December 04, 2007

The Weepies - Happiness

The Weepies - Happiness

Given the name of the band and their genre, I would have figured I would have stayed away from listening to this band. The Weepies could not sound anymore depressing. Add to that the name of their first album, Happiness, and the whole package couldn't sound any sappier. Americana folk-songs about being so happy that you cry? I'll pass.

However, it was late and I was bored. This ended up being a wonderful decision. This is not to say that I was wrong in my assumptions though. The music is sappy enough to sing the line "Deer might fly / Why not? I met you" with a straight face. Yet it is sung with such a quiet conviction that is manages to sound "child-like" without sounding "childish".

This line comes from the album's standout track "All That I Want", an epitomal Christmas-time love song, overflowing with optimism and happiness. The lead singer's voice has perfect, yet subtle inflections as she warbles over the album. This is accompanied by the harmonies of a male counterpart, which leave the truthfully sparse album feeling much more full than one would expect. This is definately recommended for a quiet night at home, especially around the holidays.

Posted by burkema at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2007

Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures

Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures

Although I realize that this album is fairly old (their follow up, Asleep at Heaven's Gate has already been released), the album is fairly new to me. More importantly, it is far superior to their follow up, which is why I choose to write about it rather than the latter. I had been hearing of the band for years before I ever picked up a record, mainly as they are one of the larger bands signed to my favorite label, Subpop. When I finally did listen to one of their albums, I chose to listen to this particular album, the most recent at the time.

What I got from the album is much of what I expected given the music of the band's labelmates. The album is subdued rock, a little too experimental to be labeled pop, but too catchy to be labeled anything else. The opener, "Birds on a Wire" gives a accurate taste of what will follow, using sparse acoustic guitar overlayed with occasional bursts of heavily effected electric guitar. The chorus is as catchy as you'll find in music today, except for maybe later on this album.

The album follows this strong start with the four best songs on the album. Most notable here are "Love's Lost Guarentee" and "Salesman at the Day of the Parade". Both use soft acoustics to highlight one of this bands finest aspects: it's lyrics.

Unfortunately, the album cannot keep it's steam through the second half of the album, with the exception of the amazing "California". Each song eventually blends into the next, making the latter half of the album seem tedious, if not entirely repetitive. If it wasn't for the beautiful, and rather frequent, moments of magic on the first half, this may have dragged this album down. However, the album cannot be diminished. For any fan of labelmates the Shins or Band of Horses, this album is a must listen.

Posted by burkema at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007

Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

The debut album from Band of Horses was, in one word, epic. "Everything All the Time" was an expansive album. "The Funeral" was my favorite song of 2006, with the album itself easily making its way into my top five. Prior to the release of their sophmore effort, therefore, my expectations were extremely high.

Looking back now, I realize that to expect the same magic might have been a little too ambitious. Every band has their masterpiece. That's not to say a band can't put out more than one great album, but it's rare to find a band that can consistantly put out albums as extraordinary as "Everything All the Time". "Cease to Begin" proves this point. But just barely.

After getting over my initial disappointment in the album, I began to find that while the album may have lacked the few magical moments that made the first album so amazing, it still held onto the many of the great musical and lyrical qualities that gave the first album its wonderful style. This album was all the entertainment of the first, just without the fireworks. So while it may not have matched "Everything All the Time", "Cease to Begin" is still to be considered a solid effort from a still growing band.

Posted by burkema at 11:45 AM