State Radio | A Review of Let It Go

State Radio combines an Irish influence with a deep Reggae/Ska base to produce a sound that is ideal for anyone hungry for a fresh offering from the particular genre of music. This Boston band has just released their latest album Let It Go. The last Reggae/Ska band to really make a mark this year was the Born Ruffians earlier this year. The sound of State Radio is more refined than that of the Born Ruffians, with smoother transitions and crisper vocals. Though, there is something to be said for raspy voices crackling over the hefty guitar riff. There is something about State Radio that places it into the interesting gray area that has started to consume the indie scene. Why they should impress us: the songs on the album are fast paced, and tout lyrics that are both challenging and engaging. State Radio may be the first band to successfully combine Reggae, Ska and Irish influences. Why they shouldn’t impress us: It’s not like Reggae, Ska or Irish music can be considered to be new or progressive. In the end though, Let It Go is an album that is well layered and leaves the listener with a sense of rebellion. If you like State Radio then you should check out Bedouin Sound Clash, they have a similar style and many great songs.


Monsters of Folk | A Review of The Monsters of Folk’s Self-Titled Album

Supergroups seem to be all the rage these days and why not? The effect of Supergroups are obvious and economical, musicians like to play and perform with their peers, it’s what they do, they perform, and the better the group is as a whole the better they feel about their individual performances. The Monsters of Folk is a variation on the whole super group idea. Bands like Chicken Foot, a Supergroup, are made up of some of the most prolific figures in the music industry and rock world, Sammy Hager, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith. Essentially that band is made up of the bones of Van Halen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Monsters of Folk and its’ members are cut from a different cloth. Made up of some very talented men, the guys that constitute the Monsters of Folk are much less prolific then the men who make up the roster for Chicken Foot. Jim James of My Morning Jacket was very much responsible for the eclectic and richly performed tracks off of My Morning Jacket’s last album Evil Urges, (the track Librarian is especially odd and enjoyable, highly recommended). He and Matt Ward of M. Ward and She & Him make up the notables of this group. There is of course Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, they round out the foursome, though they are lesser known by most.

So what makes the Monsters of Folk more a supergroup with a small ‘s’? Is that the members are not exactly household names? Well… yes. But that is not a bad thing, as a band these men make an indie powerhouse, their talent is not in question and what they have produced together is much more diverse than what they have done on their own.

The Monsters of Folk’s self-title album is full of articulate well conceived songs. Each track taking a bit of the greatness from one of the contributors. Just because this band is a minor supergroup does not mean that it will be over should be. The Monsters of Folk exude what the current nature of indie folk world has to offer. Perhaps if one of the members of Fleet Foxes made an appearance then the experiment would be complete, but that is just wishful thinking. As it stands though, the album itself leaves you at some points craving more musical exploration in stead of lyrical exercises in folk lore. The highlights of the album come directly from M. Ward’s contribution on the vocal front. Every song in which Matt sings we find ourselves listening more attentively. If you do not believe in or are not aware of the current indie folk movement going on in the world today then this album will give you an idea of what is going on. Folk rock has become more accessible over the past few years and it is primarily due to the contributions of the men that make up this not so small ‘s’ supergroup. Absolutely pick up this album for these tracks, Tamazacal, The Right Place, Baby Boomer, Ahead of the Curve, Slow Down Jo, Sandman, The Brakeman and Me and His Master’s Voice.


Islands | A Review Of Vapours

Some bands are more odd than good. Some bands are better as a concept than as a reality. Some bands’ musical offerings are only noticed as a result of their oddness of concept. Islands is a band that presents itself as odd but in reality their sound is synth saturated indie-rock. But that hardly ranks this band among the odd, synth and indie music go hand-in-hand. Islands is deeply imbedded in the Montreal indie scene; in their first studio album, there were guest appearances from some very notable musical acts such as Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire, also based out of Montreal. Though even with these fine musicians to lean on these guest appearance tracks could not savage the Islands’ album they contributed to. Return To The Sea, Islands’ first album which featured this other artists was still not very good. Never really making it as big as the other associated bands mentioned, Islands may find itself out in the cold on their new project. Most likely this album will go generally unnoticed and perhaps make it into a few episodes of a TV show, as one of the seemingly prerequisite indie tracks that find there way on to shows like Chuck and Vampire Diaries due to their inexpensive to attain nature, but it this album will not find its way into your music library. That being said, Vapours is an album which will satiate your need for Montreal indie music initially, but in the end will leave you wanting. There is something missing from this album, maybe it is heart or just a sense of energy but in the end Vapours is just another album.

