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Archive for November, 2010

CD Review – Sister Hazel

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Heartland Highway

Self-Released

Sister Hazel has been creating Southern alt-rock since the early 90’s. They broke out with the smash “All for You” in 1994 and since then they have been riding that feel-good vibe right into the next millenium. Their latest release is more of the same, which may not grab new fans, but their fanbase is so huge, it doesn’t really matter.

“Far Away” is a smooth mid-tempo semi-ballad that sounds like a tribute to American troops who are “not that far away.” Lead singer Ken Block has a voice that is instantly recognizable and is becoming a little more countrified especially on tracks like “Where Your Going” and “At Your Worst.”

One of the things that has always been refreshing about Sister Hazel is that their music is positive. Even on tracks like “Champagne High” from Fortress (one of my all-time favorites) and “Saddest Song (Not Coming Home)” the mood is melancholy. They are a group that sings about loving what you have or reminising about love or the “good ol’ days” and moving on with your life. It’s been working quite well for them for roughly two decades. Why change what works?

http://www.sisterhazel.com

CD Review – The Glass (Dance the night away)

Friday, November 12th, 2010

At Swim Two Birds

Plant Music

If you are looking to dance the night away with bouncy techno/house/disco music, then look no further than The Glass. Ten tracks of pure electro-bliss (including the fantastic “Michael McDonald”) encompasses every aspect of electronic music (similar to early Moby) with added rock and pop just for flavor. The title looks like they just took four random words and threw them together, until you realize that one half of the duo (Glen “DJ Wool” Brady) has a love for the ocean and swimming (he was a teenage water polo champion) and the other half (Dominique Keegan) thinks of himself as an ornithologist in his spare time. Hence the title At Swim Two Birds. Even with the strange title, this is an album to check out for all electronica fans.

http://www.plantmusic.com

CD Review – Tim Kasher (Cursive frontman goes solo!)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The Game of Monogamy

Saddle Creek Records

Sounding like a musical, Tim Kasher has made a masterpiece that is an ode to the emotions surrounding relationships and the ease at which they disappear. He uses his voice to pull you into the songs such as the pop gem “There Must Be Something I’ve Lost” and the urgent “A Grown Man” and “Bad, Bad Dreams.” “No Fireworks” is a devestating look at a romance gone stale with the chorus “I can’t feel anything at all.”

The opening “Monogamy Overture” and closing “Monogamy” is a combination of Sufjan Stevens and Broadway capping the album with swirling instrumentation and leaving you with a dire need to jump back into Kasher’s world.

Tim Kasher knows how to pull you in and keep you enraptured in his music. He’s done it with Cursive and The Good Life and now he’s doing it again (and possibly better) on his own. Take a listen. I guarantee that you will be able to relate.

http://www.saddle-creek.com

CD Review – The Octopus Project

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Hexadecagon

Peek-a-Boo Records

As a general rule, I can’t stand instrumental albums, unless it’s jazz or classical. So when I first popped in this album by The Octopus Project, I was not terribly thrilled. By the end of the album, I was ready to play it again.

The opener “Fuguefat,” is a head-nodding piano-driven hip-hop-infused beat that I could easily see Kanye West or Common rapping over. It’s infectious.

Other tracks like “Korakrit” and “A Phantasy” are lighter and give a more contemplative mood, while “Glass Jungle” sounds like it came straight off a Pattern is Movement album.

The Octopus Project knows how to reign in the listener. For someone who was very skeptical about instrumental albums and groups, they have made a believer out of me by making some of the most thought-provoking music this side of indie-pop.

http://www.theoctopusproject.com

CD Review – The Upwelling

Monday, November 1st, 2010

An American Stranger

Edmond Records

Sounding like the son of Joy Division, the debut from The Upwelling is like listening to the upside of depression. Lead singer Ari Ingber’s voice is very much like ___ from Joy Division or Paul Banks from Interpol, but the music and lyrics have a more positive vibe. “Wanderlust” sounds like a more upbeat Wallflowers.

“Who Needs You Now” gets back to the somber when Ingber sings the chorus “Who needs you now/ it’s not too late for you/ but it is too late for me and you,” and then follows that up with a short outro performed by a string section that could be playing on your heartstrings.

“Ladder 116” is really what the band is all about. A tribute to 9-11, the band formed shortly after the twin towers fell and this song (formerly called “Ladder 104”) is one of the best anthems for that tragedy. The track, which starts out with the line “Look in the sky/ Up in the air/ It looks like an angel/ The sky is so clear/ It’s such a beautiful day/ It moves just like a bird/ In the sky,” begins really quiet and then it explodes into a torrent of rock ‘n soul. It culminates in Ingber singing what the firefighters were no doubt asking as they gave their lives to try and save thousands of others: Can everybody breathe? Is everyone okay?

The Upwelling may have started with a tribute to 9-11, but they have the chops to be much more than that. This is a group that wears their lyrics on their sleeves and makes enrapturing rock music for the masses.

http://www.theupwelling.com