Category Archives: CD Review

Super Mash Bros. : All About the Scrillions

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Sophomore expectations suck. While the freshman album is a clean slate with little to no hype, the sophomore effort is all about how the new work matches up with that of the previous effort. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the biggest enemy of the young mash-up duo, Super Mash Bros., is none other than themselves. It’s been a year since Dick Fink and Nicholas Fenmore hit up the DIY LA music scene with their debut album Fuck Bitches, Get Euros. A healthy mix of 90s hits and MTV rap staples, Fuck Bitches, Get Euros was an accessible record with eclectic mash-ups of recognizable tunes and non-stop genre crossovers (e.g. Blink 182 to Lil Wayne). Case in point, Super Mash Bros. proved their worth and the ability to be placed in the same category as Girl Talk.       

 A year later, after selling out The Roxy, Super Mash Bros. are back at it with All About the Scrillions. On first listen, the album doesn’t seem quite as enthralling as last year’s surprise hit. Whether it be the samples or the over-use of dirty rap over guilty pleasure pop hits, the album just doesn’t seem to stick right away. On tracks, such as “Adler Girl Pt. 2,” the formula of mashing pop and rap seems to become redundant to the point that the album as a whole may be a failure. Though I really dug and respected Fuck Bitches, Get Euros, so I decided to give the new album another listen.

With less of the mind set of a critic and more of that of a fan, I sat back and listened to the album straight through. From the opening track, “Boom Boom Pau,” which samples the intro of Van Halen’s “Right Now” to the concluding tune, which features the victorious stadium chants of “Zombie Nation,” Super Mash Bros. easily deliver the epic set ups needed for a successful dance party. Between this epic backdrop, the Bros. succeed in what they do best: pleasing the audience. With the Super Mash Bros.’ mash-ups, it doesn’t matter when the song came out and whether it was approved by Pitchfork or not, because in the end it’s all about how the songs can be reformatted to get the listener to dance their ass off. Take “Livin’ the Dream (I’m on a Float)” for example. The first half of this deep cut consists of a simple blend of Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” and the intro to Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida;” both being songs you wouldn’t expect to be played in the midst of a wild dance mix. Though put together, the Super Mash Bros. use their magic to create a track that showcases these two tunes as perfect matches for each other. I hate to use another Girl Talk reference, but I feel I must. While Greg Gillis uses bits and bits of individual songs to create his own work, Super Mash Bros. seem to work more with their chosen material to find elaborate, yet appropriate ways to mash the tracks; a true testament to the DJ duo. Hence, while All About the Scrillions may not necessarily have the same lasting power as Fuck Bitches, Get Euros, it’s still a fun and wild album that will leave you with many “Oh no they didn’t moments!”      

Download the Album here: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?mwxzbjv2imj

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Some Good New CDs

I got a lot of free CDs during my internship these past two weeks. However, I haven’t been able to give all of the albums equal listenings yet, due to the fact that I can’t stop listening to these two CDs during my commutes and time at home.

Passion Pit – Manners

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So by now, it’s become pretty well known how Passion Pit got their start. Michael Angelakos originally created the Chunk of Change EP as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend, which then somehow spread throughout his college campus (that being Emerson College in Boston), and next thing you know, Manners (Passion Pit’s first full-length) is one of the most anticipated releases of 2009. You could say Passion Pit is this year’s MGMT, except for the fact that they have more than a few catchy singles to match their hype. With a high falsetto that makes high voices almost as cool as Barry White’s low tenor, Angelakos leads his fellow Boston-buddies in a debut album that definitely meets the hype. Thanks to a brilliant composition of electropop beats and colorful synth lines, Manners is not an album that preview’s a hip new band’s potential, it’s the glorious feature length. Even with the appearance of a few lackluster tracks, Manners is still a consistently entertaining album that has kept me engaged through multiple listens; whether it be due to the appearance of a children’s choir or just Michael Angelakos distinct voice: the new voice of rock.

 Other Lives – Other Lives

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After seeing this upcoming band nail their opening performance for The Decemberists last week at the Palladium, I had to check out their CD. Sounding somewhere in between the likes of Radiohead and The Decemberists, Other Lives could best be classified as indie-folk rock with a classical influence. Additionally, coming from Oklahoma, there is also a Midwestern edge to the band’s music that gives it that extra spin. Amid the beautiful orchestrations and lead singer Jesse Tabish’s expressive vocals, Other Lives’ debut album is able to convey both heartbreaking and uplifting emotions throughout the course of the tunes. The final result is one of the most eloquent album I’ve heard in a while and a shoe-in for my “Best of 2009” list.

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NINE INCH NAILS: Ghosts I-IV CD Review

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We all knew it wouldn’t be long until a major rock band pulled a Radiohead by putting their album up for download on their website and letting the fans choose the price they pay. On March 2nd, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails released their new 36-track, all instrumental Ghosts I-IV on the band’s homepage. Although the idea was similar to that of Radiohead, NIN does not actually allow the fans to choose a specific price for which they can pay. Rather, listeners can select to download the entire first volume for free or the complete 36-track version for a mere $5, while true NIN faithful enthusiasts can pre-order a $10 double disk set, splurge on the deluxe edition for $75, or buy the Ultra-Deluxe Edition for just $300! No matter which path you decide to take, it is still the same CD. As distinctive as the distribution of Ghosts I-IV may be, the actual content of the album is just as unique. With a collection of “artsy” photos to complement every track of the diverse album, Trent Reznor brings a whole new twist to the listening experience. At one minute it may bring out your inner goth and you will find yourself dancing to some of the heavy industrial beats that classified NIN’s earlier years, while at the next moment you’ll be laying on your bed pondering upon the mysteries of life. That’s what you’re in for on this somewhat experimental album that veers away at times from the familiar sound that made NIN a household name. As interesting and compelling as NIN’s orchestrations are, it has always been Reznor’s powerful vocals that have propelled the band. So, at the end of the day, after plunging yourself through the one of a kind mind of Trent Reznor, you’ll still find yourself leaving unsatisfied. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with the price!   

Here’s where to get the album

 http://www.nin.com/index.html

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The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride CD Review

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Last year at around this time, I was given my first introduction to singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist John Darnielle, who goes by the stage name The Mountain Goats. My cousin and his best friend had fallen absolutely in love with The Mountain Goats’ lo-fi/poorly recorded tunes from the 90’s and were lucky enough to see John Darnielle perform live, while at Berkeley. Thus, when The Mountain Goats made a stop at the El Rey Theater last March, my cousin and his friend saw this as the perfect opportunity to enlighten me with the music of John Darnielle. Unfortunately, the concert did not quite live up to my expectations or those of loyal fans, like my cousin. Ever since Darnielle began to record his albums “more professionally” and bring in a bassist and drummer as full time members, fans were split on their reactions to the results. Some have praised the new and more developed sound, while others have shown utter disgust towards the abandonment of the good old boom-box recordings. Coming out of the concert last year, I found myself impressed with some of the Mountain Goats’ arrangements, though as a whole the full band set-up seemed to be a little bland.

            Regardless of my past experience, I decided to give The Mountain Goats another try by downloading their new album Heretic Pride, and I’m glad I did. On the opening track “Sax Rohmer #1,” Darnielle and co. kick things off well with this fast-paced tune that uses bass, drums, and even a little bit of *gasp* electric guitar as the perfect compliments to Darnielle’s catchy lines about coming home even if it’s the last thing that he does. On songs like “Heretic Pride” and “Autoclave,” the band continues playing with a larger and not so lo-fi style, while still maintaining the lovable lyrics that have remained consistently witty and creative throughout the band’s tenure. As song titles, like “Lovecraft in Brooklyn” and “How to Embrace a Swamp Creature” (surprisingly, one of the more peaceful tracks) show, Darnielle has not lost any zeal in his unique songwriting. Already garnering the approval of many loyal followers, Heretic Pride is a consistent album that has an equal balance between fast and slow tunes that should appease new and old fans alike.                

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