Archive for July, 2009
Cass McCombs is a singer songwriter currently based out of Los Angeles, California. I really couldn’t dig some of his songs when checking out his work. I think it all changed when I watched the video for You Saved My Life. While the video’s concept is simply and perhaps deceiving, it worked and I became a fan of the song. I was able to slowly try to review Catacombs to see if I would like it.
I actually wavered back and forth on this album. There are times when I think it’s really good, other times I just feel like it’s average and was not into certain songs. It might be just me really, I’m in one of those phases where singer-songwriter rarely impress me. I really have to be wowed instantly or I end up calling it mediocre. Cass McCombs’ Catacombs while not overly difficult does need time to like. I really found myself enjoying the first half of the album greatly. Opener Dream-Comes-True-Girl really sets the tone with some vocals provided by Karen Black, it definitely one of the favourites on the album. Another favourite is the song “Don’t Vote” – much different in style then George Carlin’s Don’t Vote rant, it pushes some interesting political points but in a more storytelling way. It comes off much better that you’d have to hear it rather have myself explain it to you. Very powerful of a song nonetheless.
The other half of the album, I’m a bit mixed on. It’s really good but at the same time – I feel like it’s forgettable. Not bad forgettable, just not the type of songs that commit to memory regardless of the numbers of listens I attempt with Catacombs.
I definitely could see many people enjoying this album, even moreso then I have. It’s solid throughout with very little weaknesses. It may take a little long to find your groove but it’s definitely worth it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
P.S. Still kind of peeved I missed McCombs set over bringing an SLR.
The first thing you notice about Starfucker is the name. I love it. For whatever reason (most likely a personal character defect), I’m a big fan of the recent rash of incorporating the venerable F-bomb into band, album, and song names. So they’ve got that going for them. But I’m not here to expound upon their name nor general naming trends in the music industry…rather, let’s talk about Starfucker’s latest album, Jupiter, which released waaaaay back in May.
Yeah, if there was a sort of dog year equation for Internet/blogosphere time, then that’s like 2 years ago…but we’re talking about music here, people. With a few exceptions, when it’s good, it stays good. I was introduced to Starfucker through their self-titled debut, which is, in my less-than-humble-and-really-a-bit-misguided-at-times opinion, quite simply a good time. As such, I was psyched when Jupiter came out, and am pleased to say that the only disappointment is that it’s a mere 8 songs. Which begs the question…at which point does an EP become and LP, and vice versa? And how many b-sides does a single have to have before becoming an EP? Or does it even matter any more in this digital world we live in? Food for thought, indeed, but there I go digressing again…
Jupiter! The fifth planet from the sun, and the largest in the solar system (I did research). Also, it’s the second planet past Earth as you move away from the sun (more research…my brain hurts), so maybe we can refer to Starfucker’s debut album as Mars. Or not…just a thought. Yes, I am enjoying myself, thanks for asking.
Jupiter doesn’t waste any time before getting into your head with a rhythmic synth riff and dance beat before diving into a chorus that’s sure to hook you with its “take. your. medicine.” refrain from the opener, “Medicine”. Good start. My toes are tapping, my head is nodding, and I’m ready to serve some medicine to all those who deserve it. The tapping and nodding are joined by ass shaking and arm wiggling when “Boy Toy” kicks in and then melds into “Dance Face 2000” with some proper space age beeps and whatnot at both ends. Now, I am NOT a fan of the vocoder. Let’s establish that fact. But in “Dance Face 2000”, the vocals are straight up robotic. None of that horrid Kanye-esque vocoder warbling. So naturally, at this point, I’m doing the robot. “Bed Stuy (Super Cop)” rounds out the first half of the album as another dance-ably pleasing track, with just some unintelligible (for me, but then I’ve never claimed to be overly intelligent) but perfectly complementary backing vocals.
For my money, both the best song AND song name leads off the second half. “Biggie Smalls”. I loved it before I even heard it. Then I heard it and loved it more…just a great tune, a real banger. I have no idea what the hell they’re singing, and I don’t really care. What this song really showcases is Starfucker’s ability to meld a bunch of sounds into one big, melodic cacophony of happy dance-y fun. Whatever that means. But whatever it does, indeed, mean…I stand by it. So at this point, I’m smacking the ass of my imaginary dance partner and we’re having ourselves a grand time. Next up comes their cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”…which isn’t always true, you know. Don’t get me started on girls. I do, however, always want to have fun with them. It’s a great cover, but it’s…well, a Cyndi Lauper cover. Probably a good way to get airplay, etc…but I’m way more partial to their original stuff.
Two minutes of the instrumental title track come next, and it is what it is: a solid little two-minute instrumental. And just like that we’re into the final track, the Strategy Remix of “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second”, the original of which is found on the debut album. I quite like the original, and this remix compliments it well…I figure it’s a nice end to the album, which really builds into the a crescendo with “Biggie Smalls” before kind of meandering off, but in a good way. With Jupiter, just their sophomore album, Starfucker has moved into I’ll-buy-anything-they-release territory for me. Because if there’s one thing I like, it’s a good time.
I still am not digging Crying Lightning as much as other people seem to be. Despite the guitar work (being that it’s good), it’s an okay song. While it seems apparent that it’s not okay to call a song average, I’ll continue to do so.
