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Reviews (Album, Movie, TV)
Washed Out's 'Paracosm' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Johnny Sughrue   
Monday, 09 September 2013 17:23

Making a much larger splash into the world of dream pop comes the second blissful outing from Atlanta’s Washed Out. For those unfamiliar with Washed Out, it’s basically Earnest Greene, his keyboards and drum programs and he has a way of creating warm and fuzzy tunes that resemble a chilled out version of the eighties British new romantic scene. Another clue is if you happen to be familiar with the theme music to the hip show Portlandia, he does the soundtrack.

Paracosm is a bigger sound for Greene, more seasoned production, and it could be the soundtrack to recall some of your summer vacation beach parties. In fact most of the tracks fade in and out of party noises mixed with the peaceful sounds of birds and nature. The vocal echoes are stronger, the phasers are heavy, and the tunes are laid back, poppy, and shoe-gaze-y in case you missed your Beach House fix. “It All Feels Right” and “All I Know” are both feel-good dance tunes while “Weightless” comes in soft waves like evening along a summerset beach, and “Great Escape” is just that thanks to some real drums, phasing keyboards and a happy skipped beat.

Mr. Earnest Greene seems to have washed out any signs of worry in making that difficult second album, because Paracosm is an easy going last breath of warmth and romance to sign off the summer with.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 17:27
 
Portugal. The Man's 'Evil Friends' PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Michaela Marchardt   
Monday, 09 September 2013 17:18

In June 2013 the band Portugal. The Man released its new album Evil Friends. The band did a fantastic job building up hype around the release of this album using social media. First, teasers were published on the Bonnaroo Tumblr page, hinting that Danger Mouse would produce the album. The name of the new album was first released on Instagram, followed by a Tweet-to-Reveal Mosaic to reveal the album art work. Then, the video to the title track “Evil Friends” was released on the band’s YouTube page.

As with most records produced by Danger Mouse (e.g., Broken Bells, The Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, etc.), it’s hard not to listen to this record front to back, immediately falling in love with its brilliance. Right from the beginning, the band lures you in with catchy melodies and clever lyrics that tie the album together. So you have a short teaser of the title song’s chorus in the track “Creep in a T-Shirt.” And likewise, you have a short reference to “Plastic Soldiers” in their final song “Smile”. What a great way to tell a story and to evolve an album into more than just a collection of songs.

The opening track “Plastic Soldiers” is a simple, melancholic song while the following song “Creep in a T-Shirt” has you dancing and singing along to its upbeat sound in seconds. The title song “Evil Friends” seemingly starts out as a slow track, but soon turns into a head-banging punk rhythm. Lead singer John Gourley states, “It’s not that I’m evil, I’ve got a friend in the devil.” It appears that he’s embraced his corrupted self for quite some time, “Before you were born, I was already sinning,” he says in this song.

While the song “Hip Hop Kids” disses today’s youth, including punks, rock ‘n rollers and hip hop kids, the song “Modern Jesus” dishes out harsh criticism on modern religion, “We may be liars, preaching to choirs, but we can sell you dreams. You don’t need sympathy, they got a pill for everything.”

“Atomic Man” and “Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue” remind of old 60’s pop songs – a sound also embraced by MGMT. Overall, the band – and Danger Mouse – did a fantastic job creating an eclectic, yet beautiful album that takes you on a journey through various musical elements, influences and sounds. It’s a progression of sounds, yet smoothly balanced and interwoven in order to create a musical experience for the listener that extends beyond just some catchy tunes. In the end you can’t help put hit repeat.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 17:22
 
Show Review: Charlie Daniels @ Tennessee Valley Fair PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Lay   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:52

Charlie Daniels can still pack a concert venue. He proved that on Sept. 10 at the Tennessee Valley Fair as he played before a near-capacity crowd.

Daniels is a legend, but sadly his latest performance in Knoxville proved that he’s a mere shadow of the rebellious country and western and southern rock performer that rocked houses during the 1970s and 1980s.

He’s still one of the genre’s top musicians. He can still saw on the fiddle, and the Charlie Daniels Band is still tight. But sadly, something’s missing with the icon that brought us hits like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and “Long-haired Country Boy.”

On this night, the anger was still there, the patriotism was still there, but the country rebel was absent.

During his early days, Daniels was profane and his irreverence gave him a certain charm.

Now in his 70s, Daniels has found Christianity and that’s great. He’s also become an adamant supporter of the US Armed Forces and that’s fine, too. But he’s not the performer that he used to be.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 16:54
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Movie Review: Fruitvale Station PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jack Evans   
Monday, 09 September 2013 16:15

A simple yet emotional portrayal of Oscar Grant murder


 

There are a lot of “based on a true story” movies out there and a lot of biopics. There are even more films about social injustice and racism.

These genres are as saturated as, but better intentioned than, sappy rom-coms and immature manchild comedies a la Adam Sandler. Consequently, the truly great films in these genres often slip through the cracks.

So it’s refreshing to see a movie like “Fruitvale Station” that aims high at shedding light on some of America’s most shameful qualities via a day-in-the-life approach, and succeeding on a national level, from Sundance acclaim to Weinstein Company distribution to even Academy Award buzz.

It’s also pleasing to see a young team that works as well together as writer-director Ryan Coogler, in his debut, and star Michael B. Jordan, who portrays Oscar Grant, a black 22-year-old Oakland man who was shot point-blank and killed by a BART officer in the wee hours of New Year’s Day 2009.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 16:20
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Rising band Filligar's 'Hexagon' PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Alec Cunningham   
Monday, 09 September 2013 16:09

You know a rising band when you hear one, and Chicago-based Filligar is one of these. They've compiled a total of 12 tracks for this release, "Hexagon," and though they might not make it as a regular on any mainstream radio stations, they'll be climbing the indie charts soon.

Their new album, which was released July 23, marks their first release since 2010. And boy, have they come back and left listeners with something to remember. As one of their best songs on this new album, "New Local" is the perfect track to open the release. The song is introduced with the lines, "Slow down; there's something up ahead. I feel like an animal staring at a barbed wire fence." Their tracks are peppered with introspective lyrics that form interesting lines such as this one.

A number of their other tracks, such as "Knock Yourself Out" and "Money on the Dark Horse," make use of repetitive lyrics. Although certain lines seem to be heavily repeated throughout some sections of each song, especially within the choruses, it's not to the point of over exhaustion.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 16:14
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