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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 hat...you 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.

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crackity jones   1
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About Stereotoidone of us since 7:53 PM on 03.05.2010