Tag Archive | "music review"

Arcade Fire album “Reflektor” gets mythic

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

By Bradley Garrett Barnes

What if electronic music duo Daft Punk didn’t get lucky?

What if they had stayed up all night attempting to make music and were empty-handed? What kind of album would they have made if they went home and opened a bottle of Pernod wine and wrote a few songs about their failed attempts at the French dance clubs?  They’d probably have created something much like “Reflektor,” the latest effort from Canadian indie-rockers Arcade Fire.  The bands fourth album manages to channel a tranquil and atmospheric follow-up to their last album, Grammy award-winning “The Suburbs.”

The opening title track, “Untitled,” is an intimate, disco-driven exchange between band members and husband and wife Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, pairing the two as they trade verses in English and French.  The song sets the mood for the rest of the first disc:

“If this is heaven, I don’t know what it’s for/ If I can’t find you there, I don’t care.”

Produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, “Reflektor” remains cohesive as it travels between the introductory crisp, rhythm-driven sound and cosmic ambience in the second half.  The two-disc concept album covers a lot of ground, and the instrumentation seems familiar without being derivative.

Centered on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, much of the second disc explores this myth, focusing on the distance between the two. Eurydice is trapped in the underworld, and Orpheus seeking to recover his lover.

In “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice),” the music swells in to the chorus, asserting the bard’s claim:

“I know there’s a way/we can make ‘em pay/Think it over and say/’I’m never going back again.”

His response follows in the next track, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus).” The song features stacked choral harmonies calling out to Orpheus to “wait until it’s over” and asking him to bide his time:

“It seems so important now, but you will get over/And when you get over, when you get older/Then you will remember why it was so important then.”

If “The Suburbs” could be considered a critique of our previous generation’s suburban sprawl and conspicuous consumption, then “Reflektor” is a glimpse at our own time and the difficulty of managing a life of over-stimulation and bored self-awareness.  The album pumps, there’s no doubt, but, in the words of Butler himself:

“If this is heaven, I need something more.”

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Dig this: Jazz band blows at UWF Music Hall

By Amanda Shaffer

Stage lights glistened on trumpets, basses, a keyboard, bongos, piano, guitar, a drum set, and of course, a saxophone in the University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts Center Music Hall on Sunday afternoon.

An Afternoon with En’Trigue filled the hall with the smooth sounds of jazz, along with about 150 audience members, who bobbed and swayed their heads to the soulful rhythms.

“None of the songs that we played are original,” said Mike Riley, one of three founders of the band. “We play songs that encompass smooth jazz, like songs by Ne-Yo.”

En’Trigue formed in 2011 by Riley, Rodney McGhee and Roderic Cannon. With so many of their group members coming from different parts of the United States, they pride themselves in delivering a “unique sound of jazz that has extra flavor.”

The band has played with Grammy-winning vocalist Danny Clay and saxophonist Elle Michelle.

The band performed in black slacks, dress shoes and either a white or chocolate brown button-down shirt with a gold swirled applique on the front. The vocal artists swung and danced to the groove on the side of the stage, causing their uniforms to shimmer under the stage lights, encouraging the audience to do the same.

“En’Trigue’s performance was excellent,” said Lusharon Wiley, senior associate dean of students. “The interplay of the musicians along with their smooth style made the evening enjoyable and left the audience wanting to know more about this intriguing group.

“The choice of music was right on target.”

Vocalist Kevin Wilson sang a few numbers, while the band played with him. Other songs involved solos by the artists. Keyboardist Gino Rosaria played the entire time, with a few solos that were loudly encouraged by the audience.

“I just love jazz,” Cathy Brown, director of diversity said. “I saw them previously and thought that they would be wonderful to bring to the university.”

Throughout the performance Riley kept shouting, “Are you having a good time?” The audience hooted and hollered every time in response.

The band had a variety in their sound. One song would be a high number, filled with playful variations in the keyboard. The next song would be a more “do-duh, do-duh” bass-filled number.

The rhythmic claps echoed through the Music Hall, even through intermission.

“We do nothing but positive things- that’s all we do,” Riley said. “There is so much negative is in this world. Interracial conflicts. Teach your children to do right.”

The Center for Fine and Performing Arts hosts many different multicultural shows and events through out the year.

On Nov. 4 the Music Hall will continue its Artist Series with Eva Amsier and Read Gainsford.

