[Music Review] Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Deluxe Edition

Listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an event. Somehow, in a world saturated with great music, Kanye West has proven an ability to regularly produce some of the most compelling, globally and internally poignant at once, most listenable pieces of music today. On his fifth album, as he has regularly done for nearly a decade now, Kanye has raised the bar to superhuman levels yet again, potentially changing the game one more time.

There is an internalized swagger that bursts out of your speakers for the entirety of this album. Kanye has never been lacking confidence, and here, it’s like listening to a man who is truly the best in the world at what he does. Kanye lets you know what’s truly on his mind, and that’s the sign of a truly good lyricist. He’s not painting these vague, generalized portraits here, these are personal songs. Kanye proves he hasn’t lost touch with the world. In fact, he might be getting a better handle on it with each album.

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[Music Review] New Pornographers “Together”

Canadian outfit  New Pornographers reassemble the ensemble for their 2010 album Together, a record that is a shining example of upbeat, positive, poppy music still containing substance amidst the brilliant hooks and gorgeous melodies.

Together at its core is a series of midtempo songs that seem much larger than they actually are. The New Pornographers have long been an eccentric blend of pop music with epic sensibilities, and this album proves to be a consistant collection of songs that provide new layers as they are listened to again and again.

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[Music Review] Chapman “The Amplification of Mr. Ballad”

The Amplification of Mr. BalladThe Amplification of Mr. Ballad is the second of a set of three albums released as a trilogy by UK Artist Chapman. I reviewed The Bare Bones a few weeks ago, and for the sake of delivering an honest review had to take some time off of listening to his work because it was just starting to become tedious.

Now I’m back, refreshed, and ready to critique Amplification, which features the same songs as Bare Bones, only with added elements and electric guitars.

Hopefully more fleshed out versions of these songs will result in a more satisfying listening experience.

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[Music Review] Band of Horses “Infinite Arms”

Infinite Arms is the third studio album from Band of Horses, and it immediately jumps out compared to their last effort as infinitely more mainstream. Whereas Cease to Begin is an incredibly moody record, even paralyzingly so at times, Infinite Arms decides to switch canoes midstream and head into a new, more accessible direction.

It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff overall, but it is an album that is packed with a great deal of solid, unique tracks. The shift from indie to mainstream is sizable, but this isn’t an album of a band trying to emulate the career path of another band. This is an album that will find Band of Horses losing one hardcore fan upset with the shift and gaining ten in their place who discovered the band with this album.

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[Music Review] Owl City “Ocean Eyes”

It’s often helpful to compare similarly styled bands in order for the reader of a review or opinion piece to understand the genre, type, or style of music the writer is talking about. Allow me to describe Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes in three words.

It’s freaking terrible.

Now, I’m going to elaborate on this because my beloved Editor-in-Chief will not allow me to post a 33 word review due to the fact that it lacks objectivity.

This album is twelve tracks of complete garbage. I honestly have heard very few albums that are this terrible start to finish. It’s pandering, redundant, boring, (negative adjective), (negative adjective), (negative adjective). Continue reading

[Music Review] Chapman “The Bare Bones of Mr. Ballad”

the bare bones of mr ballodThe Bare Bones of Mr. Ballad is one of three albums, featuring the same 11 songs, stylized differently for each record, which were all released on the same day by a UK artist named Chapman. Bare Bones is the acoustic album, featuring only a guitar and occasional piano to accompany Chapman’s excellent voice. The other two, The Amplification and The Remix of Mr. Ballad, feature the same songs, only with electric instruments and then remixed, respectively.

It is a unique idea in concept, but how does it fare in execution? Let’s just say it leaves a little something to be desired. Continue reading

[Concert Review] The Flaming Lips at the IU Auditorium

Wayne Coyne in his sphere

Live music is fun. By it’s very nature, it is a large mass of people (or if the band sucks, a couple) paying a substantial amount of money, traveling, and listening to a group of professionals play an instrument and a series of songs with which you have a personal connection. In the many concerts I have been to, none have managed to make a live event feel so much like a live event as much as The Flaming Lips.

The Flaming Lips traveled to Bloomington, Indiana for a show to kick off Little 5 week. The sold-out crowd was buzzing, which is an interesting change of pace from most other concerts I have been to at this venue. While most are awesome acts (Wilco, Ben Folds, Jerry Seinfeld), none of them have possessed  the overall energy that The Flaming Lips brought to town, and it was electric from the first note on. Opening act Stardeath and White Dwarves were dark, moody, and grungy, and set the tone quite nicely for the main event. Continue reading

[Music Review] Minus the Bear “Omni”

God bless progressive musicians who make their music available to fans without fear of losing a dollar or two. When so many artists are quick to claim the internet as a rogue state the provides music to the masses *gasp* for free, there are plenty of artists who use the new medium to put their music out there without consequence. People are free to explore and find new types of music they enjoy.

I recently reviewed MGMT’s Congratulations, and was able to get a couple of weeks head start listening to an album that I had been anticipating for a long time. I enjoy being rewarded for being an impatient fan. It’s the same story with Minus the Bear’s new album Omni, which isn’t set for a physical release until May 4th. But their official website, minusthebear.com, links you to a stream that allows you to listen to the entire album in full.

Allow me to start the formal part of the review by saying this: Go to the website, and listen to this album. And then, when you realize how awesome it actually is, go buy it on May 4th. Buy a physical copy on the website, at a record store, buy it on Itunes, whatever. Just buy it. It’s that good. I haven’t urged anyone to buy an album this much since I single-handedly proclaimed the New Radicals “Band of the 90s” in 1998. Continue reading

[Music Review] MGMT “Congratulations”

In this day of the internet and the public’s insatiable appetite for that which is not yet universally available, I was recently able to preview MGMT’s second full length album Congratulations via their website. The album is scheduled for a physical release on April 13th, 2010, and I am lucky to get a couple of weeks head start listening the Hell out of this thing, thanks in part because the whole record leaked and they were cool enough to just make it available to fans early.

For those uninitiated, MGMT are originally a Brooklyn based duo whose music is an interesting exercise dabbling in electro-pop-indie-psychadelic tendencies. Their 2007 debut Oracular Spectacular blew up, which took them to opening up for acts like Radiohead and Paul McCartney. They even wrestled with the French Government over the unlawful use of a song off of the album. So yeah, pretty popular. Continue reading

[Music Review] Vermillion Lies “What’s In The Box?”

Rarely do I ever buy an album without listening to it first, and when I do it usually sucks more than your mother (UP TOP!). Luckily, I recently found one album that breaks the mold and I couldn’t be happier.

What’s In the Box? is the second full length album from sisters Kim and Zoe Boekbinder, known as Vermillion Lies, and it is fantastic. I had checked out their music on a whim because I am a fan of the “punk cabaret” stylings of The Dresden Dolls front woman Amanda Palmer, who Vermillion Lies previously opened for. I checked out their albums and they are very good. Continue reading