Thursday, July 07, 2011

More Quick Hits

Judging from the amount of new music I've been listening to lately, it looks like this will keep going for a while.  hope you like a barrage of short music reviews.

Wild BeastsSmother
Reminded me of the most boring parts of Shearwater.  Not bad, really…but just not much to it.  It seemed like they were going for a very calm, atmospheric-laden album.  Which they got…but it never really seemed to go anywhere. 

Favorite track: "Deeper"
Rating: 2/5

Paul SimonSo Beautiful or So What
I really like this album.  Kind of a throwback for him.  Lots of acoustic guitars.  A good overall feel to it.  It feels like a summer album.

Favorite track: "Love is Eternal Sacred Light"
Rating: 4/5

EMAPast Life Modern Saints
It’s a little different…she kind of reminds me of some of Kim Gordon’s tracks on the Sonic Youth albums, but with better vocals.  The music was a mix of ethereal soundscapes and random clanging.  She is equal parts beauty and violence.  I feel like I shouldn't like it, but there's something that keeps drawing me back in.  She creates wonderful of terrifying worlds in her music.

Favorite track: "California"
Rating: 4.5/5

La SeraLa Sera
Quiet, well-crafted, 60s-influencd, reverb-laden summer pop.  There’s nothing spectacular about it, but it’s a really good listen on a lazy summer day.

Favorite track: "Beating Heart"
Rating: 3.5/5

I’ve read a lot of great reviews for this album.  I don’t get it.  It just sounds like typical dance music to me.  Everything kind of sounds the same after a while, and it got a little boring.  Plus, the guy’s voice kind of grated on my nerves after a while.

Favorite track: "Helpless"
Rating: 2/5

The Civil WarsBarton Hollow
Nice male/female folk music.  There were a couple of songs that really jumped out at me, and the rest of it was pretty solid.  I like the way their voices sound together.

Favorite track: "Poison & Wine"
Rating: 4/5

Kendrick LamarSection.80
I’d heard good things about this album, some calling it the best hip-hop album of the year so far.  I guess that may be true, but only because I haven’t heard a whole lot of really good hip-hop this year.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  Seemed like a standard hip-hop album to me: a couple of great moments, some pretty good moments, and a couple that I just didn’t care for at all.  Sometimes his voice got on my nerves, but not overly so.  I liked the production pretty well.

Favorite track: "Ronald Reagan Era"
Rating: 3/5

SolanderPassing Mt. Satu
I liked their last album, so I was excited about this one.  More of the same…dark, Swedish pop music with hints of folk.  Not too many songs jumped out at me, but this seems like one that will get better with repeated listens.

Favorite track: "Follow"
Rating: 3.5/5

Holly BrookLike Blood, Like Honey
She is now known by another name (Skyler Gray, known for her hook on Dre’s “I Need a Doctor” and Lupe’s “Words I Never Said”), but this was her first foray into music.  Different than I expected…it basically sounds like a Sarah McLachlan album or something.  I liked it pretty well, but there’s not much to it.  She has a terrific voice, though.

Favorite track: "Wanted"
Rating: 2.5/5

Modern SkirtsGramahawk
Sunny pop music.  I like it, but there’s not much to differentiate this from their previous two albums.  Also, his voice kind of gets on my nerves at times.  Not bad, but not great.

Favorite track: "Happy 81"
Rating: 2.5/5

Peter Bjorn & JohnGimme Some
Swedish pop.  They got really big a few years ago with their single “Young Folks”.  I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now.  They’re not bad, but it’s pretty standard pop.  I enjoyed it, though…seems like good summer music.

Favorite track: "Down Like Me"
Rating: 2.5/5

Death Cab for Cutie Codes & Keys
I’m not sure I’ll ever love this band as much as I used to.  I like this album.  It’s pretty good throughout, with a couple songs that I really liked.  But it just feels like something is missing. 

Favorite track: "Codes & Keys"
Rating: 3/5

DawesNothing is Wrong
Just a good country(ish) album.  They have the whole Crosby, Stills & Nash sound down…but not quite on the level of those guys.  Maybe a band like The Thorns would be a more accurate comparison.  It’s solid throughout, with a few tracks that I absolutely love.

Favorite track: "Million Dollar Bill"
Rating: 4/5

Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues
I kind of liked their first album, but I really feel like they took a major step forward on this album, without making too many changes to their formula from their first album.  It’s mountain folk, and they highlight their tremendous harmonies.  It seems to get a bit bogged down by the end, but the first half is incredibly strong.

Favorite track: "Helplessness Blues"
Rating: 4/5

The MummersMink Hollow Road
A pretty good, low-key summer pop album.  Not quite as good as the La Sera album, but it’s not bad.

Favorite track: "Stuck in the Middle"
Rating: 2.5/5

Ben SolleeInclusions
He is throwing a bit more experimentation in on this album, and it all seems to work.  There’s nothing as immediately good as “To See the Sunrise” on this album, but there’s a lot of really good stuff on here.  He still has that soul-music-with-a-cello thing going (with more than a hint of Paul Simon), but with an added dimension.  This guy truly is amazing.

Favorite track: "Captivity"
Rating: 4.5/5

Emmylou HarrisHard Bargain
I love Emmylou, but this album left me without much to think about.  It’s along the same lines as Red Dirt Girl (my favorite album of hers), but it really feels more like Stumble Into Grace.  It’s good, but not as good as it could be.

Favorite track: "Goodnight Old World"
Rating: 3/5

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