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The New Pornographers “Brill Bruisers” Album Review

The New Pornographers

Brill Bruisers

By: Sam Boyhtari

8/27/14

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 Brill Bruisersslams 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

Happy National Radio Day!

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August 20th is National Radio Day, and to celebrate we’re giving away a pair of Iggy Azalea wsg MAGIC! tickets. All you have to do is fill out the form below, and let us know why you love WXOU!

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2014

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Reviews by Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila

Interviews and photos by Lelia Cotton and Matt McCormick | @mccmatt

7.18.14

The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival may be the heaviest of heavy metal tours this summer has to offer. The main stage had some of the biggest names in the metal game, but it was the smaller stages that truly stole the show. The Coldcock Whiskey Stage was headed by bands like Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, local band King810 and more.

Suicide Silence Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Mushroomhead is known for their wild performances and they certainly drew too large of a crowd for such a small stage. Easily, Mushroomhead deserves a spot on the main stage. 2014 is their 21st year as a band and it’s one to remember. This year alone they have brought back some of the original gang as well as some new key guys. Now, they have three lead vocals.  This is especially important as J Mann has officially rejoined the group just three months ago, after working on their latest album together.

Mushroomhead Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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The Righteous and The Butterfly just dropped in May 2014 and has already acquired quick success with Billboard and Hard Rock charts. Skinny claims that getting on those charts was never the goal, but “the people have spoken”. He also claims that this album was their “most honest effort” and they all naturally vibed together. After sitting down together, he said the key to their longevity success was that they’re not rockstars, their artists and they don’t take themselves too seriously. J Mann joining the group after a decade of being gone was not something they had planned, it just fell together perfectly. Their cohesiveness showed clear in the performance as it went off without a hitch. They completely owned the stage with their commanding persona and intensity of the water flying off of their drums. The large crowd was almost too excessive for the stage, as well as their vigor. In comparison to some of the Mayhem lineup, Mushroomhead are legends. They have been in the game for quite some time and their fandom showed so.

Miss May I and Mushroomhead, both from Ohio, brought in big crowds to the Michigan theater. This year was Miss May I’s first tour with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Like Mushroomhead, they has also just dropped an album, Rise of the Lion. Rise of the Lion The band got to work with Michigan’s own, Terry Date, who helped produce their album. Terry Date is known for producing albums with bands like Pantera and Deftones. Their set was filled with a heavy style of melodic metalcore riffs. The crowd was lively, taking the heat by any means possible. Rise of the Lion has shown their diverse sound with all new melodies mashed with their original thrust. The fast paced riffs and clean screaming provided the fans to be satisfied. It’s safe to say Miss May I delivered.

Miss May I Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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Overall, it was the Coldcock Whiskey Stage that owned the day. As far as reak metal bands go, the smaller stage was was completely packed with true metal bands. This lineup left the stage stacked with metalcore sounds and heavy breakdowns. This stage alone claimed the energy of the crowd and the Mayhem altogether.

Korn Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Avenged Sevenfold was the main headliner for this years Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. While at DTE in Clarkston, MI this Thursday and they brought a whole new level of rock to the amphitheater. The heavy metal music echoed all the way to the very back near the Hilltop Bar.

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) was hands down the best performance of the night, earning the name of a headliner easily. The dramatics of the warm to cool lighting and fire play truly set the tone for the act. The set list was a perfect mixture of old and new, keeping the massive crowd on their feet the entire time. They opened with “Shepard of Fire” from the latest album, ‘Hail to the King’. Followed by “Nightmare” and the 2005 hit, “Bat Country” off of their third album ‘City of Evil’. The army of a crowd chanted every single word to the older, yet still familiar, tune.

As they were going into their next song of the night, lead vocalist, M. Shadows told a story of why Avenged loves Detroit. He went on to say that when they were first coming around with their second album back in 2003, ‘Waking the Fallen’, no one knew who they were and no one would play their music on the radio. However, one radio station, who remained nameless for some reason, in Detroit was playing it. Shadows went on to say that they will never forget that and will always love Detroit for having great taste in music. With that being said, they wanted to dedicate the next song to Detroit. However, as he was devoting the next tune to our beloved city, his mic went out. Thankfully it was only momentarily, and he continued to introduce their dedication of “Hail to the King” to Detroit. The crowd erupted, as the tune is the #1 single off their latest album.

During the rest of the set it became apparent that after all these year, Avenged still can rock. Shadows baritone vocals have truly evolved over time. Often you hear of bands who do not sound the same or as well when performing live. This is not a problem Shadows has to worry about. Kind of funny for a guy who had apparently lost his ability to scream after a throat surgery in 2003, that never happened. This was a ridiculous rumor that was spread after the band had finished Warped Tour 2003. With that being said, in the ten years after, his vocals have matured with a harsh yet clean vocal feel.

Shadows introduced “So Far Out” and attributed it to the late and great James “The Rev” Sullivan. Sullivan was the band’s drummer, vocalist, and songwriter until 2009 when he unexpectedly passed away due to an overdose of Oxycodone, as well as Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) that may have played a role in his death. The theater was lit up by the sole light of cell phones and lighters from the stage to the top of the hill. The mellow echo of the lyrics felt meaningful and at that moment if was apparent just how many fans still loved these guys. Which is no wonder why the band won  the “Most Dedicated Fans” award at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards last year.

A7X finished their hour and half long set with a mix of jams between their albums, on a high note. Along with a  three song encore that wooed the crowd with the flames and powerful, show ending drum solo.

Volumes “No Sleep” Album Review

Volumes  No Sleep By: Neil Hazel (@iamneilhazel) 7/15/14 It has been three years since Los Angeles based metal act Volumes put out their debut LP VIA. It is clear that the band has taken that time to carefully refine their sound for their sophomore no_sleep_import-volumes-26599968-2946233481-frnt effort, No Sleep. One of the things that makes Volumes stand out is their use of two screaming vocalists. This allows Volumes to keep the vocal sections of their songs interesting throughout the whole CD. When the two vocalists go back and forth in sections of songs, it gives off an almost hip-hop like feel to the heavy tracks. There’s also an abundant use of clean vocals on several of the songs such as “Across The Bed”, that fit well with Volumes use of hard-hitting breakdowns and ambient guitar leads. One of the best aspects of No Sleep is how balanced it feels. Listening from start to finish feels like a really complete experience. Tracks move from heavy head-bangers like “The Mixture” and “Neon Eyes” to smooth, clean guitar led songs like “Erased” effortlessly. Combining both heavy and clean aspects within almost every track keeps the CD interesting. The only downside of the meticulous effort that Volumes put into each song is that we are only given ten tracks, two of which are instrumentals. “Vahle” is one of the standout tracks, featuring some of the slickest guitar leads on the album, coupled with a very catchy, clean chorus. No Sleep is an album that is both intricate and easy to listen to. Volumes have cemented themselves as a standout band in the metal scene. Even though it is only their second release, the band has hit their stride and improved greatly upon their prior work. If you’re looking for emotionally driven metal that will have you banging your head and singing along, then give this a listen. Let’s just hope that we don’t have to wait another three years for more. 4/5

{ENDED} Enter to win tickets to see Ted Nugent!

 

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WXOU has your tickets to see Ted Nugent with Brownsville Station and The Rockets on Saturday, 7.19 at DTE Energy Music Theatre courtesy of Palace Sports and Entertainment. Fill out the form below, and listen all week long!