Monthly Archives: September 2012

Nutshell Album Review: Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits

Apparently indie stars are getting sick of people knowing what bands they’re in, because this marks yet another side project band that has come up with new material in the last few months. Divine Fits, consisting of Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs, and drummer Sam Brown, put out their debut LP A Thing Called Divine Fits back in August and they have been riding the “we’re a new, awesome band” train ever since. By meeting some unexpected middle ground of the each members respective groups, Divine Fits may have struck gold. And I do not mean their album art’s background.

The album opens up with “My Love Is Real”, a techno and 80’s pop music hybrid (which is now clear that they aren’t too far apart). This song kicks into a nice groove with nice keyboard riffs and a contagious beat, but never explodes like you would anticipate. “Flaggin A Ride” is what follows, another solid beat with Britpop-esque bass grooves and vocals. It all comes together with the grittiest, acidic solo written since Keith Richards stopped being friends with Mick Jagger. This song is the type of track you would expect 1960’s mothers to call “devil music” and pirate radio stations would play off the coast of the UK. “What Gets You Alone” sounds like a lost track pulled from a Franz Ferdinand session, full of dancefloor rhythm and distorted guitars. If that’s the case, Franz Ferdinand better be kicking themselves for losing it and letting Divine Fits master it. It then smoothly transitions into “Would That Not Be Nice”, bringing back the 80’s keyboards while keeping the modern rock grooves. This is one of the highlights of the album that captures various ends of rock and roll history in four minutes.

“The Salton Sea” goes back to the oddball techno sounds heard on the opening track. This one is definitely one that sticks out on the album, but it shows that Divine Fits does not fear adversity. “Baby Get Worse” is a quick regroup to the impressive groovy rock sound. This song is proof that the band is visiting all decades on this album, as they once again hit the sound captivated in 80’s dance classics. It comes out sounding like a collaboration between Eddie Money and Talking Heads, and by George it’s brilliant. “Civilian Stripes” is an acoustic song, that is really the first of the album to take on the sound of modern American rock music. With beautiful piano playing and palm muting, this turns out to be another one of the album’s best tracks. “For Your Heart” opens with a powerful drum beat and low synth sounds. The eeriness continues through the verse to a very poppy chorus. “Shivers” captures the Austin, Texas slow rock sound that comes from Daniel’s background, with noticeable lyrics like “I’ve been contemplating suicide, but it really doesn’t suit my style.” The song shapes up to be a gem, and one you should definitely check out. The album closes with the jammy, Oasis sounding “Like Ice Cream” and the experimental sound collage of “Neopolitans”.

There has never been an album as diverse as A Thing Called Divine Fits. Ever. This album hops through various genres, musical eras, and even different areas of the world. The most important thing to note is in most cases, Divine Fits made it work. Listening to A Thing Called Divine Fits is a musical adventure to say the least, and once you get past the strangely worded song titles and the back-to-back ice cream reference, the band shows incredible potential. Divine Fits grabs a 90/100 (for the decade they never got to in this album), and you can get it today.

A Thing Called Divine Fits Tracklisting:

  1. My Love Is Real
  2. Flaggin A Ride
  3. What Gets You Alone
  4. Would That Not Be Nice
  5. The Salton Sea
  6. Baby Get Worse
  7. Civilian Stripes
  8. For Your Heart
  9. Shivers
  10. Like Ice Cream
  11. Neopolitans

Nutshell Album Review: The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

Are you ready for some great music, folks?

That pun was not only physically painful to make, but it was necessary to explain the extent of this album. The seventh LP from The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter, is far from a bad album. Not only that, but it also makes people realize, “Hey, there’s other good folk bands than Mumford and Sons!” No offense to Mumford and co. is intended, but it’s time for the music world to start giving this North Carolina-in quintet a much needed hug. Even through the personal turmoil of the band members, they still have something small to smile about in the fact that they put together a return album that rocks in the folkiest way possible.

The Carpenter opens up with “The Once and Future Carpenter”, a song that basically ends on the album’s central theme of loving everyone and living life out to its fullest, just so death isn’t a scary thing. Next is “Live and Die”, a perfect banjo-opened song that made all fans of The Avetts jump up and scream “YES”. The reason is because the three year wait for this album is culminated right here where “Modern Folk Heaven” meets “Banjo Solo Land”. It is the easiest track to call the gem of the album, and one you definitely need to check out. “Winter In My Heart” is what follows, a sullen, slowed song that wraps up sadness into five minutes. This is truly one of the most emotional songs that’s ever reached the public, and it also is another one of the best songs on this album, if not in The Avett Brothers’ entire musical catalog.

“Pretty Girl From Michigan” turns all the emotion from the previous song inside out, and morphs into a jazzy, doo-wop masterpiece. Upbeat piano riffs, electric guitar solos, and drum break all are thrown into the mix to create a song that would even get the most stubborn feet tapping. “I Never Knew You” keeps the same tempo and sound as the previous song, but the electric guitar gets traded in for infectious acoustic chords and bass grooves. “Through My Prayers” slows the album back down but keeps the same powerful emotion heard earlier on. Another one that tugs on the heart strings, it’s a love story that didn’t end as beautifully as everyone would hope. One of the strongest lines of the record comes in this song, “I only wanted to tell you I care.” The song that follows is the minute and a half long dance track “Geraldine”, another one that drastically changes the tempo and gets you moving. The only legitimate complaint you can have about this song is how short it is.

“February Seven” is a song that sounds reminiscent of The Head and The Heart’s debut album, complete with a string section to carry the melody through the sea of deep bass and beautiful vocals. “A Father’s First Spring” is a truly emotional and touchy track. The song is a face to face confrontation with bassist Bob Crawford’s two year old daughter’s cancer diagnosis. The finished product was a polished and truly breathtaking song that leaves you speechless at this group’s power of expression. “Down With The Shine” is another one that sounds like a lot of today’s modern folk with the usual Avett Brothers spin on it. A great track for old fans and newbies alike to get the slow paced concert bop going. The album then closes with the hilariously named and equally energetic “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons” and the gentle, lovable “Life”.

The Avett Brothers have been regarded as a superpower in both modern folk music and the world of the outdoor music festival. The five-piece looked to come back strong after a three year hiatus, and their seventh album The Carpenter was able to complete that goal without a question. The emotional force that at some points comes out in tranquility is also just as easily converted into driving, faster-paced songs. That is something that is very hard to master musically, and the band pulled it off without even looking like they tried. The Carpenter gets an 89/100 and you can pick it up today.

The Carpenter Tracklisting:

  1. The Once and Future Carpenter
  2. Live and Die
  3. Winter In My Heart
  4. Pretty Girl From Michigan
  5. I Never Knew You
  6. Through My Prayers
  7. Geraldine
  8. February Seven
  9. A Father’s First Spring
  10. Down With The Shine
  11. Paul Newman Vs. The Demon
  12. Life

We’ll be back!

Hey Nutshell readers. Just a heads up that even though we’ve disappeared for the last few days, we will be back in full stride coming soon with tons of album reviews. Keep checking up on Twitter and looking here, you can expect new material in the next few days.

Nutshell Album Review: Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon

Sighs of relief have erupted as the musical super month has come. September 2012 promised great things in the music industry, and other than Muse’s new album being pushed back to October, it hasn’t been a disappointment. One of the most exciting things was the return of the Irish, out-of-nowhere-super-indie-pop-dance-fun band Two Door Cinema Club with their second LP, Beacon. Following up an album like platinum-selling Tourist History is always a challenge, plus I’m sure the trio was just peachy about adding the second-album jitters to that. But they came out swinging, and you couldn’t expect anything else from the 2011-2012 festival staple, who spent more than enough time teasing fans that they were more than ready to put out a new album (and the release of random, just-for-kicks single “Hands Off My Cash, Monty” sure didn’t help). Sure enough, the final product is mind blowing, and never has it been more clear that the industry may be too easy for one particular group.

“Next Year” is a phenomenal opening track. First off, this is the only time that I will not call house synths like this corny. It was done in a magical way, and if you had the 15 seconds of buildup and held breath before the song turns into something the fans were waiting for, you’re golden. “Handshake” is the next song, quickly recognizable as the teaser track released months ago with the album’s promo video. This song also heavily features the token Two Door Cinema Club sound, with the poppy guitar riffs and upbeat drum tracks. It also marks the beginning of a trend throughout the album of a larger emphasis on bass and vocalist Alex Trimble hitting lower notes. “Wake Up” has a groove to it that hasn’t yet been heard from the Irish trio, with Trimble cranking out Thom Yorke-style vocals on the verses and gritty rock solos used to transition between choruses and verses. “Sun” has a pretty opening that turns into a slowed down, but equally fun version of a Two Door song. It takes a melting pot of everything heard on Tourist History, adds a horn section, and slows down the tempo to create a very unique track. Nonetheless, it stands out and is definitely a track to look out for.

“Someday” explodes into a thick fog of the sound the band made famous two years ago. The almost-synth-pad guitar sounds and fast drums sound almost identical to their earlier sound. “Sleep Alone”, the album’s first single, is another song that quickly draws comparison to the band’s early work. It is one of Beacon‘s powerhouse songs that you can expect to be hearing for a long time (and don’t worry, it’s already hitting radio stations). “The World Is Watching” has a very different, almost beachy sound to it that is reminiscent of Young The Giant. A song with a catchy riff, huge percussion support from the toms, and multi-range vocal harmonies (including female guest vocalist Valentina), this is a song that is sure to stick in your head and remind everyone that they’re mad about Summer’s end. “Settle” starts very subdued, and shows Two Door’s mastery of the big explosion. It is able to take the most quiet and subtle verse part of the record and turn it into the most powerful chorus in a matter of two beats. Then to top it off, it manages to toy with the muscles in your legs for 4 minutes, wondering if and when you’ll start dancing again.

“Spring” is another diverse track with a groove, with another big emphasis on the bass part. The musical interludes are extremely memorable and recognizable, along with with entrancing lyrics (“One more day is not enough”) that are truly just adorable. “Pyramid” is another slow starter, with the groove mentioned before combining with a solid house-style build up. The kicker is that it instead erupts in normal fashion for these three, only to drop back down to the jazzy-groove level shortly after. It isn’t until around the 2 minute mark that you hear the song hit its stride and retain its power in common electro-pop form. The album then closes with title track “Beacon”, a song that seems like the ball of a six-way ping pong match, where each player is a different end of the spectrum Two Door Cinema Club has touched upon.

With a month as big musically as this one is shaping up to be, there are some generally big albums that just need to be skipped over due to exponentially bigger albums, and Beacon seemed to fall in the irritating purgatory of “no one really knows how this is going to turn out, do they?” Two Door Cinema Club is part of the gargantuan handful of this generation’s underrated bands, and they proved to the world everything else they needed to that was leftover from Tourist History. The Irish trio not only proved that they are the princes of European electronic indie pop (and apparently 3-4 minute songs that start with the letter “S”), but also that they know how to cut a new, interesting, and just generally awesome album. Twice. Beacon takes a commanding 94/100, and you can get your paws on your own copy today.

Beacon Tracklisting:

  1. Next Year
  2. Handshake
  3. Wake Up
  4. Sun
  5. Someday
  6. Sleep Alone
  7. The World Is Watching
  8. Settle
  9. Spring
  10. Pyramid
  11. Beacon

 

Nutshell Album Review: Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Can the animal-themed indie kings do it again? Do they still have what it takes? Can they really compete with Merriweather Post Pavilion? People have been asking these speculative questions about Animal Collective in anticipation of their 9th LP Centipede Hz. Yes, it is not hard to comprehend that Merriweather Post Pavilion is their most popular album, nor is it hard to realize that there is a reason for that. But with a band like Animal Collective, it seems like it would be harder for them to make an unextraordinary album than to make a good one. So to all of the nay-sayers and the speculative question-askers, there is one simple answer to everything asked above.

Yes.

“Moonjock” opens the album with a force. First off, you can never go wrong starting an album with a countdown, especially when you know that the five extra seconds of suspense may give people a heart attack. But for the survivors, congratulations because you’ve stumbled upon a treat. This song is able to throw together the beautiful pop sound of Merriweather Post Pavilion, the intensity and pure fun of Strawberry Jam, plus the impossible weirdness that was Sung Tongs. Anyone questioning this album’s legitimacy will shut up after their first listen of this song. “Today’s Supernatural” is the second track, the first single that is chock full of chants of “Let’s go!” from Avey Tare. Another taste of what fans were craving from the band that is also stuffed with aspects of older material. “Rosie Oh” is one that dabbles on the bizarre side of Animal Collective, complete with a quirky bass beat and a drum groove blended with fun, alien-like sound effects. “Applesauce” follows that, and good lord, you need to hear this song. If you’ve heard any Animal Collective album before, you know of their 6-minute, beautiful, indie pop ballads. This is one of those, and never have they done it any better.

“Wide Eyed” is track five of the LP, and that’s the easiest way to describe the way you’ll look by the time you make it through this song. Definitely one of the obscure ones of this album (who would expect anything different?) where percussion plays a huge role in creating the sound. Next is “Father Time”, which is a song that is destined to breed adventure. If you ever need a soundtrack to your non-path-taking hike through your local forest, build it around this song. “New Town Burnout” kicks off with a solid drum beat and synth bass lead in, with the band’s cooing harmonies overpowering your ear drums in what turns out to be a slow tempo and entrancing song. The song’s force picks up throughout, all keeping the same speed and hypnotizing sound. “Monkey Riches” is a high point of this album, with amazing vocal range being shown off, along with every instrument Animal Collective had in their homes. One of the fullest songs on the album, and definitely one for you to check out.

“Mercury Man” is one of the faster songs on the album, with a very poppy feel. It also has an effect that makes it sound like the band recorded inside of a shower, which transitions in and out. It sounds like something that would be distracting, but it was actually done very well. “Pulleys”, a continuation of “Mercury Man”, keeps the tempo (and shower sounds), but continues its own separate with a lot of loud-quiet contrasts. The album is then closed with “Amanita”, a song that morphs Panda Bear’s latest LP Tomboy with sounds heard on Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s album It’s A Corporate World. It doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the opening countdown, but it still is a great album closer that leaves most listeners asking when the next album is coming.

When Animal Collective sent out the release date for Centipede Hz, hipsters rejoiced that the famed electronic-psychedelic-indie-sort of rock-clan was returning. With the complete band back together (Deakin sat out of recording and touring for Merriweather Post Pavilion), they put all of their cards on the table, knocked them all on the ground, and said “let’s just doodle our own, new cards”. Centipede Hz gets a whopping 97/100 (see you later, Gossamer), and you can get it now. That means go get it now.

Centipede Hz Tracklisting:

  1. Moonjock
  2. Today’s Supernatural
  3. Rosie Oh
  4. Applesauce
  5. Wide Eyed
  6. Father Time
  7. New Town Burnout
  8. Monkey Riches
  9. Mercury Man
  10. Pulleys
  11. Amanita
%d bloggers like this: