I started this site because of my love for music, both playing it and listening to it. This site is meant to be a music review site, but in the future, it may expand beyond that. We'll see how it goes.

I'd really appreciate feedback. Is there something you especially liked? Something you disagreed with? Suggestions for the site or for a review? Let me know. Either leave a comment, or email me. Thanks, and enjoy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Album Review: Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere In The Between

Genre: Ska (sort of) Released: November, 2007

It's been over four years since Streetlight Manifesto's first (and only) original album was released; they've re-released Keasbey Nights, but that wasn't anything new. But their long-awaited new album is finally here... unofficially. It's set to be release in the second week of November, but you can find it if you know where to look.

I wouldn't describe Streetlight as ska, really. At least, it's not typical ska like Less than Jake. Some songs, perhaps. If you haven't listened to them before, I strongly suggest it; they've been one of my favorite bands ever since I first listened to them.

Their debut album, Everything Goes Numb, was simply amazing; definitely a hard album to top. And while this new album takes some getting used to, it's really very good.

1. We Will Fall Together - A great opening song. It starts with a Latin-sounding horn intro, and then follows with some trombone and trumpet solos to kick things off. The verse is fairly dark sounding, but the chorus brightens things up as the rhythm and singing slow down. A jazzy sax solo breaks the song into two distinct sections; the singing style seems to briefly change afterwards. I really like Tomas Kalnoky's markedly raspy voice in the chorus of this song.

2. Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe - This song was leaked early on a demo CD, and it's been one of my favorites on the CD. It begins with a calm intro, then picks up with the horns and a funky-sounding guitar/bass combo. The verses have some amazing backing vocals that create an interesting harmony with the main vocals. This song really remind me of The Big Sleep from Everything Goes Numb, which by no means is a bad thing. I really like the lyrics in this song:

If I were you, I would take this as a sign. Believe it's true, we were never meant to fly. And I knew you when you were you, before they twisted all your views, before you came unglued.

I always find Tomas's lyrics to be very cleverly written, even poetic much of the time, and this song just reinforces my belief.

3. Would You Be Impressed? - This has been another of my favorites ever since I heard them play it live many months ago (this album has been in production for years; they played some of these songs the first time I saw them in concert). It reminds me of If and When We Rise Again from their last album, with a distinct Russian/Eastern European feel.

4. One Foot on the Gas, One Foot in the Grave - This song stood out for me, because the intro is different from anything else I've heard by Streetlight. The beginning is very soft and slow, but it picks up. I didn't like this one at first, but the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

5. Watch it Crash - This was the other song that leaked early, and I like it a lot. It's a much darker sounding song, and it reminds me of That'll Be the Day. It has quite possibly one of my favorite chord progressions on the album (if anyone cares, at around 0:30, the D-Eb-E progression), and it's little things like that that amaze me when it comes to music.

6. Somewhere in the Between - The album's title song, and probably one of the best. It has a very upbeat feel, almost pirate-y. I find the verses of this song to be very catchy. And the chorus is probably the best on the whole album, and sums up the essence of the album's meaning:

So you were born, and that was a good day. Someday you'll die, and that is a shame. But somewhere in the between was a life of which we all dream. And nothing and no one will ever take that away.

There's a horn solo in the middle which, to me, is very out of place, and that's the only thing that disappoints me about this song. Otherwise, it's amazing. In terms of the whole album, it should have been placed at the end, because like I said, its lyrics sum everything up, and the song's outro sounds like the album is ending (all instruments kind of sustain a note until it fades out).

7. Forty Days - Another song that I didn't like too much at first, but now I really like it. It's another Latin and pirate-sounding song. It's also one of the first songs that Tomas plays what could be considered a guitar solo.

8. The Blonde Lead the Blind - A lot of people don't like this song because they say it's too catchy sounding, but I like it. The horns aren't my favorite, but I really like how Tomas sings this one, especially the verse. I like the backing vocals of the chorus a lot, too.

9. The Receiving End of It All - This one reminds me a little of Everything Went Numb. I haven't listened to this one too much, but I do like it a lot. It has a lot of different sounding sections; the verse, chorus, bridge, etc., all sound very different, so it's a very well-rounded song.

10. What a Wicked Gang Are We - This is currently my favorite song on the album. It also has a very dark sound; it reminds me of Watch it Crash, off this same album. I like the fast-paced style of singing in this one, and I love the lyrics:

Oh! The shame! Humility! What a wicked gang are we! Like a liar looking down on a thief looking down on a killer looking down on a creep, Oh! This sinking ship will only hold its course for just so long. Eventually, that's when they'll see everything is wrong.

