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

New Album Review

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 11/24

Debut ‘Album’ not redefinition of rock
Album – Girls
True Panther Sounds
4.5/5 stars
By DJ Goof

San Francisco’s Girls combines the dreamy, surf-rock of the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys with modern day lo-fi indie pop. The band’s debut album, titled “Album,” consists of relatively simply arranged songs that are quick to grow on you. The album paints a portrait of the young, free-spirited allure of San Francisco with lyrics touching on love, longing and drug addictions. Band member JR White’s production on the album creates an expanding departed atmosphere that is pulled back to earth by lead singer Christopher Owens’ direct lyrics. Owens’ lyrics roughly touch on his sad, incredible childhood.

Owens was born a follower of the Children of God cult. He spent most of his adolescent years alongside his mother and the cult drifting around foreign countries where he was exposed to prostitution while shielded from the outside world. Among an assortment of other rules, the children were only allowed to listen to music that was accepted by the cult’s elders. He was given his first guitar by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer, also a member of the cult, and performed songs on the streets to raise money. At the age of 16, Owens saved up enough to flee his situation and move to Austin, Texas where he fell in with its post-punk music scene. Eventually, he found himself in San Francisco where he met White and Girls was born.

The album opens with “Lust for Life.” Here, bee-bop background vocals lay the foundation for Owens’ playful delivery of “I wish I had a father / Maybe then I would have turned out right.” This leads into “Laura,” an upbeat pop song that eventually opens up into a spacey jam of lead guitar and ambient vocal effects.

“Hellhole Ratrace” is a slow, genuine tune about pushing forward. Owens sings, “I don’t want to cry my whole life through / I want to do some dancing too / So come on and dance with me.” As the song progresses, distorted guitars and high pitch synthesizers rumble in as a backdrop but Owens’ tone remains cool and casual. The slight tension between the two keeps the song in focus for its near seven-minute length.

“Summertime” is another one of the gems that make up “Album.” Here, JR’s production offers layering effects that continually transform the song’s otherwise simple arrangement.

“Album” is not a redefinition of rock by any means. Instead, it is a perfectly packaged collection of familiar sounds and sincere themes that is sure to squeeze its way into a few top 10 lists before the year’s end.

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 11/5

Mariah’s ‘Memoirs’ nearly perfect
Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel – Mariah Carey
Island Records
4/5 stars

For almost two decades, Mariah Carey has been a consistent force in R&B/Pop music, with worldwide sales of more than 200 million copies and more number ones than any other solo artist.

The success and record-breaking achievements have made some wonder if Carey is still motivated and capable of making good music.

With Carey’s latest effort, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” she once again proves she is able to adapt and remain relevant in an ever-changing industry, while staying true to herself.

Just 18 months ago, Carey released the underwhelming and underperforming “E=MC2,” but she has picked herself up again, delivering one her best albums.

“Memoirs,” written and produced exclusively by Carey, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, takes us on a musical journey through the ups and downs of love.

Together, the three manage to produce a cohesive blend of the urban pop mid-tempos and ballads we have come to expect from Carey.

The album starts out with the confrontational “Betcha Gon’ Know.” It’s an indication of the witty lyrical content and creative mid-tempo production heard on the album throughout.

Next is one of the two singles the album could have done without, the horn and bass riddled “Obsessed.”

Carey claims the childish song is not about rapper Eminem, and while it does deliver its fair share of funny lines — example: “See right through you like you’re bathing in Windex” — the small-mindedness of it takes away its punch.

Surprisingly the other song chosen as a single, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” falls flat, as Carey adds nothing of value to Foreigner’s ‘80s classic.

Moving on, “Candy Bling,” contains finger snaps and soft keys that will remind you of The-Dream’s “I Love Your Girl.”

Carey sings of a time when love was young and pure. The lyrics are simple and gimmicky, but wasn’t everything that way back then?

As “Memoirs” continues on, Carey shines with some of her best ballads since “Butterfly,” including “H.A.T.E.U” (Having A Typical Emotional Upset), “Angel’s Cry” and the stellar “Languishing.” It’s clear that Carey’s powerhouse vocals and range are still perfectly intact.

“The Impossible” sounds like a ‘90s throwback, courtesy Blackstreet or Jodeci. Somehow Carey is able to tackle the sensual slow groove as her whispery vocals ride smoothly over the seductive beat.

The album does begin to wane with the cluttered and uninspiring “More Than Just Friends” and over-produced “Ribbon,” while the standouts on “Memoirs” are the tales of love gone awry and the anger and bitterness that ensue. The modern doo-wop Motown inspired “It’s A Wrap,” sing-along “Standing O” and the bold “Up Out My Face” all contain clever punch lines which could have been delivered by your favorite rapper.

Although not as versatile as some of her previous work, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” is very personal and full of songs that will walk you through each phase of love.

Carey has once again proven that she is able to continuously evolve and transform, while never losing her core, which makes her imperfections perfect.

