Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
On August 2nd, the 15 year-old band O.A.R. released their seventh studio album, King. King, simply put, is their strongest release yet. The band continues to explore their sound of “island vibe roots rock.” With this in mind, there is a resounding sense of talent and ambition in every track and line. Lyricist and lead singer Marc Roberge has consistently belted out simple and heartfelt lyrical stories on every recorded track.
The new album keeps up this trend and O.A.R.’s fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Songs like “Dangerous Connection” and “Fire” are sure to please old fans as well as appeal to newer ones. “Heaven” is the first look of the attitude and energy the group has to offer. It’s a song reflecting the outlook many current artists have. The band’s message of “I don’t care what you think of me, I’m just going to do what makes me happy” shines through because of the words and tones Roberge outputs.
O.A.R.’s unique sound comes from the melding of melodic guitar work by Richard On and the grooving bass of Benj Gershman. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind combination not available anywhere else. O.A.R. always manages to sound different and irreplaceable, especially to their fans. The two take it to a new level on King and their polyphonic energy only gets better when Jerry Depizzo wails out incredible sounds on the saxophone.
Since forming in high school O.A.R.’s sound has changed and matured, but the group stays true to their music on each new release. Each song on King is bound to please even the least faithful O.A.R. fan. The band’s commitment to making quality music has once again made itself known. The only thing left worth doing is putting your headphones on and surrendering to the King.
Listen to O.A.R.'s latest single "Heaven"-
Their music is sweet, accessible, and, above all else, big. There’s no doom and gloom on Skying, The Horrors’ third full length release. It’s a collection of 10 self-produced tracks as big as the name Skying would suggest.
The gorgeous opener “Changing the Rain” shines through synths and a steady, stuttering beat like a new-aged Stone Roses tune. “You Said” recalls the jagged rumblings of My Bloody Valentine. With its sharp synth chimes and washed guitar, “Still Life” has all the space of an ‘80s pop crier.
However, The Horrors are more than just an amalgamation of past UK noisemakers.
“Endless Blue” begins with gentle cymbal taps and airy arpeggios blending into a slow crescendo before U-turning at the 1:41 mark. The pace quickens as a distorted melody creates a pleasant backdrop for singer Faris Badwan to deliver his lines in disaffected breaths. All of this builds to an explosive chorus where a five-note synth line towers over the band like a foamy wave ready to break.
It’s this kind of perfect control that makes Skying a great listen.
Listen to "Still Life"
WSBU would like to thank everyone involved with the station, not just over the past year but all who ever have been involved. Whether you are/were a staff member, director, DJ, voter or just a casual listener you helped us rise to the top and become the best college radio station in the nation once again! It is your dedication and hard work that makes us what we are.
On behalf of WSBU, thanks again for your work and continue to support us. We want to make sure we stay on top of the charts as long as we can!
It hasn’t been that long since Portugal. The Man released American Ghetto, a release that didn’t showcase much of the bands strengths, but PTM is already back with In the Mountain in the Cloud. It’s the psychedelic adventure that American Ghetto should have been.
“Sleep Forever” displays what Portugal. The Man is all about. It’s a song that feels almost like a tribute to PTM’s influences and you can definitely hear the Beatles touch in this song. There’s a touch of strings, guitar solos, what sounds like a choir, and a shuddering, eerie vocal line. “Sleep Forever” brings together the trippiness of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the reserved haste of “Golden Slumbers,” and the subtle dementia and content of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.”
The lucky seventh track, “Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs),” bounces an upbeat brass riff along throughout with soft alt rock taking place in the background. It’s a song that reaches back into Alt. Rock’s past and brings back memories of The Wallflowers and Semisonic. Eventually the influence of Pink Floyd and the Beatles again makes an appearance when the song builds into a noise crescendo and breakdown.
Portugal. The Man is a band that satisfies the musical desires of many different types of rock fans. Alt. rock, psychedelic rock, indie rock, and classic rock fans all have a song that suits them on In the Mountain in the Cloud. In the Mountain in the Cloud should be the comeback album of the year.
Check out the lead single from In the Mountain in the Cloud "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)"
In summer of 2009, Title Fight released their debut full length album The Last Thing You Forget. It was a compilation of everything the band recorded since they formed in 2003. The band started out as just three teenagers until 2005 when they brought in another guitarist to round out their sound. Last thing You Forget introduced the band to a wider audience and jumpstarted their journey towards the top of melodic hardcore.
In May of 2011 Shed was released. Shed is the follow up to Last Thing and their first LP made of entirely new material. At just under a half-hour, Shed is driving, droning, descriptive, and emotional. There are songs here that leave your brain working in overdrive while running on autopilot. These thirteen songs are definitive proof that punk music is alive and well.
Title Fight’s lyrics exhibit their influences from emo, pop-punk, hardcore, and melodic hardcore. Guitarist Jamie Rhoden and bassist Ned Russin’s singing often covers the struggles of regret, rejection, depression, internal conflicts, and self-realization and self-change.