Jan. 26 a one-time presentation of “The Sons of Africa” will be performed at the Music Hall. The presentation will include music, song, dance, poetry, speeches and essays on the celebration of black men in America. For more information, contact Mamie Webb Hixon at 850-433-3324.

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Arctic Monkeys paint musical scenery on their fifth album ‘AM’

Guest musicians include Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and Elvis Costello's drummer Pete Thomas.

Guest musicians include Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas.

By Josh Morton

The title for the new Arctic Monkeys’ album “AM” works on more than one level. Besides the obvious connection that it is the abbreviation of the band name, there is the undeniable sense that this is an album that will hit the hardest when played after midnight; a fact that front man Alex Turner admitted to NME magazine that he took the idea from The Velvet Underground’s  album, “VU.”

The fifth-album from the British indie rockers serves as a follow up to 2011’s “Suck It And See,” and brings the same energy they gave us with their 2006 debut album “Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not” while incorporating the almost surf-rock-blues sounds of 2009’s “Humbug.”

The album opens up with the tremolo-laced, monster stomp, “Do I Wanna Know?,”  which sounds the way one might feel after a 4 a.m. motorcycle ride through the desert. “R U Mine?” is a full on rock’n’roll song complete with heavy guitar riffs, distorted bass, and drum solos around every corner. “One For the Road” is a slow yet steady-paced and falsetto-laced track that pairs up interestingly well with Turner’s Yorkshire drawl.

One of the standout tracks of the album is “Arabella,” a mysterious love song appropriately throwing reverb on lyrics:

“It’s an exploration, she’s made of outer space and her lips are the galaxy’s edge.”

If “AM” is the soundtrack to a night out on the town, “No. 1 Party Anthem” would play after the bar closed and everyone headed to the store to pick up more alcohol. This is followed up by the mellow “Mad Sounds,” which could double as both music for walking through a grassy field or a late night stroll down a sidewalk littered with crushed beer cans.

Foot stomps, toe taps and finger snaps will inevitably arise at any given moment throughout the entire album, especially on tracks like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” and “Snap Out of It.” Guest appearances include Queens of The Stone Age frontman  Josh Homme providing back-up vocals on “Knee Socks” and Elvis Costello’s drummer Pete Thomas filling for drummer Matt Helders on “Mad Sounds.”

“AM” has the potential to satisfy the needs of the earliest members of the Arctic Monkeys fan base and a great place for new fans to start digging the band’s music.

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Fans find new Shins album worth five years of waiting

“Port of Morrow” is impressing audiences and critics for its multi-instrumental arrangements and heartfelt lyrics. (Photo special to The Voyager)

First and foremost, let me just say that I really like the album.

The new Shins album “Port of Morrow” is definitely a good buy for those who like the band or James Mercer’s other band, Broken Bells.

The songs are a mix of fast and slow, blending in the clever lyrics Mercer, who is the lead singer, is known for. Something to notice is the heavy use of a keyboard combined with the distinct guitar patterns that make the Shins recognizable.

But this album, the band’s first in five years, is different from the other albums the Shins have released, especially looking back at “Chutes Too Narrow.” The Broken Bell influence is incredibly strong and noticeable, especially in the songs “The Rifle’s Spiral” and “It’s Only Life.”

True fans of the Shins may be disappointed, but the Broken Bells influence is not something that should come as a surprise or as a disappointment.  Mercer was heading in that direction with “Wincing the Night Away” and took it to the next logical place with “Port of Morrow.”

Some of the notable songs on the album include “The Rifle’s Spiral,” “Bait and Switch” and “No Way Down.”  All have the true Shins sound with a hint of Broken Bells.

But I would still say the best song on the album, at least for right now, is “Simple Song,” the album’s only single.  It has the traditional Shins sound, with Mercer’s clever lyrics and an upbeat rhythm that reminded me of childhood.

The entire album tells a story of love lost and love found and the world surrounding it, if that makes any sense at all.  An example of this is in “Simple Song” when he says “A kiss that I kept, apart from everything but the heart in my chest.”  Many of the songs on the album speak of the polar opposites.  For instance, the song “September” says “I’ve been selfish and full of pride… but I have a good side to me as well, and it’s this part of me that she loves.”

The song is almost like someone who was once in dire circumstances was saved from a seemingly unavoidable fate by the strangest of events.

Anticipation for this album has been high, and for those just getting into the Shins, it seems to be a home run, but that may be a different story for those who have the Shins pinpointed to “New Slang” and the rest of the “Oh, Inverted World” album.

