Album: Descended like Vultures
Artist: Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave is a Sub Pop band that all too often gets lumped in as a Shins sounding outfit. Their first Sub Pop release, Out of the Shadows was a re-release of songs written by Zach and played by a band he pieced together.

The new album, Descended Like Vultures, is the first release by Rogue Wave as a band. Over the last two years, the band has toured relentlessly, and started to form their own sound. It shows on this release.

In the past, the songs were more or less acoustic songs, filled up by bass, drums and some subtle electronic blips and beeps. The songs on this album sound fuller, and more structured. The parts play together well, and don't sound like they were added as an after thought. Although I am a huge fan of the first album, some of the songs sounded like something Zach played at countless open mic nights, hoping to land a record deal, or another notch on the belt.

The record is full of what pop music fans want. Catchy, unashamed hooks, solid rhythm support and lyrics mixed between depression,despairr and hope. My favorite track is Salesman at the day of parade. Zach's gentle strumming and vocals are the focus of the track, but the backing guitar and harmonies show exactly how the band has grown and produce music as a unit.

Love's lost guarantee is another solid track. Dueling guitars, and Pat Spurgeon's percussion accompaniment keep this track moving, and the electronic guitar creates a wall of sound that fans of the older material might not expect to hear (but those who have seen the band play live will recognize and enjoy).

The single on this album is 10:1. Of course, this is one of the tracks I like least. It is smorgasboard of sounds, and not one that sounds good together. Filtering Zach's vocals, heavy tinny sounding drums and computer effects make this song seem unfocused. They want EFX, no, no live EFX.

The sequencing of the album seems a bit off, as right after 10:1, comes the great acoustic track, California. Although this style is similar to material on the first release, Zach's growth as a songwriter really shows on this track, as it flows beautifully. The strings add a subtle layer of sound that makes this more than just an acoustic number you've heard countless time before.

Medicine Ball has a country-ish vibe, and a pulsating drums beat that is mixed perfectly. It doesn't dominate the track, but blends well to produce a song that will be played loudly and extended in concert. Just another type of song by the band. If this is the type of release we can come to expect form these guys, they are going to have some happy fans, and a lot of them.



Album: Squirrel And The Aces
Artist: Cesar Comanche

Any time a solo MC puts out an album that features guest MC's on 80% of the songs, they run the serious risk of getting overlooked on their own album. This risk is even greater if the MC in question is relatively unknown. Justus League representative Cesar Commanche is taking this risk with his new album Squirrel and the Aces. Like the rest of the Justus League, Cesar hails from North Carolina, and he's recruited NC's finest underground MC's and producers to help on this one. The blowing up of Little Brother has allowed them to share the spotlight with their North Carolina brethren, and Cesar Commanche has taken that opportunity to release his third album. But Squirrel and the Aces? Apparently Squirrel and the Aces was a band Cesar's parents were in during the 70's, so the name is a tribute of sorts to them. The role of Squirrel is being played by Mr. Commanche and the Aces are the multitude of guest MC's and producers on the album.

The bio I received for this album compares it to Pete Rock's Soul Survior, an album I own and enjoy. But Pete Rock has always been a producer first, and you pretty much expect any guest MC to outshine him on the mic. So how does Cesar Comanche stack up against the MC's who cameo on his album? All in all not bad I'd say. Cesar's got some charisma on the mic and an interesting, almost old school sounding voice, so he keeps your attention. Cesar doesn't freak the rocket science rhymes, he talks about everyday issues in his life like the fast life of the rap game (The Life), the highs and lows of living the day to day (Up & Down with a quality guest appearance from Toronto's own Eternia), missing home on tour (Miss You with Edgar Allen Floe, classic name), and just general mic rocking (Rockin' It). The guests do a fine job lyrically as well, with Phonte and Big Pooh from Little Brother both making appearances with other Justus League reps Joe Scudda, Chaundon, and Darien Brockington. Tajai from Hiero also contributes a quality verse on Big Game Hunters.

Beatwise, this is a pretty tight album. Being Justus League affiliated, you know 9th Wonder is going to be in the mix, and he makes his mark here by producing 5 or 6 of the tracks. But 9th isn't alone, the Justus League's up and coming production talent, Khrysis contributes 3 or 4 tracks as well. The "foreign" in Foreign Exchange, Nicolay, also does a track. 9th Wonder and Khrysis have a similar style, thick, bumping drums with sampled strings and female vocal bits layered over them, so that gives the album a consistent feel on the production side. But if you aren't a fan of 9th Wonder's beats, than I'm guessing that could be a point of contention.

Don't have much negative to say about Squirrel and the Aces. All of the guests give the album sort of a mix tape feel, but that's not a big deal. Cesar's also got sort of a weird habit of doing a lounge singer style talking intro to each track, which is slightly annoying, but again, it's not really a problem. On the whole I liked this album. Didn't blow me away, but it's a solid underground album and one I would certainly choose over the latest 50 Cent or Fat Joe. If you're looking for an underground fix, check out Cesar Comanche's Squirrel and the Aces.



Album: Plans
Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Before obtaining a copy of this album, I kept reading that it was narcissistic, and not up to Death Cab standards. People bitching that DCFC was on a major, and have changed their sound – in a negative way. Death Cab exploded in the last two years, more or less related to two factors that weren’t related to the band itself.

