Earl Greyhound – Ancient Futures EP


Intricately laced, full-bodied sounds reminiscent of the psychedelic era. Brownie point.

Vocals that carry an intimate, raw quality. Brownie point.

A clear range in sound from dirty grunge to jazzy vocals. Earl Greyhound’s latest Ancient Futures keeps racking up the points.

What is especially ear catching about the album is its lifelike quality. Close your eyes and you are with the band, entwined in sound. Matt Whyte’s gentle, vocally dominated lead into “Hellhound” functions to clear the acoustical palate. All other sounds cancel out as Whyte coaxes the listener into a provocative, but perfectly dirty, heavily grunged chorus that makes up for the musical minimalism throughout the majority of the piece.

All other sounds cancel out as Whyte coaxes the listener into a provocative, but perfectly dirty, heavily grunged chorus that makes up for the musical minimalism throughout the majority of the piece.

Overcompensating for the sparing sounds used in “Hellhound” is “Lady Laser,” a brazen, female-fueled anthem. Kamora Thomas displays strength in vocals through the many moods of the song. The piece runs from forceful, with strong vocals mirrored by the equally bold bass riffs, to the light guitar riffs that match vocals that carry an eerie doll-like tone.

Detailing that is used is what distinguishes the song. An echo is used to complement Thomas’ vocals, creating a “futuristic” sci-fi aspect. It makes an otherwise unnoteworthy rock piece take on an otherworldly tone.

The apex of the short, but brilliant, track list is the 10-minute long patchwork of soul, harmony and out of body experience titled “The Fall and Rise of Mu,” a song  as equally epic as the title suggests.

Thomas’ previously commanding vocals fade, losing the fullness, and instead, taking on an ethereal, even ghostly quality. She, like Whyte, uses the power of her voice to function like gravity, drawing everything in so that time; space; nothing else matters but the transcendental journey depicted.

“The Fall and Rise of Mu” carries so much depth, mostly because the length of the track allows Earl Greyhound the ability to really get into a groove.

Outlined by an angelic guitar, symbol, chime combination, the piece starts out much lighter than its predecessors. Told from a first-person point of view, Thomas creates an image of the world falling away. She sings of life in retrospect “as the ocean swallowed and tore the ground.” As she goes down, so does the music. She cries, “What have we done?” and just as the piece seems to peter out, it resurrects with an unexpectedly rock sound.

“The Fall and Rise of Mu” carries so much depth, mostly because the length of the track allows Earl Greyhound the ability to really get into a groove. It’s not just about counting beats or getting the timing exactly right. The ocean in the piece represents the music itself; it washes over the listener, consuming him or her, as it takes a turn to transcend the generations.

By the end of the journey, the band borrows Jefferson Airplane’s sound, where the instruments blend together as Ricc Sheridan’s drumming, or rather cymbal work, takes over and highlights Thomas as she channels her inner Grace Slick.

Ancient Futures brings back the days of Floyd and Zeppelin, when music wasn’t listened to; it was experienced.

Ancient Futures Tracklisting

1. Hellhound

2. Lady Laser

3. The Fall and Rise of Mu

Bruce Springsteen - The Promise album artwork Bruce Springsteen – The Promise


The Boss has never been a concise individual. His 1978 album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, was deemed a commercial failure upon its release, due in large part to following the 1975 breakthrough Born to Run. It was an unfortunate circumstance considering, Darkness on the Edge may be Springsteen’s most well-crafted album from start to finish.

With the release of The Promise, listeners hear Darkness on the Edge finally receiving the appreciation it has always deserved. Several different packages coincide with the release (a vinyl box set, a multi-DVD/CD release, etc.) that appeal to casual listeners and die-hard fans alike. While the remastered album serves as a nice touch-up, the appeal to long-time listeners is the inclusion of 21 previously unreleased takes from the Darkness on the Edge sessions.

The unreleased material opens with a familiar yet slightly different bang. “Racing in the Streets (’78)” is a reworked version of the classic “Racing in the Streets,” and it somehow outdoes the original.

Springsteen’s vocals are more visceral and Boss-like than on the album version, while the E-Street Band’s presence is amplified with dense layers of instrumentation.

While the original version fits with the album’s tone perfectly, it is this version that proves to be the better stand-alone track.