The album leaked online on September 15, 2009 Out on the 22nd

Track List
Switched On
No You Don't
Disarming The Car Bomb
Tender Torture
On Foreigner


Magneta Lane | A Review Of Gambling With God

Magneta Lane, a band heavily influenced by such classics as The Pretenders, Sonic Youth and The Kinks, has come out with a new album Gambling With God. The album features a number of finely executed tracks, so much so you may think the band hails from some nook in down town Montreal or played their way through the dive bars in and around New York City. This threesome is in fact from Toronto Ontario and Gambling with God as their third album is quite the album. As you listen to their new album you can hear a number of influences and they coalesce in a way that brings about a sense of the band’s appreciation of both the new and old. Magneta Lane falls into the notable and incendiary category of sibling/relative rock acts such as The Ramones, Oasis and more recently the Kings of Leon. Perhaps a blessing or a curse, having band members with the same blood often brings about interesting results. The contrast of on stage symmetry and off stage squabbling is never lost on the devotee or casual onlooker. If Magneta Lane becomes more successful such stories surrounding them may become more available.

Gambling with God is a more clear-cut brand of Alt-Rock, filled with a casual sense of lyrical storytelling. The vocals delivered by lead singer Lexi Valentine are at some points reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, that is, if Zooey had any vocal edge at all. The melodies are relatively simplistic, and while the execution is precise, they lack much originality. That being the only negative issue of the album, Gambling with God is no gamble at all (hold for applause). With a solid collection of tracks this album is by far the best female-only rock album of the year. Key tracks, House Of Mirrors, September Came, Bloody French and All The Red Feelings.


Pearl Jam | A Review of Backspacer

As Pearl Jam’s ninth studio album Backspacer, it’s not like you say the band members are new to the music game. They are in fact one of the most influential artists of a certain musical era which changed many lives and formed many musical tastes. The era of course is Grunge, a musical style that overflowed with dark introspective lyrics accompanied by harrowing guitar riffs. It was the theme of a generation desperately trying to escape the overwhelmingly vapid 80’s culture. And Pearl Jam was right in the center of it along with Alice In Chains and of course Nirvana. But out of these three only one really remains and that is Pearl Jam. The other lead singers are now long dead and only Vedder remains. Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Eddie Vedder all had and have very distinct voices, and collectively they became the golden standard for Alt-Rock vocals. Emulators abound but few have come close. That brings us to Backspacer.

It’s hard to think some of the songs off of Backspacer would work without the unmistakable deep quaking voice of Vedder. His execution and lyrical influence still holds strong, in this the first Pearl Jam album to have Vedder as the sole lyric writer since 1994 with Vitalogy. To say that every song off of this album is good would be a step too far. Though, the misses heard on the album are easily forgivable. The subtle brilliance of other, more formidable tracks make up for the slack. You see, Pearl Jam has lost the wonderfully raw and dark feeling in their songs of years gone by, and that once strong sense of existential doom has been replaced with a more lyrically sunny overtone. After listening to Backspacer you will realize one thing about today’s Pearl Jam. What they have lost in edge, they gained back in wisdom. They may not be as dark as they once were but songs like Unthought Known and The End affirm that they can still make music with heart that is exceptionally put together and also uplifting. Key tracks off of Backspacer, The Fixer, Unthought Known and The End.

