Category Archives: House

One For Your Inner Animal

So I have a hilarious story for you guys. And by hilarious I mean not funny, somewhat ironic, and possibly a little embarrassing but I have no shame. I actually wrote half this post in February. And then I got distracted by this thing called school/work/triathlon/life and literally stopped mid-sentence. It happens. So naturally I trashed the whole thing and started over.

As always, the following post was churned out in maybe an hour tops and hasn’t been proof read. Shoutout to the people who text me with a list of my errors when a post goes up, you guys (Alexandra) are the real MVPs.

Album: Zaba                                                                         Artist: Glass Animals

Zaba

So who are Glass Animals? I’m not exactly sure to be honest. My first exposure to them was from the one and only Alexandra, because who else keeps me up to date on what’s coming out? Let’s face it. If it weren’t for her and 90.3 The Rock, I’d be stuck in 1996 (which was a GREAT year for music). I remember she got in my car and was like, “Dude listen to this!” (not her exact words, but I gave you the clean version). And then we listened to “Gooey” and I still can’t really tell you what hit me. All I know is I went home and downloaded the album and bought concert tickets not too many months later.

But really. Who are Glass Animals? I wish someone would tell me because really all I know is that they’re from Oxford, England and their lead singer, Dave Bayley, studied neuroscience or something along those lines. Literally, their Wikipedia page looks like this:

GA WIKI

So despite the fact that I scoured the internet and watched a lot of interviews and still can’t tell you squat about the band, I can tell you about their album. Which is I guess why I’m here anyway.

Zaba was released on June 6th, 2014 in the UK by Wolf Tone, which is “super-producer” Paul Epworth’s label. Not kidding — he’s produced everyone from Adele to Florence + The Machine to Coldplay to someone nobody had heard of until Kanye called Paul McCartney (hopefully you picked up on that sarcasm). The album was released about a week and a half later in the US of A on June 17th. I think. At the concert — that I saw on Wednesday, by the way — he said something about that day being the anniversary of their album (I think), but that day was the 10th. So maybe I can’t actually tell you anything about their album either. Who knows? Apparently nobody.

The band actually had a pretty decent fanbase by the time their debut was released because of the Leaflings EP and opening for bands like St. Vincent, but it only got larger and more dedicated after the release of Zaba. Glass Animals fans are Glass Animals fans. You love em or you hate em. And even though I consider myself a fan, it still sort of eludes me why I’m so mesmerized by them.

But seriously, I said I’d talk about the album so let’s talk music.

Zaba is a pretty interesting album, I won’t lie. Interesting is just one of many adjectives that could be used to describe how weird it is. Supposedly — and I’m still not sure if I believe it — the album was inspired by a children’s book called The Zabajaba Jungle, and some songs were inspired by other adventure novels. Honestly, if you watch an interview with these guys it’s a tossup as to whether or not everything they say is bullshit or not, but we’ll roll with this one because after listening, you can buy into it.

There’s something really distinct about Zaba in that it almost sounds like a continuous 40 minutes, but if you pay attention you know exactly what song is playing and when it changed. But here’s the catch: I can never think of which song is which if I’m not listening. The album certainly sounds like it could have been inspired by a jungle book, let’s be honest though. Zaba combines elements of R&B with world music and a very particular kind of weird indie. All in all, it sounds like the Rainforest if the Rainforest had a soundtrack.

If you haven’t picked up on it already, Zaba is a vibing album. Meaning it’s really more about the vibes than making sense. A lot of times Bayley coos nonsense at you and it’s the perfect kind of music for a fuzzy evening. Hell, they even have a track called “Hazy.” Zaba‘s got a heavy, dewey sound that makes you want to sway and takes you to new places. The sounds on the album ebb and flow with several low points and even more extreme high points.

But my biggest problem with the album? Sometimes I don’t think they know when to stop. I find myself skipping on to the next song about two thirds through a track sometimes just because it’s too much. It almost overwhelms your senses. I honestly think it was better live because of the way they translate the crazy electronic almost house-ish sound into a guitar or bass solo. It’s more… manageable? I mean, don’t get me wrong. This album is fun to listen to, but by the time I get to the end of “Hazy” or “Wyrd” I’m ready to reset my brain and move on.

So there you have it. Probably one of the best and weirdest albums I’ve recommended. Zaba will either win you over or turn you off, but you’ll never know until you give it a listen.

Oh, and they put on a great show. Go see em live cause it’s SO worth it. It might even be better. Until next time the urge to write hits, keep listening 😉

Honorable Song Mentions: Black Mambo, Pools, Gooey, Toes, Wyrd

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Dispelling Legends

So I had a pretty hectic day, and it wasn’t a good kind of hectic. I’m glad I wrote this last night, because it probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. But, I promised you White Arrows, so here it is.

Album: Dry Land Is Not A Myth                                            Artist: White Arrows

WA

“So who exactly are the White Arrows?” might you ask. I found the White Arrows in my two excursions to see The NBHD. They were the opening act (both times).

You see, the thing about opening acts (and call me a terrible person if you must) is I tend to set my standards fairly low. The band or artist might not be exactly what you’re there to see. For example: last summer, I saw DMB in Bristow, VA, where the opening act was a band called Gogol Bordello. They were a gypsy rock band. I didn’t even know that was a genre at the time. Totally wicked I’ll admit, but nothing even close to Dave Matthews Band (but not exactly a strange choice for Dave if you know anything about the guy).

Now, White Arrows are no Gogol Bordello. There weren’t any pirate looking outfits or flowey blouses, but there was some pretty good music.

As far as background, I don’t know that much about the group. The White Arrows are a band originating in California; however (and, to be honest there isn’t much about the band to be found so I could be way off) lead singer Mickey Church originally started making music in New York.

Now for my house aficionados out there, this one might be something you’d enjoy. Of course, I know next to nothing about the genre, so maybe not. White Arrows have the “rock band basics” I’ve mentioned before — drums, guitars, bass — But they have a really psychedelic sound. I wouldn’t even call it techno. I’d just call it LSD inspired house/rock jams. All in all, not a bad sound even though it kinda seems like it might be.

Dry Land Is Not A Myth is a pretty good debut if you ask me. Metacritic says it received “generally favorable reviews,” so I guess I’m not the only one out there. It’s not exactly Grammy material (though what is, these days?), but the band manages to take you on sort of a — for lack of a better word — tropical journey with this album. Maybe its the red vinyl it came on (yes, red), or maybe its the super trippy album cover, but the White Arrows produce a very visual sound. Erin Lebar of CMJ wrote in her review that “[Dry Land Is Not A Myth] is the kind of record that…makes you see a kaleidoscope of swirling colors” (find the full review here), and she couldn’t be more accurate. I can’t really describe how the sound makes me feel — it’s something you need to experience for yourself.

From the first opening track to the last, Dry Land Is Not A Myth merges a very synthetic sound with elements reminiscent of the late 90s to create a very “organic” sound (a word used in more than one positive review). It’s a sound that doesn’t quite sound as manufactured as a lot of electronic music, but rather brought to you straight from the tropics of the Caribbean.

A lot can be said about Dry Land Is Not A Myth as whole; however, I find it appropriate not to mention the lyrics. They aren’t bad; they aren’t Lennon’s or McCartney’s either. But Dry Land Is Not A Myth is more about the overall sound, anyway. Instead of the music complementing the lyrics (as in the case of the Arctic Monkey’s AM), the lyrics complement the sound. It’s easy to forget that Mickey Church is even singing actual words through the speakers that are playing that red vinyl. It’s just nice to hear his voice.

Unfortunately, not all critics agree. Jon Falcone of Drowned In Sound tends to find the “noise” of the album to be quite unfortunate, but its easy to see how the White Arrows wouldn’t be for everyone. Like I said, for my house listeners out there, this is a good album. It’s something you can chill to; it’s something to dance to. It’s the best of both worlds.

I’d love to hear your own opinions on this album because it’s a little different than most of the stuff I’ve written about so far. Take a peek at the “honorable mentions” list and let me know what you think!! Until next week, keep listening.

Honorable Song Mentions: Roll Forever, Coming or Going, I Can Go, Settle Down, Fireworks of the Sea

Quick side note — The band is pretty cool. They sell their own merch, so we got to meet them. They totally offered us tickets to see them in Atlanta which was awesome because I’d LOVE to see them again, but we had to decline unfortunately. Yeah, we’re idiots.

Just When I Thought I Wouldn’t Use Chem Again…

Sorry this is up so late everyone; we are currently moving and so my day has been very busy. And by busy, I mean I spent like an hour at McKay’s buying new vinyl today. I got some wicked stuff. Having said that, I seriously had a hard time with this week’s album. I realized on Sunday that I hadn’t actually thought about what I was going to write about, and even though a friend of mine came to the rescue with a couple of recommendations, I didn’t have time to really listen to them. In the end it’s kind of a good thing we’re moving because I had to drive my dogs to Cleveland, TN and I spent that two hours listening to an album I haven’t had a chance to really listen to yet. So without further ado, I give you…

Album: The 2nd Law                                               Artist: Muse

2nd Law_Muse

 

I’ll start this review by saying I have every single Muse album. I went on kind of a Muse kick awhile ago, and while my obsession with them has not been as strong since, my love hasn’t quelled. When The 2nd Law came out, I remember thinking “I have to buy that!” and then I didn’t because that’s just how I roll.

Seriously, if you’re looking for some good, pump-you-up, rebellious music, listen to some Muse. They won’t disappoint. They’ve dabbled in a lot of different stuff over the years: hard rock, techno, full orchestra and now, with The 2nd Law, dubstep. Yeah — it’s like Skrillex and Jack White had a baby. Muse goes big, or they go home.

But what exactly does the title The 2nd Law refer to? My best guess (and this is where I’m totally gonna shoutout to my AP Chem teacher) is the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the universe prefers entropy (which is really a fancy word for disorder). That’s kind of the subject matter of The 2nd Law — but with regards to countries, economies, politics, etc… Basically what you would expect from a Muse album. After all, in “The Second Law: Unsustainable” the biggest line is “an economy based on endless growth is unsustainable.”

Now that is a statement. Matt Bellamy and the rest of the guys have always been very clear about their views. (See: Absolution)

If you’re familiar with Muse, or if you’re unfamiliar with Muse, you might (or you might not) know that The 2nd Law is very different from their other stuff. Let’s list a few influences, shall we? According to Wikipedia (the ultimate internet resource), Muse listed influences such as Justice, Skrillex, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and one single was even produced by Nero. The 2nd Law opens with “Supremacy,” a James Bond sounding anthem. It’s got the amazing bass I originally fell in love with Muse over, it’s got the lofty vocals that Matt Bellamy loves, and it’s got the action movie sound all while proclaiming warnings about loss of freedom. It’s a great start that carries through the album. “Panic Station” is another great song on the album — it’s full of funk and features musicians that played alongside Stevie Wonder himself. And, fun fact: “Survival” was used as the official song of the London Olympic Games.

But I didn’t want to write this post on the stuff that already sounds like Muse. So, with that out in the air, let’s talk about the band’s dubstep experimentation. Now, it’s no big secret that frontman Matt Bellamy likes to evolve his music. But — and I’m going to be completely honest here — the dubstep/house thing kind of threw me. The first time I listened to it, I was very unsure as to whether or not I liked it. There are hints of this interesting genre mix throughout the album, but it all culminates into “The Second Law: Unsustainable.”

I’m no dubstep aficionado, so I won’t offer my opinion on its quality simply because I don’t know. I will say that i wasn’t expecting it on my first listen through the album and quite frankly I was terrified. It sounds like a soundtrack to some Peter Jackson sci-fi in the beginning and then there is this bass drop and a jam that (based on the Coachella live cast on YouTube) looks like a lot of fun to play. If the band was trying to make a statement, they succeeded.

This dabble in dubstep isn’t the only unique thing about The 2nd Law, though. Two of the album’s songs were written and sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme regarding struggles with alcoholism. One of these, “Save Me” is my favorite song on the album. From the opening lines “Save me from my superstitions/Now I’m free, from this old condition” to the final, pleading “Don’t let go,” the song brings a nice emotional break from all the accusatory and riot-like forcefulness the band typically brings to an album. And, before I close, I’d like to mention the soundtrack element The 2nd Law possesses. Some of the tracks, such as “The Second Law: Isolated System” were included in the soundtrack for World War Z. It doesn’t just sound like music by Muse was thrown into a movie, but rather like the album was composed with the specific purpose of being included in a movie. For the record, Matt Bellamy did admit to the influence that the novel WWZ had on the album. Whatever the original intention, the intensity is something that I have consistently admired about Muse’s music.

In summation, I’m really killing the vocabulary today. Just kidding. To wrap it up, I’ll say that the album generally received positive reviews (at least from what I’ve read). I’m still unsure about my feelings for the album. It is without a doubt different, but I also feel like it’s slightly more simplified than some of their previous work. Regardless, I’m excited to see where they’ll go next with their newfound sound.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions or recommendations? Leave them in the comments! Until next week, keep listening.

Honorable Mentions: Madness, Panic Station, Prelude/Survival, Save Me, Liquid State

P.S. I wrote this while eating dinner at Carrabba’s, so if it sucks that’s why. Sorry.