Category Archives: Music Reviews

Born This Way-Lady Gaga


           Technically this is only the second studio album by Lady Gaga. Its true she has put out a slew of EPs and Remix Compilations but only two studio albums. So, needless to say this has been getting a fair amount of pub especially after her release of the insanely popular and catchy title track.

The album certainly has its hits. “Born This Way”, “Heavy Metal Lover”, and “Marry the Night” are all pretty solid tracks. They each have their own style that is consistent from start to finish. “Electrical Chapel” also has a good presence with its big beat and well blended synth. “Scheiße” is another example of a well thought out track that mixes different styles and sounds into a single song. It has a solid beat with just the right mix of pop. The song really comes together nicely and just “works.”

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the album. Listening to “Americano”, it feels like she just got lazy. Its samples of the classic Rosemary Clooney tune “Mambo Italiano” and “Poker Face” with little tweaking. It doesn’t just stop there though. Bad Kids starts out trying to be just that, rough and tumble and in your face. It immediately falls into syrupy 80s  pop synth. Although I don’t have a problem with exploring different styles within the same song, it just doesn’t work very well in this case. “You and I” is another confusing offering. I get the feeling she didn’t get her fill of country music when she released “Born This Way (The Country Road Version).”  Its a departure from her style and sounds like it should be sung by Shania Twain not Lady Gaga.

All told, the album was 50/50 for me. Some tracks that I liked, some I didnt.  I feel its an average album, which is really a shame. Love her or hate her, Lady Gaga is a talented musician and has the chops to knock it out of the park. She just didn’t bring her A game.  Now does that along with my review really matter? No it wont. In fact she will sell the crap out of this album. Maybe it says a lot about her abilities to market herself or how she can intertwine her music with her persona/philosophy. Either way, this album will go platinum (actually, it might have already happened).

-I

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Death Cab For Cutie-Atlantic Records Presents: Death Cab for Cutie In Living Stereo!


    This is a funny little single and it was one of the biggest surprises that I picked up. I was about to leave and saw it by the register. For $3, I’m game. Its actually a sample single of 3 new songs:  “Home Is A Fire”, “You Are A Tourist” and “Some Boys“.   All of these will be featured on their new album Codes And Keys due out May 31st. It starts off by having a pseudo 1950’s announcer introduce the band and songs. You get a good sample of each song with a generous serving of Mr. Announcer. The whole record is a tip of the hat to the old sample singles. The sort of thing you would hear playing in a store or car dealership. If you go into this expecting to hear a complete song or two, you will disappointed. If you take it for what its worth, its a neat little throw back record.

-I

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Four From Far-Regina Spektor


    So I have been listening to records non stop for the past 38 hours with only taking breaks to sleep. Its high time I review a few of them. Up first is the RSD offering from Regina Spektor. Its really nothing new, just four songs from her album titled “Far” hence the cleverly name. Its much of the same as her previous albums. I know she is fond of saying she doesn’t have an overall musical style. But lets be honest, she has developed her own sound that you can spot very quickly and I for one am a fan. Just when you think an entire song will be light and airy, she drops in back into the minor keys and really shows her range. Since its not new music, I wont get in depth into the songs. The vinyl however is top notch. I really liked this record. it was a nice heavy pressing that sounded great. The color was a nice and bright baby blue. As a Record Store Day Exclusive, it enjoyed a limited release but I suspect it will be available for quite some time.

-I

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Angles-The Strokes


This is The Strokes 4th studio album and its been quite awhile since their last. As you work through the album you notice a common theme of guitar riffs and electronic noise tracks. Machu Picchu starts out strong with a good beat and a balanced sound. You get the muted electronic notes that are popular with a lot of bands today coupled with the guitar play that made them famous. As you progress an 80’s theme also seems to emerge. I know that sounds crazy but try to follow me on this. The track “Two Kinds of Happiness” is very reminiscent of The Cars.  And you cant hear  “You’re So Wrong” and not be immediately transported back to a NES game of Contra.

Far and away my favorite track is  Gratisfaction. Its though The Strokes managed to create a modern classic rock song. It sounds remarkably like Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” with a dash of Thin Lizzy but in a way that makes it uniquely The Strokes. Its a pretty solid album from start to finish. I think they have put a lot of thought into each song and album arrangement. Definitely worth picking up.

-I

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Flaming Lips 2011: The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian


  Its a 12ich single put out in limited numbers, roughly 2000. With tracks such as “Is David Bowie Dying?” and “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth Part 2” the music is a psychedelic and trippy as it sounds. Its also a special nod to vinyl fans out there. Each record is and unique blend of colors all designed by Wayne Coyne. He even signed a few of the one he hand inserted himself. Of course if you were lucky enough to be a few few select records store on release day, he hand delivered them. At Good Records in Dallas he greeted fans, signed records (even some that weren’t Lips albums), and posed for photos. The layout is also pretty interesting. Side one is a 33 speed and side two is dedicated  “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth Part 2”   is at a 45 rpm. The entire song sounds like one long jam session they decided to slap on the record. A very nice offering to hold you over until their release of “Heady Nuggs” which hits shelves on April 16 Record Store Day

-I

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Going Out In Style


This is the latest offering from Quincy, MA natives Dropkick Murphys. Its their 7th studio album and their first one in 4 years.

So what exactly does four years get you? Quite a lot actually. According to the band the album tells the story of fictional character Cornelius Larkin on the day of his passing. The band works from that point backwards telling the tales of his life.

For the unfamiliar listener, many of their songs will sound the same. Its easy to think that when almost everyone features a bagpipe or accordion. However, nothing could be further from the truth.  They are back with their classic irish punk folk rock style but its seems a bit tempered than earlier attempts. They are no longer just an average garage band playing for drinks on the weekends. Its a well polish outfit and their music reflects that. I honestly think theres something for everyone here.  The title track is a rip roaring-sing-with-with-your-friends tune and its followed up with the more composed ballad like folk song “Cruel”. Memorial day features a flute that gives the melody an early punk rock feel.

“Take Em Down” is they battle hymn of the average American working hard for a living.  No really, it is. In fact the band decided to sell t shirts based on the song to support the Wisconsin Workers Rights Emergency Response Fund.

In a day in age with the art of songwriting and the crafting of a complete album is going out the window, Going Out In Style shows that its not completely gone. You can see there’s a lot of thought that went into the arrangement, and the album has a certain flow that few bother to acheive nowdays.

All told, I was very pleased with the album as a whole.  It really gets you going from start to finish. My suggestion? When St Patrick’s day rolls around, get some friends together and break out the Jameson and Guinness. This record was made for sharing good times and good drinks with friends.

-I

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Valleys Of Neptune (single)


I picked this 45 up on a whim at a local retailer. Its the first single of Jimi Hendrix latest posthumous album of the same name. Its also backed with “Cat Talking To Me” of which the vocals are provided by well known Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell.

The title track was recorded over several sessions up until just a few months before his death. I can honestly say I was not a fan of this track. It sounded very disjointed and hurried. The beats and lead riffs were all wrong and the Hendrix sounded like he was trying to find himself the entire time. It was like he was on the cusp of trying a new sound but could never take that next step.  He was was tip-toeing back and forth and the ultimate result is a song that holds promise but was unrefined and unfinished.

The second track was a nice change. The immediate difference is that the vocals are not provided by Jimi Hendrix. This track has that classic bluesy Hendrix feel to it. This is not at all surprising since it was recorded in 1967 with original bassist Noel Redding.  Mitchell’s ever so slight accent really pairs well with they lyrics and song. I find myself really getting into it, until the end.  Towards the end it really just falls apart. Hendrix and crew start to experiment with individual solos all at once and revert to what sounds like an average garage band jam session. Again it feels unfinished.  In 1987 additional drum and bass tracks were laid down and incorporated into the mix. Without hearing the original, I couldn’t tell you if it helped, but it certainly needs improvement.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. The tracks are still listenable. I’ll likely replay them in the future when Im in the mood for something a little different. And as for the full album, I’ll save my review for when I review the full album. There are a few tracks I have some high hopes for.

As for the title track, Valleys of Neptune? There’s usually a reason unreleased tracks are just that, unreleased

-I

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