Monday, December 2, 2013

November 26 Releases, 2013

By: Megan Fair, Copy Editor

The dreary drudge of sludge and sleet has thrust itself upon us, leaving a desire for homemade food and endless naps. Likewise, this week did not offer many big releases in the industry, so bear with me as I scrounge up my very scattered thoughts about this week’s big releases. What can I say? My brain is craving tryptophan, so if it’s not turkey, my brain doesn’t care.

First up to bat is the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack. The last Hunger Games Soundtrack featured artists such as Arcade FireTaylor Swift and the Civil Wars. This soundtrack is stacked with even more big name, exciting artists expressing their take on feelings and scenes from the blockbuster. This team has heavy hitters all around ranging from Ellie Goulding to Coldplay to the Lumineers.

Patti Smith’s soulful “Capitol Letter” has a Johnny Cash-does-“Hurt” vibe, which is pretty cool. “Devil May Cry” is The Weeknd’s smooth track. The floating falsetto vocals are pretty rad, and The Weeknd’s signature sound is ever present. Santigold’s contribution, “Shooting Arrows at the Sky,” is spunky and cool, and “Atlas” is a Coldplay track that doesn’t do anything crazy, but it is Coldplay, so... 

Possibly the coolest track on this soundtrack is Lorde’s eerie cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” The youngster’s caramelized voice drips over martial pounding and ambient background music until a blasting build at the end. 

Closing out this week’s Drop It Like It’s Hot is One Direction. Oh, those cheeky boys with such charming accents. From what I hear, everyone’s still creamin’, especially with the tracks on Midnight Memories. As much as one may be inclined to hate, the boys do have great pipes, and their music is intended to be very fun. This album is definitely edgier, but it continually expresses their fun side while emphasizing the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Also, you can’t deny that you definitely sing “Best Song Ever” when you’re alone in your car. 

In a slow sea of mostly nobodies, these are the albums that stuck out this week. I couldn’t even tell you one artist who dropped an album today that more than 50 people care about. At least you can rest easy knowing that those food comas aren’t keeping you from missing any important album releases. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 22 Releases, 2013

By: Colin Roose, Album Reviews Editor

I think it says something about our culture when a week with nearly two-dozen major-label releases is considered disappointing. Think about it: how many new albums are you going to listen to this week? I can't claim to know you, sir or madam, but probably not anywhere close to all of them. Do you know what that means? It means that you, me and the rest of America have come to expect a level of music production far greater than our capacity to consume. Oh, capitalism.

Anyway, you're probably not going to sell many albums this week if you're not Katy Perry. Prism is guaranteed to smash all the records when it descends upon the FM-listening public this week, and will probably be number one for about ten bazillion weeks. 

If you've been breathing air for the last month, you're 200% likely to have heard the lead single "Roar." It's stuffed with big, obvious hooks, hacky, clichéd lines like "I've earned my stripes," and was accompanied with an equally tacky music video. And I love every second of it.

No, no, don't roll your eyes. I'll talk about good music in a second here, after I sift through all the names I've never heard of on the list of releases.

Aha! Best Coast, with its EP Fade Away. Original surf-rock may have lost its relevance the moment The Beach Boys made Pet Sounds, but all those punks picked it back up and kicked it around for a while in the early '80s. And now we have this band to give the California beaches a nice jangly indie sheen. You can almost see the waves cresting and crashing on the guitar reverb and singer Bethany Cosentino yelling from across the sand. I miss summer already.

There's Motörhead too, who, according to metalhead extraordinaire/my roommate Justin, have put out the same album over and over since the '90s. I think it's understandable, though. I wouldn't know how to top "Ace of Spades" either. Lemmy still somehow sounds like a car trying to start, and the guitars have a modern flavor of angry.

Ducktails! Woo-oo! Continuing the trend of "one guy trying to pass himself off as a band," Matthew Mondanile makes music lonely dudes tend to create: vaguely psychedelic, very-produced indie rock. The style of his new EP Wish Hotel has been christened with the name "hypnagogic pop." Dream-pop is already sleepy enough, so apparently hypnagogic pop is indie's equivalent of Ambien. If you have a tolerance for the blurry-eyed wonder mood, you may enjoy this children's cartoon-loving hypnotist.

Aaaand…yep, that's everyone you're going to care about in music this week. No, we are not talking about Ted Nugent. Ever. No, we are not talking about a band called "Gringo Star." I wish we could talk about Donna Summer, but she only has a remix album out this week. Pity. But stay tuned until next week, when Arcade Fire will reflekt some sunlight onto the dim light shone by this week's album releases.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24 Releases, 2013

By: Zack Baker, Copy Editor

New releases are on the light side this week, but that doesn't mean there isn't any great music dropping. Everyone seems to have jumped out of the way this week to make room for the OVO-headmaster himself (Drake), but a few other upstarts are on the calendar with our Canadian friend. 

