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.

Thirty Albums From the Ten Best Years of Music

Written by Robby Red, current WCDB Rock Director.

Some people will tell you that the 90s were the ten best years in music. Others will disagree, citing the 60s or 70s as a better ten years. It’s an extremely subjective question to ask someone: “What were the best ten years in music?” Twenty people could have twenty different answers. Recently, I decided to put some of my favorite albums in chronological order to determine the best ten years in music, or my favorite ten years at least. Before you get upset about the bold claim I am about to make, please keep in mind that I have not heard every album that was ever released. I haven’t even heard every album that came out in the ten-year period I’m choosing. I have, however, heard the thirty albums I chose to represent my favorite years in music and I would highly suggest all of them. The only restrictions I placed on my list were that a band could only have one album on the list and all of the albums had to be released within a ten-year period. Albums are listed chronologically, then alphabetically. I hope the music will do the rest of the talking.

1976 to 1985 were the best ten years music ever had.

1976
1) Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny
1977
2) The Clash – The Clash
3) Television – Marquee Moon
1978
4) Blondie – Parallel Lines
5) Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
1979
6) Adam and the Ants – Dirk Wears White Sox
7) Bram Tchaikovsky – Strange Man, Changed Man
8) Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
9) Martha and the Muffins – Metro Music 
1980
10) The B-52’s – Wild Planet
11) The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms
12) Magazine – The Correct Use of Soap
13) Mental As Anything – Espresso Bongo
14) The Monochrome Set – Strange Boutique
15) The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight
1981
16) Television Personalities – …And Don’t The Kids Just Love It
1982
17) Dexys Midnight Runners –  Too-Rye-Ay
18) Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West
19) Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
20) Orange Juice – You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
21) Romeo Void – Benefactor
22) Wall of Voodoo –Call of the West
1983
23) The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge
24) ESG – Come Away With ESG
25) The Go-Betweens – Before Hollywood
26) Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
27) Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
1984
28) The Icicle Works – The Icicle Works
29) The Pale Fountains – Pacific Street
1985
30) The Replacements – Tim