Tag Archives: Bee Thousand

Album Reviews: Broken Bells, Guided By Voices, Angel Olson

Broken Bells- After the Disco

Broken Bells- After the Disco
Grade: B
Release Date: 2/04/14

Broken Bells has been a success story so far, something which shouldn’t have surprised reviewers like myself because of the talent of James Mercer as a lyricist and Danger Mouse’s history of successful collaborations. Their self-titled debut back in 2010 was a refreshing medium for Mercer to be displayed within and one of the more enjoyable releases of that year, but After the Disco feels like it falls short of the achievements of it’s predecessor. There’s something to be said about the novelty of a sound, it’s what made tracks like “The High Road” and “The Mall and Misery” become so easily enjoyable and immediate, but the duo doesn’t seem to have enough variation in their repertoire to continue releasing albums which are unique from each other, and that’s an issue. Everything on After the Disco sounds a bit too familiar for my liking, and because of that the interest diverts away from the actual product and instead focuses upon how Mercer and Danger Mouse influence each other from track to track from an experimental perspective.

All of this being said, a lot of the positive qualities of the band have survived to this second album and it’s no surprise that it has already found commercial success. The pop qualities are still very present and Mercer is still a good frontman for the project, but the lasting impression from this one is that the group might have benefitted from taking an approach similar to what The Postal Service did when they released Give Up and then returned to other projects.

Top Tracks: “After the Disco”, “Leave It Alone”

Motivational Jumpsuit

Guided By Voices- Motivational Jumpsuit
Grade: B+
Release Date: 02/18/2014

Guided By Voices was in the news for some not so great reasons recently, as their ‘classic’ lineup ran into some tension once their drummer Kevin Fennel attempted to sell his drum-set from the Bee Thousand years in an auction to the chagrin of Robert Pollard. It caused a pretty ugly feud between the two which led to Fennel’s publicized dismissal from the band, but the entire altercation has once again proven that the music of Guided By Voices will stop for no man. Motivational Jumpsuit is the first of two albums which are scheduled for release in 2014 by the band, and it captures Guided By Voices’ energetic, interesting, and diverse musical style well. The single is the first track in the album titled “Littlest League Possible” and it leaves an impression for it’s immediacy before seamlessly transitioning into “Until Next Time” which offhand references Mario Andretti in the opening lines. Pollard knows what he’s doing when he creates an album by this point in his career, and Motivational Jumpsuit strikes me as an album which was created with more attention to the details then it’s predecessors in this new revival-esque era for the band, a good effort by them.

Top Tracks: “Until Next Time”, “Some Things Are Big and Some Are Small”

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Angel Olson- Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Grade: B
Release Date: 02/18/14

A more difficult listen than the other albums, Burn Your Fire For No Witness is a soft, intimate album about the longing for social independence after the break up. She does this in a similar style to what Sharon Van Etten did on Tramp in 2012 where social anxiety was discussed by stripping down the music and making the vocals sound narrative in nature. The honesty in the lyrics is the best quality of a well-produced album, creating an interesting listen which asks the listener to remain patient with the slower portions outside of tracks like “Forgiven/Forgotten” and “Hi-Five”. An area for improvement for future releases would be to find a way to reach a song’s peak more easily and consistently, something which can be achieved through improved lyricism or well-planned song form. Qualities like that are rarely present at the beginning of an artist’s career though, and we may see that progression become a natural occurrence for Angel Olson, for now she is a good artist with the potential to be very good.

Top Tracks: “Enemy”, “Stars”

WCDB Secret Santa

How do you run a Secret Santa at a radio station where we’re all tight on money? Easy, make it a musical Secret Santa, where everybody gets entered into a pool and randomly gets assigned to make a suggestion for what a fellow WCDB’er might like to listen to. Check out all the recommendations below!

For Kyle -

Speedy Ortiz–I just started listening to them myself but I’ve been digging it and wanting to share it, and if you end up liking it then i would also recommend Waxahatchee if you don’t already know her. Speedy Ortiz has female vocals and kind of a hazy indie rock sound, the album that just came out is good: Major Arcana, tracks I would start with are “No Below”, “Tiger Tank”, “Hitch”, but basically the whole album is pretty cool.

