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Phantogram’s “Three” Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

phantogram-three Review by Becca Malott

The electro rock group Phantogram led by Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter is getting closer to the popular alternative genre with their album “Three” released October 7th 2016. This band contains elaborate guitar riffs with electronic twists and gritty yet airy vocals that defiantly steal the attention of the audience. The band originated back in 2007 in their hometown Greenwich, New York. They have released a total of three studio albums.  Interestingly enough the group records all of their music in a remote barn near Upstate New York. The album’s number one hit “You Don’t Make Me High Anymore” is definitely pulling Phantogram closer and closer to mainstream alternative. Songs like “Same Old Blues” have an alluring mixture of almost blues and pop creating a paradox of interesting vocalizing and rhythmic beats.  Other songs like “Answers” and “Funeral Pyre” which contain a slower melody focusing the attention to the more emotional lyrical aspect of their music. This album is a must when it comes to unwinding with friends, or just jamming out in the car.

XXYYXX – XXYYXX Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

 

By Evan Cole

XXYYXX is the self-titled debut album of Orlando producer Marcel Everett, stage name XXYYXX. Released in 2012, this is currently Everett’s only album. XXYYXX is currently 20 years old, and was 16 when he released this album — something to keep in mind when listening. While XXYYXX isn’t necessarily a mainstream artist, his work, and this album in particular, has received a well-deserved cult following. The best way I can describe XXYYXX is psychedelic electronic, though I am not the best person to talk to when having to define and categorize music. What I can say, though, is that this album is entirely production, and it does it incredibly well.

The album opens with About You, a song that immediately puts you into a semi-trance that carries you throughout the rest of the album. This album is chock full of samples in each song, going anywhere from Jon Brion to Beyoncé; the first one you hear is a part of a Jillian Aversa verse, with the phrase “forever in time” played in reverse with a much higher pitch. This sample is changed throughout the song, changing its speed and its pitch, creating the basis that the beat blends with to create excellent production. When I first listened to this album, this song particularly captured me, and is one of the strongest.

The most glaring problem with this album is the overuse of repetition. When listening to an individual song on this record, it is easy to be two minutes in and think “will it just keep going on like this?” the most obvious example being Fields, one of this album’s singles. Every song on this album has repetition, sometimes minor, such as with Love Isn’t Made, but often it is apparent that XXYYXX is taking a single well-made 30-second clip, and repeating it while making small changes throughout. This can often make the songs feel a lot longer than the 3-4 minutes that they are. This issue is somewhat mitigated when listening to the record as an entire album, as I believe it enhances the feeling of a trance you are in when listening, purposefully causing you to lose track of time or even where exactly in the album you are.

Overall, even with its flaws, I think this album is an incredibly strong record, especially for a debut album.  I highly recommend trying XXYYXX out, it has become one of my favorites.

Rating: 9.5/10

Favorite songs: About You, Fields, DMT, TIED2U

Least favorite song: Witching Hour (If I have to choose one)

Find this album alongside his other releases at https://xxyyxx.bandcamp.com

Devandra Banhart’s Ape in Pink Marble: An Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews, Uncategorized

