Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12 Album Releases

Album releases this week range from indie-favorites to concept cover albums, but only one album this week left me extremely psyched for its release.

Belle and Sebastian is releasing Write About Love this week on Rough Trade Records-- four years after their last release, The Life Pursuit, in 2006. The album opens softly, which may have been why I felt as though my interest was waning quickly. Belle and Sebastian’s sleepy sounding vocals accompanied with light piano on the first track seemed to ring throughout the whole album. However, “I Want the World to Stop” was more upbeat and I found myself easily tapping my foot. While it may be because Belle and Sebastian are simply not my preferred taste, the album was just mediocre to me.

Another indie-veteran Sufjan Stevens released The Age of Adz this week on Asthmatic Kitty Records. The album is Stevens’ first full-length release since Illinois five years ago. It was definitely my least favorite of the releases. Despite my having an extensive collection of Sufjan Stevens albums in my library, I’ve never been able to get into his tunes. His voice always fails to move me and particularly on this album, he doesn’t seem to have any emotion behind it at all. The electronics felt overdone and the choral accompaniments in the background felt like too much.

I was surprised to see that Less Than Jake was releasing TV/EP. Less Than Jake was a favorite back in our high school ska scene; however, I didn’t even know they were still together making music now. In TV/EP, Less Than Jake covers popular TV sitcom theme songs and commercials. The EP, which is a little over 11 minutes long, is best listened to while viewing the commercials and songs via video on their website. It was an awesome throwback hearing those familiar childhood tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s and hilarious to see the commercials with the punk versions of the songs dubbed over. They used lots of horns and had their classic punk-ska sound: loud, energetic and silly. Some of my favorites included the Hungry, Hungry Hippos song, the McDonald's Big Mac song from 1984 (below), and the Different Strokes theme song. I don’t think I could listen to the album on a regular basis, but it was really awesome to hear their renditions of the songs along with the old videos.

Finally, Cleveland-based Cloud Nothings just released their first full-length album Turning On with Carpark Records. I’ve been meaning to see Cloud Nothings for so long, being a Cleveland native myself and hearing positive buzz about them around town. The buzz didn’t do them justice though; Turning On was the one album this week I could not stop listening to. It’s dark, catchy and upbeat and reminds me a bit of The Whigs, but a little more raw. “Hey Cool Kid” seems to be the first single and it’s a perfect pick. The recently released video (below) is eerie and matches the dark and creepy vibe of the song. The band would fit in great with the Athens music scene and I can totally picture them playing a packed show at the Union.

Some other notable album releases this week include Badly Drawn Boy with Part 1–Photographing Snowflakes, Lil Wayne with I Am Not A Human Being, and You, Me, And Everyone We Know with Some Things Don’t Wash Out.

--Melissa Burant, Editorial Copy Chief and PR Director

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 5 Album Releases

We are not starting October with a substantial week in music, I must tell you. October 5 does not arrive with a babble of big releases to be severely dissected and critiqued. Instead, music-buyers have their pick of smaller interest bands that can be gladly approached with open ears and willing minds. What a relief—or a disappointment, depending on the breadth of your critical streak.

Enough stalling with flouncy words and introductory paragraphs. Let’s get to the few highlight-able releases on this week’s list of brand new albums. Shall we?

First and, I say, foremost, stellar independent label Kill Rock Stars is presenting two records from some of the industry’s most dynamic performers: Corin Tucker and Marnie Stern.

Sleater-Kinney parted ways in 2006, and since then the wall-buckling, ground-crumbling vocals of Corin Tucker have been left silent, sadly. But now Corin has her own band, The Corin Tucker Band with whom she has recorded her debut solo-ish record, 1,000 Years. Sure, it’s not as zingy as her Riot Grrrl days, but if you weren’t to compare her new sounds to those of her younger days, Corin would still have nearly boundless vigor in her approach to rock. Listen to “Doubt” and feel the burgeoning howl, ready to be unleashed.

After two previous full-length records released on Kill Rock Stars, Marnie Stern is releasing a self-titled album. Given the bombastic, bordering-on-violent-video-game frantic energy of the album’s opening number, “For Ash,” this album obviously does not fade away from the finger-tapping, guitar-playing neon fireworks Marnie displayed on her previous works. Face-melting chops she has in spades.

While busy speaking about commendable record labels, I may as well move on to London-based indie label Domino, which has a noteworthy album on their agenda: Clinic’s Bubblegum.

Clinic is not a new band. This band from Liverpool has been releasing albums biannually since 2000, making Bubblegum their sixth—count them, sixth—studio record. The album’s first single, “I’m Aware,” with its mumbled vocals and dreamy, twangy sounds, comes accompanied by a trippy video featuring caftan-clothed puppets with antlers submerged in a color-drenched environment fit for child-aimed, daytime entertainment. And that’s putting it simply.

Well, what else is there? Dustin Wong, guitar-playing member of the radical, sound-crashing Baltimore band Ponytail, has a solo album, Infinite Love, coming out on Thrill Jockey. Expect electric guitar loops, forceful and emotive, and do not expect any vocals to muddle the panorama. Never have cohesive vocals been associated with Dustin’s work in the past, and the future promises no surer sign of lyrics.

Now I’m meandering. How better to end this dragging post than to list off a few more albums coming out from peculiarly named bands. I have run out of productive ideas, so, alas, a short list: Wild Go by Dark Dark Dark, Meet Me at the Muster Station by PS I Love You, Litanies by Royal Baths, Soft Landing by Soft Landing.

I have been assured these are not false listings and these are real bands and real album names. So enjoy yourself, sorting through the abstract incoherence of words I have thrown at you and listen to something brand spanking new.

-Jessi Finn, Album Reviews Editor

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28 Album Releases

I look forward to so many things in the fall – knit hats, climate change and an excuse to order hot chocolate at the local coffee shops (though summer doesn’t usually stop me from ordering hot chocolate, despite the strange looks I often receive for doing so).

