New Release Round Up 3/2/10 – 39 Instant Album Reviews

by Gordon Elgart on March 4, 2010

Connect these dots and you get my album pick of the week.

Pouria is taking a week off with the Noise Pop flu. I think he went out one too many nights, so I’m covering for him again. My personal favorites this week are things with exclamation points, so look for those within. Also, a southern rock concept album starring Stephen King. Really.

Jason DeRulo by Jason DeRulo – If a guy thinks he’s good enough to actually say his name at the beginning of his debut album as if I should know he is, he shouldn’t then need this much Auto-Tune to sing. (Complaining about Auto-Tune has gone out of fashion before Auto-Tune has; what an upset.) Other than that, this is pretty solid R&B/pop that will be played in the kind of clubs I hate. Goodness, just heard track #4, “The Sky’s the Limit,” and not only does he say his name at the beginning again, the verse is totally ripped off from “Flashdance.”

Smoke & Mirrors by Lifehouse – I saw Lifehouse play recently. It wasn’t bad, but all the songs ran together a bit for me. Still, it has a certain comforting appeal. That’s like this album. In two years, this album will still be on the charts, and it will be platinum, and you’ll wonder why.

Permalight by Rogue Wave – Only cranky music bloggers could dislike this. It’s the music of a warm sunny day. It also sounds great live.

Hands by Little Boots – I’ve had this album for a long time now. Seen her live at The Independent. Have tickets to see her again at The Fillmore. It even made our Best of 2009 list. That this is a new release is a bit ridiculous.

My Best Days by Danny Gokey – This name is familiar to me. Wasn’t he an American Idol contestant? (Looks it up.) Yes. Yes, he was. So what I have to say about a country album by an Idol guy is completely inconsequential. Enjoy it if it’s your thing.

American Ghetto by Portugal. The Man – This is far funkier than I expected it to be. I thought a man named Portugal would be quiet and introspective. Instead he’s all mellow and gold, if you know what I mean.

The Love & War MasterPeace by Raheem DeVaughn – When he’s trying to channel Marvin Gaye in vocals AND production, this is classic stuff. As soon as he lets the production get “modern,” it’s bland and forgettable. About one quarter of an amazing record here. For example, he actually refers to his Grammy nomination on the record — that’s the shit he needs to leave out.

Nitetime Rainbows by A Sunny Day in Glasgow – I’m disappointed that this isn’t some Shooglenifty ripoff, but rather some U.S. ambient shogeazer stuff. The world’s got plenty of that. This is really good and all, but it’s snowy day in New England stuff.

The Pursuit by Jamie Cullum – The cover of this shows Jamie Cullum staring seriously ahead as his piano explodes in the background. So I thought there’d be no piano on this album, or perhaps it would be a PIANO EXPLOSION! Wrong on both counts. There’s nothing here as good as “Catch the Sun,” but I don’t think he’s looking for any new fans at this point. This album will keep the old ones.

Hidden by These New Puritans – I swear there are voices hiding in the background of these songs trying to convince me to commit various forms of evil. This is intense, moody stuff. Don’t think I can make it through this whole album without being swallowed by darkness.

Black Swan by Athlete – It’s like if Metric replaced their vocal melodies and vocalist with the guy who sang “How Do You Talk to an Angel.” It’s like good and shit mixed together, but it doesn’t make for good shit.

Black Ribbons by Shooter Jennnings & Hierophant – Do you miss Pink Floyd and the Alan Parsons Project? Do you want to hear Stephen King do the speaking part on a concept album? Can’t wait for the next Ayreon album? Then this is for you. Me, too. This is awesome. (Like most prog concept albums, the lyrics and “story” are ridiculous and should be ignored.)

Dreamer by Haste the Day – This makes me wish I liked metal more than I do. I don’t even know if it’s good or not. If I had to guess, I’d guess yes.

Hologram Jams by Jaguar Love – Getting rid of the drummer did not make this band better. It didn’t make it worse, either. They’re still really annoying and entertaining. Just when I think I’m going to shut them off because I can’t take it anymore, I start enjoying a hook.

Bare Knuckle by Guitar Shorty – The first line of the album is “Please Mr. President, lay some stimulus on me.” This is a modern blues album for sure. Doesn’t break any new ground. The overdubbed lead guitar lines up front in the mix are a bit jarring, but the solos are sweeeeeeeet.

The Law of Large Numbers by Emma Pollock – I think I’m mad at my chick-singer loving friends (I’m looking at you, Joel) for not introducing me to The Delgados or Emma Pollock before.(Granted, this could be my fault.) She’s great! Now I have a whole new defunct band to discover!

Animals in Bloom by Big Light – I know someone who dates or dated one of the guys in this band. So I’m surprised how much like the Counting Crows these guys sound. I wouldn’t have expected that out of her. I would have thought more Black Keys than Counting Crows. Somewhere, in the back of their minds, Big Light think they are more Black Keys than Counting Crows. They’re wrong.

Feed My Soul by Holmes Brothers – These guys are so cool. I want to learn about life from them; I also want to knock back some whiskeys and dance. No West Coast dates coming up. Bummer.

We Are the Cult of the Plains
by Blood Cult – Unlike an awesome mixtape, the Lala albums simply play in the order they play. Sometimes the contrast is unbearable — from smooth gospel-tinged blues to screaming hardcore. If these guys had the same producer as Haste the Day, this would sound great. Good music here hindered by terrible production.

Metal & Wood by Tyrone Wells – He just thought if he played Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz songs on acoustic guitar in the dorm, he’d get laid. Next thing he knows, he’s on a major label, recording albums of sensitive songs. I’m sure he still gets laid a lot.

Fight Softly by The Ruby Suns – Some musicians curse the day Animal Collective got popular because now everyone will just say “sounds like Animal Collective” for the rest of their career, no matter how much they have to offer. I wonder what The Ruby Suns think about this.

EP – Part 1 by Lovedrug – I kinda forgot I was listening to this. That’s bad AND good, right?

Cruel August Moon by Saturday Looks Good to Me – Remember before just anyone could have recording equipment, and you’d set up your boombox in the living room and then play, and you’d listen later and it would sound pretty distant, and you wished it could sound like a real recording? This guy never wished it would sound any better than the boombox. (This is a rerelease of a 2001 album.)

Endless Falls by Loscil – So relaxing, this is the music they play in the really cool massage parlors.

Favorite Fix by Artist vs. Poet – I have a new name for this project: Album vs. Blogger. Somewhere in America, there are girls watching this on Youtube and saying OMFG to their friends.

Fantasy Memorial by Dinosaur Feathers – I’m not insulting them to say they sound an awful lot like early Rusted Root at times. Those early Rusted Root albums are great. If their live show is half as good as early Rusted Root shows, they’re gonna blow people away, or melt their face, or kill it, or some other music blogger Twitter cliche.

Shady Retreat
by Peasant – This puts the “peasant” in “pleasant.”

Everyday Balloons
by A Weather – This band must have practiced in their apartment while living above some cranky neighbors. Even turned up, it’s really quiet. It’s lovely.

The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton by Clogs – Before even looking it up, I thought “side project of someone well known.” Sure enough, it’s a mainly instrumental side project of a couple of guys from The National. Shara Worden appears on a lot of tracks here (bonus!), and the whole thing has that side project feel. What does it sounds like? Close your eyes and picture the album title, now turn those images into a movie, and then start listening inside your head for the soundtrack to that movie. That’s right. (Of course now I want to see this movie because it has a cool soundtrack.)

The Silent World of Hector Mann by Duke Special – Ah, old timey music. Clarinets, pianos, trap kits … but the songwriting has a modern flair, more akin to Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Rufus Wainwright, or your other favorite pianocentric singer/songwriter. Absolutely worth checking out.

Connect the Dots by Rabbit! – The Internet knows nothing about this band, but I feel like they’ve been talked about on our site before. Oh no, that was a band called Foxes! with a rabbit on the cover. All of these animal names, all of these exclamation points. Oh, yeah, this album? Happy co-ed vocals, sunny melodies, low key feel, pretty sweet. Dare I say Beatlesesque? Yeah, I said it.

27 by Velveteen – To say that the melodies have a Death Cab For Cutie feel would be ironic remark, considering that it was a Velvteen album that was used as a stand-in for Narrow Stairs on April Fools’ Day a couple of years back. It’s a decent choice, but the guitars are fuzzier and the voice is lower, and well … they’re German. (They also have a song on here called “Rookie of What?” which simply must be a nod to Death Cab.)

Double Jointer
by Golden Triangle – Ask me what I think of the Vivian Girls, and that will tell you what I think of Golden Triangle. I think Dakin would like this.  The muffled recording might not bother him.

In the Cupboard by Harry and the Potters – This sounds like demos. Do these albums always sound like demos? Is this even them? Wizard Rock means nothing to me. This is one of the worst things I’ve ever tried listening to.

It Took the Fire
by Tyler James – I remember Bruce Hornsby & the Range, too.

Heroes, Guns & Snakes
by Bridges and Blinking Lights – This is pure blooded American rock and roll. It feels pretty low budget, but it has a definite charm because of it. People who like The Hold Steady should be sat down and told, “No, THIS is what a bar band sounds like.”

Cat Fit Fury!
by The Van Jets – This is probably the best band in Belgium. Being the best band in Belgium would be awesome because the free beer you get for playing shows is Belgian beer. Lots of trippels. Yum. RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, T-Rex, Franz Ferdinand

Tales of the Lost Cat by Film Noir World – Two cat albums in a row! This is another soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, although in this case, that’s the artist’s stated mission. The music’s pretty good, but this is the soundtrack to a bad, late night, Skinemax flick.

Twistification by The Early Hours – If John Hughes were making his movies now, he’d have used The Early Hours on his soundtracks. This has that same anything-is-possible, sentimental, desperate-vocal feel of the best of his movies’ music.

A good pop album to end the week’s exploration always makes me smile. So I’ll leave you, smiling.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marie Carney March 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Yes. Wizard Rock always sounds like demos. That’s exactly what I don’t like about it. That and it’s not as funny as you’d think it would be.


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