For Ted -

My suggestions for the secret Santa are wye oak- dogs eye and Mac Demarco- ode to victory

For Noah-

It’s a band called Lust for Youth. And I recommend listening to the newest LP NIGHT SINS- To London or the Lake

For DJ Kim Kelly-

I’m giving Chrissy Keaton Henson. Specific tracks: “Beekeeper”, “Lying to You”, “Kronos”, “Don’t Swim”, “In The Morning”, and “Sarah Minor”

For The Finch-

Celebration - The Modern Tribe

Celebration is more on the psychedalic side of indie rock from 2007, and this album is awesome from front to back.  Singer’s voice is somewhat androgenous and strange, which I hope Meg will dig based on her love of Panic! At the Disco. Upbeat pop melodies interspersed with some catchy horn lines and fuzzed guitars, really cool stuff!

Tracks:  “Tame the Savage”, “In This Land”, “Wild Cats”

For dJ bANANAS iN pAJAMAS-

Band: Voxtrot (Raised by Wolves EP to start, the track, “The Start of Something” has a very Smithsy/Strokesy feel.)

Track: “Water Me” by FKA Twigs. Cool electronic jam that I have loved recently, and don’t think most people have gotten into.

For DJ Milky-

1) Magazine – The Correct Use of Soap

2) The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight

3) The Woodentops – Giant

4) Martha & the Muffins – Metro Music

5) Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West

*all available on grooveshark.com Merry Christmas

For DJ Riggs Linus-

I’ve decided to give Brian Bev a song by Vega. It’s the project Neon Indian had before Neon Indian. I hope he already has not heard it. I also hope he doesn’t hate it. He can return it if he wants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqJ2d_mSDPM

For DJ Gabzilla-

Cocteua Twins, start with “Heaven or Las Vegas”

Cold cave start with “Catacombs”

The replacements start with “bastards of young”

For Andy-

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Flume+Deluxe+Edition/9377955

I think Andy would enjoy this.

 Recommended tracks: “Stay Close”, “Holdin’ On”, “Change”, “Space Cadet”, “Sleepless”.

For John Gentile-

“Mystery Skulls – EP” While Mystery Skulls has a few songs on Spotify, their best material can be found on their EP, which is found on their bandcamp. Electronic in the sense that it has some funky, different beats, Mystery Skulls also has some alt rock blends in it that is all too reminiscent of a darker Passion Pit, especially with such humble beginnings. I’d recommend the EP above all else, which you can download for the cost of a dollar (or possibly less) online. A great band that deserves some play. Check them out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mSBjAcBQIg

For DJ Eric-

Hello. I don’t really know you well but I creeped your DJ playlists. I noticed you play a lot of current, popular mainstream indie rock music (Indie Rock 101, as I like to call it). I was going to recommend you lots of more obscure things to listen to, but I had no idea where to even begin. I did also notice that you haven’t really played anything that was released before the year 2000, save for one Elliot Smith song and one Echo & the Bunnymen song – so here is a short list of essential albums that came out in the 80s and 90s, and some RIYL’s based on artists you’ve played, for your xmas listening pleasure. Apologies if there’s any band on here that you’ve heard already, I’m recommending solely based what the wcdb.org archive tells me you’ve never played before.

