Tag Archives: The Postal Service

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”

“I Don’t Enjoy Sad Songs”

The above quote was brought up over the past weekend about a friend of one of my housemates from back home, and we all laughed at the concept of it for perhaps different reasons. The people in the room that knew him better than myself laughed because they knew examples of artists who the quoted person claimed to love which seemed to contradict the statement, but I laughed because it seemed like such an odd point to define your music interests. ‘Sad songs’ are going to find their way into every genre of music because a vast majority of artists will have something pushing them which inspires some form of sadness, it’s the nature of the beast.

Plus who’s to say what a sad song is when depressing topics such as “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service and “Dying Is Fine” by Ra Ra Riot can be presented in such pretty and poppy ways? Listening is more of an empathetic process than anything else, and the listener by no means has to copy the feeling of the music. You don’t have to be happy to enjoy a happy song, and you don’t have to be sad when you hear a sad song, it’s just about trying to identify and understand why the artist is feeling that emotion and displaying it in this manner. To prove this point, I’ve compiled a playlist of ten songs I would say are sad but make me happy when I listen to them, and I hope that other people share this feeling with me.

Jeffrey Lewis- The East River

The Magnetic Fields- I Don’t Believe in the Sun

Okkervil River- On Tour With Zykos

Continue reading “I Don’t Enjoy Sad Songs”

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

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Here are numbers 20-11 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

20. Daniel Johnston- True Love Will Find You in the End

But how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light, the light?

Daniel Johnston is a difficult musician to familiarize yourself with because, in honesty, there is a lot of bad music in his discography. The reason why he’s important is that Johnston, the manic depressive and schizophrenic, has moments in his music which reach absolute beauty. “True Love Will Find You in the End” is a song which begs it’s listener to not give up the belief that you will find the one…eventually. It’s a song to represent the hope that if you stay open and yourself for long enough, one day luck will turn your way and you’ll find the perfect person for you; and that’s the point of everything. You can build up barriers and try to send off a false message, but if you continue to be yourself and look for love then it will find you in the end. “True love is searching too, but how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light”? It’s a discouraging quest (“Don’t be sad, I know you will”), but he believes in the promise of the reward.

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19. Bright Eyes- A Song to Pass the Time

“Now I have locked my actions in the grooves of routine/ So I may never be free of this apathy/ But I wait for a letter that is coming to me/ She sends me pictures of the ocean in an envelope

It’s not a part of “A Song to Pass the Time”, but the interview that precedes this song at the end of “An Attempt to Tip The Scales” is a very good introduction to this track. “A Song to Pass The Time” is told in a manner similar to what Dylan would do, in that they wrote down their observations and described real human interactions rather then trying to conjure a story with a point in mind. The difference between Dylan and Oberst is that while Dylan would say what was there due to his confidence and experience, the younger and depressed Oberst seems to focus on what he thinks is missing. Why does he love the mexican children kicking rocks in the street? Why are all the businessmen and suburban mothers so emotionless and repetitive? Why isn’t my desperation to stay close to the people who I’ve formed a close relationship with shared? I love the verse above because it shows Oberst’s hope that at some point love will just save him from all of this, and she’ll be able to help him understand everything that tortured him before.

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18. The Postal Service- We Will Become Silhouettes

“We become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.”

I love tragic songs that sound happy, and “We Will Become Silhouettes” is the poster boy for that category. Death is still a certainty, in fact it seems to tell the story of an explosion which will is going to kill us all, but it’s become a celebration because that’s when our bodies will finally become silhouettes! We shall become immortalized once “our shells simply cannot hold all our insides in and [then] explode”. Tamborello’s music is cheerful and stuffed with simple, melodic rhythms to represent the joy of the song in it’s own beautiful way, only one example of how well these two worked together on the album.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 100-91

Here’s the start of my list where I countdown my favorite one hundred songs, starting with numbers 100-91.

100. The Shins- New Slang

“Gold teeth and a curse for this town/ Were all in my mouth/ Only I don’t know how/ They got out dear”

I don’t like how this song gets automatically associated with “Garden State” even if it did get exposure due to it. It’s not really a song that will change your life like that character promises, but it still does a great job to capture the mindset of Mercer as a complete indifferent who still hopes to find love, and that’s why I like it. Everything else that occurs is just like the new form of slang, it’s just not worth even keeping track of at this point.

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99. Frightened Rabbit- My Backwards Walk

“I’m working on my faults and cracks/ Filling in the blanks and gaps/ And when I write them out, they don’t make sense/ I need you to pencil in the rest”

I’m mid-process of falling for The Midnight Organ Fight, and it felt fair to include this track because it spoke to me so immediately while being stuck in my head. It’s wonderful to hear how dead set he is on undoing everything possible, but he knows he will still end up with his trousers on her floor. It’s inescapable and that’s killing him, but he’s trying hard as hell to leave the cycle.

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98. M83- Raconte-Moi Un Histoire

“I heard about this frog.”

It’s hard to say what new songs will last the test of time, in fact I usually have a rule of thumb to wait ten years before calling anything a classic. “Raconte-Moi Un Histoire” is actually the second most recent track that gets placed on this list, but I feel safe placing it on the list because of how different it is from the average song. Nothing is here to trick you into liking it, it’s just a pretty melody with the vocals being a little girl’s imagination. It’s gorgeous.
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 97. The Postal Service- The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

“You seem so out of context/ In this gaudy apartment complex”

I love this track because of the mood that it sets for Give Up to be a substantial album. I’ve always respected Gibbard for not settling to just make pop music but also having meaningful songs that are surprisingly well written. This one captures a sad point of view where he went to visit his ex, and when he got there he felt so out of place that he was forced to understand why she had left him in the first place. Tamborello couldn’t have found a better person to add vocals in my mind.
Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 100-91