New Album Review

Now Playing: 4/9/10

The Apples in Stereo- Travellers in Space and Time

Travellers in Space and Time

Playing off of space motifs and sounds that would easily fit inside a 70s shows about the Universe, these guys create another amazing album that’s easy to dance to and lighthearted.

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Matt Pond PA- The Dark Leaves

Beautiful, enchanting, romantic. These are the types of songs that guys in high school play to their girlfriends on prom night. Imagine a fast paced Bon Iver.

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Black Francis- Nonstoperotik

Like The Pixies? This is a solid effort by front man Black Francis who abandons more psychodelic elements and leans more toward traditional rock and roll.

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Codeine Velvet Club- Codeine Velvet Club

This vexingly vintage album from Lou Hickney and Jon Lawler (Fratellis) sounds as sultry and fun as the cover looks. You get that late 50s/early 60s Big Band sound with amazing  boy/girl duets.

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Roky Erickson & Okkervil River- True Love Cast Out All Evil

True Love Cast Out All Evil

This album is amazing. This Texan legend dabbles in all kinds of musical genres on this recorded including country, blues, garage rock, and lo-fi psychedelic folk. His lyrics are of a man who has been through a lot and trust me, they will tear at your heart and soul.

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Rotary Downs – Cracked Maps & Blue Reports

This is like psychedelic art pop. Sometimes feels a little to much like a jam session but the layered male/female juxtaposes between the innovative instrumentation. Sounds like a mixture of Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Wolf Parade!

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cario Gang- The Wonder Show of the World

The Wonder Show of the World

Beautiful folk songs that are equally heartbreaking and uplifting sometimes. This album general has minimal instrumentation  which gives it that haunting feel yet it still delivers with a powerful punch. A perfect addition for any fans of Iron and Wine.

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Future Islands- In Evening Air

In Evening Air

WOW, they really out did themselves with this one. Post-new wave synth rockers with a lead singer that will melt your face off with his crooning. A+ gentlemen, A+.

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Benyaro- Good Day Better

An acoustic trio from Brooklyn that sings folky country music that resembles the Avett Brothers. Pretty decent, but at times I got annoyed with how happy they are.

Tarlton- Evergreens


Imagine if the band Grandaddy and Iron and Wine decided to create a dark, almost distorted rock music together. Not bad, but at times this can get a little heavy and overloaded.

Trans Am- Thing


Post electronic instrumental rock music. I mean do what you want with that.

Turin Brakes- Outbursts

The fifth album in nine years from this London modern folk duo, this CD is a perfect transition from winter into spring. Melodic strumming, finger picking, and interesting lyrics combine to create an uplifting feel; however at times I feel the vocals are straining and the album loses energy as it progresses.

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Nathaniel Rateliff- In Memory Of Loss

In Memory of Loss

Minimalistic neo-folk; imagine the power and affecting emotion of Mumford & Sons slowed down to the pace of Bon Iver. He can be quiet, or bellowing, but his voice always moves you. All he needs for instrumentation is tip-toeing pianos and guitars around the edge of his booming voice.

Mimicking Birds – Mimicking Birds

Drawing heavy influences from Modest Mouse [maybe because the whole album was recorded in Isaac Brock’s home studio] this CD creates an ethereal ambiance. Intricate lyrics paired with soothing guitar melodies, soft pianos, light horns and the added whispering and raspy vocals give way to a delicate album filled with layers. Play if you are in a slow and soft mood.

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Hurricane Bells – Tonight is the Ghost

Secret solo project of Steve Schiltz from Longwave, Hurricane Bells was popularized by the featured track on the New Moon soundtrack. While more subdued and mellow than “Monsters” it has a Shout Out Louds kinda feel. Even the more upbeat tracks have a quiet and gentle feel. At times he opts for natural vocals and other times he uses a filtered effect which gives the album an interesting twist.

