Monday, April 5, 2010

Albums of the Month: March 2010

Electronic: “Colors- EP” – The Pass

Like Phoenix? Like Hot Chip? Late of the Pier? LCD Soundsystem? Well…thrill me and imagine for a second that they all got together and somehow had a baby. The child is named The Pass. Coming from Louisville, Kentucky, this electropop quartet sounds like it’s been around the world studying how to make people dance. To start off with, I'd recommend the songs “Crosswalk Stereo” and “Colors” — they're both unbearably catchy, and after about three listens, they’ll feel like old favorites. Keep an eye out for their full-length release!

-Sara Wallace ‘12

Rock: “Fly Yellow Moon” – Fyfe Dangerfield

Simply put, Fyfe Dangerfield is brilliant. There's really no other way to say it. As the frontman for the Guillemots, Dangerfield had already proven himself as a gifted performer; with Fly Yellow Moon, he adds top-knotch songwriting to his already impressive resume. Dangerfield's silky voice weaves massive tales of love and joy and sweeps you into its fantasy in the process. The quality of the songwriting is so good that you'd be hard-pressed to find too many faults in the structure of the album. Indeed, Fly Yellow Moon is, like Dangerfield himself, simply and utterly brilliant.

-Kiran Gollakota ‘13

Indie: “Volume 2” – She & Him

It strains credulity to think that Zooey Deschanel can’t land a boyfriend — after all, she just married Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, making her one-half of the indie counterpart to Jay-Z and Beyoncé. And yet on her sophomore album with collaborator M. Ward, the hipster goddess sings of guys continually flaking on her. This could easily amount to insufferable wallowing were it not that her sound – part Beach Boys, part 60s-era Carole King– is so gosh darn cheerful. Sure, there may be tinges of melancholy, but it’s never enough to dampen the optimism. To be fair, the band doesn't tread any new ground here; this really is the sequel to 2008’s “Volume 1.” Still, it’s a winning formula and a perfect springtime soundtrack. End of semester stress got you down? Take a cue from She & Him and go get some fresh air. After all, as Deschanel sings: “We all get the slip sometimes every day/ I’ll just keep it to myself in the sun/ In the sun.”

-Cristina Luzarraga ‘11

Punk: “Brutalist Bricks” – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Ted Leo’s latest album, “Brutalists Bricks” proves to the world that punk rock is aging well. At 40, Ted Leo captures the lows and highs of adolescence like no one else can, and his songs are catchier than ever. Though he doesn’t sing with as much sky-high oblivion as in his past albums, the musician’s ingenious songwriting still produces the familiar vigor, garage rock energy and optimism that propelled him to the punk rock throne in 2001. After hearing this album, it’s impossible to buy the criticisms of age and doubt that have latched on to the band’s 11 year career. In a way, “Brutalist Bricks” is a big “fuck you” to middle age and an anthem to perpetual youth, reaching out to get everyone involved. Give the album a listen, and you will surely be taken in by the impeccable force that each song is constructed upon. Perhaps the youthful, wandering spirit of the album is embodied best in the sunlit track, “Bottled in Cork”: “I’m just a loner in a world full of kids, egos and ids.”

-Lisa Han ‘13

Pop/rock: “Habits” – Neon Trees

Love, drugs, sex, mistakes - those are just some of the things we deal with as young people trying to grow into our skins. And the glory and hardship of youth is exactly what "Habits," the debut album from the somewhat unknown West Coast-based band the Neon Trees, captures in musical form. Of course, being young also means having (sometimes way too much) fun. Tyler Glenn, Chris Allen, Branden Campbell, and Elaine Bradley - yes, they have a female drummer! - manage to deliver tons of fun on this album with upbeat, edgy, energetic pop/rock songs with just a touch of techno. The first single off of the album, "Animal," is definitely one to catch. Other highlights include "Sins of My Youth," a Killers-esque reflection on being a little too carefree, and "Our War," a more sentimental tune that is nevertheless full of pep. Even the "softer" tracks make you uncontrollably tap your foot. This album is absolutely one to check out, especially if you are a fan of the Killers or OK Go.

-Jess Turner ‘12

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