COLIN MELOY - COLIN MELOY SINGS MORRISSEY

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Album: Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey
Artist: Colin Meloy
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Right now, Morrissey is as trendy as liquid cocaine in a club. Indie bands are pimping the Mozz, and Smith's and Morrissey covers are even making Starbuck's promo CDs. Perhaps the most talked about band on the scene right now is the Decemberists. Front man Colin Meloy has released a 1000 copy, tour only EP of Morrissey b-sides.

His choice of songs can be seen two ways. First off, he picked songs that are rather obscure, meaning that true fans will respect his choices and that people who have only heard the classic Mozzer tracks might not even know they aren't originals.

Meloy strips down the songs to one acoustic guitar. I think the idea works well, but a lot of the power of the songs is lost in Meloy's versions. He doesn't have the Morrissey's voice, but the effort and idea deserves merit. I think his version of I've Changed My Plea to Guilty is amazing.

Overall, this is not as good as the originals, but what covers are? The fact he did this is worth trying to go see him at his solo shows and buying it.


THE GAME - THE DOCUMENTARY

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Album: The Documentary
Artist: The Game
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Saying Game's debut album on Aftermath has been hyped is kind of like saying NWA sort of enjoyed wearing Raiders and Kings gear in 1989 (If you're too young to remember, LA hardrocks started the silver & black trend and not so hardrocks everywhere followed their lead). The man who bills himself as the "One Man NWA" managed to align himself with Doc Dre and the G-Unit and you could hear the buzz that built around him. Is it justified? He does have the 50-Cents like drama in his past of being shot multiple times and deciding he needed to rhyme to stay alive. Apparently he woke up from a coma, decided he wanted to rap, and within a year was talking to hip hop's heavyweights about signing a major deal. So can someone so new to the game (ha HA, Big Pun intended) deliver under all that pressure?

Yes. Well someone new to the game with a low-rider trunk full of the beats from the absolute biggest producers can deliver under all that pressure. I have heard this album being discussed as a classic, I don't know if I'd go that far with it. But the beats could certainly bring it up to that level. There's not one mediocre track on this album, nothing that feels like a throw-away or a bone tossed to Dre's newest prodigy. Along with 6 Dre (& friends) productions, Kanye, Just Blaze, Cool & Dre, Timbaland, Hi-Tek, and Eminem all contirbute tracks. An impressive list for someone coming fresh out the box.

But this album isn't all about the producers, The Game brings some skills of his own. Thankfully he doesn't follow the slow-flow pattern of his G-Unit peeps 50-Cents and Lloyd Banks. Game is hungry, and his rhymes show it. The album has the almost required club tracks (How We Do, Higher) but most of the songs are about Game's gang-banging past and how real he's still keeping it (Westside Story, Dreams, Runnin'). Game seems obsessed with hip hop's fallen legends, shouting out Biggie, Pac, and Eazy a number of times. Although he can't have paid much dues in the couple years he's been rapping (what would WC and DJ Aladdin say?), The Game does seem to have repect for hip hop's past. He also seems to respect for kicks, sprinkling sneaker references throughout the album. In fact he says once "I'll kill you if you try me for my Air max 95's". I'm certainly not advocating killing, but as an owner of 3 pairs of 95's, I can feel his pain.

Can The Game bring the Westside back? I don't know, but this album will certainly help. It will probably be the best produced album of the year, but if you aren't down with the gangster-talk then you'll want to give this one a pass. Get the instrumental instead.


MF DOOM - MM.. FOOD

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Album: Mm..Food
Artist: MF Doom
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After many years, MF Doom has finally come back at us with the sequel to his classic debut Operation Doomsday. But that isn't to say that he's been sitting around doing nothing. In between MF Doom albums he's been getting busy under his alias's and doing numerous collaborations with other MC's and producers. In fact he was crazy busy last year, putting out 4 albums: Madvillainy as part of Madlib, VV2: Venomous Villain as Viktor Vaughn, Special Herbs 5 & 6, as well as Mm..Food.

Doom hasn't grown any fonder of choruses during his absence, so you won't find many here. Like Doomsday, this album is full of samples. Most centered on food and continuing the Doom story. This time around it seems that Doom has finished his mission and taken over the earth. Or maybe he hasn't, it's hard be sure. It's also hard to be sure what the connection is between food and global domination by an evil genius in a metal mask, but perhaps I'm overthinking things. Perhaps MF just had a bunch of food samples and wanted to use them all. That doesn't explain the Burt and Ernie samples though.