Other familiar, slightly different, faces pop up during the course of The Promise. “Candy’s Boy” is an alternate version of “Candy’s Room” that bares almost no resemblance, save for lyrics in the first verse of each song. Later in the collection there is the utterly eerie “Spanish Eyes,” which didn’t see a proper release until the 1984 commercial success Born in the U.S.A., where it was reworked into the pedophilia infused “I’m on Fire.”

In both tracks, the lines “Hey, little girl is your daddy home?/Did he go and leave you all alone?” are equally as unsettling, but given the increased musical and lyrical duration of “Spanish Eyes,” Springsteen is able to expound upon his deepest, most unnatural fantasies in greater detail. It’s an interesting version of a song that would become one of Springsteen’s best.

The content that wasn’t reused later displays both Springsteen’s songwriting capabilities and the E-Street Band’s versatility. “Save My Love” is a straightforward rocker that hints at what was to come on The River, and stands alongside that album’s strongest offerings. “Ain’t Good Enough For You” is a soul-infused track that is great in the hands of Springsteen, and could have found a home on any Sam Cooke album.

The Promise shows Bruce on top of his game for most of the collection, but there are a few huge mistakes.

“Someday (We’ll Be Together)” boasts an overused choir that is reminiscent of an old Gospel hymn, but is overly redundant and lacks a payoff. Songs such as “Rendezvous” and “Breakaway” never get moving and lazily dredge their course with little reward.

The Promise is an arduous listen, due in large part to its staggering amount of content, but it is well worth the effort. While not every track is essential, it is a great companion piece to one of Springsteen’s best works. There are enough stand-alone gems and truly interesting alternate versions to make it a worthy addition for even the most casual Springsteen fan.

The Promise Tracklisting

[Disc 1]

  1. Racing In The Street (’78)
  2. Gotta Get That Feeling
  3. Outside Looking In
  4. Someday (We’ll Be Together)
  5. One Way Street
  6. Because The Night
  7. Wrong Side Of The Street
  8. The Brokenhearted
  9. Rendezvous
  10. Candy’s Boy

[Disc 2]

  1. Save My Love
  2. Ain’t Good Enough For You
  3. Fire
  4. Spanish Eyes
  5. It’s A Shame
  6. Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)
  7. Talk To Me
  8. The Little Things (My Baby Does)
  9. Breakaway
  10. The Promise
  11. City Of Night
Kid Cudi Man on the Moon II 2 The Legend of Mr. Rager album artwork Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager


We live in the age of the hip-hop persona.

Gone are the days of the hip-hop group like A Tribe Called Qwest or the Roots, as well as the boat-dancing gangster rap of Blueprint-era Jay-Z. Instead, we have a bevy of hip-hop artists who have crafted distinct identities for themselves, even if those identities almost constantly change. Lil Wayne is an alien. T.I. is the King of the South. Kanye West is the art school college dropout. Drake is the Canadian upstart.

In one of the most pronounced and consistent examples, Kid Cudi is the spaceman of rap, the disaffected emo drunk who’s not quite sure what to do with himself.

On his second proper LP, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Cudi completes his transformation into rap’s emo mastermind, crafting a cunning brew of spacey Drake dark-hop, emo lyrics and stoned indie pop that works almost as much as it doesn’t, which makes this quite possibly the most tonally consistent Cudi release yet.

It is not to say that Rager is Cudi’s best work. He’s never been able to live up to “Day N’ Nite,” and here he seems to realize it, but instead of crafting a set of songs attempting to reach higher ground, Cudi wallows in his own self-pity about his premature 15 minutes, spitting half-verses with hardly any wordplay and expecting the beats to help him out.  At a painfully long 17 tracks with nary a skit to break up the album, Rager is a struggle to get through once it hits track 12.

The lion’s share of the production goes to Emile who, just like on The End of the Day, is the real power behind Cudi’s throne. His arena music “We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)” is sadly not given a full 3:30 minutes, even if it’s the best beat on the record. Best of all, Emile can claim no association to “REVOFEV,” the disgrace of a first single that Cudi beats half to death with tried “woah woahs” before gracefully ending and transferring into some more pot-rap.

