Death From Above 1979
The Physical World
By: Neil Hazel (@iamneilhazel)
Death From Above 1979 is back in the game with the release of their new album, The Physical World. After releasing their first album back in 2004 and then breaking up in 2006, the Canadian duo took a long break from writing and performing. Despite the time away, the band hasn’t forgotten how to write tracks that immediately grab you ear and hold your attention through the entire album.
With The Physical World, Death From Above 1979 have shown that they can perfectly walk the line between pop and hard rock. Some segments are straight and to the point, with pounding drums and hard hitting guitar chugs, while others are filled with clean fills and smooth riffs. Almost every song has a catchy chorus that will have you singing it in your head days after you listen to it. “Right On, Frankenstein!” is impossible to listen to without wanting to sing along and nod your head as it moves along at a breakneck speed. “Always On” is a track filled with solid rock licks and roughly crooning vocals. “White Is Red” starts off as a ballad like song, slowly building into a noisy rock chorus before suddenly dropping back into calm. “Government Trash” stands out as one of the coolest tracks on the album, moving quickly from one section to the next with a slick guitar lead and blasting drum beats lining the whole song.
The best thing about Death From Above 1979 is their ability to craft songs that you will want to listen to over and over again. Upon each listen it is easy to identify a new, exciting part of each song. A vocal melody, a guitar lick or a drum fill all start to pop out to make The Physical World worthy of many repeat listens. It sounds as if the two members sat down to write the album and just began violently thrashing on their instruments, and then went back and added in layers of heavy rock precession, before finally implementing the catchy hooks into each track. For the most part, this back and forth is pulled off extremely well. However, there are some transitions that seem a little off, and some of the songs may seem a little out of place.
The Physical World is a solid, fun-to-listen to album. It won’t require too much effort to enjoy all 11 tracks on the CD. Death From Above 1979 has created a pure rock album that pulls from multiple facets of the genre. The album is many things: punky, poppy, noisey, heavy, exciting, and really well put together. Let’s hope the band can avoid calling it quits for a second time and continue to produce jams for years to come.
4/5 Fake Elephant Noses
By: Erin Ben-Moche
“When I was 27 I crushed a lot. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever fall in love again,” Karen O, singer of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, expresses on the inside cover of her debut album, Crush Songs.
This record is extremely short, clocking in at just over twenty five minutes. The length of the songs range from 57 seconds to 3 minutes, but all capture her feelings of each “crush.” She starts each song with “One…Two…Three…” to set the tempo, but her soft voice sets the mood for the songs. Karen O’s calming melodies and airy vocals perfectly describe who she is as an artist: simple and to the point. Her poetic lyrics don’t have to be over the top in order to be romantic. Each song’s minimal instrumentation and vocal percussion adds to the simplistic nature of the album.
“Ooo” opens the album with the words “Don’t tell me they are all the same.” This song provides an introduction to the album, showing that each person she fell for was different and each one made her feel a certain way. “NYC Baby,” only 57 seconds in length, discusses how O loathed leaving her former crush and letting their long-distance relationship consume her.
Crush Songs also includes a cover of “Indian Summer” by The Doors. It is a beautiful cover that mixes classic rock with O’s own unique touch of Indie soul. It gives the song a new perspective coming from a female’s point of view.
“Native Korean Rock” is another highlight from the album, providing an anthem for those having a hard time getting over their own soured romantic endeavors. Fortunately, it leaves a silver lining of hope towards new beginning.
What is interesting is that Crush Songs took four years to record and produce. Recording started in 2006 and ended in 2010. During this time, Karen O released three albums with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and was also nominated for her Oscar winning work “Moon Song” from the film Her.
If you need a slow playlist, or are in the mood for love, heartache, and raw emotion, you should check this out this album. Karen O should be celebrated for her raw, breathy sound and smooth guitar melodies that are haunting to listen to. Anyone who has ever been in a head-over-heels relationship, brutal breakup, or yearned for hope will enjoy this album. Karen O leaves us wanting more of her and the passionate lyrics that tell the story of her search for love.
