Monday, December 31, 2007

Matt Costa - Songs We Sing (Independent Release)

Yet another one of my beloved California songwriters, Matt Costa released this twelve track gem independently in 2005 and then later re-released on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records label with a few differences in the track listing. Embodying Johnson, as well as Elliott Smith, Sam Beam, and countless other acoustic musicians, Costa has his work cut out for him if he is to create something that he can call his own, while moving into the forefront in this generation of songwriters. He accomplishes this, quite exceptionally actually, by fashioning a fine mix of subtle folk tones and creative, introspective harmonies that create for a spirited listen. Combine all this with great production quality, and the album has become a staple in my acoustic mix on the 'Pod. Standout Tracks: "Astair," and "Sunshine." Rating: 9/10



Sunday, December 30, 2007

Crime in Stereo - Is Dead

As promised in my Top-10 post, here's Crime in Stereo's "Is Dead." The Long Island-based trio molds an album that screams with impressive energy, reminiscent of the same garage punk qualities that perpetuated The Movielife and I Am the Avalanche. I don't quite know why I find this album so addicting, but it has been the only thing I've listened to for the past 24 hours or so. The choruses are enduring, especially on "Animal Pharm" and the production quality is top-notch, while not being overbearing. It's a great listen through the cans, and probably just as good smashed against the stage. For me, it's everything I look for in a great punk album. Standout Tracks: "...But You are Vast," "Unfortunate Tourists," and "Vicious Teeth." Rating: 10/10

Animal Pharm


Saturday, December 29, 2007

MY Top Albums of 2007

EVERYONE is doing it, and being a sucker for peer-pressure, I now provide you with my own rendition of the top-10 sick albums that have been rocking my world for the past year:

11. Dustin Kensure "Please Come Home"
-Yes, I know I just said "Top-10" and now I have an 11. This one is worth the list, and I actually wrote out everything below this, and realized that this was what I considered the FIRST great album of 2007 (being released in January). The Thrice frontman's solo effort has longevity for the simplicity of the tracks, because I have been listening to it quite often for what amounts to be the entire year. Definitely worth the addition to my top-10. Er, 11.

10. Paramore "Riot"
-I guess this is their "breakthrough" album, but I really am happy for this band, because I think they're onto something great, a sort of younger generation's No Doubt, and yes, I realize I'm not the first to make this comparison, but that's what I grew up listening to, and I use it as an honor to Paramore; they keep the beat tight, lyrics sincere, and sound loud.

9. Thrice "The Alchemy Index (Vol. 1 & 2)"
-Experimental first-half of their four-album masterpiece, Thrice has stumbled upon something great and intruiging, and it leaves me wondering what is in store for 2008. I'm not a genius, but I think that's the whole point of a great record: make the listener come back for more.

8. Rocky Votolato "The Bragg & Cuss"

-Not only did I drive 3 hours each way to see him play in West Virginia, but the fact that it was completely worth it serves as a testament to Rocky's musicianship and song-writing ability. The album is posted somewhere on this blog.

7. Crime in Stereo "Is Dead"
-A last, last minute addition, I just finished listening to the album this morning. So, while it hasn't been "rocking my socks" all year, it has the dubious distinction of beating out everything I've listened to over the past 12 months, all with one listen. I'll post it very shortly.

6. Kanye West "Graduation"
-Just a great album. The one thing for which I respect many of the mainstream artists is their ability to cope with anticipation and national/world-wide criticism if their album does not deliver. Kanye's not only delivered, but it also delivered big, fulfilling the hype while being one of the most anticipated albums of the year, in any genre.

5. Motion City Soundtrack "Even if It Kills Me"
-While reading other blogs/websites top-album lists, this effort was either on the top list, or the "biggest disappointment" list. While personal preference is the force behind most of these lists, I put it on my "tops" because of the pop-sensibility and the well-constructed sound that carries over from Commit This to Memory.

4. Cassino "Sounds of Salvation"
-Like some of the aforementioned gems, I've already explained why this is first-rate. And, they're so indie, they don't have any pics to upload.

