Chazwick Bundick has released two albums as Toro Y Moi which were cherished in the Indie music scene for his ability to do danceable songs with synths and being one of the first chillwave artists. In Anything In Return, he does what he knows how to do, and he doesn’t fail.
“Harm in Change” works as a good opening track immersing you into a swinging beat as its intensity grows as we get further into it. Once it finishes, the music has already embraced you and I can assure that your feet will be already moving to the beat. The two singles that follows are outstanding, especially “Say That” with a repeating sample of a female voice contrasting with his calmed voice. After “Rose Quartz”, which builds itself slowly in a beautiful way, the album suddenly loses its power with songs such as “Cola” and “Studies” that seem to be there only to make the album last longer.
However, Toro Y Moi knows how to cheer it up again in the brilliant “Cake”. The instruments joins the vocals in everything they do: in the chorus they sound fun and interactive as he charmingly sings “She knows, I’m gonna be her boy forever” while in the verses as the voice sounds calm, the instruments remain deep at the back. In the following tracks, the fun and active spirit goes on and he succeeds at ending the album impressively as he started it.
Even with that sluggish part in the middle of the record, Anything in Return flows extremely well and keeps your attention all the time. It may not be one of the best albums of the year, but it isindeed a very enjoyable one that makes you want to dance.
So, I don’t know about you, but I love Mumford & Sons, and have been highly anticipating Babel. Marcus Mumford has this powerful raspy voice that is totally his. It is pretty obvious to anyone who has heard a Mumford & Sons song at least once what their sound is – folk. There is no other way to put it. Simple chords, catchy lyrics, and a beat you can’t help but slap your thigh to. But you may have noticed after Sigh No More, their first album that came out 3 years ago, every song of theirs seems to sound the same. Now, if you’re a Mumf fan you’re thinking one of two things. 1) “What!? Have you even heard Thistle & Weeds? It sounds nothing like The Cave!” or 2) “So? I like their sound.” Those who agree with thought 1, please hear me and the 2s out. What makes Mumford & Sons so great is the fact they know what they’re good at, and they stick to it. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Babel is proof of that. In fact, take a listen to Broken Crown, sound familiar? It’s Thistle and Weeds. Not exactly, I know. But pretty damn close. And you know what? We love it. So what if you don’t use more than 4 or 5 chords? So what if all do is wail and scream your raspy scream Marcus? We love it. And so what if all your songs are about unrequited love? We love unrequited love!
Okay, but in all seriousness, I really like this album. The first time, I thought I was just listening to Sigh No More with new lyrics. The second time I still thought it sounded the same, but maybe better? More mature perhaps? I must ask you again to hear me out. You’re probably thinking I am an unreliable Mumf fan now. Sigh No More was, in my opinion, one of the best debut albums to come out in the past five years. The songs flowed perfectly from one to the other. Their sound was different, freeing, and had the ability to transport us to a place we don’t often visit in this day & age. And if you’ve listened to Babel once or twice, you probably don’t think it’s anything special. My challenge to you is to listen to two songs: Lover of the Light and Hopeless Wanderer.
Lover of the Light is the perfect stadium song. No more small stage pubs for these guys. Well, who am I kidding? They will always play at pubs. They wouldn’t be Mumford & Sons if they didn’t. But now they have a song that I can imagine filling a large stadium, every note reverberating and surrounding the audience. Everyone will want to “love the one they hold.” And I can say the same for Hopeless Wanderer. The whole crowd going hush as the first few fast notes of the piano are plucked. Then everyone will begin to sway to the familiar rhythm. And you know when everyone in the band sings a chorus the audience sure as hell will join in. Especially when they know those fast guitar strokes are coming up. The swaying will stop and the bouncing will begin.
But Hopeless Wanderer has another thing going for it. I’m willing to say it is the stand out song of this album. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that makes it different from most Mumf songs. It seems to be a little bit of everything. The very prominent piano instead of acoustic guitar in the beginning. The fact that Marcus is not heartbroken or angry, but his voice is actually giving off a tiny bit of sex appeal. And there is something else. Something purely electric going on. I’m not a musician, so if I’m wrong in saying it sounds like there is an electric guitar there, I deeply apologize. But what! Mumford & Sons going electric? This song is definitely unique for the boys.
So, yes on first, second, and perhaps even third listen, Babel does sound a bit like Sigh No More 2.0 But don’t give up hope. The boys haven’t lost it. They just know what they’re good at. And any real Mumf fan out their knows – we love it!
¡Uno!, one of 3 upcoming Green Day albums [namely, the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy, a series of studio albums to be released from September 2012 to January 2013] was released on Sept. 25, and they’re back with long time producer Rob Cavallo. This album is much different from 21st Century Breakdown, with short spurts of energy, each song is sure to keep you dancing on your feet with a big smile on your face. From sexual tension “Stay The Night“ “Trouble Maker“, to love “Fell For You“ “Sweet 16“, to anger “Let Yourself Go“ “Loss of Control“, there is still a lot of emotion on this album that anyone can relate to. In the words of the band, ¡Uno! is like getting ready to go the party, and it definitely has that feel. Personal highlight: “Angel Blue”
It’s been a year since the all-female band Dum Dum Girls released their acclaimed second album, Only in Dreams, the follow up to their debut, I Will Be. It is obvious that these girls know how to do catchy fun noise pop tunes. However, on End of Daze they showed that their sound could develop into something more broad and genuine.
After listening to these five songs several times, I started becoming interested in the order of the tracks. “Mine Tonight” couldn’t be anything else but an opening, due to the slow and kind of dark beginning that turns into a more glowing, yet not cheerful, second half of the song. The languid style of Dee Dee’s vocals not only is in harmony with the music, but is also capable of transmitting the gloominess of the lyrics as when she sings: “There is nothing left, there is no light; need you here to be my guide”. This track, along with the friendly and danceable I Got Nothing, was recorded just after Only in Dreams was finished. The third song is a cover of Strawberry Switchblade’s “Trees and Flowers”. Again, Dee Dee’s voice stands out as it is a side of her we had never heard before that detaches from the playful melodies she is used to sing. This shows that her vocal abilities can extend into a bigger range and you can truly believe her when she says “I get so frightened, no one else seems frightened, only me.” The two left tracks are new songs and very different to each other. While “Lord Knows” elongates the melancholic mood, Season in Hell finishes the record with a pleasant and even joyful end, though it contrasts with the theme of the lyrics.
All the songs have a spectral and dreamy sound, probably influenced by the production of The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner, who also produced Only in Dreams. This EP is highly satisfying for consisting of only five songs, and is as solid as an album, as it delivers a variety of different textures and moods. Hopefully, this change will continue in Dum Dum Girls’ third album.