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 10/22

Bull City band an ‘academic super group’
Silence Fiction – The Beast
Chakra Con Music/Robust Records
4/5 stars
By Mike Alston

I always say that if you’re going to be a nerd, you shouldn’t apologize. Be proud!

Herein lies my justification for being unapologetically nerdy about some things. I suppose the same applies for being a band: if you’re going to be socially conscious, be unabashedly so.

Judging by their first full-length release, “Silence Fiction,” Durham-based band The Beast must agree. Almost every track is infused with laments, celebrations, and everything in between concerning matters of religion, race, politics, Bojangles, and other matters of pertinence.

And there’s no vacillating on some of these issues. The Beast is in your face about words like freedom and about race issues. It’s no wonder, then, that emcee Pierce Freelon is a visiting professor in the political science department at the UNC-Chapel Hill and the founder of the blog

Additionally, The Beast’s recorded lyrics are less the product of writing than freestyling, so Freelon’s messages are genuine, if a little overbearing at times. But if issues don’t get you excited about music, then that’s okay too. The Beast is anything but a one-trick pony. I’ll get to that shortly, but their formative process is a prerequisite to understanding their sound.

The Beast could be called an academic super group. Freelon — whose mother is Grammy-nominated jazz singer Nnenna Freelon — needed a backing band for his thesis work in Pan African Studies at Syracuse University. He went asking at his alma mater, UNC-CH, and came back with three musicians all studying jazz.

While Freelon, Eric Hirsh, Pete Kimosh and Stephen Coffman were scoring the music for a film relating to the thesis work, they decided to stick together longer than originally intended. The result has been two EPs and an imminent LP that are refreshingly unique.

This distinctive sound is what, in my mind, makes The Beast noteworthy.

The band members are all students of jazz and manage to mix a vast array of musical influences. Their MySpace page will tell you they fit into the “Hip Hop/Jazz/Soul“ genre, but that is a bit disingenuous. The song “Translation” illustrates this point perfectly. It begins with an intense beat with Freelon rapping, but around the one-minute mark the band turns the song into what sounds like a salsa number, with some of the accompanying lyricism in Spanish. Such a tightly executed change of pace indicates quality musicianship and great production — courtesy of Sound Pure Studios.

The entire album is full of surprises similar to this one, as well as several points during which Freelon’s contagious energy culminates with a chant of “Whoo!”

Messages, influences, and production aside, this album is carried by its songs, each a unique story — some of them approaching didactic. Each song adds something new to the list of the things that The Beast does well, which in turn gives the album great replay value. “Silence Fiction” is long awaited but worth that very wait.

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 10/7

Alice In Chains brings back old sound
Jonathan Newman

“Hope, a new beginning. Time, time to start living, like just before we died.” The opening riff, and line of the first new Alice In Chains album in 14 years does just that. It gives us hope that this 90s grunge band can move on after the death of vocalist Layne Stayley. This album is very nostalgic, bringing me back to the days when grunge ruled the music scene. Yet this is not just a simple grunge album — it is so much more. It shows us that a band can evolve and still keep the sound that made them famous. It shows us that we can fall in love with a band all over again. The first song of Black Gives Way to Blue, is quite possibly one of the most moving songs on the album, explaining essentially that this album is not the band you knew back then, but is a whole new beast. This song shows us we can have trust in them, to know that even though they can’t go back to where they started from, the same feelings that helped make their earlier music is still there. Hearing Jerry Cantrell’s voice and guitar work, mixed along with new vocalist William Duvall, who seems to channel Stayley’s voice, is a very haunting experience. Yet we never really get to hear much of the new vocalist, since he is mixed down a lot in most of the songs on the album. Yet when we do get to hear him sing, like on the song “Last of My Kind,” we see that he is truly a powerful vocalist, whose emotion seeps into every word that he sings.

While most of the songs on the album are heavy and very reminiscent of the old grunge scene, one of the best songs on the album is the acoustic track, “Your Decision.” It is a very mellow and very beautiful piece of song writing. Its lyrics can only be a tribute to Layne, as we hear Jerry mournfully sing lines such as “to feel the pain that spurs you on.” While this song may be one of the best, the track that is getting the most airplay, “Check My Brain,” is one of the weakest songs on the album, as it seems to be made just for radio play. It just seems out of place, having a semi-upbeat song on a dark album like this.

Despite all my praise for this album, it does have some faults. Not all the songs are stellar, and not all the fans of its earlier work will like the new Alice in Chains. I really wanted to hear more of the new vocalist, but he was mixed down in a lot of the songs, so we primarily hear Cantrell’s voice. Overall, I still loved this album and can’t wait for the next one, where I’m sure they will grow even more.

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 9/29

Yim Yames, Tribute To
4.5/5 stars
May F. Chung

While most new indie artists come up with new and innovative collections of songs and lyrics, others pay tribute to classic singer/songwriters who still influence bands today. Phosphorescent’s tribute to Willie Nelson with To Willie, Beck’s nod to The Velvet Underground & Nico with his Record Club project, and finally Jim James of the My Morning Jacket fame with his project to the late, great George Harrison with Tribute To.

