Tag Archives: Reflektor

Artists Who Are Due For Their Next Release in 2014

I hope that everybody had an excellent holiday season and received gifts which caused them joy, and I would like to remind you that these gifts don’t stop coming once the holidays are over. We receive gifts in the form of hope for the future constantly, and these less tangible items help us to make it through our daily lives because something beautiful may be on the horizon. Being as this is a music blog and I am a man who love speculating on future music releases, here are some artists who are probably due to release their new album at some point in 2014.
 
Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo
 
I wasn’t a fan of his when I saw him play live at our Birthday show back in 2011, but Avi Zahner-Isenberg’s ability to put together a terrific studio album shouldn’t be doubted. His self-titled debut album from 2010 holds some fantastic songs on it, such as “Summer Cum” and “What’s In It For?“. I can’t find an official page on the promise of an album from him in 2014, but his wikipedia article does suggest that the sophomore album was being constructed in 2013 and therefore can be hoped for in the upcoming year.
The Antlers
 
Purely speculation on my part, but the band has last released an album in 2011 and have only released the EP Undersea since then in 2012. For a band that’s still actively touring and writing music, I have to speculate that 2014 could reveal the fifth studio album for this talented band to display their version of soft and experimental folk-rock.
Beck
Consistently interesting and well established to the point that he’ll be able to do basically whatever he’d like, Beck is at an ideal place for a musician to be. His last studio album was done back in 2008 and was widely praised in Modern Guilt but that won’t be true for much longer as we are about to hear Beck’s twelfth studio album in February of upcoming year named Morning Phase, supposedly with a ‘Sea Change’ vibe to it.

Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club
 
A much anticipated album by me because A Different Kind of Fix was such a stellar release by the group. How will they follow it up and how much will the sound change? I guess we’ll find out on February 3rd
Brand New
 
Honestly I  don’t care to much about the release of the next Brand New album because I think I’m out of the age range where they should be relevant to me. I would agree that they are a legitimate band though, and they’re loved by a lot of my friends who know their stuff about music so it’s worth covering here that they’ve been touring a lot recently and supposedly said at a show that they have been recording new material.
Cloud Nothings
 
Attack on Memory was one of the finest releases out there in 2012, but it seems promising that they’re hinted 2014 release will be a different sound from the Cleveland noise-rockers. They’ve promised a sound which is more true to their playing style and thus the upcoming album should be expected to be more similar to the track “Wasted Days” and not-so-much like “Fall In“. Either way I’m interested in seeing how quality of a release it is and how close they come to crossing over to punk or grunge in the process.

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie
 
We’re definitely out of the golden-age for this band, but I’m hard pressed to say that I won’t give a listen to anything that Gibbard releases out of respect for his voice and past writing experience. The group posted a photo on Instagram three months ago to announce the beginning the band’s work on their eighth studio album.
Death From Above 1979
 
It’s hard to not imagine the ‘what if’ for this band and their potential re-emergence into the music scene, filled with energy packed guitar rock hopefully. The album could be coming out in 2014 and I’m hopeful for it being awesome as this could make Canada the place to be for modern noise-rock as it could claim Japandroids and Death From Above 1979 (and Metz too if you want to throw them in that category).
The Drums
 
The fact that this album is coming three years after Portamento is actually a blessing because it will say a lot about how good the band actually is. Their music is incredibly fun to listen to, catchy and funny, but I’m of the opinion that a lot of artists can write about their failed past relationships in a pop song. I’m interested in hearing the band’s third studio album because I believe it will be a defining point for what kind of band The Drums will be in the future.
 
Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
 
I really hope that Jonathan Tillman’s departure from the band is as insignificant as the phrase ‘The Drummer from Fleet Foxes left the band’ suggests, but I don’t think that’s a fair viewpoint because Tillman went on to release a fine solo album in Fear Fun under the moniker of Father John Misty. Still, you should be excited for the future of this band because the last time they released an album it was 2011 and they out-shined Bon Iver’s Bon Iver ,Bon Iver that year in my eyes with Helplessness Blues. The band has indicated via photos on their Facebook page that they are currently working on album number three.
Guided By Voices
 
A safe bet in any year to release an album or two so long as they’re active, Robert Pollard must be writing constantly.
The Hold Steady
 
I love Craig Finn as a lead singer, and I’m very much so anticipating hearing what lines he gets on the upcoming album (can it be much better than “She said the theme of this party’s the Industrial Age/ And you came in dressed like a train-wreck”?). Hopefully they do a national tour in support of the release because this is a band who I would absolutely love to see play live.

