ight Full length albums in, Wilco have removed the surfacing negative comments of doubters and naysayers. The Whole Love is Wilco’s critic silencer. After the turmoil of changing line ups, the six members have settled into a groove of sorts, and show no signs of losing their momentum. New takes on country/ folk with post-rock distortion bring the group into a new era, and their own subgenre creation. The album begins with the sublime 7 minute-long ode to Radiohead. The song separates into two parts, deceiving those who believe it to be two separate songs. Glen Kotche’s drums have become as essential as Michael Jorgensen’s keys and organs.
Wilco The Whole Love
Blink 182 Neighborhoods
Just like a Mogwai epic, all instruments join together after being separately introduced, forming a collaboration of epic American Rock. Songs such as “Black Moon” and “Sunloathe” express imagery of love for the entities of the galaxy, or lack of that love. “I loathe the sun and sometimes I don’t know how to love anything”. Tweedy’s voice has been diminishing in power since the late 2000’s. This has given him some kind of kinetic power to enhance his song writing skill. Striking images of worrying yet beautiful thoughts complete all of the songs on this documentation of a troubled man. The stand out song, “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)”, a 12 minute epic, combines
tantalizing acoustic guitar with typical Jorgensen. This is a song about what you have to leave behind. “Outside I look lived in, like bones in a shrine”, sings one of the most proliﬁc songwriters of recent times. A cynical man wrote this song, and who could blame the ex-paracetamol addict as he whispers “I fell in love with the burden holding me down”. Wilco draw upon their most beloved inﬂuences as usual. “Standing O”’s allows one to envisage The Clash’s Mick Jones. Pop-rock psychedelia kings The Doors are reborn on “I Might”, the ﬁrst single from ‘The Whole Love’. After defying the odds and producing over 15 years of culture defying music, Wilco have once more succeeded in turning simple ideas into sophisticated indie rock.
link 182 fans have been waiting eight years for the release of the much anticipated sixth studio album from the Californian pop-punk band. When they took to the stage during the 51st Grammy Awards in 2009 to announce their reunion after a six year hiatus, many music fans cringed at the thought of having to listen to more cheesy pop-rock songs such as “All the small things” and “What’s my age again”. However Blink 182 fans were delighted that the band had set their differences aside and reformed one of the most popular American bands of the late nineties. Neighborhoods has many aspects that sound similar to previous work by Blink 182, particularly their self-titled
DJ Shadow The Less You Know the Better
tional depth and a ﬂat out refusal to move with the pace of contemporary hip-hop. ‘Back to Front’ begins with a drone followed by a man saying ‘I’m back, I forgot my drum!’ then breaks into a classic DJ Shadow beat. The sense of continuous motion, voices and scratching brings ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches to mind, however, they are so vastly different in quality, it’s hard not to feel short changed by a tired formula. ‘Sad And Lonely’, as you might guess, is a melancholic song, albeit without making any meaningful connection with the listener; a lonely piano is paired with its old friend the violin while a woman who warns young women not to trust young men.
This is an unwelcome and uninspired DJ Shadow at work. ‘Warning Call’ sounds quite indie rock; it’s lively and contains some very catchy riffs, and provides a rare respite from unrepentant blandness. ‘Afrikan Boy’ develops into a grime sound, giving us a moment of recognition that Shadow may still have a hold of his thinking cap. Lead single ‘I Gotta Rokk’ is a catchy piece that hosts some classic Shadow style sampling, but there’s little else to say about this record, it all seems to serve as a poor imitation of an inspired musicians past brilliance. If DJ Shadow is ever going to reclaim his lost position at the throne of instrumental hip–hop, this is an example of exactly how not to do it. A big disappointment.
2003 album. It is easy to recognize the bands trademark guitar riffs combined with synthesisers in the track ‘Ghost on the Danceﬂoor’, which is a strong album opener that Blink fans can relate to. However the problems start from here in. The second track on the album ‘Natives’ has the awful combination of an upbeat tempo and terribly depressing lyrics. The lines “I’m just a b*****d child, don’t let it go to your head, I’m just a waste of your time, maybe I’m better off dead” are crooned out by lead singer Tom DeLonge as if they were cheerful and selfinspiring. Another major problem with the album is that the tracks are considerably similar to each other. For exam-
ple, by the time you have listened to the ﬁnal track on the album ‘Even if She Falls’ it will feel like you have just heard the same song fourteen times. They all begin with a glitzy guitar intro, followed by Travis Barkers heavy drumming and some irritating synthesizers. Terrible lyrics pervade the album. They are meaningless, depressing and are completely unﬁtted with the music that accompanies them. This album will surely be snapped up by members of Blink 182’s massive fan base in America, and is almost guaranteed commercial successful. However, for the common music fan, this record is one to avoid at all costs.
Mastodon The Hunter GRAHAM LUBY
ollowing up 2006’s The Outsider, revered beatsmith DJ Shadow’s latest offering The Less You Know the Better comprises of exactly what fans expect; heavily sampled material paired with distinct genre variation. Shadows’ sampling style is familiar at this stage; guitars, piano, turntable scratches and vocal snippets are all put to use across the 17 tracks and while well respected rappers Talib Kweli and Posdnuos also feature, their presence is one of few indicators that Shadow has any ideas left to explore. Having set his own standards incredibly high with 1996’s groundbreaking Endtroducing, fans will be let down by the lack of emo-
I saw the creature fall into the swamp from which he spawned/ I heard them laugh and say they never liked him anyway” In March of 2009, the release of Mastodon’s fourth full-length Crack the Skye heralded a cheer from the metal community that shook Valhalla’s rafters. The sprawling opus, partly centered around the suicide of drummer Brann Dailor’s sister, was a new departure for the Atlanta quartet; Having risen to the top of modern metal for their mythical subject matter and ﬁlth-encrusted riffs, the album was a change of direction that received exultant reviews but alienated many fans of the band’s older material. If Crack the Skye was the
brooding, grown-up album, its follow up is the antithesis. On The Hunter, Messrs. Troy Sanders & Co. unleashed their inner children to run riot in the studio and stood back to see what happened. The result is an aural carnival. Gone are the orchestral, beard-stroking concept works of old, replaced by four-minute slabs with titles like “The Octopus Has No Friends” and lyrics as outlandish as those quoted above. Those swampy, distinctly Southern guitar lines that had been gradually disappearing since 2006’s Blood Mountain make a triumphant return here. This album practically needs to be scraped for resin before it can be played.
As welcome as the sludge inﬂuences are, the album has more than brutality to offer, and intricate vocal arrangements and guitar harmonies reminiscent of Black Roseera Thin Lizzy punctuate the neural assault. Tracks such as “The Sparrow” and the title track stand as testament to just how far the band have progressed as musicians since their ﬁnest hour, 2004’s Leviathan. Though it is certain that this album will have its detractors, who will argue that Mastodon have passed their creative peak, it is undeniable that they are better musically than they have ever been. Mastodon have the tools and the potential to make the best record of their career, and here they came so close. If they can hone their songwriting skills to match their technical prowess, the world of heavy metal should start counting down to a followup now.
Issue 2 of The Siren, the entertainment supplement of the College Tribune