New Zookeeper Album – Pink Chalk! Whoa!

Just a few days ago, I posted an OLD track from the band Mineral. The band put out a couple great albums and 7″‘s, but then broke up. The singer, Chris Simpson when on to front The Gloria Record – which was hands down amazing. After that, he has done a project called Zookeeper.  Some good tracks. Great news – Zookeeper just announced a new album.   
Very exciting! 
For good measure, here is a Gloria Record and Zookeeper track to further whet your appetite!
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Album Review: The Get Up Kids – There are Rules

Initial Thoughts Album Review
There Are Rules

After a first listen, I am a bit lot for words.  If I didn’t recognize Pryor and Suptic’s voices, I would not in a million years have known this was a Get Up Kids album.  Portions sound heavily influenced by some of the grittier keyboard-based sounds of Dewes’ Reggie and the Full Effect.  The track “Birmingham” would fit well on a Japandroids release.  “Shatter Your Lungs” seems out of place – fitting better with the likes of “Fountain of Youth” from Pryor’s side-project New Amsterdams‘ album, At the Foot of my Rival.

There are Rules is dominated by lots of fuzzy distorted bass, distorted effects on vocals and electronic noise – none of which are elements familiar to longtime TGUK fans.  In addition, the timbre and tone of the guitars is strikingly on the treble end – little bass-end distortion on the guitars – little traditional punk palm-muted rhythms.

This is one of their more consistently noisy efforts since Woodson or Four Minute Mile.  The more pop-oriented sensibilities of more recent releases make appearances, but they are fleeting and isolated to a few tracks.  A lot of noise here.  It sounds a bit like a band, now reunited, wanting to reemerge with a new and evolved sound.  This would be par for the course, as each of their previous releases signaled significant departures in sound.  However, this new effort sounds like that evolution was a bit forced.  It sounds like they are trying to NOT sound like their previous albums (and they succeed), but the result lacks a consistency that most of their other big changes (On a Wire, in particular), did maintain.  I get that this isn’t the same old Get Up Kids – they have made that point loud and clear.

I am left asking myself, however, what then is this?  I hear a bunch of fractured sounds, ideas and approaches thrown together.  It is not that I don’t like it.  In fact, I rather enjoy all the noise, angst and gritty vocals.  But, I am not sure how well it all holds together… Perhaps after a few more listens things will start to gel and make sense…we’ll see…

Out January 25th 

Album Review – J. Tillman, Singing Ax

 Singing Ax

Followers will know that I have been just nuts about the last few J. Tillman records (2 of them last year).  Thus, it was with great excitement that I heard he is putting out another on already.  It is available now on Western Vinyl – for sale on iTunes, amazon, emusic, etc . . .

Here are my thoughts.  I divide Tillman’s discography into 2 phases.  Tillman’s first 3 LPs, I Will Return, Long May you Run and Cancer and Delirium were sparsely beautiful, but quite lo-fi.  For many people, the scratch of low quality recordings won’t allow them to really appreciate the great songs that are hiding underneath on those records.  The most recent 3 LPs, Minor Works, Vacilando Territory Blues and Year in the Kingdom, brought both better production value AND a much richer sound with increased instrumentation.  Singing Ax is a hybrid of these two phases.

Instrumentation is SPARSE.  Almost nothing there.  In this regard, it is much like his first releases.  Production value, however, is much improved – like his more recent releases.  So, if you like “Dry” folk with great songwriting and lyrics, this will be a great record for you.  I will likely gravitate back towards the LPs with fuller instrumentation, but Tillman hasn’t lost me here.  I am still fully in the fan camp.

And, as long as he keeps on cranking out this high volume of records – I will definitely stay a fan.  There is something to be said for a guy that writes songs, and just records and releases them – instead of waiting to release every 2-3 years.  I know some bands are constricted by record companies on how often they release so its not their fault . . . but I really commend Tillman on this.

Make music, make it often.

Sample songs

J. Tillman – Diamondback [mp3]
J. Tillman – Three Sisters [mp3]

Album Review: Drew Danburry – Goodnight Dannii

I posted details on Drew Danburry new (and final . . . or is it?) album, Goodnight Dannii previously, but wanted to give it a more thorough treatment.  First the details:

You can stream and purchase it at www.drewdanburry.com

The album is $8 for a CD or $20 for a CD+book with illustrations by Drew’s wife, Lady Danburry.

