Tag Archives: review

Album Reviews: Jake Bugg, The Pixies, Tennis

Shangri Las

Jake Bugg- Shangri La
Grade: B
Release Date: 11/18/2013

Jake Bugg has become one of the premiere English artists recently, and on Shangri-La you get a heavy dose of his folk-rock side. The label folk-rock is what probably makes the ‘Dylan’ label seem so applicable to him as an artist, it’s a genre which Bob Dylan single handedly brought to the forefront, but Bugg has heard that comparison many times by now and is on record as saying that he wasn’t heavily influenced by the man. Even if neither side probably enjoys hearing the comparison as this point, the label does do a good job of displaying Bugg at what he’s best at: being a singer-songwriter who’s well-versed in song form.

The lyrics in his works are good but I’m a believer that this is an area where he’s going to still improve as an artist, as right now his less meaningful songs sound like wasted efforts among their peers. “A Song About Love” seems like a good example of one of these as the song just asks Bugg’s perceived loved one if they want to hear songs about love, before Bugg settles on saying that he just want to learn where she is. There’s worse songs out there surely, but in a genre that boasts it’s story-telling ability the bar for Bugg should be set higher than that, especially since he can reach it. His Beatles’ influence also clearly shows itself at one point on this album, as I wouldn’t allow anyone to tell me that the beginning for “All Your Reasons” wasn’t created with “Don’t Let Me Down” in mind.

Track Picks: “Me and You”, “There’s A Beast And We All Feed It”, “Messed Up Kids”

The Pixies EP2

The Pixies- EP2
Grade: C
Release Date: 01/03/14

The Pixies were probably the most disappointing reunion of last year, as an underwhelming EP1 and a failed attempt to replace Kim Deal with Kim Shattuck has left us with this band which doesn’t sound like what it’s name promises anymore. A lot of the original appeal of the band had to do with their energy and willingness to shock their audience with controversial topics and stances, but EP2 stays pretty tame throughout and doesn’t take advantage of the group’s strengths. I won’t blame any band for reuniting if they’re getting offered good money to play the music that they love, but I think in the long-run these EP releases are only doing damage to the legacy of a band which was set up to leave something great behind. If Deal is already out, then it only makes sense to do the return under a new project: get a new name for the new style of music that you’d like to play.

Track Picks: “Greens and Blues”, “Magdelena”

Small Sound
Tennis- Small Sound
Grade: B-
Release Date: 11/05/13

Tennis creates a difficult sound to grade because it has to stay in the back of your mind that their last album Young And Old sounded pretty and melodic on first listen, but didn’t prove to be a lasting sound. The reasons for why that happens are ultimately guesses, but I would point to the lack of sophistication in a group which only contains a married couple (Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley) playing pretty basic rhythms. It’s indie-pop which is guilty of being overly-reliant on studio tricks to produce overlapped choruses, and ultimately I think that Small Sound fits into the same description as the previously mentioned release. It’s fun and nice on the first listen and will fit nicely into any type of ‘what’s new’ playlist, but there’s just not enough to actually learn about the songs to justify playing this EP repeatedly.

Finally, it should be stated that it’s difficult to trust the creative process in a band composed of a married couple. There are some things which they probably don’t feel comfortable saying to each other during recording which artists need to be able to say, and I’d have to guess that the benefit in increased intimateness in the music gets outweighed by this issue.

Track Picks: “Cured of Youth”, “100 Lovers”

B-fargz top ten of 2010

2010 blew. For real. I graduated, had to go back to a job I hated four
years ago when I started it, could not longer be a WCDB DJ, and did I
mention I graduated? Anyway, 2010 was a pretty awesome year for music.
Here’s my favorites. So here’s to you 2011, because if it sucks anymore
than 2010, it’s Snooki at the Superbowl.

1. Iron Chic – Not Like This: This album took the top spot from Titus kind
of unexpectedly. There’s a raw honestly, and positivity to this band that
just isn’t seen anymore. Lyrically they’re fantastic and they’re fun live.
Great, great band.

2. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor: So, hey, let’s make a concept record
about the civil war happening today in New Jersey! What? Really? That was
my reaction to the idea, but it ended up being a pretty good idea. This
album is awesome. The singer is clearly wasted on some tracks, and the
passion this band conveys is literally unreal. I’m still kicking myself
for missing them at Valentine’s.

3. The Gaslight Anthem –  American Slang: Anyone who followed my WCDB
Career knows how much I love this band. This record was no disappointment.
The guys are maturing and making their own headway now, and I couldn’t be
happier for them. Radio City Music hall was literally PACKED with fans.
They rule. Awesome dudes.

4. Off With Their Heads –  In Desolation: People complain that this record
is too polished. Fuck you. If it sounded dirty you’d say it wasn’t
authentic because they get a huge budget from Epitaph. So yeah. Really
depressing lyrics, with up tempo pop-punk akin to D4. I love it. You
probably don’t.

