Something Like Sound

Archive for October, 2007

Album Review: The Reminder

by on Oct.22, 2007, under Album Reviews

Leslie Feist must be doing something right. Her songs are winning awards, being featured on the new iPod Nano commercials, and rapidly gaining popularity on the adult alternative scene.

Listening to her newest album The Reminder explains this newfound fame. She sounds like Sufjan Stevens mixed with Regina Spektor, a mixture of experimental-folk and breathy female vocals.

“So Sorry” begins the album with a warm tone. Rich natural sounds, low bass notes, and dreamy ambient sounds paint the background for Feist’s gentle, yet distinct, voice.
“My Moon My Man,” a catchy piano driven number, leads into the jazzy tracks “The Park” and “The Water.” Lyrically, The Reminder is a creative exploration of young life and love.
“1-2-3-4,” the hit single, is not only entertaining as a memorable mix of solid beats and sounds, but also speaks about the unique qualities of teenage love and hope. As the album finishes, the warm sound of raw acoustic instruments makes a comeback.

The resurgence of jazz and folk as popular musical genres did not produce Feist (she actually began as a singer for a punk band). Instead this movement has caused a greater awareness and appreciation for skilled musicians who are experimenting with traditional folk.

This progression has merely emphasized the timeless quality exhibited on The Reminder and many other albums created by serious musicians.

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Album Review: In Rainbows

by on Oct.17, 2007, under Album Reviews

This week Radiohead made music history with their newest album In Rainbows. In an age of declining record sales, album leaks and music piracy, Radiohead decided to transcend the entire industry by self releasing what may be the most anticipated album of the year. Just ten days after finishing the production process In Rainbows was released as a digital download. The shocking aspect of the entire situation is that Radiohead allowed consumers to name their own price for the album download.

An electronic mix of drums, Johnny Greenwood’s guitar work and Thom Yorke’s soft vocals open the album on “15 Step.” Paying special attention to the layering of different sounds reminds the listener why Radiohead has become so vastly popular. Not only are most of the songs complex combinations of instrumental and vocal work, but a certain sense of harmony is audible as well. Thom Yorke, acknowledged as a revolutionary lyricist, is not easily understood on the record. The lyrical content is there, however it is presented through Yorke’s high pitched and occasionally indiscernible voice. This gives the record its ambient sound and serves to emphasize those songs which seem stripped down.

While In Rainbows has a definite experimental tone, the album itself reflects heavily upon Radiohead’s earlier works. This is evidenced by the songs “Nude” and “Reckoner” which were both written during the late 1990′s and sound similar to tracks from OK Computer. The final song, “Videotape,” finishes the record on a tone that is a stark contrast to “15 Step.” Warm piano parts echoed by percussion leave the listener with a sense of closure.
While self releasing an album is a gamble, Radiohead appears to have done most everything right. Their popularity can be linked to the quality of their records, such as In Rainbows, and consumer friendly approach to distribution.
In Rainbows is available as a digital download from http://www.inrainbows.com.

Edit: The free album download stuff is not available any more, but In Rainbows is available in a variety of formats (even vinyl!) This album made my top 10 of 2007, so definitely pick it up.

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Album Review: Cassadaga

by on Oct.08, 2007, under Album Reviews

Earlier this year, Conor Oberst and his Bright Eyes band released Cassadaga, a folk-bluegrass journey into the human psyche. Bright Eyes, in 2005, simultaneously released two albums: the electronic-experimental Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, and the stripped-down folk I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. Cassadaga returns to Bright Eyes’ signature Midwestern bluegrass sound, building on and picking up where I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning left off.

The record begins with a phone conversation about the supernatural premonitions of a figurative protagonist and taking a trip to Cassadaga, Florida. A flurry of strings bellow and dive, leading into the main thrust of the album. “Four Winds,” the first single from the record, showcases a multi-layered mixture of acoustic guitars, strings and a slew of other instruments.

Unlike many of the records on the indie-folk scene, Cassadaga alludes to an older style of country music, easily heard during the middle section of the record. Confusion and beauty grip the protest song “No One Would Riot For Less,” which leads into the airy “Coat Check Daydream.” The metaphorical traveler finally reaches Florida during “Lime Tree,” and is met with somber realizations about the people he has loved and lost along the journey.

Oberst’s distinct vocals, though occasionally distracting, provide an agreeable medium for his melancholy lyrics. Cassadaga combines themes about love, finding escape from the Midwest, and discovering solace through a physical and spiritual journey.

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Album Review: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

by on Oct.01, 2007, under Album Reviews

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, the sixth album from the alternative rock group Foo Fighters, pays homage to the band’s post-grunge sound which formed and influenced the modern rock scene. However, the disc is not simply another mindless mix of distorted guitars and throaty vocals. Dave Grohl experiments on several of the tracks, showcasing the range of his singing and songwriting ability.

Dynamics play a huge role in the flow of the album. The hit single “The Pretender” leads the album off to a slow, melodic start, yet becomes increasingly energetic. Several other tracks, such as “Let It Die,” follow a similar format, drifting from subdued acoustic intros into powerful choruses. A style change occurs toward the end of the album as the instrumental “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” leads into “Statues,” a song which sounds similar to The Beatles during their later albums. “Home” ends the album on a soft note, joining simple piano chords with Grohl’s distinct lyrics and voice.

Dave Grohl, in the years since Nirvana, has developed into one of the dominant musicians in the American music scene through solid lyrical and instrumental work. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace is a reminder of the Foo Fighters’ achievements and past efforts. The album seeks to venture into new musical territory, a move which invites new listeners but still remains accessible to traditional Foo Fighters fans.

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