Iggy Azalea and Magic! at Meadowbrook Music Festival
Written by: Music Director Anthony Spak (@Spakdaddy)
Photos by: Music Director Anthony Spak
Program Director Lauren Barthold (@bylaurenb)
SVP President Lelia Cotten (@RhymesWTequila)
Rochester, MI – Iggy Azalea and Magic! warmed up Meadowbrook Music Festival on a chilly Friday night at the Student Program Board’s annual Fall Concert.
Attendees began to congregate outside of the venue an hour and a half before doors opened. Most of the early arrivers were OU students.
While they waited in line, concert-goers were treated to music and free-giveaways from three local radio stations: AMP 98.7, Channel 95.5, and 88.3 FM WXOU, Oakland University’s on-campus station.
At 6:30 the doors opened and fans quickly filed in to the outdoor venue. Not long after, Magic!, the opening act, took the stage. The Canadian band’s first few songs were brimming with their energetic blend of reggae and rock. Magic!’s rhythm section immediately got the crowd to wiggle in time to their deep grooves. Drummer Alex Tanas laid into his golden-sparkle Gretsch kit with cutting, half-time beats and funky offbeat fills that were reminiscent of another famous reggae-rock drummer, Stewart Copeland of The Police. Bassist Ben Spivak (sporting a vintage Grateful Dead t-shirt) laid on deep, thick reggae bass lines alongside Tanas’, and together they got the crowd dancing.
After three songs and a bit of a temperature drop, lead singer and guitarist Nasri complimented the audience’s enthusiasm, saying “You guys are really warming this place up!”
After playing a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 anthem “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, dedicated “to the ladies” by Nasri, the front man took a moment to address the crowd on a more personal level. “Can I say something serious? Positivity is the key to happiness in life,” he said.
Magic! closed their set with “Rude”, their hit song that spent six straight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the USA this past July and August. The crowd erupted as the opening chords sounded and sang along to the familiar tune.
The minute Magic! left the stage, the young and rowdy crowd immediately began asking for more music, chanting “I-GGY! I-GGY!” After a half hour wait, the main act finally walked onto stage to thunderous applause.
Amethyst Amelia Kelly, better known to the world as Iggy Azalea, took the stage around nine p.m. The Australian-born rapper has been riding a hot streak of popularity since the release of her debut album, The New Classic, which spawned four hit singles, including her ubiquitous mega-hit “Fancy” that also went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts over the summer.
Iggy was much taller than expected. The Aussie towered over her four backup dancers as they shimmied and twerked through a short, highly-choreographed set.
Azalea and her onstage crew of four dancers, two backup singers, and a DJ played through 17 songs, including her four singles from The New Classic. Azaela spoke very little during the show between songs, only instructing the DJ a number of times to “drop that shit”, or begin the beat for the next song.
While Iggy’s music is popular and the crowd sang along to the hits, the music was not the main focus of the crowd or the performer. Azalea’s butt was her greatest weapon in terms of controlling the audience; her
backside has taken on a life of its own with help from social media networks like Twitter and Instagram, where advertisements and pictures of “Iggy Azalea’s Ass” are shown and shared regularly.
Azalea was certainly aware of her valuable asset, and knew how to work the crowd with just a simple shake of her hips. Fans went into frenzy when Azalea would slowly bend down mid-song and shake her butt, more so than they did for any line or beat of any of her actual songs. Simply put, it was all about the booty for Azalea.
The rapper’s voice was raspy through most of her set, which may seem to negate recent accusations by Buzzfeed of her lip-syncing onstage during a performance with Jennifer Lopez. Still, her performance suffered a bit because it appeared that she was losing her voice the longer her set went. Again, the audience didn’t seem to mind as long as Azalea and her dancers continued to twerk on and around each other.
Azalea closed her set with “Fancy”, her biggest hit. Friday night’s version seemed watered-down, which is understandable considering that her backup singers had to sing the hook, rather than Charli XCX, who sings on the recorded version. Azalea saved a special gesture for the last song, waiting until the last few minutes of the set to actually touch her own behind. The audience roared its loudest at this moment when Azalea grabbed her own butt cheek and briefly fondled it. Soon confetti shot out of the side of the stage over the crowd, Azalea thanked the crowd “for the support”, and exited the stage without an encore.