Perhaps Doom's busy schedule is behind the hurried feel of this album. There are some good jams at the start, Potholderz with Doom pal Count Bass D is perhaps my favorite jam; Hoecakes and Beef Rap are both solid jams too. But things take a weird turn after a few solid jams to start the album. After the Whodini sampling Deep Fried Frenz, Doom breaks into 4 straight jams constructed entirely of wacky vocal samples. They are quite well done, but are basically interludes and should've been spread out amongst the other songs. But he obviously did it for a reason, what that is I couldn't say.

Mm.. Food isn't the best work the man known as Doom has put out recently, but it will have to do I guess. If you're a huge Doom fan or a an underground hip hop obsessive, than you probably want this. He does drop a Redhead Kingpin reference though: "Singing and dancing like Redhead Kingpin", and a reference to the Redhead one always is pretty much all I need to recommend something.


PICARESQUE - THE DECEMBERISTS

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Album: The Picaresque
Artist: The Decemberists
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The Decemberists are one of the most talked about indie bands on the market right now (relax Arcade Fire, we know you are still number one). In the last two years, the Decemberists have moved from a little known band fond of sea shanties and unique song titles, to one of the most popular bands in the hipster circle.

The Picaresque has been leaked early. Very early. It is due out March 22nd. People wondered if this would be Her Majesty Pt. 2, or would the band rely more on the huge change in style they made when recording the Tain (ep - which is one song, 18 minutes or so, based on the play of the same name as if performed by Black Sabbath). The result lies happily somewhere in between.

The band still produces acoustic melodies over layers of strings (Engine Driver, On the Bus Mall), and Meloy writes song of his best lyrics to date (16 Military Wives and the Sporting Life), but the album also features several more upbeat numbers. As the drums kick in on the Sporting Life, you can't help but think of Iggy Pop's Lust for Life, but the song discusses the failure of a high school boy trying to succeed in the sports world and how it is life or death for fathers (let's be honest, a song for hipsters talking about not loving sports, it has anthem written all over it).

For those jonesing for more of Meloy's sea shanties, fear not, the nautical theme is still present, this album is just a more well rounded album, touching on the good aspects of all their previous releases. Very few bands can combine, drums, keys, drums, strings, accordions, horns and any other instruments they can find at yardsales in such a perfect fashion. Fans of previous work will be happy with this album, without question. Please buy it, don't just download it. This band works as hard as any band out there today.

*** It should also be noted that Meloy uses the term "limpdick" in the most successful fashion since NWA dropped that bomb.


MIKE DOUGHTY - LIVE @ LEE'S PALACE

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Artist: Mike Doughty
Venue: Lee's Palace
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First things first. Usually to see a one person show that is as entertaining as Mike Doughty, you usually need a fistful of one's and pay 9 bucks a beer until you reach the two drink minimum.

Former Soul Coughing front man tours alone, playing songs on his acoustic/electric guitar to crowds who usually only know the popular songs from a band that broke up years ago. This doesn't seem fair, when you actually get to hear the catchy, well written songs that Mike has written since the band called it quits. He stumbled through his performance, forgetting words, fighting hecklers and obnoxious fans, but legitimately seemed to enjoy himself. He talked to the crowd, and could have very easily stood on stage, never played a note and still had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

In the hour and half Mike played, he treated the crowd to songs from his first solo record (Skittish), and his latest EP (Rockitty Roll) as well as songs from his yet to be released follow up album. Tossing in the occasional "mega hit" or cover, Doughty played not just to the crowd, but for the crowd, and more accurately, for himself. To quote him, "the crowds are thinning out" but the fans he wins each night are treated to a special show

Set list (in no order, and by no means complete) Madelaine and the nine/Long Black American Car/Looks/Real Love (Mary J Blige)/Book of Love (Magnetic Fields)/Circles (Camron breakdown)/True Dreams of Wichita/Ways and Means/Down by the Sugar Plant/F-Train/Shunned and Falseified/ Unsingable Name/Looking at the world from the Bottom of a Well/Sunkeneyed Girl/Grey Ghost.