More than anything, though, I crave fall’s new music. I’m always looking for a good soundtrack to my brisk-weather walks, and preferably one that’s full of new material.

Because this week will mark the first truly fall weather week (in my opinion, at least), I’m looking for some suitable new albums to fill that soundtrack. But if nothing else, this week’s releases are a bit eclectic, if I may.

Deerhunter comes out with Halcyon Digest this week, and frankly, I love the album. I’ve always appreciated the band, but this album – dare I say it – may just turn me into a fan. Each song keeps an agreeable beat, but it’s full of lush instrumentals and catchy melodies that soften the thrust of the beat. Most songs on this album will be making the cut for my fall soundtrack, especially and most notably “Don’t Cry” and “Desire Lines.”

For a while, I’ve anticipated the release of Bad Religion’s The Dissent of Man. However, upon listening to the album, I’m pretty disenchanted. Each track runs together in one fluid rush of mediocre punk music. Despite the classic nature of the band and its seasoned status, The Dissent of Man just feels like an album for an album’s sake, not a piece of art with emotion poured into it. The Dissent of Man may be the descent of the band.

Another notable release for the week is Neil Young’s Le Noise. I’ve been a fan of the great Mr. Young since my diaper days, so the fact that I cherished every note of this album should not surprise anyone. Regardless of my bias, I really appreciate the modern, psychedelic sound the 64-year-old veteran accomplishes on parts of the album, all the while keeping his folk rock roots intact.

As for the last of the most-buzzed-about albums of the week, No Age is set to release Everything in Between this week. The band is a duo of newcomers that have made a noticeable footprint in the hypothetical noise pop/indie rock sand. I’ve grown pretty fond of the band, and much of what they’ve put out thus far has piqued my interest. Everything in Between is no exception – as long as you’re into that sort of music, you’ll probably be into this album.

Of course, the aforementioned releases just cover a few of the many albums coming out this week.

Other albums I’m anxious to hear (for some of them, I have no idea where my excitement is stemming from): Clapton by Eric Clapton, World Gone Crazy by the Doobie Brothers, No Chocolate Cake by Gin Blossoms, The Remedy by Jagged Edge, Incarcerated by Lil Boosie, Record Collection by Mark Ronson & the Business Intl, Commitment by Seal and the eponymous Pete Yorn by Pete Yorn.

Not sure if crustaceans look silly in outerwear, but this lobster is ready to get wrapped up in a scarf and the latest fall album releases.

-Courtney Baldasare, Editorial Director

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21 Album Releases

Not gonna lie, last week was a damn good week for album releases. Weezer, Of Montreal, Chromeo, Elemental Groove Theory... it was as if the music gods were after my own heart.

And while this week's releases tend to leave a little more to desire, they are not without points of interest.

Remember when you listened to Maroon 5 in middle school? High school? Last week? (Don't deny it; you totally did). The five-piece has a new album out, Hands All Over, which will likely prove to be... about the same as the rest of their discography, if lead single "Misery" is any indication. So if that's your thing (oh wait, that's right, it totally is), check out what singer Adam Levine calls "just great pop."

Frankly, I don't know much about Shit Robot. But I think the name is absolutely hilarious, and the project's album From the Cradle to the Rave will be out Tuesday on DFA Records.

Indiana's Margot and the Nuclear So and So's will release their third full-length, as well. It is reportedly the first with the band's new lineup, which still includes singer Richard Edwards fronting the group. Check ACRN.com later in the week for a review of the new album, Buzzard!

The Zac Brown Band is known for its country-friendly tunes that have a bit of a Jimmy Buffett swag (given Jimmy Buffett HAS a swag) with them. The band's first album, The Foundation, spawned four chart toppers on the US Country charts and another that hit number two. The band's newest single, "As She's Walking Away," has already climbed to number 16 and features country legend Alan Jackson. Fresh off an opening slot for the Dave Matthews Band this past summer, the band is ready to release album number two, You Get What You Give. The Foundation is one of my favorite country albums of all time. I have a good feeling You Get What You Give will be up there as well.

Remember Serj Tankian? How about System of a Down? If you answered "yes" to only the second question, Serj Tankian was the lead singer for that esteemed rock/metal band that graced the rock charts during the 2000's with singles such as "Chop Suey," "Toxicity" and "B.Y.O.B." The band has been on a hiatus since 2006, and Tankian has since taken to his solo project, which sounds... a lot like System of a Down. After Tankian's less-than-stellar Elect the Dead and Elect the Dead Symphony, Imperfect Harmonies is the singer's second full-length and third album overall. Here's hoping it's a good showing. And that System gets back together soon.

Oh, and Selena Gomez and her band The Scene will be releasing A Year Without Rain. Just in case we have any reader who watches the Disney Channel that isn't I.

Finally, possibly the most intriguing of the releases is a collaboration between soul crooner John Legend and The Roots, of Late Night fame. General praise for the album before its release has been pretty damn good, so if there's any album this week I'd say "HEY, GO BUY THIS. OR DOWNLOAD IT. OR SOMETHING.," it's this. If only to see how such a collaboration between such esteemed company turns out.

That's it for this week. Let me know how that Maroon 5 album turns out.

--Kevin Rutherford, Managing Editor

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is My Heart In Ohio, You Ask?

You! You silly Dayton-natives, Hawthorne Heights, have become the very bane of my existence.

Every time I travel out-of-state for a show, it is because of YOU that I am, without fail, always asked if my "heart is in Ohio." Blast you! When I saw a member of your band at a gas station not terribly long ago, I wanted to growl that sentiment at him, but that wouldn't have been very nice, would it? No. See, I don't harass you; so, leave me alone, will ya?

Okay, so HH doesn't exactly harass me; we simply happen to share an area code and references to the band's lyrics happen to follow me, but still...

