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Wyvern311



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 859

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I recently joined my school newspaper. As such I'm going to be writing articles on a fairly regular basis (hopefully mostly music reviews, since I had so much fun with it this time). I thought I might share what I'm writing with the good people here, and maybe even get a little feedback. (Triple Post FTW)
Edit: Fixed.

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"We are the challengers of the unknown."

Last edited by Wyvern311 on Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:02 pm; edited 2 times in total
Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:08 am View user's profile Send private message
Wyvern311



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 859

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Band: Motion City Soundtrack
Album: Even If It Kills Me
Rating: 6.0 out of 10

Within the music industry (and life in general) maturity is something that is looked upon with respect as an improvement. The mature band has grown to better utilize each instrument, has superior arrangements, and more developed lyrics. So, when I heard that Motion City Soundtrack’s third album “Even If It Kills Me” showed a maturing for the band I was excited. Surely, if their previous album “Commit This To Memory” was full of tracks that I caught myself humming two years later, this mature Motion City Soundtrack would deliver a phenomenal album. Unfortunately, not all maturities are improvements.

The opener on “Even If” is a great example of the qualities that made Motion City Soundtrack famous and their previous albums captivating. The track, “Fell In Love Without You” starts with a characteristic synth solo and is quickly followed by the fast-paced guitar and vocals that put Motion City Soundtrack soundly within the Power Pop/Punk Pop genre. Following the opener, come two of the albums stronger attempts. “This Is For Real,” a reference to frontman Justin Pierre’s struggles with alcohol and drug abuse (“This time I mean it. I’m coming clean, please don’t let go.”), offers a catchy chorus, well placed synth, and clever lyrics. Although it starts slow, “It Had To Be You” quickly builds to the chorus and the perfectly placed “oohh” from the backup vocals.

If the rest of the album had followed the trend that was set by the first three tracks,
“Even If” would have been the truly successful mature album. However, all the things that made those first tracks good disappeared and returned only alone or in pairs throughout the rest of the album. The clever lyrics appear again on “Broken Heart” but fail to make the song memorable without the help of pop hooks or synth solos that mark Motion City Soundtrack’s best tracks. “Antonia” has the album’s best synth but feels held back by the lyrics and lack of strong guitar.

The rest of the tracks are mundane and slide from song to song without any passion or energy, the two things that Motion City Soundtrack Seems to have traded for maturity. Both acoustic guitar and piano (both new editions for the band) find their way into a couple of the songs but they are average additions to lackluster songs. This is best noted on “The Conversation” which is reminiscent of Ben Folds in its use of piano and vocals, but misses the complexities of a Ben Folds good song and almost longs for the guitar, drums, and synth that make a good Motion City Soundtrack song.

While maturity may be an improvement for most, if “Even If It Kills Me” is a mature Motion City Soundtrack, I hope they get back to their energized, quirky, Power Pop immature selves again.

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"We are the challengers of the unknown."

Last edited by Wyvern311 on Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:17 am; edited 1 time in total
Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:12 am View user's profile Send private message
Wyvern311



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 859

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Band: Spoon
Album: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Rating: 9.1 out of 10

If you’ve ever listened to Spoon before it is clear from the start of Ga Ga that you are listening to the same old Spoon but they’ve brought something new with them. And as usual it’s something great.

Ga Ga truly shows off the wide range of songs Spoon can brilliantly pull off. From the opener “Don’t Make Me A Target” to the album’s oddest track “The Ghost Of You Lingers” to the first single “The Underdog” almost every track on Ga Ga offers something that is hard not to enjoy.

“Don’t Make Me A Target” makes an excellent opener. Full of energy, Britt Daniel repeatedly pleads “Don’t make me a target” while the song builds until it overflows into what sounds like a well trimmed jam session. This is followed by “The Ghost Of You Lingers” easily the most unique track on Ga Ga. “The Ghost Of You Lingers” is hauntingly eerie, maintaining a single keyboard riff as background for Daniel’s vocals which have been heavily distorted by an echo effect, and increasingly overlap in mounting tension.

