1. Hesitation Marks (2013) by Nine Inch Nails

    Trent Reznor is one of the few remain entities from the early 90’s still making music. He’s has survived Everything.

    Hesitation Marks, the eighth release as Nine Inch Nails. It’s the longest gap between albums since 2008’s The Slip. In that time, he has remain quite productive; marrying Mariqueen Maandig, scoring movies The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Atticus Ross, started a side project How to Destroy Angels with Ross, Rob Sheridan and Maandig.

    On Hesitation Marks, Reznor is refreshed and energized musically. The album is mellow for a NIN release, a first. Longtime fans are split between the move and desiring the classic NIN sound. I like the fact that Hesitation Marks is living in this new, mellow state. Reznor isn’t angry anymore. He’s been in the game a long time, and the angst is gone. Now we’re getting into territory where the music is based solely on an emotional timbre. It’s as if Pretty Hate Machine is the preface, The Downward Spiral is chapter one and Hesitation Marks is the epilogue, closing this story of Nine Inch Nails.

    There not too many new ideas, echoes to past NIN hits that are easy to spot. This album takes a minimalist, New Wave and krautrock approach. The Motorik beat is peppered on tracks throughout. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorik) Hardcore music nerds will recognize this immediately. There is elements of Neu!, Kraftwerk in the days of Computer World and the Cure.

    Like most Nine Inch Nails records, the album is produced and mixed magnificently. The tonal qualities of all the records are very important to the overall experience. The minimalist approach of makes sense… This is the next step in the evolution of the band.

    Essential Tracks: Copy Of A/ Came Back Haunted/ Everything/ Satellite

     
  2. (Source: jameskirked, via nayrnotlad)

     

  3. Poster Boy EP (2014) by High Fascination

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    High Fascination from New York City is a four-piece that’s been together since 2009. With a diet of the Beatles, Oasis Tom Petty and classic rock, they’ve managed to create a 21st century version of Britpop within the states. The four release, Poster Boy, is a snap shot at this sound.

    Starting with the titular track, Poster Boy, comparisons to pre-Kid A Radiohead and Post-Jason Falkner Jellyfish can be drawn. The music unintentionally encapsulates 90’s jangle rock and Post-Morning Glory Britpop of Manic Street Preachers in under a half hour. Lead singer Andrew Weiss has a voice that reminds me of Andy Sturmer from Jellyfish. The production is bright and clean, relying on the classic guitars and drums formula. Strings and an awesome violin solo on the best track, (Let’s Make) Snow Angels.

    This is the perfect example of how pockets of people develop self-contained scenes outside of the mainstream lexicon. This is completely outside of the box and nowhere near where music is today, but that’s fine. There are millions of other kids doing the same. Who do we have to thank for that? Technology. I could easily fool someone that these were outtakes from Everything Must Go by the Manic Street Preachers.

    The old down side of the EP is that it is a little long. If it were to be edited down a hair, it would be the best 15 minutes of pure jangle pop on this coast.

    This is a band that is gestating; developing something really good. I can’t wait to hear what High Fascination comes up next.

    Essential Tracks: Poster Boy/ (Let’s Make) Snow Angels

    Links:

    https://www.facebook.com/highfascination/

    http://soundcloud.com/highfascination/sets

    http://highfascination.bandcamp.com/

     

  4. This is Happening (2010) by LCD Soundsystem

    clever look back at the past. After nearly ten years of touring and recording, front man James Murphy called it quits. Two massive, sold out concerts at MSG, a mini-tour of the UK and This is Happening wraps up the final chapter of LCD Soundsystem in one feel swoop.

    The opening song, Dance Yrself Clean, is a classic. On this album, Murphy fine-tunes all that he’s learned recording and playing into a great record that uses emotion and production to give life to dance beats. It’s obvious where he lives musically, Talking Heads, the Fall, Iggy Pop and most importantly David Bowie. Each song is an ode to something off Low, “Heroes”, Lodger, The Idiot and Lust for Life. Murphy’s dry David Byrne-esque delivery can askew a casual listener to think that he’s a huge Talking Heads fan, but it’s Bowie that Murphy idolizes. Dance Yrself Clean is a nod to Speaking in Tongues-era Heads, but the second track, Drunk Girls, kicks in, the Bowie comparison is inevitable. Drunk Girls is a properly produced and well-played, dead-ringer for Lodger’s Boys Keep Swinging. All I Want is LCD’s version of “Heroes”; Somebody’s Calling Me is a dead-ringer for Nightclubbing/Red Money.