AC NEWMAN - LIVE @ LEE'S PALACE

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Artist: AC Newman
Venue: Lee's Palace
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Sunday night. Lee's Palace. I walked in to see about 11 people, and Vancouver's the Neines on stage. Perhaps some people were feeling this band, but I couldn't get into the mismash of styles that the band presented. The lead singer simply stared straight ahead, stone faced throughout each song, before cracking a slight smile at the end of each song. They also had a one man percussion section containing a man who owned every single possible instrument needed to make you look like less of a man. The recorder, the piano you blow into, the mini keyboard, the tambourine - yeah, he had and used them all.

Up next was the band I was truly there to see: California's Rogue Wave. Lead singer Zach Schwartz (I don't think I can actually call him Zach Rogue, since it is one of the worst fake names since Wolf Blitzen) and his band took the stage and did not disappoint. The album Out of the Shadow was recently re-released on Sub Pop. The songs on the album are acoustic songs with various subtle arrangements and are more or less, Zach Schwartz. The live show is more a product of the entire band.

The band consists of drummer Pat Spurgeon (rocking a full on afro and a fu-manchu stache), bassist Sonya Westcott (an attractive young woman with sleeves of tattoos and a strong harmonic voice), and guitarist/keyboardist Gram Lebron (prototypical rhythm guitarist/Moog player). They mesh together very well, and have added a furious energy to Zach's songs. Pat drove the songs, with punishing drum fills and allowed the rest of the band to deliver an energetic performance that was made up of album songs (highlights were Kicking My Heart Out, Endless Shovel & Nourishment Nation). The band was incredibly tight, and I think as they play together more, and collaborate more in the song writing process, Rogue Wave will be a band that delivers great albums and amazing performances for years to come.

Up next, Canada's own A.C. Newman. Most recently of New Pornographers fame, Carl Newman has released a solo record (the Slow Wonder) on Matador records. His creative stylings have led to a fan base that piled into Lee's looking to rock. Continuing the tradition of powerful female harmonies, Sarah Wheeler rocks the bass and sings along with Carl making people forget about Neko Case. The set was energetic as they ripped through upbeat number like Miracle Drug and On the Table and the Town Halo. The diversity of the album shone through on songs like Come Crash and Bette Than Most. Carl rocked through the set, and included a Outrageous Cherry cover before ending the night with The Battle For Straight Time.


G. LOVE - THE HUSTLE

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Album: The Hustle
Artist: G. Love
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Philly based tio, G. Love and Special Sauce, have been making records that, more or less, can be described as white-guy blues and funk. In a complete 180 degree spin, G. Love has released his album on Jack Johnson's record label. Jack got his name out when he and Garrett released a version of rodeo clowns on the Philadelphonic album. G. Love and Special Sauce have always been a band that has been embraced by the college crowd and the hippie crowds (tracks that let you dance, bob your head, and have enough of a hip hop vibe to let you throw the album on no matter what your friends are into). Although this album has some songs that mirror his old styles (Booty Call), G. Love takes a step towards more folk oriented songs in a Dylan-esque fashion (Lovin' Me) and a more relaxed surf style (Give it to You - featuring Jack Johnson and my favorite song, Stone Me). The album was produced by Mario C. and his prodcution fits well with the vibe that G. Love, Jack and Donavon Frankenreiter's songs give off. The album features guest appearance by Money Mark, Jason Yates (Innocent Criminals) and Koool G. Murder on keys and deals with more mature themes than on previous releases. G. love seems to have grown as a songwriter. The lyrics seem to focus not on the good times, but how it really it is. The reality of having a family, and getting dumped has helped Garrett produce a funky, yet heartfelt record. Anyone who likes G. Love won't be disappointed,and if you have never heard the unique mix of funk, rock, blues and rap, take a chance on this record.


RATATAT - MIXTAPE

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Album: Mixtape
Artist: Ratatat
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Remember when the mp3 for Cherry first came out? Everyone downloaded it and thought the album would be great. Finally in 2004, Ratatat released their self titled CD. It was a delicate mix Evan Mast's pulsing electronic beats and synths, and Mike Stroud's pumping guitars. The beats were fantastic, and for months the CD became the soundtrack to my life. The only negative I had (and that was only if I was really looking) with the CD was that by the end of the album, I found that some of the beats blended into each other and sounded too similar.

