Do King Cobras?

  • Artist: Vending Machine
  • Album: King Cobras Do
  • Year: 2007
  • Why I picked it up: The drawings on the covers looked like little kid drawings, which was fun and gave the impression that there might be nice indie rock inside.

Vending Machine is the name for the very nice alternative rock artist Robby Grant, and he has quite a unique sound. I fail to describe it, but I certainly do enjoy listening to him. His sound consists of nice synths, guitars, drums, and other typical instruments, with the synth (when he employs the use of a synth) and vocals being especially excellent. The album starts off amazingly with quite a few excellent upbeat tracks, but it goes down hill halfway through, and the later tracks do not measure up to the quality of the first few.

Yeah, I can't really think of more to say about this CD. It's good, and that's that.

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  • Artist: El Ten Eleven
  • Album: These Promises are Being Videotaped
  • Year: 2008
  • Why I picked it up: I was in the mood for some electronica, and the cover art certainly gives off that vibe.

Not just a poor attempt at Spanglish, El Ten Eleven is a pretty decent electronic band. The music tends to be a bit repetitive, although that is par for the course in the genre. That said, the 27 minute album is quite good. Interestingly, unlike most electronica, the band seems to stay away from synthesizers, relying instead on electric guitars. This even carries through to an unexpected electronic cover of Radiohead's phenomenal "Paranoid Android." That cover, by the way, is probably one of the album's high points, despite the fact that it only sounds like the source material for about a minute.

On a side note to the makers of the artwork: please do not make the inside so bright. You're hurting my eyes.

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  • Artist: Magnet School
  • Album: Tonight We Drink... Tomorrow We Battle The Evil At Hand
  • Year: 2007
  • Why I picked it up: I was feeling in the mood for some electronica, and the disco ball on the cover led me to believe at worse I'd be getting some club dance music.

Magnet School is very competent rock highly reminiscent of Radiohead and similar bands. To a lot of people––myself included––this is a very good thing (I rank OK Computer in my top five albums of all time). That said, they have their own sound a lot of the time as well, but it's hard to not draw comparisons when listening to the larger-than-life guitars and vocals that sound like they're simply fighting to be heard. Ultimately, the album boils down to what so many of these albums do: it's an enjoyable listen, but you won't remember it for long. If you're a big fan of the sound, though, I recommend you track down this album.

Fun fact: This album is put out by the label "Exploded Hooker Music".

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I have never heard the N-word said so much previously in my life

  • Artist: Krazy
  • Album: Breather Life
  • Year: 2001
  • Why I picked it up: The cover looked very simple, but intense, with the red and black mixing in an interesting way, I was hoping it was metal. And, the front cover had a Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics sticker on it, so I guessed that it would be fun.

Goddamn was I wrong. Krazy is rap. Gangsta rap. Bad gangsta rap. Krazy's lyrics are not subtle in the least, his rhymes (when he chooses to rhyme) are not especially clever, and his part in most of the songs sound exactly the same. The only reason the tracks sound any different from each other is that some feature a different rapper or R&B artist on it to mix it up. The best part of any song is not Krazy, but the other artists featured on it, which is especially sad. The electronic beats are nice, but the monotonic typical rap is bland. If this were a collection of songs by the featured artists--having cut out Krazy's rapping--it might be deserving of a three, but since it's Krazy's album and he raps on each track... I guess it's apt to follow Igor and the Whale's first five with our first zero.

If you think this review is underly-critical, please remember, Krazy might kill me

  • Standout track: Get Bucked
  • MySpace: Krazy
  • How much I would've paid: $0
  • Rating: 0/5

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Pottery People

  • Artist: The Henry Clay People
  • Album: For Cheap or For Free
  • Year: 2008
  • Why I picked it up: The ever-present quest for indie rock continues in the album artwork. That, and The Whale didn't want it because of a big-ass sticker on the front.

The quest for excellent indie rock finally ends with The Henry Clay People, a truly amazing collection of 11 fantastic songs. It's pretty standard affair: guitars, drums, vocals, with a few more instruments thrown in for good measure. All of the instrumentation clicks, and nothing feels out of place. Of course, even a good album can suffer with poor vocals, but lead singer Andy Siara sounds nearly identical to Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult, a band I truly love. Of course, not everyone will agree, but I think that The Henry Clay People are well deserving of Igor and the Whale's first five.

To replace the indie quest, I'll next be searching for Swedish death electrocountry. Stay tuned!

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Genre Defying

  • Artist: Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat
  • Album: Take That!
  • Year: 2009
  • Why I picked it up: I had to. The front and back cover art were priceless. And, I noted that it said it was printed and released in 2009, which rose the question as to why it was already in the bargain bin. I just had to hear it.

So many times while listening to this I just wondered "What the hell is this?" Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat thoroughly destroy any genres I tried to place them into. Occasionally they're electronica, then they suddenly turn to hard rock, followed by some cabaret, and then a poppy-ish song comes up, and so on until they've played every sound possible. Along with these many genres comes... a surprisingly good CD, and not in just a laughable manner. The songs are pretty far out there lyrically and they are still able to hold themselves up instrumentally. Their synth sounds--on the songs which have them--are very well done, the keyboards are great, and their range of other instruments are strong enough to support the main draw of the band, the lyricists. The female vocalist (Mistress Stephanie) has a voice which fits the sound of the band very well, and the male vocalist (Her Melodic Cat) sings with a droning, slightly accented voice that continues to accentuate the sound of the band. They are certainly a shocking band, and their image is definitely what they are trying to use as the main draw to their band, but they do have something more behind the leather and whips, which makes this album a fun listen.

The case says that it's made out of 100% recycled plastic. That's a plus.

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Just tell them you're busy that night

  • Artist: The Smithereens
  • Album: A Date With The Smithereens
  • Year: 1994
  • Why I picked it up: The cover gave off the strong vibe that it would be some sort of rock, possibly hard rock or punk, and it looked classic enough that I would enjoy it.

The Smithereens are more from the hard-rock/post-grunge sound of the early 90s that was completely played out back then. The sound wasn't fantastic back then, and it's still not so great today. The Smithereens can do this sound as good as any other does, but that doesn't let them stand out in any way. It feels like every song is very similar, with the reverbed guitars, slow and steady drums, unsubstantial bass, and droning vocals spouting emotional and "dark" lyrics. It's pretty evident that the singer is trying to break up before this Date is even through. Each track's lyrics are sad or depressing, but since the general singing style in this genre is this low, sad, droning voice, the lyrics' point gets lost. Overall, not worth it. If you like the genre, this will be too much of the average to become a staple in your listening line up.

Two quick dating tips: don't tell her you two are "going nowhere" and don't tell her that "love is gone."

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I usually sunburn when I sun dry

  • Artist: The Surf The Sundried
  • Album: The Surf The Sundried
  • Year: 2003
  • Why I picked it up: My quest for indie rock continued yet again with yet another indie rock-ish cover.

This one's actually a pretty tricky one to write. The Surf The Sundried have a very nice sound, with quiet acoustic guitar, subdued drums, and very excellent vocals. About half of the album is standard-but-excellent quiet indie rock. The problem is the other half of the album, which is much more in the realm of noise. Sometimes noise can work, but other times it really doesn't. The mixture of truly excellent music with dissidence simply isn't one that works out very well, which really hurts the album. At over an hour long, this misstep turns into a major problem.

Also, can we pass a law forbidding untitled tracks? Thanks.

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