Album Reviews: Los Campesinos!, Ducktails, and Peace

No Blues

Los Campesinos!- NO BLUES

Grade: B+

Release Date: 10/29/2013

A new album by one of the premiere alternative pop groups, Los Campesinos! This is a group which can produce upbeat danceable singles like the one which gained them fame in a Budweiser commercial in “You! Me! Dancing!”,while also surprising you with their consistently genuine tales. Recurring song topics for the group are references to their regretted residence in Wales, stories of late drunken nights, and painful past relationships. There are some things that you could complain about within their music for sure, as Los Campesinos! tends to get stuck writing tunes about Gareth’s exes and have occasionally built a song up to  a lyric which swung and missed, but the sound throughout their career has remained extremely fun despite these slight annoyances.  No Blues is a good album to listen to, but don’t expect songs with the kick of “Straight In at 101” or “Ways to Make It Through the Wall” because those aren’t really present here, as the more calm version of the band seems to be present.

Track Picks: “A Portrait of The Trequartista As A Young Man” and “Let It Spill”

ducktails4
Ducktails- Wish Hotel EP

Grade: B-

Release Date: 10/21/2013

Ducktails is the solo project by Matt Mondanile, the current guitarist for the band Real Estate. This is something which gets mentioned in nearly every review of the band that I’ve ever read, and will probably remain true for all future releases as well. This is probably true because although the music in Ducktails can be a pleasant listen, it is a textbook example of a side project which wouldn’t have received attention if not for the success of a band where the artist plays a less integral role in. This music doesn’t feature anything overly significant, a comment that some people would argue also holds true for Real Estate as well, but Mondanile’s solo project gets a decent amount of exposure due to his role in Real Estate. Still you can’t bash the release to much because most people would agree that the soft pop sound produced is consistently enjoyable and there are situations where it would be a good play. In reference to their other work, Wish Hotel is a bit less enjoyable for me than the album released earlier this year in The Flower Lane (which actually contained a great track in album closer “Academy Avenue”).
Track Pick: “Wish Hotel”

peace-in-love-album-leak

Peace- In Love

Grade: B
Release Date: 10/01/2013

Late grade on this one as it was released originally on March 25 in the UK and just got it’s American release featuring extra tracks on it on October first.  It’s getting reviewed here because I listened to an EP of theirs last year named Peace, and I enjoyed it despite not being able to find a ‘true single’ on it. This had me intrigued for the album because not having a true single on an EP seems like a lot bigger of a deal than not having a true single on an album, and there was a lot of potential for for this band to create an enjoyable sustained vibe over a full album. In Love does a good job of taking the qualities which created a good EP and expanding them into an album, and while I still don’t see a true stand-out track they do seem to have made progress with tracks like “Lovesick” and “Toxic”. This music can either be fun or relaxing, and they’ve shown themselves capable of writing good lyrics early on in their career. One complaint that I do have is that they’re in a bit of an odd genre area within the alternative scene, even if it is early in their career to define them. They’re not really an alternative pop group, but there are enough pop elements present to make their fit into alternative feel a bit awkward. Maybe they’ll find themselves more comfortably in one of those groupings as they continue to release music, but for now In Love can be viewed as a pretty good debut for a promising group.

Track Pick: “California Daze”.

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