Among some of the albums dropping this week is Hawthorne Heights' Skeletons, which I simply could not appreciate at the level my 15-year-old self appreciated The Silence In Black And White. Regardless, I gave the album 5 listens and concluded that it warranted a 6.5/10 rating in my album review for ACRN.

Also among this week's releases is Clay Aiken's Tried And True. Yes, I'm talking about the guy who didn't win "American Idol" circa 2003.

Was there a time in my life when I got choked up while listening to Aiken's first full-length album, Measure of a Man, on repeat? Yes. I will follow Editorial Director Courtney Baldasare's lead by shamelessly and publicly professing my love for a pop star. In fact, I am listening to the album right now in the last hours I have to treasure Lala before Apple steals it from me.

Aiken's Tried And True pays a jazzy (elevator music) ode to the classics, and is oh-so-lovely throughout, especially the cover of "Unchained Melody." Oh, how I swooned. I suppose the fact that I grinned and squeaked happily upon listening to the first song proves that one who is once a Claymate is always a Claymate.

So many people who care about cred just decided that I have none. Deal with it, cred-lovers; for, I am about to talk about an artist that you probably care about a bit more: Good Old War.

Good Old War's self-titled album showcases a sweet simplicity that made me feel I was sitting on a porch swing at a cabin in a hollow as I listened to it, or -- maybe -- balancing on a log to cross some sort of creek. You folksy types will love it. I can feel it.

Giving June 1 a bit more ass-kickery is The Bride Screamed Murder by Melvins, a hard rock album with laughable titles like "Pig House" and "I'll Finish you Off."

Brutal, dudes.

Fans of classic Heavy Metal will probably find something to like in The Melvins' release.

As you can see, you have a nice selection of albums dropping on this wretchedly hot June day. Check out those that fit your tastes.

Oh! For future reference, out-of-state friends: No, my heart is not quite in Ohio. I believe its listed location on its Twitter page is "somewhere within Cassie's ribs."

--Cassie Whitt, Blogs Editor

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here come this week’s releases… and there goes my musical dignity.

After agreeing to contribute to our beloved "Drop It Like It’s Hot" blog for this week, I swiftly kicked myself at the subsequent realization of what exactly I had on my plate in the upcoming days. Nonetheless, I delved into recent releases and poked around at what was on the menu.

And there it was.

A certain album is being released this week to which any average, sane human being would probably pay no mind. But considering I am no such human being, this particular album (and its delivering artist) are of a bit more importance to me than, say, anyone else in the world. Instead of continually living in fear of someone someday discovering this embarrassing obsession I have so unfortunately and defenselessly been born with, I am ready to rip the Band-Aid and come right out:

I AM HOPELESSLY AND UNBEARABLY IN LOVE WITH MARC ANTHONY. Can’t help it. Sorry. Always have been, always will be.

And there goes any shot I ever may have had at a job in the music industry.

So, needless to say, I’m thrilled about the release of Iconos, a cover album comprised entirely of Spanish-language songs my Latin lover so beautifully iterates from the original artists he admires. From what I’ve heard thus far, the songs sound about as good as a cover could, with not many surprises, but not many letdowns, either. What could be better? Actually, I could think of a few things, starting with Marc Anthony's coming to Athens and serenading me affectionately with said songs. But I digress...

Another highly anticipated album to drop this week is First Aid Kit’s The Big Black and the Blue. I stumbled upon the band about two winters ago amidst my momentary fixation on Fleet Foxes, when a video featuring the girls from First Aid Kit covering (quite alluringly, might I add) one of my favorite Foxes songs showed up on YouTube. However, from what I’ve heard of The Big Black and the Blue thus far, I’m a bit underwhelmed. Sure, it’s a debut album, but it really sounds amateur. I suppose I expected the band to come out a little more on top than most other groups, simply because of the praise and attention they’ve already received in their YouTube prime.

Having always been appreciative of Black Moth Super Rainbow, I’m also looking forward to frontman Tom Fec’s release of a side project album this week under better-known pseudonym Tobacco. Maniac Meat has thus far received mostly positive reviews, and the sound backs it up. A trippy, heavy album boasts guest appearances from Beck, which can only be a good thing. I’m excited to see what rising stars like Bassnectar will do with this album.

Yet another cover album is due out this week, this one may be musically more enticing, but not visually. Sorry Bettye, you’re simply not as yummy as Marc. Bettye LaVette’s Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook does not disappoint. Her soulful, earnest companion of a voice takes listeners through a series of uber-cherished Brit Rock songs that simply could not be covered successfully by anybody else. And success she most certainly achieves. From Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” to Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” she’s got it covered, literally and figuratively.

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say this week’s releases pretty much run the wide gamut, with the addition of a few other unmentioned releases. But let’s be completely honest with ourselves, we’ve all got ants in our pants over Marc Anthony and him alone.

--Courtney Baldasare, Editorial Director

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Huge, Commendable Releases and... Bo Bice?

Try to contain your excitement, everyone. No, seriously. This is a pretty good week for album releases, all genres considered. So get your torrent software ready (don't even try to deny it), and let's run down the list, shall we?

We'll start off with the biggest of them all: The baddest of the bad; the album that people will be talking about for years to come. When your future self looks back on this very day, May 18, 2010, he/she will undoubtedly be thinking, "Wow, I remember that day. For that's when the laudable American Idol runner-up Bo Bice released his masterpiece, his crowning achievement, his pièce de résistance: 3. Oh, and what a day it was."

What's that, you say? No one remembers Bo Bice?


Joking aside, there really is some intriguing new music dropping this week. Certainly mentionable is Infinite Arms, the new release from Band of Horses. The album is actually still streaming on their website, so that's something worth checking out.

Another heavy-hitting "B" band in the indie world, Ohio's own Black Keys, are also back with their eighth album, Brothers. Early praise for this thing has been plentiful. Then again, who could expect anything less from a couple of Ohioans? That's right. We're kick-ass. Flaunt it.

