Julian Casablancas of The Strokes | Taking A Look At His Solo Album PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG

It’s been three years since The Strokes came out with First Impressions of Earth in 2006 and with the next album’s drop impending within a few months, Julian Casablancas the voice of the band has released a solo album entitled PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG. This is not the only side project that has sprung from the members of The Strokes. Albert Hammond, Jr., the band’s guitarist has also taken the time between The Strokes albums to make two of his own, Yours To Keep in 06’ and ¿Cómo Te Llama? in 08’. Interesting albums in their own right but lacking the gusto of anything The Strokes have produced.

Casablancas’ album has definite similarities to the albums of The Strokes with a few exceptions. Violins, drum machines, and synth line the tracks of this album, however, accompanied by Casablancas’ signature vocals PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG begins to take on a ‘what if’ feeling. As in what if The Strokes was a synth filled near 80’s revival band. The intro of the song Left & Right In The Dark sound strikingly similar to the main melody of Walk of Life by the Dire Straits. But this album is more than that, the diverse instrumental coupling, synthetic or not, allows for the uniquely constructed to get its vision across. The goal of PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG, as well as its’ title, was inspired by the Oscar Wild quote “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young,” in that Casablancas tries to both tap into the heart of popular music currently out there while at the same time incorporating his own interpretations. In other words, PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG is a trend album based on what Casablanacas likes and wants to add to. The songs of this album run slightly longer than most alt-rock albums, perhaps making up for the minimal number of tracks that make up the album. With only eight tracks and shortest song having a run time of 4:05 one shouldn’t feel too upset given the full run time of the album finishes up a little after the 40 minute mark. For The Strokes fan base this will be a nice departure into ‘what if land’ comforted in the knowledge that with the experimental forces at work within the members of the band being met in side projects their next album, set to be released in early 2010, will stand true to the style and spirit of The Strokes.


Weezer | RADITUDE (Deluxe Edition) A Review

It has only been a year and a bit since the release of Weezer’s The Red Album, an indie rock based love note to a misspent youth. The Red album was vintage Weezer, a little bit nerdy with a lot of catchy tunes. Raditude the Deluxe Edition is a 53 minute exploration of the lighter side of Weezer’s musical style. Rivers Cuomo, the voice of Weezer, has always exuded a certain breed of self flagellating charisma, note songs such as Buddy Holly and more recently The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn). Raditude, to be honest, brings out a different less appealing side of Weezer, with its multiple guest musicians it comes off as the beginning of an unwanted stylistic mash-up. Featured contributions on Raditude include Butch Walker, Jermaine Dupri and the All-American Rejects. Not exactly a line up that makes you get excited. A Hindi influence comes into play with the song Love Is The Answer, which might make some think that somebody has seen Slumdog Millionaire a few too many times… that means you Cuomo.
When front man Rivers Cuomo was working on The Red Album it more intriguing that he would spend so much time interacting with fans online and using their input to develop the songs that we ended up hearing. Perhaps it has not been long enough since the last album or maybe fans feel a little bit less connected with this one but Ratitude stands out as one of the lesser Weezer albums to date. With a few exceptions in tracks like, Tripping Down The Freeway and I Don't Want To Let You Go hardcore Weezer fans might be left wondering what happened to their band. After listening to Raditude (Deluxe Edition) you have the feeling that a lot of experimentation was going on while making the tracks that populate the record, which for some might come as a greatly appreciated departure for the band into some less carted stylistic waters. But for others Raditude the ‘Deluxe Edition’ or otherwise will be less enjoyed and more distained. Perhaps after getting this out of the band’s system Weezer will get back to making more palatable albums like their Blue Album or even a Make Believe would do. If the band continues to create albums every year as they have been over the past two year then we can just hope that next year will bear better results.


Grant-Lee Phillips | A Review Of Little Moon

As a relatively unknown artist Grant-Lee Phillips has hidden with the shadow of his indie label Rounder Records making world class music. His albums call to mind the legends of eras gone by like the Boss and Bob Dylan even a little bit of Neil Young for good measure, they touch upon the very fabric of what made those artists so prolific. Maybe because Phillips is himself more generationally apt when it comes to such men, Phillips became known and distributed only ten years ago but within that time he has released a number of albums that achieve a kind of humble greatness. In his latest album Little Moon, Phillips delivers an emotive auditory experience that genuinely excites the listener.
There is something to be said for musicians of the working class and their take on music. It seems they have created their own niche where lyrics speak of the impossible which has been achieved and all of the dreams seem to of come true while baring the red and white banner within their front shirt pocket, boldly titled, Marlboro. These images are the embodiment of the American Dream-centric artists whose gentle souls seem to exude reflective playfulness and insight in every note and lyric. Songs like the Strangest Thing highlight the style of Phillips as a piano laced tune with the refrain that states “I don’t feel bad when Cash wares black I hear the train coming…”, you get an idea of where this singer song writer is coming from. Key tracks are, Little Moon, Strangest Thing, Seal It With A Kiss and Older Now.