Spoon is often considered minimalist in its arrangements. However, this doesn’t mean that the songs are lacking as much as it means that Spoon is able to completely fill out a song with much less than their peers. “Don’t You Evah” and “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case” are great examples of this. Both tracks feature sparse lyrics, and little more than some simple (but catchy) guitar, drums, and some well timed clapping. And both tracks are successful.

Despite the minimalist tendencies throughout Ga Ga, there is a surprising use of sounds not normally expected from an indie rock band. Clapping, tambourines, and maracas are used effectively throughout the whole album, as they have in Spoon’s previous work. As recent addition “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “The Underdog” both use brass instruments extremely well to make the two upbeat songs.

Being just under 40 minutes long (only one of the ten tracks is over three minutes), Ga Ga doesn’t last long but is memorable and ends with two of the strongest tracks. “Finer Feelings” driven by a combination of drums and clapping, stays hopeful “Sometimes I think that I'll find a love/ One that's gonna change my heart/ I'll find it in Commercial Appeal/ And then this heartache'll get chased away" while the ultimate track, “Black Like Me,” is a melancholy finish for the album.

As with Spoon’s previous efforts, Ga Ga is full of pop like hooks and catchy lyrics yet remains creative and lively enough that its appeal continues to grow with repeated listens.

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"We are the challengers of the unknown."
Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:16 am View user's profile Send private message
Laughing Man



Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 228
Location: Korean countryside

Post Re: Newspaper Articles Reply with quote
Sorry to be a Grammar Nazi, but ...

Wyvern311 wrote:
I recently joined my school newspaper. As such I'm going to be writing articles on a fairly regular basis (hopefully mostly music reviews, since I had so much fun with it this time). I thought I might share what I'm writing with the good people here, and maybe even get a little feedback. (Triple Post FTW)

that can't slide.
Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:21 pm View user's profile Send private message
Wyvern311



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 859

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Band: The Rocket Summer
Album: Do You Feel
Rating: 8.7 out of 10
If there were one person who exemplified power pop, that person would have to be Bryce Avery. As front-man, and “everything else-man” of The Rocket Summer, Avery does a stellar job writing as well as playing everything from the drums to the keyboard in the recording process. Not to mention the vocals; which are almost as distinctive to The Rocket Summer as the consistently upbeat nature of their songs.
“Break it out / Get it all out
and start freaking out
Just so we can / Make it out
Get off your feet and
Make this count.”
From its first chords, “Break It Out” displays the mood that is echoed throughout all of Do You Feel. The drumming is simple but fitting. The guitar, in perfect pop fashion, is catchy and works to back up Avery’s high-pitched vocals, which make the song. In the same way that Avery could be seen as the power-pop avatar the chorus of “Break It Out” (seen above) could easily be the anthem of the genre. Following in the mood set by the opener, “So Much Love” starts with just a piano and vocals, but quickly builds to a full band, even adding a saxophone – possibly the only instrument on the album Avery himself isn’t playing.
This energy continues to pervade the first half of the album, including the two best songs, “Save” and “High Life Scenery”. Containing some excellent piano work and emotional vocals, both songs also boast a chorus that begs to be sung along with. “Save” is particularly impressive as its lyrics border on depressing – “I guess I am blessed / But sometimes it’s just hard to see it.” – yet it remains solidly within the realm of pop.
Unfortunately the album is almost split in half. The first six songs on the album are almost overflowing with contagious energy, it takes a noticeable effort to sit still without bopping ones head, tapping a foot, or dropping all pretense standing up and dancing. However, Avery was sprinting, and by the time the second half of the album is reached he is running low on energy. At points he gets it back: both “Hold It Up” and “Colors” are great tracks. But the rest of the second half is populated with songs that are lackluster and trying to capture the hooks and energy that come so naturally on The Rocket Summer’s best songs.
Even with the failings of the second half, Do You Feel is a respectable album. Most the tracks contain a power that’s hard to deny and melodies that I’ll find myself humming days later. It’s the energy, the essence of power pop, which will keep me listening to this album and has me excited to see The Rocket Summer live this Wednesday.

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Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:48 am View user's profile Send private message
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