Also for sale on iTunes and Amazon.com

 Now, for some concluding thoughts on Drew’s final effort.  Goodnight Dannii was recorded during the same sessions as Goodnight Gary.  The two LPs songs were divided due to content as well as sound.  Goodnight Dannii is lighter and a bit more optimistic, whereas Gary leaned a bit more to heavier emotional content.  Paired, they work well together as a double-LP.  Separated, I think Goodnight Dannii is my favorite of the two (and not just because I am good friends with the Dannii in question).  The melodies are catchy, lyrics are as Danburry-esque as ever, but perhaps more refined.  For his last (maybe) album, Danburry finished strong.

Here are a couple samples:

Drew Danburry – Nirvana, by Kurt Cobain [mp3]


Drew Danburry – Artex Died In Truth Or Consequences, NM [mp3]

(PS – Drew has some new band called The Apache in the works and is playing a show in Provo, UT on June 7th).

Album Review – Ratatat – LP4

A quick few thoughts on Ratatat‘s upcoming LP4 [out June 8 on XL Recordings].  Their self-titled debut LP, Ratatat, was AMAZING.  Its its lead-off track, Seventeen Years [mp3], is still one of my all time favorite indie electronica tracks – hands down!  Classics had some good tracks, but LP3 kind of bored me.

LP4 combines a lot of the best elements of their previous 3 albums, reintroducing the heavy electric guitar edge that was too absent from LP3.  There are LOTS of new textures and sounds on this album as well.  If not for Seventeen Years, LP4 might be my favorite Ratatat album.  Well . . . maybe it will be in any case.

I will explain more in June, but for now here are some samples:

Drugs [mp3] removed by request



Neckbrace [mp3] removed by request


Bare Feast [mp3] removed by request

Album Review – The National – High Violet

To be honest, the first 2 LPs that I heard by The National, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers [2003] and Alligator [2005] bored me.  That changed in an instant with the introductory poly-rhythm of Boxer‘s [2007] opening track, Fake Empire [mp3].  Some how, the combination of rhythm, textured pianos, bass and guitar, and Matt Berninger’s remarkable baritone voice just clicked.  Boxer was a phenominal album, recieved absurd (but deserved) amounts of praise, etc . . .Now 2.5 years an one EP later (The Virginia), they are back with a much anticipated follow up album, High Violet.  Big expectations here, and they don’t disappoint.  An early single, released earlier this year, Bloodbuzz Ohio gave a hint at the new album’s trajectory, and a full listen doesn’t reveal many surprises.  High Violet is as great as Boxer was, but doesn’t represent anything greater (or new).  Ok, perhaps there are some new textures – ie: Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks . . . but by and large this feels like a VERY closely related and natural extension of Boxer.  This feels like a band taking a 2nd stab and redefining and establishing its sound.  That is fine by me though – heck – I’ll take 5 more LPs that fall in step with Boxer.  Go ahead, make a career out of it, and I’ll be one happy fan.

High Violent does not disappoint.

Release Date:
May 11

Album Review – Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

With certain bands, I walk into their new albums assuming they can do no wrong.  Band of Horses is one of those groups – their previous releases have all been SO good.  The 3 year wait for their new full length LP, Infinite Arms, has been a long and difficult one (it will release on May 18th, btw).Well, I have given it my first full listen and I am a bit lost for words.  It is good, but I don’t know if it is great yet.  The first 3 tracks, which have already been circulating – Factory, Compliments and Laredo – all suggested a great album to follow.  Track 4, however, Blue Beard, left me not sure what to think.  The predominant melody in the song smacks of Ben Gibbard – which is not a bad thing – but by the end of the track, it devolvs into a multi-layer harmony a bit too reminiscent of Afternoon Delight a la Will Ferrel in Anchorman.

The album regains its composure in track 5, Way Back Home, but alternately shines and falters throughout.  The album closes with “Bartlet + James,” an epic track that may rely a bit heavily upon the grandiose, but Band of Horses carry it well.

I wouldn’t say that “the jury is still out,” but a few of the tracks have yet to stick.

We’ll see . . .

Release Date:
May 18