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Archive for June, 2011

CD Review – Cold Cave

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Cherish the Light Years

Matador Records

It is quite obvious that Wesley Eisold (aka Cold Cave) listened to a lot of Joy Division, The Smiths and The Cure as a kid. The 80’s-sounding industrial rock (combined with a morose album cover) leads straight to a big-hair goth revival. “The Great Pan is Dead” and “Pacing Around the Church” sound more like opening movements to a greater opus as opposed to separate songs. “Burning Sage” and “Confetti” bring back Depeche Mode memories.

Eisold says that this album is a tribute to New York City and the late night walks he would take when his family moved there. “I’ve always loved the upbeat dance songs with those kind of downer lyrics. This is a Cold Cave version of that.” It parallels the beauty and decay that swirls throughout NYC and that beauty is the music mixing with the lyrical depression to form an album any goth or industrial fan would love.

CD Review – The Vaccines

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?

Welcome to the party! “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” is a straight-up Ramones sendup that opens an album that is much more diverse than it seems. The three minute “If You Wanna” is like a punked-up Strokes rip-off, but keeps the energy flowing much better than anything The Strokes have released.

The Vaccines sound a lot like U.K. tourmates Arctic Monkeys, but they know how to temper the punk with a little Euro-pop on tracks like “A Lack of Understanding” and “Blow It Up” and then kick it back up with killers like “Post Break-Up Sex.”

Both these bands are the beginning of a new European invasion. No, The Vaccines are not The Beatles, but they are better than Oasis! Euro post-punk is in full stride and The Vaccines are at the front of the pack.

CD Review – The Unthanks

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


Rough Trade Records

When you have fans like Radiohead, Ben Folds, Portishead and Elvis Costello, people start to take notice; and they should. The Unthank sisters (Rachel and Becky and yes, Unthank is their God-given last name) have figured out how to make melancholy piano-based dreary-folk that fits their surname perfectly. With tracks like “Give Away Your Heart” and the soul-tugging Tom Waits cover “No One Knows I’m Gone,” The Unthanks fourth album continues on their themes of heartbreak and death, similar to The Decemberists, but without the odd instrumentations.

Formerly known as Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, The Mercury Prize nominees The Unthanks have created, yet again a brilliant (if not depressing) folk album that is one of the top albums of 2011.

CD Review – Shawn Pittman (Basic Blues)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Edge of the World

Delta Groove Records

Shawn Pittman has been recording blues albums for over 15 years and on his first Delta Groove release, Pittman takes the reins on almost every aspect. Usually when an artist goes independent that’s when they say they are “free” to do whatever they want on the record. Pittman does just the opposite. He wrote or co-wrote all but one track, played every instrument except the horns and saxophones, recorded, engineered, co-produced and co-mixed the entire album. The tirelessness shows as this is one of the strongest blues releases of the year. The opener “Sugar (Where’d You Get Your Sugar From)” introduces you to a solid and confident artist who knows exactly what he wants: One stellar blues record. He reminds me a lot of Jonny Lang with his confident guitar-slinging and sense that he could break into a shredding guitar solo at any second. Pittman is becoming a seasoned veteran and is definitely an artist that blues fans need to keep an eye on.

CD Review – Gary Nicholson (True Texas country)

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Texas Songbook

Bismeaux Records

Gary Nicholson has been around. Between writing songs for George Strait, Bonnie Raitt and Gregg Allman as well as for the Oscar-winning soundtrack to the movie Crazy Heart, producing two Grammy-winning records and collaborating with a who’s who of country and blues artists (Keb’ Mo’, Garth Brooks and Neil Diamond to name a few) Nicholson knows how to make a great track. That’s why his latest album seems almost too specialized.

The album is a tip of the hat to Texas with an old-school Hank Williams country feel to it, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of diversity throughout the album. Slow to mid-tempo tracks permeate with a heavy dose of slide guitar and general twang. Maybe it’s that I’m not a big twangy country fan, but the album just seems to drag throughout the thirteen tracks.

Nicholson does what he set out to do (honor Texas with a truly country-sounding record), but I wonder if this tribute was actually needed.