Category: Music Reviews

Happiness Ltd.

Hot Hot Heat
Happiness Ltd.
WEA/Warner Bros. Records
2.5 stars out of 5
By Justin Gumbel

The newest installment by Hot Hot Heat, Happiness Ltd., is the biggest disappoint of the year. Hot Hot Heat is a great band that has produced some excellent albums over the past few years, but the fifth and newest full-length album is a real letdown. The music is not horrible. This is just not Hot Hot Heat’s best work by any means. The album lacks excitement and emotion. It sounds like the band was forced into the studio and told to have a finished product as soon as possible. They sounds like they are bored of the music they play. The songs are like a formulaic: just plug and play. By the fifth or sixth song, you will be thinking you have already heard that song, when in fact it just sounds like the last one.
The first track on the album, “Happiness Ltd.,” is slow starting, but when it gets going it is a good track. The next song, “Let Me In,” is the best track on the album. After this track, if you have time, jump to track eight which is “Give Up?” and you have heard it all. The rest of the songs are an imitation of these three songs. Had this album been a three song EP, this review would be infinitely more positive. However, there are eight extra filler tracks on this album.

On the plus side, this album does display good musicianship. The drums are strong throughout, and there are riffs here and there that give a glimmer of hope for this record. The melodies are catchy, as expected. For all of you Hot Hot Heat fans, I advise you to stick to the old albums, and give the three good tracks on this album a listen. If you are just getting into Hot Hot Heat, this album is not bad, but after listening to this album, you will be amazed by their older stuff.

The Daytrotter Sessions EP

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: The Daytrotter Sessions EP
Rating: 3.5 / 5

“’This might end up being fun,’ one of us said.

And it was.”

And that, as written in the jacket by the band’s frontman Richard Edwards, about sums it up.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, an 8-piece band from Indianapolis, released The Daytrotter Sessions EP in late July. The entirety of the album was recorded live, which was a first for many of the songs included.

The band rises to the challenge, though, leaving listeners wishing for more than the five tracks included on the EP.

Their style, described in a variety of ways but most commonly as “chamber pop”, varies enough from song to song to keep listeners engaged, but doesn’t depart from the easy-to-listen-to feel, regardless of which instrument is driving the melody.

The second track, “My Baby (Shootz Her Mouth Off)”, starts off with piano, soon backed up by acoustic guitar and later violin. It brings to mind walking along sidewalks in the rain, but still manages to sound optimistic. The following track, “Broadripple is Burning”, has the same comfortable sound, but lyrics like “everything that I had loved has turned to stone” and “I’ll be hanging from a rope”, give the song a darker feel.

In fact, a mellow, almost melancholy feel permeates the album, although Margot manages to make being down sound good.

While definitely not dance music, the EP is great background music for surfing the ‘net or reading lengthy assignments, although repeatedly listening to the five tracks can get old.

Luckily, though, Margot fans don’t have long to wait before not one, but two full-length albums are released.Animal! and Not Animal are due for release October 7, and both will have 17 tracks, with twelve original songs and five that will be on both records.

Until then, as the final track on The Daytrotter Sessions EP promises, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s will “be your lightning rod/delivering sound to you”.

Hungry Beat

Fire Engines
Hungry Beat
Acute Records
By Luke Skoza
Rating: 3 out of 5

While the Fire engines don’t appeal to my personal style and tastes in music, Hungry Beat and its collection of songs laid down the foundation for punk rock for years to come. Founded in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1979, they only existed for eighteen months and consisted of singer/guitarist Davey Henderson, bassist Graham Main, and drummer Russel Burn. These men created only three singles and a mini LP in their short time as a band. The sounds of Velvet Underground and Television ring through in many tracks. Countless modern punk bands site the Engines as an influence. Once the album starts to spin, these qualities become obvious and catch the listener’s ear. The flow feels choppy with short tracks followed by longer tracks and vice versa. These tracks are crammed with ramshackled guitar, brash and edgy tones, manic rhythms, and boisterous vocals. Hungry Beat opens with a fiery track entitled “Candyskin” followed by three tracks that flow with rousing rhythm and vocals. The feel shifts to a whimsical vibe in “Big Gold Dream” and continues into two detached and disoriented tracks titled “Plastic Gift” and “Sympathetic Anaesthetic”. These three numbers easily take the album to its highest point and this is followed by a track named, “Discord” which like its name suggests carries a messy and rollicking feel. The sound rambles on until the energetic conclusion in the two part song entitled “Lubricate Your Living Room.” In these creations the very essence of punk blasts into the stratosphere and to this day hasn’t come done to Earth.

The mystique of brilliant innovators such as The Fire Engines keeps artists creating and inspired for years to come. These innovators collection of their expressions, Hungry Beat appeals to all punk fans and especially those looking to find the roots of their favorite bands.

Down Below It's Chaos

Down Below It’s Chaos
Sub Pop Records
By: Luke Skoza
Rating: 3 out of 5

Down below It’s Chaos is one the most solid recordings in the experimental genre today. This Seattle based band met in a bar in 1998. Kinski is Chad Martin on guitar and vocals, Lucy Atkinson on bass, Barret Wilke on drums, and Matthew Reid-Schwartz on keyboards and flute. The latest release is the group’s 6 th full-length album and it oozes with a 70’s hard rock vibe and the experimental sounds of Sonic Youth. A broad spectrum of noise flows from track to track. Beautiful, visceral and elaborate can describe this variety. The rock feel is accented by droning vocals, cerebral and gritty guitar riffs. Symphonic synths and flutes flow into every song. The entire album flows and must be heard from track one to nine. The first three titles blend together and don’t really jump out at the listener. The fourth track “Boy I was Mad” rings with a piercing metal tone reminiscent of a thunderstorm. Surreal and cosmic sounds move into haunting guitar arrangements. The listener then moves into a keyboard laden and cascading guitar infused track titled “Argentina Turner” that provides a soothing experience. Next the vibes shifts to echoing flutes and sonic textured guitar riffs in “Plan, Steal, Drive”. The ride comes to breathtaking conclusion in “Silent Biker Type”. This nine-minute epic opens with eerie soulful keyboards which transitions into a pulsating rhythm section accompanied by feedback drenched guitars.

Down Below It’s Chaos is for the adventuresome listener looking for an all round listening experience from start to finish. For those brave enough to experiment the reward is well worth the risk.