Friday, July 30, 2010

Jaill, That's How We Burn - 8.5

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what Jaill sounds like. Although self described as psycho-pop, Jaill feels almost surfer, almost pop, almost alternative. The best description would probably be just four guys having a good time making music. Jaill strips indie music down to its basics: A vocalist, a drummer, a guitarist, and a bassist. There's no background vocals, no trumpets, no synthesizers, nothing groundbreaking or new. But in this way, Jaill's debut album That's How We Burn feels like a breath of fresh air.

The album starts off with "The Stroller". Just as you think this will be a slow introduction, the drums kick in the background, and the guitar lets out a riff that's hard to resist tapping your foot to. From here, we're introduced to Vincent Kircher's unique vocals that fit in quite nicely to the music. That's How We Burn's debut single "Everyone's Hip" really captures the energy of the band with it's catchy beat and fast paced vocals. At one point, Kircher even starts speaking in Spanish for no apparent reason. Other notable songs include "Snake Shakes" and "That's How We Burn".

Most of the album's songs don't last longer than three minutes, if even that. But it never feels like the songs are too short, but more like they aren't overstaying their welcome. Another excellent quality, although easy to miss, are the strong lyrics. No song ever seems to be a real repeat of what's been said before, and smart lyrics are a joy to listen to (Yes, I am running as fast as I can/ To a stunning and imperfect plan). Furthermore, the album strikes a rare balance between good lyrics and good music, with a lot of bands falling short in either category.

That's How We Burn is the definition of a strong introduction. Hopefully Jaill will be able to continue refining their sound and crafting even more gems in the future.

- J.W.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jellyfish Essentials: Dinosaur Jr , Farm - 9.5

Dinosaur Jr, relevant in todays music world? Who would have thought of such a notion? Well they have returned with a vengeance. Over 25 years in the music business is an achievment just by itself (granted they did suffer a break up of the band between 1997 and 2005). But to be still improving, is incredible. Even by itself, without even considering the lengthy history of the group that created it, Farm has the makings of a true classic. Jammed pack with all the guitar riffs you could ever want, blended with the rough melodious vocals of J. Mascis it is really a delight to listen to.

Farm begins with an exclamation point. "Pieces" is the same Dinosaur Jr that we all know and love. From the loud guitar solo that starts one second in, to fuzzy lyrics that bring on a sense of nostalgia, its a very solid starter, to say the least. Other excellent songs come in the middle, like "Plans", which build upon the already established quality of the record. Further songs such as "See you" and "Said the People" take a break from the loudness that is considered the musical norm for Dinosaur Jr , and provide a good break between guitar heavy songs.

Through the years the group has seen the comings, and goings of their three original members, but as this compilation shows, they are at their best when they are the authentic Dinosaur Jr. Their sound is a unique and exquisite. Their hard rocking is supplemented by a noise that sounds surprisingly very passive, without a need to attack your ears with unwanted and unnecessary pandemonium. In fact this signature sound of we-rock-but-we-don't-try-hard, really enhances the listening experience. This record has left me in wait of hopefully more to come from this unstoppable musical trio, and I think it will for you too.

- A.W.

Purchase Album: Amazon, iTunes, Sonic Boom

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jellyfish Guest Writer: OneRepublic, Waking Up - 8.3

After hitting the scenes with their debut album, Dreaming Out Loud, OneRepublic's sophomore album, Waking Up, had a lot to live up to. Indeed, Dreaming Out Loud had gone gold and nearly reached Platinum. Needless to say, the band wasn't sure how Waking up would be received. Their worries were appropriate, for while the record never hit the same status as Dreaming, it ended up hitting as high as 21 on the Billboarad 200, and has sold of 200,00 copies in the U.S. As for me, I had never been a big OneRepublic fan before this album. Being introduced to a select few singles, such as the hit "Apologize" and the song "Stop and Stare", I hadn't heard a lot of their songs. Even as this album was being release I never thought about it, but luckily a friend came to the rescue, encouraging me to listen to "All the Right Moves" and "Everybody Loves Me". I was immediatly hooked. This band's self described title of "genreless" was true. Listening to the whole album I heard songs that could have been labeled as rock, pop, even classical.

This album does have its faults, but not many. I was overjoyed while listening to the end of the album, realizing it didn't suffer the fate that so many other records do. In too many promising albums I have seen a strong start, only to have the album fade fast and have the last songs seem lik no effort at all. Fortunately, while I saw traces of this over the whole collection of songs as a whole was solid.
This album starts strong with songs such as "Made For You" and "All The Right Moves". It continues fantastically with the song my personal favorite, "Good Life". The album then finishes strong with the inspirational "Marching On" and appropriate last song "Lullaby". For anyone wishing to buy a new album that isn't represented by strict genre lines, this all-over-the-place album might be for you. It certainly worked for me

-Vlad Harrison

Purchase Album: Amazon, iTunes, Sonic Boom

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wolf Parade, Expo 86 - 8.5

They say that you should not judge a book by it's cover. Obviously these people have never heard of or listened to Wolf Parade. Thus I say you should judge this album by the photo that is their puzzling cover. Why is the kid holding a wooden handgun while his counterparts half painted faces stare menacingly at the camera? Truly mysterious is the word which embodies this album from cover photo to the guitar entwined tunes. With a dash of their usual elegance, Expo 86 is the third full length album by this four man Montreal based band.