M83

M83
 
Haven’t seen any news that this one’s being worked on but the band has never taken more than three years to release an album, even for their most recent double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming back in 2011. Their next release will say a lot about how much of a premiere alternative electronic artist the band is because their last two albums have been spectacular in the aforementioned Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming as well as Saturdays=Youth in 2008.
Metronomy
 
I don’t know to much about the band, but I do know that their last album release in 2011 was The English Riviera and that one is viewed as a classic by WCDB DJ Luuk. The follow-up to that album is going to be named Love Letters and is scheduled to come out on March 10 according to their website.
Modest Mouse
 
Isaac Brock did decide to name his label Glacial Pace for a reason, though even with that in mind it’s difficult to imagine 2014 passing without hearing the new Modest Mouse album. They’ve been testing out new songs at their live shows for about the past year now, including songs being played at major festival shows, and it was well reported that they went into the studio with Big Boi of all people back in 2011 to work on new songs. I’m excited obviously as this is my favorite band, but it’s also going to be really interesting to see what a Modest Mouse album sounds like when Brock takes five years to actually put the thing together. It’s hard to imagine a potential product that has a lot of holes in it.

mountaingoats

The Mountain Goats
 
‘Due’ is a funny word to use hear because we just heard from this album in 2012 with Transcendental Youth, but John Darnielle’s history shows that this band has never had a three year gap between albums. They’re one of those bands who excel by working and writing constantly, and because of this we may very well be treated to their next album in the upcoming year.
The New Pornographers
 
This Canadian super-group is the most consistent modern pop group out there in my opinion, and they’ve been in the studio to record new material in the middle of last year. That article seems to suggest that the album may already be done, and I’m not sure about the validity of that statement, but I would place a monetary bet on the fact that there will be a new New Pornographers LP out  within the next year.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
 
It’s not speculation to say that they plan on releasing an album in 2014, but it is speculation to say that I think it will end up being one of the defining albums of the year. The band has had an absolutely stellar first two albums in S/T and Belong, and the timing seems right for this band to step into the spotlight.

the Raveonettes

The Raveonettes
 
No news on a new album by this group, but ‘an album every two years’ seems to be a relevant statement with this band’s discography, and their last release was in 2012 with Observator.
Real Estate
 
The band announced via Youtube videos (#1 and #2) that their third studio album will be released in 2014. I’m excited for it because I enjoyed Days a lot in 2011 and find their music to be relaxing, but this album should mean something significant about how legitimate of an artist the group is. Third releases mean a lot, and we’ll see if the band has progressed the sound for their third release or not rather soon it appears.
Robert Pollard
 
See: Guided By Voices
Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams
 
His Wikipedia page states that he did a live show in 2013 where the venue stated he was playing new songs from his forthcoming album, so that’s what we have to work with here. It makes sense since his last album release came out in 2011, and it’s the better alternative to just drifting out of music which it seemed like he may have been heading towards before I heard this news, so this is a good thing.
Spoon
 
You talk about ‘cool’ bands in the music scene, I will contend that Britt Daniel is the coolest man in the music scene, and I can not freaking wait to hear the next album by this band which will supposedly get released in 2014. The band has been very consistent with their quality so I’m liking the chances of Spoon putting out one of the better albums of the year once it does actually get released.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
 
Wig Out at Jagbags is set to be released on January 7 2014, thus making it the earliest release to be excited about that I’m aware of. Malkmus is a terrific front-man, and if they consistently give hysterical social commentary like they did on “Senator” off of Mirror Traffic in 2011 then I will be one happy man.
Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens
 
