Category: Music Reviews

Rabbit in the Kitchen with a New Dress On


Shipwreck
Rabbit in the Kitchen with a New Dress On

None Records
Rating: 3 out of 5
By: Luke Skoza


Shipwreck’s third full-length album is sure to please long time fans and newcomers alike. This four-piece band hails from Champaign, IL and consists of co-songwriters, guitarists, and vocalists Harman Jordan, John Owen, bassist Vladmir Brilliant, and drummer Christopher Waage. The styles of their former albums carry over to Rabbit in the Kitchen and their country alt rock dynamic is accented by subaquatic punk tones. As the band’s name suggests, the lyrics contain riveting metaphors that invoke images of the open sea and cascading guitar riffs that rise and fall like the waves on the ocean. Each of these tones is complemented by a methodic but experimental rhythm section. As the album starts to spin, the two opening tracks “Walk in the Woods and “Rabbit in the Kitchen” paint a haunting but energetic picture. As the album continues to spin, the gears shift into the fourth track “Devils” which features an atmospheric tone accompanied by rhythmic hooks and an energetic chorus. The next four songs represent the only soft spot on the album. While still fine examples of musicianship, these songs lack any real soul or direction. This lack of direction comes to a screeching halt on the album’s eighth and arguably best track “Black Moon” which is laden with elaborate and cosmic guitar riffs, despairing vocals, and hypnotizing beats. These vibes continue as the album reaches its fitting conclusion in a number titled “Atlantic.” This song releases an image of a sunset on the open sea.

Rabbit in the Kitchen highlights Shipwreck’s strengths, which are numerous, and their weaknesses, which are few and far between.

Random Spirit Lover


Sunset Rubdown
Random Spirit Lover

Jagjaguwar
4.5 out of 5 stars
By Kelly Reed


This is the third album released by the band Sunset Rubdown and as soon as the album starts to play you know your in for an exciting trip. It begins with the rapid tapping of keys, the chiming of bells, and the lead singer shouting and reaching all of those who listen. This indie rock band let’s it all play out as they rock and sing to the rafters, and of course to Maggie and Sam (you’ll find out as you listen about those two). Spencer Krug, the lead vocalist, originated from the band Wolf Parade, and in 2005 Sunset Rubdown was officially born. After playing solo for a bit Krug brought in Jordan Robson Cramer, Micheal Doerksen, and Camilla Wynne Inge. The female counterpart of the band started off in the band Pony up! before switching directions. Every song on Random Spirit Lover goes off of different sensations and sounds that carry through the body. Each sensation creates a distinct emotion that will imprint onto you. It’s a great feeling when the energy never ends. It appears in all of their songs, even when they bring the tempo down a notch like in the song, “Up on Your Leopard, Upon the end of Your Feral Days,” it is still a storm of tinkling keys and lyrics that scream to your attention. Krug cries out in “For The Pier (And Dead Shimmering)” that, “It’s the wringing out the predatory nature of the sky, and the ringing sound it makes, when it’s burning out your eyes.” Krug and the rest of the band put together these songs in such a unique way that they start to become addictive. If you give them a listen you won’t be able to stop. This album will be set on repeat for a very long time.

Trouble in Dreams


Destroyer: Trouble in Dreams
Author: Luke Skoza
Rating: 4.1 / 5

Destroyer’s “Trouble in Dreams” is a soup of Bob Dylan, The Beatles; a little Skynard mixed with pinches of Bowie and Stephen Malkmus. Dan Bejar, from The New Pornographers, uses Destroyer as a side project and “Trouble in Dreams” is Bejar’s eighth album with his side group. The album features rainy day piano, melancholy strings, and breezy guitars that create a unique but accessible sound. The instruments then create layers of sound with strong melodies that accent the abstract lyrics lifted by Bejar’s a faux falsetto voice.

Take “Blue Flower, Blue Flame”, the album’s opening track features a stunning showcase of the beauty on “Trouble in Dreams”, Bejar mixes delicate piano riffs and dreamy strings with a Dylanesque enigma in the lyrics. A perfect example of his coded lyrics is the line “a woman by another name is not a woman, I’ll tell ya what I mean by that maybe not in seconds flat or even today”. Bejar’s pop chops shine on “Foam Hands,” which presents infectious hooks laden searching guitar sections and once again intriguing and abstract lyrics. His jagged blues and classic rock side surfaces in “The State”. The flow of the intricate almost underwater sounding instruments and unkempt lyrics should keep all who hear it captivated from start to finish. “My Favorite Year”, the albums highlight, has enough music to create three or four songs. The intro begins with layers of poppy chamber like sounds that moves into a middle section with enigmatic lyrics and guitars that shift into the song’s unsettling but whimsical conclusion. Each layer is like a part of a wedding cake and each section helps create the delicious final product. Bejar’s romantic Bowie side comes out for split second in the witty “Shooting Rockets” which uses edgy poppy melodies to make it stand out.

Consequently, “Trouble in Dreams” contains a few flaws and “Introducing Angels” and “The River” jumps out as a less than perfect pieces. Bejar can’t decide whether to channel Dylan or Bowie in both songs and the resulting mashup causes a run of the mill sound that loses the poignancy of the other tracks. Bejar quickly corrects his missteps in the closing song “Libby’s First Sunrise”. It is a straightforward and gentle end to “Trouble in Dreams” and it holds all of the positive aspects of Destroyer’s sound mixed into its framework.

In the end, Bejar opens the door to his mind and his soul enough to let the light shine through the cracks and let the listener peer in. Sometimes though, the camouflage in his lyrics and a group of run of the mill songs bring the album down. Nonetheless, “Trouble in Dreams” endures as a reflective and impressive effort.

Nocturnal


The Black Dahlia Murder
Nocturnal
Metal Blade Records
4.5 out of 5 stars
Review by Bob Hartzer


The latest release from Detroit death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder is sure to please fans, and will most certainly broaden their audience. Nocturnal is a shorter album in comparison to their previous releases, just over thirty minutes long, but it makes up for it’s brevity with intensity. From the first track onward the band serves up their form of melodic death metal. The second track, “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse,” exemplifies their heavier side. The lyrical content throughout the record is filled with beautifully phrased musings on death, human mortality, and violence. “Virally Yours,” the third track on the album, showcases Trevor Strnad’s use of complex rhythm and range in his vocals. The title track illustrates the bands black metal influences with a much more melodic approach to the guitar work. “Climactic Degradation” has some of Strnad’s darker lyrics, and shows excellent use of layering the screams with the growls. This album is a continuance of what the band started on its previous release, Miasma.

They seem to grow darker and heavier with each release, and are solidifying themselves in the death metal scene. The musicianship continues to improve with this album. The solos take a few more chances, the rhythms a touch more complex. Nocturnal is a great album, and will leave you feeling bruised and beaten.