Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Old Coldplay Review- Viva La Vida

I wrote this review in 2.5 seconds this summer after Coldplay's album Viva La Vida was released. I figure I'll post it now. It's pretty rough, but, you know.

Coldplay acquired a fifth member for their fourth album. His name is Brian Eno, he was just the push in the right direction that Chris Martin and Co. needed after 2005’s lackluster X&Y. Eno’s signature larger-than-life sound that has been present on so many U2 albums is more than apparent on Viva La Vida, and it suits Coldplay wonderfully. Enlisting Eno to helm Vida was a more logical move than you’d expect from a man who named his firstborn “Apple.” And not only was it logical move, it was one that saved Coldplay from forever being branded one of the most bland groups making music today.

Kicking off with the layered instrumental, “Life in Technicolor,” it’s clear that Coldplay has adopted a new sound. As with the title of that first track, it’s as though Coldplay has been in black-and-white Kansas, but on this album they are finally stepping into a full-color Oz, fully equipped with a heart, a brain, and an extra dose of courage. The ominously titled “Cemeteries of London,” with its dark, ghost-town referencing lyrics, thumping bass and syncopated handclaps could provide the soundtrack to a John Wayne western. On “Lost!” Coldplay reverts to their more traditional song-structure while employing surprising instrumentals, like an organ, tambourine and, yes, more hand claps. Pretentiously titled “42” spends its first minute-and-a-half as a creepy ballad before guitarist Jonny Buckland launches into Radiohead-esque guitar jabs. “42” ends up being the most surprising track on the album, climaxing in an almost optimistic chorus, where Martin sings, “You thought you might be a ghost/ You didn’t get to heaven but you made it close.”

Perhaps the best track on the album is “Lovers in Japan,” a driving tune with a jumpy piano-line and a lush soundscape provided by Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion. On “Yes,” on of the more radio-friendly tracks, Martin accesses his lower vocal register and the group makes good use of a string section, as signaled by the wailing opening chords. The ubiquitous hit “Viva La Vida” and second single “Violet Hill” are great examples that Eno has been stirring Coldplay’s pot. “Violet Hill” is accompanied by strong lyrics and hard-hitting percussion and guitar lines. “Viva La Vida” is epic and cinematic, once again utilizing the string section.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Pop! Goes the Zine

I produced a Zine last spring with friends of mine from school. If anyone is interested in a copy, or if you are in a musical group and would like to be interviewed/reviewed/profiled in our next issue, shoot me an email!

The zine is called Pop and it's produced entirely by teens. I've got to say, it's pretty impressive considering everyone who made it is a young'un. And my good friend Carson does the art for it, all of which is kick-ass becuase she's awesome.

Email me if you're interested!

Conor Oberst

Last week I picked up the debut solo album from Conor Oberst (the prodigy behind Bright Eyes). Since his beginning, Oberst has been called "the next Dylan," a title that seems to be slapped on every 6-string player with a knack for lyrics, an imperfect voice and an affinity for the occasional buzz on a harmonica.

On albums under his Bright Eyes moniker (for most of those LPs, Oberst was the sole permanent member. However, on the most recent release, 2007's Cassadaga, Bright Eyes officially became a trio, to include multi-instrumentalists Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott), Oberst opted for emotionally-driven alt.folk tunes that appealed to indie purists and emo kids alike. Oberst has always been included in the list of the best artists, and on this release, he defends his placement furiously. Instead of tunes about lost love and found pain, songs on Conor Oberst are more often centered around towns ("NYC- Gone, Gone") and stories ("Danny Callahan"). Each song definitely maintains the poetic element that defines Oberst's work, but the centric force driving this solo album would probably be found more easily on a dusty road in Mexico than in an empty New York City bar.

There seems to be an added level of comfort on this album than any of Oberst's Bright Eyes releases. Perhaps he is more in his element when he is solitary; perhaps he just wanted to make a safe, non-experimental album- and really, where is the harm in that?

This self-titled album is a stirring solo debut for Conor Oberst. The songs are not daring or boundary-pushing as some of his Bright Eyes material has been, but there is no doubt that they are beautiful.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't You Hate It When...

You get in that pop/Top 40 hating mode and then suddenly a song comes that is just so catchy you can't deny it's power? It works it's way into your brain and it's stuck in your head and you know you should hate it but you can't because it's just SO. CATCHY.

Well, I am currently in that love-hate relationship with the latest Katy Perry (yeah, the "I Kissed a Girl" girl. Makes the shame that much greater.) single. It's called "Hot N' Cold" and oh my god is it ridiculous. It has this pumping disco beat, easy lyrics ("You don't really want to stay, no/But you don't really want to Go-o") and it's working it's way up the charts. Katy Perry, bless her soul, has a pretty weak voice, but on this track her shout-singing just works.

Next post I'll talk about Conor Oberst's latest album or somthing.. You know, to make up for this post. Oh, sweet joy of guilty pleasures.