Paul McCartney & Wings - Band on the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection) Review

It's an argument that will rage on forever. Which of the Fab Four had the better post-Beatles career? There are a good number of music lovers that will side with John Lennon. Lennon, despite the fact that his output was cut short much too soon, had a few songs that will live on forever ("Imagine," "Instant Karma") and a couple fantastic albums. George Harrison on the other hand produced what many say is the best solo album ever released by a former Beatle. The sprawling All Things Must Pass is a true gem of a record that spread across six sides of vinyl upon its initial release. It's not easy creating such a memorable album with that much content. There are even a few Ringo Starr fans. The former Beatle with the biggest amount of quality post-Beatles output though would probably have to be Paul McCartney; although longevity alone can be attributed to this fact. Still, despite all the silly love songs that littered his solo projects, McCartney still produced a number of quality and memorable tunes and even gave us some top notch albums.

Jan
08
2011
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Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time Review

Blind Guardian is a German speed/power metal band that was formed in 1985 and released their debut album, Battalions of Fear in 1988. Blind Guardian have, simply put, had quite an impressive career. Ten studio albums later and they show no signs of slowing down. Known for their melodic music and their fantasy styled lyrics, Blind Guardian has acquired the honored title of metal bards. Over the past twenty years the band has had only one line up change. That change was new drummer Frederik Ehmke, who also contributed to the band’s latest album by recording flutes and bagpipe tracks.

Dec
22
2010
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Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Review

Despite all of the non-musical related headlines that Kanye West seems to create on a regular basis, I've always been a fan of West's music. From his stellar 2004 debut to his 2008 auto-tone soaked experiment, I've admired the way that West has had an ear for a good pop tune or the way that he often weaves his clever tongue in cheek rhymes around interesting samples and beats. With his last album, 808s and Heartbreak, Kanye strayed away from his winning formula and played around with a darker more melancholy sound. On his latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West not only proves the fact that his first three albums were similar sounding pieces of a trilogy, but he also shows us that the dark and sorrowful path he traveled down on 808s has not only gotten darker but is now surprisingly bitter.

Dec
18
2010
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Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest Review

No doubt there will be some bemoaning the ever-shrinking distance between Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, but the common ingredients have kept them latched since day one (and not just because of Bradford). The messy psych-pop stained with guitar maelstroms and searing drone that once characterized Deerhunter has melted beneath their increasingly bright spotlight—they’re no easier today, but they’re certainly cozier. Once painful but impressive-to-behold scuffed-up boots, now worn bedroom slippers, Deerhunter seems no more comfortable with their roles as one of pop music’s greatest hopes—if for no better reason than because it seems unlikely that anyone on the pop charts is even paying attention—but there’s no resistance left. Devastatingly sad at times but always warm and woolly, Halcyon Digest is another notch in the belt of rock n’ roll’s undying optimism; hope springs eternal.

Dec
07
2010
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Jimmy Eat World - Invented Review

Jim Adkins is 35 years old. The band that he fronts, Jimmy Eat World, has been around since 1993. But by listening to the music of Jimmy Eat World, and specifically the lyrics of Adkins over the past decade, it may be hard to tell that Adkins should be moving out of his uncomfortable teenage years and into full grown adult hood. On the band’s glossy 2007 album Chase This Light, Adkins’ lyrics were specifically aimed toward a certain group of listeners; listeners that were definitely much younger than himself. On the band’s latest release, Invented, Adkins grows up a little bit. Though much of the songs on Invented borrow from the same themes that a good number of Jimmy Eat World songs have been based upon in the past (failed relationships, awkward moments, angry laments), Adkins seems to be singing about adult misery now instead of just high school angst. Though Invented is improved instantly upon its predecessor simply because of the more mature lyrics, Jimmy Eat World's newest album still fails to be really all that memorable outside a few standout tracks.

