Archive for album review

Album Review: Purity Ring, Shrines

Posted in Album Review, Music News, Music Reviews, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, July 23, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

Canada is known for loving their strong bier and the sport of hockey. Lately, I have been loving the electronically hip music that they have been sending south of the border through the airwaves. Purity Ring is one of these bands that has been making my ears go fully erect. They are out of Montreal and have been slowly seducing their fans by releasing a single here and there over the past few years.

Their debut album, Shrines, comes out on July 24th but I was able to get my hands on it at their show this past Sunday night at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The album adds 7 fresh tracks to the previous 4 singles that have been floating about the worldwide web. Throughout the 11-track full-length album the elctro-pop duo provides a perfect blend of new wave digital beats along with beautiful lyrical melodies. Continue reading

Album Review: Miike Snow, Happy to You

Posted in Album Review, Music Reviews, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, June 21, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

Happy to You starts out in formidable Miike Snow fashion with a relaxing and engaging sound. “Enter the Joker’s Layer” captures you from the start with the groups ability to blend digitally appealing sounds around the harmonious voice of frontman Andrew Wyatt. “The Wave” comes in with a cavalry sounding drumline fit for a king. It is a song that focuses on the overall sound with a strong but softening drumline. This theme is carried out through the entirety of the album. Miike Snow made us wait 3 long years for their sophomore album but I am not surprised by the quality of work that was produced. Now, if I could only pick their complex Swedish minds to interpret Continue reading

Album Review: Phantogram, Eyelid Movies

Posted in Album Review, Music Reviews, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Sunday, June 17, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

At first, I was upset to be arriving late to the second day of Lollapalooza in 2011. My attitude and mindset were altered instantly as we walked up into the crowd where Phantogram was performing. At the time, I was clueless to what I was being mesmerized by. It is one of those festival moments that I will never forget as I became a Phantogram fan. The focus of their show was music off of their debut album Eyelid Movies. Now, I am going to pay homage to the band and review one of my favorite albums of recent years.

If there was one thing that I understood after seeing the duo out of Saratoga Springs, New York it was that Phantogram’s album was expected to be great from start to finish. Let me tell you Eyelid Movies did not disappoint me and it will not disappoint you either. It starts with “Mouthful of Diamonds“, a track that showcases the various talents of this duo. They blend elements of electronic music with hip-hop beats while demonstrating a canny ability to have lyrics that draw you in. Phantogram continues to showcase their talent of blending all of these components throughout the length of the album.

When I’m Small” reiterates that the Continue reading

SOJA to Perform on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”

Posted in Music News, News with tags , , , , , , , on Friday, March 2, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

SOJA, the inspiring reggae group from DC, will make their national television debut on March 12th. They will be making this debut in light of their recent success with the band’s new album Strength to Survive. The performance will happen on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” which airs at 11:35 pm EST on NBC. If you ever have attended one of their live shows, you know the energy that the band will bring to the stage. We all know they will shine in the spotlight on national television with this being another avenue to spread their message. If you haven’t been to one of their shows, it is highly recommended you tune in on the upcoming Monday in March. What else do you have to do?

Besides checking out these other articles on SOJA…

SOJA Concert Review @ the Cabooze – Minneapolis

Mind Inversion Exclusive Interview with Jacob Hemphill

Album Review: SOJA, Strength to Survive

Album Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Country

Posted in Music Reviews, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

Wow, from the start of the new album Country by Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad I am amazed and I am astonished. I first heard of this band while attending a G-Love and the Special Sauce show at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Their live show was an unreal jam session filled with plenty of energy that got the crowd dancing. Country may get your foot tapping a bit while you are sipping a whiskey down at your local saloon.

Country is an album with an acoustic, slowed down blue grass sound with folk and reggae roots. They describe their music as folk and that the fans should know that there is just good music and there is just bad music. The band said they hear so many people when asked, “what kind of music they like?” reply with the answer, “everything but country.” GPGDS wanted to break the mold that all country music is not typical country and that folk is in all forms of music. It is funny because I am one who has said, “I am into everything but country.” I am also on the record saying that, “I like Johnny Cash but do not consider him to be country but more of a folk artist.” This means I understand fully what Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is talking about.

