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The Rapture – In The Grace Of Your Love review

The Rapture is all grown up. Or so that’s how it seems from their most recent release, In The Grace of Your Love. Not quite the weird, artsy, punk, dance, disco sound I’ve grown to appreciate, but I see it as a more toned-down version of what they once were. Because nothing lasts forever, right? Still weird but each song is a little more carefully composed.

How Deep Is Your Love, also the single, is a nice treat toward the end of this album. Miss You sounds like they’ve been listening to lots of Cheap Trick with the title of the song as their catchy hook.

With the brash vocals of Luke Jenner always at front and center of every song, it sometimes makes it difficult to appreciate the lovely melodies and feel-good heart-warming tone of a song like Children.

I would put on this album while I’m puttering around at home on a Saturday night, when there’s really nothing on the television I care to watch, so I mute the TV and the Rapture becomes the soundtrack to whatever’s on the screen… while I polish my toenails perhaps, getting high off the nail polish scent, while ruminating about riding on unicorns.

In The Grace Of Your Love, as beautiful of a title, reminds me of a fungus; you just sort of have to let it grow on you.

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Jacob Faurholt – Dark Hours review

“Hello, is this thing on? Oh wait, I think I hear something… Okay, just had to turn it up, that’s all.”

That was my first response to listening to Dark Hours, the 4th album by Jacob Faurholt with such an aptly named album title might I add. The overall tone of this album is just that; dark, but very delicate. Imagine the light as a feather leaf falling from the trees, being carried so gently by the cold wind.

If you’re into the atmospheric, singer/songwriter type of music with sparse vocals yelping now and then, you will probably like this collection of songs by Mr. Faurholt. Faurholt reminds me of Bright Eyes.

Themes of a Troubled Mind, Black Lake Lodge are the kinds of songs that are so morose though that they are pretty, before you know it, you too are caught up in his sadness. Creatures In The Sea is a beautiful song that stands out like a ray of sunshine within all those dark hours. Although I think it has to do with the help of those lovely female vocals.

If you want to take a drive out to the vacant ghost town of Calico, CA, listen to this on the drive out to put you in the mood while driving through that lonesome desert.

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Patti Smith – Outside Society review

If my 21 year old sister asked me: Who’s Patti Smith? I would give her this release, Outside Society. 18 songs that kinda flow like a best-of, strung together only on the theme that they are performed by the same artist. For the youngsters born in the 90’s and even late 80’s, I’d say: Yes! Get this album! For the rest of us born before 1983, I’d say: What!?!? You’ve never listened to Patti Smith!??! Here, listen to this! And I would hand them this release. For those who are already acquainted with this great artist, I’d say: Mmmm, it kinda flattens out this multi-dimensional artist.

But the covers, like Gloria and Smells Like Teen Spirit, help familiarize the young and unacquainted, those for which this album was made. Because everyone who IS familiar with Smith knows to listen to such albums like Horses in its entirety.
Outside Society is more of an accessible selection of Smiths songs throughout her career. A sampling if I may.

However, listening to this collection of songs, is like looking only at one piece of a WHOLE painting. Like, if i were to only look at one of the many distorted faces of such a painting like Picasso’s Guernica, and base my WHOLE opinion of that entire painting on just ONE section…And this is what I think could happen if this collection doesn’t spark an interest into the vast work of Ms. Smith.
As for favorite songs that are a must, for me at least, Gloria, Free Money, and So You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star.

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Library Voices – Summer of Lust review

Oh, such bands as the Library Voices only add more to this image of Canada being this wonderfully happy, pleasant place where everyone gets along…You know, Arcade Fire is also from Canada, another large group of happy Canadian musicians.

With such a poppy sound all the way through, it was made to be the soundtrack to another Indian Summer we’re enduring, particularly here in Los Angeles. For those summer road trips, picnics at the beach, or just cutting a rug around the apartment (my personal favorite).

Contrary to what I just said, don’t let the overall power pop sound of happy synths and catchy riffs deceive you. True, this album sounds like something I would’ve listened to at the ripe age of 18, but I wouldn’t have known who Raymond Carver was, thus not catching the irony in the song titled: “If Raymond Carver was born in the 90’s.” Nor would I have picked up on the many other literary figures they name drop throughout the album. Well, okay, I knew who James Joyce and Hemingway were, but not so much Joseph Heller…

Anyway, the lyrics aren’t as sugary as the melodies, but, does it really matter when you’re oooh-ing and woahhhh ohhh ohhh-ing a plenty to “Generation Handclap?” Yes, that title offers exactly that, handclapp-ing, which they don’t provide.
Not only do they name drop literary figures, they make up such fun puns in their song titles as Que Sera Sarah- so good!

