Movement 2012

Music Reviews

July 19, 2011

Rate It-Sounds

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Written by: mispy_admin
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Artist: Cults
Album: Cults
Tower Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review by: Paul Kitti

I’ll admit I’m still a little hooked on this album. I’ve gotten to the point where I can scroll right past Cults on my mp3 player, but I still hear Madeline Follin’s innocent alto ringing in the part of my brain that is determined to keep the album on repeat. This problem very well may persist for the duration of the summer, but I’m fine with that.

Cults’ self-titled debut has an eerily familiar sound to it, as if its 33 minutes were pulled from a past dream or a previous life. When I first heard the single “Go Outside,” – which, rumor has it, was the little wild-fire internet tune that attracted the ears of Columbia Records – I felt like someone had put a melody to my early evening drives through downtown Ann Arbor. While it was a single that could easily have acted as the sling to shoot the entire album into the spotlight, Cults opted not to build the album around one song. Instead, they’ve created something extremely tight and consistent, a summer soundtrack that sways back and forth between the sunny and deeply shaded sides of the porch.

“I knew right then that I’d been abducted…” are the first words Follin has to share with the world as lead singer of Cults. Comparing falling in love to being taken against one’s will, she delivers the line with the sadness and passivity that it implies, but, somehow, she communicates a playful and resilient attitude. “You Know What I Mean” borrows the melody from an oldie by The Supremes and layers it over the sound of a Manhattan indie-pop band that wouldn’t notice if they were playing in their basement or Madison Square Garden. They have the type of nearly-unnoticeable confidence that comes from nothing other than being comfortable with what they are doing, and this attitude fits nicely with a style of music that sounds like it escaped through an open apartment window in the hands of a restless breeze.

This isn’t to say that Cults steer towards the light and depthless. While the music rarely breaches the melancholy fringes of its whimsical center, the lyrics seem to assume an almost childlike perspective, conveying intense and quickly changing emotions in simple language. The end result is a delightful outburst of an album, an exclamation that is both jubilant and frustrated, confused and determined and prone to bounce around in your head for some time.

Artist: Bon Iver
Album: Bon Iver
Tower Rating: 5 out of 5
Review by: Tim Adkins

I’ve listened to a lot of really, really good music this year. The self titled Bon Iver album is hands down the best of all of it. I’ve been a fan of Justin Vernon’s melodic and mind-easing voice since, “For Emma, Forever Ago” was released in 2008, but, from start to finish, this is his best and most fulfilling work.

Pronounced “bon e-vair” (I was once that guy who made the mistake of pronouncing “Bon Iver” just as it looks and fell victim to crickets and awkward mustaches.) and hailing from Fall Creek, Wisconsin, is usually a simple and adequately enough Vernon. However, on this album, he features musicians who make some of the most influential music to date, including Colin Stetson, (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire) Mike Lewis, (Happy Apple, Andrew Bird) C.J. Camerieri, (Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens) to make this album their best yet.

This album is special and personal. It has meaning and a soul of its own. From first listen, I was hooked and couldn’t turn it off. Tracks like “Calgary” and “Hinnom, TX” will move you. It’s simply beautiful music. Like most of Bon Iver, these tracks are dark, mysterious and sound like they were made in the back woods of Wisconsin (from which they came).

If you’re looking for an album that will relax your mind and your body and take you somewhere else, this is it. I know this firsthand as Bon Iver’s “Bon Iver” was played on repeat during the birth of my daughter this past June. We had a whole playlist of hundreds of songs, but we decided to keep it to this album instead. Everyone from our doctor to our family commented on how pretty the music we were listening to was. There couldn’t have been a more perfect soundtrack for such a perfect moment—one that I’ll remember forever.

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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