Can’t get enough of Gimme Some: A review of Peter Bjorn and John’s latest album

March 29, 2011

Peter Bjorn and John never disappoint me and their latest album is no exception. Gimme some is a groovy take on their previous style. I especially love the feel-good tunes of track 3 “Second Chance.” There is just enough tambourine shaking and cow bell to set it apart from the hundreds of other cheery indie beats out there.

They make it seem effortless but there is not a song on here I would skip while listening to it on the road or just chilling out. Every song in this album is extremely catchy but you won’t be too upset when these cool Swedes get stuck in your head.

Of course, if you have only heard two of their previous tracks (like many people who claim to be fans) you may be disappointed that this isn’t anything similar to Amsterdam or their most recognizable song Young Folks. While those are good songs, not all of their music has to be that poppy, whistling style to be worth listening to.

In this album I hear some subtle 80s influences especially track 6 May Seem Macabre and track 7 (Don’t Let Them) Cool Off. But unlike a lot of bands channeling the 80s right now PB&J did it right.  I like the too-cool style of this album, the vocals are all very calm and listeners will be entranced if they let go of their expectations.

Sarah Townsend

Gimme Some was released on March 29, 2011 on Rockadrome. For tour information or to purchase Gimme Some, visit peterbjornandjohn.com

U2 plays Santiago’s National Stadium

March 26, 2011

U2 played in Chile for the third time and Muse opened. Bono changed up the lyrics to ‘End of the World’. Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela joined the band to sing with Bono during One Tree Hill. Instead of Amazing Grace, Edge played the guitar intro to Mothers of the Disappeared while Bono chanted over it for a minute or so – he didn’t actually sing any of the song’s lyrics. Bono dedicated Moment of Surrender to the people of Japan. Rene Castro, whom U2 spent much time with during the Joshua Tree through Lovetown period, was at the show.

Article information and set list were reposted from u2tours.com.

This review is for the third U2 concert on March 25, 2011 in Chile while on the 360 tour.


Set List:

Beautiful Day – Sgt. Pepper’s

I Will Follow

Get On Your Boots

Magnificent

Mysterious Ways

Elevation

Until the End of the World – Anthem

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – I Want to Know What Love Is

One Tree Hill

Pride

In A Little While

Miss Sarajevo

City of Blinding Lights

Vertigo

I’ll Go Crazy (remix) – Two Tribes

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Scarlet

Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Encore(s):

One

Mothers of the Disappeared – Where the Streets Have No Name – All You Need Is Love

Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me

With or Without You

Moment of Surrender

The Stroke’s new “Angles” is underwhelming at best

March 23, 2011

The Strokes finally came out with a new album after five years, Angles. The first track, “Machu Picchu” stands out as a favorite but honestly it wasn’t easy to listen to this album.

Angles embodies the style of late 80s, sounding like some bad pop-rock with the same style of vocals that made them famous. Track three “Two kinds of happiness” doesn’t sound like anything new. It sounds like a song from the 1980s I haven’t heard before which is more than a little disappointing for someone who has enjoyed the Strokes in the past. Track 4’s guitar solos are just too much on top of the drum beats which don’t vary much from song to song.

There will be parts of the songs in this album that I can really enjoy and just when I get into it something the song will take a turn for the 80s jam band-eque sound. Also, I can’t help but noticing that it is easy to confuse the songs with each other. A lot of them sound the same.

One thing I think the Strokes did right would be the vocals because they’re all that is left of their style that was different from other artists. I’m glad they kept with the same style of vocals and lyrics for the most part because it is the one thing that redeems Angles. I don’t mind the shades of 1980s mixed in the tracks that much but I still feel like something is missing in this album that First Impressions of Earth had. This isn’t something I would listen again for fun. A lot of this sadly sounds like a remix of some old 80s synth pop and guitar solos.

Of course this album incorporates some new elements in their music. The title, Angles, was a good choice because it has these elements. Personally, some of the elements I am not a fan of. The Stokes produced some good stuff in the past and though this album isn’t bad, I don’t prefer it to any of their previous work. With that said, I am sure the band was aiming to make music which would be more easily digested by the mainstream top-40 listener and if that was their objective they accomplished that goal but for me they missed the mark.

Sarah Townsend

Angles was released on March 18, 2011 on RCA/Rough Trade. Visit thestrokes.com for tour information.

A First Impression of “Civilian,” Wye Oak’s Latest Album

March 16, 2011

Wye Oak’s newest album Civilian is the band’s third collection of work released on Merge Records. The chilled-out lyrics and tambourine brings to mind a mellow over-cast day. It relaxes and entertains the listener. It paints a dream-y world in my mind, especially the second track “The Alter”. The song invokes some strange yet beautiful visions in my mind.