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True Womanhood – Basement Membranes

Eerie, dark, and texturally fascinating, this debut album features vviolent crashes and other weird sounds as percussion which round out this experimental album from three DC natives. Experimental like early Radiohead, but way more accessible. Play if you feel like going on a unconventional journey.

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Sarah Jarosz – Song Up In Her Head

While the female vocals are almost on the verge of being too simple, the contrasting intricacies of the composition and instrumentation of each song creates a very pleasing overall balance. The picking, strumming, and plucking of strings rivals that of Mumford & Sons, but the lyrics aren’t quite as profound. Play if you want to add some bluegrass flavor without making you listeners lose their daytime appetite.

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Tunng- And Then We Saw Land

And Then We Saw Land

Sprinkled with bursts of electric guitars, woodwind riffs, and synthesizer blips, this is twangy, sensitive Brit folk-rock with soft, sweet vocal harmonies (think The Boy Least Likely To).  It’s oh-so-precious and it improves with repeated listens.

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Laura Marling- I Speak Because I Can

Beautiful British folk. The songs are soft and poetic working off of Marling’s amazing voice and acoustic guitar. She’s not as sad as she is defiant in this one.

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The White Stripes- Under Great White Northern Lights

If you love The White Stripes you’re going to love this live album. Jack White showcases his amazing talent as a guitarist and constantly gets creative with whatever song he is playing. This is on that sounds better the louder you listen to it.

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Manchester Orchestra- Live at Park Ave.

Super slow paced live songs that are pretty stripped down and simple. If you’re a fan of down tempo live music, you’ll probably like this one too.

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River City Extension- And the Unmistakable Man

And the Unmistakable Man

This is the kind of album a guy writes after he had a nasty break up. Energetic out of frustration there is still a hint of loneliness. They use instruments that at first come together as Tex-Mex, but they do so in a way that gives it a pop tempo at times.

Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social – Love it to Life

Jesse Malin is back on the map with his latest release.  Loud pianos, jumping guitars, and drums that keep up a fast beat, create a rock sound that is sure to get you moving and stomping your feet. “The Archer” and “Lonely at Heart” were inspired by Salinger which is evident because these songs are softer than the rest of the album. Very cohesive and catchy Malin proves he isn’t ready to stop making music yet.

Communist Daughter – Soundtrack to the End

Soundtrack to the End

Simple, sweet and luscious this six piece Minnesota band debuts with a melancholy pop sounding album. Never hard, they smoothly transition from song to song and blend dreamy boy/girl harmonies reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian to give listeners a warm feeling. They make sad lyrics sound happy and will be easy to get into.

Night Driving in Small Towns – Serial Killer

Serial Killer

Hushed and quiet, this duo is a lighter version of Rilo Kiley but with equal male and female vocals. They incorporate youthful, intimate lyrics with pretty harmonies and at times remind me a lot of Stars minus the synth and more amateur. Even though the production of this album could have been better, it will provide a perfect blend into your indie show.

herMajesty – Images from the Vanishing Night

Not really my cup of tea, but worth a listen. Enchanting post-rockish with a lead singer who sounds like he’s from some old Morrisey-ish type band. Play if you’re feeling a little curious for something different.

Meklit Hadero- On a Day Like This

I am seriously addicted to this album! Fresh, easy going, jazzy and R&B inspired, I feel like I’m floating on clouds listening to the intoxicating vocals of Meklit. Violins, light drums & jazz instruments paint the perfect backdrop for her breezy lyrics. Along the same lines of Fiona Apple, Florence, just mix in a soulful, Ethiopian twist.

Elsinore- The Chemicals EP

Elsinore is in the FYC of indie rock school – they just can’t decide on what they want their sound to be yet. While their slow numbers have potential (think the XX), their more up tempo tracks are what stand out (think a less mousy Ben Gibbard with a clash of Temper Trap). Track 5 rightly named “Yes Yes Yes,” comes out of nowhere at the end, with a mad blend of clapping, horns, and electronic beats. This is the sound they should major in, hands down (or up!)