Wolfmother | A Review of Cosmic Egg

The Biggest thing to come out of Australia since giant cans of Fosters beer, Wolfmother’s sophomore album entitled Cosmic Egg is also extremely intoxicating. Wolfmother seemed to come out of nowhere, as a cross between the White Stripes and Black Sabbeth they tore it up with cuts like Woman in their self-titled debut album a few years ago. What Wolfmother seems to have in spades is the talent and with the addition of two new members to the line up the album has taken on a different sound than their first, more ballsy and more epic in lyrical imagery. Nice touches of the old and the new are in Cosmic Egg rotating between metal, hard rock and bluesy numbers. While listening to Cosmic Egg you will feel as though the music is being blown through your ears and into your brain creating a gypsy riddled world filled with mythological creatures in a battle to the death, under a full moon psychedelically coloured with the blood of the fallen. Though that may be a bit sardonic the intent is pure. Wolfmother must be taken as a visceral experience like the feeling of bass that you get in your sternum during one of their shows every time a low note is hit.
It’s a driving album. If Cosmic Egg were the theme to a road trip it would take place on an endless stretch of dessert highway on the way to Las Vegas, picking up hitchhikers on the side of the road only to happily leave them stranded in even worse places then they began, making strange acquaintances with women that you meet standing in front of truck stop chapels along the way and in the end never really making it to your final destination. That’s the point though, the journey from point A to point B. As it stands, attempting to define a rock or metal band is like trying to catch the tail of a commit, or trying to bottle energy and sell it as a drink. People try and try to do it, but in the end you just look ridiculous and are left with the shakes.
Track List For Cosmic Egg Out October 27th

1. California Queen
2. New Moon Rising
3. White Feather
4. Sundail
5. In The Morning
6. 10,000 Feet
7. Cosmic Egg
8. Far Away
9. Pilgrim
10. In The Castle
11. Phoenix
12. Violence Of The Sun


Dawes | A Review of Their Debut Album North Hills

Dawes a band out of Los Angeles has come out with their first album North Hills. Fans of similar roots-rockers like Dr. Dog should be excited over this new addition to the music world. The album North Hills has a hearty sound to it as though it was forged in a vintage whiskey bar. The songs that populate the track list are light and subtle. With a simplicity of sound of the band that lulls you into a sense of comfort and familiarity which only makes for a more enjoyable listening experience. Tracks like Give Me Time have an unmistakable feel to them, a feeling that just doesn’t seem to belong to this time unless they are being played on a classic rock station. Even so, Dawes does not come across as a poser band or wannabees. What they seems to be doing is taking from a golden era of music that for the most part has managed to prove itself timeless. North Hills could be considered a retro rock revamp by some, when in fact they are a part of the growing movement of musicians all around the world that have not revamped a type of music because it was popular, but like so many other people have rediscovered the classics and want to be apart of it. Even though the musicians who make up Dawes were still in diapers while music similar to theirs was becoming popular, that just means their music was inspired by the best. Musicians like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, CCR, The Rolling Stones and of course The Beatles are either so engrained in the hearts and minds of anyone who has ever listened to music or are on their way to being so through the vast/free collection of music available on the web. What it comes down to though more than anything or any inspirational influences is the end result. And what Dawes have created feels substantial and will no doubt live on past the life of all of the fellow releases of that month filled with uninspired electronica and 80’s reboots. Dawes is a sweet California dream that contains echoes of the past and speaks to the present. Key tacks of North Hills are, That Western Skyline, When You Call My Name, Give Me Time and If You Let Me Be Your Anchor.


Royal Bangs | A Review of Let It Beep

Royal Bangs, a band out of Knoxville Tennessee, has just released their second album Let It Beep, an album that is filled with Beck-centric sounds. As a relatively new band the Royal Bangs have yet to make much of a name for themselves in the music industry. As a nice blend of electronica and indie rock Let It Beep gives little in terms of shocking originality or anything like that. Instead it offers us a fully functional set of tracks that provide the listener with what music should be an escape. The imagery of the album is secondary to the tone of the music, which is above all well paced. This self proclaimed ‘neo-soul’ band may not have the customary brooding attitude that one might ascribe to a ‘soulful’ band, but that does not mean that Royal Bangs does not have heart. Among the synth lined tracks and semi-power ballades is the impression of playful feelings mixed with self-deprecation for good measure. The bottom line on this band is that it has produced a quality album that should be enjoyed by all in the mood for a little bit of Tennessee goodness.


Timbre Timbre | Demons Like To Dance To The Music Of Timbre Timbre

Timbre Timbre, a band out of Toronto Ontario, has been making some indie waves over the past few years. The band has put out two other album, 2006's Cedar Shakes and 2007's Medicinals. The self-titled third album has a distinctive musical flavour to it, one that is dark and consoling. Lead singer of the band, Taylor Kirk possesses a distinct vocal aptitude when singing and is able to reflect both an understated strength and overwhelming unease. They have the qualities of a band whose era is hard to put your finger on. Timbre Timbre is a part of the growing number of era nondescript concept bands, whose first impression always is the cause of some reflection. The thing is, this album could have been made in the 60's 70's 80's 90's etc. Blues, Folk and possibly the supernatural are the main influence for the self-titled album. Making the sound one that takes the listener to a world where imagery and mood could be likened to that of a Grimm Fairytale, played out to brooding melodies of a nondescript era.

As with bands such as, Dr. Dog, Sunset Rubdown, M. Ward, Deer Tick, Kings of Leon, and now Timbre Timbre, we are seeing a new bread of music. One that takes its influences from a host of genres and eras, what results is a style of music that is getting harder and harder to place. They do not come off as a style that is trying to be something from the past, or a style that is unfamiliar, it is simply a reflection of the musicians’ musical interests, which in the case of Timbre Timbre and its members seems to be diverse and refined. All of this may be a result of the sheer amount of readily available music at the touch of a button, from so many different eras. The history of modern/popular music now stretches back almost seventy years and it is available for anyone from now on to review, emulate, refine and do so without bounds. Taking the musical style of their choosing from any genre or era and make it their own. It’s that damn pot… it’s melted. Key Tracks off of this album are, Until The Night Is Over, Magic Arrow, I Get Low and No Bold Villain.


Editors | A Review of In This Light And On This Evening

The Editors have given us two albums before In This Light And On This Evening, both of which were lightly inspired by the sound of the 80’s. They were for the most part a straight indie alt-rock band and had the sound to prove it, but this new one has taken the idea of a reenvisioning the sound of the 80’s to a whole new level. Not to mention the vocal adjustment of lead singer Tom Smith to a somehow deeper expression of his singing style. The Editors have taken a new approach to this album adding familiar synth sounds that you may not be able to place all at once. On the track Bricks and Mortar the entire genesis of the song seems to be based around the ominous music that populated the background of the original Terminator movie. Although a variation from what you hear in the cult classic theme, the idea of taking something so deeply ingrained into the consciousness of a certain generation and twisting it into something new is either campy or genius. At some points of the album you feel like you are listening to New Order, that is not a bad thing. The whole 80’s reenvisioning seems to be gaining the most steam in the UK with bands like XX, Big Pink and others leading the charge. Why not they are only proving the idea of the 20 year cycle, what is that you might ask? The 20 year cycle simply put, revolves around the idea that every 20 years people or record labels seem to become nostalgic and look back two decades for inspiration and this is why the music and fashion of years gone by tends to reemerge in a slightly different form. What is the date again? 2009 right? How long will this re-varnished version of that decades music be around for, a year or two, maybe more. As for the Editors their new album is an interesting and pleasant mix of the new and old, like spraying canned new car smell in a 1984 Chevy Malibu. It’s enjoyable, slightly nostalgic and it may give some people a headache to be around. Key tracks on In This Light And On This Evening, Bricks and Mortar, The Boxer and Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool.


Kings Of Convenience | Reviewing Declaration of Dependence

The Kings of Convenience fall into the category of artists that are so smooth and relaxing they actually put you to sleep if you are not careful. If you do fall asleep within the first few songs you will be missing out. This is not the only album to come from the musicians that make up this band. One of them, Erlend Øye, has a side project that is as good if not better than the Kings of Convenience called The Whitest Boy Alive released earlier this year. In comparison to their last album though, Declaration of Dependence does not fall short. It’s as good as the one which featured guest vocals from the now forgotten Lesley Feist. The new one is more of a reflection on being young and not having made the most of it. With songs like 24-25 telling the story of a year in the life of an age specific person engaged in futile games involving heart shaped balloons and post cards, you get more of a sense of where this band directs its energies. Attempting to tell engaging narratives to the soft musical backdrop that is their sound, the Kings Of Convenience transport the listener to a quiet place filled with just enough darkness to counteract their positively relaxing melodies. Perfect for morning commutes on buses and trains, Declaration of Dependence will put in the proper mood for days filled with less pleasant prospects. Key Tracks off of Declaration of Dependence are, 24-25, Boat Behind, Rule My World, Renegade and Freedom and Its Owner.