Dec
03
2010
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The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years Review

Sleater-Kinney, Sleater-Kinney, Sleater-Kinney. There, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can move on. Okay, one more: Sleater-Kinney. It’s almost impossible to discuss the Corin Tucker Band without frequently referencing Slea—I mean, Tucker’s former gig. Not just for quality comparison (which is about as fair as comparing Wings with the Beatles) but also to compare how the music sounds. Is it of the riot grrrl persuasion, or angular, explosive post-punk, or starved and confrontational empowerment, or bluesy rock swagger, or anthemic agit-pop? Any of those could be expected from one of the most reliable guitar attackers and banshee wailers in the last few decades. Yet 1,000 Years doesn’t provide these familiar tactics with any consistency. If anything, Corin Tucker comes off here more like a PJ Harvey type with less acid, Chrissy Hynde with less emotional baggage, or a Jenny Lewis without the country twang. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.

Oct
17
2010
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What Laura Says - Bloom Cheek Review

One of the biggest complaints people had with What Laura Says' debut album (an album that I adored and regarded as one of the best releases of 2008) was its lack of cohesiveness. They said it was too sporadic, too varied and that the band never found their own distinct voice. I, on the other hand, whole heartedly disagreed, considering Thinks and Feels to be a triumphant pop gem that bordered on modern day pop perfection. The band seems to have listened to the naysayers rather than me though. On their follow up, Bloom Cheek, the band has strayed away from their playful retro pop side in favor of a more low key sound dotted with extended instrumental work and understated indie pop compositions. It’s a sound that disappointed me upon first listen and though the band is still fun and gloriously harmonic, they seem to fall into the crowd on much of Bloom Cheek rather than triumphantly standing out of it.

Aug
28
2010
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Autolux - Transit Transit Review

Six years is a long time to wait for just about anything, especially when it comes to new music. Autolux is hardly a household name, and barely even qualified for “underground cult” status since, despite being well-received, their debut album Future Perfect didn’t hang on too many tongues in its aftermath (though loyalists remained steadfast). But the record was strong enough to leave most of those who sampled craving more. And then six years passed. It required a concerted effort from most (including myself) to even figure out what the trio was up to during the interim. Many probably assumed it was a one-and-done deal, another frustratingly short-lived outfit to arise in the fallout of the criminally neglected space rock virtuosos of Failure. But Autolux wasn’t dead, just pupating over the long haul for another go-round, writing and working and deliberating over a fresh batch (and reportedly engaging in label fights). As is, I suppose, appropriate for a band with the narrow fame of Autolux, it arrives without a whole lot of fanfare outside of the dedicated few who followed during those half-dozen years. But fanfare would be unsuitable anyway—this dark, slow simmer, black-burnt offering doesn’t clap you about the ears. It tickles the underbelly and either slowly wins you over or leaves you cold. Too bad it doesn’t invade your dreams, though—those visions remain fixated on Future’s yet-unreached promise.

Aug
16
2010
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Maps and Atlases - Perch Patchwork Review

The Chicago based quartet, Maps and Atlases, just released their first full length album entitled Perch Patchwork. After extensive touring with a number of bands, including mewithoutYou, Ra Ra Riot, Portugal. the Man, The Fall of Troy, and many more, Maps and Atlases has developed quite a following over the past few years. For those of you who were fans of their first two EPs, Trees, Swallows, Houses, and You and Me and the Mountain, I'm sure this latest album won’t disappoint.

Aug
16
2010
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Moulettes - Moulettes Review

The press release for the Moulettes' eponymous debut album calls it, “The most ambitious “folk” album you’ll hear all year,” with the word folk conspicuously surrounded by quotation marks. The statement couldn’t be truer on most accounts. Though at first glance you may be tempted to label this album a folk album or to call the band a purveyor of the new folk movement, the Moulettes can’t be shuffled into a single category so easily. On their debut they offer hints of classic rock, classical music and, strangest of all, big band jazz. The disc plays out a bit like a concept album, following the narrative driven lyrics of a witch (for lack of a better word) as she spews clever hexes and tells the tales of lover’s scorned and devilish love affairs. But the Moulettes' two female vocalists aren't the kind of garish witches that we normally associate with the title, instead they're pretty British girls with pleasant sopranos.

Aug
11
2010
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