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Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame

Shame, Shame

This album makes me happy. It’ll make you happy, too. It’s like one of those mix cds you find jammed under the passenger’s seat it’s familiar, nostalgic even, yet surprisingly refreshing. Dr. Dog has truly embraced their sound (think Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, or the Morning Benders singing 50’s Brit rock this time adding layer upon layer of synths, vocal harmonies, and surging guitar hooks. It’ll be a shame shame if you don’t play this.

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New Album Review

Reviews of two new reggae albums

Indubious – Cosmic Seed

Portland, Oregon’s Indubious is a trio of conscious musicians bringing funky, spaced out rhythms with a roots raggamuffin lyrical style that are similar to pacific rock bands such as The Black Seeds crossed with dancehall artists much like Damian Marley. Cosmic Seed, their second album, shows a notable progression from their debut, Fresh Leaves, which in itself was a fine album. Spanning from straight up reggae tracks like Be Kind to more Hip-Hop influenced ones such as Golden Tongue, which, by the way, is a collaboration with fellow dancehall heavyweight Prezident Brown, this album has something that anyone could appreciate. The variety of styles does not take from the flow of the album though as all of the songs are untited by a common message of peace and rightousness.

Alborosie – Escape From Babylon To The Kingdom Of Zion

I am not usually fond of VP releases, but I have to say this is an exception. Contrary to most VP records Alborosie’s  Escape From Babylon To The Kingdom Of Zion boasts excellent production. While this in no way roots reggae, my preference, this unmistakeably dance hall record hits all the way through. Plenty of dub style reverb and effects mixed with horns, plenty of bass, and hot lyrics makes this a catchy album with plenty of great tracks. Perhaps what makes this release different from other VP releases is that Alborosie is a multi-instrumental artists playing every part on many of his songs.  A few of my favorite tracks were Kingston Town, Money, and Kingdom of Zion.

New Album Review

The attack of “Aealo”

Aealo is a Greek word meaning thrashing, catastrophe, or destruction. That is exactly what Rotting Christ’s latest album does – it destroys.  However, it does so in a beautiful way. It may crush you and pummel you, but it will find a way to lift you up with its guitar melodies.

I have always been a fan of Rotting Christ, and I enjoy all of their albums. Though the band may be as old as I am, this hasn’t stopped them from progressing and defining itself with each new album. “Aealo” is no exception to that rule.

Every song on the album is an entity of its own, bringing in so many elements from past albums as well as adding new elements at the same time.  It’s hard to pick just one song on this album because each one is that good, able to stand on its own. You could randomly pick any song on the album and you would still leave it on repeat.  What makes this album really standout is that it incorporates Mediterranean influences into the songs, such as Greek chants, and Greek melodies played on guitars. I want to pick out songs for someone interested to listen to, but I cannot, because they are all equally as impressive.  If I had to rate this album, I couldn’t because it is that well done. Sakis has written some of his best riffs to date, and Themis performs some of his best drumming on this album.

To use a quote I saw from Sakis in an interview with, “This album is Hellenic, it is Greek.” And maybe that is what makes this album so amazing.  There is no question – I believe I have already found my album of the year, maybe even of the decade.  I cannot tell you how much I recommend this album to anybody who enjoys metal, or who wishes to expand their music library and tastes.  From the opening chants to the closing riffs,  you will be blown away by this album. The members of Rotting Christ are true defenders of metal, and keep the banner of not only the left hand path raised high, but also the banner of metal, and this album shows that.

New Album Review

Astro Coast by Surfer Blood

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 2/3
By Seth White

Surfer Blood might have crashed ashore a decade and a half too late. Their uncomplicated yet greatly appreciated guitar riffs scream mid 90’s rock with every energizing breath. The Florida foursome’s debut, Astro Coast, draws heavily on the fuzz of Built to Spill and the catchy choruses of Weezer, all while pushing forward with the Beach Boys’ vision of surf-rock.

