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7:13 PM on 02.27.2011

The Wonder Years, D.R.U.G.S., Talk Talk, and Radiohead

Hey all! Another Sunday night, another Stereotoid. I personally had some great reviews planned but I think I might've caught the flu (in the dead Texas humidity nonetheless) so I think I'm just gonna let some of the others take this one up. There's some good stuff in here, for sure. JTHomeslice solidifies himself as a regular with two reviews on The Upsides by The Wonders Years and Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows by D.R.U.G.S., Kraid's expertise on jazz and synth come together for a review of Laughing Stock by Talk Talk, and resident blogger LawofThermalDynamics drops by to review Radiohead's latest album King of Limbs.

Album: The Upsides
Artist: The Wonder Years
Label: No Sleep Records/Hopeless Records
Released: September 21, 2010 (rerelease)
Genre: Pop punk
Sounds like: Super personal and relatable pop punk

Pop punk has had a renaissance over the last few years. With hardcore inspired bands like Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals and veterans like New Found Glory and Blink-182, the pop punk scene has never been stronger. One band that has set themselves apart from the pack, in my mind at least, is The Wonder Years. Their intensely personal lyrics struck a chord with many fans, including myself. That combined with a great classic pop punk sound makes one of the finest pop punk albums of last year.

The Upsides was originally going to be about giving up. All the guys in the band were in a bad place before writing the album. It wasn’t until singer Dan “Soupy” Campbell saw the fountain at Logan’s Circle in their hometown of Philadelphia was turned on, that Soupy realized they couldn’t be this down at this time in their lives. The album then gained an overall theme of not giving up despite what life may throw at you. The thing I like most about Soupy’s lyrics is that they sound like a real person wrote them. They’re very frank and realistic. Songs deal with things like social awkwardness, putting up with the shitty people you live around, and the loneliness of touring life. They’re delivered with a dose humor, there are references to sexting and Jersey Shore so it’s instantly dated, and cursing that add make it sound more like a real person talking. I bring up the use of cursing because it’s actually used well. Other bands just go “FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK TITS FUCK” to the point where it’s just ridiculous, but Soupy’s swearing sounds more like someone around my age talking. It’s refreshing to hear someone sing like a person.

To reflect the overall tone of the lyrics, the music is super upbeat, as pop punk should be. Soupy’s voice is a somewhat high pitched, but not to the point of irritation. He creates great poppy hooks that accent the energetic music. The guitars are loud and crunchy, the drums are pounding, and there’s even a subtle keyboard part here and there. It has so much energy and it’s flat out fun. The album occasionally veers away from that with “Hey Thanks” and the rerelease track “Logan’s Circle: A New Hope”. “Hey Thanks” is a ukulele driven song (!) with Soupy thanking his girlfriend for putting up with him. The song is absolutely wonderful with the combination of uke, Soupy’s vocals, and guest vocals from Rachel Minton of Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer that eventually brings the rest of the band back in for a huge finish. One of my favorite songs on the album. “Logan’s Circle: A New Hope” is a reworked version of “Logan’s Circle” from the earlier in the album. It’s a slower, piano driven piece with reworked lyrics to reflect the time around the original release of The Upsides. That and the acoustic “We Won’t Bury You” provides a nice ending to the album.

Maybe it’s just that this album hit me at the right time. Being 19, in college, and still not sure about my future, an upbeat album all about staying happy despite what life throws at you is just what I needed. It also helps that it’s great musically too. It’s absolutely the best pop punk album of 2010. These dudes have a great future ahead of them.

Personal favorite tracks: My Last Semester, Melrose Diner, Hey Thanks

TL;DR: One of the best pop punk albums of last year that I believe will go down as one of the best pop punk albums ever.


Album: Laughing Stock
Artist: Talk Talk
Label: Verve Records/ Polydor Records
Released: 16 September 1991
Genre: post-rock
*Sub-genres experimental, art rock
Sounds like: Take an 80’s British synthpop band, and dip them into borderline ambient jazz & experimental rock.

Ever felt a bit melancholic? Nothing too severe, just enough to make you wonder about the facts of life, and how you fit in them. Yeah, that’s how my week mostly went. I can’t be all jolly and happy all the time, you know? Music is one way to get out of it, that’s for sure. I mostly listen to uplifting music regardless of my mood, anyway. Sometimes though, I like having my fix of abstract and moody melodies. Laughing Stock --for a lack of a more optimistic title-- by Talk Talk fits exactly the prescription. And darned it, it’s actually pretty damn good.

Now, I’m no expert on Talk Talk, I’ve never even heard of their early pop debuts, (well barely). I’ve actually just started listening to their post-rock phase. But, I still felt like it was necessary to share this beautiful album to the community. Laughing Stock is strangely personal. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, but somehow, I can’t quite figure it out. Maybe it’s just too abstract to really find an answer, yet it still speaks to me in such a transcending way. Weird isn’t it? It’s like I’ve heard this band before, even though it’s my first time hearing them. The album is highly similar to Portishead and Gary Numan in terms of emotion. Dark, moody, completely dredged in sweet melancholy. Laughing Stock sounds incredible as well. Right there, between the improvisational time signatures of Miles Davis and Free Jazz, and the smooth, beautiful harmonies of alternative rock.

I’m hearing a lot of Kaki King in the guitars, too. Maybe it’s that much of an influential album after all. Laughing Stock was one of the first in the batch that lay the grounds of what would become post-rock; highly regarded as one of the best in the genre, even. I guess you can understand my enthusiasm. Mark Hollis’ voice is absolutely wonderful on these tracks. Expressive and gloomy, it adds so much to the already gorgeous accompaniment. The drums are heavy, so is the bass. It creates the perfect mood for a dejected evening. But, like I said, it’s the right kind of melancholy. Not the one that would make you blow your brains out, on the contrary, (That sounded a little off, right?).

Laughing Stock is so perplexing. Yet, I’ve highly enjoyed it. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I have a strong sentiment of déjà vu. Maybe it’s my unconscious playing tricks on my mind. Maybe it’s because I fell in love with a wonderful album, too. I sense sometimes like there’s this profound anguish inside of me that needs to get out. I normally take it off through video games, but music also does it for me. Talk Talk’s last LP is atmospheric, though, above all, very emotional. I hear love and sorrow (regret), from it. I could see myself falling in love with someone, or even crying out of a broken heart to this album. It has done so many things to my brain this past week. Laughing Stock is incredible. And goddamn, I needed that.

Thank you, Talk Talk.

Personal favorite tracks: Myrrhman, Ascension Day, New Grass, Taphead

TL;DR: If you feel kind of sad, and you need a moody album to fuel up your anguish, Laughing Stock is quite a fitting album.


Album: Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
Artist: D.R.U.G.S.
Label: Decaydance/Sire
Released: February 22, 2011
Genre: Post-hardcore
*Sub-genres Alternative rock, pop punk
Sounds like: A bunch of dudes from post-hardcore bands get together and make a post-hardcore album.

What a terrible name for a band. D.R.U.G.S.? Really? Aside from having a dumb name, D.R.U.G.S. also has some of the biggest talent from modern post-hardcore scene. The band features Craig Owens (formerly of Chiodos), on vocals, Matt Good (from From First to Last) and Nick Martin (from Underminded) on guitar and backing vocals, Adam Russell (from Story of the Year) on bass, and Aaron Stern (from Matchbook Romance) on drums. To be honest, the only band out of those I’m familiar with is Chiodos, but I’ve at least heard of the rest. There was a good amount of hype surrounding the band after they announced the members, but we all know that hype doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about the music.

The album starts off with a bang in “If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is”. This song is fucking fantastic. It opens with Stern tapping on the rims of his drums before the rest of the band comes in with a blast of sound. It goes back to the tapping in the verses and everyone comes in for the chorus. This one really showcases Owens vocals, going from hushed tones to soaring melodies and high pitched screams. It’s an absolute highlight of the album.

The central theme of the album is about relationships and cheating significant others. That would be fine if the lyrics weren’t sub depressed high school kid level. For example, there’s this from “The Only Thing You Think About”: “I knew as soon as I left you’d go and fuck someone else you whore”, then there’s this from “Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm”: “I’d like to keep cutting/I’d like to keep cutting/ But I can’t stand to watch myself bleed”, and then there’s the chorus from “Sex Life”: “If you had a sex life, a sex life/ would you even worry about mine/when your bed is empty”. All these lyrics were written by a 26 year old man.

The album suffers from overproduction. The electronic and orchestral elements are used way too much. It’s almost like the band or producer John Feldmann (The Used, Atreyu) thought that there couldn’t be a moment on the album where there was just a single instrument by itself. When used sparingly like in “If You Think This Song Is About You…” it works well, complimenting the rest of the song. But when it’s overdone like on “I’m the Rehab, You’re the Drugs”, it’s overbearing and hurts the song. Another problem is that the effects sound far too much like other bands. “Graveyard Dancing” straight up sounds like The Used. Seriously, listen to ”The Bird and the Worm” and then listen to ”Graveyard Dancing”. They are crazy alike. I guess that’s just Feldmann’s production style.

The instrumentation is good, if a bit standard. It’s got all the hallmarks of post-hardcore, chugging guitars and double bass, clean and harsh vocals, and some good guitar leads as well. A particular highlight is Nick Martin’s harsh vocals. He absolutely kills it on “Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups” and “My Swagger has A First Name”. His deep growls and yells are a great contrast to Owens higher screams. I just wish he was used more. One song that took me by surprise was “I’m Here to Take the Sky”. This is a pop punk song. It sounds like Paramore if fronted by Craig Owens. And it’s good! It’s an interesting change of pace after 30 or so minutes of post-hardcore pummeling.

Overall, I enjoyed this album. I didn’t really have all that much expectations for it except for “oh hey, it’s Craig Owens new band”. I could imagine a superfan of all these bands being underwhelmed by this project, but coming at it from my perspective I liked it. They just need to take more of the good (Martin’s vocals, pop punk sound) and lose the bad (shitty lyrics, unnecessary electronics) and they’ll make an excellent next album. I know these guys have it in them.

Personal favorite tracks: If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is, I’m Here to Take the Sky, My Swagger Has a First Name

TL;DR: A post-hardcore supergroup makes a good post-hardcore album with a little pop punk on the side.


Album: The King of Limbs
Artist: Radiohead
Label: Self Released
Released: February 18, 2010
Genre: Alternative Rock
*Sub-genres Electro-Ballad, Prog-Rock
Sounds like: Everything else Radiohead has done since Kid A, just a little different.

When Radiohead first released In Rainbows back in 2007, I was hopeful in thinking that Radiohead had turned over a new chapter in their musical styling towards a more organic kind of music moving past their digital fascination for something, not necessarily classic rock like their first three albums, but for something else entirely and if there's something Radiohead does better than any band in the world it's being different. 2011's The King of Limbs proves that Radiohead is pursuing the intimacy found in their last album as this may just be Radiohead's most romantic album ever.

The album starts out with Bloom, an electronic opener with spastic drum loops, but unlike past efforts similar in both style and tone as this song, Bloom feels more primal and has an almost tribal execution. The album, as it turns out, began to unravel right before my eyes into one of the best examples of deconstruction I have ever listened to.

At eight tracks long and clocking in at around thirty four minutes this is the band's shortest album to date, but the album moves along at such a pace and transitions to the next song with such ease that the whole thing could be treated as a single entity. The songs begin in usual Radiohead fashion (at least since Kid A), sputtering noises, abstract lyrics, and the atmosphere of a freezer, but as the album progresses the lyrics become softer, the beats smoother, and I found myself easing into a comfortable position and allowing Thom Yorke's voice to sing sweet nothings into my ear. Moving across the album, songs like Lotus Flower transitions into Codex which just as smoothly melts into the folk inspired Give Up The Ghost which passed right along, and before I knew it I reached the end. The album finishes with Separator. A bubbly song that encapsulates the entire album as a more loving, almost happy Radiohead.

The really funny thing is that Radiohead already did a piano driven ballad, several of them. They've already started albums with electric drum loops, already sang songs about love, but what makes this album amazing is that it won't feel any different from anything else they've done until you finish listening to it. The true strength of the album lies in its short length. Every song, every minute of the album feels perfectly in synch with one another and builds up to a natural conclusion. There is not a single wasted minute in here. This is an album in which nothing is out of place, and everything feels perfectly natural.

In terms of how it compares to other Radiohead albums, the only thing I can say is that eight albums in and Radiohead maintains their perfect game. Now, if you were a fan alienated by their turns towards electronic chirps in Kid A, I can tell you that Radiohead has not returned to its classical roots. If you are a fan of anything Radiohead, embrace another winner.

Of course this being Radiohead no clear interpretation is ever the truth and though I personally found this album the happiest I've heard coming from the band, others deem this album another depressing downer. I can't say you'll have the exact same reaction towards this album as I had, but whether you enjoy the gloom and doom Radiohead or eager to see Radiohead's next move, The King of Limbs is a good indicator of the future of the band, and the future looks to change once again.

Personal favorite tracks: Little By Little, Lotus Flower, Codex, Separator

TL;DR: Nothing here that doesn't sound like post-rock Radiohead. Won't win back broken fans, but a brilliant album nonetheless.

-LawofThermalDynamics   read

10:36 PM on 02.20.2011

Iron & Wine, Between the Buried and Me, PJ Harvey, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and more!

Geeeeez! We haven't had an edition this gigantic in a long time. With three great reviews from vApathyv, some really good choices from all our other editors, and even one guest review from JTHomeslice this is definitely one of our recent best.

What all are we about to get into? The latest from Emmure, PJ Harvery, Iron & Wine, and Thomas Giles, some selections from the catalogs of Tonetta and Between the Buried and Me, and finally the soundtracks of Machinarium and the everybody's latest addiction (Yup, mine too) Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds!

Album: Speaker of the Dead
Artist: Emmure
Label: Victory Records
Released: February 15, 2011
Genre: Deathcore
Sounds like: Breakdown City, USA.

I don’t understand the popularity of Emmure. They make some of the most generic, uninteresting music in a scene full of generic, uninteresting bands. And yet somehow they have a very vocal and dedicated fanbase, as evidenced by their large crowd at last year’s Warped Tour and various Youtube commenters ready to defend the mighty Emmure. And that brings us to their newest album Speaker of the Dead. After their last album Felony received a tepid response from fans (I have no idea why, it sounded the same as their previous work to me.), will this album bring them back? And will a “hater” like myself find this album to be any good?

Production wise, this album sounds great. They enlisted acclaimed metalcore producer Joey Sturgis (The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria) to produce the album. Sturgis gets a lot shit on the net because of his production style and the bands he works with, but his style works really well for this type of music. Every instrument can be heard loud and clear and nothing dominates over one another.

Good production can’t change shit music though. To describe Emmure’s music, I need to make sure everyone knows about the breakdown. In hardcore and metalcore, the breakdown is used to “break down” the rest of the song and get all the instruments together playing the same riff, with the guitars chugging along with the double bass. It’s also meant to get all the kids in the pit moshing and kicking each other in the face and things like that. Now, I love a good breakdown, especially when it’s used well (Take this song and this song for examples). Emmure’s music is just breakdowns. That’s it. Just lame chugging on open strings and double bass. If their songs are just breakdowns, what exactly are they breaking down?

That’s the main problem with Emmure. All their songs sound the same. It’s the same old chug-chug-chug in every song. I literally can’t tell most of these songs apart, aside from little bits of samples and electronic effects they added on this album. I read an interview with someone in the band and he said they were adding some electronic stuff on this album to give the songs some color. They succeeded at this. They didn’t go overboard with the effects and used them in fairly interesting ways. It’s nowhere near the level of Underoath or The Devil Wears Prada, but it’s not as bad Attack Attack!. The samples they chose fit the whole “street tough” image they have with lines of dialogue from old martial arts movies and even Street Fighter. The Street Fighter sample is kind of misused, in my opinion. It’s used at the end of the song “Demons With Ryu”, when it could have been used as a mosh call like the Mortal Kombat sample A Day to Remember used. The only other song that really stuck out to me was “Last Words to Rose”, which opens with some nice clean guitar picking that leads into some chugging underneath. It reminded me of August Burns Red a bit. The song as a whole has a really different feel from the rest and that’s good! But it’s almost ruined by the terrible vocals.

Oh boy, the vocals. The harsh vocals just don’t sound good. I don’t know what it is, but even compared to some of the other shitty vocalists in deathcore this guy is just worse. His highs are so screechy and his lows are just bad. But worse than that are the clean vocals. As I said before, they have a “street tough” image, more akin to hip hop than the typical metalcore look. So, their vocalist tries to sound tough in the clean vocals, but he just comes off sounding like Fred Durst. It doesn’t help that the song “A Voice From Below” actually has rapping in it. Lyrically, I didn’t notice anything as terrible as their previous work (Such as, ”Fuck her like I never could/Fuck her doggy style first” or ”ASK YO GIRL WHAT MY DICK TASTES LIKE”), that is, until “Drug Dealer Friend” opens with this little gem: “I wanna watch you suck his dick/I know you fucking love it/Bitch”. UGH.

So, will Emmure fans be into this? Probably, it sounds like all the rest of their work aside from the electronic bits. Will this change the minds of “haters”? Absolutely not. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised with this. None was their previous work has been very good and they’ve done well off of it, so why should they change? It just really hurts me to see a song like “Last Words to Rose” that shows they have potential, instrumentally at least, to do something better than what they are doing and then they just squander it away with the same old chugging.

Personal favorite tracks: Last Words to Rose, Solar Flare Homicide

TL;DR: A shit band shows a sliver of potential, only for it to be covered in brainless breakdowns.


Album: Pulse
Artist: Thomas Giles
Label: Metal Blade
Released: February 1, 2011
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres Experimental, Electronic, Acoustic, a little metal
Sounds like: A whoooooole lot of things.

So, show of hands people, who here enjoys Between The Buried In Me? Really? Good...umm, you, Timmy, in the back. Do you know the name of the lead singer? No, it's not Bobby. You get detention and you can see me after class. You, Jill, care to correct Timmy? That's right! Tommy Rogers. Now, bonus question, and you get a gold star if you get this Jill- what's his pseudonym? Yes, Thomas Giles! Good job Jill, A+ and you'll be first in the lunch line today.