Soulstress Janelle Monae is one of the most hyped artists of the week; her new album The Archandroid is Monae's first since she came under the wing of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Bad Boy Records. A lot of positive things are being said about this album. My opinion? If the rest of Monae's album is anything like the first single "Tightrope," this release has the potential to cross a lot of boundaries genre-wise. (Side note: I'm considering growing my hair and messing around with it to get it to look like Monae's. Think I should? Think I'm out of my mind? Free this Thursday? Send all answers to Kevin.S.Rutherford@gmail.com.)

Moving on, it would be asinine not to mention LCD Soundsystem and This is Happening. Sure, the title sounds like self-reassurance that this is, in fact, "real life" during a particularly potent drug trip, but come on, has LCD Soundsystem led us astray yet? Plus, the lead single is called "Drunk Girls." Is that not reason alone to give this album a chance?

Let's take a different route for a moment and delve into the reggae side of things. Jamaican reggae/ska legends Toots and the Maytals are releasing what seems like their thousandth album, Flip and Twist. And on a semi-related note, Damian Marley, one of Bob's many sons, is releasing a collaboration album titled Distant Relatives with rapper Nas. One has to think there will be at least a minor reggae influence there given Marley's track record. Those are two albums I'm definitely looking forward to. The Maytals are downright superb, and Marley has always done his surname proud. That said, if there are any among the Marley offspring that seem closer to rap, Damian's the man. That should be an interesting collaboration indeed.

Those are just a few of the many albums dropping this week. From Janelle Monae to Damian Marley, Band of Horses to Black Keys, one thing's for sure: it ain't an off-week.

BRB, gonna go listen to this devastating new Bo Bice album.

--Kevin Rutherford, Managing Editor

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Massive and the misspelled

May is a month of massive album releases— at least, in terms of this tiny, mostly indie music community in which we choose to dwell, they are massive. Think “summer festival headliner” massive. “Display rack at Barnes & Noble” massive. “Their song's in a car commercial” massive.

Only one week ago new albums from marginally massive bands Broken Social Scene, The Hold Steady and The New Pornographers, to name a few arrived on select store shelves for our gracious ears to hear. But this week also has some impressive names to add to the building list of anticipated albums. The anticipation will be quelled, and our music storage devices—no signs of brand partiality here, my friend—will be contentedly full.

The National’s fifth studio album, High Violet, is arriving via 4AD. Their cerebral lyrics, master craftsmen skills and Matt Berninger’s rumbling vocals found significant success with their previous full-length, The Boxer, which came out way back in 2007. Years later, that album still resonates, but new material is ready and welcome, and we’ll take it, thank you. And speaking of massive, The National are set to play none other than Radio City Music Hall on June 16. It seems these boys have surpassed marginal rock stardom and have entered a central ring of commercial success: Impressive indeed.

Fellow commercial rock star Jack White also has a new album arriving this week from one of his many bands, and that band is The Dead Weather. Along with band mates Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), Jack will be issuing their sophomore release, Sea of Cowards, on his own record label, Third Man Records. The Dead Weather has not encouraged comparable anticipation to what The National has built. In fact, their debut album, Horehound, came out less than a year ago. To their eagerness and energy I say bravo, but to their decision to put out records so close in relative time, I say, "What’s the rush?"

Outside the massive release category, Sleigh Bells’ much anticipated debut album, Treats, arrives Tuesday. A band lauded on the net before the release of any proper album, this Brooklyn duo — who make quite loud music, if you haven’t yet experienced the induced pounding ears syndrome —will now have a full-length to their credit via Mom + Pop Records.

Freak-folk sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady, known as CocoRosie, are releasing their fourth album and their Sub Pop debut, Grey Oceans, this week. They are freaks in a good way but freaks nonetheless.

A few bands unsatisfied with conventional English spellings are also putting albums out this week. GAYNGS are a musical collective created by Ryan Olson with Zack Coulter and Adam Hurlburt of Solid Gold crafting groovy and sexy sounds. The first GAYNGS record, Relayted—out on Jagjaguwar—features vocal layers contributed from members of Bon Iver, Megafaun and The Rosebuds.

And San Francisco garage band Thee Oh Sees— the other spelling mistake band of which I speak — have a new album called Warm Slime In the Red.

There you have it: a wrap-up of this week’s most massive and most notable releases — at least in my humble opinion. I neglected to mention that Meat Loaf has a new album out called Hang Cool Teddy Bear. And I wish had neglected to mention it. I feel strange now.

--Jessi Finn, Blogger/ Album Reviews Editor

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cuatro de Mayo Means Mas Musica

Wow, it's been a rough couple of weeks for new music releases. Cypress Hill. Peter Frampton. Yikes. Relax, music lovers, it's time to come out of your bomb shelters. May is here and so is a huge week for new albums.

Like, really, really huge.

First of all, The Hold Steady will release their much-anticipated Heaven is Whenever. The band is adjusting to the departure of their keyboard guy, Franz Nicolay, but, judging by some released tracks, they manage to stay pretty close to their trademark sound, even with the standard guitar-bass-drums configuration. Actually, "Barely Breathing" features keys, and it has more of a new sound than the other tracks. Oh, and keep an ear out for a pretty slick guitar solo in "Rock Problems."

In poppier, more harmonic news, The New Pornographers look to snap their one-album losing streak with Together, their first release since 2007's Challengers, which (people might hate me for saying) was downright crappy. The significantly less crappy Together has been streaming on NPR for a while, and it appears that the Canadians have discarded the crappiness of their last release in favor of a non-crappy sound anchored by faster if not more upbeat guitar and cello riffs. This is great news for New Porn fans who worried that the band only had three extremely uncrappy albums in them. In summation: Challengers was crappy; Together isn't.

Oh God, there's still so much more.