The duo’s music sounds a lot like they look. Non-threatening but interesting and entertaining. The contrast of the vocals and the guitar’s whining is really unexpected but it works really nicely for my taste. I could see listening to this on a long drive or just chilling out to it after a stressful day.

There is a continuous fluid thread that runs through the fabric of all of the tracks on this album even though some are melancholic and others are a bit more upbeat. The music seems to always come back to the constant similar-sounding guitar riffs and gentle lyrics. I don’t mean that the songs are too similar however the tracks aren’t that different from one another.  They all vary just enough. I hear it as if each song is a different room in a music-box house found in the artists’ dreams.

This work will snatch your attention for a while but it isn’t too in-your-face. I would be content to listen to this for a while and mix it in with my regular “chill time” playlists. Because of the imagery this album invokes in my mind, I say it earns 4 out of 5 stars.

Civilian was released on March 8, 2011 on Merge Records. For tour information or to purchase a copy of Civilian visit www.wyeoakmusic.com.

Sarah Townsend


Newsweek Implies That Bono is Spider-man’s Real Villian

March 16, 2011

Newsweek.com

The musical disaster show has made director Julie Taymor this season’s media piñata. But could her departure unmask another culprit?

Given all the problems plaguing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, it was probably inevitable that someone besides the actors would fall. Since previews of the $65 million (and counting) Broadway musical began last November, four performers have been injured, including Spidey himself, who went tumbling 30 feet into the pit, breaking four ribs and sustaining a hairline fracture to his skull. OSHA descended on the Foxwoods Theatre to investigate, and fined the producers $12,600.
All might have been excused had audiences and critics actually liked the show. But with reviews like “‘Spider-Man’ is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst” in The New York Times, somebody had to be blamed.So it wasn’t much of a shock when the show’s celebrated director, Julie Taymor—whose Lion King has grossed $4.5 billion in its 14-year-run—finally got her walking papers last week. With much schadenfreude (Taymor isn’t the easiest director to work with, as anyone will tell you), Broadway wags are predicting she’ll never work in this town again.

But has justice been served to the real villain of Spider-Man?

The score, created by U2’s Bono and the Edge, isn’t made up of catchy, easily digestible pop songs in the “Hakuna Matata” vein. Even production sources admit to being mystified by what they describe as the joylessness of the music. “With the promise of U2, why they don’t have this big kick-ass, pulse-racing number that sends people out on a cloud is a big, big question,” one person involved with the show says. “And if Julie Taymor was standing in the way of that, she’s not anymore.”

When audiences walk out of Spider-Man, you don’t hear them singing show tunes. You hear their disapproval. “You just don’t leave with a song in your head,” Suzy Fink of Chicago says after a recent performance. “I’m a huge fan of U2, and I think my love affair just ended,” says a visibly angry JT Horenstein of New York. “Did they not spend the time to create something melodic or memorable?”

It’s a fair question to ask, given that Bono and the Edge were on tour for much of the production. “Back in December or January, Julie begged everyone to close the show temporarily so that they could make changes,” says a source close to the production who is sympathetic to Taymor. “The producers told her no. Bono and the Edge weren’t around. There was a clear breakdown in communication.” Neither Taymor, Bono, nor the Edge would comment for this story. Rather inconveniently, by the time Bono and the Edge returned to work on the show about two weeks ago, Taymor was in California for a long-scheduled speaking commitment at the 2011 TED Conference. In her speech she explained that creating art regularly involves Sturm und Drang, and noted that Spider-Man’s theme song is “Rise Above.” Her good friend Norman Lear, who was at the conference, saw behind the upbeat mask.

She was suffering like crazy, she hated to be gone, Bono was seeing the show for the first time in months,” he says. “She’s been put through hell, and to see her taking the blame all by her frail and brilliant self, isn’t it ridiculous?
Maybe so. What made her dismissal easy from a publicity standpoint was that she’s less famous than her collaborators and was coming off some major misfires in the film world.In 2007, Across the Universe, a musical created around the songs of the Beatles, tanked. And last fall her adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren, earned back just $277,000 of its estimated $20 million budget.

“Julie is a poet, an obsessive, a charismatic leader, and a visionary, with the ego and fragility of all great artists,” says Mirren. “Her commitment to work and collaborators is total.” Can the same be said of her Spider-Man collaborators?

Newsweek.com

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