First, the OC basically adopted the band as the musical theme for one of the main characters. As the show’s popularity increased, so did the amount of “new” Death Cab fans. The second factor was the release of The Postal Service album: Give Up. Ben provided the lyrics for this amazing record. The negative factor is people now want everything Ben touches to be electro pop goodness, like that created on Give Up. These people forget that Death Cab is Ben’s main project, and the band has been running strong for many years and many albums.

After hearing the album, I am completely lost as to how any fan of the band can’t like this album. After hearing this album, I am completely lost as to how any one can’t like this album.

The album starts with the track, Marching into Manhattan. The simplistic guitar riff and Ben’s love sick vocals drive the song, only to be accompanied by some guitar layers and eventually some subtle drums. This is classic Death Cab sound mixed with some of the sounds added on the last album.

Soul Meets Body is up next. Some nicely programmed drums and Chris Walla on harmonies. Upbeat and very danceable, I’m still not sure what the hipsters are complaining about. I challenge someone not to sing along to the “ba ba ba bas” in the chorus.

I’ve already talked about the Phil Collin-esque gold the band produces in Different Names for the Same Place in the Friday’s grab bag, so I will move on – PHIL COLLINS y’all. Sorry, had to.

After the success of the Home split he made with Andrew Kinney and several solo shows, emotional acoustic songs are becoming familiar to fans. I’ll Follow You into the Dark would have fit perfectly on that EP, and serves as a nice slow down after four jams thick with sounds and layers. I can see this being the first song of the encore, as Ben resurfaces solo before getting joined by the band.

A lot of people are calling Ben conceited for writing Someday You’ll Be Loved (or I should say including on the first major label release). This is simply a song of some girl who he believes can’t get over him. I’m not sure I see the big deal. Songwriters constantly write songs about getting their hearts ripped apart, why not show the truth. Breakups go both ways. Being honest about it is a good thing. This is the darkest song on the album, but it is real. Men sleep with women and leave, and women do the same. Get over it. Eventually we all do, just like this song says.

The next highlight is Crooked Teeth. This is the single, or so I have read. It’s catchy, with a thick bass line and a sound that reminds me a lot of the older releases: simple and melodic (except for the heavy metal guitar solo that sneaks up on you out of nowhere).

Perhaps my favorite track on the album is Brothers on a Hotel Bed. The piano intro sets the tone for some of Ben’s best lyrics on the album. The nice drums accompany the melody perfectly. “You may tire of me, as our December sun is setting cause I’m not who I used to be. No longer easy on the eyes, but these wrinkles masterfully disguise the youthful boy below.”

Sorry for the novel, but I am just very impressed by this album. I think the hype the band has got lately makes it almost impossible to deliver an album that people judged for what it is. If you judge this solely on what it is, you will find yourself one of the best releases of the year.



Album:The Reverb EP
Artist:Abandoned Pools
Going into this review, I hadn't heard much about Abandoned Pools, but the fact the EP was produced by Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Interpol) I was excited to give it a listen. Only after doing my journalistic background check did I find out lead singer & songwriter Tommy Walter was no fresh fish to the music game. He was a founding member of the Eels and the Abandoned Pools 2001 release,Humanistic had a song on Clone High (which, for those who haven’t actually seen it, is gold) and sold 100K.

Well fast forward to now, and put AP on Universal records and you know as much about the band as I do. The Reverb EP shows promise. The opening track, Armed to the Teeth, has some crunchy guitars. It's a solid rocker to open up, but the lyrics seem a little weak for me. Too many clichés (giants of industry, SUVs, puzzle piece that won’t fit in) about materialism take away from the solid riff. Songs about social issues are always tough, and although I’d rather hear someone sing about something meaningful, this time the lyrics just don’t live up to the music. The second track, Sooner or Later, sounds a little bit like R.E.M. to me, which can be good or bad – and in this case, is both. The nice, instrumental fadeout will make a good closing track for this album, or an episode of the OC.

At this point, you might be thinking – this is a 5 song EP, and already we have two tracks that don’t stand out, why keep going? Well, the next track will peak your interest in a hurry. The guitar heavy cover of Bjork’s Cover of Me is fantastic. The band puts their spin on an already great track. Take out the synths from her version, throw in some heavy licks and you are in for a treat. Perhaps the best way to describe this – said without sarcasm – is picture the music in some action movie staring Wesley Snipes, Van Wilder and thrown in some vampires (Blade 4 – I’m looking at you).

Up next is Catalyst. This song is another poppy punk track, with just enough melody and edge to make it a successful radio track. Tommy opens up and this lost love song (in my opinion) is the strongest original on the EP. The last song is the demo of Waiting for Me. From what I can tell, this track will not be on the album, which is a shame. It also makes me wonder how good the rest of the album is going to be. This song is the catchiest on the EP, with a nice bouncy bass line, that matches Tommy’s vocals perfectly.

Considering I had almost no knowledge of this band, and didn't know what to expect, I was pretty happy with the EP. Winning an audience with an EP is never easy, but this collection of songs makes me want to hear the full album.



Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
Venice is Sinking - Sorry About the Flowers
Islands - Return to Sea
Josh Rouse - Live at the Red Room
Wordsworth - Mirror Music: The Deluxe Edition
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
new amsterdams - story like a scar (mar.30th/06)
lovely feathers - hind hind legs (Mar.28th/06)
Hotel Lights - Hotel Lights
King Biscuit Time - Black Gold


12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006


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