Now, saying all that I can appreciate this album even though at times I am not sure that I am listening to GPGDS. At other times I am reminded of the elements that made me fall in love with this band. In the track “Kids in the Square” they pick up the tempo a bit and make for a blue grass jam that could get you dancing. Next, the song “Healing” which has a reggae feel in a blue grass song reminds you of GPGDS of past. “New Speedway Boogie” has the softest sound with the loudest vocals on the album and again reminds you of classic Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. This little section of their new album is my favorite especially after the slow start with the first four songs.

I suggest you head over to the website and give the new album a listen before forming an opinion. It will help you decide if you want to support this new project for the group from Rochester, NY or if you want to take a break so the music is more refreshing when the next album comes out. I know I am going to support GPGDS and can appreciate the new sound off of Country.

Album Release Date: January 31, 2012

Album Review: SOJA Strength to Survive

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, January 27, 2012 by Eric Gilardi

Strength to Survive is the new album by the DC-based band SOJA. This album is produced by John Alagia who has worked with the likes of Dave Mathews, John Mayer and O.A.R. to name a few. By the time you are a couple of tracks into the new album you can tell that the 7-piece band has progressed their sound beyond the spectrum of reggae. They definitely are perfecting a blend of reggae sound with meaningful melodic lyrics and a rhythm that puts a smile on your face as you reflect on your own life.

Strength to Survive is balanced so well from the start with the more funky in-your-face track “Mentality” to their powerful ballad “Don’t Worry.” If you listen to the lyrics in “Don’t Worry” it has such a positive message in such a somber sounding song. Truly a gift to anyone who is a having a bad day. Almost everyone in the world will be able to relate to this song that does not have the authentic reggae sound but has the positive message associated with the genre.

Strength to Survive is an album you will find yourself singing along to in no time, trust me. It will make you reflect a lot on one’s life, as well. The track “Gone Today” makes you think of how precious your life really is, “Let You Go” brings you back to question past relationships, and “Everything Changes” makes you think we are blind to changes that need to be made because of how good we have it. In my mind, this song also represents what the band wants its music to represent; a calling to the world to make a difference, help one another and live in peace.

Strength to Survive kept on surprising when my favorite track “Not Done Yet” hit my ears. The electronic feel following the chorus is what really made me perk up. Again, this song made you reflect on your life. Then it speaks to you in such a way that it puts you in a direction to live out your dreams and bless the world with your presence. This message is a very consistent one throughout the albums entirety.

Strength to Survive is one book you can judge by the cover because it will give you exactly what it says; strength to survive. You get more meaning and direction from this album at a much better price than going to see a therapist. If getting their message out to their fans was their goal with this new album then mission accomplished.

You can check out my review with Jacob Hemphill here.

Album Release Date: January 31, 2012

Album Review: Freeway & Jake One, The Stimulus Package

Posted in Music Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , on Monday, February 22, 2010 by Tim Althaus

If this album doesn’t prove that Rhymesayers Entertainment is one of the most dominant forces in Hip-Hop, I truly don’t know what will. I remember hearing about this album at Soundset last year, and even then, I knew that this pairing was going to be something special. After hearing these two collaborate on White Van Music, it was quite evident that Freeway & Jake One needed to do more work together. I still have quite a few albums I am highly anticipating, but I can assure you that this album is going to remain in my top 10 for the year; it’s just that good. Continue reading

Album Review: Discovery – “LP”

Posted in Audio, Downloads, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, June 22, 2009 by Erik Burg

discoverycov452My album reviews this summer have been mostly fantastic. The music is, not my amateur writing. The Dirty Projectors, Major Lazer, Phoenix, the list goes on of phenomenal summer albums. I use the term “summer” not only due to their summer release, but because of their youthful nature, their sensational charm, and their downright fun dynamic. I bring all of this up because Discovery, the side project of Vampire Weekend genius Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot frontman Wes Miles. It’s a hell of a lineup for a two man group, but Discovery doesn’t stop at that alone, enlisting Dirty Projectors singer Angel Deradoorian and Vampire Weekend lead man Ezra Koenig along the way. LP is maybe a bit immature at points, but despite it’s youthful and playful sound the album absolutely delivers a great listen.

