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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CD Reviews

    Bright Eyes: Cassadaga

    Cassadaga is a city in Florida known for its high concentration of psychics. None of them, however, could have predicted Conor Oberst’s maturation into an amazing artist.

    Oberst’s first few releases stigmatized his band, Bright Eyes, as self-loathing music for depressed teenagers. These descriptions were by no means out of line, but such a reputation made Bright Eyes the target of many jokes. Whether Oberst was attempting to dispel these notions of his artistic ability, he certainly has: Cassadaga is a winner.

    As with 2005’s I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, this album is full of twangy country sounds and acoustic guitars. In fact, this just might be the first Bright Eyes album you can take home to mom. This is a country music-acoustic rock crossover in the best of ways.

    Oberst’s vocals steal the show in “”Soul Singer In A Session Band,”” one of the album’s best tracks. The song also features rich instrumentation that most singer-songwriters can only dream of arranging. Oberst’s self-deprecating lyrics haven’t vanished, however. Near the middle of the song, Oberst moans, “”I was a hopeless romantic; now I’m just turning tricks.””

    Another showcase track is “”Middleman,”” which features a beautiful bass clarinet and a lap steel guitar. Instead of his depressed, hangover-inspired passages of old, Oberst offers thoughtful, honest poetry: “”The dead can hide beneath the ground and the birds can always fly, but the rest of us do what we must in constant compromise.””

    “”Lime Tree”” closes out the album with Oberst’s familiar quiet guitar strums and introspective lyrics. Its dreamlike mood is the perfect way to close out one of 2007’s best musical experiences thus far.

    – Patrick Valenzuela

    Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

    Amy Winehouse might not lead a trend bringing back soul music of the 1960s, but she will get this music out to younger people through, Back to Black.

    The track “”Me and Mr. Jones”” starts as a jazzy song until she bemoans, “”What kind of fuckery is this?”” She puts her own modern spin on the musical style like R&B groups of the past wouldn’t.

    The album has a ’60s sound reminiscent of Lauryn Hill’s “”Doo Wop (That Thing).”” Winehouse even features the melody of Diana Ross’ “”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”” in “”Tears Dry on their Own.”” The album plays as if it is out of the doo-wop era until a track with Ghostface Killah brings the listener back to the need today to feature rappers in music.

    – Amy Wieseneck

    Hell Yeah: Hell Yeah

    Hellyeah is like your great uncle with Alzheimer’s who shows up at your dorm room ready to celebrate your 5th birthday. The party’s over, and somebody’s about 15 years late.

    If you don’t know who Hellyeah is you’re not alone. The band is a self-proclaimed “”supergroup”” featuring members of Mudvayne and Nothingface, with drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott of Pantera being the only notable musician.

    Hellyeah’s debut album, Hellyeah, features title track “”Hellyeah,”” which isn’t that distinguishable from the rest of garbage on the album; after about the third song the CD starts to sound like a collection of professional wrestling themes.

    The record however has one song, “”In the Mood,”” that is better than anything else on the album and is quite listenable (because it’s only 58 seconds long).

    – Andrew Austin

    Blonde Redhead: 23

    Blonde Redhead has one of the most distinct sounds of any modern band, but such a quality is both good and bad. Lead vocalist Kazu Makino’s high notes can set a song’s mood better than any other instrument and her voice paired with the delicate rhythms of her bandmates make for a stellar combination in 23.

    Still, there’s not much new here after the band’s previous six albums. The group’s previous CD, Misery is a Butterfly, deviated, but this release brings them back on track with a lush sound.

    The album’s best song is its title track. “”23″” channels Radiohead’s energy while still keeping the beautiful Blonde Redhead sound intact.This isn’t your album if you want fast, chugging guitar riffs or bangin’ beats.

    – Patrick Valenzuela

    VNV Nation: Judgement

    Electro-industrial duo VNV Nation has returned with, Judgement, which you can expect to hear echoing throughout dark nightclubs. The album relies heavily on the band’s characteristic style, but members Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson are experienced and have their method down.

    Judgement has more cohesive rhythms and features more of Harris’ vocals than before. It picks up fast and keeps you moving with songs like “”The Farthest Star”” and the album’s most energetic song, “”Nemesis,”” until slowing down for the end, when the sound and the pace start to become monotonous and heavy-handed. These songs would have worked better if they were mixed earlier in the album.

    Simply stated: Fans shouldn’t pass Judgement; they should buy it.

    – Andrew Austin

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