This next release takes care of that. Ratatat leaked some remixes they made for some heavy hitters in the hip-hop community. Normally, I can't stand Missy "Miss-make-me-hurl when she talks about sex" Elliot, but their remix of hot was just that. The new cd-r, "the Mixtape" has some of the biggest names in rap (Missy, Kanye, Raekwon & Ghost, Meth, Dizzee Rascal and Jay-Z). Their unique beats add a lot to already strong tracks. "Keep 'em High" featuring Kanye, Talib and Common is one of the strongest, and since Kanye could shit on the mic and people would think it was Christmas in July, it will probably be playing in clubs for white dudes in striped polos to freak too by the end of summer. The beat bangs on Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp" and the catchy guitar riff they add to Rae & Ghost's "Cutting Up" is addictive. They include some Lox, and G-Unit, as well as some freestyles by the Brooklyn Zoo and Meth to make sure the mix has something for anyone. Head over to their Website and snatch this up... NOW!


TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS - SHAKE THE SHEETS

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Album: Shake the Sheets
Artist: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
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It is mind boggling to me that Ted Leo isn't considered the voice of rock and roll. Toiled in obscurity for too long, people finally started to take notice of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists with the release of Hearts of Oak. A vivid storyteller, Ted delivers catchy, powerful riffs to accompany his unique voice. In a time where rock bands leave listeners constantly wanting more, Shake the Streets offers tracks that should (but won't) make this album a huge seller. It seems every review comments on his influences, and drops names like Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, the Jam and The Clash. Sure he is influenced by these bands, but Ted leo has crafted his own style and his own sound. He is also a man with something to say. The songs on this album focus on the troubles with the world today (the War, Bush, the problems with all of America and the fact there isn't much that can be done), but instead of hiding his lyrics amidst complicated guitar work, Ted Leo uses simplicity (even as simple as one note plucks on the Angle's Share) to rock his point across. This album is destined to be one of rock's best for the 04.


GARDEN STATE SOUNDTRACK

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Album: Garden State Soundtrack
Artist: Various
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It seems with each movie that is being released (or should I say each quality movie that is being released), the films are becoming so much better at setting the tone of the film by incorporating a powerful soundtrack. Wes Anderson does that better than almost anyone, and first-time writer/director Zach Braff has done this perfectly in his new movie Garden State.

My review might be biased. For the last 4 years, I have been making mix CDs that basically equate to the soundtrack of my life. These help to remember what I was into, and what I was going through. Many of the same songs that have filled my mixes find there way onto Zach's soundtrack.

The soundtrack can be enjoyed by any one, even without seeing the movie (I guess anyone might be an exaggeration, and more accurately put, can be enjoyed by anyone who likes indie rock, interspersed with some classic songs). The fact it fits perfectly into the movie makes it that much better. Sadly, I think an accurate way to describe this CD is to say it is something you could hear in the GAP, or playing as you look for books in Chapters. Is that bad? Not really, Zach has simply chosen Indie songs that have mainstream appeal.

The opening track is Don't Panic by Coldplay. It sets the mood well, and the following songs include cuts by the Shins, Zero 7, Colin Hay (of Men at Work fame), Nick Drake, Iron & Wine, Frou Frou and Simon and Garfunkle.

New Slang by the Shins is one of the best Indie pop songs ever written. Is this a huge exaggeration and a statement that has no merit? Of course it is, but as a music nerd, I can honestly that this song has been popping up on mixes I have made since 2001. If I had to pick one song to be my song, this is it.

The mix of subtle electronic (Zero 7 and Frou Frou) and singer songwriter (Colin Hay, Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunk) tracks makes this album highly enjoyable and very diverse. It can be played over and over, and almost anyone who hears it will be able to identify with at least one of the tracks they hear.

The final touch that sold me on this soundtrack is the Postal Service cover song by Iron & Wine (Sam Beam). Postal Service is an electropop project featuring Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello that became every indie kids wet dream last year. Sam Beam makes this cover his own by softly singing his vocal lines over the delicately plucked sounds of his banjo.

I don't usually give glowing reviews, but this CD is as good a mix as can be made, but maybe that is only because it is one I would and have made.


KINGS OF CONVENIENCE - RIOT ON AN EMPTY STREET

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Album: Riot on an Empty Street
Artist: Kings of Convenience
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Ok, enough with the clever titles. Quiet Is the New Loud, Riot on an Empty Street, we get it. You guys are messing with us, like Ken Jennings messed with Trebek. You have titles that are so clever, any non-hipster can't comprehend them.