The albums most accessible tracks involve the strong hooks of both sing-a-long vocals, and catchy guitar licks that you’ll hear on songs like “Swim” (the albums first single), “Twin Peaks” and “Floating Vibes”. “Swim’s” chorus is probably the catchiest of the lot, or at least repeated enough to make it seem so. Aloud or in your head you will be chanting along to “Swim to reach the end” by the end of your first listen. The guitar work adds to the vocals by not trying to be overly fast or inventive, the riffs or slow and study enough to keep these songs afloat.

The band changes the tempo with “Take it Easy”. It is much more up beat and happier than most of the other tracks, almost as if they were trying to pull off a Vampire Weekend cover. Here the guitars trimmed back slightly to display the mix various drumming styles and reverb-filled melodies.

Two of the latter tracks, “Slow Jabroni” and “Anchorage”, break the power-pop mold of a three-minute time limit and are allowed to build to their full potential. “Slow Jobroni”, like the title suggest is much slower than any other song on the album. It crawls through its first three minutes before the epic guitars truly begin to kick.

“Anchorage” on the other hand jump-starts with heavy drums but then feels relatively drawn out. However, good things come to those who wait. The songs last minute gives it its full flavor, drowned out “oooh”s give way to a wonderfully fitting closing solo.

The album finishes with probably their strongest song. “Catholic Pagans”. This relatively short gem is comprised of great lyrics, a feedback ending, and pretty much everything that makes this band great.

For the most part Astro Coast does not fall in line with the much of what is considered “indie rock” today. It’s not an album that you need to clear your mind and your surroundings to grasp a hold of, and it doesn’t take multiple listens to finally “get it”. It is much too simple for that. This album will grab with the first note and kick you to your feet with the second. Needless to say it is a promising start from and up and coming band, and not bad for an album they recorded in their dorm room.

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

New Album Review

WKNC Pick of the Week 2/25

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 2/25

Wrath and Rapture
Jonathan Newman

What happens when you combine power metal with black metal? You get Wrath and Rapture, a Carolina band from Winston-Salem. Though what may seem like an odd combination, actually works quite well. Though the vocals made it sound evil, I still couldn’t help but raise my fist during the bridges because they reminded me so much of power metal, that it brought a smile to my face. Never before have I smiled while listening to black metal. However, the style of music is not the only thing that makes me smile, but the talent that these Carolina boys have with their instruments.

When the CD first opens we have a keyboard intro which reminds me so much of Rhapsody its not even funny, yet it still has you bobbing your head along with it and then just as it slows down to the ubiquitous sound of thunder, a evil voice prepares you for what is to come, but nothing can prepare you for the kick in the teeth that is “The Dirge of Fallen Heroes”. With a powerful guitar and gutteral vocals it prepares you for a black metalness, but then suddenly throws in a power metal keyboard riff which confuses you yet mesmerizes you at the same time. Then the song takes a huge leg left into technical black metal and beats you down. “Disbodiment” mixes about 5 different genres together in one song, but while this may seem disorienting, it actually works quite well and makes one of the most memorable songs in the album due to its sheer chaos. The next three songs are all instrumental that all bleed into one song before beating you in ears with a sonic blast with “A Breathtaking Tragedy”, a straightforward black-core song. Nothing too fancy about it, but it shows that a band can take many different paths and not just have to stick to only one genre. However, besides “Dirge” one of my favorite songs on the whole album is “Cosmic Wasteland” because it sounds like Sonata Arctica and The Faceless wrote and performed the song. I could just picture a knight riding a robot dragon across the cosmos while the song was playing. Very epic.

The only problem with this album is all the instrumentals. There are ten songs on here, and yet half of them are instrumentals and one is a cover song. That doesn’t leave much original material, and this could have made a good EP, as the whole album is only 30 minutes long. It’s still a great release though, and I look forward to see what they put out next.