Backspacer comes out on September 20th

Track List:
1. Gonna See My Friend
2. Got Some
3. The Fixer
4. Johnny Guitar
5. Just Breath
6. Amongst The Waves
7. Unthought Known
8. Supersonic
9. Speed Of Sound
10. Force Of Nature
11. The End


Skint & Demoralised | A Review of Love, And Other Catastrophes

Originality and Appeal, these are the elements that we look for here at Indie Blog Shot and Skint & Demoralised has it in spades. The band’s front man Matt Abbott of the West Yorkshire area, began his career as a writer and performer of poetry. After some of his poetry was heard by the producer MiNI dOG via Abbott’s MySpace page, the two began to work together in creating one of the most original albums to ‘not’ come out in years. Love, And Other Catastrophes has been delayed in its release for quite some time and has been in the works since early 2007. Abbott’s album does not come out until early 2010, but some have had the fortune to hear it in its entirety. The album itself jumps between strictly spoken word poetry interludes and a hybrid poetry interlaced with varying styles of background music, making the album a wonderfully exotic mess. Abbott’s misanthropic lyrical content accompanied by his incredibly thick accent creates an extraordinary experience for the listener. With lines like, “Are we always going to be single, we drink what we like, think what we like, go out for a dance and mingle”, in the track It’s Only Been A Week with Abbott’s accent in lead the song becomes instantly memorable. Lyrics such as these fill Love, And Other Catastrophes, it’s originality and subversive appeal are unquestionable. Key tracks off of this album are, You Probably Don’t Even Realise When You Do The Things I Love The Most, Only Lust Ignores Violence, A Few Quiet Drinks (The Long Night That Lies Ahead) and It’s Only Been A Week.

Track List for Love, And Other Catastrophes
1. Let’s Get Lost
2. LS11 OES
3. The Thrill Of Thirty Seconds
4. You Probably Don’t Even Realise When You Do The Things I Love The Most
5. Only Lust Ignores Violence
6. This Song Is Definitely About You
7. A Few Quiet Drinks (The Long Night That Lies Ahead)
8. Three More Days (Voluntary Confinement Intro)
9. It’s Only Been A Week
10. Red Lipstick
11. One Way Avenue Blues
12. Failing To See The Attraction
13. Withdrawal Symptoms


Hockey | Mind Chaos | Good Bands Grow in Portland

Hockey, a new band out of Portland Oregon, home base for M. Ward, Blitzen Trapper other bands that have made a splash over the past 12 months. What Hockey offers to its listeners is an eclectic mix of folk, rock and pop. So much so you may think this album has multiple personality disorder (see track #8). It’s hard to nail down their brand of music, at one point you feel like you are enjoying a long lost Strokes song with Work, while during the next track Song Away, you think you are listening to a Springsteen cover. All of this just adds to the experience of Mind Chaos, the first full length album Hockey has released, due out September 28th. As mentioned before, Hockey has a musical flavor not unlike artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Strokes and maybe even a little Beck, but that doesn’t mean this album is without its own innovations. For the most part this album takes and infuses a great deal of Funk into the styles of those artists. Some tracks are hit and miss on Mind Chaos, but that is no reason to relegate the band to the crap album bin that seemed to be filling up over the month of August. In fact, this album was a pleasant surprise, filled with well put together pop numbers and heartfelt songs that would fall more into the category of folk rock while others end up being more Beck-centric. And with a name like Hockey you know that this band is in it for a fight. With similar bands floating around Hockey needs to deliver a devastating blow with its release of Mind Chaos. Key Tracks off of the album are, Too Fake, Learn To Lose, Work, Song Away and Preacher.

Track List For Mind Chaos:
1. Too Fake
2. 3am Spanish
3. Learn To Lose
4. Work
5. Song Away
6. Curse This City
7. Wanna Be Black
8. Four Holy Photos
9. Preacher
10. Put The Game Down


Blitzen Trapper | Black River Killer EP

Blitzen Tapper had what some might call a brake out year over the past 12 months, appearing on Rolling Stones Best New Albums of 08’ with Furr at #13. And making it into the back grown music of popular TV shows, that being said, Blitzen Trapper does not have another album close on the horizon. But what they have released, and have been selling privately after their concerts, is the Black River Killer EP. The title track being the only one from the Furr album the other six are sweet sweet B-Sides. What these songs offer is a type of extension directly related to Furr, a curious side note worth the $4 cost from their label subpop’s website in Mp3.