“Osaka Loop Line,” the long time leaked lead single on LP still holds up one of their best tracks. It’s a rhythmic roller coaster, bouncing pitch, pace, and testing the patience of listeners who have no idea what this Discovery project is all about. I’ll give a brief detailing, Discovery was started by its two members before Vampire Weekend or Ra Ra Riot were making music, so the reason for this music being more electronic, more auto-tuned, and more humorous than either of the two more popular components was due to the pureness of the music tastes of the two artists. It makes Discovery seem like a joke at some points, but oh well, it’s still awesome music. But back to “Osaka Loop Line”, it’s the first time that vocals really shine, despite their slightly altered state. As a choir teacher of mine once said, “chicks dig the falsetto”, and it’s apparently true as Wes absolutely nails the high tones, blending the keyboard blasts with love lost vocals.

Angel Deradoorian’s appearance on the album is a welcome surprise, and a slightly hilarious one at that too. As Wes and Angel’s vocals are both featured on the track, revealing a discourse back and fourth about a budding relationship. The twist is, however, that Angel’s first line is “I want to be your boyfriend” tweaked and reverted over and over, again right in line with the synth madness that Rostam creates. And as Wes jumps into the mix it’s from a women’s perspective on the thing, doing chores for the man (Angel). I always thought that she was cutest member of the Dirty Projectors, but this is just sort of kinky. But seriously though, it’s another spectacular track, displaying not only the production quality of Rostam, but the laid-back and enjoyable nature of Discovery’s music.

MP3: Discovery – “I Want to be Your Boyfriend” (Featuring Angel Deradoorian)

There’s a track on LP that features one of the best new voices in music, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, but there are so many better songs that I’m not even going to talk about “Carby” because it’s obvious how amazing it is (I mean, it’s essentially a Vampire Weekend track).

I’ll discuss at length one last track, “Swing Tree”. Even though “Osaka Loop Line” might get a few more plays, I think that “Swing Tree” is the cadillac of Discovery songs. The synthesizer loops, echoing with reverb ever so slightly, make for an infectious hook. The keys sound like something I use to play around with on my old Yamaha board, but they way the track is so carefully put together, with bass lines jumping in and out, it’s stunning. The vocals aren’t exhausting, much like every Discovery track, but the way they are chopped up and repeated to match the change in synth patterns makes the same words sound new every time. “Swing Tree” gets my vote for best track on the album, and definitely one of the better tracks of this summer. For as much play as Vampire Weekend got on Apatow movie soundtracks last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some “Swing Tree” rolling during the opening credits of a movie later this year.

MP3: Discovery – “Swing Tree”

The discussion on this album doesn’t need to be long. Discovery’s formula can get slightly repetitive in the wrong situations, but for a day at the beach or an afternoon bike ride there isn’t a better album to have on. WEs and Rostam have already confirmed that they won’t be playing live dates, so no tour to look forward too, and probably not an album ever again either (this one took about 5 years). For a side project it’s great, but if not for the critical acclaim of each member’s main band Discovery might have never been found. Either way though, I love LP.

8.4 out of 10. Out July 3rd on XL Recordings. Pre-Order.

Album Review: Major Lazer, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do

Posted in Audio, Music News, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 by Erik Burg

major-lazer

In light of one of the world’s craziest ideas for a half-real concept album comes one of the more fun and plain enjoyable albums of the year… that is, if you enjoy techno infused reggae dancehall and auto-tuned babies (more on that later). I discussed the nostalgic video for the lead track “Hold The Line” a while back, but after hearing the entire album all the way through today I feel like Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do needs a full discourse.

So we all know by now the full story of Major Lazer, right? Well maybe not all of us. (You could just read the bold and get the point, such convenience):

Major Lazer is a Jamaican commando who lost his arm in the secret Zombie War of 1984.  The US military rescued him and repurposed experimental lazers as prosthetic limbs.  Since then Major Lazer has been a hired renegade soldier for a rogue government operating in secrecy underneath the watch of M5 and the CIA. His cover is that of a dancehall night club owner from Trinidad and he enlisted the help of long-time allies and uber-producers, Diplo and Switch, to produce his first LP. His true mission is to protect the world from the dark forces of evil that live just under the surface of a civilized society. He fights vampires and various monsters, parties hard, and has a rocket powered skateboard.

