Gregory and The Hawk: Moenie and Kitchi
Author: Genna Ord
Rating: 4 / 5
For whatever reason, I’ve never been a fan of female vocalists. Maybe it’s because I’m secretly jealous, but I think it has more to do with vocal quality—in my opinion, boys just tend to sound smoother. There are, of course, exceptions to this: among them are Jaymay, Rilo Kiley, and now Gregory and the Hawk.
Moenie and Kitchi, the group’s third album (preceded by a 2007 EP, In Your Dreams, and the Boats and Birds EP, released in 2006), is an exercise in lyrical relaxation. The album is driven by New York native Meredith Godreau, whose vocals are soft and just sweet enough to sound sincere. Backing up her acoustic guitar and vocals is Mike McGuire on percussion, and the two are added throughout the album with strings, piano, and occasional hints of other instruments. Doubtlessly, Godreau is the spearhead of Gregory and the Hawk, and Moenie and Kitchi clearly showcase her considerable singer-songwriter skills.
The album is a successful marriage of acoustic pop and folk, from the charming first track, “Oats We Sow”, to the soothing closer, “Two Faced Twin”. In between the two is roughly a half-hour of music with enough hooks to keep interest and enough breezy melody to keep the mood relaxed. The melancholy “Stonewall, Stone Fence” was a favorite of mine, provoking imagery of grey, drizzly days that wasn’t unpleasant. The feeling builds until the last minute of the track, where Godreau is joined unexpectedly by percussion and electric guitar, bringing the song to a surprisingly satisfying close. It’s these, the clever, unexpected breakdowns and arrangements throughout the album, that make it more than just another collection from some folksy singer-songwriter. Though there are traces of artists like Regina Spektor, Gregory and the Hawk are all their own, and I look for them to grow in popularity in the future.
Though it may destroy the tone of the review (which is why I saved it for last), the opening seconds of the track “August Moon” have a strange similarity to the beginning of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”…listen for it.
The Crane Wife
By Adam Fedyski
One would think that a band who releases an album every year would run thin on material after a CD or two. The Decemberists, however, have proved this logic incorrect. Since their debut full-length “Castaways and Cutouts” in 2002, the band has been averaging one release per year, making “The Crane Wife” their fifth full-length release. They have all but lost originality from one album to the next. With Colin Meloy’s creative lyrics and songwriting abilities, the band captures a variety of styles and emotions from start to finish. The CD contains two tracks that clock in at over eleven minutes each. Each is a rock opera like feel, changing directions and dynamics many times throughout the songs. This is what Green Day wishes they could have done with their CD “American Idiot”. There is not one song that needs to be skipped on this album. It is solid from beginning to end. Check out the first single “O Valencia” along with, well, every song on the album. I have not come across an album this solid in some time.
By Luke Skoza
Rating: 3 out of 5
Caribou’s Andorra is a beautifully choreographed album. Ontario born studio creator Dan Snaith uses hypnotic rhythms and surreal tones on each track. His sound has come a long way since the days of his one-man band Manitoba. Finally his creative journey has led him to Andorra which is arguably his best studio album. Pressing play on his fourth full-length album is like being yanked back into the days of flower power. These surreal tones allow the album to flow from song to song like a radio playlist. Each track is densely packed with swirling flute loops, bells, drum fills, and warped strings. These elements help to create deep grooves in each song. Andorra’s first and best track ‘Melody Day’ is an acid drenched symphony of psychedelic pop. The third track ‘After Hours’ is a blissed out harmony that has gorgeous overtones and lyrics. Each of the next two tracks has a peaceful and groovy pop harmony. ‘Desiree’, the album’s fifth track, possesses the same symphonic qualities of ‘Melody Day.’ This easily makes these two songs the highlight of the album. The quality of organized chaos jams such as ‘Eli’ and ‘Sandy’ is undeniable. These tracks stray into dreamy sound with darker overtones. ‘Irene’ slows the pace down a bit until the album dreamily moves into a stirring closer, ‘Niobe,’ which brings the orchestrated chaos to to a worthy end.
Andorra is for those looking for a new sound in times of imitation and repetition. Try it out just once and give a listen. Your fifteen dollars or so will be well spent when you discover Andorra’s beautiful new sound.
Sci Fidelity Records
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Keller Williams has been one of the most prolific artists of the past decade. Often grouped into the top of the jam band scene with others like Umphrey’s McGee, moe., String Cheese Incident, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Williams sets himself apart with Dream. It marks his ninth full-length studio release since 1999. To celebrate this accomplishment, he collaborates with a “dream team” of artists including Bob Weir, String Cheese Incident, Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck and John Scofield just to name a few. The resulting songs are ones of variety and creativity. From punk rock tempos to bluegrass to slow acoustic songs singing about Jesus riding bitch seat in his car, Williams hits all the right spots with this album.
Check out: Play This, People Watching, Sing for My Dinner, Life.