Tag Archives: cults

Album Reviews: Arcade Fire, Cults, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Grade: A-

Release Date: 10/28/2013

Staying fair with this album is difficult. On one side, the Arcade Fire and Reflektors buildup was gigantic and the live show I attended(and covered in another post) was the best live event that I’ve ever seen. This seemed to set the table for this to be an almost unfathomable ‘next-step’ for a band which was already one of the premiere names within the alternative music scene, and a band who was already following up on an album which won album of the year in 2011. In my opinion, that next step didn’t happen on Reflektor, but you can’t hold the fact that an album didn’t turn out to be a classic against it when grading. Reflektor is a very good album which contributes to the dream of reviving disco in 2013, and it’s awesome to hear that when Arcade Fire collaborates with James Murphy the product can legitimately be played and danced to at random venues. There’s also a few new Arcade Fire gems like “Normal Person”, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus) “and my personal favorite “Here Comes The Night Time”(which I personally believe will become as hypnotic and repetitively played as “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” was for Tame Impala in 2012). Reflektor is much better than the average record that you’d hear, which is why it deserves an A-, but it’s hard to mark it higher when it’s likely the third or fourth best Arcade Fire album out of their four releases(Neon Bible being it’s competition). The final viewpoint for me is that it’s really cool to hear Arcade Fire do disco, but I don’t think that this product is as good as what they’ve done before, so I hope it’s not a permanent sound shift.


Cults- Static

Grade: B-

Release Date: 10/14/2013

Cults had an outstanding  self-titled debut album back in 2011 which showed a lot of promise for the indie pop duo, but there was a bit of an odd development in between that release and their sophomore effort Static. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion decided to split and end their relationship, but maintain the band and continue releasing music together, a snippet which makes tracks like “Always Forever” a bit of an awkward listen. Static is a step back for the band in terms of the energy and catchy pop choruses which were present on their debut, but this album is still a fun listen even if it is an unspectacular release.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- The Speed of Things

Grade: B+
Release Date: 10/08/2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Cults actually have a lot in common, both indie pop duos released terrific debuts in 2011 (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s being It’s A Corporate World) and  released their second albums within a week of each other. It’s a tough band to judge because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is exceptionally good at making music with pop gimmicks in it, which begs the question of if an album should be judged based upon how enjoyable it is or how likely it is to last the test of time. The Speed of Things is not an album which is going to inspire people to make new music or make people marvel at their sources of inspiration, but the album is a tremendously fun listen with moments that are surprisingly beautiful. Hopefully increased exposure for the band inspires them to take more risks in future projects about song topics because they have a great pop sensibility, and it would be fun to hear what a more ambitious project by them would sound like.

CMJ 2013: A Preview

It’s the most glorious week of the year. CMJ is finally here! Most CMJ-newbies and even some seasoned veterans will find the abundance of shows, unofficial parties, day-showcases, RSVP-only parties, and things to do during CMJ week a bit overwhelming. As a WCDB alumni (key word: alumni) I have the added challenge this year of doing it all without a badge, that wonderful golden ticket that lets you in to (almost) any show during the week. However, over the years I’ve found that most of the smaller shows are free, some of the medium sized shows are free w/rsvp, and a lot of the cool stuff to go to aren’t in traditional music venues or are even shows at all. The only shows that definitely require a CMJ badge to enter are the big ones: shows at Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Terminal 5, and Webster Hall. And who wants to go to those? Because really, CMJ isn’t about seeing Savages play at Terminal 5 (capacity: 3,000) during CMJ 2013, it’s about seeing their first live shows in the U.S. before their debut album came out, at Glasslands (capacity: 275) and Public Assembly (capacity: 400) during CMJ 2012.

Every year I try to find a nice balance between bands I love and bands I’ve never heard of before. It’s my own opinion that the quality of the festival and number of bands that I’m excited to see decreases slightly every year, but I’m trying to stay optimistic. Here are the showcases I’m most excited about, some “bands to watch”, and other things I’m looking forward to during CMJ next week. See you there?

Bands to Watch

the bold CMJ dates below are free, even if you don’t have a badge!

Joanna Gruesome

SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD. Seriously, look past the name. Their debut album Weird Sister came out September 2013 on Slumberland Records (swoon) and it’s surely one of my favorites of 2013. It’s amazing. I’m in love. Go see them.
~ RIYL: Riot Grrrl, noisepop, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


Where to catch them:
Tuesday 10/15 @ Ran Tea House (Force Field PR showcase) 12:10am | $5 without badge
Wednesday 10/16 @ Pianos (Kanine Records/SESAC party) – 3:30pm
Wednesday 10/16 @ Pianos (Old Flame Party) 7:45pm
Thursday 10/17 @ Cakeshop (Capeshok Presents) midnight
Friday 10/18 @ Shea Stadium (Portals Music) 9:00pm
Friday 10/18 @ 285 Kent (Pitchfork showcase) 11:15pm | unofficial show, $10 with or without badge
Saturday 10/19 @ The Rock Shop (Lost Colony party)
Saturday 10/19 @ Death By Audio (Agency Group showcase)

Perfect Pussy

debut cassette demo I HAVE LOST ALL DESIRE FOR FEELING is incredible.

thumbs down for no free shows:
Wednesday 10/16 @ The Flat (SHOT! Presents) | $8 or free w/CMJ badge
Friday 10/18 @ 285 Kent (Pitchfork showcase) | unofficial show, $10 with or without badge

Drowners

~s/t debut album comes January 2014 via Frenchkiss Records

playing:
Thursday 10/17 @ Pianos showroom (Frenchkiss Records showcase)
Saturday 10/19 @ Pianos showroom (Bowery Presents CMJ show)

the band in Heaven

dreampop shoegaze from West Palm Beach, FL
debut album Caught in a Summer Swell out September 2013 on Decades Records

thumbs down for no free shows:
Thursday 10/17 @ Parkside Lounge (S/T Management)
Thursday 10/17 @ Pianos (Frenchkiss Records / Label Group)
Friday 10/18 @ (Decades & Timberwolf Showcase)
Continue reading CMJ 2013: A Preview

2011: The Year of Escapism

Conjuring up motifs and noises of the past, these ten artists have put their spin on nostalgia and have created a sound unique to each of them.  Music as always is a testament of the times, somehow it seems we’re being catapulted backwards. In some cases the artist deals head on with the current turmoil lyrically, but even when the content is irrelevant we’re sucked into a simpler time. Although it’s hard to remain hopeful when the skies look so dark and gloomy, there’s always “Watch The Thrown.”
Continue reading 2011: The Year of Escapism