Anyways, Tommy Rogers is a man known primarily as the singer, screamer, and keyboardist for metal bigshots Between The Buried And Me, but most don't know that he's also a somewhat accomplished solo artist as well, releasing an album under the title “Giles” back in '05, and also releasing this album a couple weeks ago. Of course, like all solo albums, you have to wonder- when an artist attempts to create music outside of the band he's known for, will it still be good, or will it be a painful reminder that some people just shouldn't stray from their comfort zone?

Thankfully, Pulse is a welcome reminder that Mr. Rogers (couldn't resist) is a very talented musician that doesn't need blast beats and mindbending solos to create good music. The one biggest trap you can possibly fall into when going off to make a solo album is that you sound way too similar to the band you're from. In that respect, Pulse is a huge success. Aside from maybe one or two songs, you'll find nothing related to Between The Buried And Me here, it's an album completely capable of standing on it's own merits and it's own sound.

But what exactly is that sound? Well, that's a bit of a case-by-case basis, but the majority of it is beautiful low-key rock arrangements, with a mixture of piano ballads, heavier rock tunes, a very small amount of metal (You can take the man outta the metal but ya can't take the metal outta the man), and even a little hardcore techno action, all of which is produced, composed, arranged, and performed 100% by himself a la Trent Reznor.. And the truly astounding part is, no matter how varied the album gets, there's never really a noticeable dip in quality. Sure, some songs are better than others, but there is not a single 'bad' song on this album. Just goes to show how talented and varied Tommy can really be. It's also worth noting that Tommy's lyrical output is still just as strong as it's ever been.

So, class, today we learned that artists can release a solo album both without sucking and without having to sound too much like the band they hail from. Granted it doesn't happen much (Though it does happen, see Dolores O'Riordan for another great example), but when it does happen, it can be magical. If you only know Tommy from Between The Buried And Me, you owe it to yourself to give this album a chance. You don't know what you're missing.

Oh, and did I mention Tommy Rogers is my long-lost celebrity twin?

Personal favorite tracks: Sleep Shake, Reverb Island, Medic, Catch and Release

Album: Kiss Each Other Clean
Artist: Iron & Wine
Label: Warner Bros.
Released: January 25th, 2011
Genre: Folk
Sounds like: Sam Beam found his voice and some horns

Whoa! Whats this? An Iron & Wine album where Sam Beam isn't whispering the whole album? Is this an evolution in their sound? Why yes, yes I think it is! To be honest I was absolutely ready to totally dismiss this album and just trash the band throughout this whole review. It's not that I don't like Iron & Wine, it's just that I had grown sick of them and his soft spoken vocals.

You may or may not have heard Iron & Wine before, their most popular song that the vast majority of people have heard was actually a cover of the song “Such Great Heights” by the Ben Gibbard fronted band, Postal Service. If you have yet to hear Iron & Wine they are a soft spoken folk band from South Carolina. The group is fronted by lead singer Sam Beam who also writes all of the song lyrics. Beam is also a painter and is responsible for the album covers on all of the Iron & Wine album covers.

Kiss Each Other Clean is Iron & Wines fourth album and it may very well be my new favorite. This album is the follow up to 2007's Shepherd's Dog which was a good change of pace from the usual sound for Iron & Wine but it was not a large enough leap if you were to ask me. With Kiss Each Other Clean we have a much larger leap. We see a lot more texture with this album and it's just in time.

The album opens up with “Walking Far From Home”, with that song you can tell that this will be a very well layered and textured album. The rest of the songs fair about the same, with some being more high points (“Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me”) and some being a bit lower points (“Big Burned Hand”). As you have probably come to expect from Beam the songs found here are mostly about love, falling in love, falling out of love, all that great stuff.

My favorite evolution in Iron & Wine's sound in this album is the addition of the horn sections. They add a lot to the songs and give them a sound that hasn't been heard in previous albums. This evolution doesn't come without its downfalls though. In some songs it just simply does not work very well. Songs like “Big Burned Hand” the horn sections don't really help the song out, it just ends up sounding messy and distracting.

Overall I really enjoyed this album and I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys folk and folk rock music.. Sam Beam and company also recently played the entire album live for NPR and can be heard at their website, , as a part of their first listen series. This is Beam's fourth album and with each album he always seems to make small jumps in his style and improve over his last album. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us next.

Personal favorite tracks: Walking Far From Home, Tree By The River [url=] Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me [/url}

TL;DR: Iron & Wine have horns now and sound good, mostly

-Crackity Jones

Album: 777 Vol. 2
Artist: Tonetta
Label: Black Tent Press
Released: 2010
Genre: Rock
*Sub-genres Lo-Fi
Sounds like: Young at heart x tremely horny & ready 2 mate

*NSFW warning: You probably shouldn’t be watching these videos at work or at school*

Tonetta is nightmare fuel for a lot people. His overly sexualized, cross-dressing persona is so weird, he’s the giant elephant in the room that you can’t stop looking at. I personally don’t mind all the fluff around the character; it’s eccentric, and completely insane. Tonetta’s YouTube celebrity began a while ago, I was aware of his stuff ever since Dale North began preaching his greatness on Destructoid. But, it wasn’t until his song to Dale (Man in Japan) that I actually went deeper into his discography. Let it be known that, it is MASSIVE, (more than 200 songs, and he updates weekly). Last year, he finally put out his first record entitled 777 vol.1, which was a compilation of his old and new tracks. Now that 777 vol.2 has been released for a few months, I had to immortalize his genius for Stereotoid.

Let me begin by saying that 777 vol.2 is a whole lot more sexually charged than Vol.1. Now, that might seem like a total understatement when speaking about Tonetta, but believe me, it is. His first album was more of a wicked social commentary than a sonic molestation. For the better of course, 777 vol.2 is well structured and less disparate. A pitiful few of his recent songs are on it, leaving out the 80’s low quality ear-rape of the first album. Still, it’s such a sadness that so many classics didn’t make it.

His intrusive, gravely, raw voice brings the best out of his simplistic, repetitive beats. He is the king of Lo-Fi, after all. Despite all of that, his guitar is groovy; his choruses are catchy, and most of all, ridiculous. It’s strangely entertaining to hear him talk in such a vulgar manner. Everything must be taken in the first degree with him. Sure, there’s a little bit of poetry here and there, but when he talks about cocks, he’s most likely talking about cocks.

I think the best way to describe Tonetta is to compare him to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. He’s brutally honest in his lyrics, and completely twisted and hilarious at the same time. Tonetta’s saying what most people would never dare to shout. He’s like that Buddhist monk with the bell you see walking in the streets of Tokyo. Only, he speaks for the perverted, maniacal side of society. He might be totally honest about what he’s saying in his songs, but I see it as a way to criticize society, (hidden behind a complex set of metaphors). I’m obviously talking smack, but it’s fun to pretend. It’s just like saying that Bayonetta’s over the top nature was intentional.

For fans of his YouTube work, by all mean get this album. It’s a great compilation, although not entirely complete, it gets the job done. As for the rest of you, if you ever felt like adding a little bit of craziness to your lives, look no further than, Tonetta. Oh yeah, did I mentioned? There’s a giant penis imprint on the cover. Yep.

Personal favorite tracks: Hot Little Fuck, Just Like That , Death Sentence , Ultimate Whore

TL;DR: Missing quite a few favorites, still worth it. It’s crude, vulgar, raw genius. Tonetta is almost too amazing for words.


Album: The Great Misdirect
Artist: Between The Buried And Me
Label: Victory
Released: October 27, 2009
Genre: Metal
Sub-genres Progressive, any other sub-genre of metal you could probably think of.
Sounds like: Their greatest effort yet?

A lot of metal fans are familiar with Between The Buried And Me. Last I checked, a lot of Stereotoid readers are too...I seem to recall a lot of you calling for me to review one of their albums after I had so many positive things to say about Protest The Hero way back when. Well, here I am, reviewing a BTBAM album. Don't say I never loved you guys or listened to what you had to say.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the group, Between The Buried And Me is a heavy metal band known for their progressive song structure and the way they seemingly bounce about between different types of metal throughout most of their songs. They're also kind of a big deal to most people, and might be one of the most talented acts on the scene today. This album today is their most recent effort, and as always, it delivers.

The first things a lot of people would notice here is that the album only has six songs. Yeah, that's not a lot of tracks, but despite that the album still clocks in at just a few seconds under an hour. As you'd expect, practically every song present here is epic in nature and pretty damn long, but this band is always at their best when the songs are lengthy, as it shows just how varied they can be. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the second track Obfuscation. The song that jumps from riff to riff without missing a beat, tied together with some of drummer Blake Richardson's best work yet, before dissipating halfway through into a low and steady bass rhythm while a guitar solo builds in intensity before exploding into a fire of noodling that eventually crescendos right back into the forever stuck in my head “Close one eye, step to the side” chorus of the song, itself a callback to the lyrics of Mirrors (the opening track). And if that wasn't enough, the chorus immediately segues into another solo that gave me chills the first time I heard it, before blending out to the anthemic “We'll always be part of the great misdirect” outro that gives the album it's name. In nine minutes and fifteen seconds Between The Buried And Me has managed to put more variety, talent, and heart into one song than most artists manage to put in an entire album.

Of course, the album is hardly a one trick pony, as every track seamlessly segues into each other, and every track is its own seperate and amazing beast entirely, showing just how talented Tommy, Blake, Paul, Dan and Dustie are. It's an amazing thought to consider that each song on this album is so varied that you could proably take one, flesh out and extend each part, and have an entire album's worth of content per track.

But that's just the kind of thing this band is known for. Few people can adequately compare to the talent present in this group, and I see these guys remaining as a shining example of truly great metal for years to come, even long after they've stopped making music (Which hopefully isn't anytime soon). Everything they release exudes such quality, such effort, and such talent that it's amazing they haven't burned out or started to falter yet. All I can hope is that the next album, whenever it comes out, raises the amazingly high bar they've already set for themselves.

Personal favorite tracks: You're going to ask me to pick my favorite tracks from a six-track album? Every last one of these songs is amazing in and of itself. But if you must, go with Obfuscation or Injury, Disease, Madness.

TL;DR- In my opinion this is BTBAM's greatest album yet.


Album: Machinarium Soundtrack
Artist: Tomáš Dvořák
Label: Independent
Released: 2009
Genre: Ambient Electronica/Acoustic
Sounds like: The reason Machinarium has no dialogue.

Soundtracks are some of my favorite albums to listen to, because they evoke a feeling of watching or playing or reading the original source, without actually doing it. If the soundtrack is excellent crafted for listening purposes, it can feel like you’re sitting down and playing the game. With how much time I’ve given the game Machinarium(very little), it’s amazing that the soundtrack can give me this hard to achieve sensation, but it does so, and does so flawlessly.

If you haven’t played Machinarium or haven’t played much of it like I have, shame on you (as well as me). The game is charming and smart, and the art direction is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It pains me to say I haven’t played much of this game since I bought it in the Humble Indie Bundle last year, but I’m working on rectifying that. What did catch my ear in my limited playtime was the music in the game, and since the soundtrack came free with my Humble Bundle, I decided to give the full thing a go.

Best. Decision. [b]Ever.[b/]

Let me start by saying that the Soundtrack features music from the game remixed into a more album listenable experience. As such, not all of the music you’ll here in game will be in the soundtrack, as some of the music just wouldn’t fit the way Tomas wanted it too. That’s pretty much the only downside to this soundtrack.

The Machinarium Soundtrack represents an excellent romp through ambience using either electronic sounds or acoustic instruments. The overall feel of the album is calming, yet somewhat eerie, as if someone was to take motor oil and drip it throughout your brain. The album bounces back and forth between its use of electronic and acoustic styles, and then will blend them wonderfully, almost creating a sense of robots communing with nature.

The flow of the album is incredibly natural; you’ll get quiet, guitar laden tracks with few surprises, up to house-like electronic songs with natural grooves, and then will flip over to completely ambient tracks using various sampling and electronic effects to give the vibe of machine nirvana. Even the transitions between tracks and between styles within tracks are expertly done as to not damage the flow of the soundtrack.

Overall, the Machinarium Soundtrack achieves what few soundtracks due today; the soundtrack makes you want to play the game. I can’t tell you how bad feel for not giving Machinarium my time of day, but if I had just bought the album without owning the game before hand, I can guarantee you I would pay hand over fist for the game, just based on this soundtrack alone.

So yeah, this is pretty much one of the greatest video game soundtracks, as well as one of the greatest soundtracks overall, that I’ve ever had the pleasure listening to. I highly recommend it, especially if it’s sitting in your Humble Indie Bundle #2.

So go buy the Machinarium Soundtrack. Now. And then go buy Machinarium. And then go buy a copy of the soundtrack for a friend.

Personal favorite tracks: The Bottom, Gameboy Tune, and The End (Prague Radio)

TL;DR: Didn’t I just tell you to buy it?


Album: Let England Shake
Artist: PJ Harvey
Label: Island
Released: February 14, 2011
Genre: Alternative
*Sub-genres Moar alternative?
Sounds like: Bizarre soulful melodies with a touch of strange

Let England Shake is an album that when I first started listening to it every fiber of my being told me that it wasn’t going to go over well with me. It was weird, no doubt. And as someone who has only occasionally heard PJ Harvey I wouldn’t say that I was really used to it or ready for it. However with time the strange melodies of Let England Shake really grew on me. The sound just starts to fit over your soul like a snug blanket and never let’s go.

Upon first listen you’re welcomed with the title track, The Last Living Rose, and The Glorious Road. It’s been quite a while since I heard a more appropriate opening to an album. PJ Harvey’s soft dream-like sound perks your preps your ears and immediately grabs your attention. From PJ Harvey’s own unique vocal style to the horn sample looped in The Glorious Land, it’s all laying out the field for what becomes fair game in the album.

What the album offers as far as sound and composition is what really makes the album worth being sucked into. Soft twangy autoharp is complemented by powerful and equally mellow drums. The two create a very suave and almost seductive rhythm. Let England Shake and The Words That Maketh Murder are without a doubt prime examples. Meanwhile Harvey’s vocals, high pitched and sporadic while remaining melodic, set as an interesting backdrop to each track. It’s almost unfair to say they offer a stark contrast to the very ”alternative” sound that the instrumentals provide but her vocal performance does certainly do well to make itself the forefront of each track. Even still, it only adds to the enjoyability of every tracks.

PJ Harvey’s latest definitely comes recommended as an album that simply has a sound, not to mention the lyricism and vocal delivery, that hits you right in that special place in her heart. It’s rare that an album can carry so much soul and emotional weight simply on sound alone but this one easily does. And when coupled with poetic lyricism it certainly is one of 2011s more special albums and not one that should go unnoticed easily. While it may certainly not be for everyone, it’s a sweet and delightful treat to all others.

Personal favorite tracks: Let England Shake, On Battleship Hill, and The Words That Maketh Murder

TL;DR: One of the more unique and striking albums of 2011. While not for everyone, certainly worth it for those who might enjoy it.


Album: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Soundtrack
Artist: Capcom
Label: ...Capcom
Released: February 15, 2011 (Technically)
Genre: Video Game OST
Sub-genres Awesome's a genre right? It is? Good.
Sounds like: MAHVEL BAYBEE

Before I get started, let me get this out of the way right now- HOLY FUCKING CRAP AFTER TEN YEARS OF FEVERISH WAITING MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3 IS FINALLY IN MY SYSTEM AND IT IS AWESOME. This isn't a video game review but if it was I'd give it an eleventy billion out of ten (Though the netcode issues and lack of spectator mode is odd). Also, Deadpool makes reference to Yipe's infamous “Curleh mustache” quote. Game of the forever.

Aaaaaanyways, so the game is here. It's awesome. How's the music fair though? Well, I'm glad you asked anonymous internet user because I intend to answer that question for you! I'd be willing to call this one of the greatest fighting game soundtracks of all time. Everything about it oozes the quality and care you'd expect from Capcom's sound team, with hardly any missteps along the way. The soundtrack runs the general Capcom-style infusion of rockin' tunes mixed in with dancey techno beats, as well as a few vocal tracks here and there.

Let's go ahead and start with the Capcom side. Now, obviously, Capcom's characters all come from previous Capcom games, meaning they already have a wealth of music to pull from for each of their characters. But rather than simply recycle old tunes, every character has a revamped and remixed version of a classic standout tune tied to them, so while you'll definitely be able to recognize most of the character themes, you've probably never heard them like this. The picks are also all-around amazing selections as well, like Ryu's Japan stage from Street Fighter, or Dante's oh-my-god-this-song-never-gets-old-for-me Devils Never Cry from Devil May Cry 3. Granted, they're not all perfect in my opinion (Viewtiful Joe's theme, while staying incredibly true to character, is just a little too goofy for my tastes), it's definitely more or less a grand slam for them.

And how's Marvel fair? Since they're all comic book characters most of these themes are completely original works. And while some of the characters have featured in Capcom fighting games before and already have themes, maybe half of them do not and, therefore had a completely new one created for them. For the most part they all match the amazing quality already present in the other tracks, though it remains to be seen if they'll be as timeless and long-standing as other themes such as Captain America's “Get ready 'cuz USA's about to kick your ass” theme. And while the new songs are for the most part all awesome, I still have to give the slight nod to some of the revamped versions of classic Marvel themes.

The main goal of a fighting game's soundtrack, in my opinion, is to get somebody hyped up and ready to administer a beatdown. In that respect, this game delivers in spades. Damn near every song is an amazing contribution to an already-great game, and when it comes to bouncing my enemy around through the air like a ragdoll I see no better option.

Oh, and, by the way: Scoops, fuck the Knicks, mango Sentinel, Mag-FUCKIN-neto, I'm gonna take you for a ride. I miss any important ones?

Personal favorite tracks: Marvel side- Dormammu, M.O.D.O.K. (It goes great with trolling by the way), Captain America, Sentinel Capcom side- Dante, Arthur, Ryu, MIKE FUCKING HAGGAR, MAYOR OF EARTH

TL;DR: This soundtrack is so Pringles.

-vApathyv   read

12:53 PM on 02.14.2011

The Stereotoid Valentines Day Song-tacular!!!