Title Fight is the only band in history that can get an audience to tear across a pit with unbridled ferocity one minute, sway like a Culture Club show the next, and mosh again soon after. TF songs are characterized by catchy rhythms, interwoven guitars, courtesy of Rhoden and Shane Moran, and determined bass and drum work from Ned and twin-brother Ben.
“Crescent-Shaped Depression” shows TF at their best. A soft, sultry opening leads into an overwhelmingly drawl blast of noise lasting for two and a half minutes. It snakes its way through your ears, into your brain, and leaves you determined to hit repeat just one more time, every time.
Title Fight showcases their hardcore orientation front and center with the lead track “Coxton Yard.” An addictively aggressive intro sets up a furious pace that’s maintained throughout by Ben’s furious drumming and broken only with occasional half-time breakdowns. Shed’s track order ensures that you won’t hear two similar songs in a row.
Shed will be in music critics’ top lists for 2011. The album leaves a strange sensation because it satisfies a wonderful musical itch, but you’re slightly disquieted because there won’t be any new material for a while. Shed exceeded the anticipation built from the release of The Last Thing You Forgot and will build up anticipation to an even greater level for their next album.
Listen to "Crescent-Shaped Depression" -
Seapony, a three-piece act from Seattle, dropped its 12-track debut album, Go With Me, last month. Be prepared to chill out. Relax. The band’s raw combinations of simple drum patterns and catchy guitar rhythms are made to do just that. Best Coast fans should be impressed.
Not unlike many other bands, Seapony holds strong influence of the light and dreamy 60s pop. Jeni Weidl’s pretty vocals are subtle like a light summer haze. Each song offers fun and infectious melodies with simple, not overbearing, drum rhythms.
Standouts include the leading track which is a cheerfully infectious tune, “Dreaming” (it was also released as a single last year); “I Really Do,” as Weidl’s charming vocals complement the driven drum beats over a strong chorus; and “Blue Star,” which offers the perfect combination of another strong chorus, sing-a-long lyrics and tumbling guitar chords. After that the remaining nine songs seem to follow suit and contain a similar tone of fun catchy beats.
For its debut album, Seapony did well. The album is an easy listen, perfect for more than just a few summer days. And hopefully, with its next album, Seapony finds a way to vary from its blueprint and standout from the crowd.
Listen to "Dreaming":
Touche Amore’s third full length album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, was hyped for months around the Hardcore music scene. The excitement the band generated from their first and second releases left eager fans wanting more from the hard hitting five piece. Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me is a rare case of an album not only living up to lofty expectations, but far exceeding them. 2009’s …To the Beat of a Dead Horse built a strong fanbase for the band, and they’re constant touring tightened up their sound and exposed them to a broader audience. This album is sure to appeal the established audience, as well as enticing new listeners to the sound of Touche Amore.
Parting the Sea… is thirteen songs long, which seems like it may take you a while to get through. You’ll only spend about twenty minutes listening to the album though, but that’s because the album is just below 21 minutes in length. In the time it takes you to roast a pork, or microwave that case of E-Z Mac, you can listen through this album twice. You won’t have a problem listening through it twice though because you’ll want to start it over the moment the last song fades to silence.
Every song on Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me is full of tempered aggression and is a perfect outlet for frustration. “~” and “Wants/Needs” are two of the standout songs on Parting the Sea and they’re designed to melodically soothe your mind while the driving drums and guitar punch you in the stomach. It’s a high-low sonic attack that you’ll crave to go through again and again.
The songs build in intensity and message until “Condolences.” It’s a break from the hardcore genre except for the singer Jeremy Bolm screaming out faded lyrics over powerful piano chords. It’s the most powerful song on the album, but it’s also the slowest and softest, in a good way, musically.
Every other song on the album, however, has Bolm singing over the driving guitar work of Clayton Stevens, and Nick Steinhardt. The guitars in Touche Amore have always combined the essences of leading and complimenting; always doing just enough to help out without overwhelming anyone else. The driving bass of Elliot Babin adds a heavy compliment to the groundwork and keeps the intensity up to ensure some good spin-kicks across the pit. The drum work of Tyler Kirby is tight and intense. His bass drumming is both melodic and rhythmic; a rare combination you don’t find very often.
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me will be featured on best of lists this year, not only for hardcore fans, but for music fans of all music too. One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Touche Amore has once again delivered an album that gives us so much without giving us enough.
- Anthony Gannon
Listen to "Wants/Needs":
My Morning Jacket epitomizes the idea of musical exploration. Since 1999, they have changed styles and sounds in fear that that they may fall out of grace. Jim James (also known as Yim Yames), the bands front-man, has expressed in past interviews that he does not wish the band to be “creatively static.” From their debut LP The Tennessee Fire through their 2005 hit Z and even their 2008 disappointment Evil Urges has shown much musical growth and a plethora of creative styles.
