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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    In the rapidly diversifying modern music scene, “”alternative”” is no longer the best way to describe bands that push boundaries. For Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio, a fusion of electronica, hip-hop and African rhythms, the word is both misleading and untrue.

    With its synthesized beats overlapping singer Tunde Adebimpe’s chanting vocals, the single “”Staring at the Sun,”” from the 2004 release Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, established TV on the Radio as one of the hippest, most original bands around.

    In Return to Cookie Mountain, the upbeat moments are almost always hidden within eerie and dark passages of sound. In the opening track “”I Was a Lover,”” blistering horns mimic elephant calls and ’60s guitar distortions create a scary and primal atmosphere, until a lone piano releases the energy with an optimistic chord.

    The best track is “”Province,”” with its simple rhythm that shows off the soulful vocals of the band and guest singer David Bowie. “”Just like autumn leaves/We’re in for change/Holding tenderly to what remains,”” Adebimpe chants over twinkling and repeated atmospheric guitar.

    The darkness is pervasive. Take, for example, the song “”Things You Can Do,”” which starts out eerily, with Adebimpe talking more than singing. As the song goes on, lower-ranged saxophones add a sense of intense gloom.

    This is the kind of music that seems to belong in some underground Euro club. The pure originality and talent of TV on the Radio makes Return to Cookie Mountain one of the best releases of this year.

    9/10

    – Amy Wieseneck


    Metric’s front-woman Emily Haines puts on a wicked live show. She shouts, she pouts; she stomps her feet, twirls her arms and twists her face into all sorts of grimaces. She shoves herself into the thick nest of sweaty, gyrating fans and sings her heart out, captivating the audience while frequently breaching its comfort zone.

    So it’s totally unsurprising that her first solo outing, Knives Don’t Have Your Back, would display the kind of charisma that is rampant throughout her work with Metric. What is surprising is the direction she’s taken on the album. There are no razor-sharp dance anthems here – just a slow, plodding piano coupled with Haines’ girlish vocals and pensive lyrics.

    It’s as if the ghosts of ’70s folksingers Judee Sill or Laura Nyro have possessed Haines, minus the uplifting piano chords and the decade’s inherent cheesiness. Each song features Haines’ musings on life, which range from sweetly poetic lyrics, “”Crowd surf off to sea/Float toward the beach/If you find me, hide me/I don’t know where I’ve been,”” to cringe-worthy lyrics in “”Bros before hos is a rule, read the guidelines/You trouble me, your breasts heave when you sing.””

    It’s the lack of variety on Knives Don’t Have Your Back that ultimately makes it a letdown. While Haines is successful at creating a mood, the songs slide together without a clear focus, so the album feels like a snapshot of her at home, plink-plunking away on her piano and writing melancholy prose.

    6/10

    -Davida Larson


    There are ingenious hip-hop and rap parodies aplenty in Straight Outta Lynwood, “”Weird Al”” Yankovic’s recent album.

    And then there are the filler tracks.

    After “”Amish Paradise,”” Yankovic fans recognized that he was amazing when it came to making parodies of rap songs, and Yankovic realized this as well in Straight Outta Lynwood.

    “”White and Nerdy”” is a parody of “”Ridin’ Dirty,”” a rap song by Chamillionaire that Yankovic makes his own by changing the lyrics but still catching the high and low notes of every word. On this track, Yankovic raps, “”My MySpace page is all totally pimped out/I got people begging for my top eight spaces/Yo I know Pi to a thousand places/Ain’t got no grills but I still wear braces.””

    Yankovic also does a parody of Usher’s “”Confessions Part II”” that works as well as the original. The rap parody of R. Kelly’s “”In the Closet”” imitates Kelly’s high notes so well it’s scary.

    “”Weird Al”” knows how to sing, and using his voice for parodies of older songs allows him to showcase his talent as a singer.

    But the rest of the album fails to deliver. There is a lot of material reminiscent of the older Yankovic. You get the feeling he ran out of ideas for the rest of the songs.

    The album has too many tracks that aren’t parodies. They’re funny, but it’s the parodies that work for him because although the music may have been used already, his lyrics are still creative enough to make up for it.

    6/10

    – Ernesto Romero

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