Cocteau Twins- “Heaven or Las Vegas” (4AD, 1990). Tracks: “Iceblink Luck”, “Heaven or Las Vegas”, “Cherry-Coloured Funk”. RIYL: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

New Order – “Substance” (this is a singles / ‘greatest hits’ album) – (Factory Records, 1987). Tracks “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “Ceremony”, “Blue Monday” RIYL: Metric, (new) Arcade Fire, The Postal Service

The Pixies – Dootlittle (4AD, 1989). Tracks: “Debaser”, “Wave of Mutilation”, “Monkey Gone to Heaven” RIYL: Best Coast, Metric

Guided by Voices – Bee Thousand (Scat Records, 1994). Tracks: “I Am A Scientist”, “Tractor Rape Chain”, “Echos Myron” RIYL: Neutral Milk Hotel, Modest Mouse

Jawbreaker – “Dear You” (DGC Records, 1995). Tracks: “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”, “Accident Prone” RIYL: Brand New, The Front Bottoms

For Luuk-

the band: White Denim

tracks: “At Night in Dreams”, “Pretty Green”, “Drug”

For Liv-

Artist: Alex Winston

First track I heard by her: “Sister Wife” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzObsfboaJ0)

Personal Favorite track off the album King Con: “Choice Notes” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNT_KGweANU)

And an awesome version of “Locomotive”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKt7hiE-xvc

Artist: Bear Hands

Listen to

1) Crime Pays (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97W_mgA8Ytg)

2) What a Drag (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtUrU5Csevk)

3) Tablasaurus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd6WUL111Po)

For Enzo-

Enzypeny,

Ho ho ho, bro. Santa recently got a better Internet connection at the North Pole, and he has been listening to your show every week! Santa likes your show, and noticed that you’re into a lot of British stuff. Well, Santa also has a major hard on for British music, so here are three different artist recommendations… From me! F***ING SANTA!

1. The Young Knives.

The album Voices of Animals and Men is one of the absolute best albums to come out of England. It’s not as popular because it came out in 2006, when bands like the Futureheads, the Enemy, and the Babyshambles had already captivated the British folks. Santa argues however that this is a quintessential album that perfectly embodies the British music scene from 2004-2008.

Stand outs on the album are

- “Another Hollow Line”: a great sentimental song about how all women are just a waste of time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LPEqD_18fE

- “She’s Attracted To”: a song about meeting your girlfriend’s shitty parents.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fulTIh3toMQ

- “Here Comes the Rumour Mill”: a song about how rumours (yes, santa is purposely using the British spelling) are annoying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDX_–a9XDI

After this album the Young Knives inexplicably lost a lot of their spunk. It’s a damn shame.

2. Art Brut

Very similar style to the Young Knives. This is another band that never really lived up to the expectations after their first album (even though their later releases are still very good). They have a fun, ‘cheeky’ style, and the lyrics are very enjoyable. Pitchfork praised these guys as the second coming of Christ in 2004 when they released Bang Bang Rock & Roll, and that album still holds up today. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Standout tracks by Art Brut are:

- “Bang Bang Rock and Roll”: “I CAN’T STAND THE SOUND OF THE VELVET UNDERGROUND”. A great energetic and satirical song about the state of rock and roll.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wFXhxhZxKY

- “Emily Kane”: a fun song about that one girl that got away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvA0UBesfbY

- “People in Love”: this is Santa’s favorite breakup song of all time. Off Art Brut’s second album It’s a Bit Complicated this song has a very refreshing and pragmatic take on break ups. Listen to it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBxu939PoVI

3. The 1990s

Another fun little band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, this time from the year 2007. The 1990s are notoriously hard to google, and the lead singer is quite… Ugly. However, their debut album Cookies is a masterpiece filled with upbeat songs and lots of references to drugs. Santa believes that the 1990s are also very under appreciated.

Standout tracks:

- “You’re Supposed to Be My Friend”: Have you ever had that one annoying friend, who’s a notorious flake and never hangs out with you? This song is about that guy/girl.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh4Y3MW1jwI

- “See You at the Lights”: this song will instantaneously make you sing along. It’s catchy, it’s happy, it’s just an all around good time!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EURfmrWJcPY

- “Cult Status”: I won’t ruin the surprise, but around the 3 minute mark you will probably laugh very hard. It’s also musically a solid little symphony

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc2lnf25eSo

Hopefully you enjoyed reading all this! Santa rather enjoyed writing it, as he takes any opportunity to ramble endlessly about British rock, while making lots of sweeping generalizations! Anyway….

