Categories
New Album Review

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 11/18/08

‘Dear Science’ another triumph for TV On The Radio
Jon Gomes
DJ, WKNC 88.1 FM

TV On The Radio is a musical force to be reckoned with. Since the release of Young Liars EP in 2003, the experimental Brooklyn-based group has made three highly lauded albums. Their latest effort, Dear Science, follows up on 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain, which topped several critics’ lists. The new album sheds the density of its predecessor in favor of a more flavored, balanced sound.

The music on Dear Science is a confluence of funky synth hooks, visceral Afrobeat rhythms and sexy horns—all presented in a well-produced package. Atop this amalgamation, vocalist Tunde Adebimpe lays down impassioned lyrics, adding swagger to heavier tracks and depth to the slower ones. Falsetto accents and an infectious vocal melody underlie the opener “Halfway Home,” a smoldering surf-rock-inspired number that climaxes into chaos towards the coda. The album quickly shifts gears with the laid-back groove of “Crying,” and again with the frenetic “Dancing Choose.” In the latter, purring synths bolster insistent rap verses and brazen, horn-laden choruses.

Dear Science reverts to a more relaxed sound for the next few tracks. A swaying beat and layered strings lend themselves to the sublime mood of “Stork and Owl.” Rhythms tense up for “Golden Age,” which showcases TV On The Radio’s skill in weaving horns and strings into songs. However, the album’s true highlight lies in the next track, a poignant, string-driven ballad entitled “Family Tree.” Adebimpe’s layered vocals and poetic lyrics add to the song’s beauty—ethereal, but not in the typical ambient post-rock sense.

The warmth quickly melts away with the biting and angular “Red Dress.” Featuring incredibly funky chicken-scratch guitar and syncopated African-flavored beats, it is easily the most aggressive song on the album. The brassy, in-your-face chorus complements the snarled lyrics. Yet another musical transition occurs with the swoopy and airy “Love Dog.” The next song, “Shout Me Out,” is one of the most dynamic tracks on the album. Brooding, guitar-driven verses smolder before erupting into a triumphant, percussive movement halfway into the song.

Smooth and relaxed, “DLZ” stands out for its excellent lyrics. Adebimpe’s talent for writing is evident with lines, such as “This is beginning to feel like the long-winded blues of the never / Barely controlled locomotive consuming the picture and blowing the crows, the smoke.” Dear Science comes to a pleasant close with “Lover’s Day,” a galloping track that epitomizes the group’s composite sound. The song tapers to stripped vocals and horns over a driving drum beat, a contrast from the opening track.

As a whole, Dear Science has the hallmarks of a five-star album. Every track is distinct but consistent in quality. The lyrical work is novel and exploratory. And it simply sounds good—the production by band member Dave Sitek is stellar. The album’s only questionable aspect is flow and the frequent changes in mood between songs. Regardless, there is not a solid reason why Dear Science isn’t worthwhile. To understand the buzz about TV On The Radio, just listen to their latest release.

88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.

Categories
Non-Music News

State of State Encore: NCSU Linguistics

Join us tonight for a special encore edition of State of State. M.C. talks with Professor Walt Wolfram from the linguistics program at N.C. State. Tune in Mondays from 7-8 p.m. or subscribe to the weekly podcast. Be sure to send your show ideas to M.C. at stateofstate@wknc.org.

Categories
Concert Preview Local Music

Local Beer Local Band

Join us Thursday night, November 13 for music from Buzzaround and Luego. It’ll be a full moon.

Categories
New Album Review

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 11/10/08

Miniature Tigers’ debut provides quick, yet infectious experience
Kyle Robb
General Manager, WKNC 88.1 FM

Despite being named as “one of the 25 best bands on Myspace” in December 2006 by Rolling Stone magazine, Miniature Tigers remain largely anonymous. But this Pheonix, Ariz., band, masterminded by singer/guitarist Charlie Brand and drummer Rick Schaier, have released an album of harmonious, catchy, indie-pop songs which threaten to permeate throughout the popular music scene much like Vampire Weekend and MGMT did earlier this year.

Miniature Tigers’ debut, Tell it to the Volcano, was released this September, and the band embarked on its first ever national tour in October.

Volcano opens with a track called “Cannibal Queen” which is reminiscent of Ben Kweller in style and delivery, maintaining a straight road towards a state of light, breezy, indie pop. Other standouts like the title track, “The Wolf,” “Annie Oakley” and “Tchaikovsky & Solitude” represent a continuation of the style the album builds from its opener, and each track is as catchy as the Bubonic Plague.

Listening to Tell it to the Volcano in its entirety, Miniature Tigers sounds like a seasoned band, not one that’s just beginning to tour. All the pieces of the complex pop songs fit together just right, making them stick in your head after only one listen. The major flaw of the album lies not within the content, but with the sheer lack of quantity. The album has 11 tracks, none of which exceed three minutes and 31 seconds, bringing the total album length to a paltry 29:05. A short collection of two minute songs can serve to curb the musical ADHD which listeners can oftentimes suffer, but ultimately the brevity of the album leaves the consumer craving more content.

An excerpt from their website perhaps sums them up best: “Miniature Tigers combine influences ranging from The Beatles to The Beach Boys, from Pinkerton to Indiana Jones, creating infectious, pitch perfect indie-pop that boldly wears its heart on its sleeve. In the world of Miniature Tigers, songs of unrequited love and relationship anxiety are transformed with animal metaphors and translated into gripping adventure narratives populated by Vikings, swashbucklers, gunfighters, cannibals, undersea creatures and dinosaurs.”

88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.

Categories
Local Music Non-Music News

State of State #3: Bright Young Things

M.C. talks with up-and-coming Raleigh band Bright Young Things. Four of the five members are current or former NCSU students. The program includes an interview with the band and live recording from their Nov. 7 show at The Pour House. Music in this podcast used with permission.

Tune in Mondays from 7-8 p.m. or subscribe to the weekly podcast. Bright Young Things will also be playing with Whistlestop at WKNC’s Local Beer Local Band on Nov. 20.

Click here for episode three.

Categories
Non-Music News

State of State #2: NCSU Linguistics Program

On the next “State of State,” M.C. talks with Professor Walt Wolfram from the linguistics program at N.C. State. Tune in Mondays from 7-8 p.m. or subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Click here for episode two.

Categories
Podcasts

State of State #1: NCSU Women’s Center

Categories
Non-Music News

State of State #1: NCSU Women’s Center

This week on “State of State” we feature the Women’s Center at NCSU. October has been a big month with activities such as Chocolate Fest, Love your Body Day, and Take Back the Night. This program includes interviews with those involved in Men Against Rape and The Movement.

Click here for episode one.