Cudi doesn’t hide that he’s a drug-addled miscreant here. He makes lame jokes (“Ashin Kusher”), spends two songs telling people to shut up and let him be (“Don’t Play This Song” and “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”), then spends the remainder of the record rehashing the fact that yes, he wears skinny jeans and yes, he gets far too high.

Thankfully, Cudi seems more at home in the music, and Rager is far less sleep-inducing than Thank Me Later. Most of the tracks have redeeming visceral qualities, and when you’re not paying attention to the inanity of a song like “Marijuana” or “All Along,” Cudi’s music serviceably occupies the space of “chillout party mix.”

Then there’s “Erase Me.” Baffling for a laundry list of reasons, namely its tinny guitar punch placed on such an otherwise subdued and bass heavy LP, Cudi’s foray into rock raises an interesting question—is it any good? It’s produced in a clumsy hip-hop meets hair metal fashion by Jim Jonsin’ to the point where it actually sounds less mixed than Wayne’s Rebirth. It’s got the laziest Kanye rap in years, something of a feat considering the white-hot hitting streak he has been on recently.  However, when that chorus ends after just one callback following Kanye’s verse, the mouse subtly wanders over to the rollback button and those drums start hitting again.

“Erase Me” isn’t as groan inducing as much of Rebirth was. On an album that cops so much from other rappers, Cudi can take solace in finally one-upping Lil Wayne.

Rager is a slight step to the side for Cudi, who was on a good lyrical run with the closing of End of the Day. He largely reverts himself to sounding like a drugged up idiot, but the beats are far more consistent and enthralling. Still, Kid Cudi’s newest album sounds a lot like his first two—alarmingly and sadly scattershot.

Tallest Man on Earth – Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird


Song and dance man Kristian Matsson returns a mere five months after the release of The Wild Hunt with an EP’s worth of tracks recorded on tour. The 27-year-old Swede’s meteoric rise is remarkable considering the relative obscurity he’s managed to maintain. By now, he’s fully come into his own—any fan will immediately recognize the sepia-toned images, the vast landscapes, the ambient birdsong, even the typeface that adorns his albums.

If The Wild Hunt was Matsson’s public face, Sometimes the Blues Is Just A Passing Bird delves into the world of the self. Each of the songs plays as a standalone, pastoral vignette, a little conversation or a hastily scribbled note to a friend. There are the recurring characters—the sparrow, the wheel, clouds. It’s music for a Sunday afternoon; languid and longingly melancholy. The unassuming simplicity breeds mystery.

Even with his guard down, The Tallest Man on Earth doesn’t claim to be anything other than what he is.

It’s folk music in its most canonical sense, music of the people; easy on the ears and at its most intrinsic level just a man and a guitar. That’s not to say there aren’t the familiar elements of his style. Expect the crystalline fingerstyle, the heartwrenching howl, the living room intimacy and, for the first time, an electric guitar.

“Please let the kindness of forgettin’ set me free,” he croons on the single, “Like the Wheel.” Listen closely and you hear the barking of a dog, the soft playing of a piano, the creaking of wood. With no element in the foreground, you can almost hear the space and feel the breeze blowing through the open window.

Inevitably parallels continue to be drawn to Bob Dylan. Even though Matsson neither resembles the bard in art, nor pretends to be him (he does make homage to ‘boots of Spanish leather’), critics will scream themselves silly with comparisons. If it wasn’t clear by The Wild Hunt, the young artist is on a path all of his own. Sometimes the Blues puts it beyond debate—here is the Tallest Man on Earth doing the Tallest Man on Earth.

The tone of the stories is neither sentimental nor nihilistic. He presents a harrowing emotion and just as one relishes in it, it flies away.

Matsson is unafraid to explore human hurt–he knows he’ll lead you out safely. The EP is self-evidence that, as he says, “There is always someone out there who will listen.” It reads like an admission of his own lack of answers, or strength.  And though “sometimes the blues is just a passing bird” The Tallest Man on Earth wants to know, “why can’t that always be?”

Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird Tracklisting:

  1. Little River
  2. The Dreamer
  3. Like The Wheel
  4. Tangle In This Trampled Wheat
  5. Thrown Right At Me
Weezer - Death to False Metal album artwork Weezer – Death to False Metal


It’s difficult being a fan of Weezer.

