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Nutshell Album Review: MGMT – MGMT

MGMTIt still strikes me as odd that there are plenty of “MGMT fans” out there that are totally unaware of the fact that the album Congratulations exists. Whether it be that they’re naive, are ignoring the fact that the band came out with songs that aren’t “Kids”, or just stopped listening to music in 2009, the follow-up to Oracular Spectacular has been consistently hailed as the group’s lesser-known, weirder, and even less-liked successor. The most exciting part about album number three, the self-titled MGMT, is that it boldly shows that the band doesn’t care about the negative press at all. They’ve even gone as far as striking Oracular tracks like “Kids” from their live set to make room for the album that frontman Andrew VanWyngarden has referred to simply as (I’m paraphrasing here) music that the band actually likes. What that means isn’t up to me to decide, but what I can decide is how I try to make you feel about this album. As always, my attempts to be unbiased will quickly implode and you will totally see through my “reporting” right into my opinion. SO HERE WE GO.

For fans that have been waiting for this album for three years, the opening to “Alien Days” is like a very exciting prologue. A slow-building key part, VanWyngarden’s pitch-bent vocals that eventually morph into his identifiable sound, and lengthy additions of percussion eventually burst into the trancey, “Metanoia”-like track. The song, which was also the album’s first single, is the perfect medium between weirdness and consonance until it, in wonderful MGMT fashion, abruptly falls apart at the end before fading out. The second song is “Cool Song No. 2”, a tribal and deep-sounding track that has an almost Animal Collective-like element. Full of ambient noises and sound effects, this one surely does prove to be a new sound for the band. “Mystery Disease” is extraordinarily jammy, which is a direction the band was very vocal about pursuing. Perfect for some on-stage improvisation, this track has the same feel that radiates throughout the rest of MGMT. Up next is a cover of Faine Jade’s “Introspection”, which ends up being one of the most attractive songs on the album. After this the album explodes into single “Your Life Is A Lie”, which is both purely MGMT and strangely goofy. This song was the spark of my personal excitement for the album, bringing a rarely-seen sense of power from the psychedelic duo.

“A Good Sadness” is the next track, providing another track that is trancey and jammy, with VanWyngarden’s vocals being soaked in reverb and pushed towards the back. This song seems to take a lot of influence from MGMT’s fellow experimental bands in today’s indie scene, and it works out to their advantage. That flows into “Astro-Mancy”, which is a very percussion-driven song. It’s also another one on the album that is heavily layered with sound effects and ambient noises. “I Love You Too, Death” is a very unique track, with VanWyngarden’s vocals being performed in a way that makes this sound like a Yo La Tengo song, and it is definitely one of the highlights of this album. MGMT then closes with “Plenty Of Girls In The Sea”, which is led by a ripping and echoing drum beat with an acoustic guitar underneath almost swing-style vocals, and “An Orphan Of Fortune”, which has a drone-style rock feel that is totally unexpected, yet it leaves you very excited for the future of MGMT.

These guys have been given a lot of flack over the years for not continuing to make chart-dominating pop hits. They’re a really strange situation where they had a chance to become a musical super power, but chose to instead make the music they want to make. That is nothing short of commendable. For an album that’s been called “confusing” (along with being put in the flat-out rude “Worst New Music” section in Spin) MGMT seems to be the exact opposite of that. The duo is focused on having fun and enjoying themselves, which is always the most important thing. And if that isn’t worth it to you, then at least this is a solid album anyways. MGMT gets a 90/100 and is available now.

MGMT Tracklisting:

  1. Alien Days
  2. Cool Song No. 2
  3. Mystery Disease
  4. Introspection
  5. Your Life Is A Lie
  6. A Good Sadness
  7. Astro-Mancy
  8. I Love You Too, Death
  9. Plenty Of Girls In The Sea
  10. An Orphan Of Fortune

6 Upcoming Fall Albums That You Should Get Excited About

The end of summer is more often than not a dreadful experience. Students start to hop on buses again and, in most cases, any sort of work load that ceased to exist is suddenly back again. Now all we have to do is look forward to the holidays, when we can once again basically stop having responsibilities again for a couple weeks. The one beautiful thing about the fall months creeping up, however, is that there always seems to be an abundance of awesome new music that comes out, almost too quickly to follow. Think about last year’s fall albums that included Muse, Green Day, Animal Collective, and Two Door Cinema Club to name a few. The next couple of months are looking to continue that trend, so here’s your guide to what you should be looking out for.

MGMTMGMT – MGMT
Tentative Release Date: September 17th
A little known fact about the Connecticut duo is that, in 2010, they released a pretty awesome album called Congratulations. It isn’t unknown that it was released, but despite generally positive reviews from critics, the album was not nearly as successful as their debut Oracular Spectacular. But apparently MGMT didn’t care, with their third album’s debut single “Alien Days” being very comparable to the sound of the 12+ minute “Siberian Breaks” from their previous release. What makes it even better is that frontman Andrew VanWyngarden has been very vocal about the groups consensus that they are having a blast, and are confident that they’re “making good songs”. After the more recent release of second single “Your Life Is A Lie”, the band proved that they are still the go-to when it comes to bridging the gap between expiremental, goofy, and just all-around good music.

AMArctic Monkeys  AM
Tentative Release Date: September 9th
The Sheffield quartet has turned themselves into nothing short of a powerhouse, and it has been well over a year since the band’s first hint at their fifth studio album was released through “R U Mine?” when they were still on the road for 2011’s Suck it and See. After months of not-so-subtle teasing (ie drummer Matt Helders describing the new album as sounding “like 2013”), they released two singles, “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”, along with…unique music videos. Their new-found knack for dirty and gritty rock n’ roll, along with a much-anticipated return of Alex Turner’s famous lyrical wittiness, is setting this up to be one of their best albums yet.

Glow & BeholdYuck – Glow & Behold
Tentative Release Date: October
1st

After what seemed to be a band-ending transition between their first and second albums, the now Daniel Blumberg-less trio is showing no signs of stopping. After releasing new single “Rebirth”, sounding very similar to both the band’s debut and a more focused version of ex-frontman Blumberg’s new project Hebronix, fans woke up this morning to an album announcement with a cover, a tracklist, and a hefty second single titled “Middle Sea”. If these two singles say anything, the guitarist-turned band leader Max Bloom is out to prove he should have always been fronting this band. So far, he’s proved it.

MelophobiaCage The Elephant – Melophobia
Tentative Release Date: October 8th
The Kentucky garage rockers have scored countless hits off of their first two albums, and they spent the first half of 2013 ensuring that they would be able to continue doing that on their third release. Since then, they’ve released lead single “Come A Little Closer”, which is significantly more tame than most things we’ve heard from the five-piece in the past. Nonetheless, with a slightly more jammy feel possibly to come and an already-announced fall tour in support of Muse, Cage The Elephant looks like they’re set up to have a successful year.

Spreading RumoursGrouplove – Spreading Rumours
Tentative Release Date: September 17th
The LA indie-dance kings behind songs like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied” have spent the last year or so tearing up the country, backed up by word of their unique and electrifying live show. Their debut LP Never Trust a Happy Song was an all-out success, and the recent release of single “Ways to Go” has only peaked interest in the quintet. It’s hard to make a judgement call on this album based on the exceptional lack of knowledge that has been released on the record, but Grouplove has never been a band to disappoint in their generally short careers. This will be the most surprising of all the albums on this list, but I can assure you it’ll be one of those surprises that you’re ecstatic about.

Let's Be StillThe Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still
Tentative Release Date: Octobe
r
15th
After the Sub Pop release of their debut album in 2011, The Head And The Heart’s unique blend of folk and indie pop has garnered them a lot of attention, along with acts such as Of Monsters and Men and Iron & Wine. Another album that hasn’t been very talked about, the Seattle six-piece’s sophomore LP is looking to be a big one that isn’t a far cry from the sound of their self-titled debut. The release of single “Shake” is giving this album a promising look, both energetic and dense with harmonies and a wide range of instruments. If the whole album sounds like this track, these guys better be ready to solidify themselves as one of the dominant indie-folk groups of our time.

Go down to the comments section below to tell us what albums you’re most excited for, even if they aren’t on the list. You can also tweet them at us @NSMusicGroup.

Lollapalooza Lineup Leak?

As is the case almost every year, Twitter accounts have erupted claiming to be music festival insiders who are aware of what the lineup for that respective festival will be that Summer, months before there’s any itching of a clue of the actual lineups. This has happened again for Lollapalooza, with a star-studded top half of the lineup leaked on Twitter, along with none other than @TheLollaLeaker himself being called out on it. After someone being kind enough to un-blur the cryptic photos that were posted, this is what the lineup is (allegedly) set to be.

Lollapalooza festival goers may be seeing the following acts this Summer:
The Flaming Lips, The Cure, Jay-Z, Blur, Mumford & Sons, Skrillex, Vampire Weekend, How to Destroy Angels, MGMT, and many others.

lollapalooza

Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup Predictions

IMG_0049Even though we haven’t even broken into winter, there is already a typhoon of speculation about who will be making their rounds at music festivals in Summer 2013. Bonnaroo presale tickets came and went in three minutes, and we’ve already seen message boards and websites be riddled with alleged lineups. With Nutshell being based out of and somewhat centered around the Chicago area, I thought it would be a perfect outlet for my 3rd annual Lollapalooza lineup predictions. This will, for the first time, be live updating. Bands will be crossed out and added as time goes on, up until the midnight lineup release some time in April. That is, if the Chicago Tribune would stop leaking it at 10:30. Think of this as an open discussion. Your thoughts are all appreciated, but they will only be read, reviewed, and utilized for this list if they are posted in the comments section below. That being said, we want your input. If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.