88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at and>

New Album Review

DEADMAU5 “At Play Vol.2”

Debuting on DJ Mags hallowed annual Top 100 DJ poll at #11 – beating the likes of the legendary DJ’s Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox, Deadmau5 pronounced Dead Mouse is riding the crest of a very ion-demand musical wave.

Now with Deadmau5 floating high on the A list circuit, getting splashed on the covers of magazine and packing it out at the world’s largest clubs, Deadmau5 at Play is a timely reminder of a talent discovered and music that was well ahead of its time.

The unmixed LP features club favorites.  Also included in the package are Deadmau5s collaborations with Play Records found and owner, Melleefresh.

Tracks like Afterhours, which charted at number one on the Beatports Top 100 and nominated for best dance track at the JUNO awards (Canada equivalent of the Grammys) sit alongside old school favorites like Cocktail Queen and Hey Baby making this a true collector’s treat!

International electro-house dance diva and world renowned club bunny, Melleny Melody aka Melleefresh launched Play Records in 1996 with partner in crime, DJ Spydabrown. Over the years, Play Records has become one of Canada’s foremost labels for electro house and an internationally recognized purveyor of “new, fresh and bangin’ vibes for the dance floor.”

Melleefresh vs. Deadmau5 began to collaborate on remixes of Melleefresh’s hit Beautiful Rich and Horny. After a great UK response from the vinyl remixes (not to mention a notorious YouTube video of four girls lip synching the song in their car across the English countryside), Melleefresh and Deadmau5 began working on new original material that consists of what can be joyfully described as dirty mix of filthy, trashed-out, and downright sexy electro-house.

New Album Review

88.1 Pick of the Week 2/10

Realism by The Magnetic Fields
88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 2/10

Charlie Burnett

Stephin Merritt, leader of the band The Magnetic Fields, has long been one of music’s more underappreciated lyricists, as well as one its best. Whether he’s writing 69 love songs or applying walls of guitar distortion to his songs, the one thing that always stands out the most in his songs are his lyrics. Sung in a deep baritone that can be an acquired taste for those unaccustomed to it, Merritt delivers charming, clever lines full of self-deprecating humor and wit.

For The Magnetic Fields’ ninth record, Realism, Merritt and pianist/vocalist Claudia Gonson, cellist Sam Devol, and guitarist/banjo player John Woo strip away the guitar squalls found on previous record Distortion for a more stripped down, acoustic sound reminiscent of Distortion predecessor i and their excellent live sets. Acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, cello, and the contrasting voices of Merritt and Gonson fill the songs with a natural, organic sound.

The Magnetic Fields, while always having a noticeably different sound than other bands, craft their songs around pop melodies that can only be described as indelible and lovely, as evidenced in first track “You Must Be Out of Your Mind”. Wrapped in an exceedingly beautiful musical arrangement, Merritt begins the self-deprecation and crucifying of ex-lovers with such classic lines as “You can’t go ‘round just saying stuff because it’s pretty/ And I no longer drink enough to think you’re witty”.

Riding on a buoyant, upbeat melody, “Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree” offers a detour, if not all together relief, from Merritt’s notorious lyrical cynicism. A self-help anthem of sorts, Merritt asks the song’s subject “Why sit in your dark and lonely room?”, going on to recommend to the unnamed subject that if people don’t like them “screw them/Don’t leave your fortune to them”.

On “Always Already Gone”, Gonson takes over the role of lead vocalist to offer a lament of an ex-lover who, while together, seemed to be “always already gone”. A heartbreaking song most could probably relate to, it is made that much more delicate and lovely by a lilting arrangement of banjo, cello, piano, and acoustic guitar.

Completing a self-proclaimed “no-synth trilogy,“ Realism offers longtime fans the same wit and playfulness The Fields have always been known for, but is also accessible enough to appeal to not just the common indie pop/rock listener, but the top-40 radio or NPR listener, as well. As a collection of oddball pop songs, Realism offers a great starting point for newcomers of the group, as well as another great entry into their already exellent discography.