In the mid-’90s, the band was busy creating decade-defining works. Since then, it has been releasing albums that range from boringly mediocre to offensively bad.

Since the 2008 release of its third self-titled offering, affectionately known as The Red Album, Weezer has been in a heightened state of activity. Hot on the heels of the band’s last album, Hurley, Weezer offers the world Death to False Metal.

According to the band, many of the songs were unreleased tracks from previous efforts that never found a place on a proper release. They were safely packed away on a shelf for a reason — because most of them are awful. Combine the fact that the songs were recorded by modern day Weezer and you have recipe for disaster.

Death to False Metal is what one would come to expect from the pop-rock act. There are moments of promise that are marred by poor lyrical choices, stagnant musical interludes and lazy rehashing.

Despite the negative connotations that come along with a new Weezer album, there are some great moments on this collection.

A good chunk of the album is nonsensical garbage. “Blowin’ My Stack” and “I’m a Robot” border on horrendous. However, there are a precious few moments where Weezer stops telling an unfunny inside joke and actually plays music. “I Don’t Want Your Lovin’” is a straightforward rock song with a gigantic chorus that avoids all of Weezer’s usual missteps. It’s one of the few times in the last decade that the band hasn’t ruined a perfectly good song by consciously trying to be goofy.

As the collection progresses, Weezer keeps hinting at greatness, and can still occasionally achieve it.

On the string-laden ballad “Losing My Mind,” Cuomo laments “I just wanna find the thrill/That I felt once before/I’m losing my mind.” It’s an attempted indictment of a hard partying lifestyle, something that is reminiscent of the band’s high watermark, Pinkerton.

As soon as the ballad fades, Weezer takes itself back to mid-’90s with the Nirvana inspired “Everyone.” The song feels right at home alongside classic Pinkerton-era tracks such as “Getchoo” and “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly,” but is hindered by modern recording that makes “Everyone” lose its musical relevance.

After a fairly strong first half, Death to False Metal loses momentum. Weezer taps into its pop sensibilities and the result is egregiously bad. The second half of the collection finds a saving grace in “Trampoline,” which could have found a home on 2001’s The Green Album. Unfortunately, Weezer is constantly finding reasons to be inane. A straightforward cover of Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” is a waste of the listeners’ time, and the cringe-worthy “I’m a Robot” displays Weezer’s inability to give a shit anymore.

Death to False Metal is an incredibly spotty listen from start to finish. The high points are hooky and rewarding, but the low points are astonishingly mediocre. If this was a four-song EP, it would be an enjoyable listen, but in the context of a 10-track album, it’s hardly worth the effort.

Matt and Kim - Sidewalks album artwork Matt & Kim – Sidewalks


Setting up camp in the ATL has yielded a throw-your-hands-in-the-air appeal for Matt & Kim, giving them more than the normal simplistic piano and drum synth-punk they have been wielding for the public since 2006.

Putting together their third album Sidewalks with producer Ben Allen of Gnarls Barkley fame, Matt & Kim have given the world a new way to look at their one-dimensional garage sound.

The duo still clings to their trademark offbeat vocals and hard punk drumming, but allow for a Southern California feel with a typical New York borough facade.  The album cover screams Brooklyn living and is complete with graffiti-covered buildings. It’s all hip-hop hints on the inside, though.

“Block After Block” opens Sidewalks and instantly sets the stage for cruising with the top down just before sunset.  The album’s first single “Cameras” follows suit with a continuous cadence that co-mingles with synth riffs and a heavy horn section.  Even “Good For Great” consorts with a big band sound. The summertime cookout atmosphere is reminiscent of Snoop and Dre rolling in their six-fo’s.

There are a handful of child-like songs scattered throughout the album.  “Wires” is cute.  It carries the torch passed along by Schroeder from Peanuts with Matt’s use of toy piano.  “AM/FM Sound” and “Ice Melts” are notes of the ‘80s torn from the pages of time.  They’re both cartoon like, and “Ice Melts” is scarily similar to “California Girls.”

“Red Paint” sounds like background pursuit music from Logan’s Run, while “Where You’re Coming From” has a murder mystery appeal.

