www.myspace.com/thedrumsforever
www.thedrums.com

Jul
01


I’ve been holding off on writing about this album for a few weeks now because I haven’t been sure just how to describe my feelings about it. I don’t have a lot of time right now to wax poetically, so here’s the shortened review: My favorite new release, so far, of 2010.

www.myspace.com/tokyopoliceclub
www.tokyopoliceclub.com

Jun
30


Fifth full-length from Canada’s Stars. For me, this band is the perfect soundtrack to cold winter nights spent dreaming of your crush. I’ve always described them to others (okay, maybe just myself) as having a romantic sound. Their sound is just so warm and welcoming and Amy Milan’s angelic voice plays perfectly off of Torq Campbell’s. Great for indie kids to make out to and fall in love to. They also have their fair share of songs that will be great background noise for you while cry over the fact that you’ve broken up with said indie kid counterpart.

Anyway, I’d file them under Canadian-romantic-indie-synthpop-pop-rock (not that I actually WOULD file them under that, because that would just be a ridiculous way to organize my music collection). The Five Ghosts starts off strong with “Dead Hearts” which is followed by a few great songs (I especially like “I Died So I Could Haunt You”). But by the time I’ve gotten through the fifth track, “We Don’t Want Your Body”, I feel like they’ve spent their tank of gas and are just running on fumes. I think the material on this album could have made for a killer EP. As a full-length album, it just doesn’t hold up – especially when we know what Stars are capable of from their past releases.

www.myspace.com/stars
www.youarestars.com

Jun
29


DEVO!!! How could you not be excited? This is their ninth studio album and first since 1990. It’s fantastic, ridiculous new-wave pop music. Great lyrics. Catchy stuff. It’s DEVO! How could you not like it?

www.myspace.com/devo
www.clubdevo.com

Jun
28


Second full-length from Toronto’s Born Ruffians. Another exercise in well-crafted indie-pop that jangles along the way. Luke LaLonde continues his yelp-laden, marbles-in-mouth-sounding vocals. I think he sounds more confident on this release. I’d still recommend this band for fans of cutesy pop music, Vampire Weekend, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Not too much has changed.

www.myspace.com/bornruffians
www.bornruffians.com

Jun
27


The duo of Evan Mast and Mike Stroud returns with their aptly-titled fourth album, LP4. I learned that this album is best played loudly on a decent stereo system. Your computer speakers just will not do. I also learned that I still think Ratatat’s first two albums are their best efforts. Sure, LP4 is good (“Drugs” is pretty great) but nothing on it holds a candle to previous songs like “Loud Pipes” or “Breaking Away”. There are many people who say that this newer, more mature Ratatat is better but I simply cannot agree. Ratatat, we can still be friends, but my fondest memories of you lie in our past adventures together.

www.myspace.com/ratatatmusic
www.ratatatmusic.com

Jun
24


The Get Up Kids were formed in Kansas City, Missouri, in the mid-1990s and released their debut album, Four Minute Mile, in 1997. They went on to become one of the torchbearers of the late ’90s “emo” movement. But unlike Jimmy Eat World, who broke out in a big way in 2002, GUK never really achieved what I would consider mainstream success outside of the emo realm. The band broke up in 2005 with the members going on to pursue other projects (The New Amsterdams, Koufax, Blackpool Lights, Reggie and the Full Effect) but they got back together in 2009. Simple Science is their first new studio recording in six years (the last being 2005’s The Guilt Show). With four songs clocking in at just over 16 minutes, it almost feels like they are testing the waters first before jumping in and releasing a new album. The music also feels like it’s testing the waters. Not enough energy to really get into and not enough emotion to actually sit back and listen. Sounds very middle-of-the-road to me.

www.myspace.com/thegetupkids
www.thegetupkids.com

Jun
23


New 5-song EP from this Seattle (technically, Everett, Washington, but who likes technicalities these days) band who released their debut album, Don’t Be A Stranger, in 2008. Their sophomore album, Tidelands, comes out on September 14th. Until then, if you see the Moondoggies on their tour with Blitzen Trapper, you can pick this up. The songs on here won’t be appearing on the new album so you don’t even have to worry about overlap. This is indie folk-rock with a heavy dose of country injected into the mix. Very laid-back stuff. Check out the vocal harmonies. I’d recommend it if you like bands like the aforementioned Blitzen Trapper or Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, and the like.

www.myspace.com/themoondoggies
http://moondoggiesmusic.com

Jun
22


Third album from these guys. They’ve got a new drummer – Andy Burrows, formerly of Razorlight – for this release. Barbara is definitely a return to form for We Are Scientists. It may be just as good, if not better, than their debut album With Love And Squalor. We all know how many times I’ve played that record, so this isn’t a compliment to be taken lightly. The songs on here are catchy and are prime examples of what danceable rock and roll party music should sound like. I especially enjoy this line in “Break It Up”: “If no one wants to be up all night, what’s the point in even going out?” Amen, brother, amen. Now let’s drink up and dance.

www.myspace.com/wearescientists
www.wearescientists.com

[[Their website is awesome. The “Advice” section is inspiring.]]