The time seems right to start hoping for a new release from Sufjan. He did release his second Christmas Songs box set in 2012 with Silver & Gold: Vols. 6-10 but the last true album which we’ve received from him was the widely experimental and interesting Age of Adz back in 2010. It should be very interesting to hear what direction Stevens chooses to take for his next album as the last one was so unprecedented that it’s difficult to know if it is a permanent sound shift or an artistic experiment in the same way that Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is making me ask the same question about that band. Guess we’ll just have to wait to find out in both cases.
Tame Impala
 
The band’s got a lot of attention on it after the success of Lonerism in 2012, so if 2014 does hold the follow-up to that album then there will be a lot of coverage on Tame Impala in the upcoming year. For most band’s that rise to national recognition is a wonderful thing and justification for the effort, but I’ve got to speculate on how well they would handle the actual role considering the recurring song themes, and even the actual album name of their last release. A band that has the talent to be a premiere group, but a band who likely don’t feel comfortable with the modern social demand that fans give to their favorite artists, and the truth is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s how they prefer to work.
Titus Andronicus
 
A motivated Patrick Stickles is a wonderful thing to hear as The Monitor has shown us, and the upcoming release is getting billed as a 30-track modern rock opera with the theme of Manic Depression. In other words, this release is probably going to be mind-blowingly good while also being completely different from anything else that they’ve released before. There’s a lot of reason for excitement about this release.

Wilco

Wilco
 
No announcement of studio work for the group, but that doesn’t seem all that strange since Tweedy does all of that stuff internally now anyways. The last time we got a Wilco album was the solid The Whole Love back in 2011 so it would make sense to hope that 2014 will be the landing point for studio album number nine from the group.
Anybody else? Likely. Realize that while it’s incredibly fun to speculate on what albums are going to define the upcoming year, it’s a difficult thing to be completely accurate on because years will often get best represented by albums which nobody saw coming. Still, these are all releases which are going to demand a listen from me and carry the hope that 2014 could be an excellent year for music where many talented artists are due for their latest release.

WCDB’s Top Albums of 2013

Reflektor

1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Voting Points: 213

The spectacle of the album release was a wonder in itself, and Arcade Fire’s experimentation into Disco was the top voted album of the year by a wide margin in our poll.

Acid Rap

2. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

Voting Points: 157.5

The second mix tape from Chance the Rapper caught the attention of multiple departments in our station, helping it be named the top hip-hop album of the year on our list.

Modern Vampires of the City

3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Voting Points: 142

The sound matured for Vampire Weekend, solidifying their role as one of the premiere pop artists in today’s music scene.

Hummingbird_(local_natives_album)

4. Local Natives – Hummingbird

Voting Points: 112

An inspired and experimental album from the group garnered them a lot of attention this year from media publications, and our DJs viewed it with a similar level of admiration.

FIDLAR

5. FIDLAR – FIDLAR

Voting Points: 106

The debut album for the California Skate-Punk band brought a ton of energy with it during their screamed stories about drugs and youthful ideals.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze

6. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze

Voting Points: 102

A relaxing and pretty listen, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze gave Kurt Vile a lot of artistic freedom to create long songs about his past experiences that have led up to this point.

II

7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

Voting Points: 92

The sophomore album by the group tended to get mixed reviews from critics, but our DJs were supporters with it finding it’s way onto numerous lists.

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8. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Voting Points: 90

One of the more consistent alternative bands out there released another very good album this year, while also having a documentary about them made by Berninger’s brother aptly named “Mistaken For Strangers” receive favorable reviews at film festivals. 

Foxygen

9. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Voting Points: 87

Foxygen found themselves getting talked about a lot this year with We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors, and they were the most played artist on our station in 2013.

Yeezus

10. Kanye West – Yeezus

Voting Points: 77.5

Probably the most polarizing man in music added a new album to his discography this year and debate ensued about where the album actually stood in his discography. Our DJs liked it enough to have it round out the top 10.
Continue reading WCDB’s Top Albums of 2013

Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013

1.  Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

Tawk Tomahawk

This Australian outfit’s short, neo-soul/R&B LP easily got the most plays in my music library this year.  With a 30-minute runtime, this album behaves like a mixtape, and is delicious from start to finish. Its dynamic soundscapes oscillate between spaced-out hip-hop and future soul grooves, showcasing the band’s compositional prowess and musicianship on each song.