The standout on Sidewalks is “Silver Tiles.”  The hard kick drum thumps like a beating heart during the intro, which resonates with epic tenacity, ultimately leading into echoing vocals and swirling Casio synths.  The strict lilt of the refrain is continuous, contorting a minimal tune into well-designed musical origami. With the sing-along backing and soaring libretto, this number could easily be a graduation song for any class of 2011.

Sidewalks is a neatly wrapped noise tour covered in well-produced beats comparable to Diddy or Jay-Z.  Matt & Kim are adding to their resume and broadening their gaze across the big sea of pop music.  Keep your eyes on the horizon; it seems their ship may be coming in.

Tumbledown Empty Bottle album artwork Tumbledown – Empty Bottle


With punk infused riffs supported by a dragging slide guitar Tumbledown’s second studio album, Empty Bottle has a cavalcade of whiskey drinking honky tonk tunes hell bent on expressing the weekend bender with a rockabilly twist.

This stumbling drunk full-length album throws down a booze swilling journey through memory (or lack thereof) lane as the boys of Tumbledown show that they are what they are a “lil’ bit western and a lil’ bit punk rawk.” In the midst of a long tour last year, the band has birthed a new genre of music called pop punkabilly.

Fronted by MxPx mainstay Mike Herrera with a trio of music-slaying troubadours, Tumbledown takes a look at the woes of drifting from town to town, love and drinking to forget.

Opening with the bouncy drum line of “Places in this Town,” the progression from Tumbledown’s first album, which packed a mostly rockabilly sound, to its new more pop punk country infused sound is obvious. Continuing in the same vein, “Meet the Devil,” “Arrested in El Paso Blues” and “St. Peter” combine a punk sound, shaken and not stirred, with a twist of country.  It brings the band’s new music fusion to light and doesn’t pull any punches.

Carrying the lyrical theme of the album, “Empty Bottle,” “A Thousand More Times” and “Drink to Forget” pinpoint hardcore drinking as a coping method. All three tracks are stacked with Herrera on the acoustic guitar and backed with roving bass lines and high throttle drumming.

The hottest song on the album is “Dead Man Walking.”  It starts out with a deep acoustic riff, reminiscent of Johnny Cash covering Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage,” and an echo in the lead guitar that gives a full body to a deep, brooding song. “Dead man walking on a trail that’s grown so cold” resonates with those who have worked their way from town to town and bar to bar in hopes of escaping the pains of ill-begotten, lonely lives.

The only answer lies at the bottom of an empty bottle and when the night is all said and done, its time to move on.  It’s the quintessential anthem of the rambler.

The closing track “Not Hung Over (A True Story)” has the perfect combination of stand-up bass, twangy guitar and acoustic appeal.  When it’s married with Herrera’s stabbing voice, the song puts a perfect end to an excellently mastered and recorded album of newly minted pop punkabilly tunes.

Though Herrera and the boys don’t want to be tied down to any specific sound, it’s hard not to say they are hatching a new genre for the rest of the world to enjoy.  Drinking, fighting and forgetting are each a must in rockabilly and country music cultures, and Tumbledown is a vehicle serving up that message in massive doses.

Bryan Ferry - Olympia album artwork with kate moss Bryan Ferry – Olympia


At 65, you would think that former Roxy Music front man Bryan Ferry would become a bit more conservative in his music.

However, with a career that has survived the free love of the ‘70s and the extreme style of the ‘80s, modest is never an option.  As suave as Barry Manilow (and about as old as him), Ferry is out to prove sexuality knows no age, with his 2010 release Olympia.

The record takes a complete 180 from its predecessor, Dylanesque, with a femme fatal-ized Kate Moss, splayed on the album cover, alluding to the verbal seduction inside.

Initially released as a single, “You Can Dance,” kicks off the album, throwing listeners who are expecting a throwback to old school Roxy Music through the ringer. With its rock sound, the piece is uncharacteristic of Ferry.

He sings, “I’ve been raving through the night looking for some company.” Bolstered by a backdrop of enticing electric riffs, as the piece conjures an almost vampiric allure.

Continuing in haunting manner, “Alphaville” includes a lusty foreign female voice in the beginning of the piece. Ferry’s breathy vocals come in alongside a soulful jam session, perfectly seasoned by industry veterans.

