Smashing Pumpkins- Oceania

Billy Corgans’ latest entry into the world of modern rock music is one of excellent pacing and songwriting, as well as more experimenting with what gives the Smashing Pumpkins their signature sound.

After the last album, which became a critical punching bag (with good reason, in my opinion), Corgan seems to have worked hard to expand his sound and take more risks. At times during my listen-through, I was reminded of more recent groups that have entered the scene later than the 80’s-born Pumpkins, especially alternative rockers Circa Survive. A lot of reverb and delay can be heard in the guitar work, and an occasional synth layer on a few of the tracks is refreshing to hear compared to the Pumpkins past work. What really makes this album shine though is the pacing. Corgan organized this title with flawless flow, from the slower acoustic songs to the more experimental tracks to the slick and distorted rock and roll that brought his band to prominence. Lyrically, Corgan retains his fluxuating dark and bright tone, and the more electronic aspects really click with his voice.

Overall, this record has earned itself a solid 8/10 with me. Although it isn’t as ambitious as Mellon Collie, or as experimental as Adore, it still has what I want to hear in a pumpkins album (good lyrics, crooning vocals, and both articulate and heavy instrumentals) while also adding something new. Corgan strove to start a movement back to album oriented rock with this record, and I think for the most part, he achieved his goal.

Check out The Chimera below!

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The Summer of Albums

I apologize for my recent absence to those eagerly awaiting an update (all 1 of you, hi mom), and I l be forcing myself to abide by a strict Tuesday/Thursday schedule upon my return from a wonderful week-long road trip to New Orleans. But enough about me; here are the albums I’m excited for this summer, and why you should be on the look-out for them.

Smashing Pumpkins -Oceania

This name should not be new to you. The Smashing Pumpkins, lead by bald-and-brilliant Billy Corgan, have inspired a generation of alternative rock that embraces a darker side of grunge without sacrificing beauty. Each of their releases barring their most recent, Zeitgeist, have pushed the envelope in alternative music and delivered some of the best singles in the history of the genre. My respect for Corgan’s longevity merits at least one listen-through.

Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan

Bitte Orca was one cool breeze of an album, and the bands’ unique vocal arrangements made them fun to listen to. They had established quite a discography before  I jumped on that I unfortunately have yet to fully explore, but Bitte Orca and their joint project with Bjork has me wanting for more.

Passion Pit- Gossamer

This may or may not be the highlight of my list. Michael Angelakos has encapsulated me with his music since his EP he wrote for his girlfriend in 2008. The full length, Manners, that followed blew me away and I have been digging in the desert for another drop of this groups’ sweet songwriting ever since. On July 24th, I will reach the oasis. If you have never listened to them, and enjoy bright synth-soaked joy, do yourself a favor and listen to Manners, and this.

Niki & The Dove- Instinct

Recently signed onto Sub-Pop Records, this duo has provided some promising singles, and from the little I’ve heard, the full length should be impressive. As far as style goes, they remind me of a mix between The Knife and Ellie Goulding; they have a very electronic sound with a strong lead vocalist.

Animal Collective- Centipede Hz

Deakin promised that it would be weird, and I hope it is. Animal Collective hooked me with their most recent outing Merriweather Post Pavilion, and I fell in love with earlier albums Feels and Sung Tongs. For those of you unfamiliar with them, imagine four friends making animal sounds and singing harmonies over a variety of loops and melodies while playing live drums. Then imagine them passing all the energy and joy that they took making this music into you. If you’re still wary, try this out.

Well that’s my say for now. Looking forward, expect honest reviews for each of these albums, as well as insight into what is looking like a wonderful fall of new releases. Peace.

Concert Review: Radiohead

So, I spent almost a Benjamin to head up to Newark with a few of my friends to watch this weird British character named Thom Yorke “dance” around the stage to some obscure music.

It was the best show I’ve ever been to.

Every single song they played was magnificent, and the entire band was very together, played well, and expressed clearly that they were having the time of their lives; that expression carried around the entire stadium in every fans face, intoxicated or sober. Even the newer songs released after their most recent album The King of Limbs entranced the audience, but the true magic happened when the group touched on their past endeavors. An entire stadium singing Karma Police, Everything In It’s Right Place, The National Anthem, and Weird Fishes was nothing short of breathtaking to witness and take part in.The light show was absolutely phenomenal , and the engineers behind it obviously knew the music and how to communicate the intensity and varying moods to the audience visually.

All in all, Radiohead is one group who has not only excelled in the art of performance; they have perfected it. They can entertain an entire stadium full of people for without a break for two hours, and perform two encores. I would pay to have that experience again and again.

And who knows, maybe I’ll get something better than nosebleed seats next time.