    The album has a very clean, minimalist palate. There isn’t too much going on sonically; the songs are emotionally driven. It’s the soundtrack to a digital funeral.

    The nine track album, is long, but full of ideas and great songs. It’s a shame that Murphy called it quits. He was on the verge of something. Emotions could dictate the direction of the music, rather than beats and sounds. If he were to continue, I can’t even imagine what kind of music he’d be making. We will never know, but what we do know is that we have three great albums, tons of singles, b-sides and a legacy that will certainly live on.

    Essential Tracks: Dance Yrself Clean/ Drunk Girls/ You Wanted A Hit/ Home

     

  5. The Suburbs (2010) by Arcade Fire

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    Combining the rural, rustic sounds of Neil Young, baroque pop of the Kinks and the sounds of the Beach Boys, Springsteen, Blondie, Bowie and Depeche Mode, the Suburbs is a modern look at both the concept album and the streets that inspired it.

    Arcade Fire creates a sprawling critique of America’s suburban life. Themes of alienation, loss, individualism and isolation keep the album full of steam and ideas.  Multiple listens bring one a sense of maturity and hard sentiment from the band. Songs like Rococo, Empty Room and Modern Man are prime examples of the themes of isolation and the teenage desire to remove yourself from your surroundings. The album is autobiographical, there’s self-awareness of the band with songs like Month of May, Wasted Hours and We Used to Wait.

    On the sophomore release, Neon Bible, the sound was darkened and is reversed to the band initial sound found on Funeral, Fire’s 2004 debut.  Touring with LCD Soundsystem that year, they’ve added synthesizers and more modern sounds on tunes Half Light II (No Celebration) and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). It’s not a drastic change, but an unexpected welcome on the albums closing first and second side. It’s a good, but small primer for the follow-up, Reflektor in 2013. The album ends with Butler pining a return to those ‘wasted hours’. ‘If I could have it back, all that time we wasted, I wouldn’t waste it again…’ he sings. But we wouldn’t have this wonderful album and he wouldn’t have a Grammy.

    The album is comprehensive and a prime example of an album as whole. It’s easy to understand why it won Album of the Year Grammy. It recalls the lost suburban life of the late 70’s and early 80’s, now decaying in a liberal’s utopian dream.

    Essential Tracks: The Suburbs/ Ready to Start/ Rococo/ Half Light II (No Celebration)/ Month of May/ Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

     

  6. just-the-same-but-bound2 said: What songs did St. Vincent play? (Please don't say Birth In Reverse and Digital Witness.)

    Uhh.. well those are the singles off the album so she had to play them

    http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/st-vincent/2014/ed-sullivan-theater-new-york-ny-7bc12afc.html

     
  7. Cheerleader by St. Vincent

     
     
  8. St. Vincent Live on Letterman

     
  9. St. Vincent Live on Letterman NYC July 16th

     
  10. theswinginsixties:

    James Brown, Long Island, 1967. Photo by Jean-Marie Périer

    (Source: mpdrolet)

     

  11. MGMT (2013) by MGMT

    MGMT is one of indie’s most colorful bands. Continuing their adventure on album number three, they expand with a psychedelic landscape once held by Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett.

    MGMT are still former college students, experimenting with music. The opener, Alien Days, welcomes you to the brand new MGMT. The tune is a throwback to 1969’s Space Oddity and John Lennon’s psychedelic forays, but after that there isn’t much that I would go back and listen to. It’s the only decent track. On multiple listens, the song structure presents itself, as it was fractured and careless, themes that repeat on the album. There are some cool production values, space-y sounds and wacky instrumentation, but there is a lot to be desired. One main complain overall I have is that the vocals are very low in the mix. Many of the songs I found myself wanting them to be louder and prominent. There isn’t focus on melody like there was on Oracular Spectacular or Congratulations, which makes me suspect that there isn’t much confidence in these songs.

    There is an evolution of the band, but this isn’t the right step for them at album three. By this time, they should be honing in on their psychedelic twee sound… Maybe they’re trying to get away from that? I also find it confusing why they would do that. MGMT is one of the biggest indie bands and this is pretty unfriendly for radio. Did success come to early? I think that MGMT is being weird for the sake of being weird, which most indie bands go for these days. It’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but this band had a really good chance at being my generation’s equivalent to Sparks or, dare I say it, David Bowie.

    Overall, the album is sonically wonderful, but melodically and song-wise its a complete mess. There isn’t much to the songs. MGMT are making sonic landscapes and if that’s you bag, this is a record for you. I’m going to skip this one.

    Essential Tracks: Alien Days           

     
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