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New Mew single "Satellites"

"After much work planning, touring, planning again, and re-obtaining a long lost 4th band member... Danish (self-proclaimed) Indie-Stadium band Mew released some of the fruits of their labor from the album "+/-" coming out April 27th, the first Mew album in 6 years!"

New Bill Laurence single "U-Baun"

" Bill Laurence is ready to release his sophomore jazz project: Swift. A CD/DVD of studio performances is up on the 31st of March, but for now, we get this piece of atmospheric and chill odyssey with a name that makes no sense (yet). " 

"With Flint I became interested in breaking down the barriers between genres. Swift is a continuation of that exploration. I wanted to broaden the genre spectrum even further." -Bill Laurence

https://billlaurance.bandcamp.com/track/u-bahn

Album Review: The Sum of Its Parts by Chicane

Chicane_-_The_Sum_of_Its_Parts.jpg

I'm sure the album title was quick to try to point out that the Trance side of electronic music really is nothing if pulled apart (you can only hear a meaningless thump from the bass out of context for so long. As for myself, I keep a hearty record of about 10 seconds before it drives me crazy). I got off topic there for a second...

The Sum of Its Parts is nice blend of modern style electronic music with that trance feel that probably brings us 90's kids into Darude and Eiffel 65 flashbacks, but in a good way! My experience with Chicane comes from several years ago when I bought my first mp3 files, waned through high school, and has returned into my life as I try to broaden myself. Throughout my experience with Chicane, I've either enjoyed the ride or got tired of songs because of my mood at the time, a fairly binary response that might be experienced by more people then just myself. Most songs have their place in your life's moments, and when you try to appreciate the album some days, it will just feel bland and uninteresting. It's the other times when the sonic landscape is allowed to wash over you that it is granted strength and suddenly sounds awesome again. At least, this has been my experience with trance so far. 
Production value throughout the work is liquid clear and confident between transitions. Although not immediately attention grabbing, the synthesizer atmosphere has become a distinct part of Chicane songs that sets it apart from just any electronic producer's synthesizer sets. That's really what it's all about: atmosphere that makes you feel like you are lightly floating down a river. Perhaps the interaction of layers kind of runs out of steam and has me occasionally losing interest, but as a whole, The Sum of Its Parts has this habit of bringing me back in when something subtle in the background makes itself known.

Enough about the background stuff. In my opinion, what really gives Chicane power is in the featured vocalists that take over most of the songs, as is tradition (the past has yielded collaborations with numerous vocalists that add to the song in their own way, such as Adam Young and Bryan Adams). Lisa Gerrard adds a near-operatic vocal tone to the 2 more atmospheric songs on the album, and presents herself wonderfully. Equally as lovely is the tone in Bo Bruce's voice for the song "Still With Me" that really stirs up emotion in me. I wouldn't say that the featured vocalists are the only reason why I adore one song over another one, but they play a big part in it for sure.

I think what's I'm trying to get at here is that the new Chicane album can be appreciated and enjoyed unless the listener has some beef with the genre itself. As far as trance is concerned, the album is a solid release. And if you're a picky eater, selecting a couple songs out of the bunch wouldn't do any harm either.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Review by Travis Strong

Album Review: Periphery - Juggernaut (2015)

Even though Juggernaut was split into a double album to be a more "digestible" chunk of material, at first I was still difficult for me to listen to more then 5 or 6 songs at a time without a break, because this album definitely is intense. But after a month I'm able to realize that dissonance and resolution is balanced very well, as well as times of interlude and ambiance along with the brutal screams and guitar chugs. This album brings many surprises and a lot of raw and calculated emotion to the metal scene in my opinion. But it took a while for me to start to understand that. From the singles released I wasn't extremely impressed for whatever reason, possibly because I was nitpicking parts where I don't care for the timbre of Spencer's voice in one moment or some other trivial thing. But I think people who have attempted to understand where the metal scene is going and are open-minded enough can grow to appreciate the album and perhaps even like it if they give it a chance.

Periphery has been credited as a major part of the tech-metal scene with the creation of sub-genres heavily emphasizing rhythm. More specifically the way that 4/4 time interacts with a complicated secondary pattern pounded out by the bass guitar and the drum set's bass drum. The vocals, if ever included, usually float above the other pitches and stay distantly connected to the 4/4 time(With differences and experimentation, of course). What I appreciate about Periphery's writing style is the growing connection the vocals have to the other parts over the course of their releases (from "Periphery", to "Periphery II" and "Clear" and the stuff in between). Spencer's vocal technique has started to become more and more diversified in timbre and in the way the vocals interact with the rhythm and everything else. They wrote with the vocals in mind, rather then putting the voice on top later, perhaps out of personal preference or under the necessity of creating a concept-based album. Sometimes it comes across as a bit too catchy how the words are delivered and how choruses come and go. Luckily, there are many layers to the production and execution of the music that I can enjoy and appreciate that keeps me coming back. The distortion from the guitars is thick and powerful, and the soft and ambient parts are smooth and relaxing.

