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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CD Reviews

    Although Why? has been misleadingly categorized as indie rap, its sound is a far cry from the kitschy electronic beatmaking of today’s hipster hip-hop scene. The Oakland-based quintet’s sound definitely utilizes elements of the former, but is grounded in alternative rock, even sometimes drawing comparisons to bands like Cake.

    Singer Yoni Wolf’s (I’m sure everyone’s pointed it out, but Jesus) verse is a hybrid between indie sing-songs done by Of Montreal and Co., old school rap and a smorgasbord of assorted musical nods. His lyrics, the mainstay of the album, read as honest accounts of feelings and sometimes bizarre stories similar to what someone would write in a personal journal.

    Why? – Anticon
    3 1/2 stars

    Wolf croons in “”The Hollows”” about a trip to Germany: “”In Berlin I saw two men fuck in a dark corner of a basketball court/ Just the slight jingle of pocket change pulsing/ In the tourist part I lost 50 euros to a guy with the walnut shells and the marble/ It really pissed me off so ooh I thought I’d go back to get my money/ But all my homies warn me/ Oh no, these gypsies probably got knives.””

    The album isn’t exactly dance material, but benefits from the lack of genre constraints and soars with honest and compelling poetry.

    – Andi Berlin

    The cover artwork of Dengue Fever’s Venus on Earth makes it look like the funkiest album ever. Unfortunately, it’s closer to the funkiest Sting album ever.

    Named after a deadly tropical disease, Dengue Fever are a Los Angeles-based sextet with a strong affinity for Cambodian pop – or, more specifically, the psychedelic Cambodian pop scene of the ’60s, which was heavily influenced by American surf pop like Dick Dale, before the Khmer Rouge put a grisly end to their beach parties.

    In theory, Dengue Fever ought to be spectacular. Drawing on everything from Ethiopian music to contemporary European dance pop, it ought to combine the best of all pop worlds.

    Venus on Earth
    Dengue Feverð ð- M80
    2 stars

    The trouble is that the tone of the album is so meandering, lugubrious and ballad-heavy that it’s downright dull. There are lovely moments here and there, but for the most part, even the melancholy touches seem second-hand and unfelt.

    A few tracks stand out. With its thin, ominous horn refrain, “”Laugh Track”” could be on the soundtrack to a ’70s thriller. Meanwhile, the bouncy “”Oceans of Venus,”” with its combination of honking instruments and eerie screeching noises, is like a half-remembered dream of a Dick Dale concert.

    Nothing else here, not even “”Woman in the Shoes,”” which begins hauntingly, but winds up as plodding as anything else raises its head above water very long before sinking wearily back into the muck.

    Instead of displaying the richness and tanginess of each of the sources it draws on, Venus on Earth is as bland as a multicultural milkshake.

    – Justyn Dillingham

    Before you listen to the American noir/post-punk band’s fourth album, you need to decide which side of Murder By Death you prefer. If you fancy the style from MBD’s first album, Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing with its classical undertones and long, intricate tracks, Red of Tooth and Claw may not be the album for you.

    MBD is known for its raw quality that lacks overproduction and lets the craft of the instruments stand for itself. Though the band’s new album is instrumentally incredible, which isn’t any stretch for the phenomenally talented quartet, the vocals aren’t strong enough to compliment the rest of the album.

    Red of Tooth and Claw
    Murder by Death – Vagrant Records
    2 1/2 stars

    For starters, “”Comin’ Home”” kicks off Red of Tooth and Claw with lead vocalist Adam Turla sounding like Johnny Cash. The track has an old western theme to it, which carries through the album.

    “”Ball and Chain”” and “”Rumbrave”” exhibit the same western twang, ominous feeling and frantic beat, yet neither are all that impressive.

    The first song flaunting solid vocals and composition is “”Fuego!””. The drilling drums, waving cello and low melody float into the seductive lyrics that describe a steamy sexual encounter and a chorus that repeats “”I want you.””

    “”Theme (for Ennio Morricone)”” isn’t nearly long enough to progress into its full potential, but hangs on for a short while to let typical MBD guitar reel the song in on a lasso and let the cello hum alongside the guitar and gather up a handful of horns and drums.

    The remaining worthwhile tracks on the album include “”A Second Opinion”” and “”Ash,”” which produce decent choruses.

    Upon listening to Red of Tooth and Claw, the obvious constants of the album are Sarah Balliet’s unceasing cello skills and the irking realization that Turla’s voice is just too much like Cash’s at times. Murder By Death is a phenomenal band with a sound that is unlike many others, but they just didn’t deliver this time around.

    – Kelli Hart

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