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The 2nd Law | Muse

Muse_2nd_lawMuse have been creating bombastic alternative progressive rock for over a decade now and have earned a reputation for sonic diversity and a uniquely grandiose style. “The 2nd Law” does nothing to challenge that perception. In fact, at times it seems like the album was made to uphold it. The words bombastic and grandiose will be used several times in this review, because these words are the most accurate way to describe this album. This is the most bombastic and grandiose Muse album ever.

Some of these songs are so bombastic, so gaudy and preachy that it becomes hard to take them seriously. Sure, Muse have always had that strain of ridiculousness in their lyrics. But here, the strain of ridiculousness has grown into a viral outbreak of silliness. “You won’t pull ahead/I’ll keep up the pace/And I’ll reveal my strength/To the whole human race/Yes I am/prepared/To stay alive/I won’t forgive, the vengeance is mine” Matt Bellamy sings in “Survival” an insane song featuring massive guitar riffs, Greek chanting, Glee-esque piano pop and a full 45-second dramatic orchestral arrangement as an intro.

Almost all songs have some political or current events theme. This is especially annoyingly obvious with the lyrics. The repetition and blatancy of these themes really gets old after a few listens. It’s like hanging out with a friend that only wants to talk about politics and conspiracy theories. I never would’ve guessed that the famous paranoia of Bellamy would drive him to mediocrity. I mean, the guy knows he’s allowed to write songs about other subjects, right?

Despite the lyrical themes, Muse remains musically diverse. The album spans many genres, from the sexy EDM and Queen mixture of “Madness”, to the George Clinton funk of “Panic Station” to the surprising guitar dubstep of “Unsustainable”. The odd mixture seems to work for Muse, like another layer of nutty frosting on the crazy cake.

In the end, this isn’t just another rock album. It’s unabashedly over the top, preachy and bombastic. And you know what? I love it. It’s not often that massive hubris matches talent, but Muse have pulled it off (like they always do) with “The 2nd Law”. Consider yourself warned: This album is bonkers. 2.7/5.

By KRUA Volunteer Max Jungreis

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The Silicone Veil | Susanne Sundfør

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Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør’s new album The Silicone Veil is a fantastic new album, perhaps one of the best this year. The songs are different in composition, yet Sundfør manages to hold them together with a dark brooding mood. On one album, she successfully combines folk, pop, ambient electronics and rock- and sometimes, she does it in the same song. The title track, “The Silicone Veil” starts off with a long, slow acoustic folk intro. From there, it gradually transitions into a power ballad, and then through numerous other styles before settling into a Nine Inch Nails-esque dance-floor stomp of distorted noise. Sundfør’s strength as a songwriter shines through on these tracks. Somehow, songs transform and grow over the course of a few minutes into something different than what you started with. But there’s really no clear point of transition. Songs change completely, and you won’t notice until after it’s happened.

Although the entire album is strong, the clear highlight is the track “White Foxes”. Electronic noise waxes and wanes with Sundfør’s mysterious lyrics. “Hunger, hunger is the purest sin”. Her voice sounds deceptively plain. But as the song progresses, it becomes clear that she is powerful and versatile, capable of holding and playing with extremely high pitches. This mirrors much of the album’s tracks- a slow start, building into a series of surprising climaxes.

It’s dark, it’s different and it’s new- Susanne Sundfør’s The Silicone Veil is an album you ought to have.

4/5 stars.

By KRUA Volunteer Max Jungreis

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Wild Race (EP) | Dr. Dog

drdogEarlier this year Dr. Dog released their seventh studio album “Be The Void” that left the college music scene upside down. The album was one of Dr. Dog’s most impressive works to date and quickly became a cult classic. Eight months later, fans of the band had a new reason to become excited after the announcement of a new Dr. Dog EP titled “Wild Race.” In a sense “Wild Race” would be a brief continuation to “Be The Void” with three new unreleased tracks and two others that were include in the deluxe edition of the album.