3. Hot Rod Circuit "The Underground is a Dying Breed"
-Yeah, I just read that they broke up, which is disheartening because this album made my top-3 of the YEAR. OF THE YEAR...52 WEEKS...365 DAYS. And then they break up. Thanks for that. Maybe I'll come with a "Biggest Disappointments of 2007" and put the band itself at number one.

2. Lost Ocean "Lost Ocean"
-I'm not putting this album on because I know the keyboardist, and I'm trying to promote their music (although that could be considered an ulterior motive). This album is brilliant, and I can't believe that any band from my hometown could come up with an album that seamlessly integrates so many harmonies and sonic ideas with a soundscape that is varied, yet straightforward and easy to listen to. To be honest, this was the last album I bought, not only to support my friend, but it was the last one I decided was worth 10 bucks. Independent and hopeful, Lost Ocean knows where they want to go, and they take the listener with them.

1. Against Me! "New Wave"
-Through this album, I discovered this band, and they are my greatest find of the year. I know they've been around for a long time, and I know that more likely than not you've liked them "way longer than me." That being said, fuck you, I'm now a fan too. Between the guitars, drums, bass lines, and throaty vocals, this album has everything that I would want in an album. I realize that I only gave it an 8.5/10 on my review, but as far as what's been constantly playing on the iPizzle, Macbook, at school, in the car, on the plane, look no further than this album. It just puts me in a good mood, and I guess that's all you can want from something that is your passion.

This is probably my last post of this year, unless something comes up. Here's to a sick 2008, and albums to match.

Cat Power - Jukebox

Chan Marshall's 8th studio album is very, very impressive. And in true cookie-cutter review format, I shall explain why:

First, I have to admit that I have listened to Cat Power only a handful of times in my music-listening career, but as I find my symphonic horizons constantly expanding, I oftentimes look to older, more established artists to guide me in new directions. Cat Power is one of these new slants. Soulful, with a smokers-lounge voice that leaves you floored, Chan Marshall croons through 12 tracks with all the slow, wistfulness a "broken heart" can afford. The only downside to the album is the ability to get lost in the tracks; although they do transition nicely, they also are all similar sounding, which creates more of an ambient quality (with the notable exception of Aretha, Sing One for Me and I Believe in You). I suggest picking it up and having a listen. You never know when you'll be studying or full of loneliness, which this album is perfect for. Standout Tracks: "Metal Heart," "Lost Someone," and "Song to Bobby." Rating: 9/10

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Matt the Electrician - One Right Thing

Matt the Electrician, a West Coast based singer-songwriter, fits perfectly into my collection of acoustic artists, whom I've grown to love. All the elements to create a great album are present in this product, his fifth studio album. Matt delivers his music with sincerity, singing about love, California, and his dog. Tackling life's joys and sorrows, he moves from one subject to another without even a hint of force, floating between tracks in an effort that makes the album sound like one, detailed story. What really sets him apart from other artists in the genre is his ability to make the most simplistic ideas or thoughts appear to be something much great, through his picturesque lyrics and palliative instrumentation. I'm adding the link to his webpage, because while I normally "endorse using these links to preview albums before buying," I whole-heartedly believe that this time. Small-time artists who are not well known often have a hard time getting compensated for their work, so I urge any readers/listeners to either buy his other albums, or go see him live. I have yet to see him live, but every review I've read says its an amazing show. Standout Tracks: "Left Coast," "My Dog," and "Last Poem for My Girl." Rating: 9.5/10

In the Waves


Friday, December 21, 2007

"So this is the New Year"

Some blogging items:

-I added a shoutbox for comments, concerns, questions, requests, or any links to other music blogs that have actual mini-reviews, and not just my two-cents. So please, please use it. Just so I know that someone, somewhere is using this page.

-Oh, and if you want Rob & Big (season 2) posted, let me know and I'll get on that as well.

-I'm going to try and switch up my link hosts as well, see if I can get you guys some faster downloads.