5. Make Do and Mend – End Measured Mile: So Small Brown Bike broke up a
while ago and I was sad. Hot Water Music also broke up and I was sad. If
these bands didn’t get back together this band would have almost filled
the void. These guys tour relentlessly and are a real gem. Check this shit
out

6. Crime In Stereo – I Was Trying to Describe You To Someone: This is
radically different from anything these guys had done, and it’s wonderful.
There are no synthesizers on the entire record, and everyone sound and
tone is made through effects and whatnot, but no pre-recorded nonsense.
It’s a terrible shame they broke up—it’s an even bigger shame that I
wasn’t let into the last show even though I had a ticket. Still waiting
for that make up show, guys.

7. End of a Year – You Are Beneath Me: Albany’s take on dischord era
nonsense. This band is criminally underrated and this record solidified
that to me. Awesome shows, awesome record, and Pat’s advice blog is funny.

8. RVIVR – LP: It has ex-members of Latterman and female vox. Get into it!

9. Rocky Votilato – True Devotion: I loved falling asleep to this album. I
wish Rocky wasn’t so sad though. Wompwompwaaaah

10. Sister Kisser – Vipers: Gruff melodic pop-punk from long island. There
must be something in the water down here, because the scene’s coming back
(kind of).

What almost certainly would have made this list if I didn’t hear it so late:
Deerhunter – Halcyon Daze
Defiance, Ohio – Midwestern Minutes

Honorable Mention:

The State Lottery – When the night comes
Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise
Wax Phantom –  Don’t Fool With A Phantom

Bands that will be huge next year:
Captain, We’re Sinking
Make Do and Mend
Touche Amore
Daytrader

EPs:
Rvivr – dirty water
iAttention!
Captain, We’re Sinking
All Pigs Must Die

Biggest Let Down:
Broken Social Scene – When the last record came out I literally couldn’t
stop listening to it. This record couldn’t have been more forgettable

Record Label:
Panic Records

Band I Can’t Figure out if I like:
The Wonder Years

Band I still Don’t Get:
The Arcade Fire – their albums aren’t bad, I just don’t see the second
coming of Christ in them.

Saddest Break up:
Crime in Stereo

Best show:
Rvivr/SIster Kisser
The Gaslight Anthem at Radio City
Crime In Stereo in Brooklyn / Troubled Stateside show on Long Island

Most Anticipated Releases:
The Agent
Rivivr
Radiohead (?)
The Lawrence Arms
Touche Amore
Bane
Owen
Lemuria
Japandroids

Many of these albums are available for free at ifyoumakeit.com. You should
check that site out. Seriously. There’s a lot of good shit on there. Why
are you still reading this? GO!

Crime in Stereo’s Last Show: A Review

By Brian Fargnoli

 

The world we live in is making less and less sense by the day. Just a week
ago today, a beloved Arizona Congresswoman was shot in the head by a
madman; he killed six others, including a young child. The discourse of
our politics has become a screaming match, in which people are reduced to
talking points and violent rhetorical imagery. The world, and this
country, is still reeling from the effects of an economic collapse the
likes of which has not been seen since the great depression. The recovery
is happening, but it’s esoteric in its nature—GDP is rising, but few are
finding their lives in better positions. The idealism that many of us once
held so dear to us, the hope for a better future, and the hope to realize
our dreams becoming reality, is slowly but surely before our eyes eroding
and becoming less and less tenable. Enter Crime in Stereo.

Crime in Stereo, as the singer of Hostage Calm so adeptly put it last
night, made me feel like with all the crazy backwards shit going on in the
world, with all the negativity and the nonsense, that things can still
make sense somewhere and that I wasn’t the only one feeling it. This band
was important, not just to me, and not just to Long Island, but to many
people around the world. It struck me sometime Thursday afternoon as I was
driving home from my temp job at a bank that I would be seeing one of the
most important Long Island punk bands of my generation play their songs
for one last and final (for real this time) show the next night. In a
strange way it was a humbling feeling—but to be humbled by seeing a band
may be a contradictory way to feel, seeing as in our scene, no one in the
band is more important than anyone else. Let’s just say I knew something
important was going to happen.

Bergen Point Country Club in West Babylon is down sort of a desolate road;
if you go too far down it, you hit water. The room was decently sized,
freezing, and had no stage. This was going to get real, for lack of a
better word. If many people use hardcore as their therapy, this was going
to be part grieving session, part reawakening.

Hostage Calm opened playing their brand of positive pop-punk. If I had to
draw comparisons a band that immediately comes to mind is The Wonder Years
and that whole “newer” (I’m old, deal with it) pop-punk/hardcore (I’ve
seen the term easycore thrown around) scene. They were good, and
energetic, but, and maybe it was just me, I felt like their sound was off.

