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Review: Castlecomer – “Danny’s Den”

Castlecomer – Danny’s Den

Castlecomer Album

Released: March 30, 2012
Purchase: iTunes

Forming in late 2010, Castlecomer finally unveiled their debut release on March 30th, 2012 and did not disappoint. Armed with their high-energy shows, combined with their flawless five part harmonies, Castlecomer are one of the most exciting indie bands that Australia has to offer.

Castlecomer began their journey as a band by posting videos of both original songs and covers on YouTube including Mumford and Son’s The Cave, and Passion Pit’s Take A Walk. These fantastic videos led to fans around wondering, and near begging them to release an album.

On March 30th Castlecomer finally released their six song EP entitled, Danny’s Den. Tracks include songs that are found on their YouTube channel, as well as songs that have not been heard before. The EP is not what was first expected, as on YouTube all of the songs were played acoustically with a strong focus on the harmonies, however on the album there is a lot more use of electric guitars and drums, but this does not take away from their harmonic melodies. Even though it was different to what I was accustomed to, it was still successful, selling 1,200 hard copies, and 1000 digital copies. These five boys from Sydney are starting to make a name for themselves.

Fans, much like me, are eagerly waiting the next EP to be released, as they have only posted more covers such as Coldplay’s Till Kingdom Come and The Lumineers Ho Hey. But they haven’t released any new material, so no one knows what to expect. Luckily there shouldn’t be a long wait as they have already finished the recording for the second EP, and it is due for release sometime in early 2013. If you enjoy indie folk bands with spot on harmonies, Castlecomer is a band to look out for. Check out their Facebook and YouTube pages!


Stream: Passion Pit – Gossamer

It’s been a long wait for Passion Pit fans everywhere for the indie outfit’s follow-up to 2009’s Manners. Today, NPR’s First Listen gives us a full stream of Gossamer, which you can listen to below. You can probably imagine how difficult it is to top their breakthrough debut record, but somehow, the group manages to do so by being a little more reflective, a little less circumspect in their songwriting, and a whole lot more daring. Gossamer will see its official release on July 24th and if you preorder the record  on iTunes now, you’ll receive bonus material that won’t be available anywhere else.


Listen: Passion Pit – “I’ll Be Alright”

For Gossamer second single “I’ll Be Alright”, Passion Pit goes absolutely all out with maximalistic production and high-tempo, high-pitch vocals from Michael Angelakos. Like some of the main standouts from Manners, Angelakos’s falsetto is on full blast with his melodies anchoring the track and then his lyrics playing second fiddle. But the beauty of “I’ll Be Alright” is that while the song sounds extremely happy and summery, Angelakos discusses his personal and emotional troubles; his first line says it all: “Can you remember ever having any fun?/ Cause when it’s all said and done I always believed we were/ But now I’m not so sure.” What sounds bubbly on the surface has a whole lot more bubbling underneath. Give it a listen below and Gossamer will be available on July 24th through Columbia Records.

Listen: Passion Pit – “Take A Walk”

To call Passion Pit‘s forthcoming album Gossamer a highly anticipated release wouldn’t even be doing it justice. Fans of the band’s infectious electropop sound have all been eagerly awaiting new music from Michael Angelakos and company since the release of Manners in 2009. And finally, after quite a number of delays and false rumors, we have new music from the indie darlings. Below, you can listen to the first single, “Take A Walk”. Surprisingly, the song doesn’t feature the falsetto singing we’ve come to expect from Passion Pit, but the song is still insanely infectious and fun. Gossamer will be released on July 24th via Columbia.

Tokyo Police Club Cover Jimmy Eat World

Tokyo Police Club finished the second of ten 10-hour long studio sessions yesterday, recording a electric-infused cover of Jimmy Eat World‘s pop-punk hit “Sweetness”. Joined by Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, the Ontario indie rock outfit don’t really make too many changes to the song aside from a brief electro interlude near the end. You can check out “Sweetness” below.

For the next part of the ten-song series, the band will be recording a cover of “Under Control” by The Strokes.

12 Good Looking Album Artworks (Post-2000)

Album artwork made its first appearance in 1938, when Alex Steinweiss introduced artwork over the previously, plainly labeled covers. This “invention” provided every album with its own unique identity and images that fans could associate their music with. When we think of an album, the first thing that often comes to mind is the cover; it’s become a peripheral of music that no album, EP, or single can do without, remaining with us even in the digital format.

The following twelve album artworks are not ranked in any particular order.

Fall Out BoyInfinity On High

The flying sheep and dream-like atmosphere are this cover’s best features. The artwork has depth and gives you plenty to look at, especially the various contrasts that coexist (moon/wall and crow/wall with light and dark values, closet interior/wall with temperature values). The artwork just has a unique dream feel.

