Music, etc.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quick Caps

I've been gone from the blog for quite a while now. For the past few months I've just become really lazy and the over tiring post-a-week became too much; go figure. I do plan on keeping the blog updated from now on though, for real.


Over the past weeks a bunch of news albums have been released. New albums from seasoned veteran artists such as Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes and Wilco have not been disappointments. And the new with Arcade Fire album, the band is able to avoid a sophmore slump. Here are some quick reviews of albums that have been in heavy rotation in my player.

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Once I put this cd into the player, I knew it was going to be awesome. It had to be, especially after "Good News for People Who Like Bad News," which wasn't particularly bad, just boring.

It is rare that I enjoy an album too much upon first listen but "We Were Dead..." hits you right away. As far as Modest Mouse goes, it is compromable to the band's 2000 masterpiece "The Moon & Antarctica."

The album begins with the completely insane "March into the Sea" in which band leader Isaac Brock yelps out a wicked "Ahahaaa!" during the chorus. The song itself is a perfect opener with a whole lot of energy. The following song, the obvious single "Dashboard," maintains the energy of the first track and gives the radio a much needed dose of Modest Mouse.

Johnny Marr makes his presence in the band known on this album. On every song you can here the newly acquired guitarist hard at work. Brock still shines on every track and the best thing about it is that you can tell he is having a blast.

While it is obvious that songs like "Dashboard" are begging to be played on a top 40 radio station, the album is not a blatent attempt to make money. Modest Mouse aren't "selling out." The opener shows the exact contrary. Brock's voice is still there, screaming and yelping in all of its glory. His lyrics are still there, challenging the listener to sit through some of the tales. His intentions are not to compromise the music to each a larger play, but rather to challenge the average listener to listen to something new.

Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

The problem with making an album after "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" is that the new album will not be "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning." When I first heard "Cassadaga," I was disappointed. Why is Conor sining about the end of the world? How is this Bright Eyes?

Although "Four Winds" hit me with it's drawn out, honky tonk intro, the song it self made me feel uneasy. Is the direction he is taking? Turns out, it was the direction he was taking. Fourtunatly, however, it was the right direction to go.

While the arrangements on "Four Winds" itself are over done, the lyrics are well done. And while Conor is too ambitious on some songs, the ambition allows for arrangements such as those on "Coat Check Dream Song" and "Soul Singer in a Session Band."

What's gone from "Cassadaga," though, is the personality of Oberst himself. "I'm Wide Awake..." is one of the most personal albums ever recorded where each song shows another aspect of Oberst's personality .

Writing about himself is what Oberst does best. As far as song writing goes, this album is a major step down. Unlike Modest Mouse, Conor seems to be sheding artistic integrity in order to appeal to a wider crowd. His voice seems to show this trend also. He stays on key most of the time and for the most part his voice sounds a lot better, but it is lacking the emotion his cracking voice portayed in older songs like "Poison Oak."

Sure, the arrangements are more complex than any previous effort, they are the only worth while part of the album. When I think of Bight Eyes, the first thing that comes to mind is lyrics. The lyrics aren't bad per se, but they seem to distanced; too much like Conor is singing someone elses's songs. While "Cassadaga" isn't a bad album, and it is growing on me after each listen, it is missing something. If Conor can keep the good arrangenments without compromising song-writing, we will be in for a treat next time around.

The reviews for the new Wilco and Arcade Fire will be posted tommorow.


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