“Wild Race” opens up with the song “Be The Void”, a perfect example of Dr. Dog’s sound. Simple lo-fi music with perfectly arrange harmonies and killer guitar riffs and baselines. The next song “The Sun” provides a faux-audience much like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” but with a slick accompaniment of a piano and sleigh bells. The third track “What A Fool” takes a slower much more soulful approach to the rest of the EP. While a piano leads, the song includes background vocals by the rest of the band’s members that make the track sound like a 50’s quintet song. The following song “Exit For Sale” goes back to the more livelier approach of Dr. Dog with more harmonies and a great chorus. The last and final song “Wild Race” is perhaps the EP’s best. With a wicked baseline and the continued formula of perfect harmonies the song actually feels like a race.

Dr. Dog continues to make outstanding music that is both accessible and awesome at the same time. While in recent years the band has turned away from their original lo-fi style of music and has created a more intricate sound this EP is just as good as any album release. “Wild Race” may only last an approximate 20 minutes but each minute is worth it. Dear listener, the doctor will see you now. 4.5/5

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy

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End Of Daze (EP) | Dum Dum Girls

The Dum Dum Girls are an all girl California band that has become notable for their constant releases of EPs and their critically acclaimed 2010 album “I Will Be.” They have been described as a combination of both dream as well as noise pop that may seem as too poppy at first glance. However, after further listening, the Dum Dum Girls do not only pack a punch with their music but are also a knock out (see what I did there?). Last week the band released their fourth EP titled “End of Daze” and it’s already getting wide spread acclaim from many, including myself.

” End of Daze” opens with the song “When the Smoke Clears” that stars off with a noisy distorted guitar and a heavy bass accompaniment over lead vocalist Dee Dee’s voice. When the chorus is reached, a synthesizer and glockenspiel are incorporated to added a more pop feel. The second track “Get It Wrong” is a lot more livelier with the upbeat drum percussion and Dee Dee’s lyrics of lost love “I got nothing left to say” she repeats over and over during the chorus. The next track, “God Speed” is perhaps the EP’s most dream pop influenced. The song only features an airy guitar strum lingering in the back as Dee Dee sing about the abandonment of love. The following track “Lord Knows” is the EP’s focused single and the most appealing. The song includes a simple hi-hat/snare drum percussion that’s layered over more slow guitar strumming, thumping bass lines, and harmonized voices. The last track “Season In Hell” is the EP’s best and my favorite. With a more punkish approach, the percussion’s bass drum is pummeled through the song. Dee Dee reiterates “It’s the end of daze” before going into a simplistic yet awesome guitar solo. “Season In Hell” closes the “End of Daze” EP in a perfect manner.

The Dum Dum Girls influences are easily recognizable. The Ramones, Iggy Pop, and The Raveonettes are all artist they draw from but in a way that makes the Dum Dum Girls their own band. My only problem with thier EP’s is that they never seem to satisfy my need of music hunger. Unfortunately, this seems to be one these cases, “End of Daze” may only be 18 minutes but as the record progresses every track only seems to get better and better. 3/5

By KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy.

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Putrifiers II | Thee Oh Sees

thee-oh-sees-putrifiers-ii-608x536Last August I was fortunate enough to attend my very first music festival. The venue, located right in the middle of the enormous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco hosted the Outside Lands Music & Art Festival. One of the best parts of actually going to a music festivals is accidently finding a great band. While waiting for Dr. Dog to take the stage I was fortunate enough to come across a local San Franciscan band named Thee Oh Sees. Their set was killer. Loud punk, crowd surfing, and angry security guards made for one of my favorite shows from the festival.

After returning back to Alaska the first CD I received to screen just happened to be Thee Oh Sees’ new album “Putrifiers II,” imagine my excitement. Thee Oh Sees started out as a side project for John Dwyer whose long list of bands includes Coachwhips, Pink and Brown, Landed, Yikes, Burmese, The Hospitals, Zeigenbock Kopf. The band is also notorious for having different variations of their name such as the OCS, the Orange County Sound, and the Orinoka Crash Suite as well as an insane amount of album releases with this being the band’s 12th.

The Thee Oh Sees incorporate distinct rock genres in varieties of sound into their music. Beginning with the punk oriented “Wax Face” to the more psychedelic tracks “Putrifiers II” and “Will We Be Scared.” The album even has influences of retro pop such as in the songs “Goodnight Baby” and “Flood’s New Light.” Eventually closing with the slow paced “Wicked Park” that resembles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” album material, the band successfully delivers an array of different styles to the listener.

