Matt Costa | Mobile Chateau Review

Matt Costa is a folk artist from the sunny state of California and has released his third album entitled Mobile Chateau. Costa is not exactly an unknown, his critically acclaimed 2008 album Unfamiliar Faces made many peoples ‘best of’ lists for that year, and with his lasted LP, Mobile Chateau he may have a repeat performance. There have been a number of acts to come out with folk albums of note this year and now we have to chalk Costa’s up there along with others like Deer Tick and Jason Boesel.
One thing kept coming to mind the whole time while listen to Costa’s new work: why wasn’t Costa included in the 2009 folk supergroup Monsters of Folk? He’s a folk ‘Monster’ and in the same league as say Matt Ward or Jim James, maybe there was room for only one Matt in the Monsters of Folk or a fifth man would have screwed up the symmetry of the album cover (which was one of the best out of the 2009 and collection of album covers).  C’est la vie. Costa’s album title is also having a negative affect ‘people’ when it comes to the use of French word usage in English writing.
Mobile Chateau has a charm and consistency that reminds you of the Fleet Foxes last album but with out all of their signature harmonies.   The playful guitar portions create an atmosphere that resounds throughout the album and keeps the whole thing grounded firmly in a place that feels vaguely like post Beatles Americana of the 60s. The nostalgic incantations of this album are most noticeable on the tracks, Can You Tell Me, Witchcraft and Stings of Change.     


Weezer | ‘Hurley’ Is Better Than ‘Raditude’

For three years in a row now, the L.A. based band Weezer has released a full length LP, ‘The Red Album’ in 08’, ‘Raditude’ in 09’ and the newest of which ‘Hurley’, dropped on September 14th.  Whenever you have albums that come out in such rapid succession it makes you question the value of the music being produced. How good could this music really be? Well if we wanted to make a power ranking out of just the three latest albums it would start with ‘The Red Album’ followed by ‘Hurley’ and bringing up the rear in a distant, distant third would be ‘Raditude’.
The new album ‘Hurley’ that features a photo of ‘Lost’ star Jorge Garcia who played the character Hurley. It was an interesting choice for Weezer to use just a photo of the big man as the cover art for ‘Hurley’.  No graphics, no words, just a face shot of a grinning Garcia who is instantly recognizable as his famous character Hurley.  ‘Hurley’ (the album not the character) has a much more familiar tone to it than last years ‘Raditude’. The new album has more of that pop rock attitude that we saw with ‘The Red Album’ with playful lyrics and fast paced guitar progressions.  River Cuomo the lead singer of Weezer had a lot of help on this album when it came to writing the songs. Artists like Dan Wilson, Greg Wells and Ryan Adams share some of the credit for ‘Hurley’ and if you listen to “Run Away” the track which Ryan Adams had a hand in you almost think that you are listening to The Cardinals.
Whenever you get right down to it, ‘Hurley’ is a solid album, its not the best Weezer has ever done but it is not the worst either. ‘Hurley’ is a major move back to where Weezer was before they made ‘Raditude’ and that is not a bad thing at all.   


Junip | Fields A Review

In recent memory there has been a deluge of great American folk music coming from all over the world. Whether it’s coming from North America or Europe one thing is clear this music isn’t from the soundtrack from Deliverance. Recently a band hailing from Sweden has made its contribution to the genre in a not so small way. The band Junip, first full length LP titled Fields has the low key style with a slightly psychedelic edge. José González offers up a solid vocal performance throughout Fields. As a singer González s seems to have established a mood in his songs and painted a picture for the listener that illustrates a level of meaning and complexity that only comes with natural talent and a honed skill set.  Key tracks off of Fields are: Always, Howl and Off Point.


The Wilderness Downtown: An Interactive Film That Could Be the Future of Music Videos. What Does Your Wilderness Look Like?

Those who listen to Arcade Fire music are very aware of the emotional influence they posses. Their songs are often so vivid and emotionally charged that you as the listener become heavily immersed in their narrative. Well, now there is a new way to experience Arcade Fire in a cleverly designed interactive music video featuring the song “We Used To Wait” from the band’s latest album The Suburbs.
The concept is simple; The Wilderness Downtown personalizes the video in order to incorporate where you grew up into the story using Google Maps and Street-view. These features along with an image of a hooded person (most likely representing you) running through these suburban streets. All of these factors are then combined to make a very unique experience, one that is both inventive and entertaining.  And in terms of a style of music video for accompanying Arcade Fire’s song “We Used To Wait” there couldn’t be a more perfect fit, it takes the relatability of the song to another level altogether.
You do need to have Google’s internet browser Chrome in order to view videos and the manner they are displayed, kind of like a structured flurry of over and underlaid ad pop-ups providing different perspectives of the address you put in makes for something quite unique.  But about midway through you are asked to write a letter or draw a picture to your younger self. The letter you write can be stored in a virtual post box. There it is submitted to be a visual on Arcade Fire’s tour. If you have been to one of their shows on The Suburbs tour you know that the big screen acting as backdrop for the performance does come into play as a visual aid during the performance. That means your little note to your former self could make it into one of the band’s live performances! As well, these messages are submitted to ‘The Wilderness Machine’ which then prints off a hard copy of these messages on a post card with, get this, laden with birch seeds and can be panted to grow a tree.
When it comes to music videos there is really very little to get excited about, they have pretty much been the same for the past thirty years give or take some choreographic with few exceptions. But The Wilderness Downtown is… something.  Check out The Wilderness Downtown here.                


The Thermals | A Review of Personal Life

In terms of Punk music The Thermals have set the bar for anyone thinking of making an attempt at the now 30+ year old genre of music. What this Portland, Oregon based band established with its previous four albums are among the best of what punk should be today when comes to style and content. You can’t go back in time and be the Sex Pistols or The Ramones and there is no point in attempting to pop punk band because Sum 41 and Blink 182 sucked the life out of that version of punk all together. No, what’s left for punk is exactly what The Thermals are doing, making it sound gritty but tight as all get out.
The new album Personal Life is short and to the point but it leaves a lasting impression. The tracks I’m Gonna Change Your Life and I Don’t Believe You set the tone for the rest of Personal Life with their solid guitar and vocal portions. In terms of content Personal life is a more abstract album in comparison to say, The Body, The Blood, The Machine which had some heavy biblical references mixed with a generous helping of anti-establishment sentiment. Nonetheless, this album is still very good and should be picked up.