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Track Reviews

This category contains 19 posts

Single: The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”

Track: “Under Cover Of Darkness”
Artist: The Strokes
Release Date: February 9, 2011
Label: RCA / Rough Trade

“Under Cover Of Darkness”, the lead single from The Strokes‘ upcoming record Angles, practically cries out ‘classic Strokes’ and ‘return to form.’ Simply put, this new song sounds like The Strokes: the tinny drum sound, the quick, sharp, layered guitar lines, the classic Julian chorus, and the boundless energy that lured fans in ten years ago (yes, it really has been ten years). “Under Cover Of Darkness” is simple yet bold, going back to the basics to collect what works for the band and adapting these facets for a more modern sound, resulting in something like a hybrid between “You Only Live Once” and “Last Nite”. The result is rather magnificent; the music is care-free and comfortable, but it is clear that the band has been meticulous with their song craft. Julian wails, “I’ll wait for you / Will you wait for me, too?” Of course we will. 

“Under Cover Of Darkness” is from Angles, out March 21st via RCA / Rough Trade.

MP3: The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”

Rating: 8/10

Single: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Belong”

Track: “Belong”
Artist: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Label: Slumberland Records

“Belong”, the title track and second single from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s, opens with a rather relaxed, sweet sound, before catching the listener off-guard and launching into a heavily distorted and hard-hitting guitar riff at around the fifteen second mark. This certainly isn’t the same Pains that we saw on their self-titled debut; the guitars are heavier, the drums rattle louder, and the band sounds bolder. The change in sound can be attributed to the new production team of Flood and Alan Moulder, the same team that crafted The Smashing Pumpkins‘ classics, explaining the huge distortion that appears on the track. While “Belong” may not have the same catchiness as past Pains tracks, it carries a more defined and confident sound, a markedly positive step forward for the band.

“Belong” is from Belong, out March 29, 2011 via Slumberland Records.

Rating: 8/10

Single: Yellowcard – “For You, and Your Denial”

Track: “For You, and Your Denial”
Artist: Yellowcard
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Label: Hopeless Records

After a 2 year hiatus from music, pop-punk/alternative band Yellowcard announced late last year that they have been working on a new album, which will be their first album released since 2007’s Paper Walls. A certain amount of excitement and hype has surrounded Yellowcard’s latest release, and last month they gave us a taste of what to expect with their single “For You, and Your Denial.” Taking us back to the early 2000’s, “For You, and Your Denial” reminds every Yellowcard fan out there what got them into the band in the first place. Opening with a classic fiddle intro, Yellowcard shows that they haven’t missed a beat as they deliver their trademark pop-punk sound in glorious fashion, taking us all back to a lighter days of jamming Ocean Avenue all summer long. Vocalist, Ryan Key’s vocals are on par with everything Yellowcard has released and the guitar hooks of Key and lead guitarist, Ryan Mendez are as infectious as ever. Drummer, Longineu W. Parsons III also unleashes an impressive performance, rounding out the track and leaving the listener smiling as this release marks Yellowcard’s imminent return to power.

“For You, and Your Denial” is from When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, out March 22, 2011 via Hopeless Records.

Listen: Via Yellowcard’s Myspace

Rating: 8.5/10

Track: XV – “SmallVille (Prod. J. Cole)”

Track: “SmallVille (Prod. J. Cole)”
Artist: XV
Release Date: January 28, 2011
Label: Warner Bros. Records and Roc Nation

Recent Warner Bros. signee XV dropped his latest track “SmallVille” a few days ago, collaborating with fellow rapper J. Cole. While Cole doesn’t grace us with a new verse, he crafts a superb track as producer, sampling The Smashing Pumpkins‘ “To Forgive”. Needless to say, XV goes in on the track, dropping clever line after clever line – “They’ll never steal my dreams like Leo DiCaprio.” – all while chronicling his relatively meteoric rise to fame. I haven’t watched the TV show Smallville, so I’m not entirely sure how the track relates, but Vizzy’s superhero references are smooth over J. Cole’s mellow, bass-heavy beat, taking the artistic liberty to add superhero inspired rhymes to the sampled chorus. Stream and download the song below.

“Smallville (Prod. J. Cole)” was released via Twitter; happy birthday to J. Cole! XV is expected to release his highly-anticipated album The Kid With The Green Backpack later this year.

Rating: 8.5/10

Single: The Fair Weathered – “Glass Cities”

Track: “Glass Cities”
Artist: The Fair Weathered
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Label: Unsigned

Piano ballad “Glass Cities” closes The Fair Weathered‘s debut album Last Year slowly and passionately. The track, part pop-punk and part piano rock, primarily features the soothing voice of vocalist and guitarist Tom McQuade, who carries the song with the emotion and passion of his words. The trio, though young, has no doubt experienced the same emotional troubles that pretty much every band in the genre has, and “Glass Cities” is their reflection on the world and their changing lives, opening with the claim, “I can’t explain feelings that I see, like neon skies and these glass cities.” Towards the end of the song, Tom raises his voice and the drums and guitar join in, launching the listener into an inspiring breakdown that ultimately ends the song. For such a low-budget production (see music video), “Glass Cities” is a great song and a fantastic closer for the band’s first album.

“Glass Cities” is from Last Year, out now.

Rating: 6.5/10

Single: Oh Land – “White Nights”

Track: “White Nights”
Artist: Oh Land
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Label: Epic Records

Track number two from Danish electro-pop artist Oh Land‘s 2010 EP, “White Nights” is a fun, energetic pop song about the singer’s struggles to find inner peace among the “white nights” and hubbub of Brooklyn, New York, where she now lives. The cheery, layered vocals combine with the frantic, jungle drumming in the background to completely capture her inspiration and thinking behind the song. The other instruments certainly are not lacking either; the rhythmic piano and synthesizers drive the song along from the start. I first discovered the track after Hoodie Allen sampled the track in his latest single, “Dreams Up”, which you can listen to here. In traditional Hoodie Allen style, the rapper chose a lesser-known act and added his verse over top, and as usual, the sampled song is also a really good listen. Be sure to check it out below, as well as a new version of the song remixed by Twin Shadow.

“White Nights” is from Oh Land – EP, out now via Epic Records.


Rating: 8/10

Single: I See Stars – “End of the World Party”

Track: “End of the World Party”
Artist: I See Stars
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Label: Sumerian Records

We all know the explosion of popularity that has come to the “synthcore” genre in the past five or so years, and one band that I seem to have taken a liking to above most of the other more generic bands out there is the six piece, Warren, Michigan based group I See Stars. Their debut full-length on Sumerian Records, 3D, was received with mixed opinions by the music community, I being one of those on the “liked it” side. With their sophomore LP titled End of the World Party, due to be released late next month, I See Stars gave us a taste of what they will be delivering when they released their first single last month, which will be the title track on the upcoming release. And I must say, it’s nothing that we haven’t heard before on their previous release. Opening with (you guessed it!) a breakdown accompanied by some dubstep programming in the background, “End of the World Party” shows that their is not much to be considered new to this band, but for what they do, they pull it off fairly well, so I’ll give them a sliver of credit for that. After the screams subside (with more dubstep!) this young group shows one of their most prominent qualities: the ability to write an excellent hook. The chorus of this song will spread through your mind like the black plague, and will stay there until it fully runs its course, all the while the musicianship stays on par with their previous material. The song goes on with semi-catchy verses and then hits hard again with the huge sing-a-long chorus provided by the obviously tampered-with vocals of Devin Oliver. As the song comes to an end, we hear the same breakdown that accompanied the beginning of the track and then the three minute track ends, without much to be remembered other than the flashy chorus.

All in all, it’s a good effort, and for what it’s worth, it’s a fun track to jam in the car. But “End of the World Party” leaves not much to be desired in the long-run.

“End of the World Party” is from End of the World Party, out February 21, 2011 via Sumerian Records.

Listen: Via I See Stars’ Myspace

Rating: 6.8/10

Single: Donots – “Calling”

Track: “Calling”
Artist: Donots
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Label: Solitary Man Records

There is nothing particularly new on Donots’ punk-rock anthem “Calling”, but in all honesty, the track doesn’t strike me as an effort to reinvent the wheel. Instead, “Calling” is more of an attempt to stick with a previously tried-and-true songwriting formula. From the tremolos of the guitars to the echoed vocals of the chorus to the fast-paced drumming, nothing seems particularly innovative, yet everything still seems to fit together. The song is extremely catchy and an enjoyable listien altogether, but if it seems like you’ve heard this song before, you probably have – it just probably wasn’t called “Calling” and it probably wasn’t performed by the Donots.

“Calling” is from The Long Way Home, out now.

MP3: Donots – “Calling”

Rating: 6.5/10

Single: The White House Band – “Grown-Ups”

Track: “Grown-Ups”
Artist: The White House Band
Release Date: November 26, 2010
Label: Cap City Records

Taking a page from Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi‘s book, The White House Band combine heavy guitar riffs with angst-filled, reflective rapping on new single “Grown-Ups”, from the band’s upcoming Stimulus Package EP. Lead man David E. Beats is honest and likable enough, rapping about painful experiences in his childhood and ultimately progressing to becoming a “grown up now.” After a short instrumental interlude reminiscent of the tracks on Kanye West‘s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, David E. Beats returns with verse number two, sounding very similar to Rick Ross on “Devil In A New Dress”. But enough with the comparisons: where Kanye West chooses to use samples in his music (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!), The White House Band play every note. Be sure to give this solid track a listen.

Rating: 6/10