Brand NewDeja Entendu

I have no idea why the astronaut is there, but this cover just looks, to put it simply, cool. Contrasting temperatures result in an odd feel that absolutely fits Brand New’s distinct rock sound. This feel is further expressed by the textures of the water and sky.

Death Cab For CutieNarrow Stairs

No stairs here to reflect the album title, but the cover looks fantastic nonetheless. The multi-hued red, green and blue colored strips of paper being layered have great visual texture and the fact that no two strips share the same tone (more or less) gives this cover a lot of interest.

Radiohead – In Rainbows

This pop art styled cover designed by Stanley Donwood, who has done every Radiohead artwork since 1994, looks like something created digitally when in fact it (surprisingly) isn’t. It features a galaxy photograph layered with paint and interesting type that looks simple and fits Radiohead’s style of experimental music. The variety of color also serves to reflect the album title itself.

MGMT – Congratulations

‘Psychedelic’ just about sums up this cover. Odd colors, an i-don’t-know-what’s-going-on scene, and the cartoony style makes the cover seem like it’s something you’d see in a weird dream or trip (drugs are bad for you, kids).

Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3

Clean cover, with something other than the generic rapper’s face or body photograph. From a distance, the red bars have strong dominance and clearly indicate the cover is of the 3rd installation of Jay-Z’s ‘Blueprint’ records. Closer up you notice the objects piled up which adds complexity and depth.

Delphic – Acolyte

The artwork is absolutely amazing. Great photo-manipulation of the band members and the smoke they fade into. It’s something you definitely won’t mind looking at on your ipod.The background may be a tad simple when the complex photomanip is placed on top, but the Delphic typeface works to ease the  combination.

Jimmy Eat World – Chase This Light

Beautiful photograph with vibrant colors, giving insight to what the music itself is like. Nothing really much to say, just a wonderful looking cover.

The Killers – Hot Fuss

Smoooth. A soft blue dominates the cover (plus hints of red), and gives off a fuzzy, mellow feel. The Killers’ logo typeface fits well too, although I’m not sure I can say the same for the buildings lining the bottom…

Kanye West – Graduation

The cartoon style of this artwork by Takashi Murakami is great and the colors are extremely eye-catching. The illustration features West in a teddy-bear form (known as “Dropout Bear”, referencing an earlier record) being shot out of a colorful, vectorized who-knows-what. This is one creative rap album cover that sets it apart from nearly every other.

Passion Pit – Manners

Green paint, white text. What else do you really need?

Pendulum – Immersion

The feel of this cover is great. This artwork by Polish artist Valp is mysterious and just seems to fit the sound of Immersion. The colors are great, using a majority of cool green and blue while adding hints of warmer purple and red to increase interest. There is just so much going on here that some may not notice all the subtle elements of the art from a quick glance or from their music player screens.

Review: Starfucker – Reptilians

Starfucker – Reptilians

Released: March 8, 2011
Label: Polyvinyl Record Co.
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

What’s in a name? Unfortunately, a lot; something Portland indie-eletronic rockers Starfucker can certainly attest to. Since forming under the moniker Starfucker, the band has rotated between the more appropriate STRFKR, PYRAMID, and finally, Pyramiddd. What do all of these names have in common? Not very much to be honest, and for that reason, the incredibly erratic name changes have confused fans hoping to catch the band’s stunning live shows. Perhaps on yet another whim, the band finally decided to change back to the notorious Starfucker, keeping STRFKR reserved for all-age venues.

As we all know, there is more to a band than their name, but the hype and notoriety surrounding Starfucker’s choice of names can certainly be accredited as catalysts in the band’s three short and promising years of existence. Reptilians is a capable, ambitious effort to meet the hype and match the expectations of fans after a slightly disappointing debut. Where the self-titled Starfucker was highly inconsistent and spotty, Reptilians is a conscious effort by the band to produce the solid pop songs that they always had the potential to.

Opening track “Born” blurs genres, beginning the journey that is Reptilians. Straying somewhere between acoustic and electronic, “Born” feels like a meeting between Death Cab For Cutie and Passion Pit – a very fruitful meeting at that. “Julius” keeps up the pace, featuring layers and layers of instrumentation. Underneath it all is a simple, throbbing bass line, covered with glittering synth lines and finally, Joshua Hodge’s distinctive, spacey falsetto.

