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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CD Reviews

    CD Reviews

    Don’t believe what you’ve heard; Santogold is not another M.I.A. Santi White, a 32-year-old Philadelphia-born Brooklynite, has finally dropped her self-titled debut album after a year of causing a blog frenzy with leaked tracks. And yes, while M.I.A. and White might roll with the same crowd (Spank Rock, Amanda Blank, Diplo), the former member of post-punk band Stiffed and A&R representative has learned the inner workings of her field on her own, a feat that proves apparent on Santogold.

    “”L.E.S. Artistes”” opens the album with the most aurally stunning and complex of White’s lyrics as she muses “”You don’t know me/ I am an introvert, an excavator/ I’m duckin’ out for now/ A face in dodgy elevators.””

    The reggae-tinged, pop-rock electro mash-up of “”You’ll Find A Way”” doesn’t fit into the new wave pop-punk a la Siouxsie Sioux that rules most of the album, but manages to be one of the strongest songs on the release. White’s voice is full of quirky, staccato cracks as she sings “”Go ahead, I’ll be your junkie/ I’ll be deplete you can heap all rubbish here/ Go ahead, now dump it on me/ If I go quiet will the itch go down with me.””

    Santogold – Downtown
    4 stars!

    The poppy “”Unstoppable”” is almost so pop it’s twee as the song is introduced by a series of “”la la las”” and electronic bloops follow White’s monotone vocal glides. The cacophony of bloops sporadically accelerate as the drum machine manically pushes White to the end, a necessary push as the song, while a crowd-pleaser live, doesn’t translate as clearly on the album.

    With “”Anne,”” essentially the finale (regardless of how sweet the Switch and Sinden remix of “”You’ll Find A Way”” is), the same drum machine in “”Unstoppable”” is utilized with the addition of a snare as White hauntingly wails through the track – a chill-worthy moan destined to draw listeners in as she invokes a spirit, possibly to manage her beautiful rhymes about “”Jesus pieces”” (courtesy of collaborator and friend Spank Rock).

    For a rookie at her age, it is questionable how prolific an artist she might become, or if a future release will be feasible. The messy pop eccentricities of Santogold, however, prove this album to be one of the hottest releases of the year, and hopefully will only highlight more to come.

    Jamie Ross

    The B-52s are having a super sweet sixteen with their first release in sixteen years. Picking up right where they left off with their signature style of new wave poppy fun beats that are meant to be danced to, Funplex is just the bee’s knees. They sing about heartbreak at the mall, dancing in the disco, and partying everywhere. With a general retro theme of neon colors and corny outer space movies (reminiscent of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s lo-fi 1958 film “”Queen of Outer Space””) this is a feel-good album that won’t let you down. The B-52s combines the unique vocals of Cindy Wilson and lusty redhead Kate Pierson, interspersed with Fred Schneider’s distinct anecdotal rhymes. Schneider, who sang the “”Rocko’s Modern Life”” theme song, is best known for his “”sprechgesang”” singing-talking style.

    The B-52s spice it up with “”Deviant Ingredient”” where they slow the tempo a bit and keep it sexy by describing “”the deviant ingredient”” that makes you “”strip naked so soon.”” Bodies collide in “”Too Much to Think About”” and “”Hot Corner.”” Their last song “”Keep This Party Going”” is the anthem that will make you put the album on repeat. They suggest partying everywhere, including Washington D.C. when they sing “”Take this party to the White House lawn, things are getting dirty in Washington.””

    The B-52’s
    5 stars

    All in all, the B-52s had a blast making this album and you will have a blast listening to it at your next love shack party.

    Alexandria Kassman

    First of all, if you don’t know who Atmosphere is, I’m so sorry. The duo is one of the best underground (ish) hip-hop artists out there with a catalog that rivals any emcee’s. When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, their latest release, is a key addition to that catalog.

    When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
    4.5 stars

    Earnest, heartfelt, and masterfully done, this album is truly one of the best from Atmosphere. Producer Ant utilizes live instrumentation for a fresh sound to back up the ever-brilliant lyricism of emcee Slug. The combination is more potent than the cleverly described addiction in “”The Skinny.””

    The lyrics of this track illustrate Slug’s writing ability. We’re lead through a dark world of prostitution to the “”skinny white pimp”” who’s “”right there in your clothes and hair. You won’t never let him in your home, I can smell his breath on this microphone.”” Though not exactly subtle throughout, he reveals cigarettes as the hustler only at the end. This seemingly unimportant track shows the meticulous attention in writing and production given to the album throughout.

    Like the album title suggests, Slug has abandoned much of his angst and recollection of a difficult past for a more hopeful outlook. On the track “”Yesterday”” he’s down right sentimental, reconciling issues with a lost father. Production matches mood on my personal favorite “”Guarantees,”” where Atmosphere goes acoustic, yes, acoustic. The only instrumentation on this track is an acoustic guitar and it’s all it needs. I heard this song live back in the fall and I’m thrilled the experiment made it to an album.

    Overall, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold has to be one of the best albums of the year even though it’s only May. I could write all day about the smooth guitar drop of “”Painting”” or the poignant story telling of “”Music Box”” and I might not even have time to mention the funky groove laced single “”Shoulda Know.”” But instead I’ll save my space and say only this: get this album, supplement it with daily doses of classics like God Loved Ugly, and let the healing begin.

    Mitch Levine

    Augustana is one of those bands you typically hear on a dramatic romantic/comedy television series like “”Grey’s Anatomy””; it provides a lovely backdrop, but it isn’t terribly dynamic on its own. Following the success of the infectiously catchy and breathtaking single “”Boston”” from their freshman album, Augustana doesn’t quite hit the mark with Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, but provides that lovely backdrop, nevertheless.

    First track “”Hey Now”” calmly breezes in with light guitar strumming and whispery vocals that are suddenly awakened by front man Dan Layus’s glass-clear vocals that slice through: “”Hey, we’re just bleeding for nothing.””

    Can’t Hurt, Can’t Love
    2.5 stars

    “”Sweet and Low,”” the band’s single, is a decent enough song with a repetitive, yet catchy chorus and Layus sounding uncannily like country artist Keith Urban.

    “”Twenty Years”” is one of the better tracks on the album that flaunts a strings/tambourine/piano/acoustic guitar fusion that feels heart-swelling as the strings leap out and intensify.

    “”Dust”” is also one of the album’s more impressive tracks, yet has Layus sounding too much like Urban once again. The song begins with just Layus’s voice supported closely by backup vocals and the song has an overall raw composition that gains depth with organs and a strong chorus. “”Where Love Went Wrong”” gives the sophomore album a strong finish as is closes with an incessant wave of drums, piano, vocals and strings.

    Save a few decent tracks, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt seems to blur conveniently into the background.

    Kelli Hart

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