Movement 2012

Music Reviews

June 20, 2011

Rate It – Sounds

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Written by: mispy_admin
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Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: Circuital
Tower Rating: 4 out of 5
Review by Aimee Mandle

With five albums behind them, My Morning Jacket has explored numerous stylistic avenues. They have dabbled in reggae, folk, rock, and their specialty – head boppin’, jam-out tunes. With no one genre to call their own, they are an interesting anomaly in the current musical line-up.  And, after a three year gap from their last album, the band has reinvented their original style by infusing elements from different decades and bands in “Circuital.”

Throughout the album are themes of where the band is going and where they have been—or, at the very least, the journey that got them between the two. Opening up the ride is “Victory Dance,” a track that slowly builds up from its Western-themed intro into a heavy, guitar laden acid trip. The title song is over seven minutes long, swinging between twangy guitar-plucking and poppy beats. Other highlights include “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” with its acoustic guitar strumming and smooth vocal lull, the Beach Boys-esque “Outta My System” that ruminates on bad choices throughout youth and female harmonies and a funky melody in “Holding on to Black Metal.”

“Circuital” tends to shift between paying homage to past artists and going back to the band’s roots. Each song sounds like it is channeling music that came out on vinyl or an eight-track, but with a twist. While it isn’t ground-breaking, it does retain an edge that sets the band apart from similar artists, such as Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes. Despite the genre-hopping that occurs throughout the album, there is a common thread that pulls it all together. Whether it is Jim James’ adaptable vocal approach or the album’s back-to-basics attitude, the “Circuital” maintains its folky roots while managing to explore new territory. Kind of like a quirky cousin, My Morning Jacket’s latest release keeps things fresh and unique.
Artist: Sondre Lerche

Album: Sondre Lerche

Tower Rating: 4 out of 5
Review by Mary Simkins

When I spoke to Sondre Lerche in May, he told me that his new release would be “stripped of frills and back to basics.” It’s an approach that seems to have given him room to experiment with vocal range and rhythm.

Alternately melancholy, upbeat, bitter, and optimistic, the songs of “Sondre Lerche” are all, in their own way, somewhat unpredictable. The first track, “Ricochet” begins only with Lerche singing and occasionally strumming his guitar, singing a few forlorn lines about love lost. However, he lightens the mood with an upswing of catchy lyrics and bouncy rhythms in the next track, “Private Caller.” The emotional rollercoaster continues from there with the slowed-down, “Red Flag,” in which a lovely melody pairs with romantic, but vaguely pessimistic, lyrics. As a first-time listener, I liked each track better than the one that preceded it and found myself eager to hear what would come next.

Whether singing along to rhythmically upbeat and lyrically catchy tracks such as “Go Right Ahead,” “Never Mind the Typos” or “When the River,” or feeling pensive along with “Coliseum Town,” “Domino,” “Living Dangerously” or “Tied Up with the Tide,” Lerche’s songs have a tangible effect on one’s mood.  But just when you think he’s brought you down, the very next song is likely to get you tapping your foot.

Artist: Foster the People
Album: Torches
Tower Rating: 5 out of 5
Review by Amanda Slater

While Foster the People’s first infectious single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” has been circulating for the better part of a year now, the group belabored the release of their first full-length album until fans had almost forgotten about them. But when the Los Angeles-based indie-pop band finally released “Torches,” indie fans welcomed the album with open ears.

From the very beginning, “Torches” sucks listeners in with the irresistibly catchy “Helena Beat” and doesn’t let up until the very end—without any “filler” songs. From “Call It What You Want” to tracks like “Houdini,” “Torches” is upbeat, with sincere and meaningful lyrics—making it the perfect summer soundtrack for those who are looking for an alternative to mainstream summer “club” hits. It’s an album that doesn’t miss a beat and will be hard to top when the group begins to work on their sophomore release, but, with a start like this, it’s more than likely that Foster the People will continue to impress.

Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Album: Suck it and See
Tower Rating: 4 / 5
Review by David Nassar

If the days of grunge scrubbed away the care-free fun of rock n’ roll, the Arctic Monkeys have been trying to revive it ever since their 2006 debut, “Whatever people say I am, That’s what I’m not.”  While the playful English lads may have taken us on a darker, slightly more abstract journey with 2009’s “Humbug,” their newest album, the suggestively titled “Suck it and See” (that might be a subtle suggestion to critics who panned “Humbug” for being too inaccessible) represents a return to the unabashed whimsy of their earlier work.

The new album is decidedly more upbeat and poppy than its predecessor, and it may very well be a breath of fresh air for hardcore Monkeys fans pining for a return to the days of “Dancing Shoes” and “A Certain Romance.”  Even with that said, for all of its sardonic wit and pop-appeal, “Suck it and See” may be the Monkeys’ most “adult” album to date.

The album opens with “She’s Thunderstorms,” an upbeat, Strokes-esque indie-pop ballad, and “Black Treacle,” one of the catchiest tracks on the album, and one that might make Rivers Cuomo and the boys a bit jealous.  Darker cuts like “Don’t Sit Down Cause I Moved Your Chair” and “All My Own Stunts” are somewhat reminiscent of “Humbug,” but are nicely balanced by tracks like “Library Pictures” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong,” which could have easily come off of “Whatever People Say I am…” or “Favourite Worst Nightmare.”  Some songs, like “Reckless Serenade” and the title track “Suck it and See” mark a return to the sarcastic, relationship-based narratives that have made Alex Turner one of the most respected rock lyricists across the pond.  And, with the throwback feel of these songs, I can’t help but picture a crooning Vegas lounge-singer rather than four skinny boys from Sheffield.  The first single off the album is the oddly simplistic “Brick by Brick,” a straight-forward, old-school rock song ala AC/DC.  (This might be the only track that seems out of place on the album, and is definitely a red-hearing first-single, but was probably released as another sarcastic dig at the critics who loved to hate “Humbug,” as in: “You wanted a mindless pop/rock song… well, here you go.”)

In the end, “Suck it and See” may not please every Arctic Monkeys fan completely.  It truly seems to be just the next progression from a band whose lives have changed drastically over the past six years.  But this album may also be their most comprehensive, not one of the 12 tracks seem rushed or incomplete.  And, while it may not contain the same level of snide rudeness that seemed to define the early Monkeys, there’s no doubt that this band is still in it to have fun and maybe, just maybe piss a few people off in the process.

About the Author

Tim is the publisher of iSPY and co-founder of Pakmode Media + Marketing. He's a social, vegetarian geek who recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl into his family. For any questions or suggestions in regards to design, ad sales, web, content or anything at all related to iSPY, Tim's your guy.

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