It doesn't quite wrap up the album like it should, but by itself, it's a great song.

All in all, I really suggest this album. Maybe I'm biased, but I think every song is amazing. I'm glad Streetlight took the time to polish this one properly. I think it turned out very well, and I definitely look forward to seeing them play this album live whenever they tour around here.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Album Review: The Clientele - Strange Geometry

Genre: Indie
Released: October 2005

1. Since K Got Over Me: This is the most "intense" (loudest and fastest) song on the album. It has sort of a vintage rock feel, and is very melodic, like the rest of the album. It is fairly direct, with the lyrics speaking right to the listener, while the rest of the songs appear to be sort of the singer in a dream.

2.(I Can't Seem to) Make You Mine: Here the dreamy tone is set. This is much slower and softer, with a sad but very pretty sound. Here also the breathy, "ghostly" vocals are introduced. This song was played in the opening credits of The Lake House.

3.My Face Inside the Trees: Immediately, the album picks up! This is a fairly fast-paced, light song. In my opinion, it is the happiest song on the album.

4.K: The beginning of this song clears up any doubts you might have had that this is a dreamy, indie album. It sounds like they recorded the echos and noise of a church. But then it has a funky, electronically modified swirl into calm, melodic acoustic guitar and some more lovely breathy singing. Maybe he met "K" in a church? In any case, after the unique intro, it is a very lovely, light acoustic song. Melodic and dreamy as the album is.

5.E.M.P.T.Y. Who writes this stuff? It's amazing. "K" flows beautifully into this song., which picks up the pace a little again. I love the way this album, though maintaining the dreamy tone set by song number 2, alternates between slow and very light to a little faster and then back again... It's genius. "When the night it comes to me, I wonder if the days I've lived through count," Alasdair MacLean sings ponderously, and then "what is the color of the number when happiness begins?" I think the poetry of the lyrics really stand out in this song, though it flows through all of them. All are very pondrous and dreamy.. But there's a fun little guitar and crashing drums part breaking through the middle. Don't be fooled - just when you think this is an album for your granny, it surprises you by breaking into something a little crazy!

6.When I Came Home From the Party: Here we go again with the slow song. But this too picks up a little, beautiful and melodic. Basically an extension of everything previously set and mentioned. This song to me sounds a little sad, a little bored... Sometimes I think this album is just going through a man's thoughts and feelings. I love how most of us have no idea what MacLean is singing about. It almost makes the lyrics more universally applicable.

...Continuing dreams and melodies and breath...

11.Losing Haringey: I love this song. It's a dreamy melodic backdrop to a poetic recollection Alasdair MacLean makes.

12.Six of Spades: You can tell that the album is coming to a close with this very dreamy finish, very slow and subtle in the first half, ending with more church organ sounds, and finally, the last few seconds are silence.

Overall: Who doesn't like Bri'ish accents? I think they're lovely, especially when sung. This is a beautiful listen for a warm summer afternoon or evening. It takes me away from today's world, from today's crappy, too loud, to boisterous music into something that sounds classier, a little vintage, and doesn't stampede over my thoughts like a thorned elephant. I love it. 10/10

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Album Review: The Hippos - Forget the World

Genre(s): Ska
Released: April 1998

1. Far Behind - The song begins with a strong horn lead, backed by some powerful guitar, flowing into the vocals, which remind me of 99 Red Balloons (listen, and you'll see what I mean). The chorus of this song is a little lacking, but I love the verses. The song winds down with a little percussion breakdown. Overall, a great starting track. 9/10

2. Please - Some guitar work reminiscent of Sublime kicks this song off, followed by a nice horn rhythm. The majority of this song is led by some awesome drumming (during the verse and chorus). A horn solo breaks apart this song, and it ends with the chorus once again. 8/10

3. When Will I Learn - Again, the song begins with a horn solo, which sounds almost like a salsa song, with a sort of Latin feel to it. The verse lyrics aren't amazing or anything, which sort of drags the song down, but the overall rhythm holds everything else together in a song that sounds like it'd be good to dance to. 8/10

4. Diane - This song begins with some traditional rock guitar and drums. Until about 30 seconds in, the up-strokes and the horns are absent, so the song doesn't sound like a ska song for the most part. If you've heard Suburban Legends' music, this is very similar to their style. 8/10

5. Don't Worry - Blending reggae and something like ballroom-dance horns in the intro, this song manages to sound very different from the previous songs. It's a simple song; the guitar and horns aren't complex at all, which makes you focus more on the vocals. The verse has a minor tone to it, which switches to a more powerful major-sounding chorus. Overall, a very diverse song. 9/10