2.  Jai Paul – Jai Paul

Jai Paul

UK producer Jai Paul’s album was released amid controversy, heightening the anticipation for his long – awaited debut. A ploy? No matter, this is a surefire banger that is bound to make you move! Whether he intended to or not, Jai Paul serves up this year’s finest offering of electro pop, chopped with weird glitches, silky interludes and eccentric vocal harmonies.


3.  Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

II

UMO’s sophomore release reveals a new direction for the group without abandoning its psychedelic roots. Singer/songwriter Ruban Nielson refines his song structures, even dabbling in some R&B along the way, as the band delivers a somewhat patient and more polished offering from their debut effort. Fans of their first will have their thirsts quenched by phased out guitar riffs, distorted horn lines, and psyche-funk breakdowns, as II intrigues listeners while luring them further down the rabbit hole.


4.  Thundercat – Apocalypse

Apocalypse

Stephen Bruner’s bass grooves have been in high demand for the past few years, notably lending them to Flying Lotus’ recordings while touring in Erykah Badu’s backing band. Apocalypse could be considered a concept album, exploring themes of friendship, love and loss, as Bruner responds to the death of long-time friend and keyboardist, Austin Peralta.  A fusion of pop, soul and R&B layered with tasty vocal harmonies, scorching bass lines and a few wacky time signatures, Apocalypse delivers catchy hooks amidst its complexity that ensure repeat listens.

5.  Matthew E. White – Outer Face

Outer face

Matthew E. White’s follow-up to last year’s Big Inner, Outer Face serves as an extension of his solo debut – rooted in Americana, and confident. White’s attention to detail is what makes this album shine; with prudent panning, dynamic swells, subtle touches and bass grooves to boot, Outer Face is simultaneously patient and bold.

6.  Bilal – A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal ventures toward the avant-garde side of neo-soul and R&B to accompany the Coltrane nod in its title. With unconventional melodies and harmony structures overtop smooth chord changes and back beats, Bilal explores his creativity on this release. The result is an album that engages listeners with multifaceted arrangements, dynamic swells and sexy spells, all without sacrificing accessibility.

7.  Danny Brown – Old

Old

The Detroit rapper’s follow up to his widely praised debut, XXX, features a slightdeparture from his established signature sounds, solidifying Old as this year’s gold standard for hip-hop. Functioning as a dual album, its A-side features more old school production, while the B-side nods to more contemporary, party-rap configurations. Now in his 30’s, Danny Brown explores stories of aging betwixt his inescapable past of poverty and drugs, carefully constructing this concept album as each song masterfully flows to the next.

8.  Ducktails – Wish Hotel EP

ducktails4Matt Mondanile was a busy man this year, releasing two albums for his solo recording project, Ducktails. On Wish Hotel, Mondanile records by his lonesome, diving deeper into the hazy soundscapes explored on his full-length release, The Flower Lane, from earlier this year.  While the LP meanders, Wish Hotel maintains focus, clouding its listeners with phased out pop melodies and distorted keyboard tones, capturing the mood of its fall-time release.

9.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor

ReflektorNo surprise here as Arcade Fire’s latest has made quite a bit of noise since its October release, finding itself atop myriad year-end lists. Clever marketing tricks aside, Reflektor is equipped with production from James Murphy, and showcases the pure craftsmanship of Arcade Fire. Perhaps in an attempt to capture their live sound, the album is lively and paranoid, switching seamlessly between carefully constructed choruses and limber electro-grooves, effectively keeping listeners on their toes.

10.  Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Foxygen

Foxygen’s first full-length release feels as though its paying homage to their Sixties’ heroes while simultaneously poking fun at them right to their faces. Its playfulness is endearing and supports its lyrical prowess, alternating between folk tales and colorful anecdotes. We are the Ambassadors delves into psychedelic breakdowns amidst shifty time signatures and clever hooks; this album is more fun with each repeat listen.
Continue reading Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013

Patricia’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

Savages

10. Silence Yourselves – Savages

Released May 6, 2013

Silence Yourself is Savages first full length LP.  I was first introduced to Savages this year and when I finally got to listening to the album, I really enjoyed it.  It’s loud but it also has it’s softer moments too. The track that I enjoy the most is Hit Me because it has all of this energy and craziness packed into a 1:41 song.

