Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm Still Here. Are You?

So I'm not sure if anyone actually comes to this site without me posting it to Facebook, Twitter, etc, but here's an update anyway.

I've been focusing my blogging on my other site Malta-Media, where I write about my and my wife's travels and adventures while living in Malta for the year. But, more importantly to this site, I was picked up as an album reviewer for the prominent music site Here are the reviews that I've done so far.

Theophilus London - Lovers Holiday e.p.
Girl Talk - All Day
Various Artists - Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers

There's tons of great music out right now and since I don't get to write about everything that I want to at OKP, I'll start to post up some loose thoughts and recommendations here. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


You have probably noticed that I've been pretty inactive on this blog. Nonetheless, I would be remiss to not announce Weekly Record Review's TOP 10 Albums of 2010.

But first...

Stinkers of 2010

MGMT - Congratulations
Another middle finger to the fans like this could cost them what was a promising career.

Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
In three albums they've gone from excellent to middling to execrable. 

The New Pornographers - Together
Much as I hate to put them here, it's been quite a while since they've done anything worth repeated listening.

The Hold Steady
Who would have thought losing a keyboard player would be such a major loss?

Runners Uppers of 2010

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Strong songs (except "Chase Scene." Ugh.) but lacks the cohesive feel of previous albums.

The Walkmen - Lisbon
Just started listening to this one so it's not fully digested, but I really like it. (how's that for honest?)

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
A little bloated and lacking the killer songs that make "Funeral" essential, but solid nonetheless.

Girl Talk - All Day
Doesn't quite have the same punch as the previous two smush-ups. Switched up the formula a little bit not for the betterment, imo.

OK Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Crazycool vidoes overshadowed a very solid album.

The Roots - How I Got Over
The Roots leave the angsty paranoid sounds of their last two albums for much more placid waters.

TOP 10 of 2010

10. Drummer - Feel Good Together

Five drummers form a band. No it's not a joke, it's Drummer featuring five skin-beaters who decided to form a band. The most prominent is from The Black Keys and here his side gig outshines his main one. Though it seems like no one else is paying attention.

09. Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Still looking for your fix of hipster rock/dance/pop after MGMT's middling 'Congratulations?' Fellow Brooklynites deliver big time on their sophomore release with rhythm-heavy, synth-soaked songs. 

08. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndriod

Songstress mixes every musical spice in the cupboard on her debut album. Blending classical, jazz, soul, r&b, funk, psych-rock with sheer talent, she could be poised for big things in the future.

07. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt

The newest "new Dylan," The Tallest Man On Earth writes sometimes sober, sometimes jaunty acoustic songs. Nasally voice can take some getting used to, but they probably said the same thing about Dylan.

06. The Bird and the Bee - Interpreting the Masters Vol. 1 - A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

I wouldn't count myself as a fan of 80's stalwarts Hall & Oates, but The Bird and The Bee update these 80's pop gems for the 20th century without any schlock. Eminently listenable with a Zero 7-type feel.
05. Hot Chip - One Life Stand

English electropopers/nerds drop another round of great dance songs. Not much of a depart from 2008's terrific "One Life Stand," but maybe a tad more upbeat and cleaner in sound.

04. Toro Y Moi - Causers of This

Part of the recent "Chillwave" movement that I've mostly ignored (maybe to my detriment), Toro creates reverb laden soundscapes as much as he writes songs. Bonus points for sporting this throwback nearly identical to mine.

 03. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

As lyrically on point as ever, "one half of the Outkast" dropped a funk soaked rap album sure to keep the heads bobbing and trunks rattling.Bonus points for using the talkbox instead of autotune.

 02. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The years most talked about album, Kanye's opus is musically soaring and lyrically intimate. While it's really not leaps and bounds better than his previous work, the emotive force behind it is really what has everyone talking and listening.

 01. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Without messing with the formula, James Murphy reunites the  soundsystem to deliver another stellar album full of revealing lyrics and groovable, uh, grooves. Mixes 90's quiet/loud dynamics with clinical disco beats. Sadly, Murphy says that this will probably be their last studio album. Sad, sad news but at least they go out being number 1.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Top Albums of the Beginning of the 21st Century - Part I

So this post was started quite some time ago, but events conspired to delay it. Finally though, it has reached completion. Please enjoy the Top Albums of the Beginning of the 21st Century.

When deciding on the criteria for such a list, the first question one must ask is whether to look at each album via the lens of presentism or not. We've worked through this intellectual conundrum by simply ignoring it. Enjoy, and please let me here some feedback.

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind

It may be a bit ironic to start a list of the 2000's with a band who reached their artistic highpoint in the 1980's, but such is U2. And thought it may be one of the more personal choices on this list, ATYCLB is really a stunning album by a band that has created some of the greatest pop/rock music of all time.

After the sub-par 1990's releases of Zooropa and Pop, All That You Can't Leave Behind' marked the return of a more traditional U2 style led by the undeniable singles 'Beautiful Day,' 'Elevation,' 'Walk On' and 'Stuck In a Moment..." Perhaps the most overlooked song on this album is the bands moving ode to 'New York.'

Unfortunately, U2 wasn't able to retain this high level of song writing and the remainder of the decade brought us the craptastic How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, and the slightly less worse 2009 offering, No Line On The Horizon. But that is one of the beautiful things about music: No matter how bad something you put out is, it cannot mar your greater work.

Runner Up - Outkast - Stankonia

Honorable Mention:
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Common - Like Water for Chocolate
Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antartica

The Strokes - Is This It?

