Album Reviews: Cloud Nothings, Real Estate, St. Vincent

CoverCloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else

Release Date: 04/01/2014

Grade: A

The last time that we heard from this Cleveland based noise-rock band they gave us one of the best albums of 2012 in Attack on Memory. That album captured the attention of many critics because of it’s consistent energy from song to song while shifting between pop-punk and garage, and a lot of the followup after this release said that future sounds from the band were going to lean more towards the garage-rock sound since they felt that was more of a strength and natural noise for frontman Dylan Baldi to sing in. This is what makes the accessibility of Here and Nowhere Else a bit of a shock. You knew that the energy was going to be there, but the band has made a point of not sacrificing their hooks in the process along with a pleasantly surprising amount of vocals being present. It’s a Cloud Nothings album which you could mosh to, the probable preferred method if you were to ask the band, but it’s also a fun and energetic album which the listener can enjoy passively. I highly recommend giving Here and Nowhere Else a listen as this is the album which I’d call my favorite album of 2014 to this point.

Favorite tracks: “No Hear In”, “I’m Not Part of Me”

Atlas_12Gatefold

Real Estate- Atlas

Release Date: 03/04/2014

Grade: B+

Real Estate is one of the premiere easy listening bands that you can turn to today, but there were some reasons to be cautious about what approach the band would take with it’s third studio album. As the band becomes more established they will continue to find themselves in situations where they could understandably flirt with the idea of changing their style for a more vocalized approach, but there hasn’t been much of an indication that this is something which the band is looking for. On the surface that seems disappointing because nobody wants to hear a band release the same album under a different name, but Atlas is better described as being an album with the same sound in new ways.

Real Estate stuck to their strengths here by making a soft-pop album which makes the room feel like a suburban escape, and they try out some new approaches to the sub-genre in the process to show that the band is still further exploring the style which they fit into so naturally. “Talking Backwards” is a surprisingly upbeat and pretty tune to prepare you for the upcoming spring, while “Crime” has an interesting duality to it with progression existing alongside passivity. “How Might I Live” is the most unique track on the album featuring guest vocalist Dean Wareham and sounding similar to one of the softer tracks by Noah and the Whale.

Track Picks: “Talking Backwards”, “April’s Song”

St VIncent

St. Vincent- St. Vincent

Release Date: 02/24/2014

Grade: B-

Annie Clark’s released a difficult product to review for her self-titled fourth album, as it can be a frustrating experience where the music is focused more upon variation of noise sources rather than creativity in rhythm. The music could improve in that aspect substantially, but there’s also a lot of techniques here which St. Vincent does impressively which deserve to be praised. For starters, Annie Clark has a terrific sense how to sing pop with her pitch and phrasing fitting seamlessly into her tracks, and she deserves a large amount of credit for releasing an album which is very detailed in how it’s layered and well-produced (An important accomplishment since a wide array of instruments and a full background choir are added to the final product cleanly). Annie Clark is a very confident musician who’s had the incredible fortune of being able to work with talented artists such as David Byrne and Sufjan Stevens among others up to this point in her career and she has taken advantage of these circumstances to become a well articulated songwriter in the process. St. Vincent isn’t a showing of the genius which her music seems to hint she has the potential of reaching though, instead it’s another tease to place some terrific musical qualities into an album which is good but never great.

Track Picks: “Prince Johnny”, “Regret”

Kanye West at the Times Union Center

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Last month WCDB gave away 5 pairs of tickets to see the always controversial Kanye West on his Albany stop of the Yeezus Tour.

Those who were at the Times Union Center on February 19th 2014 were able to witness something that was was less of a hip hop concert and more of a muscial happening.

Kanye presented his “Yeezus” album in an epic theatrical poduction featuring a set of a large snow-capped mountain which he ascended to the top of to perfom his song “Power” and then split in two allowing a procession of Jesus to led Kanye into “Jesus Walks.” The set also a featured a glacier in the middle of the crowded audience which rose up and down for emphasis. There was even snow fall for his intimate performance of “Coldest Winter” and a laser light show for his hit “Stronger.”

It was by far one of the most extensive and creative musical expriences I have ever been to. In the close to 2 hour extravaganza, Kanye preformed most his latest, critically acclaimed album “Yeezus.” He also incorporated every notable song he has ever released including a few album cuts from his debut “The College Dropout”, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary.

In my opinion, Kanye west is one of the greatest artists of all time. Ignoring a few awkward rap lines, West understands synesthesia better than anyone else. His music, art, cloths and stage show reflect a mood and feeling that is exactly true to how he feels. The fact that he claims to be a  humble rap god is some of why he is revolted, but is the same trait that makes him so great.

Congrats to all our ticket winners and keep it locked to WDCB Albany for more ticket giveaways.photo%202photo%204photo%203photo%201

Song-A-Day: March 2

We missed a few days there while our radio station took a retreat to Dippikill, but its nice to be able to resume this project on an important date. Lou Reed’s passing last year left a strong impact on the music scene as many prolific artists from various genres chose to show their respect to the former lead singer of The Velvet Underground. Today would have been Reed’s 72nd birthday, and he’s one of those figures that I enjoy paying tribute to as often as I can, so with that in mind today’s Song-A-Day is going to go to the track “Here She Comes Now” off of White Light/White Heat.