By far the most emotive and sincere tribute out of the aforementioned records, Yim Yames (as he monikers himself on this EP) creates an atmospheric twang sound all his own as he transforms Beatles and Harrison solo songs into almost different songs entirely. Recorded within days after George Harrison’s death in November 2001, Jim James played into a borrowed eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder and shared his introspective tribute. James’ interpretation of Harrison standards like “My Sweet Lord” and “All Things Must Past” are as unique as they are sobering and melancholy. A lone acoustic guitar, an occasional banjo and ghost-like backup vocals are all Jim James uses to cope with the lost of the former Beatle.

The record begins with probably the most solemn Beatles song Harrison ever wrote, “Long, Long, Long.” A quiet and slow song in its own right, Jim James’ cover captures the essence of the song with a few chord strums and string-picks going into a staccato in the chorus as his voice strains as he sings, “So many tears I was searching / So many tears I was wasting / Oh, oh.”

The record goes on with a lesser-known Harrison hit “Behind that Locked Door,“ although James’ cover is taken in a much different context than the original. His version is less romantic, but seems more consoling. His ethereal voice and slow tempo make this track hauntingly beautiful yet comforting. The same sentiments can be said for another underappreciated Harrison song, “Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll),” which both appear on Harrison’s All Things Must Pass disk.

In an approach all his own, Jim James’ rendition of a Beatles-Harrison classic “Love You To” replaces the psychedelic sitar with a much more heartfelt banjo. The strongest songs on the EP remain Harrison’s own most-listened-to solo material. Jim James’ “My Sweet Lord” still resonates with “Hallelujah, hallelujah / Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” except instead of a more joyful disposition they are eerie and despairing, but gorgeous nonetheless. “All Things Must Past” completes this EP – just as our own personal troubles and turbulences affect our lives, Jim James’ cover reminds the listener of better times and overcoming sorrow, just as he does with the passing of perhaps one of his favorite artists. James does everything right by the late George Harrison; upon listening to this CD, any fan of the Beatles or George Harrison or music in general will believe so too. His heart, his confused feelings and his doleful voice immediately shine and open the listener’s ears to a very special tribute that is unlike any other.

A portion of the proceeds from this record will be donated to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

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 9/15

The Black Crowes get lost only to find something better with ‘Before the Frost’
4.5/5 stars
DJ Zuul

A swagger. A straw hat. A red blues guitar. Disco dance moves. A sly grin.

You’ll find all of it on Before the frost … Until the Freeze. The album boasts some of the best cuts the Black Crowes have to offer but better.

The new addition of Luther Dickinson (of North Mississippi Allstars) is present from the first guitar twang to the wanton lyrics of the last tracks. This is not the Black Crowes of the 1990’s; this is somewhere

The album’s first track, “Good Morning Captain,” is a sure sign that the 20 track album is more than just good ole’ southern music.

It’s definitely blues but the piano chops are pop, the lyrics country, and the guitar a very distinct brand of rock, as only the Robinson brothers can do.

But don’t let the order fool you. The album is ripe with everything from country to disco, as evident on “I Ain’t Hiding.”

The reverberated vocals of Chris Robinson is perfectly paired to a syncopated beat and only matched by electric guitar riffs mid-song. This is Black Crowes hip hop, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the club scene picked up the track which champions late night escapades, “keep on rocking ‘cause it’s not even four.”

If the disco beats weren’t shocking enough to fans, “Garden Gate” will either upset a mash of headbangers or delightfully surprise those with country tendencies. The song could not be more country, but shies away from a pop feel instead opting for a folksy one.

The album in whole was recorded live in Levon Helm’s barn-studio, and perhaps that’s where this song belongs: to breezy barnyard doors occupied by wandering fiddlers.

The singer is awaiting a secret love, truly one that fans with understand. Perhaps, like the Black Crowes, they will shed their hardcore southern rock shells for a more tender country one, and thus proceed to the beautiful simplicity that is track 15, “Greenhorn.”

The most eclectic of the mix is the instrumental “Aimless Peacock.” The song is a psychedelic mix of sitar, harmonica and violin. It’s a magic mix of a culture infusion: not Irish, not Indian, not country and not quite just a jig. If you follow this track with “Roll Old Jeremiah” or even “Appaloosa,” listeners will find themselves back in the early 70’s, where the rock roots of the Black Crowes bleed through the new electric funnel sound that pervade all tracks.

On the whole, the album is testament to the creative genius that is the Black Crowes. Before the Frost … Until the Freeze is a sonic backdrop of soul-infused rock.

It’s part Crow, part Rolling Stones, and part Grateful Dead. Hardcore followers claim favorites off the big three, the former albums The Southern Harmony, Three Snakes and One Charm, and Amorica.

They will need to make room for one more.

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