-I know I posted Good Will Hunting awhile back, but I'm not sure how well that worked out for people, so let me know if you had any problems (either by commenting here, or using the shoutbox). I'm thinking of expanding this blog to include some of my favorite shows (basically Rob & Big, and The Office). And maybe a movie or two. I need to see what works for everyone.

-Switching to .rar files...Zip files are cool and all, but I like .rar files better for compressing albums/media. If I posted the link for WinRar (or UnRar for Mac OS X), would everyone be down for using it? Again, let me know.

-That should do it. Expect more music, as I'm bored, and doing nothing BUT listening to music.

Happy Holidays,


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bouncing Souls - The Gold Record

The Bouncing Souls have been around for a long time. And when a band has been around for a long time, you start to wonder, "man, is their next record going to be a load of shit because they've grown accustomed to a corporate society?" With The Gold Record the answer is 'nope.' The album starts of with "The Gold Song" which is undeniably Bouncing Souls-ish, fast, and anthemic. and impressive. "Letter to Iraq" is taken from an actual soldier's letter from Iraq, and put to a fast-paced blitz of drums and guitar. I'll admit, they do slow it down a bit on "The Pizza Song," and "Lean on Sheena." The latter was undeniably my favorite song of the last year. The guitars are kept tight, the vocals are harmonized and everything is well-constructed throughout the song. Actually, the entire album on a whole is built this way, which makes it probably my favorite Bouncing Souls album to date, which is amazing since they're celebrating their 20th year of existence. 20 YEARS. It's just one more reason why I think Jersey (and the bands that hail from the state) is the California of the East Coast: surf and punk. I mean seriously. Plus there's the boardwalk, beachside communities, and their very own Compton (Camden, which is actually worse than Compton). Standout tracks: "Pizza Song," and "Lean on Sheena." Rating: 10/10

Lean on Sheena


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jonathan Coulton - Unplugged

This guy is awesome and makes being a nerd, at least appear to be cool. Of course, being an Unplugged album, it's just him and his guitar, and funny songs that bring out the dork in you. Songs range from killer robots to IKEA, and everything in-between. It's silly, but catchy and fun to listen to, and if I were a contributing editor to Popular Science, I would write about these things too. I'm not going to rate it, because some people are going to hate it, and some will love it. Either way, it's just a funny album, in my humble opinion. He probably won't win any awards or be the new face of MTV, or fuse for that matter, but it's refreshing. If you hate it, blame my buddy Kevin for telling me about it. Standout tracks: "Millionaire Girlfriend," and "The Future Soon."

Millionaire Girlfriend


Monday, December 17, 2007

Michael Ian Black - I am a Wonderful Man

Not music this time, but a comedy album. I saw it in the ever-so elitist "Alternative Press," and since I couldn't find anything else to listen to, I decided to try comedy. It was a good choice. I mean, I can't really compare it to other to comedians...I suppose it's less "in-your-face" than Dane Cook, and perhaps a little more offensive than many other comedians (George Carlin-ish). I think it's funny, you might too. Music will follow shortly, I have 3GB of new shit, so there HAS to be something that needs to be posted. Standout tracks: "Satanic Messages," and "Walk it Off." Rating: 8/10

Walk it Off


Sunday, December 16, 2007

lack of updates

sorry there's been a lack of soon as i find something worthwhile, i'll post it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle

Since it's finals week and all, here's some great music with which to study. Sam Beam, who is Iron & Wine, created what I consider a masterpiece in 2002's The Creek Drank the Cradle. Sounding like he mixed the album on a tape recorder, he bares his soul through voice and guitar. Don't be fooled, this isn't a Dashboard-wannabe...instead he sings of life and death, love and loss, through scenic lyrics revolving around nature. Even the title itself conjures up a rustic, folk picture...something that could be hanging from a wall in a cabin high in the mountains. The fact that the mastering on the album is minimal is a testament to the musicianship he encompasses. Listen and love...then study. Standout tracks: "Bird Stealing Bread," and "Upward Over the Mountain." Rating: 10/10

Upward Over the Mountain: