New Tunes Reviews, September 24: The Horrible Crowes, Deer Tick, CHVRCHES, and Tim Kasher

The Horrible Crowes (Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and Ian Perkins) released Live at the Troubadour this week. The album has songs from 2011’s excellent Elsie and full covers and singular verses. There is some light banter about the band’s formation, tramps, relationships, and being fancy sprinkled throughout the recording.
Fallon received some flack recently after his Tumblr post entitled “Tonight You Have Broken My Heart.” In the post, he addressed the direction of Gaslight Anthem and the “play all the hits”/”BRUUUUCE” attitude of many fans after some specific incidents in July 2013. After reading the blog post (and the oddly awkward out-of-context pull-quotes used in some cases), my respect for Fallon grew. Yes, nothing can live up to The 59 Sound.  But, artists need to grow. They cannot be expected to play every song you want to hear and every cover they performed once.  Each release by any of his main-projects or side-projects is testimony to his growth and “don’t take people’s crap” attitude.  
And the cover of “Teenage Dream” is ridiculously fun.

(Ed. Note: This blurb was written without a single reference to Bruce Springsteen and for that, I am proud.) 

Deer Tick‘s quiet moments are often the most enjoyable, as seen in the song “Big House” from their latest release Negativity. The songs are all over the place.  They go from raucous and drunk to easy-going and romantic.  Another great release from this band that puts on one of the most fun (and destructive) live songs I’ve seen to date.
CHVRCHES released their anticipated debut album called The Bones of What You Believe. Another one of those electronic-pop”buzz-bands,” this release is just as expected. The songs are catchy and darkly danceable. For fans of that type of music, this will likely be a BNM (best new music).   
Tim Kasher (of Cursive and Good Life) released a 2-song EP called Truly Freaking Out. It has the usual themes of drunkenness, anxiety, and aging. It never gets old (even when we do). 


Follow my Best Songs of 2013 playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly, this playlist features some of the best tracks from new releases.  Check out the playlist below! 

 

Word of the Week: dapper

A few weeks ago, I befriended an awesome Norwegian girl named Celine, while we were being photographed for a top-secret project. It will surely reshape the hair salon industry as we know it, but I can’t tell you anything about it because I signed one of those non-disclosure agreements. Too bad! Since our fated meeting, Celine has been nice enough to visit me in TriBeCa during my lunch break and of course, I dragged Allie along with me! Over smoothies, salads, and sandwiches, an idea was born. Word of the week! Celine’s English is exceptional and she has an adorable accent to boot, but Allie and I decided to teach her a few of our favorite words to spice it up a bit.

We were brainstorming about what new words we could pepper into Celine’s already impeccable vocabulary. I looked down at my new Gunmetal tweed kicks, an incredible thrift store find, and it dawned on me. The word of the week is “dapper”.

Dapper
dap・per
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English dapyr, from Middle Dutch dapper quick, strong; akin to Old High German tapfar heavy, Old Church Slavic debelu thick
Date: 15th century

1a : neat and trim in appearance
2 : alert and lively in movement and manners

Related forms:
dap・per・ly, adverb
dap・per・ness, noun

Synonyms:
dashing, spruce, modish, jaunty, natty.

Used in a sentence: Ezra Koenig was looking very dapper in a button down shirt and an argyle sweater vest.

Used in a song: “I’m no high society man/ No suit and tie, no Dapper Dan” – from the song Caveman, by Cursive  mp3

Dapper website: Check out my pal, Lily’s Etsy, Supper Club. With neckties like these, you’ll be looking dapper in no time.

Examples of some of our favorite dapper fellows:


*Special thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, Dictonary.com, Theimproper.com, and Caymansgirl.blogspot.com for the images and definitions used in this post.

5 Short Assessments for Your Tuesday Troubles!

Hello Music Fans! For this week’s entry I have decided to present a few brief reviews of albums I’ve gotten my hands on recently. Some have not come out yet and some are just new to me. In addition, there is an MP3 with each album so you can get a wee little taste of what to expect.

Camera Obscura “My Maudlin Career” (April 13, 2009 on 4AD)

Kudos to Camera Obscura for putting out another incredibly whimsical album. Each song is full of uncertainty and love. Tracyanne Campbell does an excellent job of inserting a degree of vocal innocence into each song. “Swans” has an extremely familiar melody (“Mr. Clean…Mr. Clean”?) and made my head bop back and forth on the subway. “James” seems like a direct letter to the one who she “thought [she] knew well” but instead “broke” her. The violins soar and the drums hum along with the melodies. It is lovely and makes the listener feel like spring is on the horizon.

Cursive “Mama, I’m Swollen” (2009 on Saddle Creek)

I started to listen to this album at about 8:20 AM. Big mistake. I am not saying it is not a good album but what I mean is that it is way too loud for a morning commute. Tim Kasher’s vocals are as raw as ever. The melodies rise and fall in a sort-of Pixies fashion. The same battle topics present in Cursive’s previous albums are still apparent: doubt, growing old and a dash of political awareness. “From the Hips” is the battle between being at one’s best and at one’s worst (a normative battle in the land of Cursive) while “Caveman” is all about the battle between moving on up in the world and staying put. As a whole, the album is a typical Cursive record and a good one at that.

The Decemberists “Hazards of Love” (March 24, 2009 on Capitol)

G-d Dammit, Decemberists, what are you doing with yourselves? In this release, the band tries to pick up where they left off with “The Crane Wife” (an album I am not too fond of besides a few high points-“Sons and Daughters,” “O! Valencia” and “Summersong“). Instead of constructing an album with catchy melodies, like seen in the “Always a Bridesmaid” singles series, they shoot for the stars and fall short. All of these “preludes” and “interludes” read more like an ornate rock opera than a solid rock record. “The Rake Song” (the song released as a free download) is the only tune that does not falter off. But background melodies and “Alright”s are just too much. The next track “Annan Water” has really lovely guitars.

I am sorry Colin Meloy, I love your music (and your accent that I can never really place). But stop trying so hard. It would be much better if you would put out shorter records with a solid group of witty songs. Instead of a 17 song album half good songs and half filler tracks. Make an album like “Her Majesty” or “Picaresque” again. I know you can do it. Thank you.

Note 3/30/09: I listened to this album several more times recently and the truth is that I really like it. It is an album of mostly high points and only a few low points. I am not going to edit the content of my original review, I just wanted to make a note of my change of heart. So to the readers: Check out this album, give it more than one listen. Don’t be so quick to judge, like I was.

Jessica Lea Mayfield “With Blasphemy So Heartfelt(2008 on Polymer)

I have heard so much about this 20-year old singer-songwriter from Ohio on KEXP and WRSI (93.9 The River). But I always dismissed her because, of course, I rarely like female vocalists. But the other day I gave in and realized that Mayfield has something different to offer. Her songs are, as one reading the album title would imagine, incredibly heartfelt. Even the G-ds at Pitchfork liked this album – giving it a 8.2/10. It starts off soft with “Kiss Me Again.” Her voice has a raw drawl, especially in “I Can’t Lie to You, Love” and “The One That I Love Best.” “We’ve Never Lied” is a tune about trying to correct and deal with a relationship that has gone sour. “You’ve Won Me Over” is a strong acoustic song outlining being around that person who knows all the right thing to say. But you are never sure if they are sincere or just has a tendency to ” kiss all the girlies [he] know[s].” Each song on this album is perfectly suited for a different type of mix cd (ie. unrequited love, new love, friendship, broken relationships, etc).

M. Ward “Hold Time” (February 17, 2009 on Merge/4AD)

M. Ward strikes again with another heartfelt record and a great follow up to 2006’s “Post War.” His voice is raspy. His guitars are strum-tastic. The harmonies are reminiscent of camp-fire bliss. The single, “Never Had Nobody Like You” features Zooey Deschanel in all of her troubadour glory. In “Rave On,” a Buddy Holly cover, Ward, as expected, injects his own special charm into the words and melody. “Stars of Leo” is another gem that discusses “pick me ups” and “bring me downs” in this crazy world. “Fisher of Men” is just the type of mountain-living song we would expect from M. Ward.

Keep the hits on coming, M. Ward. We love it.