Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma has written 2 posts for Lost In The Sound

Review: City and Colour – Little Hell

City and Colour – Little Hell

Released: June 7, 2011
Label: Dine Alone Records
Purchase: iTunes | Insound | Amazon

Recorded to tape in a church sans-computers and fancy recording booths is Dallas Green’s third studio album “Little Hell”, a beautiful record that changes up Green’s pure man-and-guitar sound, yet still maintains the unique City and Colour feel that listeners have grown to love.

Since his debut, the singer-songwriter has grown both musically and creatively. Little Hell is a true indicator of said growth; mixing up the track list with full band rock songs, trademark acoustic songs, and introducing synths and strings to diversify the instrumentals. It’s difficult to describe Little Hell accurately, as it doesn’t fit into one specific genre like Bring Me Your Love may have; however, each song is sung sincerely, and crafted with the utmost care.

The signature minimalist acoustic sound is not all lost in Little Hell, as “Silver and Gold” and “Northern Wind” primarily consist of just the man and his guitar, with the latter being a heart-on-sleeve song taking roots fromBring Me Your Love’s “The Girl”.

“Whether a natural disaster ripped it from it’s foundation
Or an economic tragedy tore apart it’s family
They’re all empty.”

“Natural Disaster” is a full band song that tackles the problems in our world, created by “natural disaster(s)” and “economic traged(ies)”. Given the subject, it’s surprising this song does not drip with melancholy. Regardless, this imagery-ridden track is one of Little Hell’s standouts.

Title track “Little Hell” begins with a riff bearing slight resemblance to those of Death Cab for Cutie. “Will we get out of this little hell?” is a stunning end to the song with Green’s smooth, effortless vocals and slow tempo band instrumental.

“Weightless” is a departure from Green’s more acoustic tracks, introducing an indie rock feel driven by the drumbeat rather than guitar. Interestingly, it works. Green’s distinct voice does not lose its clarity when singing loudly and contrasts unusually well with the dirty, flange-y guitar riffs.

Little Hell is by all means an emotional ride. “Hope For Now” concludes the record, beginning with a soft acoustic sound before the lyrics crescendo the song into a full band, deep guitar blasting second half with Green replying to “If I could sing one song and it could save someone’s life”, chanting “Then I would sing, all that I could sing”. This is a song that you truly feel.

Little Hell is not quite a complete transformation of one-man band City and Colour, but it is a work that reflects the change Dallas Green has gone through in his life since Sometimes. The fact Little Hell did not inherit an acoustic sound may disappoint some; however, Green is at a new stage in his career, in his life, and it is no surprise that his music changes accordingly. What hasn’t changed though, is Green’s second-to-none voice and musical talent that merits him to being one of the best singer-songwriters alive.


Standout Tracks: “Hope For Now”, “Little Hell”, “Natural Disaster”, and “The Grand Optimist”

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.