Long Island’s own Capital played next. Having just released their new
record Givers Takers a week prior to the show, and being staples of our
scene, it’s easy to see that kids were pumped. They opened with (I think?)
“Road Rash” off the new record and then went into “Live Dammit Live”.
Sing-a-longs were plentiful and Tommy sent one song out to “The
Lindenhurst High School sophomore class for owning the pit” and then
proceeded to compare them to the Spartan 300. I can’t recall the exact
order of the setlist, so I’ll do my best to list it, but there was
definitely a Burn cover somewhere in there.

Road Rash
Live Dammit Live
250 32nd
Crossroads
Disclaimer
Green (With Envy)
I Am Anonymous
Youth Culture
Homefront
Burn (Cover)
Wolverines (Maybe?)
On a Mission

Tommy sent “On a Mission” out to Crime in Stereo for always doing things
right and always being a great band and staying true to hardcore “even
though they made a wacky concept album”.

Such Gold were late to the show but made it in time to play. I’m not
familiar with their material at all, but they played music in the same
vein of Hostage Calm and got the crowd moving and singing. If they’re as
good on record as they are live, then I can see why kids love them.
Anyway, on to the real reason we were there.

Crime in Stereo was up next and took what seemed like a lifetime to set
up. They started later than they had to because they “needed to write a
setlist”. As various hip hop artists played over the speakers, Kristain
approached the mic, and thanked us for being there. The band dove right
into “Everything Changes/Nothing Is Ever Truly Lost” and “Bicycles for
Afghanistan”, as the crowd went nuts. With no barrier and no stage, mic
grabbing and that constant feeling of “oh fuck, I’m about to fall over the
drum set” was plentiful, but enjoyable. This was it. This was everyone’s
last time to sing these songs, and everyone brought their A-game.

Next up was “XXXX (The First 1000 Years of Solitude)” and “ … But You are
Vast”, followed by “Sudan”, “I’m on the Guestlist Mother Fucker” and “Slow
Math”. “Not Dead”, and“Drugwolf” got great responses considering the album
they’re on was received with mix reviews (for being a wacky concept
album). “Animal Farm” and “Nixon” were played next, the latter being a
song I’ve rarely seen them play. Kristain called “I Am Everything I Am
Not” the band’s swan song. “Gravity/Grace” marked a highlight of the set
as it elicited a massive crowd response. Followed by “Small Skeletal” the
band was hitting all the right songs. “Amsterdamned” was played, and of
course, everyone went totally batshit; following directly into “Long Song
Titles Aren’t Cool Anymore Because You Fuckers Are No Good at It” which
provided two great songs that were firstly, about growing up with a circle
of friends in a scene that embraces you and followed by a song clearly
about those who are in it for fashion or to be trendy.

“Play It Loud Fuckers” got one of the biggest responses of the night with
the crowd being substantially louder than Kristain’s vocals. This is why
this band was so important to so many people: “Live every word, scream
every song, these four chords could save your life.”  They got it. They
understood. They played “Dark Island City” and “For Exes.” Somewhere
in-between all this one of the guitar players remarked about how blessed
they were to play music and travel the world for the last seven years. He
spoke of how when he was 14 years old his mother dropped him off at a
practice space to interview Silent Majority, and now he’s a part of the
scene, and that it needs to keep going.  I want to say the moral of the
story was literally that anyone could be a part of this if they really
wanted to.

The band closed with “I, Stateside” where everyone rushed to the front to
get the words in one last time.  Everyone sang their hearts out as
Kristain thanked the crowd and his family and friends again. That was it.
The end of one of the most important hardcore bands of this generation of
bands just played their last song for the last time. It was an incredible
experience and marked the end of an incredible journey.

In a world that is on a steady road to making less and less sense, and
where one can feel a sense of alienation and hopelessness, it was great to
see a band who represented, in a lot of ways, the hope and idealism that
so many of us are losing as we age, play for one last time and make sense
of everything for us just one more time.

Setlist:

1. Everything Changes
2. Bicycles For Afghanistan
3. XXXX
4. But You Are Vast
5. Sudan
6. I’m On The Guestlist Motherfucker
7. Slow Math
8. Not Dead
9. Drugwolf
10. Animal Pharm
11. Nixion
12. I Am Everything I Am Not
13. Almost Ghostless
14. Abre Los Ojos
15. I Cannot Answer You Tonight
16. Exit Halo
17. Gravity / Grace
18. Small Skeletal
19. Amsterdamned
20. Long Song Titles Aren’t Cool Anymore Because You Fuckers are No Good
at It
21. Play It Loud Fuckers
22. Dark Island City
23. For Exes
24. I, Stateside