On May 31, MMJ, as they are commonly referred as, released a long awaited LP entitled Circuital. The 10-track album contains some of their greatest work. The album starts off with “Victory Dance,” a song that can only be described as a mellow fanfare. Choppy lyrics, pumping bass, electric flourishes with a string-emulating ambience in the background define this song as it builds up into a drum-pounding, guitar-cranking climax.
The title track “Circuital” better exemplifies the sound that My Morning Jacket is most notable for. Rocking electric guitars, a walking bass line and the silky smooth voice of James make this folk-rock jam a must listen despite the songs 7:24 runtime. The next notable track, “Wonderful (the Way I Feel)” brings a reverb-heavy acoustic-folk song to the listeners’ ears.The song consists of a bright acoustic guitar and an electrified slide guitar, giving the audience the feel of a classic folk/alt-country song. James’s lyrics and voice remind listeners of simpler times where the most overlooked ideas and actions made people happy, referring to our childhoods.
The most single-worthy track has to be “You Wanna Freak Out.” Recently performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the track consists of smooth lyrics, a dance-style keyboard riff, folk acoustic guitar and a powerful electric bass and electric guitar. This track creatively combines many styles and instruments to make a brilliant anomaly of a song. “You Wanna Freak Out” is one of those tracks that you close your eyes to and just feel the majesty. From the beginning of the track to the end the listener gets sucked in to the power and mystery of the song.
This album fits well together as a whole and definitely belongs atop their discography as one of their best albums. Although it’s not as innovative as Z, Circuital has a variety of high spots and several tracks that can only boost the quality of the band’s legendary live show.
Listen to "You Wanna Freak Out":
Three years after their last album 200 Million Thousand was released comes Atlanta’s Black Lips’ most structured album yet.
Usually structure isn’t their thing. They tend to prefer the punk, rock n’ roll lifestyle where sloppiness and messy hooks were just a definition of a great rocker. But like everything, things change and for the Black Lips it was for the better.
Usually, they write, record and produce their own albums, but they did things a bit differently this time. With the help of Mark Ronson and Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter, they created Arabia Mountain. Overall, it is a more organized sound, but their crazy attitude shines through in every howl, wail and/or riff of a guitar.
A total of 16 songs on the album may seem like a lot, but mostly every track does not last any longer than three minutes. Their self-proclaimed “flower-punk” style is heard in every track. In “Spidey’s Curse,” they allegedly put a microphone into a human skull to create a unique reverb sound. One of their singles, “Go Out and Get It,” contains this retro surf vibe where you can’t help but dance when you hear the catchy hooks of the guitar.
While listening to Arabia Mountain you may feel as though you have been transported to this sunny party feel where everything is carefree, which makes it a perfect summer album. So, go out and have some fun with your friends and while you’re making memories have Black Lips’ Arabia Mountain blasting in the background.
Listen to "Go Out and Get It":
Justin Vernon created Bon Iver’s excellent debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago as a brooding cry of frustration over loss. The simple folk setup of the album allows listeners to apply meaning and fill the space intentionally left by Vernon. Between fragile strums and stacked overdubs of his own voice, For Emma is a hell of a lot more than nine songs cranked out by a bearded guy in a lonely Wisconsin cabin.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver is about expansion, as good sophomore efforts tend to be. Where For Emma’s “re: Stacks” chimed along beautifully with just Vernon’s voice and guitar, the 10 tracks on this latest release rely on dense layers of production, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Gorgeous opener “Perth” is everything one craves in a Bon Iver song: a simple, dazzling guitar part that leads into a chorus of Vernons singing in angelic falsetto, some pounding percussion and delicate horn accompaniment.
“Perth” leads into “Minnesota, WI,” an usually percussive tune that features Vernon singing in a strikingly lower register. After the drums drop out, dueling banjo and guitar picks recall For Emma’s folk, but the song is more a representation of Vernon’s R&B inklings, which he indulged with funky side project Gayngs last year.
Something to note: Bon Iver, Bon Iver is louder, but still as sweet. Acoustic guitar and broken man folk are noticeably absent here, leaving room for Vernon to flesh out the sound. “Towers” is a total country-folk jam, complete with wailing slide twang and fiddle, but the western glaze doesn’t overtake the song. “Hinnom, TX” is a smoky haze of reverb and Vernon’s deep hums. The piano-driven “Wash.” is a cousin of 2009’s Blood Bank EP’s “Babys.”
At all times, Justin Vernon keeps control. Lead single “Calgary” is a synth-driven ballad that features one of the best moments on Bon Iver, Bon Iver. As the bridge begins, caustic electric guitars begin to take hold, and Vernon’s voice becomes less ethereal and more biting. It’s a testament to how much control he truly has.While closer “Beth/Rest” is a cheese-fest of gaudy electric piano, slow-jam drums and Vernon’s auto-tuned soaked voice, it doesn’t even come close to ruining the album. Sure, it’s no “re: Stacks,” but it’s another side of Vernon. And if nothing else, at least proms across the nation now have another slow-dance option.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver is just that—twice the passion, twice the beauty, twice the Vernon.
Listen to "Calgary"