Album Reviews: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Palominos, Ida Maria, Benjy Ferree, The Decemberists, Eternal Summers

by | May 26, 2009 | MUSIC


Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It’s Blitz
DGC/Interscope

When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs first began to receive commercial acclaim, it was for their remarkable third single “Maps” off of Fever to Tell. The album acted as an introduction to the band and perhaps a revival of Riot Grrrl rock in the mainstream. Now six years later we have It’s Blitz.

If Fever to Tell was an exploration of the Riot Grrrl scene, then It’s Blitz is an exploration of New York dance. Instead of layers of effected guitars, the band has opted for synths and electronic beats. The real heart of this album lies in the more underplayed instances. With tunes like “Skeletons” and “Runaway”, the music is full of triumphant moments, and Karen O has never sounded better. “Skeletons” starts with a simple electronic rhythm and the introduction of O’s voice. With her refrain of “Love don’t cry/Skeleton me”, the song departs to new levels with subtle drum and guitar parts that add to the existing glorious layers of this beautiful composition. It’s Blitz is a delight with promises of exciting material to follow in the future. – Shannon Cleary

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Palominos
Egos
Self-released

The new album from Palominos, Egos, is the kind of record that I can imagine being played on repeat all night at any rollicking college party in the South. The band certainly knows their way around their instruments, and they manage to maintain their tight yet driving sound without missing a beat. They wisely chose producer extraordinaire, Al Weatherhead (Sparklehorse, The Comas), who gives the record a pleasing gloss and plenty of space to flex their instrumental muscle.
The record kicks off with the title track and finds the band’s guitarists weaving in and out of the rhythm section’s grooves. Sound-wise the band is firmly rooted in the style of modern classic rock, and they stick to the formula pretty tightly. There are certainly hints of Neil Young and Band of Horses, and with the right push I’m sure the band will find an eager fan base that are attuned to their country-inflected yet modern brand of roots rock. – Landis Wine

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Ida Maria
Fortress Round My Heart
Waterfall
 
In the wake of soul clashing with pop we’ve seen the likes of Lily Allen, Adele, Lykke Li and Kate Nash, but none of them have brought the raw belligerence that is Norwegian Ida Maria. Her debut album Fortress Round My Heart was far from the top of the charts in Europe last year, but her ode to one night stands, “I Like You Better When You’re Naked”, reached number thirteen in the UK.

Her latest single, “Oh my God!”, an explosive lyrical version of what could be a panic attack, was featured on Gossip Girl, and her full album finally hits the states in April. It is a compilation of sorrow and spite that lacks any pretension or grace. “Queen of the World” features a clumsy queen without inhibitions; “Stella” is a dialogue between God and a “43-year-old hooker from downtown”. 

Ida Maria is the answer to repetitive ballads on the radio. While she still sings about love and youth, she swings from rage to complacence to innocence at a moment’s notice. – Amanda Pittman

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Benjy Ferree
Come Back to the Five and Dime Store, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee
Domino
 
It’s been three years since Benjy Ferree released his debut album, Leaving the Nest, and he returns with Come Back to the Five and Dime Store, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee. This time around he introduces more soul and jazz. His voice ranges from falsetto to a solid baritone.  Each song eases into its own solid structure. The sound is reflection of the stories being told in each song. “Fear” and “When You’re 16” resonate uniquely with each listener, bringing about a nostalgic feeling of loss. Benjy Ferree has escaped the sophomore slump and expanded his abilities while staying true to his soulful roots. – Amanda Pittman

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The Decemberists
The Hazards of Love
Capitol Records / Kill Rock Stars

Whether you love or hate The Decemberists, there is no denying their ambitious nature. After the release of The Crane Wife, they have followed with the fantasy-laced musical The Hazards of Love. Main conspirator Colin Meloy delivers a world filled with rakes, shape-shifting animals, lovers and forest queens

The music ranges from the whimsical pop tune to some of the heaviest riffs ever seen by this band (somehow all contained in the tune “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”). The album presents itself as a rewarding listen for any fan of the band.

If there were any complaints, they would be that the album is hard to not take in as a whole. The songs have a difficult time existing individually. They all belong together, and the intention of their creation is very predicated on the flow from one to the next.

Beyond that, the album is an absolute joy. It is by no means their best release, but it is by far a wonderful addition to the canon that is The Decemberists’ discography.
– Shannon Cleary

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Eternal Summers
Eternal Summers EP
Magic Twig Community

The debut Eternal Summers EP is an example of what I really live for in the business of music editing/criticism, and that is finding a stunning and unpretentious record such as this.

The band consists of two members, Nicole and Daniel, who switch off between drum and guitar duties, and who have actively participated in other bands in their Roanoke, VA home.

The EP itself is full of fantastic garage pop songs akin to Beach House and Beat Happening, with an ear for quality, brevity and song structures that sound effortless. The band straddles the line between fun and sincere in a way that most bands simply can’t, as exemplified on “In the Beginning” and “Fall Straight Back”. However, the real star here is Nicole’s voice, which is intensely entrancing and narcotic. This is best highlighted in the closer “Lightswitch”, which is easily one of my favorite songs of the year. – Landis Wine

Matt Ringer

Matt Ringer

A meat popsicle.




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