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

New Album Review

88.1 Pick of the Week 1/29

Champagne Champagne
Album: Champagne Champagne
by: Jose Jose

Champagne Champagne’s debut album finally got released for purchase and download this month, and it rises to every bit of anticipation that was generated by their earlier EP.  The group, comprised of Pearl Dragon, Sir Thomas Gray, and DJ Gajamagic [Mark Gajadhar from the pop-metal band The Bloodbrothers], composed a great mix of dancified hip-hop that is overflowing with themes of love, lust, and reckless disregard for anyone that would get in their way. The album takes your soul from the depths of betrayal to ecstatic party mode, and you’ll be nodding your head to the beat the entire time.

The first track, “Soda & Pop Rocks”, strikes out with a deep, pounding bass that sets the mood for the whole album. The song is a shout-out to the hoods of Seattle, so as you’re tapping your feet to the beat Pearl Dragon calls out: “in the CD [Central District] bumpin’ CD’s/ my city’s not pretty, it’s gritty.” He makes it clear that no one can stop them from “blowing up like soda and pop rocks.”  They carry the aggressiveness and determination of S&PR into “Radio Raheem” and depict the struggle their friends and family have been put through by violent police actions. The distorted guitar in the back only adds to the gritty reality of Seattle painted in S&RP.

Most of the album, however, is about girls. “Molly Ringwald” is a slow dance tune with spaced out and trippy synths behind it in which GajaMagic sings about his love of a girl that looks similar to Molly Ringwald. It turns out to be so sad because after a one-night stand she never talks to him again. The pain doesn’t stop there, though. In “Cover Girls” Pearl Dragon rhymes about a girl he dated that cheated on him with his friends. The synths and haunting backing vocals make it very heartfelt and depressing when he says ”I didn’t know that you could be influenced by some other guy/ every time I look into your eyes I know it’s a lie.” Insult is added to injury when, later in the song, the girl comes back only to give him “what she gave every other guy – the clap.” After hearing this song, it’s obvious that Pearl Dragon never wants to love another woman.

The group has no qualms about hooking up with girls, though, because in “Champagne Loves Your Brain” they aren’t talking about your intellect.  The quick bass and playful guitar will have you bouncing again as you hear about the group’s physical desires. They aren’t selfish, though, as evidenced in “What’s Your Fantasy.” Over a funky bass and seductive saxophone, every sexy girl gets an account of the services they could receive, which sounds quite extensive.

It is quite clear from their name and album cover that Champagne Champagne is simply trying to have a good time. This album shows that even with a broken heart or police trouble you can still dance and live your life like a party.

New Album Review

88.1 Pick of the Week 1/22

Vampire Weekend
Album: Contra
Label: XL Records
by Jon Gomes

It’s almost exactly two years since the world got its first taste of Vampire Weekend. The self-titled debut was, in essence, four white boys from Columbia University curiously fiddling with African rumba beats and singing about oxford commas and Peter Gabriel. Though the description suggests typical indie pomp and pretense, the final product turned out to be one of the most memorable releases of 2008.

Suffice it to say, then, that anxious ears have been anticipating the band’s sophomore release, entitled Contra, for quite a while. Probably the most pressing question was whether or not the band would maintain the characteristic sound established on their first album. The answer is not readily clear, but after a spin or two, Contra feels like the natural next step from the self-titled debut.

The lead track “Horchata” delivers the buoyant melodies and quirky lyrics one would expect, but also explores new sonic territory with its prominent xylophone romps. Lead singer Ezra Koenig sings as if you’re in the room with him: “In December / Drinking horchata / I look psychotic in a balaclava.” The song transitions almost imperceptibly into “White Sky,” which features a falsetto melody that sticks to the ears like sugar coating.

Like its predecessor, Contra evokes a sense of mirth; it is very much an audio accompaniment to summertime frolics or lazy sunny afternoons. Though the spirit is shared, the music on Contra is more adventurous. The beautifully disjointed “California English” sounds like an unreleased Animal Collective b-side, while the spunky “Cousins” flurries with sixteenth-note guitar runs and snare rolls.

