"Hard working and underslept, But lazy at heart"

  • Artist: Small Sins
  • Album: Mood Swings
  • Year: 2007
  • Why I picked it up: The image of the short barreled gun on the cover was interesting, and it wrapped around the case to the back following the trajectory of the bullet and I liked it. Seemed like possibly some punk rock.

Small Sins was not what I was expecting, but I'm far from disappointed. It's a nice calming indie rock, often with electronic overtones. The sound frequently gave off a strong Killers vibe, which was really nice. The album contains a really good mix of up-beat songs, such as the heavily electronic "Drunk E-Mails" or the less electronic but slightly country-tinged "On The Run," and slower songs, like the downtrodden "We Will Break Our Own Hearts" or "On A Mission." It has a high chance to become a common listening staple on my iPod. As with Morello and Angel and the Love Mongers previously, I highly suggest Small Sins.

What's really sweet is that the CD came with two bonus tracks on the CD extra portion, an acoustic version of "I Need A Friend" and a string mix of "Bullets."

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No es español

  • Artist: Soft Complex
  • Album: Barcelona+
  • Year: 2006
  • Why I picked it up: The artwork gave off a nice electronic vibe, something I was in the mood for.

I'm going to guess that at some time Soft Complex released an EP called Barcelona. It had three tracks: Barcelona, Sad Note, and Beat the Chill. I hypothesize this because Barcelona+ also has these three tracks, as well as five remixes of the tracks. Fortunately, the three original tracks are all quite excellent in their own ways. Sadly, not all of the remixes fare as well. Some, like the Person Autopilot remix of Sad Note, are quite excellent. Others, like both remixes of Barcelona, aren't nearly as good––surprising, since Barcelona is probably the best of the original three tracks.

In the end, it's a good collection of songs, although I wish that it had been entirely Soft Complex's work, as they seem to be the best of the bunch.

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Too slow for it's own good

  • Artist: The New Monarchs
  • Album: Blueprints
  • Year: 2008
  • Why I picked it up: The simplistic cover drew me in, but the saying on the inside captured me: "A door cannot escape the space in which it turns." It seemed like the kind of saying that doesn't really mean anything, but you like to hear it.

The New Monarchs are an ok electronic duo who provide a nice sound, with heavy dance beats, fun background music, and generally clean vocals. They're, overall, an ok band. That being said, there are quite a few drawbacks to this album. Often the speed of the vocals don't match the speed of the beats or background instrumentals, which is off putting. Their brand of music suffers from the general plague of electronica: repetition, each track cycles too much and after the first listen--when the song is new for the first time--it becomes too much of a bother. With the first listen it seems like a good or so record, but with subsequent listens the little annoyances stand out more and more, and the album becomes sullied. This is kind of the opposite of my 46bliss review a few weeks ago. Once you're slightly used to the songs, the repetition in them becomes too much to accept.

I guess this isn't the album you're supposed to listen to constantly, but rather sample it every once in a while--then it'll feel good and new again.

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I think Chris Trapper has self-image issues

  • Artist: Chris Trapper
  • Album: Hey, You
  • Year: 2006
  • Why I picked it up: The instrument list gave off a strong indie/acoustic rock vibe, with a few standard instruments and a few more unusual ones (what is a bouzouki anyways?)

Overall, this is a pretty good album. A decent part of me, however, would love to just write a typical "generic but decent rock" review, but somehow that doesn't seem fair. While on the surface the music is in fact nothing more than generic rock, something about it seems deeper. It's hard to describe, really, although it no doubt has a lot to do with Trapper's truly inspired orchestration. The album's biggest failing is that most of the songs sound pretty similar, giving it that samey flavor that makes so many albums forgettable. Fortunately, this album seems like it'll stand up better given time than many others.

Incidentally, a bouzouki is a Greek stringed instrument similar to a mandolin. The more you know!

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Typical, Just Typical

  • Artist: The Adored
  • Album: A New Language
  • Year: 2006
  • Why I picked it up: From the cover and such it gave off a large new wave rock vibe that I figured I would dig. Here's hoping...

Yup, The Adored's sound is the very mainstream new wave/powerpop/indie rock that so many bands nowadays are working with. Amongst all these other bands with similar sounds, The Adored do not stand out in any way. Their vocalist sounds so overly generic, and musically it's completely typical. If you haven't listened to any of the new mainstream sound, The Adored would be a good introduction, but you could quickly move on to bigger and better bands. If you already have your favorite powerpop/rock band decided, The Adored will not break through into your music collection.

It's not all that bad, really, just unoriginal and the songs sound quite alike.

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When I look out my window, I see Joan of Arc go by

  • Artist: 46bliss
  • Album: Wish Me Away
  • Year: 2008
  • Why I picked it up: The cute cover of a doll curled up by a window on a rainy day was a nice imagery which appealed to me and I wanted to check it out

46bliss provides a very ethereal electronica sound on this album, which reminds me of Air and their ambient electronica enough to keep me going through the album. When I first listened to it I wasn't a fan, but with each subsequent listen it grew on me and I hold it in high favors now. The beats are solid; the vocalist can really sing, both clearly and with nice electronic distortion when he wants; the instrumentation is varied, something a lot of electronica bands fail to do well; and each track remains poppy enough to become catchy, again, unlike a lot of electronica.

So, yeah ambient electronica. If you know you enjoy the genre, check this out. If you don't, who knows, this album might change your mind.

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Incus Always Eyes

  • Artist: Incus
  • Album: Fire and Bone
  • Year: 2008
  • Why I picked it up: The cover was a really awesome picture of a flying eye in the middle of a lot of fire. C'mon, that's pretty sweet.

Incus is a very peculiar but excellent band. I knew I had something unique on my hand when my computer returned "Unclassifiable" as the genre (I've decided it counts as "Ethnic", though). Incus's music is influenced very heavily by that of the Middle East, with the same general sound that you would expect. This is mixed with a few more western sounds, creating a hybrid that sounds not unlike some of Beirut's work. It's a little weird, and the lead singer's vocals aren't always as good as they could be, but overall this is a phenomenal work by a band that should receive more publicity than they are.

Also, quick question: since when is "eyes" a verb?

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