All jokes aside, what the hell is Major Lazer? Well it’s awesome. The team at Mad Decent always have great marketing and art production, and Major Lazer is no exception, it’s actually probably the best example. The album has action figures coming out soon of each member of the story from the above paragraph. It’s like a more danceable and more crazy Gorillaz, as Diplo and Switch lurk in the shadows of musty Jamaican dancehalls much like Alborn did for years in crowded opera halls. But musically Major Lazer is much more than one distinct sound. Due in part to the all-star cast of guests, Guns Don’t Kill People highlights many of the talents that Diplo and Switch enlist on their own. Diplo’s ability to take your breathe away and Switch’s ability to precisely fine tune any remix. Continue reading

Album Review: Dirty Projectors – “Bitte Orca”

Posted in Audio, Downloads, Music News, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on Friday, June 12, 2009 by Erik Burg

bittee orca

Move over Veckatimist, there’s a new sheriff in town for second best album of the year (yes, of course Merriweather is first). It’s an album that’s slightly underrated, never hyped like the beasts that Veckatimist or Merriweather are, and often times dismissed because of The Dirty Projectors former albums. 

But Bitte Orca is so far from the solo David Longstreth era Dirty Projectors is nearly unrecognizable. Though Longstreth’s amazing guitar work remains, Bitte Orca is a more original, more polished, more enjoyable Rise Above. The album’s cover features two of the most talented women in the music business, Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, vaunting the importance of the two on this album compared to former works. The pair make the album what it is, their vocals, used exclusively on certain tracks like the first single “Stillness is the Move” or used perfectly in conjunction with Longstreth on “Cannibal Resource” to create a sound that’s uniquely Dirty Projectors. And that’s why it rivals some of the best material out there, just like Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear define their genres or in essence create their own genres, The Dirty Projectors define what art-pop, or whatever you choose to call, is. 

Tracks like “Useful Chamber” exemplify exactly why The Dirty Projectors are in a class of their own. It starts with a slightly electro-infused bass line, something uncharacteristic yet still well placed. Longstreth’s undulating voice comes in, calm and whisper like. Deradoorian and Coffman follow, adding a melody that echos and swirls. The Dirty Projector’s constuct a song like it’s a painting. One thing builds onto another, parts overlap, it becomes a mess, but yet the goal remains clear, the meaning is clear. The song slows, it gathers itself for the album’s title, “Bitte Orca, Orca Bitte.” Longstreth absolutely whales on the guitar, plucking string after string in his own unique sound. It’s classic Dirty Projectors, and as Deradoorian and Coffman sing as loud as ever, the song comes to its crescendo. “Useful Chamber” continues on. There’s a small guitar solo, there’s more drums at the end of the track than on any other song. It’s masterful… and probably only the fifth best song on the album. 

MP3: The Dirty Projectors – “Useful Chamber”

Many of the songs on the album follow that same formula, the following track, “No Intention” is nearly the same way. Using Coffman and Deradoorian as compliments to Longstreth’s powerful vocals. “No Intention” shines thanks to the guitar once again, the way Longstreth plays the guitar, it sounds nothing like anything else out there. It’s perfection, it’s precision, it’s just plain fun to listen to. Each string has it’s own individual sound, and as he plays up and down the guitar, Longstreth is crafting the album of the year. whoo whoo whooo, if you read this far, and if you know how much I lOVED Merriweather you’re wondering what’s going on. Well readers (all 5 of you), after seeing The Dirty Projectors live earlier this year at the Walker Arts Center, playing nearly the entire album live before it’s release, and after listening to the album countless times already, I think it’s safe to say that Bitte Orca is THE album of the year so far. 

It just does everything so well, and so uniquely. Maybe it’s the timing, teaming the summer-ish feeling album with the summer, and maybe I’m just in a really good mood today, who knows, but as Bitte Orca plays in my ears yet again, it’s as enjoyable and as jaw-dropping as the first second I heard “Stillness is the Move” live months ago. The Dirty Projector’s have put themselves on the map as a band, not Longstreth making weird half-instrumental albums or re-creating Black Flag songs, but as a full-fledged force. Bitte Orca is a beautiful work of art. Exemplifying some of the best vocalization and guitar work on album in a long time, it’s time for Merriweather and Vecaktimist to move over, because Bitte Orca is only beginning to gain momentum. 

MP3: The Dirty Projectors – “Stillness is the Move” (A Cappella Version)

9.5/10  This album simply has to be heard, get it at one one of two places: Amie Street mp3s or Domino Records