Album Review – “Odd Blood” by Yeasayer

7 May

Here’s a sentence you probably thought you’d never hear – Yeasayer and Cyndi Lauper have something in common.

They both just wanna have fun.

Odd Blood, the latest release from Brooklyn’s Yeasayer, is a complete departure from their previous record. Gone are most of the qualities that made the group such an indie hit.

Their weird, ambient textures? Gone. The spacey feeling of songs like “2080” and “Sunrise”? Buh-bye. That whole world music vibe? See ya.

But while the band may have lost some of what made them unique, it’s what they’ve gained that makes them even more memorable. The band honed its songwriting skills, fell in love with pop music, and created one of the best albums of the year.

The band’s new lease on life is immediately noticeable on “Ampling Alp.” The song’s cheerful, 80’s inspired feel gives way to the surprisingly upbeat lyrics, “Stick up for yourself, son/Never mind what anybody else done.”

Odd Blood reaches its peak on “O.N.E.” The track is songwriting mastery – it weaves in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, feeling like an outer space disco track.
But the album suffers from maddening inconsistency. While the album has a handful of stellar tracks, about half the album falls flat. Songs like “Strange Reunions” and “Love Me Girl” feel unfinished and half-hearted.

Still, Odd Blood is a definite must for anyone in the mood to get down with a funky fresh dance jam.

Sorry. Seems like my article, much like Odd Blood, is trying a bit too hard.

Standout Tracks: “O.N.E.” and “Madder Red”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Biggest Strength: A funky and weird party vibe
Biggest Weakness: The album’s inconsistency hurts the listening experience.
The Final Word: For those about to dance, Odd Blood is a must. But you might want to skip a few tracks.

Blog in Lo-Fi’s Three Best Relaxing Songs

9 Dec

Every once in awhile, we all need a little downtime. And what better way to relax then by dimming the lights and putting on some quiet tunes?

But which songs do you listen to? Fear not! Your friendly neighborhood Blog in Lo-Fi ishere to help. Here are our top relaxing songs:

3. “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) (acoustic)” by Deftones

California alt-rockers Deftones have made a career out of being badasses. Their early videos were all about mayhem and hair-splitting, blood-curdling gutteral screams. But on their B-Sides and Rarities album, the band showed a unique, sensitive side. On the track, singer Chino Moreno’s vocals are at a near whisper and the song, which in its original arrangement is a headbanger’s classic, sounds delicate and sensitive.

2. “Rosyln” by Bon Iver & St. Vincent

Much to the dismay of indie music fans and Twilight haters alike, the soundtrack accompanying the latest tween vampire movie New Moon was actually pretty good. The soundtrack featured original songs from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Grizzly Bear, among others. But the standout track from the album is “Rosyln,” a song by lo-fi god Bon Iver with the help of Brooklyn’s St. Vincent. The song’s hushed atmosphere and echoing vocals make for a perfect nighttime song.

1. “Hoppípolla” by We Are Scientists

In their cover of Sigur Rós’ “Hoppípolla,” the band tones down the original version’s grandiose feel in favor of a quieter acoustic number. We Are Scientists keeps the song in its original Icelandic translation, but the song retains its original power. This is impressive, as most listening to this song will have the slightest idea what the song is about (for those who are interested, “Hoppípolla” translates to “Hopping in Puddles.)

Blog in Lo-Fi’s 5 Best Songs of the Year

9 Dec

With 2009 drawing to a close, I felt it appropriate to pick my five favorite songs of the year. This was a great year for music, with several established bands releasing new work, as well as great new bands popping up.

Without further ado, here are my five favorite tracks of 2009:

5. “Airport Surroundings” by Loney Dear

Loney Dear’s Dear John was one of the best records of the year. It’s lush, beautiful composition made it a low-fi record for the ages, and “Airport Surroundings” was its best song. The upbeat, almost electronic drums ticked along with singer Emil Svanängen’s heartfelt vocals. Hopefully this record will introduce his music to the States.

4. “Nothing to Worry About” by Peter Bjorn & John

What do you get when you mix a quasi-futuristic hook, dancing Japanese bikers and a downright fun song? Why, PB&J’s “Nothing to Worry About,” of course.

The song is hooky from start to finish, and bristles with a unique European swagger. I dare you not to dance along. No really, I do.

3. “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit

Okay, so it didn’t technically come out in 2009. Sue me. The majority of the world hadn’t heard this unbelievably catchy tune until the summer, and it’s even made it into a Blackberry commercial. The song is fun and upbeat, and is the best song on an album filled with great cuts.

2. “Sink” by Brand New

Quite the departure from the other songs on the list, Brand New’s “Sink” is one of the strongest songs on their latest album, Daisy. Its sinister opening gives way to singer Jesse Lacey’s howling vocals and screaming guitar lines. If you like to rock–and rock hard–this song is a must.

1. “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups have, in my humble opinion, written one of the best songs of the decade with “Panic Switch.” It’s been stuck in my head nonstop since June, and with good reason. The ambiguous vocals mix perfectly with the fuzz-drenched bass, rhythmic drums and etherial keyboards to make what is, without question, the best rock song of the year.

I Swear, this Isn’t a Blog About Brand New…

9 Nov

…But it sure seems like one.

This week, I’ll be driving with friends to the National in Richmond to see the twice aforementioned Brand New.

I have seen the once before–nearly a year ago, in fact. That time was in Virginia Beach, at the Norva. The Norva is one of my favorite places to see live music, but the drive was murder. A six hour (round trip) drive was too much, and I wasn’t able to enjoy the show. But this time, we’re shaving two hours off the drive and getting there nice and early – with time to recharge and get food.

Brand New will be playing with Thrice, who I saw with the band last time. I like them both, so it’s definitely worth the meager $25 I’m paying.

At the last show, I had to leave the crowd after a group of us fell in the pit, injuring someone. She had to be taken out of the club. The band actually stopped playing and told the audience that if they didn’t calm down they’d play an acoustic show. The crowd didn’t stop, and the band kept playing. Something had to give, so I got out and acted like “that guy” by standing by the bar with my arms crossed.

That definitely won’t be happening this time.

Hopefully I’ll have pictures to post from the show.

Until then,
P.

Album Review – Daisy by Brand New

28 Sep
Brand New will release "Daisy" on September 22nd

Brand New returns with "Daisy"

Brand New has spent the better part of their career challenging listeners. Like Pearl Jam before them, the Long Island quintuplet has never stayed satisfied, with legions of fans more than willing to follow along. With Daisy, Brand New has created one of their best and most challenging albums.

Brand New has never been a band to stay in one musical head space for very long. Each album sounds vastly different than its predecessor and Daisy is no exception. The whining pop punk of Your Favorite Weapon now a distant memory, Brand New continues to experiment with new sounds and textures.

Daisy is, in a word, dense. Much like the band’s last release, 2006s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, this new album is difficult to approach. In truth, it’s a very coarse record that feels almost grimy at first listen. But in true Brand New style, the patient listener is rewarded with an album that is solid from start to finish.

Anger and frustration have always been central to the mystique of Brand New, and that doesn’t change on Daisy. The lead single, “At the Bottom,” still broods and explodes like so many of the band’s trademark tunes. This time around, though, Brand New appears to have taken some cues from the grunge bands of years past. Whining guitars and dirty drums mix together to create a sound that feels like the bastard child of Modest Mouse’ The Moon & Antarctica and Radiohead’s OK Computer.

Daisy cover art

"Daisy" cover art

Songs like “Be Gone,” with its staccato vocal treatment and the twists and turns of “Bought a Bride” force the listener to pay attention. This kind of inventiveness and intensity might have turned off a legion of Brand New fans, but it has rightfully earned them the title of “America’s Radiohead.” Jesse Lacey, lead singer, said the band wrote the album for the stage instead of the studio. This conscious decision makes the album feel awkward at some points, but isn’t music supposed to be seen live anyway?

Daisy’s weakest link is the lyrics. Lacey largely gave up writing duties for this album and it shows. The sometimes vague and mostly brilliant lyrics are gone, replaced with a more upfront approach. Themes of closure mark the album as the band questions it’s future.

After some of the great lines of albums past, hearing Lacey croon “The champ goes down like a clown in the second round” on “Bed” is a huge letdown. This isn’t to say there aren’t a generous helping of catchy hooks. But Brand New is capable of better.

Matching the brilliant intensity of their last album was always going to be difficult, but the boys of Brand New have created a worthy successor. True to form, the album feels off-putting at first, but each subsequent spin reveals something new to love. Is Daisy Brand New’s best album? Probably not. Is it one of the best albums of the year? Absolutely.

The kings of alternative have raised the bar again. Perhaps no one can say it better than Lacey did on “Degausser” from The Devil and God…: “No matter what they say, I am still the king.”

Reign on, Brand New. Reign on.

Standout Tracks: “At the Bottom” and “Bought a Bride”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Biggest Strength: It has the kind of intensity and brooding sensitivity the band has made its trademark.
Biggest Weakness: The lyrical content leaves a lot to be desired.
The Final Word: While it might not be Brand New’s best work, it’s a great to see a band keep pushing itself and creating quality music.

Article property of GMU’s Broadside; Music and images property of Brand New.

New Music Monday: Releases for Tuesday, July 7th

6 Jul
Son Volt returns with their latest album, American Central Dust.

Son Volt returns with their latest album, American Central Dust.

Happy Mondy to everyone! I hope your weekends were all lovely.

The first Tuesday of July brings us new releases from heavyweights like Son Volt and Metric, as well as the highly-anticipated third album from stellastarr*.

Releases for July 7th
Billy Boy On Poison – Drama Junkie Queen
All Time Low – Nothing Personal
stellastarr* – Civilized
Drive-By Truckers – Live From Austin Texas
The Low Anthem – Oh My God Charlie Darwin
Son Volt – American Central Dust
Dr. Dog – Don’t Stop (Loving Me Now)
Metric – Fantasies
The Black Keys – The Big Come Up

Saturday’s Videos of the Week

4 Jul

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope your weekends are going well.

For today’s post, I’ve posted five music-related videos I think you’ll like. Ready?

Video #1: “Slow Burning Crimes” by East Hundred

Philadelphia’s East Hundred are primed to explode. Their newest release, Passenger is an incredible slice of indie pop. Their entire album can be streamed on their website, which even includes a free download of this song!

Video #2: “Percussion Gun” by White Rabbits

Dual-drummer wielding indie rockers White Rabbits released their latest effort, It’s Frightening, earlier this summer. If you get a chance, check them out live. Trust me, they rock.

Video #3: “Flume” by Bon Iver

This is a live rendition of “Flume” performed for Myspace last year. Bon Iver is, in my humble opinion, one of the best acts out right now. Most bands can’t pull of the kind of raw emotion with a full band that Bon Iver does with a stripped down group. This is definitely worth your time.

Video #4: “What Is Love?” Cover by Diane Birch

I’m a sucker for cheezey dance songs. But cheezey dance songs covered by the amazing up-and-comer Diane Birch? Well now, you have my attention. And hopefully this will give her yours, too.

Video #5: “Rap Chop” Remix by DJ Steve Porter

What, because I run a blog I have to be serious all the time? There really aren’t any words to describe this, you should just watch and enjoy.