The fact that there was never a Putrifiers I makes the album that much sweeter and a must-listen. If you ever need music to tear down a house or destroy anything this may be the record to do it to. “Putrifiers II” makes some great strides in exposing the Thee Oh Sees to a wider audience while continuing to keep the indie feel of their music intact. Furthermore, if you ever get the opportunity to see the band perform live make sure to prepare yourself: it may get crazy. 4.5/5

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy

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Grizzly Bear – Shields

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In my time as KRUA Music Manager I have never anticipated an album quite like this. With countless days, sleepless nights, and one amazing single every indiehead in America had their dreams come true. Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear had finally released their fourth studio album this week. In between my tears of joy and overall euphoria I’ve pulled myself together to bring forth a review for Shields.

Grizzly Bear is perhaps recognized more for their singles than their albums. 2006 brought the band’s debut Yellow House that included the heart wrenching song “Knife.” 2009’s Veckatimest had the piano oriented “Two Weeks” that featured Beach House’s Victoria Legrand on the vocals (Your fun indie fact of the day.) Meanwhile, mainstream America tried to use the song on everything from Superbowl commercials to cheesy teen sitcoms. As for the release of Shields what would be the album’s “Knife” or “Two Weeks” that would have both corporate executives and hipsters drooling?

Shields opens with the lead single “Sleeping Ute” that begins with Daniel Rossen’s rambunctious guitar strums that’s followed by Chris Bear’s loud percussion that includes cymbals crashes and pounding bass drums. If this wasn’t already an eclectic mixture of sounds somehow Ed Drose’s omnichord and Chris Taylor’s bass line find its way to blend perfectly. This is Grizzly Bear’s sound, inspirations of folk music, electronic mixers, and past indie bands come together to deliver something that few bands carry – creative individuality.

While Shields tends to follow in the footsteps of Yellow House with its use of darker tones and feels in such songs like “Speaking in the Rounds” and “The Hunt.” Other songs such as the second single, “Yet Again” bring back the dynamic resonance that is heard in “Sleeping Ute.” This may be due to the shared time on vocals that is split between primary vocalist Ed Drose and Daniel Rossen who is showcased a lot more on this record. While Drose writes the ominous lyrics, Rossen sees a more positive outlook that together the duo effectively illustrate Shields.

The album may not necessarily have that one song that will have the indiesphere blogging for months but as a collective album Shields continues the Grizzly Bear legacy. There is certainly no disappointment from my end but a more lively approach to a few songs would have complimented the album a lot better. However, I’ll probably find myself listening to Shields for a long time… a very long time. It might just have kicked Beach House’s Bloom off the top spot as the album of 2012. 4.9/5

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy

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The xx – Coexist

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In a short period of time the xx went from promising students that attended school together to worldwide indie favorites after the release of their 2009 debut album xx. In early 2012 it was announced that their sophomore effort was in the works to be released later in the year. The biggest question on everyone’s mind; could this album live up to the debut and if so, how good could it be? As the anticipation for the album rose, the xx have calmly crafted Coexist.

As it was mentioned before, the group met while studying at Elliot school in England. The school has become notable for having produced other English bands such as Hot Chip, Burial and Four Tet. Although they initially began playing music at 15 as a joke, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim finally found their calling. Soon after Baria Qureshi joined on guitar and Jaime Smith joined as a producer. Together the xx brought an influxation of simple guitar riffs, heavy bass lines, layered electronic drums, and the opposing yet cohesive voices of Croft and Sim. While in certain songs their voices might rival one another, there is also the instance of their harmonize unison that syncs perfectly with their music.

Coexist is no exception to this. The record begins with the dreamy lead single “Angels” that features an airy atmospheric feel that’s accompanied by Croft soothing voice. With lyrics like “Light reflects from your shadow. It is more than I thought could exist.” the album begins with as much charm as 2009’s xx did. As the album advances very little changes are made to the overall structure of each songs. Unfortunately for some, listening may quickly become dull after the consistent slate of slow songs. However when the album does meliorate on songs like “Sunset” or “Tides,” Coexist delivers a refreshing upbeat peak that brings the listener right back into the album. The bands tries its best to mirror xx while still instilling the new creativity of Coexist.