Here’s my current lineup predictions for Lollapalooza 2013, set for August 2-4:

  • Animal Collective – The dukes of modern indie rock haven’t graced the Lollapalooza stages since 2009, and they already found themselves in a premiere Saturday night slot. With Centipede Hz now under their belts and no extensive touring schedule, you can expect them to be hitting one of Chicago’s many festivals. After 2009’s powerhouse performance, it would be foolish for both the band and the festival if they did not end up in a headliner’s position this Summer.
  • Wu-Tang Clan – Now before you argue, look at the facts. According to an interview with AV Club, Clan producer RZA said that he had been contacted by Bonnaroo and Coachella, and that there’s a chance Lollapalooza has also been in contact with him about a Wu-Tang festival run. With one album having its 20th anniversary and another new one in the works, why not play a few festivals?
  • Alabama Shakes & The Temper Trap – Among many of the acts that had to be cancelled or shuffled around during last year’s mud pit, these two groups got the short end of the stick. They both had solid late afternoon slots and the potential to draw large crowds, so it would not come as a major surprise to see their names back on the bill.
  • The Avett Brothers – Backed by this year’s release of The Carpenter, the American folk group has never played on Lollapalooza’s stage. They hit their Chicago dates early on the supporting tour for the album, and a group like this would surely thrive in an outdoor festival.
  • MGMT – The group hasn’t hit the festival since 2010, and with an R.E.M.-inspired new album in the works it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them return for a third time. With three albums and their debut EP all in the catalog, the psychedelic collective would be a comfortable fit in a 5 or 6 headliner spot.
  • Phoenix – The French indie pop group hasn’t had much to say since the conclusion of their last tour, and with only one Lollapalooza appearance (2010) to date, the mysterious new album that is apparently being hammered out, a last second American Summer tour announcement with a few festivals wouldn’t be the biggest of surprises.
  • Vampire Weekend – Even though the band made a stop at last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, they have been on a somewhat hiatus when finishing out their new album. They already have an impressive new single that’s presumably from the record, and it isn’t uncommon to see the two Chicago festivals swap bands for consecutive festival seasons. Since 2009, bands that have hit stages at both festivals include Animal Collective, Neon Indian, Washed Out, and  tUnE-yArDs, so Vampire Weekend could very well be returning to Grant Park come August.

Again, your comments are welcome below. Tell us what you’re thinking; who do you think will be playing at Grant Park in August?

Top Albums To Look Out For

There has been some recent buzzing and single circulation that has everyone all excited about new albums (some confirmed, others speculated). Here is Nutshell’s top albums to look out for in the upcoming months:

Beck – With the recent release of the “I Just Started Hating Some People Today/Blue Randy” single, Beck’s various projects seem to be coming full circle to scream “NEW ALBUM”. “Looking For A Sign” was another single released by Beck earlier this year, plus reports by country singer Dwight Yoakam and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen that he’s been in the studio. Nothing official yet, but expect it soon.

Animal Collective (Centipede Hz, due out September 4th) – After spending the large part of their 2011 tour debuting new material, Animal Collective officially announced their tenth album this past May. The cover and tracklisting have both been released, along with the non-album “Honeycomb/Gotham” single. The now 13 year old band has really hit every end of the musical spectrum, so be excited to see what they’ve come up with.

Two Door Cinema Club (Beacon, due out September 4th) – Earlier this month, Two Door’s second album was announced, including all of the info seen here. The release video that included teaser tracks has all fans of the band excited for the follow up to the platinum-selling Tourist History. This is really helping set up September 4th as a pretty great day in music.

The Strokes – Not much to be said here, other than the fact that three of the five band members have released some form of information regarding the completion of their fifth album. No title or new singles yet, but the follow up to Angles will be something to look out for.

MGMT (MGMT, no release date) – MGMT’s third studio album has received a lot of press coverage, and most of it concludes that the band is in the studio with no solid evidence of new material yet. They have been playing a new song on their South American tour called “Alien Days”, and at one point confirmed that Andrew VanWyngarden had written a handful of R.E.M. inspired songs. No singles yet, but more will come soon enough.

Muse (The 2nd Law, due out September 17th) – Muse has spent the time between their Grammy winning fifth album The Resistance and its follow up album recreating their sound. An album trailer was released on their website on June 6th, along with a countdown clock that was later tied to the release date of The 2nd Law. The band cites groups like Justice and Does It Offend You, Yeah? as influences for the album, so a world of Muse fans will be excited to hear the new sound as soon as possible.

Phoenix – Another one with no large-scale information, Phoenix’s fifth studio album has been a generally well-contained secret. The only thing to show for the recording process are a few stills that have been posted on the band’s website and reports of a late Summer 2012 release. The current photo on the band’s site is the word “Thermidor”, a month from the French Republican Calendar that spans from July 19th to August 18th, so expect some new Phoenix music around then.

If you have any more suggestions of albums to keep your eyes peeled for, comment or tweet it! @NSMusicGroup

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