Freaking Broken Social Scene is back. More Canadians. Sure, they were never super gone, but Forgiveness Rock Record is their first actual album in half a decade. All those musicians? All that time? I have three predictions: it will be eclectic, it will be pretty damn good, it will be pretty damn eclectic and good. Early listens (they've been streaming it on their website, check out that link back there) indicate that I am totally right. As an added bonus, one of the songs starts off with the lyric "Ungrateful little motherfuck," which is just delightful.

For people with other tastes, non-Canadian hip-hoppers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony will drop their first record since Flesh-n-Bone was released from prison (and possibly their last before he goes back). Now, I'll admit I'm not extremely familiar with the aging Clevelanders, but I do feel confident in saying that they will do their best to recapture the sound that brought them so much commercial success in the 90s.

Man, that's a ton of good music for one week. Of course, for every yin, there must be a yang. I feel obligated to mention that, in case there are any aural masochists reading this, May 4th will mark the release of albums by - I kid you not - Michael Bolton, Papa Roach, Godsmack and Toni Braxton. True, that would be an excellent lineup for The Surreal Life, but I'm guessing not a great three hours - give or take (hopefully take) - of music.

- Greg Gallant, Copy Chief

Monday, April 26, 2010

Better luck next time (or something)

This Tuesday’s album releases made me feel terribly ignorant of the musical world, seeing as I didn’t really know a single one of the artists coming out with a new album. Oh, except for Bullet For My Valentine. I guess I owe my guy friends’ high school hardcore/screamo cover band for that. As for everyone else (Who ARE all you people? Am I missing out on something here?), I’ll do my best at what will probably end up being an ostensible album release coverage. I’ll give each band a little listen and a little research and hope for the best. So here it goes.

First up, B.o.B presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. I heard you were good in last week’s staff meeting. Didn’t know you were a rapper until I just took a gander on your Web site. So your name’s Bob? That’s cool. That’s my grandpa’s name, too. OK. You’re a fine rapper. I can dig it. You did a song with Hayley Williams from Paramore, which is weird. But… I sort of like it. Should I be ashamed? I’m not. I’m sure this album will do great. It’s one that people who predominantly like indie music won’t be that bashful of liking. Sort of like Kanye West. It’s must be your high top, colorful Nikes and your aviator sunglasses. Gets us every time. See you at Lollapalooza.

Moving on. Bullet For My Valentine’s Fever is next. I may be a bit hostile towards them; I spent far too many years being forced to listen to them at full volume in the basements of my friends’ homes. “Come on, guuuuys. I just wanna listen to The Killers!” Anyway, your
album cover looks stupid and vampire-y. And that pale girl needs to put on some clothing. Half naked, animated women with triple D breasts were only cool for about three seconds when Anime was at its peak eight years ago. As for your music, I feel like I should be seizing angrily, for lack of a better description. I wish you wouldn’t whisper, “Is it my turn to die?” It makes me feel uncomfortable. And your double bass drumming is getting a little monotonous. I feel like I can breathe when I turn your music off. I don’t like it. Not one bit. Sorry.

Drowning Pool, I KNEW you sounded familiar. You did that song about bodies hitting the floor right? Yeah. Your self-titled new album says nothing new about you except that you’re maybe getting too old to be doing this. You might actually not even be that old, but your music is painstakingly outdated, so that’s the only conclusion that I can come to.

Gogol Bordello, you seem real silly. Your ethnicity is fascinating, and your music definitely sounds unique. But to be honest, Trans-Continental Hustle sort of annoys me. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people find it really entertaining and easy to listen to, but as for me, I’m having a hard time getting through one song. It’s fun, I guess. But it’s not for everyone. However, you do grow a fine mustache, my man. A fine mustache indeed.

My Education, an ambient sort of band (and one that I was unfamiliar with until now), is probably one of the only decent albums coming out this week. What I was expecting upon listening to them for the first time was jumpy indie rock, but what I got was quite different. Despite the album title, Sunrise, this is a pretty dark-sounding album with intense and somewhat eerie instrumentalism, maybe like Explosions in the Sky or Kaki King when she’s not singing.

So I felt bad about not being too familiar with these new bands for about 20 minutes until I realized that maybe I wasn’t missing out on much. Critical and bias though I may be, this week in music is just downright disappointing. Better luck next week.

-Hannah Cook, Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Put down the herbs & check out the tunes

While today is a Tuesday, I am pretty confident not too many people are concerned with new music releases, as many people that do love music also love a certain herbal holiday that is celebrated on April 20. Regardless, there are a diverse group of artists releasing new albums today.

The first is Apples In Stereo, an indie pop band with a big imagination, often space and psychedelic oriented, which makes it no coincidence that their new album is titled Travellers In Space and Time. Full of life, high energy and weirdness, this record sounds just like a live Apples In Stereo performance feels.

Circa Survive, a staple in the catalog of emo rockers that have been in high school at some point within the last decade, is releasing Blue Sky Noise. While Juturna was clearly the stand out record for the group, lead singer Anthony Green, formerly of emo-core band Saosin, is still singing his little heart out on this record.

One group that I am certain purposefully released their album today on 4/20 is Cypress Hill, with such great nineties classic hits (literally) like “Hits From The Bong.” The new record, the first for the group in six years, is Rise Up, and I’m sure longtime fans will hope it does indeed rise up to their expectations of the aging group.

Speaking of aging, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Ratt all have new albums coming out today too… I Am What I Am, Country Music and Infestation, respectively… making today not only a great day for weed, but for the old country crooners and hair metal fist pumpers that love it. If you are into that kind of thing, it is pretty much guaranteed you are into at least one of these artists, or definitely should be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springtime releases... not all good

Since this is a blog, I am going to pull no punches and give you my bitingly blunt opinions of this week’s newest releases. I will do my best to steer clear of profanity and stereotyping, but I consider myself a true music elitist, so expect an indictment of one (or more) artists that you like. Or, this guy might even really dig something that came out this week and you will just have to read on to find out.

