Archive for synth

Album Review: The Whitest Boy Alive, Rules

Posted in Audio, Music News, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, March 26, 2009 by Erik Burg

rules-coverOne of my most heavily anticipated albums of the year, Rules by the Whitest Boy Alive came as a welcome surprise. An album that didn’t break barriers for the group, yet comes across as one of the most polished and perfected albums so far in 2009. Much like it’s 2006 predecessor Dreams, this album has some of the best bass hooks and strategically placed synth keys I’ve heard on record. 

The album plays off those two elements, from the beginning of each track, to the end. “Intentions,” one of my favorite tracks on the album, begins with ten or fifteen seconds of just keys, slowly building and gaining pace. As echoing and yet amazingly funk as the bass hook starting off “Time bomb,” the synths and bass parts really feed off each other and create an extremely mellow and immersive feeling for the listener. 

Setting themselves apart from the other bands that try and do the same thing, Whitest Boy Alive possess one of the finest voices in all the music game. And mixed together with sparse guitar chords, the lyrics shine. The vocalist, Erland Oye, also a part of Kings of Convenience, has a certain aesthetic about him that reminds of me Jens Lekman. The music is stunning and powerful, but the vocals demand most of the energy whether to digest the uniqueness of it, or just to immerse yourself even deeper than the crazy instrumentals already take you. 

I always see Whitest Boy Alive talked about as a dance group, but I’ve never understood it. Neither Dreams nor Rules have been over the top club bangers or anything of the sort, maybe it’s the calm vocals that bring the group down a notch, who knows. Sure there are heavy, and I mean heavy bass lines streaming across the entire album along with the synth as well, but I find myself tapping my toe along to it much more than jumping off the futon to cut some rug. I’ve always found Whitest Boy Alive to be calming, and beyond pleasing, perfect for any weather. Poignant lyrics to boot.

Rules has lived up to all hype I had for it, weary that it might not live up to the amazing Dreams, I can easily assure any fan of the first album that this one will blow you away. Culminating in one of the best singles of the year, “Islands,” the Whitest Boy Alive will surprise anybody out there looking to get into some new music. It’s a shame that these guys don’t receive more press, what they do is not only their own, but it’s mastered to a T.

Get more info about the album, written by singer Erland Oye. Or BUY THE ALBUM through Erland’s record label Bubbles.

9 out of 10

Check ‘Em Out MP3: The Whitest Boy Alive – “Timebomb”

Album Review: Zombi, Spirit Animal

Posted in Audio, Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, February 23, 2009 by Erik Burg

spirit-animalIf there was ever an album to be described as epic, and in the actual definition of the word, not “epic” as in “cool”, this is that album. Hands down. Whether it’s a good or a bad thing, I can’t truly decide yet. Far and away the most sprawling and expansive album I’ve nearly ever heard, Spirit Animal is a rare treat for all those instrumentalist fans out there. It’s like a modern day Phish or Grateful Dead, minus the drugs and bad music, and with more synthesizers and keyboards. The shortest track runs seven minutes, three of them over 11 minutes, and plenty of tunage in between.

And I can’t tell, for the life of me, whether I like it or not. I mean sure, I can appreciate it musically and acknowledge the fact that the two guys are greatly talented, but I feel like if I was playing this in my room alone I’d rather not be caught doing so. Spirit Animal while at times mesmerizing, can get quote cheesy at time… there I said it. It’s just so, like I said, epic, that you just want to laugh at it and tell Zombi to stop taking themselves so seriously. But hey, maybe that’s it’s charm, that nothing else like this has existed on a mainstream level in a long time.

Another problem that I have with this album is that it become extremely repetitive, whether it’s in the structure of each song, or repetitive as a song itself. What Zombi does well it does very well. Heavy synth that matches the electro guitar, dark bass line, and drums that never stop, often breaking into few minute long jams that astound the listener. And all of that is great, it really is, but Spirit Animal kills it for me, sorry. I would probably be in love with this as a five track 24 minute long EP instead of this hour long five track whirlwind of an album. It’s all crazy stuff, maybe it’s over my head, I don’t know really. But what I so know is that Zombi can jam and put together some impressive material, it’s just that they do it for too long, and in an almost embarrassing fashion. I can be over kill, and it can be genius.

Lucky for you, Zombi is streaming the entire album. Or you can be lazy and grab on of the tracks below. I’d encourage checking out all of their stuff I’ve got posted here. I think you’ll definitely see what I mean about these guys. It’s worth your time.

6.5 never-ending drum solos and synth pedals out of 10

Stream: the entire “Spirit Animal” HERE

MP3: Zombi – “Spirit Animal”

Zombi live @ the Empty Bottle in Chicago 4/28/07

Audio: Junior Boys – “Parallel Lines”

Posted in Audio with tags , , , on Friday, January 30, 2009 by Erik Burg

junior_boysJunior Boy’s follow up to the 2006 album So This Is Goodbye, Begone Dull Care is slated to be released in the spring or summer of 2009, and listeners are finally getting a first go at it. In usual Junior Boys fashion airy synths and melodic vocals dictate the six and a half minute song. I can’t make up my mind on it yet, but it certainly isn’t a bad take.

No mp3s yet for this, it’s only streaming over at Stereogum. check it HERE

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