Although almost pragmatic and vague, the lyrics are carefully planned and link together the concept that is "Juggernaut". From what I've interpreted of the story told in these songs there is a perpetual theme of the struggle associated with immortality. The nameless main character from what I can tell yearns for mortality to be relinquished from the atrocities they have committed and lives they had taken since birth:

"It's always better on the other side of it / Wanting what you'll never have / And it's a goddamn broken state of mind / Yeah, the one that we've been living in / It's never greener inside the mess we're in / Wanting what you'll never have."

I think the title track for "Alpha", quoted here, brings up the ultimate irony in this story that the victims run from death while the killer forced to be immortal craves death and escape from the psychopath inside them, as well as the rancid memories of everything the character has been led to do. What I appreciate the most is how much of the story is still up to self-interpretation, while still providing direction and depth to the emotions at hand in the story. Compared to the lyrics written for the albums Periphery and Periphery II, these feel better thought out and cohesive between tracks; I appreciate the "vague" dial turned down just enough compared to previous releases, it's made all the difference to me.

All in all, I've really come to like and appreciate the double album for what it is, but it took some hesitation and a month of contemplation before I could say so. With that in mind, if you are a nit-picker, go find the segments of the album you might like, and if you're a start from track 1 kind of person, enjoy the story in the order it was intended to be played. There's enough experimentation to keep careful ears interested. Maybe some things you don't like, but most likely MANY different elements will be at least appreciated as a wonderful means of artistic expression.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

For more comments from the band members about the creation of the album, person-by-person, Century Media Records created a "webisode series" that might be informative before or after hearing the music. Check it out if you want!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVmhX9wee8M

Review by Travis Strong

Concert Review: PARTYNEXTDOOR

It was a long drive from here to Sacramento but hey this was PND’s (PARTYNEXTDOOR) first world tour on his own. I was thinking about his beginnings and how he managed to have met Drake, yes the Drake of OVO fame. PND is a young newcomer on the Rnb/Hip Hop scene and was no doubt helped by the fact that he was mentored by Drake and his legendary producer Noah Sheib, or more affectionately known as, 40. If one looks at the credits to a majority of the songs off his titular first album, PARTYNEXTDOOR, it will show they were co-produced by the man Noah Sheib. PND had gone on tour with Miguel and Drake a while back and this will be his second time out on his name only but this was first world tour which is called PARTYNEXTDOOR LIVE. I got to the venue and the doors opened up, I was expecting an opener or two but it was just a local dj getting the crowd hyphy as f*** before Party was supposed to come on. I was grooving almost pensively when I heard the local hype man word for word say “I know how y’all thought there was going to be hella openers but the only person that is going to come on stage is none other than PARTYNEXTDOOR!” Party comes out to singing Relax with me and gets killed by the drowning screams of a majority crowd of women and girls with even some guys chiming in. Party played selections from his first and second album (PARTYNEXTDOOR2) plus everything that on his recent extended play, PNDCOLOURS. His visual setup was very modest, with a project displaying somber visuals, a few basic flashing lights, and some basic colours providing background. The venue was tiny, so you could see him up close, and he walked in the crowd a few times. Now his singing was on point, when you could hear him, and I say that because he was straight drowned out by those singing along. When they paused and he was able to sing, you could tell that he had some talent, and wasn’t all just sound effects and compression, which in this day and age is quite a feat. I thought it had great pacing and that he was quite soft spoken and humble for a young man of 21 who was going on his first world tour. The place was sold out, packed to the brim with people in their best, and the crowd was not rowdy in the slightest. Party surpassed expectations and killed it for his music style since its more personal/intimate than actual party music. Mad love and I hope you keep selling out shows Party.

Review by Henry Solares

Album Review: FOUR by One Direction

One Direction’s newly released “FOUR” is as similar to their previous albums as much as it is different. Their sound is still that of the well-known type of the boy band, but there is also a new, but nostalgic, sound to this album. Unlike their older albums, the group harmonizes beautifully and in a haunting tone. The song “Fireproof” can trigger the feeling someone gets when listening to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Of course, their songs are mostly love ballads, or contain lyrics about an irresistible but generically described girl. “Night Changes” gives off the vibes the Beach Boys do, but in a chill, more sophisticated way. They are still upbeat, in their cereal box prize kind of way, but One Direction is becoming more original. The five men in the boy band all had a huge part in writing for “FOUR”; all five of them collaborated writing for two of the songs, and have separately written lyrics for the rest of this album. Ed Sheeran wrote “18” for One Direction, a song that talks (or sings) about the evolution of innocent, teenage love to deeper, more mature passion. “Change Your Ticket” is enticing, calling out to you and it’s possible it could make you smile. Although this isn’t the best album they’ve had so far, One Direction continues to evolve and transform their music, one album after another.