Howdy doody folks! vApathyv has jacked Stereotoid temporarily to bring you guys a nice selection of Valentine's Day-themed music. Whether you're lovestruck and happy as can be, heartbroken and lonely, pissed off at any ex that may have wronged you, or just plain indifferent to the day, you're sure to find something for ya here. And before anyone asks about obvious omissions, I tried (keyword: tried) to stay as far away from obvious, played-to-death-on-adult-contemporary-radio-station choices as much as possible. Because we've all heard Total Eclipse Of The Heart way too many times already, dammit.

(Special thanks to Xzyliac and Raien Swiftwood for some of the song choices. Always remember, a bromance is always there, even if it isn't February 14th.)


Andrew W.K.- She Is Beautiful

Sometimes, love songs are really, really corny. Hell, actually, most of the times that's the case. But Andrew W.K. has turned corny music into an art form, to the point where it's actually kind of awesome, and this song is no exception. When it comes to rockin' party songs about love, look no further.

The Cranberries- Pretty Eyes

And then you got songs that are just so powerful, they give you chills. When Xzyliac suggested this one to me, he told me to think about my significant other while listening to it and see how moved I am...dammit, the boy was right.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Crimson And Clover

Yeah, I know I said I'd try to stay away from obvious picks, but I have a total weakness for Joan Jett.

Queen- Good Ole Fashioned Lover Boy

I had quite a few people tell me Queen should be up here somewhere, and for good reason. Few people are as well-versed in charming love songs as Freddy and the gang. You could pick from any number of Queen tracks to woo your man/lady, but this is my personal favorite.

Justice- Valentine

Even though the song has no lyrics, it's rather amazing that it's able to incite warm feelings of good 'ole fashioned romance in the air. Then again, maybe I'm just weird. Whatever, the song's called Valentine for god's sake.

Florence + The Machine- You've Got The Love

And of course, sometimes you just have to have a ballad-y song that lays it all on the line, and the always-beautiful songs of Florence + The Machine are sure to deliver. This could easily become a love anthem rivaling even the best 80's ballads.

But My Heart Is Broken...

La Roux- Cover My Eyes

It hurts a lot to see a former love being happy when you're not. Especially if you still harbor feelings for him/her. If you've ever had to endure that pain, this song should strike a chord with you.

David Bowie- Be My Wife

Sometimes, ya get so lonely. The song really speaks for itself.

Tegan and Sara- The Con
Ever had a song that commands dominance over your tear ducts in times of sorrow? This is that song for me. During a particularly troubling part of my relationship, I heard this song for the first time ever and it had me bawling...what? Got a problem with that!? MANLY MEN HAVE FEELINGS TOO.

David Guetta ft. Chris Willis vs. Sam Sparrow- Love Is Gone vs. Black & Gold

Nobody said sadness couldn't be groovy right? Sometimes you can wrap up all your bad feelings in a surprisingly danceable package and at least have a little fun in your heartache. Unfortunately, due to DJ Hero's untimely death, the love really is gone with this one.

Hurt- House Carpenter

This song. Oh God, this song. There's something so intense, so moving about this song, that it rattles you to the core. The kind of thing that makes your hair stand on end, that demands your attention, and could leave you wrecked afterwards. Special note, do NOT listen to this song if you're coping with the death of a loved will not end well.

The Who- Love, Reign O'er Me

I know, another obvious pick. And yeah, the song is actually more positive than anything, but consider the situation that Jimmy finds himself in when this song is performed during Quadrophenia. His parents, his girlfriend, even the Mod lifestyle he enjoyed so much, had all failed him. At this point, all he can do is realize that love is the answer to all his problems, and cry out the iconic chorus present in the song.

...You know what? Fuck this love bullshit.

Cee Lo Green- Fuck You

Yes, yes, ANOTHER obvious pick. But you know what? How could I possibly not include what has undoubtedly become this generations defining anthem of “Love sucks”?

She Wants Revenge- True Romance

A bit of a somber pick, but the way the singer manages to cut the target of this song down to size in such a droll, unenthused manner is possibly one of the biggest acts of comeuppance I could think of. “Yeah, you broke my heart...but whatever.” Take THAT, ex-girlfriend of mine that cheated on me for free pot!

Weezer- Why Bother?

What's the best way to stick a defiant middle finger in the face of affection? Come to the conclusion that love's not worth it because you'll just get hurt in the end, and instead decide that no-strings-attached sexual flings are the way to go. Bit of a surprise, coming from Rivers Cuomo.

Alkaline Trio- My Friend Peter

And this one is just PERFECT for anyone that found themselves in the situation present in the La Roux song above. Tell that ex that you don't give a damn anymore and you'd rather be with your friends anyways. Take THAT, ex-girlfriend of mine that led me on after we broke up and kept me on the side as a back-up plan, playing with my fragile emotions just to appease your own sick desires!

Atreyu- Bleeding Mascara

And then, sometimes, you just get pissed. REALLY pissed. And then a song like this happens, where you pretty much systematically assault the person that wronged you in every way imaginable, making it quite know to her just how horrible a person she is. Take THAT, ex-girlfriend of mine that only dated me to win a bet despite knowing that sort of shit can wreck a man for life!

Reel Big Fish- Hate You

So the first verse doesn't really lend itself to love or anything, but everything after it sure as hell does. Seriously, if you're ever feeling down about how someone hurt you, sing the chorus to this song. Over, and over, and over again. You'll feel better in no time.

Not gonna write you A lol-ve song!

Freezepop- Lose That Boy

Freezepop is always a good choice for a witty and humorous take on relationships, and this is no exception. Ever found a person in a terrible relationship? Let 'em hear this.

Toki Wartooth- Toki's Love Song (From Metalocalypse)

Poor, poor Toki. The guy never gets a break. Him and Murderface are treated as non-entities in the band, he can never find love, and when he finally DOES meet someone, it turns out to be a hideous old hag who might be a transvestite as well (verdict's still out). Oh well. At the least, I managed to prove that Dethklok is ALWAYS a relevant choice in anything I intend to write.

Flight Of The Conchords- The Most Beautiful Girl [In The Room]

Man, this is a great song to attempt to woo that special someone and sweep them off their feet with. Singing this is GUARANTEED to get you on her good side. Seriously, try it. (Disclaimer- Do not fucking try this. You will probably get kicked in your jewels.)

Speck- Conventional Lover

It's a rather cute song even on it's own, but the constant nerd references (They're polyhedral) definitely set this into certified “lol” territory. If you don't crack a smile when he screams out “Uh-oh...saving throw!”, then you have no soul.

Jonathan Coulton- Skullcrusher Mountain

Another song that initially sounds rather heartwarming, and in fact actually is in it's own weird way, but when you get around to listening to the lyrics, it gets a little...odd. But hey, if there's any evil scientist bachelors out there looking for some pointers, look no further.

[b]Psychostick- Orgasm=Love

This song is so incredibly juvenile that I couldn't help but include it. I really, honestly have no other reason for doing so.

And that's it folks! Hopefully this was somewhat of a treat for you guys. But hey, got any suggestions? Stories? Death threats? Leave 'em in the comments below! And as always, see ya this weekend for the real Stereotoid deal!

And while you're at it guys, take a look at our fellow Stereotoid brother Crackity Jone's own Valentine's Day blog!



8:29 PM on 02.12.2011

Blakroc, Captain Beefheart, Disasterpeace, and The White Stripes


Usually, Xzyliac would be the one talking to you in this paragraph, but due to some technical difficulties, Daxelman is here to save the day and provide you with sweet beats. We've got some White Stripes, some Blakroc, some Disasterpeace, and some Captain Beefheart, so lets get to the nitty gritty.

Album: Blakroc
Artist: Blakroc
Label: V2
Released: November 27, 2009
Genre: Hip-hop
*Sub-genres Alternative hip-hop, blues-hop
Sounds like: Well…exactly what you’d think. Get some of the Wu-Tang guys, that dude from A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Ludacris, some other guys, some R&B chick, and then put it all to the classic Black Keys sound.

Blakroc is an album that I tried not to get my hopes to high on. Much as I love the Black Keys, and a lot of the rappers on this album, the pairing sounded far too good to actually be true. I’ve heard the Black Keys remixed with rappers before and it’s been very successful, but to actually have the Keys embrace that concept sounded almost too off-the-wall. Especially with rappers like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ludacris, and Raekwon.

Fortunately, all my past reservations were nullified. Blakroc speaks for itself with a style and sound that can be best described as a familiar newness. The muddy sound of the Keys is present, as is the varying vocal styles of rappers like Mos Def and RZA, but the marrying of these styles brings about a flavor that is truly unique. In a way it’s a natural evolution of similar “blues-hop” albums like Cherrywine’s Bright Black, and it undoubtedly trumps its predecessors in quality and tightness of concept.

The sounds and composition is completely familiar territory. If you’ve heard any recent Black Keys’ albums like Attack & Release or last year’s Brothers than you’ll feel right at home. Muddy guitars with blues-y solos, catchy organ riffs, suave bass, and rhythmic drums are all present and in effect. What obviously is different however is the vocal delivery. Dan Auerbach’s signature blues vocals are reduced to a few hooks throughout the album, and even then they are often accompanied by singer Nicole Wray, who really just steals the show from Auerbach with great performances on tracks like What You Do To Me and Why Can’t I Forget Him. The rapping, the star of the vocal limelight, is surprisingly diverse in terms of sound and delivery. You have the aggressive and abrasive Ludacris and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the smooth Mos Def and Q-Tip, and finally the rhythmic and soulful rappers like RZA.

Lyrically the album also varies with each rapper obviously getting his own shot to rap his style. Songs like Coochie and Stay Off the Fuckin’ Flowers are explicit but have moments of imagery that are just downright poetic (Flowers especially). Other tracks seem to follow the classic Black Keys lyricism of love and lose and really feel add to the blues-hop flavor. Tellin’ Me Things and What You Do To Me perfectly exemplify the confidence and competiveness of hip-hop and the soulful self-reflection of blues. It’s an interesting balance. One track in particular, Why Can’t I Forget Him, is completely singing from the voice of Nicole Wray and harkens back to the older style of R&B while giving it a wonderful modern twist.

All in all Blackroc is probably the most successful blues-hop album to date. With it comes a variety of sounds all married by a superb execution. If you’re like me, and the idea of blues infused with hip-hop kinda makes you squeal a lot, Blakroc is definitely an album that exhibits that idea with flair and finesse.

Personal favorite tracks: Telling Me Things, Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo), and What You Do To Me

TL;DR: Definitely a wonderful practice in the art of blues-hop. If that sounds like your thing, this is for you.


Album: Trout Mask Replica
Artist: Captain Beefheart
Label: Straight, Reprise
Released: June 16, 1969
Genre: Experimental
*Sub-genres blues-rock, avant-garde
Sounds like: blues, rock, free-jazz, and experimental music all put into a blender.

Listening to a classic album years after it has been released will always be problematic. You’ll never be able to truly understand the impact it had on the music industry at that time. Whether it is because you weren’t alive when it came out, or you happened to discover it ions after the fact. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be able enjoy it, but you might have difficulty understanding its true genius. This is exactly what happened to me when I listened to Trout Mask Replica. At first, I was completely disoriented, yet I was kind of expecting something unusual out of it.

It’s not the weirdest album I’ve ever heard, (the worst/best one being Sun Ra’s Space is the Place), but it is a serious contender. Upon first listening to it, Trout Mask Replica seems like a recipe for disaster. Once you’ve looked in-depths however, the album isn’t that horrible. Basically, take John Coltrane’s and Ornette Coleman’s free-jazz time signatures, the simplest blues vocals, add a sip of experimental music, surrealism, and absurdity; and you have Trout Mask Replica. Fact of the matter is; it’s not an easy album to listen to. You’ll definitely need an ear for hardcore, gritty blues to enjoy it.

Captain Beefheart was one of rock’s greatest surrealists. In fact, some of his songs were completely hectic and nonsensical. He refused to follow the standard rules of the genre, and dissected Rock and Roll into its purest form. Now, whether or not his genius transcends into the album is a matter of taste, but you can’t deny Trout Mask Replica’s shier insanity. This is one of the best examples of complete artistic freedom and blatant absurdity.

Listening to Captain Beefheart is like plugging your brain into a continuous stream of Everything is Terrible clips while watching reruns of Ren and Stimpy; it is completely mental. I honestly recommend the album, but I’m not sure everybody will enjoy it. If you dig raw blues, wacky interludes, and can handle a little bit of Dadaism, you’ll do just fine. I’ve heard weirder albums than Trout Mask Replica. Fortunately, weird isn’t bad, (it’s actually pretty entertaining).

Personal favorite tracks: Ant Man Bee, Hair Pie Bake 1, Moonlight On Vermont, Sweet Sweet Bulbs

TL;DR: A completely unconventional and abstract record. Trout Mask Replica is an odd case. A weird experiment, turned into a classic.


Album: White Stripes
Artist: White Stripes
Label: Sympathy for the Record Industry
Released: June 15th, 1999
Genre: Alternative Rock
*Sub-genres Garage/Blues Rock
Sounds like: a guitar orgasm in the keys of blues and rock

As most of you probably already know we recently saw the end of a legendary band. Bands like The White Stripes don't just come along every day. The White Stripes were headed up by former couple, Jack White and Meg White. For years they put out some of the best music in America and just last week they officially broke up and called it quits. This retro review is in honor of them both.

White Stripes is the debut album from legendary rockers Jack and Meg white and easily some of their best. I have a hard time saying for sure which album of theirs I like the best but it's for sure one of the first three. In the last two albums (Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump) their sound sort of changed, not in a bad way mind you, just not my favorite.

This album just has so much soul! It also has a couple blues covers that are absolutely fantastic (Stop Breaking Down and St. James Infirmary Blues). Jack also belts out a delicious cover of Bob Dylan's One More Cup of Coffee, but the rest of the album is all Jack White originals.

For the first three White Stripes albums they had a very definite sound, a sound that could easily be described as raw, dirty, blister inducing guitar with some very simplistic drumming. AND THATS IT. Nothing else, just guitar and drums. It's kind of primitive in that way but thats what makes them so great. Theres just so much pure energy and emotion, and thats what rock should sound like if you ask me.

So as you can tell, I really really like this album. I couldn't possibly recommend this album enough! I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find someone who doesn't like at least one White Stripes song. Some people may have never even heard this album, I understand that many White Stripes fans didn't jump on with them until Elephant when Seven Nation Army was released. One quick side note, if you enjoyed this album you should check out the new Wanda Jackson album with Jack White, called The Party Ain't Over. The White Stripes are a band that we may never see again in our lives, but at least we have their music to keep us company.

Personal favorite tracks: Stop Breaking Down, Screwdriver, One More Cup Of Coffee(EDITBYDAXEL: Coolio Ass Stop Motion Video!), When I Hear My Name



Album: Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar
Artist: Disasterpeace
Label: Bandcamp
Released: January 1, 2011
Genre: Chiptunes
*Sub-genres Concept, Space
Sounds like: A journey through space and time inside of an 8 bit console

Concept Albums are a funny thing. They are made or broken by the fluidity of the album, meaning how well the tracks flow together, much more than other albums. This is one of the only chiptune albums I’ve heard that feels like a concept album. Disasterpeace makes you feel as if you’re being transported through space and time in a 1960’s B movie. Each track feel big and epic and sprawling, just like how I imagine most people (including myself) feel space to be like. It could also be seen as the perfect accompaniment to a funky fresh space adventure.

That’s not to say it’s lacking the danceclub vibe that pervades chiptunes/electronic music either, but they contribute to the overall along with standing out on their own as fun songs The album is a rush to experience and while it’s not all epic dancing beats, that’s to it’s credit and helps it stand out in a growing sea of chiptune artists

I would go as far as to call it a crowning achievement of what is possible with chiptunes. It’s artists like Disasterpeace that break molds and help genres of music find solid footing.

Personal favorite tracks: Prolouge, Jump Error, Club Wolf, and Counter of the Cumulus

[NOTE]The entire album is on bandcamp.

Summary for lazy people: A Chiptune powered adventure through Space and Time that breaks and reshapes preconceptions about Chiptunes

I'm not good at looking for pancakes.   read

6:16 PM on 01.31.2011

Busta Rhymes, Sleigh Bells, Zoe Keating, and Shad

Late Stereotoid! Did everyone enjoy their weekend? You better have! Here's some new tunes for your weekday from Busta Rhymes, Zoe Keating, Shad, and Sleigh Bells.

Album: Anarchy
Artist: Busta Rhymes
Label: Elektra Records
Released: 2000
Genre: Rap/Hip Hop
Sounds like: A True Salute To the Gods

Busta Rhymes was someone I used to look up to when I was a kid, despite my parent’s best efforts to introduce me to more family friendly tunes. It’s wasn’t the vulgarity or the vivid imagery presented in Busta’s rhymes (pun!), but ultimately his presentation that hooked me. Back when I was a kid, Busta Rhymes looked to me like someone who enjoyed the hell out of what he was doing.

10 years since I’ve given the album Anarchy a proper listen, and I still maintain the belief that Busta Rhymes enjoys the hell out of what he does.

Anarchy can be summed up in five words; shit you fucking jam too[/i.]. That’s what I loved about Busta back when I was a kid. He ultimately made music that no matter who you were, you’d find yourself bobbing your head. This is a quality that’s present in most, if not all East Coast rap, but by the time Busta Rhymes comes to [i]Anarchy, he’s successfully mastered the craft of music that makes people black.

Yes, it should be a scientific fact by now; listening to Anarchy has an 80% chance of making you East Cost Gangster. You may or may not like that fact, but it’s a reason why Anarchy is so good. It presents an excellent picture of the East Cost lifestyle though driving beats and incredibly impressive imagery.

Lyrically, this album is genius. I could go quote for quote of snippets of Anarchy that surprise me, excite me, make me laugh, and ultimately keep me hooked on Busta’s every word. While his lyrical explosiveness is obvious, the reason he’s able to convey his message so effectively is how he presents his rhymes. Busta Rhymes displays an uncanny grasp of rhythm and flow, able to take a simple beat, and rap lyrics around the beat in such a convoluted yet simplistic way, that it gives that full result of “damn, this guy knows what the fuck he’s talking about.”