Kings of Convenience are back from a hiatus (Eirik Glambek Boe went to get his learn on, and bi-focaled front man Erlend Oye did his own thing on an ambient DJ type album). Now, let's get one thing cleared up from the 21 jump. Just because a band records acoustic tracks with two vocalists, doesn't mean they are the second coming of Simon and the Gar-funk. I'm not sure how this comparison started, unless people heard the first track and assumed that was the goal of the album.

That being said, this album is a good listen. The opening track, Homesick is a song you can imagine that guitar guy in your dorm playing night after night, trying to get in some first year's knickers. The overall vibe of the album is mellow, where, aside from I'd Rather Dance, most songs fit more into the 'I'd rather sit and play my guitar and hope that hippie who lives next door doesn't come out and play his stupid drum off beat to ruin the song' category.

I'd Rather Dance is a layered masterpiece, and my favorite song on the album. It may be my favorite song of the summer so far. It is as good a pop song as I have heard lately, and stands out from the rest of the album. Most songs are constructed with acoustic guitars, stand up bass, strings, piano and almost no drums. The drums and electric guitar on Love is No Big Truth is subtle, but when you listen to the album, it hits like a ton of bricks (in comparison) and gets your bobbing.

It may seem like I am slagging the Kings, but I really enjoy album and just don't want people to be shocked by the lack of percussion on it. Leslie Feist (of Broken Social Scene fame) is featured on Know How and The Build Up and her amazing voice steals the tracks. Anyone who likes acoustic melodies will not be disappointed by this album, and I'd Rather Dance has the potential to be the best song no one hears this summer.


BEASTIE BOYS - TO THE 5 BOROUGHS

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Album: To the 5 Boroughs
Artist: Beastie Boys
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Let's take a serious look at what is going on here. Here is a band that has, in all honesty, dictated what was cool for white dudes for the last 20 years. You think everyone in your University would have been screaming about a Free Tibet if the Beasties hadn't gotten the word out? Or how about Lee "Scratch" Perry?

That being said, the "boys" are pushing 40. It has been 6 years since their last album. Everyone expects them to fall off. After hearing "Ch-Check it Out", I thought they just may have done that. At this point, it should be noted that this review is far from impartial. I have been reppin' the Beasties to the fullest for a long, long time. Owning every album/t-shirt/button/patch/flag and pooching their style wasn't enough. I was like Al Capone with all the bootlegging I had going on.

To the 5 Boroughs is all hip hop. The Beasties leave their instruments at home. The number of samples is far less than anything the Beasties have produced yet. That makes sense, as it is impossible to produce a legal version of something like Paul's Boutique in today's money grubbing age. I personally think the minimalist beats work well. They album is fueled with the love of NYC, hated for the political and social situation in the US and a strange obsession with television shows from the 70's and board games. This shouldn't be a shock to anyone. It has been the Beasties M.O. for years.

People point at the Beasties, saying they aren't real hip hop. They rep their hood and pay respect to the origins of rap. What is more hip hop that that? The Beasties try to use their position to open up the mind and eyes of the fans they have, but don't get caught up in making their album a political rant. They still drop nonsensical lyrics in their standard delivery that fans have come to expect. No one has ever said they are the best of MC's, but no one can dispute the fact their songs flow perfectly and have more staying power than Ron Jeremy.

I could go into details about songs, the good ones (It Takes Time To Build, An open Letter to NYC) and the bad ones (Ch-Check It Out), but I think every person who listens to a Beasties album takes something different from it. What I love about it, might not what you love about it, and that is the best things about the Beasties. Perhaps the best way to give praise to this album is to say that I love the Boys, and I really expected a drop off with this album, and I can honestly say that there was none.


FROU FROU - DETAILS

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Album: Details
Artist: Frou Frou
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I will be honest with you. I heard this CD on the work share. When I first heard it, I was not overly impressed, but I thought that my girlfriend would love it (I KNOW, SOUNDS LIKE A DISCLAIMER). Then on a road trip to Pittsburgh, I got to hear the album at a respectable volume, without having to wonder if my editor would rip apart my latest whitepaper and realized it is a great CD.

It was released in 2002, and features the songwriting of Imogen Heap. Female vocals can go one of two ways:
1) Addictive as the Thai ice-tea at the Friendly Thai
2) Enough to make you want to throw the CD out of the window, track down the singer and rip out her vocal cords

Imogen's voice is definitely classified by number 1. Her voice is so subtle, but at the same time very powerful. Fans of Dido or Beth Orton will fall in love with this CD. She teams with producer Guy Sigsworth (who worked with Bjork, and pumped out some of Madonna's she-ite music of the last ten years). The tracks feature lightly layered electronic beats that help accentuate the strength of her voice as she delivers lyrics about heartache and lost loves (every music nerd's dream).

