Album Reviews: Best Coast, Cage the Elephant and Caroline Smith

Best-Coast-Fade-Away1

Best Coast- Fade Away

Grade: C

Release Date: October 22, 2013

It’s starting to look more and more like Bethany Cosentino doesn’t have anything to say anymore. Maybe it’s her love for California which has placed her into a heightened state where she has no need to develop interesting viewpoints, because nowadays Best Coast just sounds like the complaining of a closed off individual, which doesn’t translate into good music. That might have always been the truth too which is easier to notice in hindsight, but the lack of development from this band is really frustrating when you consider that it’s probably going to continue to be true for their future releases as well. Best Coast isn’t singing about anything new or profound but they’ve still formed themselves a solid fan base, a steady slot in festivals, and a strong social media presence. In other words, although it’s incredibly annoying to continuously hear her sing about how great California is and how she’s sad because of failure in relationships, Best Coast doesn’t really have to much of a reason to change their sound at this point because they have an audience for it.

Melophobia

Cage the Elephant- Melophobia

Grade: A-

Release Date: October 08, 2013

I’d managed to not listen to Cage the Elephant before this, and now I feel obligated to search their other albums because I really like Melophobia. Sometimes it’s got the sound and energy of a live show like in the album opener “Spiderhead”, but it’s been cleaned up enough to be heard as a proper album in a similar manner to what Slam Dunk did on Welcome to Miami last year. It’s a very raw sound which gets messed with a bit to often by adding unnecessary production effects and bad guest vocals (the presence of Alison Mosshart on “It’s Just Forever” is painful) but on the whole the sound stays consistently great to make it a fun listen. There’s screaming choruses, funny lines (personal favorite: “I think your mother wants me dead”), and boatloads of catchy guitar parts. There’s even surprisingly genuine moments like the album closer “Cigarette Daydreams”, Cage the Elephant brings a lot of great qualities to the table in this album and the final product is a really good listen.

Caroline Smith
Caroline Smith- Half About Being A Woman

Grade: C+

Release Date: October 08, 2013

Incredibly disappointed here. Back in 2011 Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps released one of the best albums of the year in Little Wind, and that was an eye opening experience for me about the hidden gems that could be found from artists that I wasn’t familiar with. Little Wind was a mixture of pop and folk sounds with Smith singing about insecurities in relationships, and the confidence she suddenly exudes on Half About Being a Woman isn’t really a welcomed change in sound. Smith switched from singing about how “ain’t that always how it seems to go, when something good comes oh it goes” to singing about wanting to find a man who can buy her things. It has the sound of a project where Caroline Smith really wanted to define the person that she was and switched to a neo-soul sound in order to do it, but I think she’s really just moving further away from her strengths. She’s got a fantastic voice still, but it’s not being used properly on this album.

Traditional College Radio – Outdated Medium or Still Useful?

It doesn’t take a genius to know that the internet and mobile technology is changing the media industry as we know it. The ease of broadcasting anything on the internet without having to deal with problems like buying high-tech broadcasting equipment, a limited signal, and FCC regulations makes an actual radio station, comparatively speaking, a hassle to operate. In addition, the mere fact that streaming can be done through smartphones only increases the ability to listen to the station anywhere where there’s a cell tower, without the worry of hearing static and leaving the station’s transmission range.

Is this still a relevant way to listen to WCDB?
Is this still a relevant way to listen to WCDB?

So given these two realities, why do we continue to broadcast the old fashioned way on the frequency 90.9 FM?

As a news personality at the radio station for little more than two years, and as an avid radio listener for much of my young life, this question in one form or another has pondered me. WCDB for instance has a website in which practically anyone with an internet connection can listen to broadcasts online that are of better quality than over the air through an analog radio. In fact many college radio stations, including the one at the College of St. Rose, do all their broadcasts over the internet.

It seems given the massive technological advances I’ve seen at least during the past decade (not to mention many of the regulations governing over-the-air broadcasts) that radio ought to be as dead as a Dodo. But, practicality and efficiency doesn’t always make right (at least in this blogger’s eyes). Here are some reasons why I think WCDB 90.9FM – still serves a useful purpose.

1)      Not everybody has access to the internet:

Although it seems implausible, the reality is that there are a significant chunk of households without internet (about 1 in 5 to be exact). For those people without access to the internet, it wouldn’t be fair for WCDB to abandon those people. Especially considering the fact that we’re one of the few non-commercial entertainment outlets in this area, and part of even fewer number of non-commercial alternative outlets.

2)      Many people still listen to the radio in their cars:

While cars are just now beginning to add outlets for portable devices such as MP3s, I-Pods, and other streaming devices; the vast majority of cars have radios as the sole means of entertainment. So for the out-of-tower that might be passing through the Capital District, they might be able to tune into our station and get a taste of what some of the creative minds here at WCDB have to offer.

3)      Real-World Training in Radio

WCDB, just like any other commercial radio station, has to deal with malfunctions, regulations, financial managements, etc. Therefore, probably the most important contribution this station has to offer is the training in the many aspects of running a radio station to the students and community members that work here. Despite the quality alternative entertainment that WCDB might offer to the Capital District, we provide the training ground for the DJs and broadcasters of tomorrow. And in order to provide real-world, quality training (in my opinion of course) a functioning, over-the-air radio station is crucial.

But, what do I know? I’m just a blogger here. Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Share them in this poll.