Beat wise, this album is genius. You’ll get a nice mix of the general rap tropes that happened back in the day; you’ve got your jazzy tracks and your subtle bass and sample tracks, but you’ve also got some tracks that benefit from a slight infusion of Jamaican Rastafarianism. And Busta’s presentation changes accordingly with the current feel of the beat. You’re given a collection of tunes that’s ultimately some of the best music to listen to while driving through Brooklyn with your window down and head rocking like you’re from the hood.

There’s so much good in this album, and it’s all because it feels as if Busta Rhymes had too much damn fun composing it. Complete stories (and I mean compete stories, drama, twists and all) are told in their entirety in some tracks, while others play off the Y2K theme of world destruction and reformation. Busta displays the ability to spit lyrics continuously with no sign of flow interruption or even a hint that he had to think before he spoke, something that is somewhat missing in hip hop now-a-days. But ultimately, Busta makes music that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until he done with you, and at that point you don’t want him to stop.

So yeah, you should totally go find a copy of this Anarchy. It’s visceral, it’s brutal, it’s complex, it’s incredibly gangster, and overall, it’s one of the best things to come out of the last decade. In the immortal words of Busta Bus, buy this album, pop it in/rip it to your MP3 player, and “sit down and bounce to this shit.”

Personal favorite tracks:

Enjoy Da Ride, Fire (Official Music Video), and Get Out (Official Music Video)

TL;DR: In my opinion, one of the greatest albums from one of the greatest rappers of our time. Pick it up and break your neck.


Album: Into the Trees
Artist: Zoë Keating
Label: Independent
Released: 2010
Genre: modern classical
*Sub-genres cello, avant-garde, ambient
Sounds like: Classical music mixed with innovative electronic layering.

I should really stop taking my music tastes for granted. I must cease my belligerent cynical non-sense, and accept this fact: music will never become dull. It might be all too obvious to said that – and believe me this is the last time you’ll hear me saying this-- but I cannot emphasize enough, on how certain records go to my head like a thunderous roar of brilliance.

Pardon my overly romantic induction, but I get very passionate about what I listen to. And Zoë Keating’s music is no exception. Once again, the wonders of the Internet have brought me to this talented cello player. Into the Trees is an absolutely delightful mix between classical and experimental music. Everything is put together like puzzle pieces. Each sound, electronic sample, percussion, and cord tapping are marvelously assembled into a symphony. She is in fact, capable of layering everything in a cohesive and minimalist way that would make every “one-man” band burst into envious rage.

Her cello is bold and strong; incredibly uplifting, and precise. Keating is an amazing composer, able to truly capture the essence of her field. She plays her cello with vigor, and as mentioned before; is able to blend everything back into a melodic and sophisticated manner.

The feel of Into the Trees transcends over its classical roots. Some songs sound almost like alternative rock, while others flirt with ambient in the more symphonic pieces. She is also an information architect, which makes her approach music like a true engineer. Just by listening to her songs, you can clearly hear the complexity of her compositions.

I may not have heard a lot of classical music in my days. But, I can safely say that the innovation and shier originality that Zoë Keating brings to the table is enough to make me fall in love with her music. She is talented -- dare I say a perfectionist – and it totally shines through in Into the Trees.

This album is brilliant.

Personal favorite tracks: Escape Artist, Optimist, The Path . Honestly though, the entire album is fantastic.

TL;DR: She is the “Kaki King” of cello players. Bold and innovative; I think I just had an eargasm.


Album: When this is over
Artist: Shad
Label: Shad
Released: 2005
Genre: Hip-Hop
Sounds like: If Boards of Canada and Talib Kweli had sex.

It’s very refreshing to hear an album like When this is over, and an artist like Shad, for that matter. We’ve all got over our k-os fix a long time ago, and forgot about the Great White North’s potential. So, I’ve decided to pick his first album over the newer ones, (his latest dating back to last year) because like many artists – especially in Hip-Hop— earlier albums are the most consistent and inspired. Believe me, his discography is good, but I personally think When this is over is his best one.

The album is the product of a literate old-school Hip-Hop fan. The zeitgeist of the Golden Age transcended in both his lyrics and his beats. Speaking of which, his lyrics are top notch, conscious and intelligent. The Street Life vibe that we usually get from contemporary Hip-Hop albums is absent from this record. Some rappers just “get it”, he’s one of ‘em; a slick-rhyming cat settled in London, Ontario.

The Underground is an absolute jewel for hard-knocking rap music. When this is over debunks tenfold my pessimism towards modern Hip-Hop. Once in a while – which is becoming more and more frequent these days -- there’s going to be an album that completely wrecks everything in its path, and provide the perfect package. It’s almost too funny to think that Madvillainy came one year prior to it, too. There is mad quality in Hip-Hop nowadays; you just have to look for it.

Shad’s flow is excellent, but the real hook of the album is definitely the beats. Highly comparable to Madlib’s or even The Pharcyde, the crate digging duty was freaking boss, dare I say, (almost De La Soul-ian). It’s not a terribly funky album, but it takes so much from acoustic and borderline ambient rhythms, that it’s actually much more laid back.

When this is over is full of flavor and master lyricism. His most recent album flirts with pop, especially in the beats --possibly because of the higher production quality-- but his lyrics are always on point. If you’re into k-os, Rascalz or Cadence Weapon; I think you’ll find something to like in Shad. Canadian rappers always surprises me, and Shad only reaffirms that quality rap can come out of the indie scene without sounding like a club-record, (I’m looking at you Cadence Weapon).

Personal favorite tracks: I Get Down, New School Leaders , Out of Love , Wild

TL;DR: An incredible Hip-Hop record. Intelligent lyricism, hypnotizing beats; independent Hip-Hop never sounded so good.


Album: Treats
Artist: Sleigh Bells
Label: Mom + Pop Recordings / N.E.E.T.
Released: May 11th, 2010
Genre: Noise Pop
*Sub-genres Bad Ass
Sounds like: The most bad ass noises you have ever heard.

I want you to think of the most bad ass music you can think of. Need some more time? Thats fine. ......... Ok, you got it? So what is it? Slayer? Metallica? Black Flag? Well here is your new go to for bad ass music and it is not metal at all. As it turns out the most bad ass album to come out in years is Treats by Sleigh Bells. Yeah you heard right ... this totally bad ass band is called Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells are what is commonly conisdered as "noise pop" which in my brain typically translates as they make a bunch of noise for the sake of making a bunch of noise. This is not the case with this band. While they do create quite a bit of noise, what they're doing dosen't sound messy or unplanned. They are very bass driven with lots of raw guitar licks thrown in. This is just a super fun band guys, I'm super cereal!

One thing that makes these guys so fun is that their songs seemingly aren't really about much at all. For instance one of my favorite songs on the album, Kids, is just about a group of friends spending the day at the beach. Now I usually am one of the first to critisize a song for being shallow and not really about anything of worth. Even though that is my usual stance I do believe that on occasion you just gotta have a meaningless, fun album to just throw on and feel good about. Something you don't really have to think about or pay that much attention to. This is that kind of album.

This is Sleigh Bells first album and I really can't reccomend it enough! I absolutley adored this album and cannot wait to see what this group does next. I see great things in their future. So please, please, please do your ears a favor today and listen to these guys!

Personal favorite tracks: [Editor’s Note: Crackity left this blank so let’s say his favorites were track..1, 7 and…I dunno…4.]

TL;DR: Sleigh Bells are bad ass, if you want to be a bad ass listen to Sleigh Bells

-Crackity Jones   read

8:12 PM on 01.23.2011

Caribou, Peter Bjorn and John, Rancid, La Dispute, and Wu-Tang Clan vs. Beatles

Here ya go.

Album: Swim
Artist: Caribou
Label: Merge Records
Released: 2010
Genre: Indie/Electronica/Pop/Utter Madness
Sounds like: Animal Collective/Battles in the 70s, Hot Chip

Sometimes, all it takes to find new music is to randomly look at album art you think looks cool. In my case, the album art for Swim looked colorful enough for me to want to check out a few of the samples on Amazon’s MP3 storefront. Man, discovering new music is awesome.

Swim is something that’s hard to describe, but you know what it sounds like. It’s an enigma in itself; the songs share a central theme, but you can’t really group them all into one deeply specific category. Songs on Swim will change tactics ever so slightly, keeping the album fresh enough to warrant multiple nonstop listens. Every time you pop the album in, something new manages to reveal itself, anything from new loops to new instrumental parts; even the little things can give the album a fresh face every time you come back.

Those little parts are brought out by how Caribou puts his music together. If I had to slam a concrete specific genra on this album, it’s definitely electronica. Caribou uses usual yet catchy loops that, at first can be jarring to the ear, but then settle into an acceptable and incredibly enjoyable groove. I found my first listen of this album a little noisy on the ears, but as the tracks fell into place, Caribou began to make wonderful, wonderful music.

Then we get to his highly experimental samples. I can’t really describe what is happening in the upper registers of the song “Kalli”, but whatever is happing manages to sink into that same groove I was describing beforehand. The style of the samples carries over into the style of the vocals, being incredibly unusual, but after awhile inherently familiar.

On a first listen, this album can seem as foreign as earlier Animal Collective work or the more mathematical Battles, but after awhile, as with those bands, you start to fall into that groove of what they do with instruments, vocals, and sampling. It’s just that Caribou uses familiar disco-like tactics to help facilitate you in getting used to all the weird things happening in the composition at an alarming pace. Almost every song on Swim feels as if, at its core that it is a dance track, and that really helps in naturally getting the user to say “wow, this isn’t hurting my brain,” and the quicker you can get a listener to do that with your music, the better.

Caribou is clearly very talented at introducing and hooking one in with his style of music. It’s something you seldom hear out there in the world, but then it becomes something so familiar you almost feel as if you’re an expert on the music yourself. I will admit I wasn’t jiving with the album at first, but the turn around to me becoming completely enamored with the music was so surprising and quick that I forgot I ever had doubts with Swim to begin with. It’s definitely something you want to check out if you’re looking for something a little off kilter but easily enjoyable.

Plus, Caribou’s a mathematician. How awesome is that?

Personal favorite tracks: Kalli, Jamelia, Bowls

TL;DR: IndieElectroPop. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable combination. Trust me


Album: Gimme Some
Artist: Peter Bjorn and John
Label: Almost Gold Recordings
Released: March 29th, 2011
Genre: Indie Pop/Rock
Sounds like: Old Peter Bjorn and John plus the 60's

You ever hear that song that had those bongos in the background and the chorus went like, "and we don't care about the young folks, talkin' 'bout the young style"? Yeah it was kind of good at first and then got way over played to the point that you hate that song. Well that song is by Peter Bjorn and John and they're actually a really great band, no really!

Gimme Some is the followup to PB&J's 2009 album Living Thing, which was a fantastic album by the way, while Living Thing had a more electronic style Gimme Some is more traditional rock/pop it's also seems to be rather 60's pop influenced. I enjoy the sound of this album but honestly, I feel like the style they went with is begenning to get a little over used in the music industry.

I think PB&J's greatest strength is that they have a gift for wrting extremley catch songs. They have proven it once again with this album, with songs like Tomorrow Has To Wait and Dig A Little Deeper. There are other great catchy songs on the album but I think those two are the catchiest. Overall its a really good album, but it could have been better if you ask me. Living Thing was just so good! I wanted something that would be a great succesor to it, this album however, does not quite make the grade.

Sorry for the lack of links, the album isn't out for a while so I couldn't find any links.

Personal favorite tracks: Dig A Little Deeper, Down Like Me, Eyes, Tomorrow Has To Wait

TL;DR: Good but not great, Living Thing was a better album.

-Crackity Jones

Album: ...And Out Come The Wolves
Artist: Rancid
Label: August 22, 1995
Released: Epitaph Records
Genre: Punk
Sub-genres Ska
Sounds like: It sounds like an influential punk album. Don't act like you've never heard it.

Okay, so...there was this band. They were a punk band. They came out with a couple albums, started getting super popular, people started to notice 'em. Then they come out with this one, super huge, critically acclaimed, oh-my-god-you-better-go-listen-to-it album, and suddenly punk rock matters to the mainstream again. Of course I'm talking about Rancid.

So, for starters, you've probably heard this album already, listened to it a million times, love it to death. This is without a doubt, probably the biggest punk album to come out in the 90's. This, Green Day's Dookie album, The Offspring's Smash album, and Bad Religion's Stranger Than Fiction album pretty much brought punk back from the grave. So naturally an album that influential shouldn't be new to any of you. Why am I reviewing it then?

BECAUSE I FUCKING LOVE THIS ALBUM. Every aspect of this album is simply perfect. Tim Armstrong's vocals are at their best. Him and Lars Frederiksen has never sounded better on guitar than on this album. Brett Reed has never been a more badass drummer. And Matt Freeman's bass? Go listen to Maxwell Murder and let your mind be blown all over the walls at that amazing bass solo. Some may disagree, but I think this is definitely Rancid at their absolute best.

It's also worth noting that, while being a punk album, it's far more approachable than most punk albums out there. Rancid's signature ska-ish punk sound (A nice callback to Tim and Matt's time in Operation Ivy) is not only a blast to listen to, but insanely memorable. I'm sure anybody reading this review could sing the chorus to Time Bomb at the drop of a might be doing it now even. That's probably one of the best things about this album- every song is so instantly memorable, from Ruby Soho's anthemic “Destination unknown” chorus, to the MTV staple Roots Radical, even to not-as-popular tracks like As Wicked and Listed M.I.A. If you've listened to, grown up to, or had any enjoyment out of this album ever, you probably know every track. It sticks with you.

And it's probably a good thing to, because this album always, ALWAYS, puts a smile on my face. You try screaming “DIAL 999 IF YOU REALLY WANT THE TRUTH” without grinning. This album might as well be prescribed as an anti-depressant, it's just so awesomely uplifting. Makes sense considering the band eventually went on to write a song that pretty much got me through high school (Fall Back Down, if you were wondering).

Long story short, you already love this album most likely. If you haven't listened to it yet, FUCKING DO IT.

Personal favorite tracks: Everything. But of course, I have to pick, so Maxwell Murder, Listed M.I.A, As Wicked, Junkie Man

TL;DR: It's one of the biggest punk albums in history for a reason. LISTEN TO IT.


Album: Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair
Artist: La Dispute
Label: No Sleep Records
Released: November 11, 2008
Genre: Post-Hardcore
Sub-genres A little experimental rock, a little indie rock.
Sounds like: Poetic energy.

Every now and then, I'm introduced to a band that puts out something that's more than just music. A band that could actually be considered art at times. From the well-honed composition of their music, to the lyrics, a band can actually go beyond simple “Good to listen to” and actually strike a nerve, leave a lasting impression on you and actually make you remember what it's like to perceive music as an art form.

This is one of those albums.

Now before I go too far, I should say that, if you aren't a fan of the post-hardcore sound, or have a bit of a disdain for “screaming” vocals, this won't be for you. Granted, I hesitate to use the word “screaming” in reference to this man's vocals. They're very harsh, yes, but they're easily interpreted, easy to make out exactly what he's saying, and uses them in all the right places and nothing more. But again, if you don't like those two elements, you probably won't like this album, but I still urge you at least give it a shot.

See, La Dispute is a band that strives to make their music artistically, technically, and emotionally engaging. They want you to hear their music and walk away feeling something. In that aspect, they pass with flying colors. Everything about this album is so technically sound it could put some prog bands to shame. And the emotion? You need look no further than the lyrics of each song. Sometimes sang, sometimes screamed at you, it's almost impossible to not draw some kind of feeling from any of these songs. There's just a certain passion and poetry involved with these lyrics that sticks with you. Maybe I'm just a sap, but a lot of these songs, once I sat down and listened to them, managed to shake me to my core.

And while the lyrical output is probably the star of the show, the music itself is incredible. Going far beyond the standard post-hardcore sound, you'll find no shortage of impressive instrumentation here. Time changes, guitar wizardry, some incredible drum work, it's all here. It's not all over the place and highly showy like most prog or metal stuff, but then again it doesn't have to be. It's pretty much the perfect sound for the story the lyrics are attempting to portray.

And the story. It's never been explicitly stated anywhere as far as I know, but the album seems to tell the tale of two lovers, falling in love, falling out of love, being lonely, and missing each other. Starting out innocuously enough with the opening track “Such Small Hands”, it's a frantic rollercoaster of emotion from there all the way to the end track, “Nobody, Not Even The Rain”, a song that lyrically and musically is near-identical to the opening track...almost finishing the album where it started.

Simply put, this album deserves a listen from anyone even remotely interested in music as artistic expression. If you've ever enjoyed poetry, enjoyed love, hell...enjoyed post-hardcore music, pick this up.

Personal favorite tracks: Such Small Hands/Nobody, Not Even The Rain (Around the middle is when the songs change), Damaged Goods, Bury Your Flame, Sad Prayers For Guilty Bodies

TL;DR: It's poetry. Frantic, beautiful poetry.


Album: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers
Artist: Wu-Tang Clan/The Beatles
Label: Tea Sea Records
Released: N/A
Genre: Hip-hop
*Sub-genres Jazz-hop
Sounds like: An unholy marriage of sheer brilliance

When I first heard that there was a Wu-Tang Clan vs. Beatles mixtape floating around on the internet I really didn’t know what to think. While the two do share a few similar characteristics, and while it is simple enough to just sample the Beatles onto Wu-Tang tracks, I don’t think I was really prepared for what I was about to experience. Once you get into the business of remixes and mash-ups you enter very murky territory where a lot of the boundaries and expectations have never really been set.

An album like Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is, in my opinion, what a mash-up mixtape should aspire to be right from the concept alone. The marrying of Wu-Tang Clan and the Beatles is unexpected and requires creativity but doesn’t go out of its way to be ridiculous like the horrid tragedy that is All Day by Girl Talk.

The execution is even better. The album opens up with a few samples from interviews and live performances from each group almost in a call and response fashion and then kicks right into a stellar reimagining of the hip-hop classic C.R.E.A.M. From there on the album does incredibly well to pay respect to the genius behind both artist. Specifically retakes on Criminology, Smith Bros, City High, and Got Your Money sound less like mixes of two songs and instead feel like their own unique songs that stand alone as nods to each group.

