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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New indie music invades store shelves

    Bright Eyes: Four Winds EP

    Inevitably, any mention of Bright Eyes will draw criticism of Conor Oberst. The most common critique is that his music is much too whiny and sad. His music may be a little of both, but it’s damn good. This EP is the best material he’s ever released.

    Four Winds features six tracks that show off a grown up Bright Eyes building off the best parts of 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. Songs like “”Stray Dog Freedom”” are fun with their great guitar work. Yes, Bright Eyes can be fun! There are still some of the typical negative lyrics, but the EP has a much more uplifting feel.

    This is of course an obvious purchase for rabid fans. If you’re at all interested in this young indie rock sensation, there’s no better introduction to Bright Eyes than this EP.

    – Patrick Valenzuela

    RDJ2: The Third Hand

    Like R2D2 from Star Wars, hip-hop producer and musician RJD2 has a lot of tricks and gadgets at his disposal. The Ohio native is a prolific artist with seven albums under his sleeve and has worked with hip-hop artists like MF Doom and Aceyaloan.

    His eighth album, The Third Hand, draws from a number of different sonic influences, with nods to hip-hop, rock, pop and techno. Unfortunately, this kind of ambitious melding of different sounds results in a rather dull and unfocused work. The first song, the piano-laced “”You Never Had It,”” has an interesting beat and soothing vocals, but suffers from the lack of a good hook. Some of the instrumental tracks fare better, like the slightly menacing “”Murs Beat,”” or “”Legends,”” which sounds like it would fit in as the soundtrack to a science fiction television show. There are flashes of real brilliance, too, like the infectious beat in “”Beyond the Beyond,”” which will certainly have you bobbing your head.

    Though there are some interesting moments in The Third Hand, the album falls flat and drowns underneath the number of stylistic changes. Maybe if RJD2 would focus on one sound and throw in a few hooks, he could really turn a few heads.

    – Nick Hornung

    !!!(Chk Chk Chk): Myth Takes

    If you thought the long-distance collaboration for the Postal Service was special, they’ve got nothing on Chk Chk Chk. Based in Portland, Sacramento and New York City, Chk Chk Chk is a seven-man gang of dance-punk demi-gods.

    Chk Chk Chk’s sound is hard to describe. Think something along the lines of Prince giving Darth Vader a lap dance; kind of creepy, kind of funky, but mostly weird. Suffice to say, their newest album Myth Takes is vintage Chk Chk Chk.

    The highlight of the album happens when the energy simmers and Chk Chk Chk slows it down for the track “”Yadnus.”” The song is a mesh of ZZ Top-like guitar riffs, screeching vocals and a beat ripped from convicted sex offender Gary Glitter’s anthem “”Rock and Roll, Pt. 2.”” The track is cooler than a cartoon cat wearing sunglasses peddling you cheese-flavored snacks.

    If the concept of dance fused with punk raises your eyebrows, disco your way to the record store and pick up this album.

    – Andrew Austin

    Air: Pocket Symphony

    For the uninitiated, Air is a French duo known for their electronic pop. While they have always been fond of slow, gloomy tracks, the record is full of them.

    Pocket Symphony at times channels the magic of Massive Attack’s album Mezzanine with some success. One such song is “”One Hell of a Party”” and features Jarvis Cocker from Pulp. Its gentle piano sounds marvelous, but it would benefit from an explosion of sound.

    The album’s strongest track is “”Mer du Japon”” which would sound at home on a masterpiece such as Radiohead’s Kid A.

    Sadly, this album is pretty forgettable. The group’s previous material like 10,000 Hz Legend is much more interesting. Fans of Air will likely dig this one for quiet times like studying, but most won’t get much from this release.

    – Patrick Valenzuela

    Jesus: Conqueror

    Post-metal bands seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days, but Jesu have come across the pond from England to join the ranks with bands like Isis and Pelican.

    Conqueror differs from its contemporaries by putting an emphasis on vocals. The 10-minute “”Weightless and Horizontal”” is stunning, with Broadrick’s voice soaring above the sludgy guitars.

    Some of the tracks, like the opening title track, have an obnoxious repeated vocal melody.

    Conqueror is a fine record for progressive rock fans who aren’t ready for the roaring vocals of Isis, but want something heavier than Explosions in the Sky. Since it is only their second full-length release, one can expect the faults and weaknesses will wash away with time.

    – Nick Hornung

    Arcade Fire: Neon Bible

    Montreal’s Arcade Fire has become one of the most critically praised acts of the past few years. This makes sense because latest scientific research conclusively proves that they are in fact the best band ever.

    Although it doesn’t reach the emotional heights and melodic intimacy of Funeral, their new album is amazing in its own right. Named after the John Kennedy Toole novel, Neon Bible is a dark departure from the personal tones of Arcade Fire’s earlier work.

    The music figuratively transforms from a country road into an ocean in scope and the songs start to pull the entire genre of baroque pop to places Sufjan Stevens couldn’t even begin to follow. The best example is a symphonic reworking of the song “”No Cars Go”” from their self-titled 2003 EP.

    The opening ten tracks however could just be a prologue for the finale “”My Body is a Cage.”” The last song is amazingly introspective and intimate, managing somehow to turn the entire theme of the album inside out.

    Neon Bible may not be as good as Funeral and misses on a few marks, but it’s a very solid work with long, blinding periods of brilliance.

    – Andrew Austin

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