Since the weather is nice and we should all be frolicking in the sunshine, a rundown of anything worth listening to comes first. That will save the readers some time, at least! First, Murs and 9th Wonder’s collaboration Fornever. Hip-hop heads have been eagerly awaiting this one for a long time, myself included; 9th Wonder is simply one of the greatest beat masters of the last few decades and he does not disappoint on this disc. Murs can be preachy at times, but he is flipping more quality rhymes here than on anything since The End of the Beginning. There are some weak ones to be sure, but do not miss Fornever if you want an example of what two of the best modern hip-hop artists are capable of.

No surprise, but there is only one other halfway decent album coming out this week. Dosh of Anticon reknown is releasing his album Tommy (no relation to The Who, as far as I know) today, and fans can expect more sonic experimentations, as well as another appearance from Andrew Bird and a variety of other talented musicians. What I have heard leads me to believe that Dosh has included some more dance-y tracks than previous albums.

Now on to everything else, i.e. stuff that I already hate or will hate as soon as I listen to it! The elephant in the room is the new MGMT album, Congratulations. I will not waste too much space on this boring sophomore effort, and all I can say is that sounds like a bastardized, whiny 21st century version of something a baby boomer might have tripped to in college. Yawn. If you like Of Montreal or bands that are not as good as Of Montreal but still try to sound like them, give it a shot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Coheed and Cambria’s Year of the Black Rainbow drops this week, too. This band was only relevant when they released Second Stage Turbine Blade, and even that is a stretch. Prog, melodic, you get the idea.

I know some readers may be from Cincinnati, but I truly believe that local heroes Foxy Shazam are pretty bad. In addition to a Super Bowl commercial sell-out moment, the band’s self-titled album is their first on a major label and promises to be even more corporate washed than ever before.

I’ll end the harshest criticism there and end with a tone of indifference. Bleeding Through, admittedly one of my favorite groups at a prior point in time, released their album today, which is also self-titled. I haven’t kept up with the band for many years, but it feels like I never left! Nothing has changed here (as far as I can tell) – just metalcore that sounds like Dethklok at points and crew hardcore at others. Fans of the band may enjoy this.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Too harsh and not witty enough, but I seem to have spent too much time in the sun and I am beat, given that I passed out and regained consciousness several times while writing. Feel free to ignore my ramblings and enjoy this week’s releases, you will probably disagree with me.

Keep living and listening, lobsters!

-- Marshall Pearson, News Editor

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Well, well, well, it's already April. Isn't that just a wonderful reminder of how time flies, runs or walks it out? While distracting myself from the ever-tortuous job hunt, I wish to inform you of releases that you should either a) pick up or b) set on fire. A wiser man once said, "Davis, finish writing the goddamn blog," so without further ado let's discuss the "pick up" category.

Erykah Badu's new album, New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh, begins the pick up category. She's backing up this CD filled with what I presume to be music (since I haven't listened to it) with a bad ass music video. Walking down an anonymous city sidewalk, Badu strips down from her coat all the way down to her birthday suit, which earned her international publicity and a $500 fine. Whether you think it's art or a shameless grab for attention, you must watch it (linked above) for the reactions of the unaware public around her. Personally, I think the video is brilliant, and subsequently her album should be "picked up."

The other music is from this guy in Nashville who goes by Makeup and Vanity Set. His new self-titled release came out on March 16. Granted it may be dated, but a) you haven't heard of this person b) you need to know him because c) he rocks harder than an avalanche. His take on electronic music brings a healthy dose of dissonance that people like M.I.A., Designer Drugs and Gozii have also mastered. MVS also nurtures a disco flavor in his music that captures the essence of any good, sweat-inducing dance tune. Pick it up.

I'm growing weary of dishing out compliments. Time for stuff worthy of a fiery demise (note: don't literally set things aflame; I got arrested for it once, and the police were not as fun as both Kindergarten Cop and Rush Hour made them out to be).

Slash is releasing a solo album. Set it on fire.

Asher Roth came out with a new mix tape called Seared Foie Gras with Quince and Cranberry. Every word of that previous sentence hurt my feelings. I envision a cruel future where everyone forgot how to read, blunt wrap industries have cornered the lobbies of the House and Senate, and court rooms have been phased out by the introduction of the MMA "judicial" octagon. If we do nothing, this "Rothian" future may become true. Burn this tape.

Well that's it.

End transmission.

-Davis Chambers, Video Director

Thursday, March 4, 2010

OU alums rocking the mash-up scene

While this space is normally reserved for discussion of the hottest, freshest albums (this week: the infectious electro-pop of Little Boots and the more understated indie rock of Rogue Wave) to drop each week, I feel incredibly compelled to shine a light on music fresh in a different way -- specifically, fresh beats from some fly former Bobcats.

OU '09 alum Brian Kecskemety (BK) and his NYC cohort Brad Bambara, also known as the Stereo Bomb, create flawless, innovative mash-ups that rival those of Girl Talk's. There's the standard Jay-Z, Gaga and Weezy samples, but they're combined smartly with Queen, Radiohead, Spoon, U2, even Ben Folds (and a track from "The Lion King" soundtrack). BK is a solid dude with taste I can respect a whole lot, so I knew the Stereo Bomb's first release, Now Hear This, was going to rule. I finally remembered to download it this week (the album surfaced earlier in the quarter), and I was not disappointed one iota. Now Hear This is available for free on the Stereo Bomb's site. Seriously, you're a fool if you don't download this album. It's easy to love.

The brand new mash-up and remix EP, Bubblegum Bangers (FREE DOWNLOAD ALERT), from DJ Self Help, another former Bobcat, made its way to my iTunes this week as well. Now Columbus-based, Self Help might be best known to the OU community as the dude who DJs Dance or Die -- the one without the white man fro (no offense, Barticus -- got mad-love for your mane). Coincidentally, there's a Dance or Die tomorrow night, so perhaps Self Help will try to recreate some of his latest mash-ups and remixes then. Cross your fingers -- this stuff is innovative!