Best Coast- The Only Place

Best Coast’s sophomore effort after the summery treat that was Crazy for You is noticeably less memorable. For one thing, the vocals have lost their dreamy and reverb-soaked charm, and it’s much harder to ignore the admittedly uncreative lyrics in each song. This direct lyrical style fit in the lo-fi, jangly surfing mood of the first album, but it seems out of place and boring in what can be described as an overproduced album. The duo has headed for a much poppier sound, and it’s not a change for the better. The charm of the punkish production and the exciting drive is gone, and the multiple harmonized vocal tracks remind me of  Taylor Swift.

Overall, if you are looking for a simple pop album to listen to, and you happen to like T-Swift (I don’t particularly care for her, but I don’t hate her either), give this album a listen. However, if you loved Crazy For You and expect more of the same summery greatness, you will undoubtedly be unpleasantly surprised.

Jack White- Blunderbuss

Jack White has always been a personal inspiration of mine, so this post may seem a little biased. Regardless, it has become a consensus that his ability to adapt the blues into a modern rock setting and make it sound refreshing is unparralelled. This being his first solo endeavor without the backing of Meg White, the Dead Weather, or the Raconteurs, I was curious as to how well he could recreate a genre he had so often breathed life into. I was not disappointed.

Right off the bat, the album opens with a bluesy organ groove in “Missing Pieces”, delivering something that feels like Jack White, and yet seems to delve further into the blues that inspired him. This is not the bass-empty, unstrained jams of the White Stripes, nor the mean, dirty, dark, whiskey-drenched blues The Dead Weather wreaks of. No, this is a cleaner, more refined blues (is that an oxymoron?), while still delivering that rock sound that can be found in anything Mr. White writes; this indicative rock sound is evident in “Missing Saltines”. While still ‘kicking out the jams’, Jack seems to take a softer tone towards the middle of the album by bringing in an masterful acoustic duet in “Love Interruption” and a string soaked ballad in the title track. He also seems to have take more of a fancy to the piano; It can be be heard in prominence in several tracks, especially “Weeping Themselves to Sleep”.

Despite all the inovations and creativity Jack White breathes into the blues, he never quite strays from everything that makes the genre. Very basic chord structures, a certain attitude, and raunchy lyrics permeate the album, and remind us that Jack is still still exactly what he was inspired by, and what he has always aspired to be: a blues musician.

All and all, Blunderbuss is a truly unique experience to anything else Jack White has every created, and you should go listen to it. Right. Now.

More Record Store Day!

I realized recently that I completely forgot about some of the exclusives released last Saturday. Please forgive me and check some of these great tracks out.

Foster the People- Broken Jaw

Lana Del Rey- Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)

M83- Mirror

Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends- Helping the Retarded Find God

Dirty Projectors- You Against the Larger World

Beach House- Equal Mind

Happy Belated Record Store Day!

I realize I’m almost a week late with this, but I felt the need to share my own discoveries as I wandered the streets of lower Manhattan looking for the best choices in records. Here’s what I found.

The second studio album of artist and producer M83 of Midnight City fame, Dead Cities is an entirely instrumental journey through one of the most beautiful electronic soundscapes in recent years.

 

Beirut's debut album brings the wonders or acoustic strings and accordion and combines them with a beautiful classical tenor voice to bring you a true marker in Indie Folk music.

 

One of the most ambitious and successful soul albums of all time, Songs in the Key of Life is a double album that belongs in any music lover's collection.

 

The famed sophomore release that includes Message in a Bottle and Walking On The Moon, among other great tracks.

A Brief Post: Delta Spirit

I feel a little late to the party after realizing this album from San Diego-based Delta Spirit came out in March. An animated tribal beat and reverb-soaked guitars are only complimented by an animated tongue roll in this energized track off the bands self-titled. I strongly recommend checking these guys out.

It’s Been A While..

After a busy weekend, I have a lot to share.

First of all, if you enjoy good music, and you live on the East Coast of the USA, you’re probably crying inside over the fact that you weren’t at Coachella. I had to soothe my case of the blues with the full Radiohead set recorded and uploaded to Youtube. Check it out!

On Saturday, I went into New York to see an upcoming act by the name of Mitchell Grey. A four piece including guitarist Joe Diaz (who I know personally), singer Ryan Bandong, bassist Napon Pintong, and drummer Matt Pana the band has been playing together for about 2 years. They had so much energy, this being their first performance since their album dropped last week. Their summery, bright-but-sophisticated sound is a breath of fresh air. You can listen to the whole album below, But I recommend supporting them through Itunes or Amazon. You can get more information from their Facebook page here.

I simply can’t finish this post before mentioning the amazing Tori Kelly, who opened for Mitchell Grey. If the name sounds familiar, she made it past auditions in Season 9 of American Idol, and for good reason; Her voice is breath-taking. I got the chills several times over the course of one song. Check out her single ‘Confetti’ and eagerly await the album release with me.