MEEEEEERRRRYYYYYY CHRIIIIISMASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

For Robby Red-

Roses are red,

And so is Robby.

That is all that matters.

Merry Christmas fgt.

CRMNL HYGNE LP by Criminal Hygiene.

Its a free download at: http://criminalhygiene.bandcamp.com/album/crmnl-hygne-lp-2

I recommend the tracks “Rearrange”, “Blak Water”, “Dirty Knees”, “Summertime in October”, “Alan I’m in Love”, and “Andrew’s Song”.

For Zsa Zsa Couture-

Jets to Brazil- Perfecting Loneliness

For Cassie-

Based on your radio show, I feel like you like (maybe funky) electronic-influenced indie music. My first recommendation for you is one of my favorite acts – Blood Orange. They have a new album (2013) but their older stuff is gold. I recommend the song “Sutphin Boulevard.” Also, on the off-chance that you are familiar with them (him) already, I highly recommend Cold Cave. It doesn’t seem exactly like your cup of tea but I can see you digging them – try the song “Catacombs.”

For Nicole-

Heavens – Patent Pending

For FatMan-

The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Kidnap Kid, and C2C

For Mike-

To Campana,

You are like Yoda while I am Jabba the Hut. What celestial sounds could I possibly grace your ears with? You are so all knowing while I am a fat trapezoid. I can’t help but think that you have most musical gift so I thought long and hard (~20min) to find some artists that might suit your fat suit. So, here are a few gifts that I managed to secrete from my oozy crevices:

-Bohan Pheonix – http://bohanphoenix.com/

-Chewing on Tinfoil – http://chewingontinfoil.bandcamp.com/

-Calls – http://calls.bandcamp.com/album/booster-pack

-Dark Horse – http://www.darkhorsesmusic.com/

-Whitehorse – http://www.last.fm/music/Whitehorse/The+Fate+of+the+World+Depends+on+This+Kiss

-dEUS – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9OILKwaFNA

They are not in any particular order. Enjoy or eat coal.

~Santa

For DJ Hillary Clinton-

First off I’ll say Sleater-Kinney since you haven’t played them yet this year and they’re a classic all-female punk rock band; suggested tracks: “One More Hour”, “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”, “Turn It On”
Next I’d say Dinosaur Jr. since they fit the description of guitar-dominated rock very well and helped to define the alternative rock scene; suggested tracks: “Freak Scene”, “Kracked”, “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know”

More of a shot in the dark to give something more current: Dananananaykroyd. They’re an inconsistent listen and they’ve already packed it up after releasing two albums, but they have some awesome singles mixed in; suggested tracks: “Infinity Milk”, “Black Wax”, “Song One Puzzle”

And for the sake of a change of pace, early Black Keys. Pre-Brothers they were one of the best modern blues-rock bands you could find; suggested tracks: “Meet Me in the City”, “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be”, “She Said, She Said (Beatles Cover)”

For Nora-

For Nora the nicest grimey lady I know.

The Art of Sleeping – Shoulders

Thelma Plum – Rosie EP; “Around Here”, “Father Said”

Loon Lake – Gloamer; “Carolina”, “Cherry Lip”

Tapes N’ Tapes – Outside; “Badaboom”

Bored Nothing -Bored Nothing; “Popcorn”

The Rubens- The Rubens; “Lay It Down”,”Don’t Ever Want To Be Found”