What makes it so great, you ask? Well, Self Help's quirky song selection, for one thing. If you're an indie and oldies whore like myself, you'll probably appreciate his remix of the TV on the Radio song "Ambulance" and his mash-up featuring George Harrison's cover of "Got My Mind Set on You." And let's just say I never expected to hear rap rhymes mashed up with '90s pop-rockers The Cranberries. It's simply a surprising EP -- in the best way possible.

Truth be told, the majority of new music I am exposed to does not excite me. It comes with the territory, though, considering the amount of music I am expected to listen to as someone who consistently writes about it. I can honestly say that these two releases excited me, immediately demanding my attention and serving as the soundtrack to what could be the most hectic week of the quarter -- week 9, baby. But I'm expecting the albums to only get better this weekend. I'm convinced mash-up albums were created solely for college students' going out "pregame" routine.

-- Jillian Mapes, ACRN's Editorial Director

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Drop It: February 23rd

Welcome back, hot-droppers. Yes, it's true, the onslaught of new music can be a tad overwhelming at times. Lucky for you, ACRN is always here to help sift through all of the new releases that are fit to illegally downlo- er, um, purchase.

Brian Jonestown Massacre is back with another album, Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?, showing no signs of slowing down after reaching double digits two years ago. The sound is a far cry from the BJM of old, almost reaching the point of techno, as demonstrated by the song "Let's Go Fucking Mental," which has consumed the band's Web site. So goes the progression of front man Anton Newcombe (that asshole from the movie "Dig"). The album does, however, represent the return of Matt Hollywood (the guy who gets pissed and quits in the movie "Dig") to the group.

Swedish indie-pop outfit Shout Out Louds will release a third album, Work, their first record in three years. Most of the album is readily available already, but the sparse, 80s-pop influenced album is still generating buzz. Work was produced by Phil Ek, whose impressive resume includes albums by Fleet Foxes, The Shins and Band of Horses.

This Tuesday will be a bittersweet release day for fans of The Streets, AKA Mike Skinner. It will mark the release of a long-awaited album, Computers and Blues, as well as Skinner's final effort under the name. Even before releasing his fourth album, Skinner was telling sites like NME that he was, to paraphrase, effing sick of being "The Streets." The new album seems to have a definitively darker tone, but Skinners lyrical prowess is still on display.

If somewhat-edgy pop-punk is more your thing, Alkaline Trio drops This Addiction this week. The title track is essentially a love letter that says: "Baby, you're like heroin. All those other girls are nothing but methadone to me." The rest of the album seems to pretty much follow suit, and the cover art depicts a heart-shaped collection of pills. Sometimes, it's OK to judge a book by its cover.

As for the best of the rest, there are a few notable blast-from-the-past type releases, including new goodies from Michelle Branch and Lifehouse. So if you feel like reliving the turn of the century, dig in.

That's all for now, but stay tuned next week for everything from Peter Gabriel to Mumford & Sons, not to mention Jamies - both Foxx and Cullum.

Greg Gallant - Copy Chief

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cure your winter blues...

Greetings, darlings!

I hope you aren’t all too terribly snowbound, knee deep in winter doldrums and rabid with cabin fever. Such conditions can trigger a quick descent into madness, which may manifest itself in excessive napping, antisocial tendencies, unnatural fur growth and the substitution of guttural grunts for actual speech. Personally, I’ve been trying to outmaneuver that cantankerous old man winter by blasting Pet Sounds on repeat, screwing up my face and growling at the snow laden tree outside my bedroom window.

See? Madness.

But fear not, loyal readers! I’m here to advise. While my first suggestion for battling winter blues might be a stiff bourbon, my second is to keep those speakers up at full volume. While the Beach Boys are always a fabulous asset in cold weather combat, you don’t necessarily have to reach for something so super summery. Any enjoyable beat will help de-stress your shriveled brain and crack a grin on your pale face. If you’re brave enough to venture out to your local record store, check out some of the new releases dropping this week:

Prolific Seattle label Sub Pop recently garnered a few new darlings, Dum Dum Girls, who adopted their moniker from the seminal Iggy Pop song Dum Dum Boys (insta-points in my book). These four beautiful women produce exceptionally pleasing pop music edged with distortion and just the tiniest bit of tough – think flowery sundress meets studded leather jacket. Their debut album, I Will Be, drops today, so pick it up and dig it -- Dum Dum Girls will be coming through Ohio in early April, and it’s never too early to start prepping for a riotous gig.

If you’re an Epitaph kind of guy-or-gal, get yourself down to the record store and pick up the newest release from St. Louis based rockers Story of the Year. The new album is called The Constant, and you can check out a full review by lovely lobster Cassie here. If you’re a Guided By Voices kind of guy-or-gal, check out We All Got Out of the Army, the newest album from legendary Dayton native / GbV vet Robert Pollard.

If you’d prefer not entirely original content – well, treats are in store. Former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel has dropped a cover album entitled Scratch My Back, wherein one can hear Peter covering the likes of Arcade Fire, Paul Simon, and the Magnetic Fields. But that’s not all! The second half of the project, another cover album called (I’ll Scratch Yours) is due out later this year. There, the artists covered on Peter’s portion will cover a few of his songs in turn. To check out a full review by our Senior Critic Kevin, click here.

Well, there you have it, my dears – highlights for the week. A bit of a slow one, yes, but there’s plenty to keep you company as you stare listlessly out of your window into the whirling wet white. Stay warm, stay sane, come back!

-Jen Kessler, Managing Editor

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another week of great music...

Bonjour mes homards!

It’s time for another roundup of all the exciting albums set to drop this week.

One of Bristol, U.K.’s electronic mainstays, Massive Attack, is back with their fifth regular studio album Heligoland. Hailing from the likes (and city) of fellow trip hop acts like Portishead and The Wild Bunch, this album promises to serve the same “Bristol sound” that it has given before.