6. Celebrate - Ooh I like the vocals in this. The singing alternates between an old-time-radio quality to good quality (again, listen to see what I mean), which makes the verse pretty interesting. Again, another instrument solo breaking apart the song (this time with the bass). This band seems to do this a lot, which sort of takes away from the song diversity, but by itself, the song's good. 7/10

7. Irie - The rhythm and singing in this song are pretty fast and upbeat, again, a song you just feel like dancing to. The chorus breaks away from the ska sound, which is a pretty nice way of keeping this different. The song (again) goes into a horn solo, but they cut the speed in half, making for a little breakdown. The song picks up again for the end, ending with a very powerful combination of all the instruments. 9/10

8. Asleep at the Wheel - This song is the first on the album to use a keyboard, but it definitely adds to the song. The verse is again driven by some rock-style distorted guitar, backed by some simple horn lines. 8/10

9. So Lonely - A Police cover! Sweet. When I saw the song's name, I was hoping it was in fact the Police song. The first time I heard this was when Reel Big Fish played it on their DVD. It has a nice rhythm to it, and an amazingly powerful chorus. If you've heard the Police version, the vocals are pretty different in this version, and the overall feel is much more driven and strong, but still good. The horns definitely add to the song as well. 10/10

10. Rock & Roll - Another song making unusual but entertaining use of a synthesizer. This song's entirely instrumental, showcasing just about every instrument in the band, from the drums, to the horns, to that synthesizer. This song seems just like a regular song too, with a 'verse' and a 'chorus.' 8/10

11. Forget the World - The album's title track. It's a great closing track, with some great horn lines and a verse that alternates from a softer feel to a more powerful one, blending perfectly in with the chorus. 9/10

Overall - This album was a nice surprise for me. Last.FM recommended them to me a while back, but I hadn't been able to find any of their albums until today. I was looking forward to hearing it, and it definitely lived up to my expectations, if not exceeding them. This CD is so diverse; while it's all essentially ska music, there is a huge variety of styles making each song different. The band's overall sound seems like a blend of Reel Big Fish and Suburban Legends. If you're a fan of either of those bands, or a fan of ska music at all, definitely check this one out. 8/10

You can find The Hippos' album and more on Plan B Music.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Album Review: OK Go - OK Go

Genre(s): Pop/Rock
Released: September 2002

1. Get Over It - The album's first song begins with some percussion, then follows with some powerful guitar, leading into the vocals. This song blends real instruments (guitar) with synth sounds to create an awesome opening track with a meaning similar to an Eagles song of the same name; it's about how people always whine and complain about everything just to get what they want. Easily one of my favorites from the album. 10/10

2. Don't Ask Me - This song starts of with some muted guitar and then some intense synthesizer that match the melody of the vocals. I like the vocals in this song, because they're recorded at higher and lower pitches, then stacked to make a nice harmonious sound. The song seems to be about an ex-girlfriend (or just ex-friend) and the associated fakeness that follows after the break-up ("Don't ask me how I've been" - Don't pretend like you care). 10/10

3. You're So Damn Hot - This song makes awesome use of alliteration, repetition, and rhyme: "Don't even try to find a line this time, it's fine, darlin' you're still devine." "But darlin' look at how you dress your best suggests another kind of guest." Now that I think about it, I love that aspect of this song. And the synth lead is really awesome. 9/10

4. What To Do - I've only heard this one once and when I did it was mostly background music, so I don't have a lot to say about it. This song is more mellow and relaxed than the previous 3, but it's still pretty strong. Nice vocals and an unexpected yet fitting little gutiar solo halfway through. 9/10

5. 1000 Miles Per Hour - Again, another I haven't heard much. Another softer song, yet it still has an almost upbeat tempo/feel to it. I really don't know how to describe this song. It's mostly acoustic guitar with some synth/orchestral sounds to it, making it more of a ballad almost. 8/10

6. Shortly Before the End - Another softer one, softer than the others. This album seemed to start off fast and rockin', then moved into a softer, mellow feel, which is nice. There's some distorted guitar, but it's slower and more 'grand' I guess. The vocals are a little too soft for my liking, though it's not too bad. 6/10

7. Return - A bunch of instruments (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synth, etc) come together to form the majority of this song. The vocals are soft and varied, and parts of it remind me of Colin Meloy (The Decemberists). This song also reminds me of Oasis. 6/10

8. There's a Fire - Transition away from the softer middle section of the album. This song picks up the beat. The main guitar is ska/reggae in style (guitar played on the upbeats rather than the downbeats) and the main melody is this soft synth sound. 7/10

9. C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips - The vocals are quite interesting in this song. They're a little weird, yet not necessarily bad. I think this song sorta grew on me. This is another song that takes advantage of repetition and rhyme. 9/10

