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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    After five successful rock albums, the Foo Fighters have come out strong with a sixth, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. Listeners can expect the classic loud Foo sound, but with a little ’70s style experimentation and new harmonies.

    The first song on the album, “”The Pretender,”” sets the mood perfectly by blasting catchy choruses with loud, raw guitar riffs. Following is “”Let It Die”” and “”Erase Replace,”” which compliment sounds from the first track with shouts and hollers for the listener to join in on.

    Still staying true to rock sound, “”Long Road to Ruin”” has potential to be the next single along with “”Cheer Up Boys, Your Makeup Is Running.”” These tracks are especially welcomed for their intense, head-moving rock sound and gives light to Foo’s attempt to experiment with rock styles.

    Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
    Foo Fighters – RCA Records
    3 1/2 stars

    Most of the ’70s-style experimentation is exhibited in songs “”Stranger Things Have Happened,”” “”Summer’s End”” and “”Statues,”” in which the music gets mellow and the vocals switch from being in-your-face to acoustic. This could be a genius move, throwing the listener into a spin of harmonies that are not typical of Foo Fighters. But it could also just as easily leave the listener confused by the mix of styles.

    Maybe it’s the song “”The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners,”” about two Tasmanian miners who were trapped underground for two weeks, that really signals change in the sound of the album. The song defiantly embodies a bluegrass sound, thanks to guest guitarist Kaki King.

    The last two songs on the album, “”But Honestly”” and “”Home,”” have lead singer Dave Grohl playing the piano while singing for the first time on a Foo Fighters album. The product is somewhat mixed, leaving listeners with no last rock ballad that would have helped finish the album.

    The new style and sound experimentation keeps this album consistent and not at all predictable. Despite the new experimentation with sound, the Foo Fighters have managed to drop another solid rock album with plenty to listen to.

    Kelsey Ahlmark


    Aside from the seemingly valium-induced vocals, Iron and Wine’s new album, The Shepard’s Dog, is quite a change-up from vocalist-guitarist Sam Beam’s previous albums. Longtime fans will immediately notice the introduction of a wide array of new instruments, as opposed to the familiar intimacy of just Beam and his guitar.

    Songs like “”Boy with a Coin”” illustrate Beam’s apparent move away from the strictly folk music of his previous album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, toward a more Sufjan-esque form of alternative.

    While many fans will appreciate this progressive move, some avid fans of his previous albums may be jarred by the high energy and sudden presence of background music.

    The Shepard’s Dog also introduces electronic noises. Songs like “”Carousel”” illustrate Iron and Wine’s new, yet skillful, use of synthetic sounds.

    New listeners to Iron and Wine will appreciate the enthusiastic and interesting musicality of the new album, as long as they can get past Beam’s sometimes monotonous vocal range.

    The Shepard’s Dog
    Iron and Wine – Epic
    4 stars!

    Longtime listeners, if they can get past the new additions, will be overjoyed with the airy vocals and image-packed lyrics they know and love.

    Otto Ross


    Since its beginnings, Icelandic group Mǧm has steadily evolved from an experiment in atmospheric electronica to a full band with discernible songs.

    Its new fixation with structure is the first striking feature on Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy. This is bad news for old fans who were hoping for another album like 2002’s Finally We Are No One, as the ethereal female vocals and hypnotic piano themes are almost entirely absent. Instead, listeners will revisit the drum-heavy, melodic tracks of Mǧm’s 1999 debut, but turned up a notch.

    The shift is inevitable, as the band’s lineup has undergone a world of transformations over the last nine years. The now-septet’s most pleasant surprise – aside from nearly doubling in size – is its instrumentation, which has expanded to include live strings, harp, guitar and brass. These new organic layers, combined with folky male-female vocals, complement the electronic foundation very nicely.

    The album’s single, “”They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded,”” would be the likely result of giving Architecture in Helsinki a few laptops, a harmonica and some acid.

    The first minute or so of “”Dancing Behind My Eyelids”” is classic Mǧm – one almost expects the dreaminess to linger, but the band’s urge to dance overpowers its darker tendencies.

    Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy
    Múm – Fat Cat
    3 1/2 stars

    Other notable tracks include the mellow “”Moon Pulls”” and the drunken circus interlude “”Rhuubarbidoo.””

    While Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy is not a work of masterfully manufactured magic, it is nonetheless intriguing – if Mǧm were poison ivy, I’d smear it all over myself.

    Laura Hawkins

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