I should really temper expectations with music videos. Only a handful a year are good so I guess I should just hold myself back a little .
I shouldn’t be mad and they are in the ocean while it rains in an awful background while the band just plays. It does afterall go with their song. I guess my problem, is that the song while average does have more energy then the band is showing. The band is bored in the middle of the ocean while playing…. I do dig Alex Turner’s hairstyle actually seems sexy (no homo) and makes it look a older as he’s a bit of babyface. Yeah, I’ve got nothing left to talk about. Video is very meh.
Check out the video:
Anyway, the album predictably leaked. Bloggers putting up mp3s will get this message. I feel like after being bossed around by RoadRunner records, I’d want to leak Arctic Monkey’s record (just to receive such a nice message lol). That message is both pure class and so respectful – that’s one way of handling it and people do respect your wishes if you are nice about it. Considering we don’t leak material ever, I guess I’ll go on being deceitful. (I’m not dropping this topic, I’ll take my shots at RR where I can).
Still, Humbug – awful title aside is an album worth checking out in my opinion. At least expect the blogosphere to have their panties in a bunch over this album regardless.
Diplo and Switch, two of the most in demand producers and DJ’s, hot on the tail of their huge success with M.I.A’s Paper Planes have come out with much to my surprise a dancehall album, not saying this is a bad thing, but I tend to associate Diplo and Switch with hipsters, and Dancehall and Hipsters aren’t the best of pairings, until now that it is.
The album starts out with a track called Ill Make ya featuring Santigold and Mr Lexx, its a lot of fun and has many surprise elements that really add to the appeal. Santigold didn’t really add much to the song as Mr. Lexx really dominated with his catchy lyrics and entrancing voice. I really loved how this song mixed a Jamaican and California sound, and by no means am I well versed in Jamaican Patois but the lyrics and vocals blend so perfectly with the beats.
I really started to get into the album when the beats slowed down and more traditional reggae and dancehall elements were used, Cant Stop Now featuring Jovi Rockwell and Mr. Vegas is comparable to a Bob Marley song with its slow relaxed sound and use of steel drums. Overall, with this I was just genuinely surprised by how authentic the album was, I expected a fusion of electro and dancehall, and thankfully they didn’t take this route.
My favourite song on the album, What U like featuring Amanda Blank and Einstein, has a very bass heavy beat. My only complaint with this song is how catchy it is, I have caught my self-singing the lyrics and I worry it will eventually lead to a very awkward racial confrontation. Despite it being stuck in my head all the time I still like it, so that has to be a good sign right?
Keep it Goin’ Louder, featuring Nina Skye (yeah those OH OH my body girls) and Ricky Blaze is the only song that doesn’t really fit the sound of the album. Its really poppy and defiantly has a top 40 feel, I’d be very surprised if it didn’t become a club anthem and cause girls with heavy makeup, big hair, and high heels to spill there drinks when it comes on.
Even though I normally find dancehall incredibly annoying I really enjoyed the album, so watch out Beanie Man it looks like your reign as king of the dancehall may soon be over.
Links removed by request.
Sometimes, I think it’s wrong the method I choose when checking out bands. I generally go to their myspace and listen to a few tracks. However, a lot of the time I review albums and this usually leads to mediocre reviews. Good songs don’t mean good albums. I try to listen to an artist a few times before picking up their CD or saying “no this is not for me”. Still, I don’t think I have the right method down.
Enter Now, Now Every Children a band from Minnesota. They had some really good songs and some steam around the blogosphere while I checked them out. Having 400k myspace views is nothing to sneeze at either. Some decent songs led me to check out the album – that was in June. I’ve been putting off the review for almost two months. I just kept telling myself I’d review it next week. They also have a really bad band name. Grammar police anyone?
I have to address the vocals. I feel like I’m backwards in this regard. I like odd vocalists, who wail and do all kinds of crazy things. Why? Well they don’t fear being versatile and it ultimately speaks to an artist range. Cacie Dalager does have a nice voice. However, it’s not like it’s 1 in a million. I see and hear a ton of good singers out there and at this junction in my musical tastes – a nice voice no longer cuts it. Even if Dalager’s voice is pretty good, on Cars it lacks range. She doesn’t sound like the type that lacks range but on this album she’s basically sounding the same. The only moment where she’s outside of her shell are the “Oh, Oh, Oh” and ending of the album’s best track “Everyone You Know”. Unfortunately the rest of the album, I found surprisingly boring. Her vocals lack emotion and she feels more like a robot singing the same note for every sentence.
A lot of the time I end up skipping tracks without realizing it. I had to ask the person next to me if I switched tracks while trying to listen to the album.
Anyway, it isn’t all bad. The musicianship is where they earn their take. It does a pretty good and they are just a duo afterall. The music is aggressive at times and they make pretty good pop. If I were to just listen to the craftsmanship of the music, I find myself enjoying it much more. It probably carries the emotion load more then the vocals ever did. It doesn’t just stay quiet and on one even keel.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Overall an average or below average album to me. The vocals while nice at first, wane and just don’t have the same impact as they did on the start. Only one track was a standout and while the songs aren’t bad as a whole I kind of disliked this album. I could be crazy as well if you disagree.
Now, Now Every Children and Bad Veins play in Toronto on August 2nd