Obviously, the most talked-about album hitting shelves today is Nothing Was The Same, Drake's latest full-length. The album's been pulling hype for the past few months with consistent lead-up singles spanning the genre grab bag that Drake occupies. There's radio-banger "Started From The Bottom," R&B-Drake classic "Hold On We're Going Home" and the controversially named "Wu-Tang Forever." 

Drake isn't breaking new ground with NWTS, but the production has been stepped up a level and Drake has a more consistent flow than on his past two albums. If you're a Drake hater, I doubt this release will convert you to The Church Of Drake™, but it's the best Drake album that Drake has ever made. Drake.

Odd Future-affiliated neo-soul duo The Internet dropped Feel Good today, and it's a marked improvement over their debut, Purple Naked Ladies. Fresh off a nationwide tour supporting Mac Miller, The Internet have put together a fantastic jazz-funk-soul-R&B-vibey-whatever album that doesn't sound like anything else out at the moment. 

Delicate chords tumble precariously over snappy basslines and fantastic drums, creating music that doesn't need to get into your face to prove its worth. Early single "Dontcha" and late album cut "Shadow Dance" are the best of the bunch here--they exemplify the fantastically aimless feel of the music and Syd's vocals drape perfectly over the chilled out instrumentals.

Scottish synthpop trio Chvrches also have a new effort out this week, and it's an album that I'm sure to be listening to through the end of the year. The Bones Of What You Believe is the culmination of almost two years of hype-building and scattershot releases from the group, and while many tracks have been kicking around the blogosphere for some time, the album still feels remarkably fresh.

Since the band caught some attention with "The Mother We Share" in late 2011, it has been expanding on what fans can expect from a Chvrches release. "Lies," "Gun," "Recover" and the subsequent Recover EP established the band's core sound, and thankfully The Bones of What You Believe reaches beyond those expectations. From the hard-hitting "Lungs" to the drifting "You Caught The Light," Chvrches prove that there was a reason behind all of its buzz.

Apart from these releases, the week is pretty sparse. There's a new Kings of Leon album, which I assume sounds like a Kings of Leon album, and a fantastic new Mazzy Star release to give a little more competition to the great Northern radio savior. Not the most amazing week for new releases, but plenty to keep you busy until Danny Brown's Old on September 30th.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 17 Releases, 2013

By Rachel Haas, Managing Editor

For me, this week is kind of an exciting week for music. Not only is MGMT’s self-titled third release finally coming out, but Mr. VanWyngarden and Mr. Goldwasser are accompanied by Nick Thorburn’s Islands, Grouplove and a band that I interviewed over the summer, Royal Bangs.

Like I said, you should start getting a little pumped.

Connecticut’s psychedelic rock duo is back with MGMT, an album that seemed to be pushed back for, like, ever. The follow-up to 2010’s Congratulations has been steadily building up buzz with the band's usual vague interviews and oddly wonderful musings. More recently, they put out the album’s first single, “Alien Days,” with live appearances on late-night TV not far behind. Many MGMT fans were disappointed with the outfit’s last release since, you know, the band didn’t have a thousand carbon copies of “Kids” and “Electric Feel.” Judging by “Alien Days,” don’t expect VanWynGarden and Goldwasser to return to the realms of Oracular Spectacular just yet.

Congratulations grew on me after a few listens, and I learned to love it like I love Oracular. I have no doubt that even if MGMT’s album is another deviation of their sound and skills, it’ll be hella fun, and I am so stoked.

OK, now that I’m done fangirling over that, let’s move on to Islands. Last year (Feb. 14, to be exact), former-Unicorn Nicholas Thorburn dropped A Sleep & A Forgetting. Thorburn told us that album was “centered more on life and things that happen while you are alive. It's kind of a dark sort of outlook on how life really is,” and the product of a very personal breakup. This time around, the singer says the band's upcoming release Ski Mask is all about being angry. After listening to the single “Becoming the Gunship,” I can’t wait to see where Thorburn’s anger takes him.

Grouplove makes some really top-notch catchy dance hits that are part of the handful of songs I actually don’t hate when the band comes on the radio. “Colours,” “Tongue Tied” and “Itchin’ on a Photograph” were so much fun and these guys put on one ultra-fun live show. I have a fondness for them in my soul, and my fingers are crossed for some more sing-alongs.

