Archive for Music Reviews

I would walk 500 MILES for this album

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (2008, Say Hey Records)


Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (eleven syllables!!) is a singer & songwriter & badass from Brooklyn via Portland, OR. Mbar released his self-titled (eleven syllables!!) debut album on Say Hey records in July of this year, after over two years of writing and recording with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Thomas. And it is very good.

Lyrically, mbar is really a poet (ala Neil Young). He sings and warbles things we’ve heard or felt before – things about love, death, debt, getting wasted, being happy, not being happy. But his perspective is unique, translated into lyrics that are at once brilliantly simple and powerfully expressive. In his writing, mbar is both sensitive and sarcastic (the opening line of the album’s first track buriedfed is “this is my last song about myself”), and filled with a realistic kind of wisdom that comes only from personal experience (“Oh, growing old / I’m not sure I want to stay alive / It’s so expensive” from the debtor). While some of mbar’s stories are heavy, they are seemingly kissed by the sun – the mood is nearly celebratory and just barely triumphant.

Yet Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson is much more than a poignant singer-songwriter make out fest with a microphone. Essentially, the mbar’s sound is a beautiful marriage between bluesy-folk and grungy psychedelia. It is only made awesomer by the wonders of basic sound effects (think reverb, distortion, multi track vocals) and the musical talents of indie love children Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) and Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio). The album soars (woodfriend) and sails (buriedfed) and flies kites in a soft breeze (above the sun), and chills reflectively on a street bench (my good luck), taking us on every step with every beat. As a whole, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson is a great listen and worthy of many. Tap your feet while you contemplate and (stick it to) your existence.

Visit mbar on the internet!

See what else say hey records has to say!

Order limited edition mbar black/white colored vinyl at academy fight song!

lovelovelove,

unicorn burrito de indie on the rocks

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The Ten Most Disappointing Albums of 2008

With 2009 right around the corner, many critics and music pundits are tallying votes and writing paragraphs to convey their personal picks of the previous year. While I (and others at KTXT) won’t be left out of the mix, I first wanted to remind everyone that 2008 was not without its flaws. And with that note, let’s get into the best of the worst, the ones that got your hopes up oh so high, only to crush them handily.

(Disclaimer: These are Whitey Corngood’s opinions and his only. No one else at KTXT or in the world had any say in this. Just so’s ya know.)

10. Weezer – The Red Album

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Whitey, come on…did you hear Make Believe? These guys have sucked for a long time.” Yes, I know…call it wishful thinking. “Pork and Beans” might have not been the best thing Rivers has put out, but it certainly sounded more “Buddy Holly”-ish than “Beverly Hills,” and as a long time fan, I had my fingers crossed. Little did I know that the Red Album is perhaps the most detestable of all the post-Pinkerton efforts from Cuomo and Co. I’ve lost all hope for the band that got me through junior high.

9. Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust

I’m not a big fan of this band to begin with, so call this biased reporting (read: a regular music blog post), but songs like “Dead Sound” and “Aly Walk With Me” had me hankering for more distorted pop lullabies. It seemed like the group was focusing more on songcraft and less on form, which would’ve been a good thing, if it were true. It was a nice effort, but Magnetic Fields pulled it off better in 2008.

8. Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath

These records are always fun to wrap my head around; after repeated listens, I usually catch on to the apocalyptic time signatures and wailing guitars. However, Omar and the boys decided to craft more of a pop soundscape with their delightful noise, which isn’t something new (“The Widow”). This time though, their delivery is more scattershot; what is supposed to be an accessible album turns into a drunken mess and quite possibly their most confusing and unenjoyable record yet.

7. Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

Leave it to the blogosphere to hype up a band ad nauseam, only to discover that this new group is, in fact, quite generic. Who would’ve thought that the kids who penned the ever-so-catchy “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” would be 21st-century Cure rip-offs? Good call, Pitchfork. You never cease to let us down.

6. CSS – Donkey

What a piece of crap album. Seriously, at what point after penning awesome dance-jams such as “Alala” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” does a band decide, “Hey, let’s just scrap all that nonesense and make a record that sounds EXACTLY like the Ting Tings?” I’m blaming it on Sub Pop, but let’s hope it’s just a sophomore slump.

5. Ghostland Observatory – Robotique Majestique

“Heavy Heart” and “Dancing On My Grave” are two of the best club bangers of the year. That being said, the rest of this album is hit-or-miss, littered with throwaway cuts and electronic mishaps. This Austin duo should probably re-listen to Paparazzi Lightning before logging back onto the Mac for a follow-up.

4. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

I’m gonna go easy on Spencer in this paragraph; in actuality, this album isn’t really that bad. There are some key moments, like the ever-catchy “Language City” and the bouncy “Call It a Ritual.” And don’t even get me started on how awesome “Soldier’s Grin” is. The only reason this album ranks so high on the disappointment scale is because it had to follow up to Apologies to the Queen Mary. And when that’s the case, and you’ve got even a little bit of filler, you’re destined to be a second-rate record in comparison.

3. Beck – Modern Guilt

Mr. Hansen has run out of ideas. There, I said it. Someone explain to me what this record has to offer that Beck hasn’t already accomplished on previous works? Other than the fact that Danger Mouse is behind this boring, boring LP? Like most records on this list, Modern Guilt isn’t terrible: “Gamma Ray” and the title track are great for a new Beck fix, but after Guero, I find myself wondering if re-hashing old sounds and subtleties is the sound of this maturing 90’s pop craftsman.

2. Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty

If there’s one word to describe this album, it’s “filler.” Loyalty to Loyalty is chock-full of junk that is ambitious, yet ultimately typical of a new band trying new things on a second LP. You’ve got to hand it to these guys, at least they’re making a cohesive effort. And sometimes, they really pull it off (“Relief” is stellar). But I’m hoping more back-to-basics tracks are being penned for the third LP. Here’s to 2010!

1. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – Cardinology

Yes, Ryan, we get it. You’re a workaholic. But unlike most incessant songwriters, you choose to release everything you write, all the time. Even the subpar stuff. And, unfortunately, that’s all Cardinology is: simple alt-country that sounds like Easy Tiger filler. In all reality, that’s probably exactly what all these cuts are. Take a break, Ryan. Enjoy your wealth. Fight with Courtney again. But most importantly, take the time to pen better songs. The Heartbreaker and Cold Roses fans miss you.

Polka Dot Dot Dot

You know what I love and not embarrassed to tell the whole world (or at least whoever decides to give me the pleasure of reading this): the myspace. It has allowed so much music out there to be discovered at the tips of my fingers. I have found so many great bands through myspace. The one I have been listening to the most is Polka Dot Dot Dot.

POLKA DOT DOT DOT is a band from Olympia, Washington. They are a trio featuring Jordan O Jordan, Onyx of Olympia, and Miss Spindleheart. I remember the pleasure of seeing them in Amarillo during this summer and it was a great show. There were not many people at this little coffee shop called The 806, but still they put on a great show. They took everything from banjos, guitars, bells, ukuleles, handclaps, shakers, and saws to make their delightful sound. If I could give you one little tidbit, it would be to check out this band from Olympia called Polka Dot Dot Dot.

-Snuffy

http://www.myspace.com/thepolkadotdotdot

Kid Gorgeous Reviews TV on the Radio’s new album, “Dear Science,”

Greetings KTXT listeners, this is Kid Gorgeous bringing to you the first album review for our blog, The Couch. And to start things off I get a chance to review TV on the Radios 3rd album, “Dear Science,.” Now usually when a band starts out their career with two critically acclaimed albums, it means their music can only go one way, and that’s down. Making three albums (and one EP) in a row that critics universally love is a rare thing in music today. Most bands can debut with a spectacular album and never reach that greatness again in their career, but TV on the Radio has gone against the odds and become one of the few that can consistently put out great music.

Originally from New York, TVOTR first gained the attention of America with their debut EP, “Young Liars” which first showed off their unique style of experimental art music. After this was their debut full-length album “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes.” This album not only gained the band major attention from several music publications and websites, but also helped them to win the 2004 Shortlist Music Prize, beating other big artists of the year like Dizzee Rascal, Franz Ferdinand, and The Streets. Their follow up album, “Return to Cookie Mountain”, became an even bigger success. The album landed on several top 10 lists for 2006, including both Spin and Rolling Stone. Now when talk came about of TVOTR releasing their third album this year, I admittedly didn’t think much of it. Most bands that make two, or even just one good album usually can’t make much more after that. I could make a list of bands like this but in all honesty, the majority of bands in the indie world fit into this category. So obviously my natural instinct was “this album’s probably gonna suck.” But then I heard the track “Dancing Choose,” and I couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t just good it was awesome. It was different, fun and made me hopeful for this album, and I will tell you right now, I was not disappointed.

When a band begins making a new record, they either do the same thing over and over, or they try something so different that it’s like listening to another band. What TV on the Radio does on “Dear Science” is that they try out new things but still maintain their own unique style. TVOTR go for a slightly less dark sound with this album and were able to create some of the most danceable and fun music they’ve ever made. The first track, “Halfway Home,” kicks off the album with a sense of positivity. Kind of slow but has a lining of optimism. The next track, “Crying,” starts to add a little bit of dance influence to their music. Don’t let the title fool you; crying is the last thing you will think of when you hear this track. So far TVOTR doesn’t make any huge strides to change their style, however once you get to track three, “Dancing Choose,” the band takes a turn in a completely different direction. Quick lyrics, drum machines, and a danceable sound that I’ve never heard from this band make this song entirely different than anything TV on the Radio has done before, and it’s different in a good way.

The first single off “Dear Science,” is track number five, “Golden Age.” Now I don’t know if it’s the song itself or just the crazy video made for this song, but this track just oozes bright colors and happiness. I know that sounds weird but if you watch the video for this song you’ll agree with me. After this, the band slows everything down for the very atmospheric “Family Tree,” but everything picks right back up again with “Red Dress.” The album stays true to the new “danceable yet still very arty” style throughout the rest of the album. The album’s last track, “Lover’s Day,” closes out the album with a big ending. Much like the final scene in a big epic movie, this track serves as the ending to an album that defies all odds for one of the best modern indie bands.

Overall, “Dear Science” is an awesome album. When comparing it to TV on the Radios other releases, this album really can’t be compared. It’s different but it’s still TVOTR, which is what bands need to look at when trying to stay alive in the music industry. If you like TVOTR, get this album, if you like music you can dance and chill to, get this album. I love this album and it is definitely one of the best albums of 2008 so far.