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  1. Shiny Toy Guns’ Season of Poison

    November 5, 2008 by Colleen

    Alternative rock band, Shiny Toy Guns, effectively combines softer ballads with sharper rock beats in their newest album, Season of Poison.  Each song showcases the range of vocals from co-lead vocalists, Gregori Chad Petree and Sisily Treasure, especially heard in “Ricochet!” which combines Treasure’s soft voice with Petree’s harder voice that could be compared to a metal singer.

    Season of Poison offers a broad arrange of styles including dance, rock, and electronic. The album’s style resembles Death Cab for Cutie in its opening song, “Money For That,” Postal Service in a personal favorite, “I Owe You a Love Song,” which has a great and intricate underlying techno beat on top of a rock sound, and U2’s “City of Blinding Lights,” emulated in “Turned to Real Life.”

    One of the most powerful songs on the album is “Poison,” an eight-minute track that sounds like something heard in a rock opera.  It’s fantastical style leads from soft vocals to rock, and ends with a funeral organ creating an eerie sound that makes you expect to see an array of flashing lights appear.

  2. Plain White T’s Big Bad World

    October 10, 2008 by Colleen

    Plain White Ts’ most recent album, Big Bad World, is a big beautiful success. The album balances mellow songs such as “Rainy Day,” with more foot-tapping and head-nodding tunes that come with such songs as “That Girl,” a personal favorite.

    The album combines eclectic styles of music that keep your ears wanting more.  These styles include rock ballads heard in “Serious Mistake”, acoustics, resembling John Mayer heard in “1,2,3,4,” ragtime in  “I Really Want You,” which instantly grabs your attention with harmonica, and Latin beats, heard repeatedly throughout “Serious Mistake.”  The album showcases Plain White T’s ability to transform as this album emphasizes their innovation, more so than their previous album, Every Second Counts.  It introduces various styles, rather than relying on a constant collaboration of instruments to create fast-paced songs that lose uniqueness.

    The album goes in a different direction from the constant hyper energy of songs heard in Plain White T’s previous albums as it incorporates a more diverse array of styles. This album feeds off of the success of “Hey There Delilah” which balanced lyrics and instrumentals, exactly what Big Bad World does in addition to fusing different musical arrangements into each track.

  3. Portugal the Man’s new album Censored Colors

    September 14, 2008 by Colleen

    Portugal the Man, an alternative rock band from Alaska, releases its third album,  Censored Colors.  The band, comprised of John Gourley on guitar and vocals, Zachary Carothers on bass and vocals, Jascon Sechrist on drums, and Ryan Neighbors ..board and vocals, fuses elements of psychedelic rock, soul, and electronic to create their newest album.  Their sound, resembling that of Radiohead and a softer version of Muse, infuses each song with different sounds to create a somber and somewhat eerie instrumental beneath their hushed and harmonizing lyrics.

    The album opens with “Lay Me Back Down,” a song that begins with a spaceship-like sound and continues with a mellow psychedelic undertone that continues to resurface throughout the album. Personal favorites include “Salt” and “New Orleans” which capture a unique New Orleans jazz style.  Each song subtly flows into the next, incorporating not only the same instrumentals, but lyrically picking up where the song before left off.  This album instantly puts your mind in a tranquil state while keeping you interested in hearing more as more intricate hooks and harmonies continuously evolve from the next.

  4. The Fratellis album Here We Stand

    June 16, 2008 by Colleen

    The Fratellis’ album Here We Stand

    The Fratellis’ newest album, Here We Stand, is a successful follow-up to their previous album, Costello Music.  But don’t listen to it with expectations that you will get a sound duplicating this previous album, because it doesn’t exactly follow the patterns of their prior musical arrangement.

    Instead of the instant instrumental hooks and extremely fast paced tempo heard in Costello Music songs such as Flathead and Baby Fratelli, Here We Stand presents a steadier collaboration of instrumentals.  Stepping away from their glam rock influenced style, The Fratellis stay in keeping with their Brit Pop sound, but resemble a style more along the lines of The Clash , emphasized in such songs as Look Out Sunshine and My Friend John, rather than David Bowie.  The songs prove to maintain Jon Fratellis’ talent in storytelling as each song presents a different character or situation that reveals a flawed lifestyle amidst chaos.  These lives depicted connect to the album cover itself as it portrays a ringleader standing in front of a circus tent, representing the idea that life is somewhat of a circus, especially understood in the lyrics of such songs as Shameless and Tell Me a Lie.  I recommend this album with the disclaimer that you will not be hearing the sequel to Costello Music, but an album with a different style, that still retains The Fratellis’ roots but doesn’t mirror their previous work.

  5. The Kooks at Jimmy Kimmel

    May 29, 2008 by Colleen

    On Wednesday, May 21, the British band, The Kooks, performed for Jimmy Kimmel Live as part of the show’s outdoor summer concert series.  I was lucky enough to snag a ticket and watch this increasingly popular band perform songs off of their new album, Konk.  The concert took place in the parking lot behind the El Capitan Theater, with an audience of about 200 people, which allowed the band to effectively connect with everyone, as it was such an intimate setting.  The band casually entered the stage, humbly introduced themselves, and opened with their newest single, Always Where I Need to Be. In contrast to their signature laid-back appearance, I was instantly grabbed by the intensity and emotion in singer Luke Pritchard’s facial expressions and stance as well as drummer Pane Garred’s constantly changing facial expressions and body movement, which mirrored the intensity of the music.  This dynamic change in presence from the moment the band walked on the stage to the start of the show set the tone for the strong performance they were about to give.  The array of songs continued to showcase the band’s innovative sound by performing some of their acoustic driven songs, such as Tick of Time, a personal favorite as it is a more raw sound that presents Pritchard’s wide vocal range.

    Pritchard worked to further rev the audience’s energy level, which allowed the audience to continue to connect with the band as their personality seeped through their musical performance.  This, intertwined with the balance of lyrics and instrumentals made for a great set, as neither aspect of any song overpowered the other.  I have only listened to The Kooks’ music on albums, so I was extremely happy that their live performances did not stray from the sound they present on records.

    *photos from