The combination of Imogen and Sigsworth is much different than her more rock and roll focused solo-project but any of these songs could be played on the radio or at a party, and people would run to the record store to buy the album. Songs like "It's Good to Be in Love" and "Only Got One" have the potential to push Frou Frou into Dido-esque territory, and the record sales that follow. Let's just hope people get to hear them.


IRON AND WINE - OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS

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Album: Our Endless Numbered Days
Artist: Iron And Wine
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I purposely held off on reviewing this album because I was hoping to avoid being lumped in with the 'Sam sold out' reviews that Indie hipster feel forced to write. Iron and Wine is the moniker for part-time cinema professor, part-time rocker Sam Beam. He recorded The Creek Drank the Cradle and The Sea and Rhythm sitting in his living room on a four-track. The album and EP were filled with static, but the songwriting and instrumentation was superb.

That being said, heads turned when they heard the latest album Our Endless Numbered Days was going to be recorded in a studio. 'That isn't Iron and Wine...the beauty of the songs is the simple, hiss-filled sincerity!' Bah. This album is well crafted, and the better sound quality doesn't take away from the poetic honesty that Sam produces. The songs he sings tell stories that you can imagine are told over a bottle of wine as the sun sets in the distance. Instead of the simple four-track method, Sam uses subtle percussions and harmonies (delivered by his sister Sara...ha ha, if anyone else from Halifax reads this, remember Sister Sara's). He experiments with tempo changes and speaks freely about his fear of mortality and the love in his heart. While the studio sound is different for Sam, I think this album shows he is growing as a musician.

It is hard to pick out my favorite songs, as from start to finish, this album is excellent. As Naked as We Came, Sodom, South Georgia and Each Coming Night are standouts. For such a minimal record, the variety in the songs is remarkable. Plus, let's be honest, who doesn't love the banjo. This is a record that you can put on, and not realize how much you are enjoying it, until you realize it has been on repeat for weeks.


DILATED PEOPLES - NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

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Album: Neighborhood Watch
Artist: Dilated Peoples
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Dilated has been putting out bangers for years. They stick to a formula of "politically charged/respect for the originators of hip hop" lyrics over tightly produced beats. For the first time in any of their albums (The Platform, Expansion Team), the lyricism actually overshadows the production. The album has some great beats from a lot of producers (Alchemist, Babu, Nucleus, Joey Chavez , the list goes on), but this album lets Evidence and Rakaa shine on the mic.

The opening track, Marathon rips is classic DP fashion. However, as the album progresses, you get to see a new DP. They still rhyme about loving their posse, loving the puff, and diss studio MC's, but they move towards lyrics that show their insecurities about life, trying to make sure they stay paid and fear of the problems that we face everyday with the war.

The hooks aren't as nice as the previous DP efforts, but the album flows well. DP is trying new styles and I think it works. The track Big Business bumps out your speakers, but unlike so many club cuts that say nothing, Rakka drops intelligent lyrics about the state of the world.

People are going to tell you DP is selling out, trying to get radio play. Including tracks with hip hop's hottest producer Kanye West (This Way) and Devin the Dude (to get the west coast people hyped) are strong indicators. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but even if these tracks get crazy radio play, they are spitting lyrics about things that don't normally get any radio love, so is it really a bad thing? Surely we are all tired of the mindless tracks that cats are putting out just so people can shake their ass. Their "radio" jams are still better than 90% of the shit that you have to stomach today.

I am by no means a hip hop expert. I just know what I like: good beats, intelligent lyrics. I have always been a fan of the Beat junkies, and Defari, so the jam Closed Session will be in heavy rotation in my playlist. I think this album is getting slept on, and people are seeing it as something it isn't. DP is growing, and seeing the future. If that means trying to make some bank while still keeping it real, who cares? This album is still more enjoyable than any of the shit I have heard lately.