Fellow British electropop group Hot Chip will formally release their fourth studio album One Life Stand this Tuesday as well. It’s predicted by both critics and insiders alike to be a pretty damn good album, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Another band back on the scene is HIM with Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice. This proves to be an exciting release for many, and is set to fill a void left since 2007’s Venus Doom.

Metal staples Fear Factory are on their way to the crest of another highly anticipated release Mechanize. Despite some inner struggles and legal issues, Fear Factory is full speed ahead with Tuesday as their prospected release date.

For more releases this week, check ACRN.com’s album reviews and see if we talk about your favorite new album. There will be more where that came from next week, so stay tuned!

-Matthew Anderson

Monday, January 25, 2010

Relevant releases for the week of January 24

Hey lobstaz!

The last time I blogged about upcoming releases, Aqua, Backstreet Boys, Everclear and KISS were on the calendar. It’s safe to assume that this entry will be more, say, relevant to most readers and music fans in general.

There are three release teases this week that have got me all but curious and anxious. Much-loved veteran rap group Three 6 Mafia was supposed to release its latest, Laws of Power, on November 10. Now, some sites are saying that the album will be released Tuesday while others are claiming a mid-March release. Quit playing games with my heart! (Ha, sorry. I promise I’m not hung up on that last entry.)

The other tease involves Jennifer Lopez’s new album, Love?, which was intended to be released this week. Sources are now claiming that we’ll have to wait until mid-April to hear more tracks like this fairly new single. Although, in my opinion, let’s just hope the rest aren’t quite as terrible and reliant on popular designer brands like Christian Louboutin to get them through the day.

Wrapping up the teases is American Idol fourth-place finisher Jason Castro, who was supposed to release his debut self-titled album this week. This, too, is apparently pushed back until mid-April. However, Castro did release The Love Uncompromised EP earlier this month. After listening to a bit of it here on Lala, I have concluded that the upcoming full-length will be sappy, generic and embarrassingly catchy, just as I’d expect any Idol contestant release to be.

Dream-like duo Beach House will release its third album, Teen Dream, this Tuesday. I tend to think Beach House is a bit too cinnamon applesauce for me – that is, mushy and sweet – but I actually enjoyed listening to this album. It’s a bit off the beaten path for them, carrying stronger beat and melody than previous albums. Check it out here on NPR.

I really wouldn’t consider myself a country music fan, but it’s worth noting that Grammy-nominated group Lady Antebellum is another mark on this week’s release calendar. Need You Now, the Lady’s second album, is highly anticipated by fans and critics alike due to the smashing breakout nature of their self-titled debut album, released in 2008.

British soul-pop sweetheart Corinne Bailey Rae continues with her soothing, saccharine balladry on upcoming release The Sea. This is her first album since the tragic 2008 death of her musician husband, the late Jason Rae. The Sea is available for a listen here on NPR. But be warned: The lyrics and general nature of the album refer to her struggle with the loss and ensuing emotions. If you’re in a mood to cry, go for it. If not, I’d hold off until you are.

This week also brings Romance Is Boring, the latest from indie poppers Los Campesinos! Again, I’m not the most avid Los Campesinos! fan, but I’m finding the snippets I’ve heard to be more likable than past songs. Unsurprisingly, the album can be heard in its entirety on YouTube. Have a listen to the title track and anticipated hit here.

Metal veterans
Fozzy are finally releasing their first album in a few years, Chasing the Grail, this Tuesday. I have a tough time referring to Fozzy as “metal” after hearing some of the new album. A bit too catchy and mild for most metalheads’ taste, I’m sure, and disappointingly so. Again, YouTube contains just about all of the songs on the album. One of which is riiiight here.

The enchanting
Charlotte Gainsbourg is technically releasing her third album, IRM, this week, though it leaked ages ago. A dark, eerie, soft indie album with its fair share of Gainsbourg whispers is lovely, of course, but not altogether surprising. Check it out here on NPR.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Enjoy, and be sure to keep an eye out for ACRN album reviews - we’ll definitely be covering some of those releases.

-Courtney Baldasare, Reviews Editor

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Year - New Music

Hey Lobsters,

So, we know it's been a long, cold, lonely winter without Drop It Like It's Hot, but we hope ya'll were still finding some good new music to throw into the mix.

Anyway, we figured we'd just pick up where we left off. There was a fair amount of clamoring at the end of the year about 2009 being a bit of a down year in terms of stellar albums, but there is certainly a lot to look forward to in 2010.

Perhaps the most anticipated disc to drop this week is Spoon's Transference. The indie rockers have gone about two and a half years without an album, but early indications of the new record are mostly positive. Feel free to sample the new songs here, here, and here.

Another intriguing release for indie fans this week is the Behave Yourself EP from Cold War Kids. After their much-lauded Robbers and Cowards, they laid a bit of an egg with Loyalty to Loyalty. The new release has been pretty well kept under wraps, but one teaser has fans hoping for a return to the quality of the band's debut.

On the more electronic front, RJD2 will be releasing The Colossus, a new full-length album. It seems like the Columbus-based DJ will continue to stray away from the instrumental, beat-based tunes from his early album, to the dismay of some long-time fans.

As far as more mainstream hip-hop, Missy Elliot returns this week with her first new album in a half-decade. The new album, Block Party, will feature collaborations with Amy Winehouse, T-Pain, and Lil Wayne, to name a few.

In other genres, the aging acoustic-rockers of Eels release End Times, their eighth album in 15 years. The new album will apparently center around the recent divorce of front-man Mark Oliver Everett.

Lastly, the pop-punk outfit Motion City Soundtrack makes their major-label debut with My Dinosaur Life. According to Spin, the new album "strikes a radio-ready balance between mayhem and melody." If MCS is trying to get a little more experimental while maintaining their catchy, emo roots, it sounds like they just might succeed.

Damn, it feels good to be dropping things as if they were hot again.

-Greg Gallant, Copy Editor