Tag Archives: Album Reviews

Ablum Review: Harlem – Hippies

It’s as if someone asked the band Harlem if there’s a limit to how many pop songs you can fit on one indie album without it becoming cheesy or commercial, and they responded with Hippies as a resounding “no”.  On the Austin trio’s Matador debut they supply sixteen songs that sound as if Buddy Holly went outside and rolled around in the mud before taking stage.  Hippies is packed with quick, dirty classic pop tunes; a style which allows Harlem to pull off being catchy without entering Top 40 rock radio territory.

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Album Review: The Morning Benders – Big Echo

The Morning Benders sophomore release, Big Echo, is a tapestry of well composed, wistful baroque-pop that lightly balances somewhere between the feelings of nostalgia and regret.  Reminiscent of  the moments in life you reflect back on, undecided if you truly regret them now, but are positive that you wouldn’t live them different if you had the chance.

Big Echo contains traces of the orchestral peaks and valleys of producer Chris Taylor’s band Grizzly Bear, but The Morning Benders stand on their own feet and put a subtle yet effective sun soaked spin on a style Taylor seems to have become a master at producing.  Continue reading

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Album Review: Broken Bells

Calling Broken Bells a side-project would be inaccurate.  Side-projects usually consist of a band member with a desire to create music in their singular vision, going off and finding other musicians outside their band to play it with. Consisting of Shins front man James Mercer and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), it would be more precise to term Broken Bells a collaboration.  Multi-instrumentalist Burton lays down the beats over which Mercer provides his vocals and guitar.  Together they deliver an album of smooth and seemingly effortless tracks; perfect for both cruising in the car on a summer afternoon or keeping a party going early in the morning. Continue reading

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Film Review: Black Dynamite

My knowledge of Blaxploitation films doesn’t really go beyond Shaft and Tarantino’s homage to the genre, Jackie Brown. However, I think most people are familiar with the basis of the 1970’s Blaxploitation films and television programs to know that they consist of badass brothers, foxy ladies, jive-ass turkeys, pimps, crime, and funk/soul music.  That being said, Black Dynamite is awesome.  It’s not only a spoof of Blaxploitation films, but also a kung-foo, action, and conspiracy film.  Black Dynamite is well executed and very thought-out.  Director Scott Sanders paid attention to detail, it looks and feels like the films it aims to replicate, through the use of 16mm film and 1970’s stock footage, giving it a gritty, scratchy and contrasted look.  The soundtrack is great, using original funk and soul music by Adrian Younge that literally describes what is happening on-screen in a hilarious fashion, and uses vintage sound effects. Continue reading

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Album Review: Yeasayer – Odd Blood

On their 2007 debut, All Hour Symbols, Yeasayer brought a unique brand of folk, highlighted by a few danceable tracks placed throughout the album.  With their sophomore release, Odd Blood, they turn down the folk, turn up the dance, and provide an album of electro-laden tracks inspired by world-music and futurism. Continue reading

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Album Review: Owen Pallett – Heartland

Owen Pallett may be one of the best new artists you’ve never heard of.  How can I say that?  Don’t I know that you’re on the cutting edge of indie music, and if he were really all that great then you’d know about him?  Well, first, Pallett’s resume includes indie giants Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear (among others), he is credited with arranging the strings on the albums and contributing to remixes.  This should not be downplayed, as both Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear have been lauded in large part for their sophisticated orchestral arrangements, but it seems that Pallett may have fell by the wayside as these bands entered the mainstream consciousness (Jay-Z didn’t exactly reference Owen Pallett when he praised Grizzly Bear).  Second, until recently, Pallett had been known as Final Fantasy.  He’s actually been around for years, but really, try telling your friends about a dude who plays violin and calls himself Final Fantasy and see how far you get.  As you can probably tell, it doesn’t sound especially appealing.  Final Fantasy did manage to generate a modest amount of fanfare, though (especially in Canada where he won the coveted Polaris Music Prize). Continue reading

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Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Contra

In case you haven’t heard.  Vampire Weekend’s new album Contra was released this week.  It’s been two years since the release of their self-titled debut, and in the meantime they’ve taken their plaid shirts, Ray-Bans, and preppy smirks on a seemingly endless whirlwind around the globe.  All the while leaving people with a polar love it or hate it attitude in their wake.  However, it’s a safe bet to say that even some of the detractors have secretly tapped their feet to “A-Punk”, and just wouldn’t admit it, only because they privately despise other men who wear cardigans.  Now Vampire Weekend is back with a new album that some fans seem to love, and some aren’t so sure about.  One thing is certain, they aren’t going to win over their critics with this one, and it doesn’t appear as if they cared. Continue reading

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