If I have gotten too technical and historic with this review, let me just say, the album has more than satisfied me.  I couldn’t think of a better way for the band to follow up its last album, while at the same time gaining new fans.

Josh Cooper
Contributing Writer 

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Indie rock trio tops charts with theatrical, fun sound

Fun. achieved recent notoriety after its single, “We Are Young,” was featured on the television show “Glee.” (Photo special to The Voyager)

After almost three years since its debut album and six months since the release of the first single, “We Are Young” that features Janelle Monáe off their sophomore album “Some Nights,”
Fun. has finally released the much anticipated album to a world of eager fans.

The best way this album can be described is just one simple word — fun.

The trio formed in New York, New York after lead singer Nate Ruess’ previous band The Format broke up in 2008. Ruess recruited Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train to form Fun.

The opening song “Some Nights Intro” sounds like the opening number of a dark musical. With Nate Ruess’ strong vocals that seem to have a similar style as that of Freddie Mercury, this opening track prepares the listener for an album filled with hard-hitting melodies and beautiful harmonies, all while keeping the upbeat anthem feel “We Are Young” originally brought.

The title track, “Some Nights,” shows off the influence Queen has had on Fun. Specfically, it has a strong intro with nothing but the vocals of Ruess, Dost, Antonoff and other background vocals artists singing “Some nights I stay up/Cashing in my bad luck/Some nights I call it a draw.” It isn’t until
35 seconds into the song that the bass drum joins in creating the constant exhilarating rhythm that this song continues to.

“We Are Young” truly lives up to this album full of anthems. Ruess sings “Tonight/ We are young/ So let’s set the world on fire/ We can burn brighter/ Than the sun,” while Janelle Monáe lends her enchanting vocals to the chorus and bridge to truly make this song unforgettably catchy.

According to the album insert, “Some Nights” was written by all three members of Fun. and was produced and mixed by Jeff Bhasker, who is known for having previously worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Bruno Mars.

According to an interview with Sonic Live, the band worked with Jeff Bhasker because of what he has brought to the songs of other artists.

“We wanted to make an album that had a whole bunch of great beats, and a lot of those production elements are on hip-hop songs,” said Ruess in the interview. “So we thought to ourselves, why not try and incorporate some of those things in our songs? So working with Jeff is perfect because that’s precisely what he does.”

“Some Nights” is an upbeat album that lives up to the hype created by the hit single “We Are Young” while making each song unique in its own way, whether it be a children’s choir in “Stars,” the blaring of trumpets in “One Foot” or the use of a vocoder in “Some Nights” or auto tune in “It Gets Better.”

Although this album may be a bit theatrical, it definitely lives up to the bands’s name.

 Katherine Cordero
Contributing Writer 

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Local band takes flight with new single, ‘Cracks’

Left to right: Taylor Wyrosdick, Logan Phillips, Joe Napier and Jeff Cranford make up local band Seagull Blue. (Photo special to The Voyager)

There are dreams, and then there is reality, but Seagull Blue said they have made their dreams a reality.

Seagull Blue, a four-piece local band, consists of lead singer Joe Napier, lead guitarist Jeff Cranford, bassist Taylor Wyrosdick, and drummer Logan Phillips. The band’s Facebook page classifies its sound as indie rock ‘n’ roll.

The band has gathered a following, and it is now touring and recording its first album.

Napier, a junior public relations major, said they will be releasing an EP in March that will include its single along with two other songs that the band has played at its shows.

The band was the brainchild of Napier and Wyrosdick, who had played together with local churches with Cranford and Phillips.  All four have played music for years and hoped to start a band, so they started playing together.

Napier, who is originally from Deland, Fla., said he met the other members, and everything fell in to place.

He said music had played an enormous role in his life.

“I want to reach people,” he said.

Wyrosdick explained the band is not evangelist, but the members’ Christian faith had made an impact on their music.

“It’s the only thing that feels right,” he said.  “Every time I play music, it’s not about me. It’s bigger than me.”

Phillips said the music he listened to growing up made an enormous impact on him, and he hopes to have the same impact on others.

“It’s a ministry,” he said.  “I just want to use this as a means of talking to people.”

Cranford said he wanted to use the talent that he has to get a message out to people.

“Really, the main thing is to love people through it,” he said. “I knew I had been given a gift and I wanted to use it.”

So far, the band has had two local shows at the Handlebar off Tarragona Street in downtown Pensacola.  The band will be playing there again on Feb. 25.

