WCYT Reviews

  • Bloody Tambourine and the Musical Mafia
    The Point 91fm, November 15, 2016
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HHS In Depth

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.

Wilco- Schmilco album review

Written by Staff. Posted in Music, Reviews

Wilco – Schmilco
By Joe Swymeler

schmilcoSchmilco is the 10th album by Wilco. It was released on September 9th of this year on Dbpm records. For everyone who has never heard of Wilco, they’re a Chicago based alternative rock band led by lead singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy was once a member of the band Uncle Tupelo in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but formed Wilco out of Uncle Tupelo in 1994. Wilco is most well known for their 2002  album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is widely known as one of the best albums of the early 2000s and maybe alt. rock in general.

As I mentioned before, Wilco has been around since 1994, and they have a pretty large catalogue of albums over the past 22 years. Usually by this point in time, bands that have been around for that long aren’t as good as they used to be. Recently I’ve read some articles about Wilco, with one of the biggest points that comes up being that Wilco has become a “dad rock” band in a way. I think that’s interesting because usually the term “dad rock” refers to bands that your dad would listen to. You wouldn’t think an alternative rock band like Wilco would be categorized within the same grouping as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, would you? Well in a way I can see it, being that most of the members of the band are in their mid to late-40s and Wilco has been around for quite a while. However, while other bands that have been around for a good 20 years tend to get a little stale, this is not the case for Wilco, and certainly for Schmilco either.

Borrowing the album name inspiration off of Harry Nilsson’s album Schmillson, Schmilco is a delightful album that will please first time listeners and longtime Wilco fans alike. Pretty much the whole album has an overall acoustic, folky, and softer sound to it, with heavy use of acoustic guitars and other simplistic instruments. It has a very easygoing and almost nostalgic tone to it, with Tweedy telling stories of his past as well as his family. It also has straightforward lyrics that makes the album very easy and approachable to listen to. It’s not as complex as some of their other releases in the past, but that isn’t very much of a problem. My personal favorite tracks are “Quarters,” which is a nice song with a great fingerpicking style which I love. “Normal American Kids” which is the first song on the album, is a simple tune with what I think are the best lyrics on the album. It’s an instantly classic and beautiful song that was a great choice for an album opener. Other standout tracks include “Locator,” “Someone to Lose,” “Just say Goodbye,” and “If I ever was a Child.” Overall Schmilco was an excellent album that I enjoyed a lot. I would recommend this album to people who love folk music and nostalgic songwriting.

 

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million: Album Review

Written by Staff. Posted in Disc Jockeys, Music, Reviews

22, A MillionBON IVER: 22, A MILLION – Jagjaguwar

By Wes Davis

    Ranging from broken acoustics layered with harmonious vocal chords of “29 #Strafford APTS”, reminding us of For Emma, Forever Ago, to the well produced and distorted autotune of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” building off of Bon Iver’s self titled album, 22, A Million fills you with the raw emotion that Bon Iver is known for and instrumentation that further secures the band’s place in history. After five years of anticipation Bon Iver teased us with the release of three singles: “22 (OVER S∞∞N),”  “33 ‘God.’”, and “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” to then release 22, A Million. This album doesn’t have the seamless flow that Bon Iver produced for their self titled album, however, 22 A Million starts similarly as ‘Bon Iver’ with track 1 building and dropping to allow track 2 leeway to contrast to the prior with distorted bass and percussion. The majority of the songs incorporate Justin Vernon’s (band leader) pitched-shifted voice, such as 715 – CR∑∑KS, where it is Vernon’s voice a capella, autotuned and chorded. The autotune and highly processed digital sounds echo that of early 2000’s but strewn across Vernon’s heartfelt and anxious lyrics and melodies reach the level intimacy only known from For Emma, Forever Ago.

    Much like in Vernon’s experience of isolation when writing his 2008 album, 22 A Million was written on a Greek amidst many panic attacks. Track 1 reflects this early stage of writing, while the entire album mirrors his anxious and ethereal lyrics with the scarce and absorbing melodies. 22, A Million is not the classic idea of set structured songs but an interpretation of feelings and emotions thrown together with inharmonious sounds and noises, such as “21 Moon Water” which fades pristinely into “8 (circle)”. From there the album closes with a gospel feel and banjo riff in  “___45_____,” showing that Bon Iver holds its folk roots of For Emma, Forever Ago and finally “000000 Million” gives us bittersweet chords, a familiar feel that we know and love.

    

 

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