If rock n' roll has a place where it retreats and recovers from its excesses, it's surely the garage (at least metaphorically). That is where The Strokes went to record their debut Is This It? which arrived just in the nick of time to wash away post-alternative detritus like Creed, Kid Rock and Limp Bizket, which had been infesting the airwaves.

Is This It? borrowed heavily on the back-to-basics garage sound that has been with rock since the 1960's, and it received some (unfair?) criticism for leaning on the sounds of The Velvet Underground and Television. But what is rock but reinventing things that were done before? Besides, Julian Casablanca's lyrics were at their circuitous best and the band was metronome tight.

The Strokes were never able to reach this level of success again, and though the recent efforts of Casablanca, Albert Hammond Jr., Nikolai Fraitur, Fabrizio Moretti are worth checking out, they will never come close to reaching the immediacy and importance of Is This It?. Modern indie owes more to The Strokes and this album than it would care to admit, but the fact that they are a source of such debate among music aficionado's is probably a good sign of the albums importance 8 years later.

Runner Up - White Stripes - White Blood Cells

Honorable Mention:
Incubus - Morning View
Jay-Z - Blueprint
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World

Blackalicous - Blazing Arrow

Wow, 2002 was a good year for music. Spoon, Wilco, The Roots, Beck, Eminem, The Flaming Lips, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Atmosphere all had offerings which were some of the best of their careers. And while some of those albums have aged for better or worse, Blackalicious' second LP remains a timeless classic, one that will probably never be matched by it's creators. Producer/DJ Chief Xcel incorporated funk, r&b, rap, and rock with such seamlessness that nearly anyone who heard it was immediately drawn in. Rapper Gift of Gab crafted lyrics so dense yet clear that his message, whether verbally abusing other m.c.'s or ruminating on the beauty of the world, is always moving and unmistakable.

The sequencing on this album is impeccably arranged with each song melding into the next, sometimes in a new track, but often continuing in the same one. By my count the albums 17 tracks actually contain 23 songs. Outkast have been referred to as The Beatles of Hip Hop, but this album is surely the genre's version of Abbey Road.

Runner Up: - The Roots - Phrenology

Honorable Mention:
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
Spoon - Kill The Moonlight

Postal Service - Give Up

This is an album that changed peoples lives. And no matter how much you argue it, most people would argue that Ben Gibbard's work here trumps anything that he's done with Death Cab For Cutie. There's are four major elements to this album that all just complement and balance each other perfectly:  Gibbard's mournful (and sometime flat-out depressing) lyrics, his placid delivery balanced by Jimmy Tamborello's equally mournful strings which are in turn countered by his bouncing, blippy beats.

Part of the genius of Ben Gibbard is to paint clear pictures with his lyrics and average or unique events (visiting Washington, D.C., surviving a nuclear winter) universally relatable to the listener. In this writers opinion, this album hasn't aged very well, and that may be partly due to the lack of any kind of a follow up by the impromptu group. They've publicly stated that they have no plans to release another album, which is a shame. If they did and were able to recreate the magic on 'Give Up,' they could change even more lives.

Runner Up - Broken Social Scene - s/t

Honorable Mention:
Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Jay-Z - The Black Album
White Stripes - Elephant

Arcade Fire - Funeral

2004 was another great year for music, and if not for the debut from Arcade Fire, it would have been a tough call. Epic to the point of being theatrical and layered to the level of being orchestral, Funeral is such a powerful album that it is almost a watershed moment in 'indie rock.' There is before Funeral, and there is after it.

The stirring opening of Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) turns into a steady charge that slowly builds and never lets go. Every song contains it's own unique energy, like different movements of a symphony, and they are each filled with interesting twists and turns. But on Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), the band unleashes a tsunami of sound and avalanche of emotion, clearly declaring that song the pinnacle of the album.

Funeral is deep with subtext stemming from some personal losses in the band and a disquieting ethos of the time. But despite all of the consternation over adulthood vs. childhood, communal reliance vs. isolation, love vs. loss, there remains a sense of positivity. This album is like feeling down from some kicks that life inevitably gives then remembering that there is always something bigger.

Runner Up - Kanye West - College Dropout

Honorable Mention:
Foreign Exchange - Connected
Feist - Let It Die
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke

 Stay tuned for Part II and let me know what albums I've missed!

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Two Cent(ence Reviews)

MGMT's album 'Congratulations' lacks anything approaching the holy triumvirate of Kids, Time to Pretend and Electric Feel. Is it the big middle finger we all should have seen coming when their followup to Oracular Specatular was Metanoia?

'Together' lacks the "power" in the power-pop that The New Pornographers previously excelled at. Nico Case is great, but in the context of the N.P.'s she's better utilized as a foil for A.C. Newman than as the centerpiece.

While 'World Sick' is world class, I'm not sure the rest of Broken Social Scene's new 'Forgiveness Rock Record' measures up to that song or their previous two l.p.'s. This one still needs some time to grow on me.

Lost in all the hubbub of owning the internet earlier this year, OK Go released a really good album in 'Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky.' I also had to miss this show when they came to D.C. but at least I got to see them on Colbert. (Ok, three versions of the same song may be excessive, but just check out the rest of the album.)

I have no idea how I heard of them but somehow but I ended up with Drummer's 'Feel Good Together' in my digital music library. Made up of all Ohio musicians, including the Black Key's drummer (bah-dum) on bass, the album is definitely a rhythm driven rock record, punctuated equally by guitars and synths.


Welcome me to the world of blogging, but more importantly welcome to you for visiting my music blog. Hopefully, you'll be back.