Jun
21


Eighth full-length studio album from this band from New Brunswick, New Jersey. Last year, the band celebrated 20 years together by releasing a new song every month. This album collects those 12 songs so you can keep them all in one place. It’s hard for me to believe that the band is actually that old because their music has such a youthful, energetic sound. Put punk, rock, pop, and fun in a blender and you will get The Bouncing Souls. They’re definitely one of the best bands on the Warped Tour lineup – anyone want to take me?

www.myspace.com/bouncingsouls
www.bouncingsouls.com

Jun
20


I’ve liked the Black Keys since at least my freshman year of college. I may have heard them before then, but I can’t be sure. I have no idea what song I heard by them first but I do know that “Set You Free”, off of Thickfreakness, is a song that goes on just about every mix CD I make. I saw them play to a packed house at Emo’s on Sixth Street in Austin during SXSW 2008. My friend had never heard them before that night and left with a new favorite band. Just a few weeks ago I ran into an old acquaintance who mentioned seeing them just recently, opening up for Pearl Jam. He also had never heard of them before the show but left with a copy of Brothers and nothing but positive words to say about them. What doesn’t shock me is that everyone I know who has heard the Black Keys loves them. What shocks me is that, back in 2008, my radio DJ buddy had never heard of them and two years later, there are still people who haven’t heard of them. How a band this good slips under the radar of so many music fans is something I simply cannot comprehend.

I’ve made it pretty apparent where my feelings lay with this band but to sum it up: I dig how the Keys are combining blues with rock and garage. Every song on Brothers is great. Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach have done it again – they keep putting out fantastic records. If you like the Black Keys, you ought to love this album. If you’ve never heard of the Black Keys, there’s no better time to start listening than the present. If you don’t like the Black Keys, please, slip quietly out the back door. You’re not welcome at this party.

www.myspace.com/theblackkeys
www.theblackkeys.com

May
04


To start things off, they have a misleading name (apparently it’s from a Fiery Furnaces song) since they are actually from Sydney, New South Wales. The band’s lineup currently consists of Berkfinger, MC Bad Genius, and Calvin. I’m not making these names up. The sound mixes together pop, rock, punk, soul, indie, garage, and whatever other genres you can think of. These four songs are totally kickass.

Here are some reviews of the individual songs on the EP:
1. “The Good News”: Kickass.
2. “Ready To Roll”: Kickass.
3. “Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night)”: Kickass.
4. “Wet Winter Holiday (Mike FWD Remix)”: Kickass.

“The Good News,” the title track, is my favorite. Don’t take my word for it though, listen to these guys. They are awesome.

www.myspace.com/philadelphiagrandjury
www.philadelphiagrandjury.com

May
03


As a prelude to the June 8th release of their latest album, White Crosses, Against Me! give us this four-track EP. Two of the songs, “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” and “Rapid Decompression” are from the album and the other two, “One By One” and “Bitter Divisions”, are B-Sides. I love the energy of this band and the grit in Tom Gabel’s voice. They play (punk) rock that could fill up an arena, with everyone in attendance yelling the choruses out together with their fists in the air. I dig these guys a lot and am definitely looking forward to the new album. 2010 is shaping up to be a great year in music!

www.myspace.com/againstme
www.againstme.net

May
02


This is the best music the Kooks have released since their debut album!

Except, uh, this isn’t the Kooks. This is the Postelles. They are a quartet from New York City and two of the songs on this EP were produced by Albert Hammond, Jr. Garage pop meets British Rock. Fantastic stuff. In fact, this is the best new music I’ve heard in a while and you can thank it for me coming back from my self-imposed hiatus. The only drag is that the EP only consists of three songs. The whole album is set to land on July 27th, keep your eyes and ears peeled for that one!

www.myspace.com/thepostelles
www.thepostelles.com

Apr
03


“American Slang” is the title track to The Gaslight Anthem’s third album, due to be released in June of this year. These New Jersey boys have found the formula for producing a sound that you could expect if Bruce Springsteen fronted a punk rock band. Upbeat rock and roll with heartfelt, slightly ragged vocals and catchy melodies. I’m a big fan of The Gaslight Anthem and this single shows that we can continue to expect good things from this band. I’m sure they’re only going to get bigger and bigger – how could a band this awesome not?

www.myspace.com/thegaslightanthem
www.gaslightanthem.com

Mar
28


Pavement. The kings of slacker rock. The definition of ’90s indie rock. PAVEMENT.

I’ve been listening to the album and writing my review at the same time but I’ve just gone in and deleted everything I already wrote. Because what hasn’t been said about Pavement already? Nothing I say here will be groundbreaking at all.