In terms of popularity and current relevance, the Student Program Board landed a great headliner that created lots of excitement around campus. In terms of talent, character, and musical quality, however, one has to wonder whether or not Iggy Azalea was the right choice for the Fall Concert. Sure, Azalea’s music is bumpin’ and easy to drunkenly bob one’s head to. But should we as a student body support an artist who
so shamelessly relies on her own fake sexual gestures in order to garner attention from the media and applause from a crowd, rather than from her actual music? Should we support a female entertainer who reinforces negative stereotypes of both woman with her hyper-sexualized performances and hip-hop artists with her lyrics that focus on cash, ass, and nothing else?
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
You Will Eventually Be Forgotten
By: Sam Boyhtari
The sophomore release of Michigan’s own Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) is challenging, in that it asks listeners to do something that few albums do: to experience a series of very honest, tangible stories. How closely you pay attention to these stories is, of course, up to you, but there is a tremendous amount of emotional depth woven into the eleven tracks of You Will Eventually Be Forgotten, and I find myself returning time and again to experience them all, because the pureness of their telling is beautiful.
The straightforwardness of Keith Latinen’s lyrics is, in many ways, jarring to ingest. As a listener, I expect and prefer, for the most part, a very cryptic style of narration from songwriters—a constant effort to encode what could otherwise be a very plain and uneventful story. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten takes this conception and challenges it at every turn, relating very sincerely a group of dark and personal narratives that feel like prose poems read to a very somber and powerful soundtrack.
It is doubtless that this style will likely turn off some listeners, as it initially did me. But as I continued to listen to these songs, so true and unconventional in their telling, I became enthralled by it all: the oscillating nature of the instrumentation, rising and falling with the drama of each story; the unabashed lyrics, boasting little symbolic or metaphoric content to speak of, save to paint more vividly an already clear narrative.
This style of writing does have its downfalls. At times, the lyrics seem forced into the song structure in a way that makes their transference less than dramatic, and the straightforwardness of the content sometimes leaves me yearning for more poetic embellishment—more encrypting. But it’s moments where Keith sings about being stranded in the middle of a lake during a storm, or trying to circumvent a fatal car crash, where this LP shines bright, capturing a level of emotional depth that less honest creations cannot attain. The opening line of the album’s second track, “I almost died at 21,” is one of the most impactful moments of the entire journey, leading into an account of a near-death experience, amidst which Keith proclaims: “my life did not flash before my eyes.” The narration is very powerful, and moments like this outshine some of the less impactful spots on this LP.
You Will Eventually Be Forgotten feels like a collection of journals and photographs, selected tediously and lovingly from a larger cache of untold stories. The narration of these stories may push fans of more convoluted music away, but there are so many powerful moments worth exploring within these songs—these stories—and I am quite glad that Keith and Cathy have chosen to share them with us.
4 out of 5 Lucky Stars
Memoirs Of A Murderer
By: Neil Hazel (@iamneilhazel)
Listening to King 810’s debut full length album, Memoirs of a Murderer is like stepping into a heavy metal time machine. The 16 tracks are some of the most varied I have heard from any metal band in recent memory. Some tracks invoke some of the 90’s biggest metal bands like Slipknot and Korn, while others show what the future of metal could be.
The album starts with three heavy hitting songs led by “Killem All” that are certain to grab your attention and make you bang you head. Vocalist Dave Gunn displays raw energy and emotion in both his lyrics and vocals that is equal parts intriguing and haunting to listen to. Just when you think you have King 810 figured out, they throw a curveball with “Take It” an acoustic song that is reminiscent of Johnny Cash. King 810 displays their mastery of metal with songs like “Fat Around The Heart”, featuring verses filled with ambient guitars that build into the chorus with hard hitting drums. “Treading and Trodden” is one of the most interesting songs on the album, incorporating subtle electronic elements into the background and vocals. Memoirs of a Murderer is paced by two spoken word tracks “Anatomy 1:2” and “Anatomy 1:3” which display Gunns vocals and nothing else. They are chilling pieces that allow the listener to hear just how enthralling the vocals can be even without music.
Each individual track on the album has stand-out moments that make any one a worthy listen, but when Memoirs of a Murderer is taken as a whole piece, it becomes an entirely different beast. Each track flows into the next both thematically and musically. “Carve My Name” is a slow march to war, that begins with a whispered chant, with a marching drumbeat that slowly grows louder and louder. The song eventually explodes into one of the most brutal parts of the cd, before fading back out. Gunn then recites The New Colossus the inspiring poem displayed on The Statue of Liberty, before “War Outside” begins with a fury of guitars and drums. When the album finally reaches its conclusion in “State Of Nature” it is in almost the opposite place from where it started, a slowed down analysis of the way of the world, played over an acoustic guitar that slowly builds into a full band ballad.
Another important aspect of King 810 outside of their music is their background. All four members were born and raised in Flint, Michigan, one of the most violent and dangerous cities in America. Gunn’s lyrics demonstrate the hardships that he has faced, and the music itself is filled with the struggles of a dying city. Memoirs of a Murderer is a fantastic metal album, and with the diversity in the tracks, it ensures that it is one that is interesting and exciting on each listen. With a debut as ambitious as this, King 810 is a band that every metal fan should pay attention to.
You can see King 810 on tour with Slipknot and Korn, November 29th at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The New Pornographers
By: Sam Boyhtari
With their sixth LP, Vancouver’s indie rock icons deliver a fast paced, cohesive experience that stays fresh from start to finish, paying tribute to 80s style synth pop, as well as the Galaga soundtrack.
To those unfamiliar with The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers may conjure up images of its makers playing stadium shows for thousands of fans, rather than their usual cozy theatres and halls. The album’s sound is remarkably bombastic, even amidst all of the band’s past material. The title track slams into listeners, making for an epic introduction to a track list that is both varied and energetic, all of it packed with the charming melodic vocal content that The New Pornographers are adored for.
If you haven’t experienced a New Pornographers record before, each one is a multicolored excursion into the artistic presences of A.C. Newman, Daniel Bejar (See Destroyer) and Neko Case. Each of these musicians offers a unique brand of songwriting, creating a sense of diversity about the band’s records that has appealed to fans since the release of Mass Romantic in 2000. With Brill Bruisers, this sense of artistic diversity is fully present, but even more seamless and fluid. Perhaps even more pleasant and surprising is the heightened interaction of Newman’s niece, Kathryn Calder, who has more of a presence on this LP than Neko Case or Bejar. Since her debut with the band on their 2005 release, Twin Cinema, Calder has continued to grow as a member of The New Pornographers, and this latest release sees her singing almost as much as Newman, often taking over the lead roles while Newman sinks back into the orchestral, synth-riddled textures that define many of these fantastic tracks.
The definite highlights here are the title track, with its fanfare of harmonies and blasting guitars, Bejar’s “War on the East Coast,” which features some of the catchiest vocal work of the entire package and showcases his songwriting wonderfully, and “Dancehall Domine,” a booming pop masterpiece that blends the voices of Calder and Newman to admirable affect.
None of the 13 songs outstay their welcome, each providing a different tone to a very seamless record, but a few of them do seem oddly underdeveloped or stagnant; “Drug Deal of the Heart,” Calder’s feature song, is sadly vacant and uninteresting, and it really doesn’t do her vocal work justice at all, nor does it ever blossom into anything. Similarly, Bejar’s second effort, “Born With a Sound”, is rather straightforward and basic, failing to hold its own amidst the rest of his work with the band. In addition, Neko Case seems strangely absent from most of this record, appearing in only two songs as a lead vocalist, and one other as a secondary singer, which may disappoint fans who are used to her more active participation in past records.
Brill Bruisers is, at its heart, a rock album, and it is enjoyable because it manages to supply a wide array of sounds and pop melodies while remaining fluid and fresh. With this said, there are times when textures seem a bit thin, reduced to chugging guitars and glittering synths that don’t quite fill all the space, but for the most part, all of these songs are extremely rich and entertaining, stamped with the signature sounds of Newman, Calder, Case and Bejar. The New Pornographers’ latest work starts with massive energy and ends in the same fashion, and it is a most welcome addition to their steadily growing legacy as a pop force to be reckoned with.
4 out of 5 Three-Dimensional Bruises