It’s an unashamedly hip-hop heavy album with actually very little vocal service from any of the Beatles. In fact much of the Beatles side of the tracks aren’t the original Beatles tracks at all but rather jazz, piano, or orchestral covers of Beatles songs. It’s actually rather brilliant in that you can instantly recognize Happiness Is A Warm Gun or Can’t Buy Me Love without the tracks having to sound like it was completely lifted from their original albums. And when the album does lift a track straight from the original song, like the guitar solo from While My Guitar Gently Weeps for example, it’s made all the more exciting.

On the Wu-Tang side there are obviously the vocals, which remain almost completely untouched with the exception of a few tempo shifts or studio effects like echo. Even the drums, while being for the most part from the Wu-Tang side, can differ. When they are from the Wu-Tang side they’re heavy and rough as is expected from the group. One particular nod to the Wu-Tang style of Enter the 36 Chambers, is that when the original drums are not rough or soft enough the mash-up artist will lift drums from the older tracks and fit them with the acapella (vocals) of the track being played.

As all of this is taking place the audience is treated to an absolutely stellar array of interviews from not only the groups in question but the individuals who got to experience the sweeping cultural phenomena that was the Beatles as well as the television shows and movies that inspired the Wu-Tang. So as the listener is being treated with the album there is also the fascinating story of how Beatlemania began to shape a generation with small bits of audio Wu-Tang paraphernalia. It’s amazing to watch as such a heavy album delivers the story of the craze that was Beatlemania in such an aggressive manner; almost painting the Beatles as some sort of invaders with a plan to control everything.

Oh, and finally, every track is good. Every single God damn one. As long as the album is (82 minutes) is thoroughly lovable from front to back several times over.

All in all Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is perfect. It’s not only one of the best mixtapes I’ve ever heard (and I grew up with mash-up mixtapes) but it’s probably up there with any of the best work to ever be branded with the Wu-Tang name. As for the Beatles, it’s an incredibly fresh take on what has become a somewhat stale and tired brand and one I wish the remaining members would openly support (or rather one I wish they could if Beatles fans weren’t so fucking crazy. If you’re at all interested in good hip-hop or some absolutely spectacular mashing up do yourself a favor and find this mixtape. Words can not express it’s greatness.

Personal favorite tracks: Got Your Money, Criminology, and Forget Me Not

TL;DR: An incredible album that goes above and beyond paying homage to it’s sources.

-Xzyliac   read

7:05 PM on 01.14.2011

Freezepop and The Decemberists



Looks like it’s just me this week. Huh. Well, ain’t no thang. This week we got two albums for you and they’re very good albums on two polar opposite sides of the spectrum so pick your poison and dive in. The Decemberists and Freezepop. You really can’t lose.

Album: The King is Dead
Artist: The Decemberists
Label: Capitol Records
Released: January 18, 2011
Genre: Rock
*Sub-genres Folk rock
Sounds like: A modern day mash-up of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan

Admittedly, I was a bit unprepared to review this album. The Decemberists will always be, for me, the band that made The Hazards of Love. If you don’t know, The Hazards of Love is a rock opera and probably my favorite of them all. Thing about rock operas though is that they are rarely representative of what a band offers on a normal basis. And so, with The Hazards of Love in my mind, I approached this latest offering and that probably wasn’t the best idea.

The King is Dead is extremely folks-y. It’s very folks-y and very country, and in that respect it’s a fabulous album. Songs like Rox in the Box and Down By the Water are absolutely spectacular. They carry with them a sense of style, finesse, and composure that only a band like The Decemberists can convey. Upon first listen it’s striking the sounds that the band so masterfully melds together; a strange sort of mix of contemporary country, traditional folk, and 18th century baroque.

The composition of the album is, as I’m sure you can tell, perfect. So we won’t spend much time finding different ways to say what has already been said. Instead, let’s break some stuff down. Some of the great mainstays of the album are harmonica, acoustic guitar, and slow moving country slide guitar. It all comes together just as well as one would expect and is complimented by Colin Meloy’s near angelic voice in the lead, bandmate Jenny Conlee, and guest musician Gillian Welch who contributes some truly powerful back-up vocals. Alongside these elements are the percussions which are surprisingly varied in sound.

Lyrically the album is so-so. For a Decemberists album there have certainly been better lyrics but songs like Down By the Water and June Hymn are still great examples of imagery and poetic skill.

Now, all in all, The King is Dead is a fantastic album with a great warm sound and exceptionally handled delivery. However, as a follow up to The Hazards of Love, the album does fall short of achieving that same level of ambition or dexterousness. However what The King is Dead lacks in ambition it makes up for in finesse.

Personal favorite tracks: Down By the Water, Rox in the Box, and June Hymn

[b]You can hear the whole album before release here.

TL;DR: A great album that does what it does flawlessly but doesn’t quite match the brilliance of the bands previous outing The Hazards of Love.


Album: Imaginary Friends
Artist: Freezepop
Label: Archenemy Record Company
Released: December 7, 2010
Genre: Synthpop
*Sub-genres Awesome synthpop
Sounds like: Freezepop 2.0. Classic Freezepop with some Daft Punk and a hint of chiptune.

This review is long overdue. Freezepop is a band that’s close to a lot of our hearts. Something about Freezepop just really seems to resonate with the pacts of fun loving nerds out there. And it makes sense really. It’s taking the mundanity of life and coloring it with cold synth sounds. It’s that vision of the future we’ve all fantasized about in countless futuristic films, television shows, and videogames.

Imaginary Friends is definitely a step in the right direction for the band, continuing that vision that we’ve all seen the band uphold. Through the years the band’s sound has become more and more complex. Losing the minimalism of albums like Freezepop Forever and Fancy Ultra Fresh in favor of a wider range of sounds and a more club centric feel. In 2007 this shift resulted in Future Future Future Perfect, a wonderful album but one that seemed to begin to lose that cold emotionless edge that the band’s first two albums had. With Imaginary Friends that edge is back in full force and doesn’t dismiss any of the lessons learned from the past 11 years. What results is what may possibly be the bands greatest album yet.

Songs like Magnetic, Lose That Boy, and Special Effects are unabashed synthetic joy. The bass is kicked up to the max, the charm doesn’t hold back, and frankly a Freezepop album has never sounded this versatile before. You’ve got your space-y tracks like House Of Mirrors, your dance-y tracks like the aforementioned Lose That Boy, your weird charming tracks like We Don’t Have Normal Lives, they’re all just awesome.

The composition is spot-on. The best the band's done in my opinion. The percussion, while not nearly as complicated as some of the bands past works, works insanely well with the rest of the tracks. And the rest of the tracks on any song are simply delightful. From the synth sounds, to the studio work, to the spectacular performance from Liz Enthusiasm the album just has that sound that makes you want to blast the radio up, grab your nearest friend, and bedroom dance all night.

Lyrically, the album is just as charming as previous Freezepop albums. Songs like Lose That Boy, Magnetic, and Lady Spider are both written and delivered with the classic Freezepop with we’ve all come to expect. Themes of the album like unfair relationships, spiders, hot air balloons, it’s all pretty much fair game for a band like Freezepop.

So I’m sure you’ve guessed by now but this album comes highly recommended. It is quite possibly Freezepop’s greatest album to date and is a sign that even after a decade there are still places of their universe we’ve yet to experience. Buy this album. Seriously.

Oh, and buy it from the official store. Coolest band store ever.

Personal favorite tracks: Lose That Boy, We Don’t Have Normal Lives, Natural Causes, and House of Mirrors

TL;DR: Best of Freezepop yet. If you like good synthpop, buy it. Thrice.



8:05 PM on 01.09.2011

Cake, Gnarls Barkley, Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd, Magnolius, and Pantha Du Prince

Sunday is the new Friday. But not really. We're just really late. Again. Hey, we have jobs too.

Album: St. Elsewhere
Artist: Gnarls Barkley
Label: Downtown/Atlantic
Released: April 24, 2006
Genre: R&B
*Sub-genres Neo-soul, tip-hop
Sounds like: If Cee Lo Green hijacked a Gorillaz album

As some of you might remember from my most recent piece of writing on Stereotoid one of the songs that I hold dearest is Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. Well really that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. The album St. Elsewhere is simply one of the best I’ve ever heard and so, with nothing else really tickling my fancy this week, I thought it appropriate to choose something with which I can rave about for a few paragraphs.

St. Elsewhere stands, in my opinion, as the epitome of neo-soul. When you first hear the album you’re kissed with a delightfully smooth and modern sound. Something that your mind knows is heavily produced, in some cases synthetic, but that your heart believes is pure and natural. It’s really one of the greatest accomplishments of Danger Mouse, who serves as the co-writer and producer for the album. Songs like Crazy, St. Elsewhere, and the cover of Velvet Underground’s Gone Daddy Gone are absolutely stellar and incredibly welcoming to the listener. Even still they barely scratch the surface and the album is constantly introducing something new with fantastic quality and consistency.

The composition of the album is unique and masterful. Songs like Crazy and Smiley Faces are heavily steeped in soul and it shows through the simplistic drumming, ominous synth, and Cee Lo Greens sensual delivery. Meanwhile tracks like Transformer and Feng Shui are hip-hop nirvana. The lyricism and creative delivery are simply brilliant. Complimented by synth and the occasional loop the hip-hop side of this album can easily stand up to the entirety of some of the other greats in the industry both past and present.

The lyrics of St. Elsewhere are just as striking as the rest of the album. Tracks like Just A Thought, which convey the idea of being stuck between a rock and a hard place and The Boogie Monster, which tells the story of a man who is afraid of his own reflection, are some of the best lyrics to come about in the mainstream music scene of the last 5 years. And of course there’s my personal favorite, Crazy.

All these elements come together to create a truly fantastic album. It’s difficult to pin just who I would recommend this album to but it’s equally difficult to pin who I wouldn’t recommend it to. It’s one of those albums everyone should sit through at least once if only for the experience.

Personal favorite tracks: Crazy, Feng Shui, and Transformer

TL;DR: One of the best albums of the 21st century. A delightful experience everyone should be exposed to at least once.


Album: Jazz Samba
Artist: Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd
Label: MGM/Verve
Released: 13 February 1962
Genre: Jazz
*Sub-genres Bossa Nova
Sounds like: Remember when you tuned in to the Latin radio channel in The Sims. Yep, that’s pretty much what it is.

Bossa Nova was a short-lived Brazilian jazz style of the early-sixties. It took America by storm, for its vigorous rhythms and smooth love ballads. Jazz Samba was actually the first Bossa Nova album to transcend its Brazilian roots, and seduce America’s ears for Latin jazz. Following that would be a short-lived period of this new trend, (the whole movement lasted no-less than 5 years). The genre has more or less died out since then, but the style and flavor it brought to Jazz is still felt to this day. Jazz Samba is only one of the timeless classic of this abrupt era.

If there’s one thing I absolutely adore in this world, its drum brushes. Apart from a Moog synthesizer, I have the most intense joy when I hear those brushes hit a snare drum. Jazz Samba is exactly that kind of album. The heavy bass, the smooth saxophone of Getz, and the sharp guitar of Byrd make everything sound perfect on this album. The record is Brazil in a capsule. Part of an ephemeral period, yes, but so freaking fantastic; along side with Getz/Gilberto (That Girl from Ipanema album), it’s one of the best, and sensual introduction to this Brazilian branch of jazz. And all of that played by two Americans how’s that for familiarity.

This review is somewhat really short, but to be honest I can’t say much more about Jazz Samba. It is a wonderful, sensual trip into Latin Jazz; my Latin (French) blood can’t help but connect with this rhythm. If anything, it makes me wish I could go back in time and live this special period in Jazz history. Where drummers banged straws on their knees to produce the most refined and subtle percussion. And smooth-talking singers made the most beautiful love songs.

Personal favorite tracks: Desafinado, Samba Dees Days , Samba De Una Nota

TL;DR: Brazilian Jazz charging barricades like a raging rhino. In that case, the barricades would be America.


Album: Black Noise
Artist: Pantha Du Prince
Label: Rough Trade
Released: February 8, 2010
Genre: Techno
*Sub-genres Minimal techno
Sounds like: If you walked in the VIP lounge of the Afterlife Club in Mass Effect 2.

You have to hand it to the Germans when it comes to electronic music. They are veterans in that field, producing innovative and challenging records since the days of Neu! and Kraftwerk. Fortunately, a new breed has come; Pantha Du Prince has been hanging around the minimal techno scene for quite a while now. Black Noise is in fact, his 3rd album under the pseudonym, (with his earlier work dating back to 2002 as Glühen 4). It’s quite hard to popularized eccentric melodies like his in this day and age; with a market quasi-saturated by Trance and EDM (Electronic Dance Music), especially in America. But, Black Noise is still an incredible record, regardless.

The album takes from dark ambient, IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), and Musique Concrète (concrete or real music) all of its tempos. It’s a very original mix – one that I haven’t heard in a while, (considering Boards of Canada have been on a relatively short hiatus as of late.). And with that, it’s able to distinguish itself from the others. All the songs have similar patterns, (much like Trance, actually), the tracks crescendo by the three quarter time-mark. It’s not terribly innovative, but considering the genre, conservatism is the best way to deal with minimalism. The songs are mostly based on repetition, as well as recorded samples, vocals, and the good old synthesizer.

Even based on repetition, Black Noise is incredibly groovy and uplifting. It kind of reminds me of the PixelJunk Eden soundtrack in a way. Minimalism is probably the greatest thing ever when it comes to electronic music. It’s able to separate layers, and accentuate the bleeps and bloops. By that I mean, the tracks have a lot more substance rhythmically, and it’s a lot easier on the ears. But, don’t be fooled by its ambient roots, Pantha Du Prince’s third LP is groovy as hell.

There’s a weird organic feel to Black Noise. German artists are able to giving much more “humanity” to electronic music. It’s definitely hard to describe, but you can totally hear it when you listen to the album. Black Noise might sound like an utterly robotic dance album at first, but its subtlety can only derive from a human mind. Pantha Du Prince is pretty goddamn neat; this is probably his most achieved album, yet. 2010 sure has been grateful to this Teutonic prince of minimal techno.

Personal favorite tracks: Satellite Sniper, Behind the Stars , Bohemian Forest , Lay in a Shimmer ,

TL;DR: For what is essentially a dark ambient/idm/Musique Concrète album, it is incredibly rhythmic and groovy. Probably the best techno you will hear in a long time.


Album: Mary Musth
Artist: Magnolius
Released: 2010
Genre: Rap/Hip Hop, Instrumental Hip Hop
Sounds like: Daedalus, Amon Tobin, Aesop Rock, The Beastie Boys

You know, I love the internet. Without it, I literally wouldn’t know half the things I know, wouldn’t have met half of the awesome people I’m now friends with, wouldn’t have played 80% of the games I’ve played, and would have never in my life have discovered this little indie rap group called Magnolius.

I swear the spontaneousness of me coming across these two is astronomical; they had followed on Tumblr, and with how cluttered my dashboard can get, missing notes and things is easily done. But I saw them, took an interest to the name, and hopped on over to their blog, to which I read a post about how they were glad that they had the chance to perform with De La Soul on stage. This prompted me to hit their Bandcamp, and low and behold, the final barrier; a self release free album.

Already, it’s taken the slot of one of the best free things I’ve downloaded in the last few months.

The first thing you’ll notice about Magnolius is how energetic they present themselves. Magnolius is bursting with whatever they do, from the music to their downright assaults on the lyrical front. The energy presented from this dynamic duo of rappers is something to be envied, and can almost be charted on levels of The Beastie Boys.

This amazing amount of energy is easily complemented by how simple yet energetic the underlying beats can be. Instrumental in nature, these beats sometime feature the use of sampling, and probably did in the studio, but the thing is that almost each and every one of these sounds could be reproduced live with a full ensemble. The style of the beats often borders on the line crossing between Amon Tobin and Daedalus, but that’s not to say that the music can’t achieve levels of energy that rival that of what Mindless Self Indulgence does with their sounds. It’s all put together really well, and does a nice job of meshing together different styles, and making something that’s unique to them.

Of course, as I said, Magnolius presents a literal lyrical assault at times, throwing rhymes at listeners so fast and fluid-like that it’s hard to know exactly when the rapper on hand is taking a breath. There is a nice balance between furious rapping and long, enjoyable instrumental experiences in some of the songs though. Often, after you’ve gone through said lyrical attack, you’ll be treated to just the beats I described above. It’s almost jazzy in the nature and style of the positioning of lyrical madness and genius instrumentalism.

Magnolius has ultimately crafted an album that makes you want to go out and see this group live. Obviously, both Shan Vincent de Paul and Derek DaCosta are extremely talented individuals who’ve crafted a style that fits the “we’re so much better live” persona almost perfectly. It took only one listen through for me to get completely hooked on Magnolius, and to create something that makes me want to go out of my way to buy tickets to see them in the flesh is a feat in itself.

Only a few rap artists can claim that that they could do it with one album, and Magnolius is now one of them.

Personal favorite tracks: Tusk, King For Hire

TL;DR: It’s energetic, it’s furious, it’s free. What are you waiting for?

You can download Mary Musth here, for free, off of the Magnolius Bandcamp page.


Album: Showroom of Compassion
Artist: Cake
Label: Upbeat Records
Released: January 11th, 2011
Genre: Alternative Rock
Sounds like: Early 90s. Fun. Return to greatness. CAKE!!!

It's been a long time since we've heard from our good friends Cake. Seven long years, its been seven long years since the last time we had a new Cake album in our hands, but the wait is over and we now have Showroom of Compassion in our dirty little mitts. And you know what? The wait was worth it, because their new album is pretty great, as are most Cake albums. So lets get down to the details on this solar powered record. Oh, by the way, they recorded the whole album using solar power 'cause they're hippies.

This album opens pretty strong with the first two tracks being some of the best on the album, we start things off with the song Federal Funding and right from the beginning of the track you know you're in for a good album. Right after Federal Funding is my favorite track on the entire album, Long Time. The song isn't about how its been a long time since they were relevant but I like to pretend it is when I listen to it, I always have been a bit of a sucker for great returns to greatness.

The rest of the album is just as strong in my opinion. From start to finish I really enjoyed every track on this album, of course I liked some more than others but thats to be expected. One thing I truly appreciated about this album was the return of the Cake instrumental sections (previously seen in Italian Leather Sofa) this time we get an amazing instrumental song entitled, Teenage Pregnancy. Then you have fun almost anthem like songs such as Sick of You. Meaningful but hilarious songs like Italian Guy. The pseudo ballads Cake is famous for, Got To Move. This album really has everything a Cake fan could really want.

John McCrea had said in interviews that this album would be a lot different than previous Cake albums which worried a lot of people. John was half right, this album is different but I would hardly call it “very different”. They did use reverb for the first time along with using an acoustic piano for the first time on a Cake album. Those things along with other minor evolutions does create a bit different sounding album than Cake fans may be used to but this is still a Cake album at it's core, which means that its a great piece of music that will entertain you throughout the rest of the year.

Personal favorite tracks: Long Time (couldn't find a studio version), Mustache Man, Sick Of You

TL;DR: Cake is back.

- Crackity Jones   read

5:55 PM on 01.05.2011

By morning, you'll be gone: Songs that make me weep

”By morning, you’ll be gone.” – Joel from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The above is a quote that I wanted to use as my title because it’s one of my favorite sad lines of all time. It reminds me of lying in bed, knowing that the next day there will be heartbreak. The saddest moment can often be not the moment itself but when you know it’s coming.

I like to think, regardless of who you are or your interest, we all have at least one song that really hits us. It tugs at your heartstrings, it takes you back to a different time, it can even go so far as to define you as a person. That’s one of the beautiful things about music. It has a strange and subtle universal appeal. Music has the power to break people down with its intoxicating and romanticized delivery of basic human communication.

For myself it doesn’t get any more romanticized than the following song. These songs all hold a very near and dear place in my heart. Some of them I empathize greatly with, others I associate with a particularly difficult time in my life, and others I just “get”. If you’re curious I invite you into my stupid stupid brain and listen to the songs that tug at my heartstrings.

Crazy by Gnarls Barkley


This is one of those songs that I just get. I know everything Cee Lo Green is singing about here. The want to lose your mind, the revelation that maybe you already have. There’s something about the subtle bittersweet taste of insanity that has a strange attraction to it. I can remember the revelation that maybe I’ve already begun to slip and how it felt. There’s just something about the lyricism and delivery of Crazy that makes the whole concept that maybe we’re all just different levels of madness beautiful. It’s just mesmerizing and it almost brings a tear to my eye really.

When We Were Young by Dolores O’Riordan


Dolores O’Riordan has always been an artist that I empathized greatly with and her debut album Are You Listening? has always had an extremely close place in my heart. Not only for being one of the best albums I’ve ever heard but for how deeply heartwrenching so many of her songs were for me as I was going through a lot of bullshit. Only recently have I been able to listen to this album again, actually. When We Were Young encapsulated my own personal struggle to break out of my situation both at home and at school. I wanted so much to be back in my childhood, where everything was simple and sweet. Where my mother was my mother, my father was my father, my home was my own, and I felt comfortable in my own skin. Something about Dolores’ beautiful Irish voice, coupled with her lyrics, just breaks me down every single time.

That’s the Way by Led Zeppelin


Whenever I hear this song I get instant visions of riding on the bus and completely empathizing with every single word Plant sang. My first real school experience, a school where I felt like I belonged and where I actually stayed, didn’t occur until I was fairly deep into high school and for all I did there was always a lingering aura of isolation. Just a distinct feeling that no matter how accepted I would ever become I was never “one of the gang.” I was a traveler, just passing through, and eventually we’d all say our goodbye and I’d just be a memory or a joke. That’s the Way, a song I frequently listened to on the bus as it left the high school, has just always stuck with me in how it seemed to be prophesying my future. Turns out, as the college years go by, it was kinda right and it hurts to admit that. But that’s the way it oughta be I suppose.

Carry On by The Cranberries


Carry On is one of those songs that I both empathize with and that came in a very convenient time in my life. I guess you could say it was my first “love” and she was a particularly complicated one. We were both pretty broken and I don’t think I was really ready to admit until sometime after we had met that I just couldn’t fully understand what she was going through. It hurt because a part of realizing that also meant that I had to give her up and just face the fact that I can’t help everyone with everything. I could only wish the best for her and I still remember the night I dedicated this song to her. It was a lonely and heartbreaking one to say the least.

Cover My Eyes by La Roux


One of the reasons I absolutely love La Roux is because of Elly Jackson’s obviously personal lyricism. It makes it so easy to relate to, and while really I could pull any song from their debut album and go on and on about the lyrical content one of the most striking for me is this little gem. It’s the feeling of being wanted and of knowing that as much as you want to be your own person there’s that one person who will always have you by strings. It’s not a feeling of jealously or envy but it’s that thirst for mutual wanting. I still can’t see how you can’t be moved when she sings “So would you want me pease / I’m trying hard to breathe / Stop me from crying”.

The Flowers by Regina Spektor


Regina Spektor is easily one of my favorite 21st musicians and The Flowers is a prime example of why. The opening line, “The flowers you gave me are rotting and still I refuse to throw them away,” always strikes a chord with me. The song is a symphony of restlessness, about clinging onto that last hope for a happy ending, and about the odd beauty in frustration. I’ve never been a stranger to restlessness or emotionally heavy frustration. Every time I hear The Flowers I am instantly reminded of some of my toughest times in my household. Hearing the yelling, the fighting, the cursing. Seeing the damage on the walls and the floors. Songs from Regina Spektor became something of a beautiful haven for me. Just romantic enough to be fantasy but just real enough to take to heart.

Laughing With by Regina Spektor


Laughing With, from Spektor’s latest studio album, is absolutely gut wrenching. I remember first hearing this song and stopping dead in my tracks and listening in awe at the horror. It’s an interesting horror. It’s the horror of the truth. My family is very religious and while I wouldn’t say that I am something about the image of tragedy happening by the will of a God that so many scoff just always stuck with me. It’s probably the only song on here that I wouldn’t say I have any specific personal attachment to. It’s purely the image the song conveys that always brings me to my knees.

Silver Dagger by Joan Baez


Aside from being absolutely fucking beautiful Silver Dagger has always managed to make me soft because I know exactly how this story goes. Silver Dagger is a song about a young girl who wants to wed a boy but her mother disapproves. In the song she tells the boy of how awful her father was to her mother and that she urges that he run far away because she has accepted that she’ll be alone all her days. While I empathize with the narrator in this story I have often played the part of the boy and let me say it fucking sucks. It’s something about the delivery of this song in all its beauty and simplicity that makes it all the more bittersweet.

Hey by Pixies


I never recognized the genius of Pixie’s Hey until it rained. For some reason the autumn rain on that day is where I “got” it. A very close friend and I were growing distant and I wanted nothing more than to grab her head and just shout “HEY!” I didn’t know what I wanted to say or if it would make any sense but I knew that was what I wanted to do. And then lo and behold on a windy rainy autumn on the school bus Pixie’s Hey does just that. It was almost like a revelation. From then on the song has become my “Life sucks and makes no fucking sense so let’s quite being stupid and deal with it,” anthem. It sounds weird I guess that something like that could bring a tear to your eye but for me it certainly did shake me to my core.
We’re Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes


I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but in my short lifetime high school was kind of a big deal. While I certainly expect it to get better (and trust me it is) those were the best 4 years of my life that I can recall. For all the shit and sprinkles it all turned out to be pretty damn memorable. We’re Going to Be Friends always takes me right back to that school. The first day of school, awkwardly making friends, all of my teachers (who were always characters), the whole experience. In a weird sort of way I’d never want to go back but I miss it while I was there.

You Are My Sunshine

When I was very young I had a lot of phobias. Some more serious than others but none were particularly easy for a little kid to deal with. Whenever I was afraid my mother would sing You Are My Sunshine until I fell asleep. That was when she was motherly, when life was simple, when the weight of society and her pressures were yet expected of me. You Are My Sunshine has always held an incredibly personal place to my heart that will never be replaced. Miss you mommy.


What songs do you guys have that just hit you every time? Heck, if you don’t mind tell us the whole story. We got Kleenex. It’s all good.   read

8:56 PM on 01.02.2011

2010 Sound-Off: The best albums of 2010

2010 has come and gone and while we weren't here writing for the entirety of it some of us were definitely listening. As we prepare for the coming year, and all the badassery it holds [I totally have dibs on new Decemberists and new GaGa - Xzyliac], a few of us thought it'd be worth it to reflect on some of our favorites in 2010. Read on as vApathyv, Xzyliac, and newcomer Crackity Jones share what they considered to be the highlights of the year. Who knows, maybe you'll find something you missed.

Crackity Jones’ 5 Favorites of 2010

Album: The Age of Adz
Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Released: October 12, 2010
Genre: Electronica
*Sub-genres: Art Rock
Sounds like: Sufjan dropped some Acid

Well, well, well look what the cat dragged in. It's been far too long since we had a proper Sufjan Stevens album come out. Not only did Sufjan give us a brand new album but we also got a brand new hour long EP. Before some of you get too excited you need to know that this album is very different than Sufjan's previous albums. Sufjan does a lot of experimenting here and throws around some hip-hop beats and even makes use of the infamous auto-tune. I think the most amazing thing Sufjan did with this album was put in a 25 minuet long song. Yeah, that’s right, a 25 minuet long song. It's called Impossible Soul and he totally played it live when I saw him in Kansas City a month or two ago. Sufjan is a brilliant song writer and it's so good to have him back. I look forward to his next move.

Personal favorite tracks: Impossible Soul (pt. 1) , Impossible Soul (pt. 2) , Too Much

Album: One Life Stand
Artist: Hot Chip
Label: EMI
Released: February 1, 2010
Genre: Electronica
Sounds like: Dancing

Hot Chip is one of the most fun bands you will find on the scene today. Hot Chip is a electronica band that is headed up by the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of the electronica scene. This album is a bit more serious than some of their previous works and feels much warmer. The album is very soulful and as the title suggests its more about love than it is dancing or just having a fun time. Despite all of that the album still has its fun moments, it's just that this album is a bit different than some of their previous albums, and that, is not a bad thing at all. Hot Chip is here to stay and will continue putting out amazing album after amazing album and manage to still find time to release some remixs here and there.

Personal favorite tracks: I Feel Better, Hand Me Down Your Love, Brothers

Album: The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia Records
Released: October 19, 2010
Genre: Folk
Sounds like: Bob Dylan in his prime

I may get some flack for this since most of these songs were already available and it's just a collection of old recordings and some bootlegs. However, this is a list of MY favorite albums from this year so it stays on the list, and not only does it stay on the list, it stays on the list at number 3! Bob Dylan is easily one of the most brilliant musicians of our time. He writes some of the most touching and heartfelt songs out there. He is also responsible for the best protest songs ever made and other political songs. The Witmark Demos is a collection of Dylan songs from the 60's, with this you're getting Dylan, his acoustic guitar, and his harmonica, that's it. You've probably heard a lot of the songs featured here but you may have not heard the version found on here. There are also some Dylan songs that just never ended up on an album for whatever reason. I just keep coming back and back to this set of songs this year. May Bob Dylan live forever!

Personal favorite tracks: I'd Sure Hate To Be You On That Dreadful Day, Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, Man On The Street

Album: Plastic Beach
Artist: Gorillaz
Label: Parlophone, Virgin
Released: March 3, 2010
Genre: Alternative
*Sub-genres: Hip-Hop
Sounds like: A cartoon band getting together with all their friends and making a stellar album

I'm happy, I'm feeling glad, all because the Gorillaz are back! 2010 saw the release of the brand new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach. 2D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Hobbs are back to rock your house! They also brought a lot more friends to the party than thy usually do. This album has guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Lou Reed along with a few others. In case you just awakened from your coma the Gorillaz are what are known as alternative hip-hop, they aren't quite an alt. rock band and they aren't really rap. One thing I love about the Gorillaz is they are one of those bands that almost everyone seems to like, it's nice when a band like that comes a long. If you haven't seen it I would suggest you look up the Stylo music video as it has Bruce Willis in it and its a great song.

Fun Fact: Their new album that was just released, The Fall, has a song written in my hometown, The Joplin Spider

Personal favorite tracks: Superfast Jellyfish, On Melancholy Hill, Some Kind of Nature

Album: The Suburbs
Artist: Arcade Fire
Label: Merge
Released: August 2, 2010
Genre: Indie Rock
Sounds like: Hipster Heaven

Actually I wasn't all that impressed with this album the first few times I listened to it, but like a lot of my favorite albums it took a little bit of time to grow on me. Now that this album has grown on me I really think its a brilliant piece of music that you'll be hard pressed to top with anything else that came out in 2010. Arcade Fire are from Canada and have quickly rose to the ranks to become one of the most adored indie rock bands in the business today. They have a large sound and tend to use a lot of strings and some horns on occasion. They write about how the world today is, and how they view it. Understandably a lot of those songs are not the most bright uplifting songs out there. Even though a lot of their songs are kind of depressing when you break em down they are still absolutely beautiful. The Suburbs marks another evolution in the bands career and another step on the ladder to world domination. If you are a recent convert to the Arcade Fire way of life then I only have one piece of advice for you, GO LISTEN TO FUNERAL RIGHT NOW! LIKE RIGHT FREAKING NOW!!!

Personal favorite tracks: Modern Man, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Suburbs

TL;DR: 2010 was an amazing year for music, GO SPEND MONEY ON MUSIC!!!

- Crackity Jones

I also posted my Top 50 albums of 2010 over on my blog, Buzz McFlamethrower

vApathyv’s Favorite 5 of 2010

2010 was a bit of a whirlwind year for me. For starters, I finally got to meet a group of people I could openly gush about music with, and the fact that we're still goin' on is fanfuckingtastic. Musically there was still plenty of eye-openers for me as well, like me finally getting to pick up the drums on a regular basis, jamming live with my uncle's band because their singer couldn't make it (A highlight of my year actually), and of course, a shitload of awesome albums by awesome people. But enough intro, let's get goin'.

Album: Ironiclast
Artist: The Damned Things
Label: Mercury Records
Released: December 14, 2010
Genre: Hard Rock
Sub-genres Metal, 70's/80's-esque metal especially. A bit of Southern Metal too.
Sounds like: Fucking Rock N' Roll man!

Hey, I just reviewed that album, how could it possibly show up in my best of already? BECAUSE IT'S THAT GOOD. Seriously, if you're the slightest fan of the days of old, when bands like Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, and good 'ole Led Zeppelin dominated the rock and metal scenes, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. They take the hallmark sounds of yesteryear and sprinkle a little of their own modern influences into the mix to stir up something that's just sheer rock n' roll perfection. This has fast become my party album of choice (Sorry Andrew W.K).

And I couldn't go without mentioning just how talented each member is...yes, two of the members are from Fall Out Boy and you probably hate that. Well, fuck you. A 'clever' reason to dislike something deserves just as clever a response. But we can't fail to mention the awesome shred cred brought from members of Anthrax, and of course, two of the boys from Every Time I Die, one of my favorite groups out there right now. I've said it on many occasions that anything Keith Buckley lends his talents to, I'll follow. The man is simply put one of the greatest vocalists I've ever seen in a band, a man who has been called a “Master of all forms of screaming”, and just so happens to have a great singing voice as well. I don't want to make it sound like the entirety of the band's greatness rests on his laurels (Because it definitely does NOT), but it would be missing a lot if he wasn't around.

Personal favorite tracks: Friday Night (Going Down In Flames), We've Got A Situation Here, Handbook For The Recently Deceased

TL;DR: I already told you man, it rocks!

Album: Stone Temple Pilots
Artist: Stone Temple Pilots
Label: Atlantic Records
Released: May 21, 2010
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres Alt-rock, and some of their grunge influences still show from time to time.
Sounds like: Another great, pure rock n' roll revival from a group most of us never expected to be relevant again.

I don't know if you guys ever gathered, but I'm actually quite a big fan of the 90's era of music. Stone Temple Pilots was probably one of my favorites out of that era, and they've kinda been around for a lot of things in my life. They were the first CD I ever got (A greatest hits compilation). They were the first vinyl I ever bought (Core). First Guitar Hero song I ever played (Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart). How I met my current girlfriend (Over two years ago, playing Sex Type Thing in Rock Band at Otakon '08). me biased, but I kinda already figured I'd like this album before it came out.

...But I didn't think I'd like it this much. This album exists as a solid reminder that, 18 years later, STP is still more than capable of putting out something great. Drawing heavily from 60's and 70's country and rock influences, they manage to somehow sound different and yet still sound just like they've always sounded all at once. And of course, Scott Weiland can still make his voice sound all kinds of varied, even when he's fresh out of rehab. That's not to say the rest of the band can't keep up- The DeLeo brothers are just as sharp as they've ever been, perhaps moreso, and drummer Eric Kretz is still able to remind me why he was one of my favorite drummers of the era, even if they've kinda left their more heavier and grungy sound behind. Still, the fact of the matter is, Stone Temple Pilots is still around, and they still rock. At this rate, they may just become the next Aerosmith.

Personal favorite tracks: Take A Load Off, Hazy Daze, Fast As I Can

tl;dr: STP still exists, and they're still great.

Album: 4x4=12
Artist: deadmau5
Label: mau5trap/Ultra Records
Released: December 6, 2010
Genre: Dance
Sub-genres Practically ever other applicable genre of electronic music.
Sounds like: deadmau5 dun did it again y'all.

This year, I found myself in a perplexing state of affairs. New albums by Daft Punk, Pendulum, AND deadmau5? Three of my favorite electronic acts out there? Hell, if that new Justice album wasn't hitting 'til next year I'd be in heaven right now. But, while Daft Punk threw out an excellent movie score, and Pendulum brought the beautiful fury I've always loved them for, I have to give deadmau5 the nod for this one. If there's one thing Mr. Joel Zimmerman will always be good at (Aside from having an adorable cat, running a Minecraft server, and being one of the most internet-conscious, down to earth people in the music business), it's making great beats.

And of course, this album does not disappoint either. Continuing his tradition of making albums with an almost zen-like flow to them, you could probably put this on at a party and let it play all the way through and nobody would even know there's no DJ playing. Deadmau5 has always been the type of artist who's CDs almost sound like a live performance on their own simply because of how well everything syncs up. But aside from that, you'll see a bit more on the fast-paced side then you'd expect. Tracks like Sofi Needs A Ladder and One Trick Pony are certified club bangers, and I'd be surprised if Some Chords didn't show up in future DJ's rave playlists throughout the world. Simply put, deadmau5 is still proving he's one of the greats.

Personal favorite tracks: Some Chords, Sofi Needs A Ladder, One Trick Pony

tl;dr: deadmau5 keeps the party going. Again.

Album: Sigh No More
Artist: Mumford & Sons
Label: Glassnote Records
Released: February 16, 2010
Genre: Folk
Sub-genres More folk
Sounds like: Something I never expected to like.

Funny story- I've never liked folk. Aside from my boys Against Me!, with their crazy folk-punk ways, I've pretty much stayed away from the genre. Yet, I heard a song on the radio last night. It caught my attention because the radio DJ, before playing the song, was like “So, this next song I'm about to play, it's not a popular song. It's not a radio hit, it's not really requested by anyone, and it's only barely something our format can play. But I'm going to play it anyways.” And a song called Little Lion Man by an English Folk quartet called Mumford & Sons plays, and I'm floored. I go home, get the album, and fell in love instantly. There was so much emotion pouring out of these songs that I was captivated, and it wound up leaving such a mark on me that I HAD to put it up here (Sorry My Chemical Romance, you were still a pretty good album).

The way they manage to weave literary references (Expect a lot of Shakespeare and Steinbeck from their lyrics) into their own talented instrumentation (All four of them are multi-instrumentalists, none of them really stick to one instrument, even during live shows) is captivating, not to mention the subtle way it can rattle at you in both the best and worst situations. Few songs capture that feeling better than Thistle & Weeds. Starting out as a slow, silent affair, it eventually catapults into an explosion of intensity and emotion, before suddenly collapsing into the silent state it met you in. I tell people many times that music tends to rattle me from an emotional level, much more than most people...I'm a bit of a sap like that. But I don't think I've ever felt, FELT, such a feeling from music before this album.

Personal favorite tracks: Thistle & Weeds, The Cave, Little Lion Man (live)

tl;dr: Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Album: White Crosses
Artist: Against Me!
Label: Sire Records
Released: June 8, 2010
Genre: Alt-rock
Sub-genres Still has a bit of punk and folk left in it.
Sounds like: A great album through and through.

Man, did I give this album a hard time when it came out. Sure, I liked it, I love Against Me!. They're one of my favorite bands. But I always held it in such harsh regards simply because it didn't sound like the Against Me! that I fell in love with, that it was just too different from the frantic punk-folk ballads of old. Well, bands change over time. And you know what? I still can't stop listening to this album. It doesn't matter that it isn't the same...hell, if anything, it actually benefits from not being the same. It's still an excellent album by one of my favorite bands. And not only that but, even if the delivery is a bit different, the parts that matter are still there in spades.

For starters- Tommy Gabel is still capable of putting every last ounce of passion he can into his songs, and in his singing. The rousing “Do, you remember? When we were young and we wanted to set the world on fire?” chorus from I Was A Teenage Anarchist is powerful in all the right ways, and the standard backing vocals are still there in whole. But perhaps the most important part? They're still just four guys, four really, really unglamorous individuals, having the time of their lives. These aren't a bunch of amazingly attractive rock star guys with gallons of make-up or mysterious guitar virtuosos. It's just some dudes from Gainesville, Florida that got their start playing shows in people's basements. And while the venue may have changed over the years, the band has not- this is still Against Me!. And above all else, that is the only thing that matters.

Personal favorite tracks: I Was A Teenage Anarchist, Rapid Decompression, High Pressure Low

tl;dr:I gave this album too much shit when it came out. If only I had realized how awesome it really was.


Xzyliac’s Favorite 5 of 2010

In 2009, for me anyway, it was all about pop. Pop was surprisingly good in 2009 with quite a few surprises, and the release of my all time favorite album La Roux. In 2010 however, it seemed my favorites took a turn for the more...obscure. Admittedly not terribly obscure, it doesn't take much to find a Dead Weather track playing nowadays and The Roots have a few Grammy nominations, but not nearly as radio friendly. As much as I tried not to be "that guy" in the end I gotta be honest and say some of the best albums of the year, in my opinion, probably weren't the biggest sellers. Shame really, as some of the tracks off these albums really will go down as some of my favorites of all time. From new discoveries like Tunng to the return of two of my favorite bands ever (The Dead Weather and New Young Pony Club) 2010 definitely met, if not succeeded, my expectations.

Honorable mentions go out to Gorillaz' Plastic Beach, Laura Marling's I Speak Because I Can, Crystal Castles' Crystal Castles II, and the contributing artists work on the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Album: Have One On Me
Artist: Joanna Newsom
Label: Drag City
Released: February 23, 2010
Genre: Baroque pop
*Sub-genres Folk
Sounds like: 18th century Joan Baez with an indie edge and Newsom’s own voice

I actually review Newsom’s latest a little while before we started Stereotoid when it was I Review Them In Stereo on my own blog. It was the very first pleasant surprise of 2010 and it was without a doubt one of the best. Have One On Me rings through 2010 as a sign of the power of acoustic instruments. With Newsom’s own unique stylings she manages to remind her audience how much territory has yet to be explored in the folk and baroque genres. From lengthy tales like the title track to the simple and perhaps most beautiful song of the year, ’81, Have One On Me shines from minute one to minute 123.

With her witty style, intelligent lyricism, and bold approach Joanna Newsom easily puts out one of my favorite albums of 2010.

Personal favorite tracks: ’81, On A Good Day, Esme

TL;DR: While not for everyone those who can appreciate Joanna Newsom’s style will no doubt have an album for the ages.

Album: The Optimist
Artist: New Young Pony Club
Label: The Numbers
Released: March 8, 2010
Genre: Synthpop
*Sub-genres New wave
Sounds like: Mature synthpop that doesn’t lose it’s wonder or imagination.

Fantastic Playroom is, and will remain, one of my favorite albums of all time. With its colorful sound and playful aura it’s an album that simply never gets old. And after years of waiting, the sophomore album from New Young Pony Club is finally here. Naturally expectations were high and in a rare display of musical finesse expectations were surpassed. The Optimist is a proud and powerful display of maturity, with the band tackling much more personal and serious themes while still trying to cling to their bouncy style. The result is an album that trumps its predecessor, introduces more complexity, and is a shining example of how deep and mature new wave can be without losing its fun or edge.

Personal favorite tracks: Lost A Girl, Dolls, and Architect Of Love

TL;DR: A fabulous display of the best synthpop 2010 has to offer

Album: How I Got Over
Artist: The Roots
Label: Def Jam
Released: June 22, 2010
Genre: Hip-hop
*Sub-genres N/A
Sounds like: A long walk down a dark peaceful street

While this year had a lot of interesting entries into the hip-hop arena none came nearly as close to my heart as How I Got Over. The album is simply and absolutely perfect. With its soulful approach, personal lyricism, and absolutely flawless delivery The Roots have gone far and beyond themselves and created a hip-hop masterpiece. While 2010 saw a lot of creatively produced hip-hop albums that went further into the realm of synth The Roots’ How I Got Over has done wonders for pushing live instrumental hip-hop. And finally, to make a good album great, the guest cast of How I Got Over, which ranges from Joanna Newsom (who guest on what is frankly the best hip-hop song of the year) to John Legend, is spotless.

Personal favorite tracks: Right On (feat. Joanna Newsom), Radio Daze (feat. Blu, P.O.R.N., and Dice Raw), and The Fire (feat. John Legend)

TL;DR: An unbelievably impressive accomplishment for both The Roots and for instrumental hip-hop

Album: …And Then We Saw Land
Artist: Tunng
Label: Full Time Hobby
Released: March 1, 2010
Genre: Folk
*Sub-genres Folktronica
Sounds like: A digital sunset

It was a tough call between this and Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can (great year for folk) but ultimately I had to side with Tunng simply because of how unique it is. With its impressive fusing of synth and production with traditional folk sounds …And Then We Saw Land was without a doubt one of the year’s most atmospheric and impressively creative albums. Tracks like Santiago, With Whiskey, and October make absolutely genius use of subtle but effective digital sound. In an era that’s marked by digitalism Tunng manages to bring together a beautiful medium with whimsy and care.

Personal favorite tracks: These Winds, With Whiskey, and Hustle

TL;DR: A beautiful album filled both with subtlety and power.

Album: Sea Of Cowards
Artist: The Dead Weather
Label: Warner Bros./Third Man
Released: May 7, 2010
Genre: Rock
*Sub-genres Alternative rock, alternative blues, blues-rock
Sounds like: Absolute brilliance. The bluesy soul of Muddy Waters, the rhythm of James Brown, the heart of Janis Joplin, and the heaviness of early Black Sabbath.

Sea Of Cowards is without a doubt my favorite album of 2010. Of all the albums I had the pleasure and displeasure to sample none stuck with me quite as strongly as Sea Of Cowards. It is undeniably one of the heaviest albums of the year, competing only with Crystal Castles, and has a rhythm and style that absolutely unmatched. Its stylish and sexy lyricism is delivered with a near historic performance from the fantastic Allison Mosshart, who truly is the Janis Joplin of her time. Among all this the album even embraces its own fuzzy synth touch which strangely only seems to make a raw and powerful album like this even moreso.

In my opinion, you won’t find any album greater than Sea Of Cowards in all of 2010.

Personal favorite tracks: The Difference Between Us, I Can’t Hear You, Gasoline, and No Horse

TL;DR: My favorite album of 2010 no doubt. Filled from front to back with nothing but soul and power. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

-Xzyliac   read

7:38 PM on 12.24.2010

The Damned Things, Ghostface Killah, Baths, and My Chemical Romance

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! To celebrate Christmas we did absolutely jacksquat because, frankly, I forgot Christmas was this weekend until today. Yay! I think Kraid had something planned but he's lazy. Lazy and Canadian. I don't even know if they get a Christmas. I'm pretty sure Santa "Jesus" Claus doesn't visit them. Though I do here just in case they leave out bacon and beer for him.

Anyhow, it's holiday season at the Xzylian household and I'm about to do some good ol' fashion Christmas Eve gamin'. This week the pickins are slim but the choices are ace. The Damned Things, Ghostface Killah, Baths, and My Chemical Romance finish off 2010 here at Stereotoid. Check back next week for our Best Of 2010!

Album: Ironiclast
Artist: The Damned Things
Label: Mercury Records
Released: December 14, 2010
Genre: Hard Rock
Sub-genres Metal, 70's/80's-esque metal especially. A bit of Southern Metal too.
Sounds like: Fucking Rock N' Roll man!

Hey guys, remember when music used to rock? When you could have fun and actually party to rock n' roll, rather than thrash about and/or mope on the wall in your way-too-fucking-small Death Cab For Cutie shirt? Well, prepare to relive those memories because, holy shit, The Damned Things are here on the scene now. And these guys are certified awesome. Singer Keith Buckley once said that The Damned Things mainly got together because they were “Sick of all that boy meets girl shit in rock n' roll...we want rock to be fun again.” Well sir, mission accomplished and then some.

Now, The Damned Things may be a new group, but none of these people are new to the music scene. The latest in the long line of 'supergroups' that tend to crop up a lot, this band is actually pretty damn star-studded. You've got guitarists Scott Ian (!) and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax, singer Keith Buckley (!!!!!!) and Josh Newton from Every Time I Die, and guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy. Before you ask, yes that means there are three guitarists and, yes, two guys from Fall Out Boy are now hanging out with a bunch of huge metal stars. But before you decide to hate the band just for that, I advise you hold that thought for a bit...see, what most people don't know is Joe Trohman is actually a stellar guitarist, and in this band he absolutely shines. So much that he's actually lead. Yes, you read that right- some wuss from Fall Out Boy is able to hang with your precious Anthrax buddies.

As for the music itself, well, it's just plain awesome. Every member brings something different to the table, and it all combines into a potent combination of loud and heavy rock with more than a little inspiration in the riff-heavy metal of old school legends like Zep and Sabbath. The guitarwork from these guys, as expected from a band with three guitarists, is phenomenal and has some of the best solos I've heard all year. And speaking of, I would like to direct everybody to the solo in Friday Night (Going Down In Flames) for anyone that doubts Joe Trohman's place in this band.

Another thing worth noting is every member also finds a way to try something a bit different from what you'd expect given their current bands, and it really helps make them sound like something that isn't your typical “Wait, they sound just like their old band” nonsense. So while you'll still hear Keith Buckley's godlike screaming abilities, you'll also notice a surprising focus on singing from him, with a wide variety of octaves and pitches, showing just how talented the man really is as a vocalist. And while you don't hear any thrash-metal madness from Scott and Rob, the backing rhythms they produce are still awesome nonetheless, which also pertains to Josh's bass licks as well. But perhaps the best news for you guys? Not a hint of pop-punk shenanigans from Joe and Andy. Yes I'm sticking up for them a lot in this review. You know why? Because they're fucking talented, and that fact has never shined so brightly than in this band.

But really, every member present is hella talented, and it shows with just how great this album is. Could I find a fault with this album? No, which is a first for me. I could talk forever about the unforgettable riff in We've Got A Situation Here, or the awesomely shout it out loud chorus to Bad Blood, or any other track on this album to be honest. I really only wanted this album at first because I'm a huge fan of Every Time I Die and would buy anything associated with them. I didn't expect anything as good as this. If you like hard rock or heavy metal, be that from the past or the present, then get this album. And keep an eye out for them in the future as well.

Personal favorite tracks: All of it. But personal faves include Friday Night (Going Down In Flames), We've Got A Situation Here (My vote for best video of the year by the way), Bad Blood (it's a live track, be warned), Handbook For The Recently Deceased

TL;DR: It fucking rocks. Get it.


Album: Cerulean
Artist: Baths
Label: Anticon
Released: June 22, 2010
Genre: Electronic
Souns like: Flying Lotus with more words and stuff.

Have you ever come across an album that you just simply adored? An album that brang forth incredible emotion and just made you feel warm and happy and safe? I recently was introduced to just such an album on the way home from a Pavement concert. The album is Cerulean by Baths. Baths is the alias for the musician behind the creation of this glorious album, his name is Will Wiesenfeld.

Baths is similar to Flying Lotus in the way that they both make some truly incredible beats. Thats at the root of Will's music but he also does a lot of sampling in his songs and also sings on many of them, which you don't usually find in a Flying Lotus song. As I said earlier this album really invokes a lot of emotion in me, that's why I feel the name “Baths” is appropriate. When you listen to this album you kind of feel like you're lying in a nice warm bath. You just feel like you're safe and nothing bad is going to happen, as if during the duration of the album you're in a protective warm bubble and you're floating through a dream. Hmm …. that may have sounded a tiny bit cheesy and cliché but its how I honestly feel when listening to this album. All that being said you may have a different experience with this album. Some may interpret the album as a sad one, a lonely one, but I did not.

The songs found here are obviously love songs which is why I say this album can easily be seen in different lights. I suppose it depends where your love life is at the time, or maybe your outlook on your love life. I believe the album is meant to be seen as a happy album and thats how I obviously see it. I'm just not really sure how anyone could listen to the song “Aminals and not feel absolutely joyous and have an ear to ear smile. Then again … I have met some pretty horrible people this week.

I honestly don't understand how it is that I love this album yet cannot find more words to say about it. What it comes down to basically is, if you like electronic music of the chill variety then I highly recommend you check out Baths. I had a really hard time choosing which tracks to post but I think the ones I chose below really speak for the album. So check it out and see if it's for you!

Personal favorite tracks:Aminals, Lovely Bloodflow, Rain Smell

TL;DR: Baths is an awesome new chill electronic band, check em out

- Crackity Jones

Buzz McFlamethrower (aka my blog)

Album: Apollo Kids
Artist: Ghostface Killah
Label: Def Jam Records
Released: December 21, 2010
Genre: Rap/Hip Hop
Sounds like: Wu Tang, Mos Def

You know, I always wondered how one would be able to kill the face of a ghost. Why go through so much trouble? Isn’t it impossible to kill a ghost in the first place? Imagine the frustration one would have to go through to kill the face of ghost…oh, it’s derived from a ninja flick?

Well then, back to how amazing Apollo Kids is.

I’m a big Wu Tang fan, but I don’t keep up with the individual members as much as I should, so it came to my surprise when I saw that Ghostface Killah had released a new album this month. As always, I then proceeded to beat myself for not keeping up with the members of the Wu Tang Clan as much I as should, because Apollo Kids is a nice infusion of that hip hop that style that I love.

Apollo Kids presents an interesting return to a more traditional feel, mixing the use of singular samples and simple yet driving beats. Layer that with impressive rapping by not only Ghostface, but the wave of rappers he brought on for this album, including Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Redman, and even Game.

The most notable thing about Apollo Kids is how brutal the album can get. I don’t mean in a lyrical sense (although it does reach a level of “he totally mad” multiple times), but how blunt rhymes can be delivered. And it’s not just one or two artists who bring the best flow while the rest just sit there looking nice. From Ghostface to U-God to Redman, any time any artists has a line in any song, they proceed to make it their own. This is so prevalent in this album that you could see this as not an album by GhostFace but by the “GhostFace Posse” or something. It’s nice to see rappers actually pull their own weight when they’re asked to collaborate.

Also, you remember when I said that this album is brutal lyrically? Yeah, it features all of that East Coast “this is how I’m fucking living/rapping motherfucker” madness that’s prevalent in East Coast hip hop. It’s got everything, from rapping about how friends/enemies got caught by the cops/shot by enemies/friends (mix and match to fit your needs), to rapping about selling drugs, to how you can’t pick up a girl in the club because some asshole’s got her on a leash. None of those things have ever happened to me, but I feel like I completely understand the message, as if I’ve been a victim of the ghetto.

And that’s the whole point of this style of rap; to make you understand, to help you relate, and to entertain you while doing it. Ghostface provides an excellent example of how to do hip hop right. It’s a sad thing that this probably won’t see as much media coverage as the next Lil Wayne single or Will-O Smiths full album (when she gets around to writing it), because all of the new age rappers could really learn a couple of things from Apollo Kids.

Personal favorite tracks:

Superstar, Ghetto, and Handcuffin’ Them Hoes

TL;DR: If you liked listening to the rap on the radio on Grand Theft Auto IV, then you should but this.


Album: Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Artist: My Chemical Romance
Label: Reprise Records
Released: November 22, 2010
Genre: Rock
Sub-genres Punk, A bit of Electronic
Sounds like: Straight up fun, if a little flawed at times.