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

Here are numbers 50-41 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

50. Animal Collective- The Purple Bottle

“Sometimes your quiet and/ Sometimes I’m quiet/ Hallelujah!”

This one can interpreted two ways. For one, it’s an absolutely gorgeous song about falling in love with someone and having everything seem to be magically right. It’s the idealism which Animal Collective specializes in focused on David Portner(Avey Tare)’s relationship with Kría Brekkan, and it captures the absolute joy of believing you have found the perfect person. I like to view the song this way because even if songs last the test of time, their ultimate context has to be viewed in terms of when the song was originally released. I say this because Portner and Brekkan ended up having a divorce, which could change your perception from this being one of the most beautiful love songs out there into an absolutely tragic piece about what was lost. This is one of few songs that I choose to take the optimistic route on though, and I always smile when “The Purple Bottle” comes on.

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49. The Beatles- She Said She Said

“I know what it’s like to be dead

I came so damn close to becoming one of those guys who stopped listening to the Beatles once he listened to alternative music, but “She Said She Said” saved me. Someone who approached John Lennon started to talk to him about the nonsense in their mind where he had a picture for what Lennon must be based upon how his music had effected his life, and Lennon had to let him know that he wasn’t that person. It’s such a quick and standard Beatles song but I adore it because of the feeling of obligation to tell people that you’re not the person they think you are upon introduction, and because Revolver is really an early influential album for the alternative rock scene.

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48. Neutral Milk Hotel- Two Headed Boy (Part Two)

“When we break we’ll wait for our miracle/ God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.”

My love for Neutral Milk Hotel is a bit awkward because Mangum is drastically more confident in religion than me . Mangum presents a perspective which shows that he not only believes in a god but that he’s confident that what that god does will be just, and thus the Two-Headed Boy will wake from this life to learn that he has been rewarded for the pain that he endured on the Earth, and that will last for the remainder of time. It’s not something I actually believe in, but hearing Mangum sing it is so beautiful that you find yourself praying for it to be true so there can be a happy ending, and because within that line of thinking a new possibility becomes available; Mangum meeting Anne Frank.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 50-41

New York Comic Con – A General Feedback

A lot of apologies for the lateness of this post, I’ve done a pretty poor job of checking my email lately and I missed a link to a fantastic Comic Con Review done by WCDB Alum Herbert Shaw. We got him a pass for the convention and he came back with a full report of what went down!

Oh, so many lines!

Lines to enter the building. Lines to pick up your badge. Lines to tap your badge on the entrance tablet. Lines to get into the expo center. Lines to meet your favorite artist or celebrity for an autograph. Lines to sit for a panel. Lines to demo that new video game. Lines to buy your memorabilia.

It must be New York Comic Con weekend, formerly known as Columbus Day weekend. A time when stores and restaurants have special deals and offers, hotel rates are a little higher, and events like Tough Mudder and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge Race descend upon the tri-state region.

However, for a special limited group of people who all bought or otherwise obtained their tickets well in advance of the sold out expo at the Jacob K. Javits Center, this was the weekend they had been waiting for all year. Artists, authors, publishers, and illustrators came to promote their current, future, and past projects as well as those of the companies with and for whom they have worked. Exhibitors and vendors paid an exorbitant fee to get floor space to sell their products, market their brands, and expand their reach whether they be printing companies, movie companies, toy retailers, technology firms, cosmetics, or food and beverage enterprises. With members of the press free to roam and explore our own interests and those of our outlets.

And at the heart of it all, the fans. Men, women, and children who eagerly anticipate this weekend bonanza of fun-filled activities and money-grubbing impulse buys. Some came to see the latest and greatest in technology, like the Bionic Man recently featured on NBC’s Today Show. Some came for their first shot at the new games hitting stores this winter, like Wii U’s Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, or the recently released Pokemon X and Y for the Nintendo 3DS. Some came to meet their heroes, like Sylvester Stallone who offered a picture and autograph session at a mere $445 a pop, tax-free of course, or like me came to admire the people who gave them nightmares as children (covered in my next article which includes a panel on Chucky’s 25th anniversary).

As fandom does take many forms, a vast majority of fans attended while cosplaying as their favorite comic, TV, movie, anime, or video game character. No matter if they were showing off for other fellow enthusiasts or showing off for their 15 minutes in front of the news cameras to be forgotten just as quickly, most NYCC attendees were completely in their element.

The overall experience of this year’s New York Comic Con, and mind you I have been to eight including this year, was much more relaxed than previous years. The general organization of the event by ReedPOP Expo was incredibly more efficient compared to recent years that have included multiple fights, threats, and even an evacuation.

New York’s finest (that’s metro jargon for NYPD aka the cops) were on hand and seemed to be enjoying themselves, too. I happened to be giving out homemade blue rock candy dressed as Walter White, and three boys in blue were more than happy to pose for a staged “busted” picture for the “#heisenherb at Comic Con” album soon to be featured on my Facebook.

But all in all, the convention was fun without being overwhelming. Early years of NYCC left some feelings of doubt whether there could have been more to do, whereas recently the reverse was felt; not having enough time to do everything. But this year felt like a perfect balance of both worlds. There was not a whole lot to do that couldn’t be repeated over the course of four days, but that also means that there wasn’t too much to take in at the same time. The expo hall experience was terrific. Artist Alley performed its purpose to a T. And the general response was a positive and invigorating one. Along with many other fans, I happily look forward to New York Comic Con 2014!

original article here: http://theshawreport.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/new-york-comic-con-a-general-feedback/