Unless you’re going through a bad breakup or seemed to be consistently depressed from love, this album may not be so accessible to you. You might wonder, “How can these guys have such bad luck with everyone?” There is also the possibility that you’ll want to use lyrics from the album to use for your Facebook statuses, tweets, and texts to subconsciously send to your exes or xxes — get it? The most reasonable probability is that you just might enjoy listening to some sweet indie pop. The xx are all about heartfelt lyrics over mellow rhythms and euphonic melodies; who doesn’t enjoy that? 4/5.

Recommended Tracks: “Angels“, “Tides“, “Sunset“.

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy

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Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Animal Collective - Centipede HzIn 2009 Animal Collective left the indie world in awe after the release of their critically acclaimed and highly praised master piece Merriweather Post Pavilion. For three years fans have anticipated the return of the band and their fond approach to music. During this time span the band has kept busy by headlining a memorable show at Coachella in 2011 as well as embracing the return of their fourth member and guitarist Josh Dibb (also known as Deakin) after he had taken a hiatus from the band. Suddenly, it had seemed that things had begun to come together for the 2012 release of Centipede Hz. As the indie world eagerly awaited once more, how would this Animal Collective record follow up to Merriweather standards?

Perhaps the answer lies in a more complicated manner. You see, it is very possible that Animal Collective set a new standard for neo-psychedelic music back in 2009. With Dibb gone the main instrumentation for the album was an electronic sampler. The move was a huge success while it also dialed down the feel of the music. With the change in sound, Merriweather almost felt like a lo-fi indie rock record. Here lies the biggest difference between what listeners will be expecting and what Animal Collective has crafted with Centipede Hz.

The album opens up with a bang with the aggressive track “Moonjock” followed directly by the lead single, “Today’s Supernatural.” Right away, it can be sensed that Animal Collective returns to the roots of experimental music notable in 2007’s Strawberry Jam and 2005’s Feels. Obviously the return of Dibb makes the difference but from the start, both songs are dynamic and high octane. A theme that continues into the album. Other songs like “Rosie Oh” and “Father Time” are not as “in your face” as other tracks but the experimental aspect is still noticeable. Another interesting addition to the album are radio commercials and frequencies as well as station identification announcements in between songs. This almost feels as some sort of social commentary on 21st century technology and communication through mockery, while still adding to the overall feel of the album.

Even if Centipede Hz might not live up to Merriweather Post Pavilion’s standards, it is still one of the band’s best works. The jumbled clutter of the album takes the listener through an awesome ride into the minds of four guys from Baltimore. A very trippy ride. Centipede Hz might not be as remembered as other albums in 2012 but the most important thing to remember is that this still remains an Animal Collective record. Whether through their music or performances, they rarely ever disappoint. 3.5/5

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy

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Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

frank-ocean-channel-orange2In a year that has seen the best of music so far, one of the most anticipated albums has been Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. In very little time Frank has grown into one of the more prolific singer/songwriters for not only himself but others in the music industry. Originally a member of the Los Angeles collective rap group Odd Future, Frank Ocean is perhaps not only the most appealing but also the most talented.

Frank first caught the attention of many in 2011 after the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. Since then, the anticipation for his major label debut has been widely expected by plenty. Perhaps the most interesting part about Frank Ocean’s overall sound is the new wave of experimental R&B that he has crafted. Only really mastered by a few such as Frank Ocean and Canadian artist The Weeknd, Channel Orange brings forth the next evolution of R&B.

From the very start of the album that includes ambient sounds and a PlayStation start up, Channel Orange begins both mysteriously and unexpectedly. “Thinkin Bout You”, the second track and lead single, Frank’s euphoric voice accompanies a synth layer cycle with deep drum hits that make for a proclamation of romance. Other notable tracks include “Super Rich Kids” that has a feature from fellow OF member Earl Sweatshirt, the epic 10 minute stripper track “Pyramids”, the heavy organ oriented and heartfelt “Bad Religion”, and my favorite track from the album, “Pink Matter” which features a ridiculous verse from former Outkast member Andre 3000.

All in all, Channel Orange examines themes of lost love, drug abuse, and open sexuality but in a way that leaves the listener in a nirvana. Frank Ocean has possibly reached the closest thing to soul we’ve heard since Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder but with the futuristic production of today’s age. This just happens to sound perfectly. 4.5/5.

Recommended Tracks: “Pink Matter“, “Thinkin Bout You“, “Bad Religion.”

By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy