Quarters for the Jukebox

Album — Kensington Heights by The Constantines

The Constantines

The Constantines produce a range of sounds on their fourth full length album, Kensington Heights. The group’s vocals are gravelly, but later soften to a tender tone in the album. The instrumentation is a hybrid rock—with hints of backcountry, traditional, dub-punk, blues and experimental. The first single, “Hard Feelings,” probably isn’t the most accessible track available, but the album offers a surprising range of sounds within its rock confines. Speaking of accessible, this album is definitely not as hard as their previous Shine a Light album, but nonetheless, is full of solid songs. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Do What You Can Do; Hard Feelings; I Will Not Sing a Song; Life or Death; New King; Our Age; Time Can Be Overcome.

Worth listening, if you like: Dinosaur Jr.; Klaxons; The Dears; Spoon; The Arcade Fire; The Walkmen; TV on the Radio; Modest Mouse; Built to Spill; Bruce Springsteen.


Album — The Black Swan by Story of the Year

The Black Swan Cometh
Story of the Year makes a run at staying socially relevant after slumping with their sophomore album, In the Wake of Determination. The anthemic emo-ish-post-grunge group keeps an edgier sound to a point, but adds a bit more melody and pop influences than their last album. The lyrics are also more politically focused, along with some dissertations on humans’ “delusions” of “a privileged position” in the universe.

Several of the songs are structured similarly with the “opening big riff, drop-off for singing, back to loud chords, scream a bit, get quiet, big finish” format. The album is constantly moving from screaming to piano solos to pounding drums to wind blowing to reverb to emo to power chords (often all within a three minute span). This balancing of differences (rock/pop, sing/scream, loud/soft) should attract fans of Page Avenue back to the band, with the potential of a return to radio play garnering some new attention as well. We will just have to wait and see if this particular breed of the genre has any legs left to it in mainstream play. One thing is for certain though—when they head out on tour—bring back New Empire! Also, props for the marketing and graphic design. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Wake Up; The Antidote; We’re Not Gonna Make It.

Worth listening, if you like: Rise Against; Hell is For Heroes; Fightstar; Lostprophets; New Empire; One Minute Silence; Coheed & Cambria; Deftones; Thrice; Used; AFI; Saves the Day.

In the jukebox — April 22

In the jukebox this week (for reasons of appreciation or amusement):

  • G-Unit (single): I Like the Way She Do It. Ayo! This is much better than singing about technology.
  • Flight of the Conchords (album): Flight of the Conchords. “You’re the most beautiful girl … in the room.”
  • Story of the Year (album): The Black Swan. Heavy-handed “emo-inflected-post-grunge.”
  • Billy Bragg (album): Mr. Love & Justice. Compilation album of hits. If you don’t know Bragg, think of a more political, British version of Lyle Lovett.
  • 50 Cent, G-Unit and Whoo Kid (album): Return of the Body Snatchers. I’ll review — first few songs sound better than 50’s last album … plenty of beats fused with gun shot sound effects and lyrics about money and dissing Diddy. Continue reading

Album — Antidotes by Foals

Advantage, Putman ...

Foals are a twitch party band from Oxford, England. The music is poppy electric dance-punk (with roots in math rock) that moves from murky to move-inducing to mixing the two together. The album was recorded in June 2007, but had to be remixed to fit the band’s desired sound. The American version has two extra tracks — “Hummer” and “Mathletics” — compared to the earlier U.K album. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Heavy Water; Big Big Love; Mathletics;

Worth listening, if you like: Bloc Party; The Rapture; Youthmovies; TV on the Radio; Baby Shambles; Razorlight; The Futureheads; Wolf Parade; The Long Blondes; Kenna.

Playlist time!

Ok — I think it’s time to put together a playlist for the arrival of some warm weather. Let’s collaborate. I’m thinking of doing two — one with whatever you’re listening to now, and another for music you want to enjoy this spring with (either via hammock swinging, Saturday driving, lawn darts — whatever it is you do). I say we make them as long as we want.

Who knows? Depending on the input, I might upload the lists as streaming music (or randomly mail out a couple of mix CDs). I’ll start (and make the other playlist a separate post to save space — see below). Click “more” to see my April list. Continue reading

Spring Playlist

Thinking caps on: good music for spring … what do you listen to? Got any seasonal songs? Please add to the list in the comments. I’ve started with a grouping I’d put on for a deck party with friends and food.

  • Who’s to Say by Pat Green
  • Fans by Kings of Leon (I’d be comfortable playing anything from their last album)
  • Me & Mr. Jones by Amy Winehouse
  • Rock and Roll by Stephen Ashbrook
  • Bleeding Love by Leonna Lewis
  • Fire It Up by Modest Mouse
  • Hot Tubbin’ by Ashkon (I have no idea what “yadaduhmean” means, but the song and video are pretty funny. I downloaded.)

    Continue reading

Single — Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan releases a simple, soulful single for his first solo album, “Seeing Things” (available June 10). It’s an interesting choice for a first single as it’s pretty standard folk-pop … not to say that it’s not enjoyable—it is—but it probably won’t be scaling the radio-play charts. It does make me curious if this is a sign of what to expect from the upcoming album—a softer, simpler take on what sounds like Wallflowers’ songs (and I’m ok with that). Check for yourself.

If it were in a movie: montage of old couple doing nice things for each other.

Worth listening, if you like: The Wallflowers; Norah Jones; Amos Lee; Ryan Adams; Sheryl Crow; Michael McDermott; The Jayhawks.