Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Album reviews for WTUL Sept. - Oct. 2012

I am a DJ at WTUL, and sometimes I do Album Reviews of about 100 words or so - These are some of the reviews I wrote for September and October 2012.  Some are good, some are bad.  Whatevs. My favorite albums of the bunch were by Ombre, Bogan Via and of course, the XX. Enjoy!

Artist: Ombre
Title: Believe You Me
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/09/2012

Ombre is a band created by Helado Negro (The moniker of the Florida-native, son of Ecuadorian immigrants, Brooklyn-based Roberto Lange) and the Louisiana-born, Brooklyn raised Julianna Barwick.  They have mixed the dark eerie pop of Helado Negro with the ethereal wave aesthetic of Julianna Brawick to create the songs that are in this collection, which is their first collaboration under this moniker.  The songs are a mix of loops and ambient wave with some low-fi pop.  These “music-scapes” remind you of old beach photographs, and nostalgic longing for those summers of discoveries and awakenings.  My favorite songs are “Weight Those Words” and “Cara Falsa”.  The first one seems like a post-modern indie pop bolero, equally awkward and beautiful; and the second one reminds me of télépopmusik’s second album, “Angel Milk” and some of those dark ballads there.

Try: 2!, 5, 6, 7!, 10

Artist: Flobots
Title: The Circle in the Square
Label: Shanachie
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/09/2012

This is Flobots third major release.  They are a band from Denver, Colorado that mixes hip-hop with hardcore infused rock (I wouldn’t say it’s quite hardcore, but it’s close).  Think of corny bands in the 90’s and early 2000’s like Korn, Limp Bizkit and it is sad that I cannot think of any good bands that fall in a similar category – but anyway, the point is Flobots are actually pretty good.  They have crossed to the mainstream, their first-ever single “Handlebars” was pretty popular but they are not too mainstream in my opinion mainly because of their political lyrics.  Their songs addressed controversial topics, and usually attempt to rile up the listeners.  This set of songs seems heavily influenced by the financial crisis and the events of Zucotti Park and the Occupy Wall Street movement.  They are a live band, utilize many instruments, and bring influences from soul, jazz, funk and reggae.  If you don’t love them at first, give them a second chance. 

Try: 7,12, 15. 

Artist: Bebe
Title: Un Pokito de Rocanrol
Label: EMI Music Spain
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/09/2012

Un Pokito de Rocanrol is Bebe’s third release.  She’s a Spanish pop artist that became very popular after her single “Malo” that came out in 2004.   Bebe mixes the sounds of southern Spain – principally flamenco – with a pop sensibility to make easy-going, upbeat music.  She’s well known for her fast verses, and witty but light lyrics. In this third album, we can see that she’s evolved from her beginnings.  She’s utilizing a larger space of musical references, including punk, hip-hop, rockabilly, French chanson and of course rock and roll.  The name of the album means “a little bit of rock and roll” and I think that all of her influences are packed through a rock/pop/adult alternative aesthetic.  She’s not groundbreaking, but she makes good Spanish pop.  Her single K.I.E.R.E.M.E. is definitely an M.I.A.-influenced hit, and would make a great addition to your set.

RIYL: “Mala” Rodriguez, Jarabe de Palo, Julieta Venegas, Macaco
Try: 6, 7!

Artist: Turtle Giant
Title: All Hidden Places EP
Label: Self-Released
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 9/25/2012

Turtle Giant is a Brazilian indie band based out of Macau (China).  This is their first album, and it is a commanding effort.  They are creating musical landscapes with a tremendously powerful rock sensibility.  Their music is touching, powerful and absorbing.  They make truly lovely music and add up to the troop of indie bands from Brazil that are making their way out of the traditional Brazilian sounds of Samba, Bossa Nova and MPB.  Macau may seem like an odd place for a Brazilian rock band – but in fact, it is a former Portuguese colony.  And you can recognize their Brazilian influences in their arpeggio-full guitars (though distorted) and their Portuguese ones, as their deep, dark melancholic ballads bring to mind nostalgic Lisboan fado singers.  This is a powerful debut.  RIYL: Explosions in the Sky, A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade, The Cigarettes, Try: 3, 4

Artist: Anna Estrada
Title: Volando
Label: Feral Flight Productions
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo
Date: 9/25/2012

Anna Estrada does not provide anything new for the latin jazz community.  Her music falls right into this genre with everything you would expect.  Yet, her voice has an oxymoronic sweet and raspy quality that makes it very interesting.  She reminds me of the old Bolero singers, and the low-fi versions of their songs that survive today: they are not perfect, they sound odd, but they transmit the feelings of the songs they played quite well.  Anna Estrada manages just that.  Her version of “Mais Que Nada” is lovely.  I think that it is in those songs that the band tries something more modern, and with a much more defined pop sensibility, that it achieves true success.  The Spanish and Portuguese versions of the song “Paciencia” in this album are an example of that, and these are what makes this album salvable.  Try: 4,5, 11. 

Artist: The XX
Title: Coexist
Label: XL / Young Turks
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

The XX is one of the most innovative bands of the first decade of this new millennium, in my humble opinion.  It is incredible that they manage to be so with the use of a few effects, super reverb, and terrible stage personas.  Or maybe, it is precisely that what makes them interesting.  It seems like they are always holding back.  This new album is a continuation on a theme, a variation, a fine-tuning.  Dark, ambient-like, reverb-filled songs with deep and powerful minor chords, songs and lyrics that seemed as if one wanted to express only half of what one feels – or maybe they are poorly expressing what they feel and keep coming back to some of the same thoughts (These kids are very young).  Certainly the band has benefited from Jamie´s side projects (as Jamie XX), and some of these songs have catchy beats, and you could even dance to them.  Over all, this is a lovely album that makes me a devout follower.
Try: All – 1!, 2!, 3!, 5!, 6!, 11!

Artist: Super Robot Party
Title: Electrocity
Label: SRP Productions 2012 / Self-Released
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

This album and this band sound a lot like I would imagine Explosions In The Sky would if they used lyrics, and if the lyrics were written based on the feelings of a teenager: they are very obvious and commonplace.  Yet there are a few things that make this album worth listening to.  Among them I would have to say the use of a grungy, alternative sound that is very uncommon nowadays, unless the band has been playing since the 90s which apparently this band hasn’t.  Their distortion sounds almost vintage, outdated.  Track 5, “Velour”, I’ve heard somewhere and I feel like I should know it, may be a soundtrack to a movie, but I can’t pinpoint it, perhaps it is a cover (of a band from the 90s?).  Not a great album, but has a few songs that will save it.
RIYL – Explosions in the Sky, 90s rock/alternative
Tracks – 1, 2, 3, 5. 

Artist: Les Racquet
Title: Les Racquet
Label: Self-Released
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

Les Racquet is a Brooklyn-based indie rock trio, and this is their first album, which was originally released last year.  They have a very expressive sound that mixes bits of ska, reggae, rock, and other wordly sounds with a pop-sensibility that makes it a very easy-to-listen album.  They strive to create three-part harmonies in their songs, and the result is quite enchanting.  They are great musicians, but their songs are not excessively intricate like the songs of some of their counterparts from the borough.  It looks like they are in it to make people enjoy music with their bodies and their souls and the results are decent.  They have room to grow, but this is a good debut. 

Try: 1!, 2, 3, 9!

Artist: Bogan Via
Title: Wait Up EP
Label: CW Media (BMI)
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

There has been a healthy increase in bands composed of a male and female duo making really good music: Wye Oak, Beach House, The XX, the White Striples, just to name a few.  Bogan Via adds up to this growing group of bands with a sound that is very close to Beach House and Wye Oak, probably somewhere in between these two, but closer to the former.  Madeleine Miller’s voice is sweet, and refreshing, and Bret William Bender’s is a bit more pungent, creating a great complement to Miller´s.  This EP has a decent range of songs that will give a taste of what the band is about.  Their sound is that of a more youthful Beach House, not so depressing and dark.  Their song Wait Up is a must for your show!

RIYL: Beach House, Wye Oak, Au Revoir Simone
Try – All, 1!, 4!, 5!, 6!

Artist: Trapper Schoepp & The Shades
Title: Run, Engine, Run
Label: Side One Dummy Records
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

Trapper Schoepp is the leader of this band, where his brother and two more guys play.  It is clear that Schoepp, and his band, wants to make an Americana/Country album with an appeal that goes beyond the usual listeners to those genres.  It’s a bit closer to an alternative/rock album, but the influences of those two genres is quite clear, and adds an interesting sound to the mix, and perhaps, makes them stand out from the usual crowd of alternative albums being played in the top 40 stations.  But Schoepp makes the attempt to write beautiful, youthful, spirited songs that make this album a nice poetic undertaking – not completely played out to perfection, but a nice attempt for a nice debut.
Try: 1, 4, 8

Artist: Reptile Youth
Title: Reptile Youth
Label: Rough Trade Distribution
Reviewed by: DJ Xfilósofo (CM)
Date: 10/30/2012

Northern European bands, Norwegian, Danish, and especially Swedish ones have always had an incredibly interesting output, especially in recent years.  Reptile Youth is a good example to that, though perhaps not the best example.  Definitely a worthy one.  Their chords are light and happy, and their songs have an upbeat air that reminds me of bands like Phoenix (French), Polock (Spanish) and Those Dancing Days (Swedish).  They are somewhere in between these three: Phoenix is a bit more technical, Polock more youthful, Those Dancing Days a bit more upbeat.  Yet some of their songs have the power to just make you get up and dance, and this band has been praised for their super energetic live shows!  It’s growing on me!

Tracks – 1, 2!, 4!, 5!