From the dazzling first track "Cloud Shadow on the Mountain", with its first verse declaring "I was a dream-catcher hanging in the window of a minivan parked by the waters edge", to the synthy tune "Ghost Pressure" with its nonchalant, to-cool-for-school lyrics, this LP goes above and beyond my expectations of a band named after a woodland creature's procession. Another notable track, and my personal favorite, "Yulia" comes near the end of this compilation. This melodious, light, love song, is an excellent way of winding down the album while still keeping it jam packed with good music until the very last chord.

This album is thoroughly enjoyable, even with its flaws. Sure, not all the tracks are perfect, and the same guitar + synthesizer sound on every track may get a little old but you hardly notice it. For those of you that do appreciate this LP, I urge you to check out Mount Zoomer, the previous, but just as good, album from this Canadian Quartet.

- A.W.

Purchase Album: Amazon, iTunes, Sonic Boom

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty - 8.2

As a fan of Outkast, I was cautious at first about Big Boi's first solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty. The dynamic duo between Big Boi's old school, no nonense rap, and Andre 3000's eccentric use of classic instruments made for a solid combo. But make no mistake. Big Boi hits the ground running with his solo album. Delivering a plethora of catchy beats and clever rhymes, Sir Lucious Left Foot is an excellent album, even if you aren't a big fan of rap like myself.

The album begins with the excellent "Daddy Fat Sax", with no time wasted creating an uplifting and fast paced song. Quick verses are tightly cushioned with a catchy chorus for an awesome result. By the time the song breaks for a quick second to bring the lines "With my ears to the streets and my eyes to the sky, I'm on another planet.." it's hard to resist shouting along. Other notable songs include "Shutterbug" with its relaxed club feel, and "Night Night" near the end of the album, starting with a strong and heavy beat, and not letting up until the airy chorus tells of a threat of inevitable defeat.

The album isn't without its own issues, however. Quite a few of the songs in the middle of the album, while aren't horrible, aren't as memorable as other songs. Most of the stuff Big Boi raps about you've heard before. Most topics covered range from smoking weed to making unspecified threats to other rappers. But through strong beats and smart lyrics, it never feels generic. Some songs are marred by generally unfunny skits, although some have their own merit. Despite these flaws, Sir Lucious Left Foot is good sign of things to come from Big Boi.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void - 8.0

Let me begin by saying I was skeptical regarding the Portland based Blitzen Trapper's new album Destroyer of the Void. After the wild success of the bands 2008 release of their sparkling, sugar coated, 4th full length album Furr, I wasn't certain if they could top it. This assumption was partly correct. But I'm not here to judge albums based upon their predecessor. Based solely on the music itself it is still one of their most triumphant albums. With ear-pleasing vocals, Harmonicas, and old time saloon pianos and a feel of authentic western music, this album delivers everything expected and a little more.

The opening, and title track of this album kicks off with the classic rock reminiscent lyrics of "for to love is to leave, for to run like a rolling stone". This piano backed track is a good opener but nothing more is expected of it. The quality tracks however start about 4 tracks in with "The Man Who Would Speak True". This song puts in mind a similar tune "Black River Killer" from the previous album with its dark (and slightly humourous) underlying storyline of an outlaw.
The remainder of the album provides everything you could hope for from a group that's been in the musical trade for a decade now. "Dragon Song" supplies an elegant sun-coated melody that Blitzen Trapper does so well. The track "Evening Star" tells the story of a wild teenage partyer and is backed as always by the simple western guitars, and heavy strummed base that have made this sextet a force to be reckoned with.

This Album provides a different, but somewhat pleasurable side to the band then what was shown in their previous endeavors. It is not for everyone but is a good buy for anyone looking to broaden their musical pallet.

- A.W.

Purchase Album: iTunes, Amazon, Sonic Boom

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jellyfish Essentials: Neon Indian, Psychic Chasms - 9.2

Since this is the first album review ever for this blog, I thought I should start it out with a bang. Psychic Chasms is the first full length album from this 80's reminiscent electronic pop band, created and composed by Alan Palomo. With it's many fuzzy, synthetic, old school arcade like sounds laced with dreamy vocals, you can't help but love this record.
This album starts out with the quick hit "Deadbeat Summer". This track is truly unique in its own way but not totally unlike the others. It's background synths are good but leave room for the floaty lyrics. The opening lines draw you in with the proclomation "Going blind from the heat... In the middle of a sunlit street". The song "Should have taken acid with you" with its slightly over the top N64 shooter background track, leaves nothing to be desired, except a wish that it was longer. The title track "Psychic Chasms" opens with mesmerizing windchimes but soon reverts to the overall synthy trend of the album.

After finishing this album you are left with a feeling that you just took an LSD laced trip through time back to summer of '87 and back again in little over half and hour. Overall this is a great buy and I encourage you to purchase it from your local record stores.