Similar to “Alphaville,” in “Shameless,” Ferry channels his prior days as a UK heartthrob while he croons about being “Fatefully entwined / In a shameless world.”

Musically, the piece is solid. The tech-inspired background beats are well composed, creating hypnotic layers of sound, rather than being tacky and overpowering. Aside from “Reason or Rhyme,” “Shameless” is probably the best track on the album.

At nearly seven minutes, “Reason Or Rhyme” is the longest track on the album, but it is by far the best. Ferry’s vocals take a backseat to an elegant blend of intricate piano and guitar work inspired by the best of ‘70’s psychedelia.

In the nearly two full vocal-free minutes in the middle of the piece, the instruments play on each other, creating layers with rock-inspired guitar and a smooth, timeless piano. Each piece fits effortlessly together, with no sound or lyric is out of place.

No Bryan Ferry album would be complete without a butchered cover track. The first victim is the Tim Buckley original “Song to the Siren.”

Buckley’s version is sweet and uncomplicated, with deep vocals accompanied by a mellow guitar and the faint sounds of strings.

Ferry’s take on the song brings back the worst of ‘80s music, with overly elaborate synth.

Next on the cover chopping block is Traffic’s “No Face, No Name, No Number.” Like “Song to the Siren,” the original copy is timeless, driven by the band’s characteristic psychedelic sound. Yet again, Ferry gives into his compulsive tendency to over accessorize, making the same ‘80s centric mistake as he did on the prior track.

Closing the album, “Tender is the Night” showcases the artist’s weakness, as he laments, “At the best of times I feel misunderstood.” The track is oddly honest of him, perhaps exposing some all too real insecurities.

Regardless, the vulnerability is a refreshing insight to the 65-year-old’s true state of mind.

Pomegranates - One of Us album artwork Pomegranates – One of Us


It’s hard to know where to start with Cincinnati’s Pomegranates, and even more challenging to describe the aural space they create. The quartet is all over the map stylistically on their third album, One of Us, but that’s not a bad thing. The initial track sonically echoes the tuning up and hubbub at the beginning of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and creates a latticework of harp-like guitars, but the introduction is deceptive, like the rest of the record. It turns into a straight-ahead rock track with smooth androgynous vocals over the top, then falls apart at the end. The track leads into “50’s” which has more of an anthemic ‘80’s Brit-pop vibe, from The Mighty Lemon Drops type of music to the falsetto Bronski Beat-esque vocals.

Musical maturity and psychedelic sounds on One of Us are matched by intelligent lyrics that narrarate dreams.

The first two tracks are a microcosm of One Of Us. One moment there’s a celebration of the heyday of Echo and the Bunnymen (“Prouncer”) and the next their love is spiraling into a maelstrom that echoes the “Doctor Who” theme (“White Fawn”). Pulsing bass lines and rocket-powered drums propel most of the songs, while electronic keyboard parts ascend and descend, providing a sound like tinkling bells, and it’s gripping and entrancing throughout.

Highlight and first single “Prouncer” and “Skull Cakin’” are the most accessible rockers, whereas the title cut and “Anywhere You Go” are more ambient and chillaxed; the acceleration and deceleration of tape on the latter may be gimmicky, but it works. Pomegranates go from the beautiful piano ballad of “Between Two Dreams” to chiming, rhyming guitars on “Create Your Own Reality.” The more earthbound narrative stutter-step rock of “Anywhere You Go” vamps for a bit á la Hall and Oates but reveals itself to be more harmonically akin to Howard Jones, a welcome shift.

“The Positive Light,” which features the band’s first use of strings, sounds like a whisky-soaked Mick Jagger lost in a Kitchens of Distinction storefront, while “Into the Water, Into the Air” is like Donovan singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” backed by trippy electronica glitch-pop (see Neon Indian).

Musical maturity and psychedelic sounds on One of Us are matched by intelligent lyrics that narrarate dreams, characterized by lines like “The face you were making, it got stuck in my mind/Like a painting of some other time/And the air folded up in two, into an airplane that was carrying you/To some place far away” and “the water you were drinking turned into rain” from “Prouncer.”

There is a shared musical affinity with shambling slacker Afternoon labelmates The Poison Control Center, but one always gets the sense that Pomegranates have their approach under control and are thoroughly dedicated to recreating beautiful dreams, as opposed to exploring the underbelly of nightmares as TPCC does.