The band’s first show was in December.  The band members invited all their friends and got a turnout of about
60 people. Seagull Blue’s second show was earlier this month, and about
75 people showed up.

“We’re definitely lucky to have the friends we do,” Phillips said.

One of the people who has seen the band perform both times is Becca Hill.  Hill follows the band’s Facebook music page and followed the band when it formed.

“I like how their music is honest and how well they play with each other,” she said.  “I have seen some bands that really like to play but they don’t have good team work.”

The band said it has been pleased with the turnout and the people it has been able to impact.

“Music is so much more honest than words,” Wyrosdick said.

Their first single “Cracks” can be heard on its Facebook page.

Josh Cooper
Contributing Writer 

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Modern day performer evokes 1960s nostalgia

Lana Del Rey, who has been described as a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” released her first album, “Born to Die,” on Jan. 30. (Photo special to The Voyager)

Lana Del Rey’s album “Born To Die” presents to the music world a sense of sweet nostalgia.

Rey’s retro ’60s voice curves and weaves throughout her album, producing a new atmospheric rhythm to each song on the playlist. Although her voice is unique to this day and age, it mimics husky and soft female voices from the past.

After listening to the album, one might want to kick off one’s shoes and walk barefoot for the rest of one’s  life. The music seamlessly blends into the alternative and pop musical genres. Honestly, her music presents a little something for everyone.

If you’re having troubles in the pursuit of love, soaring gracefully through the realm of love, or absolutely hating the idea of love, her melodies exude it all.  The sounds take you on a trip through all of love’s wonders. The lyrics are honest and blunt. I like to call them relatable.

Many of the songs depict a way of life widely known during the 1950s and ’60s. Rey took a past lifestyle and warped it to fit the present day. Genius!

If you know James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, then you will hear how the essences of Rey’s album stands behind those iconic shadows.

“Radio,” a song off of the album, seems to reflect the adversity Rey faces within the music industry because of her unique and retrospect identity. Rey seems to voice what she feels on the matter by stating in her lyrics that “their heavy words can’t bring me down,” and that her life is now “sweet like cinnamon.” When has cinnamon ever been sweet?

Rey performed one of her singles off of the album called “Video Games” during a Saturday Night Live show and the reviews of her performance weren’t as great as her music truly is.

It’s easy to lose yourself within her music. The orbs of kicks, claps and basses among her deep and sultry voice paints a picture through the foam of your headphones, a picture you may never want to take your eyes away from -— or in this case, your ears.

Whether you classify her music as alternative, pop, or rock, one thing is for sure. Her musical work is mesmerizing and addictive.

“Born To Die” has a four-and-a-half star rating on Apple iTunes. It is indeed deserved.

 Michelle Fells
Contributing Writer 

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Roots come ‘Undun’ on existential album

The Roots released their eleventh studio album on Dec. 6. The album is based around the life and death of a fictional young man named Redford Stephens. (Photo special to The Voyager)

Chaotic splendor, mystic beats and poetic lyrics embody the tragic life of fictional character Redford Stephens in “Undun,” the newest album by hip-hop/neo soul band The Roots, released Dec. 6, 2011.

The album features a narrative told in reverse — starting from the point of Stephens’ death and revisiting all critical moments in his life up to that point. As his life flashes before his eyes, he recounts all the highs and lows of his short existence — a young man raised in a sea of poverty, making wrong decisions and ultimately ending up a statistic of urban violence.

Not only does the album present a riveting and tragic tale, but the music supports and emphasizes the message of the album perfectly by capturing the very essence of life and death — and the thin line teetering between the two.

The character Redford is based on indie-folk artist Sufjan Stevens’ song by the same name, which is featured on the album as the 11th track. The Roots then took the song and added to it with three instrumental tracks of their own that, because the story is told in reverse, foreshadow the events to come.

The many instrumental tracks on the album symbolize the character’s chaotic existence while bringing out the sweetness of life and all that it might have become, had it not ended so abruptly.

“Sleep” is possibly the album’s greatest track, with lyrics such as, “Like when autumn leaves fall/Down from the trees/There goes my honey bee/I’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams/And I do not miss them yet/I wouldn’t wish them on the worst of enemies/Let them burn, go from here/Like when autumn leaves.”

As the album’s second track, “Sleep” also features an eerie background beat while Stephens recollects his many life experiences in an alleged post-mortem state.