Much of the album is built with a similar blueprint in mind. Reptilians engulfs the listener with its waves of fast-paced, driving melodies and sweeping synth riffs. There is something inherently fun about a solid, chipper synth tune and Starfucker certainly knows this; for the most part, they excel at creating ridiculously catchy dance tunes. “Mystery Cloud”, the second single from the album, is centered on a dancy, repetitive riff, carrying the tune from start to finish.

Further down the tracklisting lies “The White Of Noon”, one of the best songs on the album, but could also be described as the only song on the album or even worse, the band’s entire discography. As Reptilians drags on, the sounds begin to merge together, with no real distinguishing factor between them. Over the course of the album, the mishaps on their self-titled album begin to rear their heads again. While Reptilians is more consistent than the former, the band still seems to struggle to pull together an entire album of solid music.

This is not to say, however, that Reptilians is a bad album or that Starfucker is not creative enough to create a good album – both of these opinions lie on polar ends of the spectrum. Instead, Starfucker lies somewhere in between “an instant classic” and “average”. When considered individually, many songs from Reptilians, such as “The White Of Noon”, debut single “Julius”, and the more relaxed “Mona Vegas”, provide brilliant lapses into a jaunty, atmospheric escape of sound.

For the most part, there is nothing intrinsically new on this album that hasn’t been already done. Starfucker, ironically, find themselves trapped in a genre they helped to father, surrounded by the similar-soundingPassion Pit and MGMT. I, however, am not complaining. This is catchy, spacey, and overly fun synth rock. This is party music to live your life to. Or, if you are more of a partier, this is lively music to party to. Either way, you’ll have a good time.


Standout Tracks: “Julius”, “Death as a Fetish”, “The White Of Noon”, and “Mona Vegas”

New Passion Pit, The Antlers, and Andrew Bird Thanks To American Express

You don’t have to be a fan of commercial jingles to appreciate American Express’s ongoing ZYNC campaign. Passion Pit, The Antlers, and Andrew Bird have all recorded new tracks, which can be listened to below or downloaded from the American Express Facebook page.

Passion Pit – All These Trees

The Antlers – Bird Bank

Andrew Bird – Manny’s Montage

Michael Cera Joins Mister Heavenly

Actor Michael Cera has joined recently-signed Sup Pop band Mister Heavenly as their bass player on the band’s current tour supporting Passion Pit.

Review: Chiddy Bang – The Preview

Chiddy Bang – The Preview

Released: October 12, 2010
Label: EMI
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

The Preview is exactly what it is packaged as: a preview. Standing as a placeholder for the duo’s upcoming debut album The Swelly LifeThe Preview is an eight-track album: a perfect sampler of the group’s wide musical palette. For someone who may be new to the group’s music, this record is a perfect starting point, documenting their meteoric rise to fame.

“The main purpose of this release is to give our fans some new music while we finish recording our debut album, The Swelly Life. It’s called The Preview because it gives listeners a glimpse of what’s to come onSwelly,” says Xaphoon Jones.

The Preview features three tracks from the duo’s first mixtape, The Swelly Express, which was highly received and led to the group’s record deal with EMI. “Truth” features a sample from Passion Pit’s “Better Things”, “Opposite Of Adults” features MGMT’s “Kids”, and “All Things Go” samples Sufjan Stevens’s “Chicago”.

“Nothing On We” combines Chiddy’s clever, yet contemplative rhymes with the signature electronic beat from Xaphoon. Chiddy’s singing in the hook, oddly, slightly resembles Akon’s “Sorry, Blame It On Me” and features a shout out to Kanye West and his G.O.O.D Music record label with the line “And it isn’t what it seems / So just like Yeezy, we steady getting out our dreams / That’s G.O.O.D.”

Seventh track “Bad Day” samples the heartfelt Darwin Deez and while Chiddy’s verses are new, the remix itself is not. Xaphoon previously remixed the track on The Xaphoon Jones Mixtape Vol. 1, his first mixtape release. Serving as a perfect example of Xaphoon’s production talents, the synthesizer buzzing in the background is a great addition and keeps the track bouncing along at a fast pace. Chiddy’s rapping talents are also highlighted when clever lines such as “Happiness is a warm gun / Living fully loaded” are juxtaposed with somber reflections on how success has changed some of his relationships.

The record, much like the rest of the group’s work, is a fun, carefree listening experience. It should be taken into account that The Preview should be listened to and judged not as an album, but as a sampler of the band’s upcoming debut release. For this very reason, this review is not as thorough and has no actual score.The Preview serves as a perfect preview (how ironic, huh?) to the duo’s 2011 release and should be enough to tide old fans over, as well as win over new ones.


Standout Tracks: “Opposite of Adults”, “Bad Day (feat. Darwin Deez)”