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.
The Good Feeling Music of Dent May and His Magnificent Ukelele
Author: Joe Ragusa
Rating: 1.5 / 5
This is the kind of music my mom rebeled against in the early 60’s, and in no way has it been updated for today’s audience. Dent May tries (let me repeat that . . . tries) to bring back 50’s pop crooner music in his debut album off of Animal Collective’s record label, but falls completely flat. May’s voice sounds forced and annoying, especially on the songs “You Can’t Force a Dance Party” and “I’m an Alcoholic.” The lyrics in the song “College Town Boy” sound like too obvious an attempt to try and make this kind of music appeal to our demographic, and it’s hard to take May seriously when he croons “Get off your ass and do something” with a barbershop quartet singing “Sha la la la la” in the background. “I’m an Alcoholic” sounds like he’s trying to make a sad song, but again it’s hard to take him seriously with the annoying light-heartedness of his voice, along with the quirky backup singers “Ba ba ba”-ing in the background. The main problem with this album, though, is that every song sounds the same. “At the Academic Conference” sounds like a slower version of “Meet Me in the Garden.” “Oh Paris!” and “You Can’t Force A Dance Party” might as well be the same song. And every song from the overly showmanistic opening track “Welcome” to the awkwardly poppy “Love Song 2009” features the same consistent layout of a few repetitive ukelele chords and a tambourine to try and give Dent’s outdated style a Brazilian Tropicana feel to them. I will give him credit for that, it does sound like music you’d be able to chill out with in a hammock on a beach on some far off tropical island, if his lyrics and voice don’t completely depress and/or enrage you.
Author: Lydia Leg
Rating: 3 / 5
I was not surprised to find out that the EELS have been featured on several movie soundtracks. I can easily see a few of the songs on Shootenanny playing in the background of an indie movie as a brunette heroine bobs down an empty street in her converse all-star high-tops. The songs are catchy, and they’re not unwilling to take risks. However, overall I would not call the album anything more or less than average. The songs most worth downloading are Saturday Morning, Love of the Loveless, and Rock Hard Times. These songs are all part of the lighter side of Shootenanny. It’s possible that I could just be prejudice against the side of the album that leans more toward blues than pop/rock. One of my major problems with the album is that while the lead singer, Mark Everett AKA E, has a perfectly lovely voice he occasionally does this fake raspy voice. It sounds like he decided to wander off and smoke a pack of cigarettes before singing Dirty Girl, and a few other songs. Shootenanny is good driving music, or any kind of general background music but it’s not something that I was just lay down and listen to.