Sick Of Sarah: Sick Of Sarah
Author: Lucas McCallister
Rating: 3.9/ 5
To start with: I don’t like chick-rock.
It isn’t really sexisim. It just isn’t meant for me.
I try to see through that, but I see clichés, overdone pop formats, and pseudo-we-can-do-it attitude.
Sick of Sarah, refreshingly, isn’t like that.
A five-piece from Minnesota, the first song caught my attention with the vocals. They aren’t sappy and over-done to cover up the fact nobody can sing. In fact, the girls sing quite well throughout the whole album. Smart and witty lyrics are carried throughout most of the album, and honestly, I found myself enjoying it.
At the same time, something is very familiar about the sound… I’ve heard it before. I don’t know where, but somewhere, this style has been done. I suppose it could be the fairly generic alt-pop sound. But hey, that’s okay for a debut album. I’m more interested to see what the second album will sound like… it is always more difficult.
If you want to get a feel for the album, listen to “Not Listening”, “Daisies”, and “Common Mistake”. (Hint from the writer: Listen to the third track on any album… I can almost guarantee it’s good.) The tunes are a little catchy, but not quite predictable. As I stated before, the music itself isn’t the strong point… it is the lyrics. Sick of Sarah can be upbeat without being sugary, Sarcastic without being stupid, frustrated without being overbearing, and sad without making you roll your eyes. That’s new to me.
If you dig The Dollyrots or Tegan and Sarah, but hate Katie Perry (as you should), give this album a shot. You won’t be disappointed, even if you are a guy. Trust me on this one.
Animal Collective: Merriweather
Author: Benjamin Griebel
Rating: 4.5/ 5
There’s something I’ve always found intensely emotional, dare I say even spiritual, about Animal Collective. Something about the way Avey Tare’s voice so smoothly transitions from a delicate flower to a primal scream that captures the human soul, and wedges it squarely between a cacophony of noises that are so ripped and rendered by minidisk players, and whatever other bizarre devices the Collective uses, that they are unrecognizable. But somehow from this tangled mass a truly unique type of music is formed. To say the least, I dig what these guys do, and the new album doesn’t disappoint.
The first track, In the Flowers, drifts in on a wave of discombobulated digital noises, that despite their rough and fragmented state impart a sense of tranquility, which is soon replaced with a glorious and yet longing tone. The whole song has the feel of a man waltzing with the ghost of a memory. The opening track sets a beautiful tone for the whole album, which maintains an incredibly tranquil sound, preferring to leave out Avey’s raw screams in favor of a much more serene sound. But as always, the album has an incredibly infectious nature to it, perhaps it’s the repetitive structures which slowly build upon themselves into a hypnotic frenzy, but songs like Summertime Clothes borrow deeper into my skull than a flesh eating ear wig could ever hope to. The song Lion in a Comma exemplifies the neo-tribal feel that I’ve come to associate with Animal Collective. The album ends itself off with the incredibly uplifting beat of Brother Sport, which feels like hundreds of electric birds singing their mating calls.
This album defiantly delivers all the bizarre and catchy sounds one would expect from Animal Collective. The one disappointment seems to be relatively little evolution from their last release Strawberry Jam, granted I can’t say that’s a bad thing. However, from a band that seems to always be on the move, changing their songs so fast that their live performance mutates dramatically almost immediately after a new album, I expected a bit more of a break from Strawberry Jam. I’m glad that they seem to have found a formula that works, and works extremely well, but I hope that this isn’t the end of their evolution.
Author: Lucas McCallister
Rating: 2 / 5
Young Fridays is the first album I have heard from Santa Rosa based artist That Ghost. I will give credit to the fact that Ryan Schmale, being a one man band, has more musical talent than I ever have.
But I give this album a resounding “Meh”.
My first impressions of Young Fridays were non existent. I attempted to do other work while writing the album, and honestly, I didn’t even notice when it was done playing. On a second listening, I paid closer attention. At least the entire thing is well mixed, with each instrument where it should be relative to each other, and the vocals at just the right level. My one problem is partially with Schmale’s personal style – all the vocals are put through a vox distortion to make them static and distant… which is cool on some songs, but eventually makes all the songs run together. It isn’t even like all the songs are the same, but the similarity of the guitar and vocals make it all grey and runny. Maybe it is supposed to be.
It has its strong points. I enjoyed “Never Have Fun” and “Friends in Quotations”, which were two of the few tracks that stood out from the others. And what I call running together and lack of versatility, one might call continuity.
To me, it sounds like a watered down, one-man acoustic-with-drums version of the Strokes, or a repeat of Pierre de Reeder’s solo album. It is an okay album to lie around to, but it lacks direction. I give it 2/5, and hope it grows on me.a.
Kanye West: 80s And Heart Breaks
Author: Joe Ragusa
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Kanye West might as well have released his newest album, “808s and Heartbreaks” under the moniker “T-West.” The 4th full-length album from the established producer and rapper attempts to show the softer side of Kanye, which turns out to be more depressing than anything.
The intro to the album, “Say You Will,” sets the tempo for the rest of the album by dropping a slow drum beat and vocoder-masked lyrics of angst over an elusive woman Kanye spends the entire album droning about. Songs like “Coldest Winter,” “Street Lights,” and “Bad News” sound like they should be sung by suburban teenagers who wear girl jeans and eyeliner. “Heartless” could be a letter Kayne stole from your ex after a bitter break-up, but the creepy, circus-like beat makes you wish you never sent it in the first place. “See You in My Nightmares” sounds like it should be the intro to a more aggressive song, but then Lil’ Wayne kicks in with a second verse and you realize that the song is just Kayne and Weezy talking into an Auto-Tune for four minutes over an anti-climatic orchestra-backed beat.
There are still a few gems that salvage this record. “Paranoid” is reminiscent of one of Kanye’s earlier hits, “Touch The Sky” (he even utters those words) with it’s fast motown-esq beat that makes you want to listen to The Gap Band. “Amazing” features the flamboyant “I don’t care” style Kanye is known for, although Young Jeezy’s part seemed forced into the song. The first single off the album, “Love Lockdown,” goes into a topic that most rappers won’t dare talk about: jealousy. Not of other people being jealous of him, though. Kanye preaches about how jealous he gets when he’s away from the woman he loves over a tribal-like drum beat.
This record has more misses than hits though, and while the experimentation with the Auto-Tune will ultimately be worth it since “808s” debuted at #1 on the sales charts and has already gone platinum according to XXL Magazine, if Kanye keeps throwing out records like this he’s going to lose a lot of fans.