Tag Archives: album

Hey You What’s That Sound: Foster The People-Torches

20 Jun

Let’s keep it real, sooooooooo many people are talking about Foster The People(women primarily) and I’m not sure why.In fact they are playing here in Austin and I believe they’ve already sold out Emo’s way in advance, which is certainly an achievement. The hype about this band is so insane that I’m going to cut through it in the interest of fairness and giving the music an actual chance.

First, all of the big three songs from their EP are here, Helena Beat, Houdini, and Pumped Up Kicks. I think that’s a good thing, I always get frustrated with bands who make me track down another release when realistically they could just place those tracks on their debut.

And those three songs aren’t bad, but they aren’t necessarily good either. In fact much of the overtly unmuscular, clear production strips the guitars of any personality and leaves the dance moves far too stiff away from the icy coolness that the ace dance tracks have. The lyrics all fade together with pitchy vocals that reminded me of Mew or Passion Pit, without any of the occasional genius of either band mind you.

Honestly, I don’t really dislike any of the songs on this album, in fact if they came on the radio it would provide a relief from the epic fail array of Arcade Fire singles. But, you also know it’s pretty bad when you hear the beat to Houdini and instantly wish you were listening to a Billy Squire song that has the exact same beat.(Because we all know Billy Squire was in fact pretty much shit.)

The whole Foster the People album and phenomenon reminds me of Phoenix, except that Phoenix had at least paid their dues by releasing a few albums that werent that well received and played with Air for a few years.(They also had released “If I Only Feel Better” early in their career, which was unstoppable.) Maybe another apt comparison is Supertramp, another band who specialized in pitchy vocals and doing everything their peers had already done in a perfectly ok way.

Anyway that’s beside the point, the album is so safe and semi-catchy, there’s little for me to really pick out as noteworthy or something you must here. But, if this band isn’t headlining fairly large tours of their own or opening for Maroon 5 in the next two or three years I will be shocked at how the world has wised up against such mediocrity. Anyway, the band is better than I figured, but again that also doesnt mean they are particularly good either.


Hey You What’s That Sound?: Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome

17 Jun

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi “Rome” (2011)

There are a few facts that I want to lay down about this album before getting into the details.

1. Norah Jones is a truly brilliant singer who is defined by an earnest wistfulness that commands even songs that she hasnt written.(check out the excellently compiled Featuring…Norah Jones album for an array of examples)

2. Danger Mouse has segued from unknown Atlanta producer into respected industry veteran beautifully.

3. Post White Stripes and supermodels Jack White does whatever he wants because he’s a musician’s musician, who always puts it down.

All that being said the new Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi album is a spaghetti western influenced soundtrack to a seventies European film called “Rome” that doesn’t exist. Over 5 years of work and star turns from the aforementioned Ms. Jones and Mr. White have resulted in one of the best releases of the year.

While pages from the Lalo Schiffrin and Ennio Morricone playbook are certainly visible, there are moments on this record such as “Black” that resemble the muted melancholy of the excellent and underrated Danger Mouse production “The Good, The Bad, & The Queen.”(which is arguably the best Gorillaz album, even though it doesn’t have their name on the cover.)

The best way I can describe this album to you the reader in a way that will make you want to get it is that it sounds like an Air album. In fact the instrumentation and mixing sounds reminiscent of their recent release “Love 2,” however I do want to say that the overall feel of the album reminds of that far too brief era when Air was one of the best bands in the world. While this record may not hit the heights of Moon Safari, it does match some of the grandeur created by Air’s own Virgin Suicides score. To me “Rome” harkens back to that recent era of lounge influenced music that could create a certain ambiance around your daily life. You could put on albums by artists like Air, St. Germain, or Thievery Corporation in the background of a chill party or while driving around in your car and every time the retro vibes and the pan-cultural magic they created made the world seem instantly more electric. Honestly this album hit me that way. So while I could easily go into full breakdowns of excellent songs like “Season’s Tree” or “Two Against One,” I would instead recommend just checking this fantastic album out.