Forgetters is current project of Blake Schwartzenbach, former singer of my all-time favorite band, Jawbreaker. Forgetters follows up the very shortly lived band Thorns of Life and, in some early shows, they even played some reworked Thorns of Life songs. I have no idea if they still do. Behind the drums is original Against Me! drummer Kevin Mahon. This sounds like it’d be pretty awesome, but it’s a lot to live up to. I saw an early show that was alright, not mind-blowing, but the couple bootlegs I have are solid.
So I was pretty excited for this EP…which turned out to be a bit underwhelming. I thought it was horrible at first and turned it off after the first two songs, but after a couple more listens, I’ve upgraded my opinion to “meh.” “Vampire Lessons” is kind of a catchy tune despite the lyrics being questionable. It’s still not a great song, but it does get stuck in your head about as much as that Tick Tock song by Ke$ha and since I’d rather go deaf than have Ke$ha stuck in my head, I’ll take “Vampire Lessons.” The best song of the four is the last one, “Night Accelerates,” which sounds more like a Jets to Brazil song than anything else. That’s something that I’m alright with.
I pre-ordered the 2×7″, but had I heard this beforehand, I think I would have saved my money for something else. Anyway, I’m going to go listen to Jets to Brazil now.
Okay, so Against Me! and She & Him are not two bands that you’d normally talk about together, but they’re two of my favorite bands and they both have records coming out.
Against Me!’s new record will be called White Crosses and is due out in the beginning of June, but it’s already leaked. No, I don’t have a link for you, the one I used is dead already, sorry. Tom Gabel doesn’t really seem to care too much, he said there was “no drama” and even posted all the lyrics on his blog. I’ve only listened to it once so far and to be honest, I’m not really impressed. Like many people, one of my favorite things about Against Me! is that everything they do is a progression over where they’ve been. They don’t stick with anything too long and always push forward. I really love that about them. But, I’m not quite sure that I like this push. When they signed to Sire and worked with Butch Vig for New Wave I don’t think anyone really knew what to think, but the product was stellar and really exceeded a lot of expectations. But this time around, I feel like everything I feared was going to happen with New Wave did happen. White Crosses feels very polished and major labely. I’m not going to say that that’s inherently a bad thing, but I’m not sure that it’s what I want in an Against Me! album. However, Against Me! is one of the few bands that I have learned not to judge too quickly. I hated Searching For A Former Clarity when it first came out, I thought it was going to kill them for me. It wasn’t until shortly after its release when I saw them at a party at CMJ that I feel in love with the record. Based on that, I’m willing to give White Crosses some time, but that first listen was horribly disappointing.
On the opposite end of the expectation fulfillment spectrum is She & Him’s Volume Two. This record comes out next week, but it’s currently streaming in its entirety over at NPR. This album is everything I could have hoped for in a sophomore release from She & Him. They pick up right where they left off with Volume One, yet avoid regurgitating the same songs back to us again. There are thirteen songs and, this time, only two covers. Each of the songs is cute and sweet and Zooey Deschanel’s vocals continue to the best by any female singer out there. Friends and long time readers of this blog know my obsession with her–my fiance refers to her as my girlfriend–so I am pretty biased, but if you can listen to this record and not fall in love with her voice like I have, then you’ve got no business listening to music at all. You’re going to want to pick this one up.
In the meantime, check out the video for the first single, “In The Sun.” It’s pretty much the cutest thing you’ll watch this month.
I played this album a bunch on my show, but it just really hit me this week. I’ve gotten super hooked on it. The Bridges are pretty much a few cute girls and some dude doing what I would expect to happen if Zooey Deschanel and Eisley teamed up to do a country-pop album. And since I like Ms. Deschanel, Eisley and country-pop, I’m sold.
Also on the cute girl making music front, if you’re into ’90s alt-rock, New Brunswick area band Blindspot (though, I hear that name is going to change soon) just recorded a demo that can be heard on their MySpace page.
I’ve been listening to this album a whole lot over the last week. I really wanted to make sure that when I reviewed it, I had done my homework.
After the first 30 seconds of the first listen, my immediate reaction was “what the hell is going on with the production here?!?!” I know that they were purposely producing it to sound live and to have a really strong Springsteen sound. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by Springsteen, he’s an amazing artist. However, it’s one thing to be influenced by him and another to try and be him. I really feel that the production on this album is a bit too Springsteeny. It really does sound like they’re trying to be him instead of just sounding a bit like him.
The songwriting on the album is great though. The songs are really good and they sound exactly like where this band should be and needs to be right now. Even though there isn’t a lot of differentiation between many of them, they’re catchy. And there is some obvious some growth over Sink Or Swim in them, but the songs still keep a very Gaslight Anthem sound.
I love all of the references to other bands in the lyrics. Counting Crows, The Boss (obviously), Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Miles Davis. It’s kind of an explicit way to define who their influences are and as a listener it’s really awesome when you catch one of them and you’re like “wow, that’s such a random reference. I never would have expected that.”
I also love the consistency of the lyrics over the past couple albums and how some seem to reference others. I really like the whole “Maria” thing too. I’m glad that they keep doing that. I always wondered if every time he uses the name Maria, he’s talking about the same girl. But with the the lyric “call every girl we ever meet Maria” on the Senor And The Queen EP, I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s not always the same girl.
Despite the production, I really love this album. I loved the way the vocals sounded on Sink or Swim and I wish they sounded the same on The ’59 Sound, but other than that, I think this is a pretty solid follow-up. Any fan should be able to dig this.
As you may have heard, the new Hold Steady record, Stay Positive, is now streaming on their MySpace page. I got some mp3s of it over the weekend though so I’ve listened to it a few times by now.
I have been quoted as saying that if they made an entire record that sounded as good as “Sequestered In Memphis,” then they’d be the first band I can think of to put out two completely perfect albums in a row. That’s a lot to live up to. Boys And Girls In America was an absolutely incredible album. Flawless from beginning to end. Following up a record like that is not an easy task.
Unfortunately,Stay Positive falls a bit short. It is a great album. Without a doubt, it’ll be on my top 25 for 2008 list, but it just can’t quite touch Boys And Girls In America. There are some really great songs on it and Craig Finn’s storytelling and vocals are exactly where you’d expect and want them to be. The music gets a little weird at times though. I swear that when the third track, “One For Cutters,” came on, I thought that I had just crashed my car through a renaissance fair. It’s not bad, it’s just…unexpected and a bit different. And “Navy Sheets,” has some weird, almost carnival-like, almost The Anniversary-like, keyboards going on. It makes the song stand out and they give you something to grab onto, but it definitely hits you awkwardly the first time you hear it.
I think that this album will grow on me a bit more, but I can’t see it ever measuring up to Boys And Girls In America.
Check it out though. When it’s released, it’ll definitely be worth a purchase.
It’s no secret that I have a “slight” obsession with Zooey Deschanel, but anyone who has ever heard me talk about her knows that while I think she’s super gorgeous, one of my favorite things about her is her voice when she sings. Hearing her sing usually is enough to make me completely melt and when she sings in Elf it’s almost too much for me to handle.
After mentioning all of that, it should be no surprise that when I found out that she was recording an album with M. Ward under the name She & Him, I could barely wait to hear it. But finally, the album was released last week and it was well worth the wait.
Most of the music is on the softer side of things with Zooey’s voice perfectly complementing M. Ward’s instrumentation. The songs range from being soulful singer/songwriter gems to catchy indie-rock tunes to 50s inspired pop to straight up country, but they are all completely awesome. The album is made up of all original music except for two excellent covers of Smokey Robinson and The Beatles.
I could go on and on about this record, but basically, if you’re not swooning over this record, you’re messing up.
Now I understand that it’s only February, but I’m pretty sure that the album of the year has already graced my ears. The new Murder By Death record, Red of Tooth and Claw, is pretty much perfect from start to finish. Since I got a copy of it on Monday, it’s been the only thing that I’ve listened to. The album grabs you within the first few seconds and refuses to let go until the eleventh track rings out.
I’ve been a fan for quite sometime, but I had been a little down on them for a while. In Bocca al Lupo has some of my favorite songs by them on it, but overall as an album, it just doesn’t have it. It lost a lot of the flow that they had previously with Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them and was really just a collection of songs instead of a cohesive album. So after that album came out, I kind of figured that they had already peaked and started to lose a lot of interested in them.
Then this record happened and completely redeemed them for me. I highly recommend placing a pre-order for this so that you can have it in your record player right as soon as possible.