Overgrown

9. Overgrown – James Blake

Released April 5, 2013

I first got into James Blake after he released his first album James Blake back in 2011. With this album, James Blake decided to go with less of an electronic sound than his previous releases and went with more of an R&B sound. This album is a nice listen and it has the ability to appeal to more people than his previous releases, with my favorites off this album being “Retrograde” and “Overgrown“.

220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

8. Trouble Will Find Me – The National

Released May 27, 2013

I wasn’t too familiar with The National’s previous work, but I really did enjoy this album. This is The National’s sixth full length album and it’s pretty sweet, I really enjoy the calmness of it.  Take a listen to “Pink Rabbits” & “Don’t Swallow The Cap“.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze

7. Walking On A Pretty Daze – Kurt Vile

Released April 9, 2013

I wish I had this album playing whenever I would take long drives in the summertime because it feels like that kind of album. It’s sweet and an easy album to listen to.  My picks are “Never Run Away” and “Was All Talk“.

Loud City Song

6. Loud City Song – Julia Holter

Released August 20, 2013

Loud City Song is the third album Julia Holter has released.  This is the first album where she recorded with a full band to add a more full sound that she was missing in her previous releases. The track “Horns Surrounding Me” is a clear representation of the full sound, and the album as a whole is really pretty and easy to listen to. My Favorites off this album are “This Is a True Heart” and “In the Green Wild“.

Reflektor

5. Reflektor – Arcade Fire

Released October 28, 2013

On Arcade Fire’s fourth album they decided to go for more of a disco feel.  This definitely was not my favorite Arcade Fire release, but I do believe that they accomplish what they wanted to do because they wanted to make an album with disco and dance elements in it. I do prefer Arcade Fire’s sound from their previous releases, but I still think that Reflektor is a solid album.

6 feet beneath the moon

4. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon – King Krule

Released August 24, 2013

King Krule does a really good job of mixing rock, hip hop and other genres into this album. I started listening to King Krule back when he released his EP King Krule and then listened to his EP U.F.O.W.A.V.E that he released back when he went by the name Zoo Kid.  Most of the songs from U.F.O.W.A.V.E made it to 6 Feet Beneath The Moon and have been cleaned up and updated.  This album has beautiful moments like in “Neptune Estate” and more upbeat moments like in “A Lizard State“.

Hummingbird_(local_natives_album)

3. Hummingbird – Local Natives

Released January 29, 2013

It’s been four years since Local Natives released their first album Gorilla Manor, so as a fan of the band I was eagerly waiting for them to finally release some new music. This album is packed with meaningful songs that were written at the time of the passing of Kelcey Ayer’s mother.  In the song “Colombia”, Kelcey is praying to his mother and asking her if he is giving and loving enough, and moments like this are what show the beauty in this album. “Colombia” and “Ceilings” are two of my favorites.

Foxygen

2. We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

Released January 22, 2013

I don’t remember how I heard about Foxygen, but I remember being obsessed with it as soon as I listened to the album. I went to the record store, bought the album, and played it all the time. Foxygen has a lot of elements from other bands, but they still manage to make their sound their own. My favorites off of this album are “Oh No 2” and “On Blue Mountain“.

Modern Vampires of the City

1. Modern Vampires Of The City – Vampire Weekend

Released May 14, 2013

I was so excited for this album. Soon after it released, I had go to the store to pick up a copy. Vampire Weekend’s third album follows up the band’s 2010 release Contra with a different sound, as on this album Vampire Weekend goes for a less upbeat sound like their previous albums and focus a lot more on their lyrics. One of my favorite lines from the album is “Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth/ Age is an honor – it’s still not the truth” from the song “Step”.  The themes of youth and faith are explored throughout this album and Vampire Weekend does it in a way where it feels effortless. Listen to “Unbelievers” and “Step“.

dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

The year 2013 was the first year I, dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS, graced WCDB as a DJ. It was the best of years, It was a year filled with great music and plenty of hard choices. The top 20 albums according to me are officially out and the crowds have been quelled. Enjoy.

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2013

20. Los Campesinos! – No Blues

No Blues

This album came out on October 29. Many would call this indie rock-pop at it’s best, but I call it great music. That’s why its number 20. My favorite song, “Avocado, Baby”, strikes at my heart strings. The lyrics, “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, That’s why they call me the avocado, baby” really shows you how this band can be a little goofy but sing about some of the more serious things in life. Do I recommend listening to this album? Of course!

19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Mosquito

I’ve listened to this album over and over again, and the music video for “Mosquito” continues to creep me out. This album has a song produced by the GOD James Murphy. The two songs that are to be listened are called “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito”.

18. James Blake – Overgrown

Overgrown

Overgrown is one of those albums you can have playing while you do EVERYTHING. Driving? Overgrown. Sleeping? Overgrown. Shopping for groceries? Overgrown. The song “Retrograde” just resonates with your ever living soul. You probably hum, I know I do. His previous album is just a preview of what he can do. This album really shows a mature James Blake. Amazing.

17. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

I started listening to this album by playing the song “Fireproof” through my speakers. It was like a wild fire and before I realized it I had listened to this album multiple times through. There are other songs to look forward to hearing, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “This Is The Last Time”, and “I Need My Girl” are just some of the few that need to be named.

16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City

The pop that was seen on previous albums is again found in this album. The gang of four that call themselves Vampire Weekend have once again made a great album. Songs like “Step”, “Diane Young”, and “Unbelievers” really can be traced back to their first album. This album receives my 5 Diane Youngs out of 5 Diane Youngs.
Continue reading dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

Kyle’s Best of 2013

2013 wasn’t an amazing year for music, but a lot of cool things did happen. There were artists who re-emerged on the scene in Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, and The Pixies, and then there was a movement headed by Daft Punk and Arcade Fire to try and revive disco in a modernized way. The reason for my semi-disappointment is that a lot of the artist’s efforts this year to set a new standard for their peers failed in my eyes to create something overly significant and lasting (with one exception). Motives aside, and favoritism thrown out the window, here are my top 25 albums to get released in 2013

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220px-Lousycover

25. Of Montreal- Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Release Date: October 08, 2013

Grade: B

I’m really interested to know if this album’s stripped down and more accessible approach was a choice made by Barnes or his management. A part of me hates it because I view him as one of the most fascinating artists out there and really enjoy hearing what he creates when he tries to make electronic masterpieces, but Lousy With Sylvianbriar serves as a reminder to earlier Of Montreal days when he made his living off making pretty pop songs and displayed his thoughts in a less bizarre way.

Track Pick: “Triumph of Disintegration

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220px-Floating_Coffin

24. Thee Oh Sees- Floating Coffin

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Grade: B

One of the better noisy rock albums that came out this year, Thee Oh Sees is a band that must be an absolute blast to see live and tries to capture that energy on the album. When that does happen it’s an awesome thing to hear, but it happens inconsistently as interest tends to fade during the second half of the album, but there are some gems on it like the one suggested below in “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”.

Track Pick: “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster

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Afraid of Heights

23. Wavves- Afraid of Heights

Release Date: March 16, 2013

Grade: B

I like listening to Wavves because their music is fun, and that’s why Afraid of Heights gets mentioned here despite it’s struggle to be substantial. They can do much better than this and have shown potential to write interesting songs, but they haven’t quite gotten to their peak yet in my opinion and I’m hopeful that they do soon.

Track Pick: “Cop

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220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

22. The National- Trouble Will Find Me

Release Date: May 17, 2013
Grade: B

The product was still good on Trouble Will Find Me, but it’s a difficult one to get inspired by because it sounds uninspired in comparison to the previous three releases. I do enjoy Berninger’s delivery and cadence in their music a lot though, and it appears that even a sub-par record by The National is a quality album when you compare it to it’s peers.

Track Pick: “Don’t Swallow the Cap

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peace-in-love-album-leak21. Peace- In Love

Release Date: March 25, 2013

Grade: B+

This was the debut album for the group and it was a great success by a lot of standards. Their sound has evolved already from their first EP, and In Love is a more consistent album than most bands will achieve in their entire discography, let alone on their debut. This group has a ton of potential but I still have some questions about which genre they ultimately gravitate towards, because they’re stuck in between pop and rock right now and that’s not a good place for them to be because they’re completely different approaches.