One of Us never fails to surprise and inspire—more proof for the world that vocals, guitar, bass and drums can never be limited when such boundless creativity is properly engaged.

Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea album artwork Brian Eno – Small Craft On a Milk Sea


Small Craft on a Milk Sea is the next chapter in Brian Eno’s singular vision expressed through brief explorations of instrumental electronic music.  Although his ambient tendencies are expressed in abundance, there’s much more happening.

This is not another Another Green World. Despite beginning with “Emerald and Lime” the picture is not as green as it first seems.  Eno chooses the lime, a bright green natural fruit that contains acidic juices, and the emerald, a natural green gemstone that has come to represent the Emerald City, governed by a weak puppeteer of engineered intimidation.  Yet, the song is a beautiful meditation, a keyboard-driven piece that sets the table for the rest of the record.  It’s like a Cocteau Twins composition (circa Blue Bell Knoll) with the drums removed and tempo slowed down by half.

Even heaven is paved with broken glass for Eno.

“Complex Heaven” is introduced by feedback dissonance, as if to remind the listener that although clouds can be beautiful to see, they taste metallic for a reason.  The title track sounds like minimalist Phillip Glass on a harpsichord (with helicopters everywhere), but picks up on a riff and sets up the next track, which kicks off raucously.

As the songs advance sequentially, it’s clear that Small Craft On a Milk Sea is a collection of reflections on humankind’s impact on the earth.

It provides the perfect application of titular criticism, the school of thought that postulates that art can be evaluated based upon the titles alone, given that there is a poetic relationship between the title of a work and the content itself.  For the title of record, Eno sets his boat afloat on a milk sea, a large body of nature’s purest liquid, yet he selects “craft”(a product of humankind’s making) to identify the vessel.

Examples of his sonic scenery abound:  “Flint March” features the Trans-Siberian Express accelerating to a regular rhythm.  It’s the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in sound, and likewise the glitch-tech extravaganza of “Horse” is an analogy to the leap from horses to horsepower.

“Paleosonic” introduces an electric guitar riff that becomes integral in the rhythm scheme (it’s reminiscent of his work with Robert Fripp) and crescendos into something that actually rocks, with a “Day In The Life”-style culmination, albeit through Eno’s ambient electronic lens.  It’s a rare rocker amongst the more sedate selections here, as is “2 Forms of Anger,” which rocks out so much that it borders on NYC No Wave similar to Sonic Youth.

“Slow Ice, Old Moon” pulls the motion out and explores the soundscape once again, and by the time of “Lesser Heaven” (diminished by humankind’s environmental destruction) the sound builds to a frothy, frosty head then dissipates like a vapor.  The “Calcium Needles” sound like broken buoy bells broadcasting a warning on the waves through the fog, then echoed with tinkling keyboards that swoop down like seagulls alighting on the water’s surface.

“Emerald and Stone” echoes the opening track and strips the essence bare to piano only, but still paints the silence with negative space.  This would be the perfect wedding march to execute after the deckchairs have gone overboard as the last half of the “Titanic” were to slip slowly into the sea.

The next new age couple with the opportunity (and degrees in geology or environmental studies) would do well to choose the opener “Emerald and Lime” as their prelude and “Emerald and Stone” as their wedding march.

By the time of the final track, “Late Anthropocene,” Eno’s intentions are crystal clear.  Anthropocene is a term coined in 2000 to refer to the ecological/geological period starting with the Industrial Revolution that signaled humankind’s most significant impact on the earth’s natural systems, and he clearly feels that the earth is late in the game, echoes of hope notwithstanding.

Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown album artwork Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown


On first listen, Come Around Sundown, the latest release from Tennessee rock group Kings of Leon, is barely worth a second spin; however, the positives have a way of poking through.

While there are parts where the instrumentation overshadows Caleb Followill’s vocals, his sore, raspy voice, whether contrived or natural, continues to work for the listeners.  

The album takes some time to find its groove, but four songs in and the audience can forget that this is the same band responsible for pulling the heart strings of bro-tastic men across the nation in need of “somebody.”

