What I want to do with this blog is make short and solid reviews for this year's music releases. At the end of each month I will pick my favorite songs and compile a playlist. This blog is dedicated both to casual listeners who don't want to listen to a month's worth of albums and to veterans who want to compare top picks.
From the beautiful harp work on the opening and album titled track “You Are All I See” the scene is set magnificently for Active Child’s debut album. Not only does Pat Grossi have the voice of a choir boy; he also has the power to sing strong and reach further than just a normal classically trained vocalist. You Are All I See is put together uniquely with classical instruments meeting dup step and almost an R & B style. At times it reminds me of James Blake’s debut album from earlier this year. Though the music is beautiful and has lyrics that people can relate to, I feel that because of how well polished everything is it also leaves a bit too much space between the artist and his audience, which at the end of the day makes this album just a borrow and not a must listen. I don’t see it as a disappointment I just look forward to when Grossi puts out something that has a bit more soul to it, which I feel like he definitely can. For a debut album this is good, but it could be done better.
Final Review- 75
Best Songs- Hanging On, Playing House, Way Too Fast
After listening to The Rip Tide I can say that as far as vocals go Zach Condon of Beirut is now right near the top of my list. Condon finds a truly beautiful balance in using vocal distortion and just having an amazing voice. The Rip Tide can be best explained musically as world music that easily slides into folk, indie and finishes with a light and tasteful amount of electronica. Every song has that feeling of driving home to it, but that makes you wish your home was a little further away so you could continue the musical journey. The only criticism I have for The Rip Tide is that at times the use of horns and harmonies remind me of a Stephen Stephens album and is missing that smidge of originality that would put this album at the top of everyone’s list for the year. Still for me I love it and every track is gracefully constructed, I think this one will be on the top of my list for a little while.
Final Review- 90
Best Songs- Santa Fe, Port of Call, East Harlem, Vagabond, Goshen 1
A little back story to this album from Blood Orange is that Devonte Hynes was inspired by the transvestites of New York and also wanted to make songs that could be sung at drag shows. I think the concept is pretty neat and I am always about people showing their openness and support to the LGBT community. Coastal Groove is a fun listen and the songs are reminiscent of the 80s with Prince-sounding vocals and the rushed guitar work reminiscent of “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. On the track “Can We Go Inside Now?” all I can think of is the scene in From Dusk Till Dawn where Salma Hayek is stripping and Tito & Tarantula is playing that Latin slow sounding guitar song “After Dark.” Even when Hynes is in his higher vocal range there is still so much soul to his music. If there was one downfall to Coastal Groove it would be that it can be a little one-dimensional at times and lacks the depth that Blood Orange is more than capable of giving. I would also like to hear more vocals and choruses in place of some of the guitar grooves that replace them. All in all, this album is right on the edge of greatness and I think that with another album or two Blood Orange could really achieve it.
The Green Album is the first and probably only compilation album I will review but an artist lineup like this is too good to pass up. “Muppet Show Theme Song” being performed by OK Go was really enough to rope me into checking it out and I am incredibly happy I did. Not only does OK Go do a great rendition of the theme but all of the other artists really add their own signature sound to the tracks. A great moment was listening to The Fray do “Mahna Mahna” and hearing them step away from the slow and pretty piano music most people know them for. I was definitely a Muppet Show Tonight kind of kid. I remember watching it with my siblings and laughing really hard even at parts there was no way I could understand what the jokes were. The only down side to The Green Album is listening to some of the more popular bands do their mediocre makeover on some of the songs but even those are not completely horrible. I can’t justify giving the green Album a perfect score but as far as compilation or soundtracks go this is right at the top for me. And I know you will do what you will but I think everyone should give The Green Album a chance.
Final Review- 90
Best Songs- The Muppet Show Theme, The Rainbow Connection, Our World, Bein' Green
“Winter Beats,” the opening track of Hearts, gives a sense that this album is going to bring you some new and great-sounding songs. Unfortunately a lot of the energy in “Winter Beats” starts losing its footing and grip once the opener is done and falls a little short. Not to say that the rest of Hearts is a waste - I actually think there are some pretty awesome tracks - but as an album it is kind of boring. I am a fan of synth dream pop but this album from I Break Horses is kind of one of the reasons it also is one of my least favorite genres. They get so close to a revolutionary sound, almost to the same level as an Animal Collective song, but it just isn’t gutsy enough. The vocals are fantastic and all in all the musicianship is there. Hearts is definitely at its strongest on tracks like “Pulse,” “Cancer,” and “Load Your Eyes,”where there is a strong beat and solid chorus. Even through its faults Hearts is a borrow for sure. I think I Break Horses is on to something and I am excited to see what they come up with next.
Mirror Traffic is probably some of the most fun I have heard on an album from a band in some time. Lead singer Stephen Malkmus has a truly unique song writing style and his vocals are similar to Lou Reed in sound. Everything on Mirror Traffic gels well and has a great amount of style to it. Every track has its own charm and more songs on Mirror Traffic are likable than not. I am personally a big fan of the alt-rock vibe that is present and I love the little bit of indie twist a few songs have. My big problems with Mirror Traffic are the length and the lack of definition some of the tracks have. The album should probably be around 20 minutes shorter. An hour of anything can be a little taxing. If you changed the length it would probably also fix the second problem because you wouldn’t be just getting similar guitar solo after guitar solo. I think the overall musicianship is nice and Mirror Traffic, at the end of the day, is a fun listen. If someone has it on you might as well listen, but don’t go too out of your way for it or you will just be disappointed.
Final Review- 80
Best Songs- No One Is (Is Are I Be), Stick Figures In Love, Tigers