THE VINES - WINNING DAYS

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Album: Winning Days
Artist: The Vines
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Think back to the movie High Fidelity. Jack Black, John Cusack, the bald indie rock guy and the dude from Swingers are discussing their Top 5 side one, track ones. John Cusack picks his Top 5 with a list of extremely safe picks and one new type song. That is the best way to describe the Vines new album. Basking in the glow of their overplayed hits from the first album (Highly Evolved), their new album opens up with a Neptunes driven remix of Get Free. Oops, my mistake. It is actually their new single Ride. The boys didn't drift too far in looking for the recipe for this single. This track will sell the new cd to everyone who bought the last cd.

The album is being marketed as a Nirvana meets the Beatles sound. Wow, I have never heard of a garage band citing those two bands as their influences. If they had dropped Yngwie Malmstein meets Jacko Pastorus, they might have turned some heads. Biting the styles of two of the biggest names in rock history is like citing God and Buddha as your influence for how you live life. However, where most bands cited the names and write their own shit, the Vines go one step farther, by basically looping the Beatles albums for days before running into the studio and going for broke. I will admit this though, as much I dislike this album, Rainfall is quite a catchy track. Unfortunately, that might be because I am a Beatles fan and it sounds like it was written to be just that. After releasing a first, well-received album, you would hope the band would evolve to forge a unique identity. I think they have regressed by putting together a couple of grungy songs they can rely on to sell albums and a few songs where they can talk about how they have grown as artists, when in reality they just chose another style to imitate.

My final thought about this album is of course the closing track. F.T.W (Fuck the World) shows what is wrong with the Vines. I am not alone in thinking, any band that is handed the world, allowed to tour it and experience life in the best possible manner should embrace it. Instead, in an effort to stand out (when they in fact, just mirror other pretentious bands in the same position), they reject the world, progress and being famous. To quote Barry, 'how extremely pussy of you'.


MODEST MOUSE - GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BAD NEWS

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Album: Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Artist: Modest Mouse
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There are two ways to review this CD:
1) For Modest Mouse Fans
2) For First time listeners who have seen the song Float On on Itunes, and on MTV2

I'll start with number (2). Float On is one of those songs that is going to get a lot of airplay. Very upbeat, with a crunchy riff, and a sing-along chorus makes this a song for the masses. However, once you get past the single, you may realize you have never heard a band quite like Modest Mouse. The poignant lyrics on mortality and spirituality may seem profound, but if you listen to Moon & Antarctica you will see they are slightly lacking. You will be able to hear a heavy Tom Waits influence on several tracks, including Devil's Workday. The CD is all over the map, which to a first time listener may seem confusing, and a little unfocused. That is actually what makes Modest Mouse so appealing. If Isaac's whiny vocals and the band's diversity appeal to you, do yourself a favor and pick up The Lonesome Crowded West and This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About.

For Modest Mouse fans, this album might be a slight disappointment. That isn't to say it isn't a good album, I truly think it is. It is just not the album most 'true fans' wanted. Songs like Bukowski still deliver the lyrical talents people have come to expect from Isaac. As with most Mouse albums (in my humble opinion) the beginning of the album is the strongest part. With all the different styles, Modest Mouse still manages to put out some great songs that fans have come to love and expect - Satin in a Coffin and Bury Me With It. Overall, I very much enjoyed this album for what is. It is honest, and although the songs may seem poppier and less dark, I think the lyrics continue to focus on the fears of mortality. Throw in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and I think you will be hard pressed to find an album of such variance and originality. Modest Mouse continues to grow, while still firmly sticking to their roots.



Album: Guilt Show
Artist: The Get Up Kids
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It must be horrible to have people constantly hope for you to put out an album that mirrors one you put out so long ago, especially when each subsequent release has had stronger songwriting and musicianship. This however, is the dilemma that haunts the Get Up Kids. Something to Write Home About is an emo kid's wet dream, with its catchy keyboards and sing-along choruses. That being said, On a Wire was a progression to stronger songs and Guilt Show continues along that path.

The songs still have fun melodies; however the lyrics have changed from past loves to the growing responsibilities of regret and expectations that haunt everyone as they grow older. People said the Get up Kids grew up with On a Wire, and it is impossible to grow up twice, but the sophistication of the album mixes better than On a Wire. This album is more a combination of what they explored on the songs from On a Wire and their poppier punk stylings of the past. The keyboards on this album shine through. Dewees steal tracks with his soft touch and diverse styles that are reminiscent of 60's pop songs that most fans of this band (or type of music) hate to admit they like.

Standout tracks: Holy Roman, Martyr Me, Never be Alone and Sympathy



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