The fourth song,  “Mary,” though not a familiar sound for Kings of Leon, is the necessary turning point.  The song’s beach vibe catches listeners’ attention and gives the album life. The song is rocking, swaying and bee-bopping all at once.

Matt Followill’s first attempt at slide guitar can be heard in “Back Down South” and, according to cousin Caleb, was the inspiration for the whole song. The slide driven, slow moving  jingle joyfully picks up tempo as more instruments join throughout the song. The instrumentation is a full on country two step dance, while the singing gives it that good ol’ rock feel.  It’s a great candidate for a country-crossover hit.

The band ventures out of their comfort zone only a few times on this album, which only helps. Kings of Leon has stuck to its sound, while continuing to evolve as a band. One example of this transgression is “Beachside.” The album tends to drone a bit and songs like “Beachside” help break up the drab continuity. The smooth sound of the guitars with the bumping bass gives it more of an upbeat-ambient mix and less of a rock one, making it a pleasant listen.

The bright parts of the album, such as “Back Down South” and “Pony Up” definitely carry the weight for an album already burdened with heavy expectations. However, it’s simply not enough for the dark areas like “Birthday” and “Mi Amigo, ” which only add to the abundant slow driving songs.

“Pick Up Truck” is the last and longest song on Come Around Sundown. It is also quite possibly the best song on the album, showcasing Caleb’s voice and conveying strong emotions.

In an interview on the band’s website the guys confess to being in love with the “romance of the southern man.” They speak of romance with great passion,  but have failed to get the point across in the music and perhaps did a better job of that on the last effort. However, it is clear this is an album the band made for themselves and the fans, and though they’ve taken some definite risks by branching out, it’s paid off.

The audience will go home happy with this one.

Warpaint - The Fool album cover Warpaint – The Fool


Feminism is still in session.

Politics and sports all provide individual examples, but one need  look no further than music’s doorstep to see that the female DJ imbalance continues, even though sexuality is an essential ingredient in pop music. However, we can now add Warpaint to the purportedly shortening list of modern examples; four young Echo Falls women who shred their instruments have reopened old wounds.

The way they look, the clothes they wear and their celebrity friends have all made a louder noise than the music they create.

The “female Nirvana” were denied a chance of succeeding on its own merit. On the most basic level, the band’s debut album The Fool puts to rest all those misconceptions and pre-ordained facts, while diffusing the hysterical buzz that surrounds the group. Outside of the music, there is much to be cleared up (John Frusciante’s involvement, Heath Ledger’s seal of approval, the celebrity siblings) but all of this is ignored on record.

The eponymous centre-piece crests a jarring barrage of bass before a thrilling coda, alone on an album devoid of notable choruses and peaks. The biggest mistake would be to consider this ambient music. Warpaint demands your attention, but the satisfaction and understanding of The Fool comes with time.

Lead single “Undertow” is a defiantly blunt exploration of what the band is capable of, adding 110 crucial seconds to the promo edit. Lyrical ambiguity – “What’s the matter/You hurt yourself?” – spars with a brutal instrumental that is soft, yet abrasive and ultimately thrilling.

The live experience is a vital part of Warpaint’s appeal, and The Fool sticks incredibly close to this.

The sparse production lines up a few common factors: the vocal mix is endearingly off-kilter, offset against unabating bass and intricate guitar lines. During the early parts of Warpaints career, the music came from epic jam-sessions, and some of these winding compositions share that intimate, experimental feel. “Billie Holiday” finds a replacement in “Baby,” which trades in the brutal production for softer acoustic tones, emulating that hippie, singalong appeal

Toying with processed effects on “Bees” or a hypnotic piano arpeggio on album closer “Lissie’s Heart Murmur,” it is clear that there is far more in the tank.  After officially forming in 2004, they tinkered with a core group of tracks that made up the foundation of the Exquisite Corpse EP. “Stars”, “Elephants” and “Billie Holiday” are all live staples, yet the lengthy buildup to release explain their decision to include all new material.

Somehow, The Fool manages to ride out the wave of fanatical hysteria without sacrificing any of the character that made the band’s earlier material promising. Warpaint is not designed for mass consumption, nor have we ever expected the recorded output to match the band’s onstage majesty, but The Fool goes a long way in proving that this is a band who will continue to surprise. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as you would expect.