There are occasional moments where Contra sounds conventional, but only in a relative sense. The saccharine, straightforward pop hooks in “Giving Up the Gun” are atypical for the band—strings are traded for synths and the rhyming isn’t outlandish. Still, Vampire Weekend renders the song in such a way that it feels familiar.

To balance out the newer sounds, there is still plenty of classic material; syncopated rhythms, string flourishes, and sunny lyrics abound in tracks like “Run” and “Diplomat’s Son.” The latter is six minutes of rocksteady rhythms and cryptic lyrics that hint at the 1981 Contra movement in Nicaragua—just the kind of madness you would expect from Vampire Weekend. Contra coasts to a stop with the subdued “I Think Ur A Contra.” A gorgeous, acoustic guitar-based melody underlies the gentle yet accusatory lyrics: “I think you’re Contra / I think that you lie / Don’t call me Contra / Till you’ve tried.” It’s absolutely sublime.

So what does “Contra” have to do with anything? The band chose the term as the album’s title to suggest opposition against external expectations. According to singer Ezra Koenig, the album is a reaction to the media pigeonholing the band as erudite, polo-wearing preps from Columbia (bluntly illustrated by the album cover). For Vampire weekend, Contra is uncompromised self-expression. It’s not an extension of the first album, but rather an evolution that still sounds very much like Vampire Weekend. Though Contra is not intended to cater to anyone’s expectations, it ends up surpassing them.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Thursday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at and

New Album Review

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 12/3

The Devin Townsend Project
Album – Addicted
5/5 stars
By Johnathan Newman

Devin Townsend is a god in the world of music.

He has had a music career spanning 24 albums, first beginning with his vocal work for Steve Vai on his “Sex and Religion” album in 1993. He has released albums under his own name, as well as with his band Strapping Young Lad. Having disbanded both bands, he took some time off to discover his roots and sober up. During this period of soul-searching, he wrote 60 or so songs, each with four distinct styles of music. He decided to create a four album series, under the moniker of the Devin Townsend Project, and came back with the very deep and very heavy “Ki” album, which was the first album, and also set the stage for what was to come. Six moths later, he released “Addicted,” which is a return to form of sorts, with more accessible songs.

“Addicted” starts out with a simple but heavy riff and the lines “Hey! You’re awake,” possibly an allusion that his last album put some people to sleep, which keeps in with the tongue-in-cheek lyrics you normally find in his songs. But under these normally silly lyrics, there is a deeper message of the pain and power drugs and alcohol had on him. The songs on this album may be heavier, but they also have a poppy feel to them as well, a very pop-metal album if you will, which is probably why these heavier lyrics could not be taken as seriously. But it’s hard to miss the point when you hear a slow riff, with Devin wailing “I don’t want to save my soul now. I don’t want to lose control. And even if it takes a lifetime to learn … I’ll learn.” It’s very melancholic, showing us he’ll try to write sober music, but it still is catchy. But really, the crown jewels of the album are the last three songs, “The Way Home!” “Numbered!” and “Awake!”

My favorite track, and quite possibly one of the catchiest and most beautiful songs ever written, “The Way Home!” starts off soft with a whisper, slowly building power and rescinding into a powerful and moving track about wasting time being high. “Numbered!” opens with vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen singing slowly and beautifully about how we are numbered over a heavy guitar riff, with the song building then suddenly dropping off to a cappella of herself. This leaves us with the track “Awake!” which opens with the same opening line as the first song. The song sends us on a trip of all of his musical styles, until finally climaxing the whole album into a slow descent into tranquility after a heavy section very reminiscent of “Strapping Young Lad,” making this seriously one of the best albums of 2009 and one of the best Devin Townsend albums to be put alongside “Ocean Machine: Biomech” and “Accelerated Evolution.” This album will have you addicted.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Thursday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at and