Have an amazing time in Pana gurllll

Album Reviews: Robert Pollard, Cass McCombs, and We Are Scientists

Blazing Gentlemen

Robert Pollard- Blazing Gentlemen

Grade: B

Release Date: 12/09/2013

Robert Pollard has always put forth an incredible amount of effort to contribute to the music scene. He’s most well-known as being the singer-songwriter for Guided By Voices, but Pollard has also branched out to have that same role in numerous side projects (Circus Devils, Mars Classroom and The Lifeguards to name just three) and he’s released an impressive twelve solo albums since 2008. One of the really nice things about Pollard is that even though he releases his music at such a frantic rate the quality of his music never seems to suffer because of it. We’re past the era where we’ll hear Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes-esque tracks from the man, but some of the classic qualities of Guided By Voices’ sound live on today thanks to Pollard’s efforts. There’s still incredibly urgent songs (16 songs take up a total of 33 minutes here) and the choruses still come early and often, and he rarely stops the music to re-set itself. That has to be appreciated as a fan when there are so many artists taking the misguided approach of stopping to introduce each song individually, destroying any hopes of a coherent set. If you like Pollard/Guided By Voices then you should check out Blazing Gentlemen, but if you’re unfamiliar with him than there are probably better starting points for you than this.

Track Pick: “Extra Fool’s Day”, “Tonight’s The Rodeo”

Cass McCombs
Cass McCombs- Big Wheel And Others

Grade: C+

Release Date: 10/15/2013

Cass McCombs shares a quality with Brendan Benson on this album, where both are talented artists who sing about easily enjoyable topics but aren’t overly interesting when they do it. Everything that is present on Big Wheel and Others tends to blend into itself as time progresses,  and it’s a bit perplexing why McCombs chose to keep so many of the songs present to release it as a double album rather than trying to be more selective. Big Wheel and Others contains some genuinely good tracks like “There Can Be Only One”, “Brighter! (Featuring Karen Black)”, and the title track “Big Wheel”, but these seem to get overtaken by the plethora of songs which aren’t noteworthy. There are many instances on this album where points get stated in a disappointingly usual way, and the spoken samples featuring four-year-old Sean are an uncomfortable listen. Sean is a four year old kid whose youth was covered in a 1970 documentary named after him, and McCombs sampled segments of it where Sean tells stories about drug use, lack of belief in god, and how he would attack a policeman. It leaves me unsure about whether an awful person gave this kid a script to exploit him or if his parents really were messing with their kid’s life as much as it seems, but I’m not convinced that it was a necessary addition to the album as none of the songs seemed to run parallel to Sean’s storyline.

Track Pick: “Brighter! (Featuring Karen Black)”

We Are Scientists
We Are Scientists- Business Casual

Grade: B-
Release Date: 10/15/2013

We Are Scientists is a very fun pop group, and if you ever get a chance to see them play live I’d highly suggest seeing them for the banter between Chris Cain and Keith Murray. Whether on stage or in interviews these two prove to be very fun personalities with great senses of humor, but it’s tough to view We Are Scientists as a legitimate artist when their best quality is making jokes. There are good, high-energy pop songs which can get stuck in your head scattered around their discography (and even surprisingly genuine tracks like “Courage” on this newest release) but it’s tough to envision them releasing an album which would say something new and not be limited to it’s time period. They’re the band who makes you laugh because of the obviously incorrect subtitles they inserted into the music video for “Nice Guys”, and they’re the band that decided to end this EP with a cover of “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, but I don’t think they’re the band to turn to for recorded music.

Track Pick: “Courage”

Essential Albums: Guided By Voices- Bee Thousand

Quick Band Bio: Guided By Voices is a band that originated in Ohio and released their first album Devil Between My Toes back in 1987. The band is mainly known for their signature album style, which includes packing around 20 songs into 40 minutes, and also for the rapid release of new material (there were 3 GBV albums in 2012!). These features are true because of their vocalist Robert Pollard who writes music at a frantic pace, so much so that he can claim responsibility for 19 Guided By Voices albums, 18 solo albums, and numerous other side projects. The band did a farewell tour in 2004, during which it became a common occurrence for the city of the show to dub that date Guided By Voices day from that point forward(December 5th in NYC), but returned in 2010 with the exciting announcement of returning to the “classic lineup”.

What made the band notable enough to get a day dedicated to them and what symbolized the classic GBV lineup? For the sake of simplification in an extensive discography, it was two albums: Alien Lanes which got released in 1995, and the subject of this post in Bee Thousand which got released in 1994.

Continue reading Essential Albums: Guided By Voices- Bee Thousand