Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick Spins

Mumford and Sons Babel
The British acoustic folk group returns and packs a serious punch on their sophomore release and one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Musically, Mumford and Sons sound a bit redundant sticking to the same formula that worked for their stellar debut, Sigh No More, however, what sticks out and makes the record shine as bright as it does are Marcus Mumford’s lyrics. Marcus goes into dark and deep places within himself and pours it out into sing-along pop songs and striking ballads that make Babel rise and meet all expectations.

When Frank Carter announced his departure from Gallows in 2010, the reaction was as if Johnny Rotten would have announced his departure from Sex Pistols in the 70’s. Carter leaving took everyone by surprise and in many ways, saw the end of the British hardcore titans. Many felt that such a presence and personality could never be replaced, then when the band announced that former AlexisonFire frontman Wade MacNeil was fronting the band, it would never amount to it being as special or as brutal as Carter. How could someone so American front a band so British? Well, on Gallows debut with MacNeil on vocals, any doubts were tossed out the window as the band have constructed one of their most vicious bone crunching efforts to date. This is a new Gallows, no doubt, but a new Gallows that can sustain what they had before.

Grizzly Bear Shields
The indie favorites return with their fourth and most plentiful record to date. Shields hears the Brooklyn art rock band going to Marfa, Texas, to create and record their new endeavor. After the massive success of their last record, Veckatimest, Shields builds on what the bands new majority of fans embraced and is much more layered and complex record than their previous lo-fi minimal efforts.

The Vaccines The Vaccines Come of Age
A quick second record from England’s number one rock and roll band (The album went to the top of the charts when it was released their earlier this month), The Vaccines Come of Age is just as catchy and just as endearing as the bands 2011 stellar debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, yet, while sticking to the same formula of what works, the band clearly have the idea in mind that if it is not broken do not fix it.

SlaughterhouseWelcome to: Our House
The hip-hop collective featuring Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Royce da 5'9" release their second album and defy expectations and prove the dreaded sophomore slump is something that happens to lazy and uninspired artists. Featuring many cameos from Eminem, Skylar Grey, and Busta Rhymes, Welcome to: Our House brings individualism back to collective group and brings it back to the glory of 90’s hip-hop flair.

Band of HorsesMirage Rock
The folk, country, rock band return with their fourth album and show a much slower and somber side. With a record that opens with such a bombastic song like “Knock Knock,” Band of Horses calm the stampede soon after with a mellow and earthy album, while their other albums are lush and full, Mirage Rock is stripped down and natural.

Green Day Uno!
The first of a trilogy of return-to-form punk records for the SoCal rockers hears the band going back to their Lookout Record days and taking queues from their fly by night records Insomniac and Warning. Uno! is simply a rip roaring good time and there is nothing wrong with that, especially after Green Day served up two of the finest albums of the last 10 years.

The KillersBattle Born
The Killers seem to be following a formula in how they record albums. The band’s brilliant 2004 debut Hot Fuss was an 80’s synth throwback and then the bands 2006 release, Sam’s Town was a Springsteen-inspired rock and roll record. In 2008, the band went back to the synth sound on Day and Age and now the band’s 2012 record, Battle Born hears them going back to the heavy guitar sound but finds their music a bit scattered. Sticking to their Nevada roots, the band named the album after the slogan that appears on the state flag and the name of their recording studio, which played into the motif of creating the record after it seemed to be a battle birthing this record onto the world. Taking over a year to record and working with producers Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Brendan O'Brien, Stuart Price and Daniel Lanois. The Killers really try to go for stadium rock and force the situation.

Blaqk Audio Bright Black Sky
The second record from Jade and Davy of AFI hears them laying on the 80’s new wave and cold wave sound thick. It is a record that is not only perfect for the fall but something you can really dance to in order to turn on the heat as the nights begin to get cooler.

Cat Power – Sun
Nine albums in, Cat Power stills finds a way to find the perfect balance between folk and electronica as Sun takes the listener on a ride from European inspired cafes to American outdoors.

Aimee Mann Charmer
The brilliant Aimee Mann returns with her first album in four years and delivers her usual sultry flair and female empowerment. A nice surprise is “Living a Lie,” which features Shins frontman James Mercer.

Minus the Bear Infinity Overdrive
Seattle’s Minus the Bear return for their second Dangerbird Records album and the bands sixth overall. Mixing prog-rock and indie together, Minus the Bear find an interesting sound and hybrid with Infinity Overdrive.

The Ravonettes Observer
Denmark’s The Ravonettes return with their sixth record and stick seem to be afraid to change anything about there music and while other bands may not change the formula of what works, for The Ravonettes it just sounds like every song was no different than the last.

Mono For My Parents
The Japanese shoe-gaze, ambient band return with their sixth record and a five-track album that spans nearly an hour. Experimenting with various sounds and styles, and three songs that clock in over 10 minutes, Mono exhaust the listener with what they have just delivered.

Dave Matthews Band Away From the World
DMB reunite with original producer Steve Lillywhite for their eighth record. Coming off a triumphant return with 2009’s Big Whiskey and The GrooGrux King, Away From the World hears a very tame and mild band and in many ways very uninspired.

Animal CollectiveCentipede Hz
Nine albums in and the Baltimore experimental indie outfit may have finally found their voice. Animal Collective have been a band we have had much trouble trying to appreciate or listen to, it all seemed just like noise. But now with Centipede Hz, the band goes from barking and sounding like stray animals to making something very melodic and interesting to hear. We seem to finally be coming around to what they are offering.

Bob DylanThe Tempest
America’s greatest songwriter returns and sounds older and uninspired more than ever. The Tempest hears Dylan pay homage to John Lennon and the pop-culture history of Titanic but fails to capitalize a lasting impression.