Track Pick: “California Daze

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Continue reading Kyle’s Best of 2013

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.

Show Review: Arcade Fire in Brooklyn

Arcade Fire is set to release their fourth studio album Reflektor on October 28, and they’ve taken an interesting approach to advertising themselves. What they’ve essentially done is abandon the Arcade Fire name temporarily so they could be re-labeled as The Reflektors, a band whose rise to fame was assured once fans realized it was the same band. One really nice part about this strategy is that The Reflektors didn’t start by playing in gigantic venues, their first gigs were intimate and often unannounced events where they would usually play nearly entirely new material. It was a rare chance to see such a widely successful band in a small club and it gained them a lot of notoriety from music publications. When Arcade Fire announced last week that they would be playing two gigs in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday, I decided to pre-order their album so that I could get myself into the pre-sale. The shows were at a seldom used venue and only had one requirement: formal attire or costume required. I was extremely excited about the possibility of the show as their previous gigs seemed like the coolest concerts I had ever heard of, but some of my expectations were misled while others were exceeded.

For starters, the ticket situation was handled in a completely fair and understandable way, but it could have been done better. Nearly 80% of the tickets that were sold were sold in the pre-sale so that scalpers couldn’t dictate the price to much, a good idea which was probably suggested by James Murphy after the fiasco of trying to sell tickets to his final show in Madison Square Garden, but it had the fallback of making the affair almost entirely white middle aged couples who wanted to attend in their formal wear. It wasn’t a dancing crowd for sure, and this could have been easily fixed by opening up an allotment of tickets to CMJ badges, or the college radio kids that helped them rise to fame. They would have gotten students to camp out at the venue in their costumes and bring energy to the front of the crowd,but  instead they filled the room with statues holding iPhones.

One thing that was noticed once the line began to move was that this wasn’t an intimate venue, but rather one gigantic room (similar to an Armory show for Albany perspective). New York was the Reflektors first big gig and where they wanted to take the city by storm with thousands of people present for the show. The ratio of formal attire wearers to costume was about 3.5:1 with many choosing to wear masks and some being clever and showing up in group costumes (unfortunately I can’t recall any of the more clever ones). The show had no opener but had what I suspect was a James Murphy DJ set occurring before hand as it was awesomely curated and Murphy himself came out from behind the main curtain to introduce the crowd to tonight’s band, The Reflektors. Three members came out wearing the large heads that we’ve seen in the SNL video and music video for “Reflektor”, and these three played some jarbled noise for two minutes before setting their instruments down and running off the stage.

At this point I should state that within this gigantic room, I was pushed nearly entirely to the side wall with a not-so-great view of the stage but the intention of working my way to the middle once the music started. The large headed musicians ran off the stage in our general direction and went behind the curtain wall on the side of the venue, leaving audience members confused about what was currently happening as everybody began to turn their attention away from the stage. It’s at this point that all of a sudden, the side wall’s curtain was lifted to reveal a second stage, where Arcade Fire was standing and immediately began playing the album opener “Reflektor”. This was an event that nearly blew my mind as I went from being stuck in a pretty poor position to being about eight rows back and only slightly off center in a single moment. They apologized to the fans who were close to the other stage, who chose to watch the performance from the fake stage and seemed to have a great time there. Frontman Win Butler insinuated that the band would find a way to make it worth their while and I believe the band went over there afterwards in order to sign autographs to make up for it.

In terms of the actual music, all of the Reflektor tracks sound amazing with the highlight being “Here Comes the Night Time”. They played two older songs which were referred to as ‘Arcade Fire covers’ in “Sprawl II” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and on the last song of the night Win jumped into the crowd and seemingly disappeared as he never returned to the stage until the set had ended to inform the crowd that there would be no encore, but a disco set where he wanted everybody to stay and dance. All in all it was an awesome show to be a part of and probably the coolest event I’ve ever gone to, I was only disappointed by how gigantic of an event it was and how un-energetic the crowd seemed to be. I’d still highly suggest trying to see them on their upcoming world tour though for sure, bring a costume if you go and dance!