10. The Fix Is In - This song starts with vocals that seem totally different from the rest of the album (deeper). This song evolves quite a bit, with several different parts to it. I like it though. A well placed guitar solo and vocal bridge help make it better. 10/10

11. Hello My Treacherous Friends - Second only to Get Over It. Starts with some crazy glockenspiel/triangle-type thing. The verse part ("With regard to my newborn arachnid kids" and "perhaps you could help me to demonstrate how your center can keep up its sickening spin") of the song seems lazy and out of a tempo or scale, but I think that just makes it better. The chorus is softish, yet powerful. 10/10

12. Bye Bye Baby - A fitting name for a closing track; in fact, the whole feel of this song matches that of a finale. The initial vocals again remind me of Oasis. Not much to say about this song, but it's good. 10/10

Overall - Ok Go's self-titled album was overall pretty impressive. I generally don't expect too much from pop-rock bands these days, but this was a pleasant surprise. The album starts and ends very strongly, but the middle few songs don't seem near as good as the rest. Ok Go's style is unique, unlike most recent bands I've heard. So check them out. 9/10

You can find OK Go's album on Plan B Music.

Album Review: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Genre(s): Rock/Psychadelic Released: March 1973

1. Speak to Me/Breathe - This (these?) song begins with the sound of a beating heart, the ticking of clocks, the sound of a cash register, lines such as "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad." Then comes the guitar, the drums, and an interesting slide instrument known as a 'lap steel.' The song's music is simple and sets the mood for the entire album. The song's basic message is, to me, that your life is made up of what you do, and it will inevitably be ended with death, so do what you can while you're living. 9/10.

2. On the Run - "Here for today, gone tomorrow, that's me, hahahaha." This song is instrumental plus a few spoken lines. It's one of the coolest songs to listen to on headphones because you hear the sound of an airplane flying from one side to the other, a huge crashing sound, and footsteps running from one ear to the other. 7/10.

3. Time/Breathe Reprise - The ticking and chiming of a bunch of clocks marks the beginning of this song. Following that is again a heartbeat-type sound, a bass, and a heavily-reverbed drumset. The song's meaning is fairly obvious: people often have an agenda of what they want to do in life, but hope that someone will tell them when and how to start, but after waiting and waiting, you realize that it's too late; you missed your chance. The song is divided by a simple yet powerful guitar solo, then it goes back to the vocals, describing how time is passing you by. The song concludes with a reprise of Breathe, the album's first song. 10/10.

4. The Great Gig in the Sky - Another semi-instrumental piece, the only vocals are a few whispers and the wailing of Clare Torry. Not much to this song, but it's nice. 7/10.

5. Money - Maybe my favorite song on the album. The song talks about, well, money. The theme is that people always try to hoard their money or squander it on luxuries. My favorite line comes at the end: "Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today. But if you ask for a raise it's no surprise they're giving none away." One interesting thing about this song is its time. The majority of the song is in 7/8 time, while the guitar solo is in 4/4. Basically this means (I think) there are 7 beats before the pattern repeats, rather than the traditional 4 or 8. 10/10.

6. Us and Them - A softer, piano-based song. This song was recorded to be the music for someone else's film about a war protest, but Pink Floyd decided to put it on the album as well. To me it seems to be talking about the effects and actions of war. It's pretty nice and relaxing. I don't have much to say about this song. 8/10.

7. Any Colour You Like - Yet another instrumental song. No lyrics so I can't really describe what it's about. It consists of some heavily synthesized music and it blends perfectly into the next song. 7/10.

8. Brain Damage - This song describes the effects of insanity, most definitely relating to Pink Floyd's original singer, Syd Barret, who basically went insane. The line "and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" I think connects directly with Syd because apparently he would often begin singing different songs than the rest of the band while in concert. 9/10.

9. Eclipse - The final song of the album, always played in conjunction with Brain Damage on the radio. Pretty hard to interpret this song, but here's sorta what I think: the song describes how everything we do is "in tune" with "everything under the sun, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon;" basically everything that we've done and planned can be turned around or thrown out of sync by something uncontrollable. Anyway, that's how I see it. 9/10.

Overall - I'm sure that if you're reading this, you've listened to the album before and are quite familiar with it. If not, familiarize yourself with it. It's one of my favorite albums of all time, and I've listened to it twice today. I don't think I mentioned it, but the album flows as one song; there isn't really a break between songs (besides Great Gig in the Sky and Money). To get the full experience of this album, you really need to listen to it loud and with headphones. If not in headphones, make sure you at least have stereo speakers, because the surround sound effects are amazing. 10/10.

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