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By: Jack Persinger  

Have you ever taken a really great walk on a beach? Maybe it was the rolling waves of the Pacific in California, or the shores of a lake. Well let me tell you, this is one beach walk of an album from Venezuelan-American indie artist Devandra Banhart, and I mean that in quite a good way. Coming into this album, this was not a genre I dabbled in too much, but honestly these few listens of Ape in Pink Marble may have changed that. Banhart’s ninth studio album doesn’t see too much of a departure from the light, airy sound he established in his last outing, 2013’s Mala, but don’t think for a second that they are the same; Ape focuses on much darker themes, like those of death, longing, and sadness.  Devandra’s 2016 release is adorned with his own artwork on the cover, an intriguing sketch of blue coloration. From the get-go, single and opening track “Middle Names” sets up the somber mood of the majority of the tracks that follow it, detailing Banhart’s longing and missing of a friend who has passed. His vocals are soft and immediate, establishing a close connection with the listener as his guitar sweeps along the track like the wind through a seashell. His playing is soft and minimalistic, but also captivating, with chords played with just enough energy to carry the soft mood of the album. But Devandra knows how to balance his instrumentals within the album, taking a backseat on the guitar when he needs to let other sounds take over, like the soaring synths found in the calm and collected “Jon Lends a Hand.” But an album full of mellow indie folk beach jams would get a little repetitive, and Banhart addresses this with two humorous, entertaining, and vital tracks to Ape: Spunky and cocky “Fancy Man” paints Devandra as a classy individual with high expectations and details this personality in a highly entertaining manner, while disco-ready “Fig in Leather” sees Banhart speak a humorous monologue over a catchy bassline and synth melody that will grab you by the collar immediately. While these two tracks stand out and add diversity to the album, they tend to be a black sheep for the album, not fitting in to the majority of Banhart’s tracks and adding to the incoherence of the middle of this 2016 release. But the second part of this album returns to the sound established in the first half of it, introducing lo-fi intrigue with “Saturday Night.” My favorite moment in the whole album comes in “Linda,” where 2 and a half minutes in Devandra slows his playing down to a single chord played over silence, increasingly slowing down to the chord being played at near-20 second intervals, adding to the mysterious and light mood of the song. Overall, this is an album I can see myself coming back to another day, as Banhart’s soothing voice and airy sound culminates in a truly fantastic indie folk album.

Angel Olsen- My Woman

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

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Angel Olsen- My Woman

            In 2010 Angel Olsen made a name for herself as one of the best “anti-folk” artists of this generation with the single “If Its Alive It Will”. Her heart breaking but honest lyrics resonated with an impressively large audience. Her newest album My Woman continues to impress us with the same dreamy but hard hitting writing style while still experimenting with an assortment of different sounds that range from focused echoes and layered percussion, which compliment her vocals beautifully. Her past two albums, “Burn Your Fire for No Witness” and “Half Way Home” told stories of heartbreak and the complications of being in love, whereas “My Woman” discuses transformation and self-empowerment. The album also contains a range of genres that balance flawlessly. Songs like “Never Be Mine” and “Intern” sound like they were sent straight out of an 80s romantic-drama but still contain obvious modern details. Although there are a handful of flirty-pop songs, the album still remains true to her heavy but melancholy style of writing. The song “Pops” breaks into a gloomy piano melody as she grieves the end of a romance, pleading, “baby, don’t leave”. She uses the song “Woman” as a way to change the subject from pain to empowerment when she fights the critique that her music is too feminine, and proves that your gender is not a source of weakness. My Woman is a collection of heart-breaking and empowering songs that give an honest explanation of what being a woman truly feels like.

Twin Peaks’, Down In Heaven: Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

Image result for twin peaks down in heaven

Twin Peaks: Down In Heaven- Grand Jury

By: Cameron Kruger

I think it is safe to say that this is my favorite album of all time, or at the very least, of twenty sixteen. Twin Peaks is my favorite band and I would wager that this is their strongest album. In albums past their sound is very low-fi and garage rock esque, fitting seeing as their first album Sunken was recorded in a basement with very little in the way of high tech recording software. This new album retains the garage rock sound that Twin Peaks was known for, but with much more depth to it. The Keyboard adds a very classic feel to many of the songs with a stand out example being track six “Cold Lips”. The keyboard creates a strong opening and thus a completely different feel from the purely garage rock sound of most anything on Wild Onion. This coupled with the increase in acoustic guitar create a much more relaxed and slowed down pace throughout the album, not to say that the album doesn’t have it’s own energy. Songs like “My Boys” and “Butterfly” are upbeat and energetic while containing some great acoustic guitar.

The Album has an overarching theme of relationships. The album itself tells the story of a young man falling in and out of love with a girl and some of the tribulations along the way. From the roaring start of the relationship in “Walk to the One You Love” all the way to the acceptance of the end in “Have You Ever”. But it’s about more than just relationships with “Holding Roses” being about accepting loss in general through a nice Beatles’ inspired tune. The dramatic highs of of the beginning of the album to the more quiet and thoughtful middle all the way to an ending just as energetic as the beginning help to cement the themes and create a cohesive story throughout the album. Between great music and a great story of love and loss Down in Heaven is easily the best Twin Peaks album, and just a great album overall. I highly recommend that everyone who reads this review gives it a listen if they haven’t already.

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