Overall, the album’s sound is quite mystifying and well worth the money — even for those who are not the biggest fans of hip-hop or rap. “Undun” is yet another success by
The Roots in putting together a relevant concept album, and bringing to light a story that is all too familiar.

 Hayley Benton
Staff Writer 

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Better to ‘Get Along’ with other musical options

There are certain types of music you play to stomp your feet. There’s music you play for pushing your pace at the gym. There’s music you play for powering through a difficult paper for class. There’s music that helps you relax and find your center.

Then there’s Tegan and Sara’s new album “Get Along,” which is an unadulterated coma-inducing snore.

There’s nothing wrong with mellow music, and who doesn’t like a good film score every now and again? Twin sisters Tegan and Sara fail to deliver on keeping the crowd awake with the “Get Along” live album. In fact, when the audience applause picks up in the recording, it sounds half-asleep or a like a polite golf clap that suggests “Nice try, girls. Let’s move on, okay?”

For those leery of live albums because of the potential poor sound quality, blown out bass beats, or the singer’s voice giving out, the sound quality in “Get Along” is possibly the only good thing going for it. The album is a culmination of Tegan and Sara’s greatest hits in an acoustic performance. Even the classic angry breakup song “I Know I Know I Know” lacks an emotional depth and sounds virtually anemic.

“Alligator,” the opening track, is a standout song because it is somewhat peppy and sarcastic. The song is a tale about a cheater and his jilted girlfriend who cries “alligator tears” when she gets her sweet revenge.

However, the rest of the album sounds the same. It is uncertain where one track ends and another begins, except for the soft clapping of the audience between songs. The lyrics are reminiscent of George Harrison’s 1987 hit “Got My Mind Set on You” in the way of Weird Al Yankovic’s parody  “This Song is Six Words Long.”

The lyrics are repetitive, sung in the same cord and repeated in a mind-numbing mantra.  It’s like they couldn’t think of any other lyrics except “Run around on me / Sooner die without / Run around on me / Die without / Over you, over you / Over you, over you / Over you, over you / Over you, over you,” and this is from the likeable track “Alligator.” One could suppose there is deep meaning here, but the depth is the equivalent of a puddle.

“Get Along” is an album that would be better to get along without.

Megs Glasscock
Staff Writer 

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Crank up the volume on ‘Ceremonial’ album

Florence Welch will force you to see inside her soul with the new album, “Ceremonials,” from Florence and the Machine that hit stores on Nov.1.

Welch, who is lead singer, hails from London, and “the Machine” consists of whatever is in the background of her voice constructed to add drama to her songs, ranging from the piano to the tambourine, drum beats or harp.

This is Florence and the Machine’s second full album, preceded by “Lungs,” which introduced Welch’s amazing vocals in 2009.  She has stayed true to her voice and original style, and she even seems to belt out her lyrics just a little more intensely in “Ceremonials.”

All of the songs prove to be dramatic. Welch’s voice will give you goose-bumps as she hits high notes flawlessly and creates a melody that flows through each one of her songs.

“Only If for a Night” uses echoes to emphasize her voice, typical of this album, fading in and out of a chanting rhythm. Dramatic piano sequences play in the background with a steady rhythm that fades out as her voice slows.

“And I heard your voice as clear as day/ And you told me I should concentrate/ It was all so strange/ And so surreal/ That a ghost should be so practical/ Only if for a night,” Welch sings. Then the echoing chorus starts back up, shocking your ears.

In “Shake It Out,” Welch invites you to stomp your feet and chant with her as she sings of starting over and how “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

The most upbeat rhythm from the album exists in “Lover to Lover,” which begins with paced hand-clapping and her voice starting out deep and soulful.  The keyboard element from the “machine” adds some funk, reminiscent of the 1980s, and she sings in a gospel tone, forcing you to feel her words as if they are your own.

Keeping up with the toe-tapping tempo, Welch sings in “Spectrum,” “Say my name/ And every color illuminates/ We are shining/ And we will never be afraid again.” The harp is used differently in this song to create a peppy melody rather than a slow, mystical pace.

An obvious song of heartbreak, “Leave My Body,” implies an inner strength taking over with lyrics like “I don’t want your future/ I don’t need your past/ One bright moment/ Is all I ask.”

The whole album is obviously constructed to highlight the powerful voice of Welch, and if you were a fan of her first album, you will not be disappointed by “Ceremonials.” Even for new listeners of Florence and the Machine, it is hard not to be impressed with this album.

Jade Hoy
Staff Writer 

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