And finally, Brass is also set to drop courtesy of Knoxville, Tenn. band Royal Bangs, a rock outfit discovered by The Black Keys’ Pat Carney and formerly signed to Audio Eagle Records. They’re fun.

Oh, and a shout-out to Elton John. You little tiny wonderful dancer, you. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9 Releases, 2013

By: Emily Votaw, Features & Interviews Editor

The week of April 9, 2013, is just not a good one if you, you know, like music. Right off the bat we’ve got some real clunkers: Paramore, Brad Paisley, Stone Sour and even the infamous Paul Anka--bringing the softest of rock and the strangest of cover selections to his latest release.

Paramore was got pretty big sometime around 2007, and the world has been regretting whatever horrible toxic agent polluted the national water supply enough to make an entire generation of eighth graders purchase Riot! ever since. To me, this is nothing but boring pop punk riffs and dead percussion. But to some, Paramore is one of the defining bands of my generation, so maybe I’m missing something. Listening to the singles the band has been releasing over the past several months--and believe you me, this took some mighty self discipline on my part--I discovered one thing: I still really, really, really don’t enjoy Paramore. I couldn’t advise watching the video for “Now” because I don’t think I “got” it either. There are people in a desert, a guy in a military uniform--I don’t understand. 

Up next is Brad Paisley. Need I say more? If there is a man who single-handedly encapsulates the culture that has forever changed modern country music, it is Brad Paisley. I don’t like so many things about Brad Paisley. Once again, that’s just my snotty take on Mr. Paisley. I did grow up in a very rural area, and at some point, modern country-rock started to get under my skin. Warning: his new album is entitled Wheelhouse--and I want you to know that that is the word for that goofy little room on a boat where they keep the steering wheel. I hope you have been to Put-In-Bay, and I hope that you have ridden Miller’s Ferry, because one of those boats (which takes people to the most depressing party isle on Lake Erie) is a perfect depiction of what a “wheelhouse” is. I know that Paisley is probably not trying to conjure anything nautical with the title of his latest release--I just desperately hope that he is.

I mentioned Paul Anka earlier--and I do intend to write about him, but I need to save the “best” for last because, sadly, the guy who sang “Diana” is arguably the most artistically legitimate of the last two acts I named off. Really, this album, cleverly titled Duets, is made up of just that--a collection of duets that Anka recorded with all types of odd and kind of boring musicians. You’ve got Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Gloria Estefan and, of course, no truly vanilla recording would be complete without Michael Bublé! I can’t say that I enjoy this material, and it’s not just because it’s showing all the classic symptoms of “Grandma Music”--it’s because the duets just aren’t cohesive. There is too much jumping around, and this just does feel like a collection of mediocre crooner songs.

I know I have been rather negative, and perhaps not as eloquent as I could have been. I just feel like I owe it to my fellow music-lovers to let them know that this week of releases is just a big ol’ barrel of stinkers. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2 Releases, 2013

By: Zack Baker, Copy Editor

This week has basically been the week from hell for me. I’ve been buried under papers, exams and quizzes for every single one of my classes, so taking a break from all that stress to check out this week’s new music was much needed for me. And luckily, this week’s releases rule in so many different ways.

Up first is Tyler, The Creator’s Wolf. If you’ve been paying attention to music at all for the past few years, you know who Tyler is. The ringleader of hip-hop collective Odd Future, Tyler’s been putting out music that varies in theme from offensive jokes about rape and homophobia to introspective tracks about his estranged father and social anxiety issues. His collective’s gained quite a following, and the follow-up to his 2011 release Goblin has been hotly anticipated. Wolf is a continuation of these themes, and while production quality has gone up significantly, the weird split between Tyler’s styles has only become more prominent. Next to the album’s numerous high points (“Jamba,” “Answer,” “IFHY,” “Rusty,” “Tamale” and “Lone”), a lot of the songs on this 18 track opus fall flat.

The Cold War Kids also dropped Dear Miss Lonelyhearts and, even though I’ve never listened to the group before, I thought I’d give it a shot. Based on what little I know about the band, this album definitely seems to be incorporating a lot more electronic stuff than their previous albums (it’s 2013, what else is new?). Lots of really thumping basslines here, and Nathan Willett’s vocals fit right in with the chaotic instrumentals below them. Seems like some pretty groovy stuff for anyone looking for a harder take on indie rock with a dash of electronic influence thrown in for good measure.

So, New Kids On The Block are apparently back. How could I pass up the opportunity to see what a band who peaked well before my time are producing well after their prime? 10 is an album with a deeply confusing name (it’s not the ten year anniversary of anything as far as I can tell, nor their tenth studio album), a fantastically outdated album cover and no discernable style of its own. Particularly strange and hilarious is “Remix (I Like The),” which sounds like what would happen if Nickelback tried to do a psuedo-dance track and talked about remixes as a metaphor for a female dancing. Pretty much everything else here sounds like an attempt to bring the boy band craze back, and while it’s nice to reminisce about what bad taste we all had back then, the album doesn’t serve any purpose other than that.

This week also brings the release of new albums from Alkaline Trio and Bring Me The Horizon if you like your music on the heavier side, and Telekinesis and Generationals if you’re more keen to the indie rock persuasion.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26 Releases, 2013

By: Nadia Kurtz, News Editor

To be honest, when I looked at last week's list of album releases, nothing jumped out at me. Sure, The Strokes are a familiar name, but I just figured that the band probably couldn't top "Under Cover of Darkness." My first thought when I saw Depeche Mode was that I wasn't interested in revisiting the eighties. And other than that, everything else just looked meh.

But nevertheless, I decided to play some albums. The Strokes really took me by surprise. I've never been a huge fan, and I can't even begin to pretend that I've listened to all their music, and maybe I'm just garnering a greater appreciation for different music, but the very first guitar riff of the album just captured me. The rest of the first song, "Tap Out," is catchy, and the funky guitar riffs made me really want to listen to the whole album. And it turned out my desires were not in vain, as Comedown Machine proved me wrong in assuming that The Strokes were over.

Okay, so I don't know if "machines" are trending, but Depeche Mode's album is called Delta Machine. Does anyone else find this amusing? No? Okay, well I guess I'll talk about the album then. So I was wrong again in assuming that Depeche Mode is beyond its heyday. I still admit that some of Depeche's '80s stuff is much better than it is today, partly because then it was innovative and now it just sounds kind of like any average electronic album. But what does make Depeche Mode stand out is Dave Gahan's grisly vocals.

And finally, I decided to close my eyes and spin my finger and see which album it landed on. The fortunate contester happened to be Phosphorescent's new album, Muchacho. After I said the album name aloud to myself a few too many times and got over it (except I actually didn't because I'm still saying it), I decided to give it a listen. And boy was I lucky I chose this album because I just found some of my new go-to jams. I've never been a huge fan of country, but I wouldn't categorize Muchacho as that. The eclectic mix of melodic piano, electronics and the singer's subtle twang give the music a soft and pleasant folksy sound.

So I lucked out with albums this week, and I learned a valuable lesson in the process: never judge an album until you listen to it! So next week I might actually listen to the new Lil Wayne album. Or I won't. I'll get back to you on that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 12 Releases, 2013

By: Rachel Haas, Reviews Editor

Hey, guys! Hey! It’s Valentine’s Day this week! Hey! Ugh…

Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day this Thursday and, if you’re anything like me, Thursday is going to be just another day albeit slightly more pink, frilly and mushy-gushy. But at least one can retreat into the deep abyss of newly released music right?

Eh, debatable. 

While there were some rad releases, there wasn’t much for the casual listener. There weren’t any major name releases, but some of the smaller ones I could really get behind. So, here we go.

First up to bat is Veronica Falls. Now, I had never heard of this band before now and, I have to say, I’m pretty bummed out about that. The band is mostly pop with West Coast, laid-back sunny reverb that makes for something pretty damn irresistible. None of the tracks off Waiting for Something to Happen are that long—just enough of a sample to leave listeners satisfied. It makes me think of summer, first love and a simpler time. You can’t really argue with that.

Matt Costa also dropped a self-titled album that’s typical singer-songwriter feel-good vibes. It’s cutesy, it’s catchy and it’s pretty accessible. Anybody who likes soft, indie-pop music will probably like this. It’s got a sprinkle of strings and adorable tinges of sweet, innocent romance—you know, just in time for V-Day if you’re into that sort of thing.
English group Foals also gave listeners Holy Fire, perhaps hoping to gives fans some sort of religious experience. I’m not sure if it’s some sort of epiphany, but I definitely get some shivers during some points on the album. I don’t know what to make of this band quite yet or really how to describe them. They’re just a good time. Well, Spotify did describe their sound as “jittery,” and I’d be inclined to agree. They are jittery, but in a good way. I would so get up and jitter around to their tunes…if I actually knew what that consisted of.

Oh, and before you start hatin’, LL Cool J’s album was pushed back to May 7th. Otherwise, you best believe he’d be all over this post. Word.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 Releases, 2013

By: Carolyn Menyes, Managing Editor

Typically for the movie industry, January is the month when… how do I say this?… not very good movies are released. Or straight-up bad (example: Movie 43).

For the music industry, however, it seems like January is the month where a whole lotta nothin’ comes out. January 29 is a slightly paltry day for album releases, but the world has some stuff going on. Let’s have a look-see, shall we?

Now, this is where it gets a little embarrassing and a little personal. This summer, I missed seeing Justin Bieber at the famous Apollo Theater by, like, three people. His manager came out to tell my roommate and me (as well as a few other straggling fans) that we were just a little too late.  

At that show, the power went out and Bieber had to perform some songs acoustic with the audience. After hearing about what a legendary show this was, I was even more bummed. This was the low point of my June.

But, my disappointment was a little lifted when Bieber announced Believe Acoustic, a stipped-down version of his now well-loved songs and three brand spankin’ new tracks (including the Selena Gomez breakup track, "Nothing Like Us"). Now, call me whatever what you want, but I’m convinced this scrappy lil’ Canadian has a good bit of talent. He can pluck his guitar with the rest of them and his voice has developed into a solid one for his pop. If nothing else, this is what all the youngins are listening to, so strip away the pretension and give this a spin.

If I may attempt to restore some of my indie cred, Local NativesHummingbird is another release I’m stoked on. The band's last album, Gorilla Manor, is the kind of record I forgot about until I stumbled across it on shuffle, then I instantly remembered its wonderfulness. I’m hopeful about the follow-up, though if the few tracks I sampled (including lead single “Breakers”) are any indication, it’s a little on the dull side. Atmospheric! But dull.

Sister singing team Tegan and Sara dropped their first studio album in nearly four years, Heartthrob. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about them except for their sexuality and their relation to one another. So, I can’t make claims about whether or not fans will be pleased. Just being honest! However, opening track/lead single “Closer” is a poppy, blippy little number. I got some Gwen Stefani, L.A.M.B.-era vibes, as well as some mid-‘90s girly pop. Worth a listen or two, I’d say.

In other releases, Destiny’s Child put out a greatest-hits compilation, Love Songs. Juuuust in time for Beyoncé’s turn at the Super Bowl. Well played. The lone new track (their first in eight years), "Nuclear," is some smooth-ass R&B with a serious mid-‘90s, En Vogue vibe, and thus, it feels a little dated. Certainly more dated than “Say My Name,” and that song’s actually old. It’s more adult than anything they’ve ever done, which I guess is a solid reflection of this point in their lives. And, you know, good for Kelly and Michelle.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 22 Releases, 2013

By: Chris Dobstaff, Editorial Director

Ahhh. Here we are in the wonderful year of 2013. The Mayans didn't kill us, and now we can get back to caring about the things that really matter: new album releases. With ACRN now up and running for the spring semester at Ohio University, we're back to actively seeking out albums to listen to each and every week.

Let's start with Ra Ra Riot, a band that I have a couple of gripes with. The Syracuse-based group's first album, The Rhumb Line, was incredible. There were fantastic string arrangements from Alexandra Lawn and cello and violinist Rebecca Zeller. It came out around the same time Vampire Weekend released its first effort, and honestly, I liked Ra Ra Riot's better. Now, with its third album, I've given up hope. Beta Love largely ignores the gorgeous strings that made me love the band in the first place (in part because of Lawn's departure last year). Still, Ra Ra Riot has shifted to more of a synth-driven band, and it's just not working out.

The Joy Formidable is releasing its second album this week, a follow-up to 2011's The Big Roar. The alt-rock band has returned for more guitar-driven rock, with lead singer Ritzy Bryan's voice sounding both delicate and badass. She's really good at that. I have yet to hear the entire album, but from the few songs I have heard, I'd say that The Joy Formidable is continuing to do what it does best. Though I don't know if the group will ever write a song as great as "Whirring."

There's also the release of Hilly Eye's debut, Reasons to Live. The psychedelic noise pop duo includes Amy Klein, the former guitarist for Titus Andronicus on its tour for The Monitor. I have to admit, Klein was one of the best parts of a Titus live show. She jumped up and down for the concert's entirety, a feat that required great physical endurance. Endurance that I sure don't have. Regardless, it will be exciting to see what she and drummer Katherine Tung have done with their first record. Check out my review on ACRN later this week!

Other records coming out this week include Esben and the Witch's Wash the Sins Not Only the Face, Bad Religion's True North and Hung at Heart by The Growlers. It seems to me that this is a week to try something new. So go out, pick up something you've never heard of before and see if it can capture you. If not, well, we'll just have to try again next week won't we?