By Charlotte deJoya


Cover Of The Week: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Monophonics

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) was originally by Cher back in 1966, then was covered by Nancy Sinatra the same year. The Nancy Sinatra version is the one that most people know thanks to its use in Kill Bill, but this one, by the Monophonics, might be my favorite. It manages to hold the somberness of the originals, but also while adding a cool funk feeling to it. It kind of turns it into a whole different beast, and I love that about it. I hope you enjoy it as well!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyWHRC8A_uU

Written by Garrett Walters

Album Review: Otherness by Kindness

  Otherness by Kindness

 

Otherness by Kindness

“Swingin’ Party”, an unsettling, beautiful track was released in 2009. Adam Bainbridge impressed many with his debut album, World, You Need a Change of Mind—it was produced so perfectly, giving many the impression that he wanted to prove something. His recently released sophomore album, Otherness, released October 16th, proves otherwise; it presents an openness that lends itself pretty consistently through out the album. Jazz, funk, and R&B are all pretty prevalent in almost every song, some actually being pretty infectious, others disappointing. Bainbridge gives us excellent tracks, featuring Robyn and Kelela, both who give excellent vocals but there is a blandness in the lyrics that are actually really distracting since the rhythm and majority of the vocals are hauntingly beautiful and catchy.

By Frances Ramos

Album Review: 1989 by Taylor Swift


Since her 2008 album Fearless, which yielded country-to-pop crossover hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” — Taylor Swift has chosen to change her great fanfare to call her fifth full-length, 1989, her “very first documented, official pop album."

Not so fast, though: She would like us to know that 1989 is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, “evil pop” album. “Evil pop is when you’re singing something in your head … and you don’t know why because it’s brainless,”she said in a recent interview with her collaborator Jack Antonoff. “We wanted to keep this pop clean and good and right, and if it’s stuck in your head I want you to know what the song is about as well.”

Yesterday, I decided to play her 1989 album as an ultimate test. I played it while I was hanging out with some friends. When it was over, one of them said, “I kept forgetting we were listening to a Taylor Swift album and not just listening to the radio.” In some sense, that’s a compliment — almost any one of these songs could (and probably will) be hits. But in the process of streamlining her sound, Swift has sanded off a lot of the edges that once made her perspective so unique. The disappointing thing is that she didn’t really have to. More and more these days, going pop is seen as a declaration of independence rather than a manifesto of self-imposed formulaic limitations. A quote from an early interview with Icona Pop, Taylor Swift declared, “You can do whatever you want and call it pop!” 

By Brandy Monreal

Album Review: Sadnecessary by Milky Chance

German folk pop duo, Milky Chance has just released their debut album Sadnecessary. The band consists of lead vocalist Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch as DJ. Mixing folk, electronica and rock the duo has discovered a rare vine of music that is currently washing over the airwaves. Their hit single “Stolen Dance” is one of the most popular songs of the summer, but this track is just the tip of the iceberg.

The eleven track album is a solid first effort by the band and is a great introduction to one of Germany’s most popular rising acts. Sadnecessary begins with the mid-tempo beats and relaxed vocals of Rehbein, as he belts out the lyrics to “Stunner”. This quickly transitions to one of the records most upbeat tracks, “Flashed Junk Mind” that is easily one of the more notable songs on the record. Things slow down considerably with the next three songs, “Becoming”, “Running” and earlier released fan favorite “Feathery”. The almost lazy vocals of Rehbein carry the three tracks at a plodding pace with soft beats and gentle guitar strumming. Lyrically intricate and catchy, the three songs sync together extremely well.

A short respite courtesy of the one minute and a half long song “Indigo”, leads into the title track of the album. “Sadnecessary” is the part of the album where things begin to pick up again in terms of energy. The song is a pleasant introduction to the more energetic and shall we say upbeat side of the album. Transitioning to the beautiful melodic guitar play from Rehbein on standout track “Down By The River”, the band picks up the pace through sheer instrumental talent. The hook filled song leads into the joyous sounding “Sweet Sun”. Reihben almost raps through the whole entire track as Daush lays down fast paced electronica to give the song a considerable kick.

The final two tracks end the album on a very laid back note. “Fairytale” unfortunately ceases any momentum that the previous track garnered but is a good interlude to the highlight of the record. Chart topping single “Stolen Dance” is the bands international hit and is filled to the brim with catchy hooks and one memorable chorus. Ending on a high note with their most well known song is a time honored strategy that bands love to implement. This is a track that has put the duo on the map and is an excellent way to conclude their debut album. Despite the tendency to build momentum before slowing down the pace for one or two slower paced tracks, Milky Chance has managed to create a brilliant piece of art that will satisfy their growing fan base.

Final Grade: B

Written by Tyler Bossio

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