Ahh...My Chemical Romance. The band that everyone that isn't fourteen loves to hate. I'm sure your enjoyment of them probably ranks right up there with sawing off a limb or the Twilight films. All pseudonyms aside, I bet you hate those guys with the white-hot intensity of a thousand sons, and would sooner kill yourself than believe for even a second that they're a good group, right?

Do me a favor...leave that opinion at the door. Because this album is good.

Now before you decide to go ahead and deny any credibility to anything I ever say about music again (And, honestly, I welcome you all to throw me under the bus if you so desire), let me go ahead and explain. My Chemical Romance, really, has never been a bad band at all. Their first album was great, not to mention a lot different from the stuff you would find at times. It was almost like a new-age Sunny Day Real Estate album at times (Man, I'm probably treading on sacred ground now. Sorry Stevil). But then a little thing called Myspace entered their lives and suddenly an army of 14 year old quasi-goth retards began to latch on to them, ironically just as their second album released where they were going for a more goofy, horror-punk type sound. It too was a good album, if just a little too cheesy at times, and is probably actually my least favorite of the bunch. And then came The Black Parade album which was a fairly interesting tale of a man on his death bed, and represented another shift in sound for the band, this time focusing more on a bombastic, rock opera treatment. It worked for them, despite them losing a lot of the fake fans in the process and making more than a few new enemies with the slightly dumb decision to look like Hot Topic-sponsored Nazis.

Which of course, brings us to the now. Once again they have changed their sound for a new album, and once again the results are great. This time, the concept is simple- the year is 2019. The Killjoys are a group of outlaws fighting against the evil corporation Better Living, Ind. What follows is a lot of driving, ray guns, and (spoiler alert) the wiping out of the Killjoys at the hands of the corporation. Picture Fallout or Mad Max, but less radiationy and more pew pew lasers. The concept works astoundingly well in the music videos, so well in fact that I'd be surprised if a DVD musical wasn't released depicting the entire story. It'd also make for one hell of a comic book...fitting, considering singer Gerard Way's critically acclaimed Umbrella Academy series.

But how does it work musically? The short answer is, very well. This is My Chemical Romance at their most fun, displaying a level of laid-back enjoyment that they've never had before. Gone is the whiney vocals, there's no mopey stuff to speak of. The lyrics range from a riotous fury of enjoyment, to defiantly spitting in the face of quite a few things. Of course, most of it ties into the story of the album, with an overarching theme of knowing that there's no survival, but going for it anyways. There's constant mentioning of “When the lights go out”, and lyrics such as “Who gives a damn if we lose this war”. One particular lyric strikes out as the most direct, taken from Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back, that goes “I'll tell you all how the story ends, how the good guys die and the bad guys win”. It's all a very direct image that really helps portray the situation being painted in the songs, which is helped in no small part by the tracks that break up the album by fictional Pirate Radio DJ Dr. Death Defying (Portrayed by Mindless Self Indulgence guitarist Steve, Righ?).

Most of the songs are straight up a blast to listen to as well, the kind of songs that you can't help but jump around to. Na Na Na Na may be the most singable song I've heard in recent times, and the raucous track Vampire Money is such a wonderfully old school song that I can't help but smile every time I hear it, and then smile even more when I remember what it's about (It's actually a fictional tale of what would happen if the band decided to sell out by offering a track to the Twilight films. Ironically, the band has been approached numerous times concerning that, and every time it's always been a solid fuck no. Yup, MCR hates Twilight as much as you do. Surprised?).

There are also a couple surprises available too, with some tracks that are truly a departure from the norm for them...which is saying much, considering no two MCR albums really have ever sounded the same. Songs like Destroya, for instance, sometimes make you question if you're even listening to an MCR album. Starting out with a tribal-esque drum beat, the song eventually turns into a rampaging fuck-you (in keeping with the story, the fuck-you is most likely directed at the evil corporation at the front of everyone's problems), with Gerard Way practically screaming every single word at you with every last ounce of sincerity he has, and a driving chorus of “You don't believe in God/I don't believe in luck/They don't believe in us/But I believe we're the enemy”. It could even be taken as an anger-filled retort to the various detractors of the band. I don't care what it's about, it's just a good song and definitely my favorite of the album; If you only listen to one song on this album, MAKE IT THIS ONE.

Of course, the album does stumble sometimes. Some of the songs put a ridiculous halt to the momentum, like Bulletproof Heart and The Only Hope For Me Is You. Luckily the album does pick back up immediately after the track, except for the two tracks before the grand finale of the album, a send-off from Dr. Death Defying, proclaiming “The lights are out and the party's over”, before he goes into hiding, leaving the listeners with an old, semi-distorted recording of The Star Spangled Banner.

Of course, despite those faults I still find it to be a great album, probably one of the best of the year even, if you can get over the fact that it's a My Chemical Romance album. Of course, haters gon' hate, but if you can swallow your pride you'll find one hell of a listen ahead of you.

Oh, and please, direct any and all bullshit/hatred/accusations of fail in the comments. I'm ready for ya.

Personal favorite tracks: Na Na Na Na , Destroya, Vampire Money, Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back

TL;DR: A great album from a great band, despite what the haters may say.


Merry Christmas everyone! Kick out the jams and we'll see you all at New Years Eve!


9:45 PM on 12.17.2010

Tron, Kaki King, Coheed and Cambria, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and Le Tigre

We're back! After a few months of hiatus the gang is finally back together and hopefully to stay! In this return issue we tackle a little bit of the obscure stuff, some prog, some punk, and last but not least the latest from house favorites Daft Punk in the form of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.


Album: Dreaming of Revenge
Artist: Kaki King
Label: Velour
Released: March 11, 2008
Genre: Experimental
*Sub-genres Acoustic
Sounds like: Melancholic and feminine; unconventional yet strangely pop.

Kaki King essentially began her career playing her Adamas guitar in the New York subway. Originally from Atlanta, she moved to the Big Apple with her frantic fret-tapping and finger-style techniques. By the time her first album released, she was literally unknown to the public until her second record dropped, (following her appearance on Conan O’Brien) she signed with major record labels. As time went by, King gradually left her acoustic roots, and began experimenting with new sounds. By 2006, she was the only woman and youngest artist to be featured on the “New Gods of Guitar” list published by Rolling Stone magazine.

While her early albums – three of them, including an EP – were more focused on instrumental tracks, King kept on exploring her new found venue and evolved way past her acoustic debut. With Dreaming of Revenge, (which I personally think is her best album to date) she finally uncovered her pop side, so meticulously hidden behind her cynicism. Kaki’s guitar is absolutely outstanding, melodically unconventional, yes, but simple and extremely rhythmic. The songs are nonetheless interlaced with an entire cast of drums, pianos and vibraphones alike. This of course, gives a very catchy and refined sound to the album.

Dreaming for Revenge is instrumentally incredible. The gloomy vocals are anchored by King’s solid guitar. The melodies are very organic, (you can clearly hear Kaki’s fingernails, pulling each string, or hovering the fret eloquently). King sings in a very soothing light voice. Her tone is extremely feminine and romantic. Some songs are quite haunting too, mixing very well with the more optimistic tracks. Dreaming for Revenge is the canvas album for Kaki King’s career. It is a lot deeper than her acoustic debuts, and she delivers a robust experimental rock album.

You’ll easily get lost in her beautiful guitar melodies. I discovered Kaki King randomly and subsequently fell in love with her music. She was a total revelation for me, and made by eardrums vibrate in such blissful ways. Once in a while an album comes around where I literally love every track; Kaki King’s fourth LP fits exactly that prerogative. Dreaming for Revenge is symphonic, easy on the ears, and melancholic. It is a fantastic record -- one that I can proudly put in my top 10 albums of all time.

I can’t stop listening to it.

Personal favorite tracks: Bone Chaos in the Castle, Life Being What It Is , Montreal , Pull Me Out Alive,

TL;DR: Amazing guitar, well produced. It’s a superb album from an extremely talented instrumentalist. I have nothing, but praise for Kaki King.


Album: Dandelion Gum
Artist: Black Moth Super Rainbow
Label: Graveface
Released: May 22, 2007
Genre: Experimental
Sub-genres Psychedelic Pop, Neo-Psychedelia...and drugs.
Sounds like: A bizarrely mesmerizing acid trip for your ears.

Have you ever come across something so weird, so completely different from what you're normally accustomed to listening to, that you just get swept away in it, and then wake up six hours later with a headache, a bizarre case of the munchies, a fonder love for the world, and a sudden understanding of why people think Tim And Eric is funny?

...Okay, maybe not that last one. But for me, Black Moth Super Rainbow is...I don't know how to describe it. It's euphoric in a sense. It's something that defies any expectations I have in music...something I really am struggling to put into words. Most of the music I listen to, it's of the rock, metal, or indie variety. Easily categorized, easy to understand, easy to realize why you enjoy it. It's familiar, it's welcoming, it's something you're accustomed to hearing. But when my friend suggested this band to me, I didn't think nothing of it at first. I thought “Alright, experimental music. Sure, why not.” I did not know what I was getting myself into.

I think I can safely say that I have literally never heard anything like this in my life. I've heard a great many different kinds of music, but this is easily the most foreign, strange sound I've ever had playing in my ears. But at the same time, there's this weird sense of familiarity...almost nostalgic in nature. I can't quite describe it, but even though I have no experience with this type of sound it seems so inviting to me. The music itself consists of an array of psychedelic sounds made from a combination of drums, vocoders, synths, keyboards, and bass guitars. It sounds pretty plain from that description, but taking a listen to any track on this album will show you that it is anything but.

It's really hard to note any specific examples from this album, because every 'song' is just endlessly captivating. The thing to note here though is that, on a purely track-by-track basis, each song is great. But taken as a whole, listening through it from beginning to end, it''s an experience. Every song in this album seemlessly blends into each other in such a cohesive manner that to listen to any one track on it's own is almost an offense to how good the music featured here really is. I've said this a few times before, but this time I could not be any more serious when I say that this album NEEDS to be listened to in it's entirety.

For once, I have to say, that you shouldn't treat this as a review. This isn't a review. Not to me at least. Rather, this is a suggestion. A suggestion to everyone that even vaguely appreciates the joy of experiencing something like this, that can even slightly call themselves a fan of psychedelic music. You need to listen to this. As soon as you can.

Also, this stuff would sound amazing as an Adult Swim bump.

Also also, don't ask how I know this but this is really good to listen to when you're 'under the influence'. Just sayin'.

Personal favorite tracks: Everything. Everything on this album. But, you kinda need samples so...Lost Picking Flowers In The Woods, Melt Me, Spinning Cotton Candy In A Shack Made Of Shingles

TL;DR: A triptastic experience unlike any other that demands to be listened to.


Album: Le Tigre
Artist: Le Tigre
Label: Mr. Lady
Released: October 26, 1999
Genre: Electronica
*Sub-genres Dance punk, electroclash
Sounds like: If Sex Bob-Omb and New Young Pony Club had an illegitimate baby and it was raised by Kathleen Hanna and developed her awkward fempunk mannerisms but was best friends with Metric and Crystal Castles and tried really hard to be that cool. Yeah, I’d hit that too.

I love Kathleen Hanna. Let’s get that out of the way first. From Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre her entire career has never had a single error in my opinion. She’s maintained the soul of feminist punk in the 90s while keeping it fresh and constantly accessible. She has a certain awkward teenager punk finesse that just melt my soul into a puddle and makes my hair stand on end at the same time. She’s good. One of the greatest punks alive.

In 1999, hot off the heel of her experimental low-fi feminist punk project (you read right) Julie Ruin Kathleen Hanna and her closest friends in the music business formed Le Tigre and released their debut self-titled album. The result is a magnificent mix of Bikini Kill’s edge, Julie Ruin’s daringness, and Le Tigre’s own dance-y soul. The first three tracks really do well to communicate what the listener is in for. Deceptacon has its own great bass groove that is the center of the show, Hot Topic is a great crisp electroclash track with the trademark feminist lyricism of Kathleen Hanna, and What’s Yr Take On Cassavetes is the perfect package that wraps it all up with bite and classic lovable “Hanna-ness”.

The composition of the album is really pure dance punk, or electroclash, or whatever you want to call it. Loud fuzzy bass is typically what will drive the track, followed by catchy drums, flamboyant keyboard, and finally some real funky guitar riffs that can be both distorted and edgy or funky and twangy. Vocally Hanna and her girls deliver some of the most delightful performances you’ll hear from the fempunk scene. Ranging from the harsh in your face yelling on songs like The The Empty to the soft and absolutely beautiful awkwardness in tracks like Eau d’Bedroom Dancing. The album will also occasionally utilize samples which is most evident in the bouncy track Slideshow at Free University where the band loops a melody to what sounds like an art museum tour.

Le Tigre is a dance punk masterpiece. It manages to perfectly balance all the greatness of its artists and its own genres to create something that is truly on its own plane.

Personal favorite tracks: Deceptacon, What’s Yr Take On Cassevetes, Phanta, and Eau d’Bedroom Dancing

TL;DR: A dance punk triumph of epic proportions.


Album: The Second Stage Turbine Blade
Artist: Coheed And Cambria
Label: Equal Vision Records
Released: 2002
Genre: Progressive Rock
Sounds like: A dramatic story.

Whenever I tell people about Coheed and Cambria, I always mention that Claudio Sanchez is telling an intricate and complex story in the music. When people ask me what the story is about, I tell them that I don’t what the crap is going in that mess, but to hell if it doesn’t sound awesome. When they ask me what is a good starting point story wise is, I then reiterate what I said above. I apologize to anyone who I’ve spoken to and said that; I should have told you to start with The Second Stage Turbine Blade.

Ok, story wise, SSTB is the second part to the Armory Wars (allegedly), but you should still listen to it anyways.

The Second Stage Turbing Blade is Coheed and Cambria’s first studio album (after going through a name change from Shabuite) is definitely a throwback for me personally, after getting into them during Good Apollo. While their later efforts are significantly cleaner in terms of sound and overall production, the first thing you’ll notice about SSTB is how dirty it sounds. You definitely get a feel of how far along Coheed and Cambria has come, just from how unedited and unclean the album sounds. It’s almost as if you’re in a very small, private venue and the band is playing live. And the sound of “vintage” Coheed definitely benefits from this.

As I said before, it’s as if you’re listening to the band play live in a small venue (and as a plus, everyone’s quiet!). Claudio and Travis’s excellent guitar work is shown in full on this album with them complementing and dueling each other variously, while Todd provides a not profound but still there bass licks that complement what Claudio and Travis play. Everything from furious guitar licks with steady bass lines to heavy bass licks and heavy chords in the guitar are on display with this album.

There’s also the fact of Claudio’s soaring vocals. Let it be known that if ever to sing any of the songs off of SSTB in my car, that I have to use the highest reaches of my head voice, and I’m told I’m a pretty good tenor (I don’t believe a word of it, Baritone for life!). When Claudio wants to go at it, he will, and you will sit there and wonder how a man with hair like his can do that. Interesting to not that it’s not Claudio doing all the screaming; Michael Todd does some screaming too.

I think the best thing about this album as that’s it’s relatively quick. With only a few slow but heavy songs, The Second Stage Turbine Blade is a quick easy listen. There are no real jumps in this album besides Claudio’s voice; it’s all just good progressive rock, what Coheed and Cambria does best. Even though you find yourself done with the album relatively quickly, you might just find yourself listening to it again, and again.

Personal favorite tracks:
Everything Evil
Time Consumer

TL;DR: I don’t understand the story of the album, but I do understand that the album sounds really good.


Album: Tron: Legacy Soundtrack
Artist: Joseph Trapense and Daft Punk
Label: Walt Disney Records
Released: December 6, 2010
Genre: Orchestral
*Sub-genres N/A
Sounds like: Tron with a little more flavor. Think Tron meets Mass Effect.

Today, after years and years of fans kicking and screaming, the log awaited sequel to Tron will finally receive the release some argue it deserved. With the hype train in full effect, a clearly passionate cast and crew, all there is left now is to hope that the film is actually good. The interesting thing about Legacy’s release is not so much the film but how many communities it has sent waves through. The film community has clearly felt the hype, as has the videogame community, and the music community.

It’s been three years since we’ve last received an appropriate full album from Daft Punk and so, with a mighty thirst, Daft Punk fans like myself who otherwise might have even gone on to ignore Tron altogether salivated in anticipation. And now it’s finally here and it’s…good.

The first thing to realize, and the first thing you’ll note as you listen to it, is that this is clearly not a pure Daft Punk project. The sounds of strings, strings reminiscent of the original Tron admittedly, are in full effect here. Beneath these strings is a subtle layer of ambience which plays nicely with the world of Tron (granted I haven’t seen the sequel yet but I have seen the original). In fact, I would say ambience is really the name of the game here and it’s a very interesting take on the usual sounds we’ve come to expect from Daft Punk. The smooth but pulsating bass of tracks like Television Rules the Nation are here but slowed down to such an extent that every note has a very tangent purpose.

That said I found the album to have its highs and lows like most albums. For my money tracks with obvious Daft Punk influence like Derezzed, Tron Legacy, and End of Line are by far the most enjoyable on the album. Which is not to say the orchestral centric tracks don’t also have their merit. Recognizer in particular is one of those songs where you can almost see the scene of the film in front of you. The lows were some of the incredibly ambient tracks like Rinzler and Adagio for Tron which I just didn’t find compelling and brought some of the more impressive streaks of the album to a screeching halt.

Tron: Legacy makes all in all for a pretty good soundtrack. And this coming from the guy who doesn’t usually like soundtracks outside of their proper place (films, theater, video games). It’s a well bred mix of classic comfy orchestral strings, ambient electronica, and 21st century house. However, I do urge any reader to not approach the album with the mentality that this is a Daft Punk album. It is clearly a soundtrack first, a Daft Punk album second, and in the end it is better for it. Instead of lifting the identity of its robotic creators the album makes a name and face for itself. One that will hopefully resonate with Tron fans and electronica fans alike.

Personal favorite tracks: Derezzed, End of Line, and Tron: Legacy

TL;DR: A decent soundtrack with an identity all its own.



No pancakes tonight. I gotta run. Happy weekend everyone!   read

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