I guess I just want to let everyone know that this Best-Of now exists. But what’s the point, really, of this record? If you like Pavement, you probably/should already know everything on here. If you don’t like Pavement, you don’t care about this release at all because it doesn’t even contain any new material for you to potentially hate on. And if you’ve never heard of Pavement, you should start with their 1993 debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, not this gobbledy-gook of a record that ignores the chronological order of the band’s releases. It’s so hard to pick out what should be on a Pavement “Best-Of” (since they didn’t have any huge hit singles); there’s bound to be material on their actual albums that you like more than some of the selections on here.

“Silence Kid” is not on here, so clearly this collection is not “The Best of Pavement,” as it advertises.

Also, I don’t understand the cover art.

But Pavement is still awesome. Listen to their actual albums.

Mar
14


Matt & Kim’s self-titled debut was released in 2006, and Grand, the follow-up, was released in 2009. I’m reviewing them now because, while scouring the internet for shows coming to my area, I found that this Brooklyn-based duo is scheduled to play around here very soon. Not many bands playing original music play near where I live, so when there is one coming to town, I usually try to go. Unless the band is awful. I set out on a quest to see if Matt & Kim are awful or if I should plan to go check them out.

The overwhelming verdict after listening to their albums is that I am most definitely going to go to their show. Both of the albums are similar in sound, so no need to split up their reviews. Upbeat drumming, keyboards, a girl drummer (represent!), and a vocalist who sings like a way cooler version of John Darnielle, though still in a very nerd-esque manner? Count me in. The songs are fun and full of energy. I dig the lyrics, too. A better, more rocking version of Mates Of State. Matt & Kim are a band that I have overlooked the past few years and I am very happy to finally have introduced my ears to them.

I can only hope that the show is filled with lots of dancing, jumping around, singing out loud, and general hijinks. See you there, hipster friends.

www.myspace.com/mattandkim
www.mattandkimmusic.com

Mar
13

Who Are You Now? is This Providence’s third full-length album. This Providence are a four-piece band out of Seattle, Washington, and this is their second album to be released by Fueled By Ramen records.

I was initially interested in checking out this album after hearing the fifth track on the album, “Keeping On Without You”. That song reminded me of the songs on Sloan’s Pretty Together, an album I hold near and dear to my heart. “Keeping On Without You” features melodic guitar with a peaceful male vocal and is one of those songs that you like immediately. While it’s my favorite song on the album, there are a number of other good ones on here as well (“Squeaking Wheels and White Light,” “Letdown,” and “That Girl’s A Trick” are just a few I especially liked).

The overall sound of This Providence could be described simply as power pop-rock. At times, the vocalist reminds me of what Jonathan Visger of Mason Proper would sound like if he fronted a pop-punk band (It’s a strange comparison, I know). The songs are polished, catchy, and filled with hooks and anthemic choruses that will get you dancing and singing along right away. If you are a fan of any music in this genre, This Providence’s newest will be a fine addition to your collection.

This Providence will be embarking on an extensive United States tour from March 25 through May 1, 2010; dates and venues may be viewed on their websites.

www.myspace.com/thisprovidence
www.thisprovidence.com

Feb
14


I’m not usually a big fan of movie soundtracks but I always enjoy the ones to Wes Anderson movies, probably because the songs work together to create an overall theme. The soundtrack to his latest movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, is an enjoyable romp through whimsical sounds and it may also drill the chants of “Boggis, Bunce, Bean” into your head, never to escape from them.

The bulk of the soundtrack consists of compositions by Alexandre Desplat, who has also written scores for movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Luzhin Defence, The Queen, and many, many more (including a certain vampire movie installment). Desplat does a terrific job with these songs as they conjure up images of an idyllic everyday life that is filled with heroes and villains. At the same time, the music is playful and exudes a childish charm (after all, Fantastic Mr. Fox is based off of a children’s book by Roald Dahl). Further research reveals that Desplat has received an Academy Award nomination for best original score for his work here.

The rest of the soundtrack includes a few cuts by The Beach Boys (always a good time), Burl Ives (they work perfectly with this kind of movie, plus I love the line “Saw a bear, comb his hair” in the song “Fooba Wooba John”), and George Delerue. The Wellingtons’ “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”, which I have only heard before in snippet version in the film Back To The Future, makes an appearance here as well, along with The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man”. We are also given tracks by The Bobby Fuller Four, Nancy Adams, Art Tatum, and Jarvis Cocker. Cocker’s track is probably the only song in my iTunes library that has a jaw harp on it. I have no idea what he is singing, but I like it.

I know some people panned the movie but I adored it (The DVD comes out on March 23 – mark your calendars or make an appointment in your Blackberry). The soundtrack is an important part of the movie and it works well on its own as well. Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.

www.alexandredesplat.net
www.fantasticmrfoxmovie.com