My favorite song, is “Traveller’s Digest,” because what’s not to love about a song heavy on the synths and a saxophone solo??

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Ssion – Bent review

Aptly titled, Bent is the recent release from Ssion. Bent, as in, not straight, is probably the most direct way to describe this album. Sure, upon first listen, especially after listening to Blond With U, a fun-time song you might find on a mix tape circa 1993, one might categorize this album as a dance album, but not all tracks really make you want to dance, particularly Nothing Happens at Nite.

Bent because you’re not quite sure where this album is taking you, but wherever it’s going it’s a glittery clusterfuck of bells and whistles and dancey beats that starts on one end of the spectrum with Blond With U, a party anthem, to the other end with Weird Yearz, with weird robot-like vocals, in a way, guiding you down from that glittery escapade.

Luvvbazaar and Earthquake were two of my favorite songs I could imagine myself dancing around my apartment to, though they’re not catchy enough to get stuck in my head, even after listening to them loudly…I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing….

You know what I think Cody Critchloe, the brains behind Ssion would say to that?

I imagine he’d say: I don’t give a fuck whether you remember this 3 minute song 10 minutes from now, just dance!

The album artwork reminds me of a character from a John Waters film, which kind of adds to the title of the album.

Bent is one of those albums that really makes you curious to see what their live show is like, but lacking that tack that makes you wanna play it over and over…

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Little Dragon – Ritual Union review

Multi-faceted, like a diamond… As I am a visual person, this is what the third studio release, Ritual Union, by Little Dragon, looks like; a diamond, multi-faceted, glistening from every angle.
Every song is a different facet of the same group of people making music together, and the core of it all (or rather what keeps it recognizable as the same band) are the soft vocals of Yukimi Nagano.

Ritual Union, Nightlight and Shuffle A Dream are the songs on this album that compel me to hit repeat, though this is an album I could easily listen to from Ritual Union to Seconds, while working quite productively, being led by Nagano’s vocals with an upbeat pace set by her buddies Erik Bodin, Fredrik Källgren Wallin and Håkan Wirenstrand.

Yeah, I said upbeat, though the album has kind of a drum ’n’ bass-y tone, as well as an R&B tone where you’d expect the smooth vocal stylings of D’Angelo conversing with Nagano’s, the overall tone is upbeat and full of anticipation; each song is kind of like a surprise upon first listen, like admiring a diamond…

Multi-faceted. How many albums can you recall, being able to play when you feel like dancing because, say, perhaps, that lady/gent you’ve been crushing on FINALLY called, then later that eve, when you’re back at your place, when you turn the lights down low a bit, and Oh, look what’s queued up on iTunes- Ritual Union, by Little Dragon, of course- can you make out to?

Perfect for starting the day, perfect for ending the day.

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Black Eagle Child – Lobelia album review

Michael Jantz is the everything instrumentalist behind Black Eagle Child.

Listen to Lobelia, Jantz’s most recent album, while going for a long, long walk, perhaps even getting lost. That is how I recommend listening to this album. Although Lobelia could be enjoyed on a long car ride, or perhaps while you’re at home, staring at the ceiling, whatever you’re doing, this is not an album that will become an afterthought as ‘background music.’

Despite its mellow sound, this album is like wandering into a dark little hole, only to realize that this little hole opens up to a gigantic, vibrant room full of wonder! Yes, I know, you haven’t heard that before, but this is true of Lobelia, which by the way, is named after a flower from his youth that his mother used for homeopathic remedies, which definitely lends a nostalgic tone. Particularly for the uninhibitedness of childhood, to the album, especially with the coo’s from his daughter on I Forgot.

The album picks up it’s tempo just a bit on The Quarry Side, but then brings it back down to pace, wrapping up the album with banjo and tambourine in Families Get Together.

I bring up the notion of taking a long walk, with no destination in sight, blazing a trail as you make your way, because that is what this album does aurally. It sounds like he set out starting with the first track: Crandon and made his way eventually to the last track: Families Get Together without ever having it in sight, but rather, feeling it out intuitively, allowing it to happen organically, thus resulting in an effortless soundtrack to an easy-going summer; also great for those pensive moments or perhaps listening while gazing into the sky, maybe even someone else’s eyes, and just being…

Aside from this super cool release, if you visit his site, Mr. Jantz will gladly trade a CD, LP or cassette of your own in exchange for a BEC release. How cool is that?

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The Unthanks – Last album review

When I feel like sitting at my desk to write letters to friends in faraway places while donning a buttoned-up lace gown, next to the window that is being lightly tapped by the rain outside, I will put on this album called Last, by the sisters Unthank, who go by the Unthanks (yes, that is their family name). The sisters Becky and Rachel hail all the way from the UK, North East England, to be exact.

Last, the current release from the sisters (titled for a track from the album, not to be implied as their last album) is a collection of dream-like, delicate narratives. Though the narration comes just as much from the musical stylings, particularly the graceful string arrangements as well as the lovely but delicate-as-lace vocals. In this instance, it is quite fair to judge this album by its cover, as the artwork by 19th Century artist Winslow Homer captures the romanticism of the album quite perfectly.

It is also quite suiting that this album have a reprise at the end, the conclusion that brings the end all the way back to the beginning, close to a minute of subtle strings woven in and out of each other.

Most of their songs are narratives from European folklore, bringing life to such tales with which I may never have made the acquaintance, such as the first song on the album, Gan To The Kye.

Canny Hobbie Elliott steals my heart with its brass solos, though I am a sucker for brass, but that is probably the most sing-along song on the album. This is not a sing-along album though as it has more of a rainy day, somber tone.

As lovely of an album, from the very first second all the way to the end, it’s not the album I will constantly have on repeat, allowing it to gently seep into my subconscious while I’m not paying attention. This album is one of those albums that, like a vintage party dress, is too pretty or delicate to wear everyday. But on called-for occasions it’s quite the stunner. As I mentioned earlier, when the mood is right this album will be spinning on my record player, when I can truly listen to this album, from the first second to the last. In all it’s beauty.

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Priory – Priory album review

Priory is a quartet hailing from that lovely pocket of the Pacific Northwest, Portland, to be exact, and they make the kind of songs one would expect to hail from Portland: folky pop songs.

What sets Priory apart from their contemporaries, or such a group as Band of Horses (that was my first impression upon first listen)? Oh, just their lovely vocal melodies weaved in; and maybe their way of crafting super catchy sing-along songs stuck on repeat in your head, like Kings of Troy, Lady of Late or White Coat.

And how could I not mention the touch of warm synth sounds?
I can think of a few bands who have infused their folky songs with synthesizers, but I haven’t heard a folky band from up North, without trying to be cutesy, adding synths to their slightly melancholy sounding songs in quite some time, so it’s fair to say that this self-titled piece is quite a breath of fresh air in terms of the genre of indie pop folk (if that’s even a genre).

Most will be quick to judge their sound and write them off as another indie-folk band, but it’s the poppy sound that truly sets them apart, making you want to keep listening.

Maybe it’s because I know where this band comes from, but I can’t help but to feel compelled to take this album along with me on a hike through Runyon Canyon, or some other lovely hike trail here in Los Angeles (yes, we have quite a collection of lovely hiking trails here).

This album pairs well with a lovely, foresty setting and comfy hiking shoes, and since we have plenty here in LA, the warm embrace of the sun to balance out that poppy element I can’t stop talking about.

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The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales album review

Contrary to the adjective preceding his name, unspeakable Chilly Gonzales is not.
A wordy album full of articulately enunciated rhymes that parallel the melodies of such carefully arranged orchestral instruments, rather than weaving in and out of each other: this is the sound of The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales’ most recent release.

Some ideas sound great, until you actually set out to execute them, and then you learn from the outcome and carry on, hopefully not making the same error in the future. In Gonzales’ attempt to merge two very different genres, rap and orchestral arrangements, the result is an album that stutters its way from beginning to end. Perhaps he ought to have called up previous collaborator Peachez and asked her to fill in the vocal parts, as that would have truly made this album the Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales, so unspeakable he had someone else do the speaking for him.

Lacking the smooth flow of a rap album or an orchestral composition makes this record so difficult to listen to and possibly enjoy, as the music itself is actually quite pleasant. Bongo Monologue would’ve been great if Gonzales would’ve actually let the Bongos take lead. For as much acclaim as he receives as a pianist, his vocal skills fall short as a rapper, contributing to the choppiness of one song to the next. I’d much prefer this album WITHOUT Gonzales rapping.

The pizzicatos sprinkled throughout are fun though, adding a nice contrast to his thoughtful lyrics.

Not something to get the party started and the booty shaking, nor is it an album you’d wanna listen to while puttering around at home trying to relax, and neither is it something you’d wanna listen to while driving across town; perhaps if you’re in a pensive mood, put this album on and it’ll get your mind going in no time, with such lyrics as such: “You’re out of smart questions because this song has long answers.”