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 BeyoncĂ©’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?