• Front Stage Music Blog

    Front Stage Music Blog

    Front Stage Music Blog will continue to bring music reviews on your favorite recording artists, along with updates on touring schedules, dates, and news from all your favorite artists, along with Amazon MP3 links.

  • Adam Lambert: The Quest for Platinum

    Adam Lambert: The Quest for Platinum

    Adam Lambert, the successful runner up from American Idol (Season 8) is on a quest for platinum. Adam's debut album "For Year Entertainment" is close to reaching platinum status in the US.

  • Black Sabbath: The Reunion

    Black Sabbath: The Reunion

    Black Sabbath: The Reunion

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Young Buck - Is He About the Music Or the Insults?

Young Buck, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, is a rapper in the United States. He at one time was a member of G-Unit, which was a hip hop group based out of New York City. He has been signed to labels like G-Unit, Cashville, and Interscope.

Truly a young talent, Young Buck began rapping when he was only 12 years old, and by the time he was 14, he was in recording studios. He was "discovered" when he was 16 by "Baby" Williams and soon would leave high school and start out recording with Cash Money. From then he went on to UTP Records, and later signed with G-Unit.

To date, Young Buck has already released two albums - Straight Outta Cashville, and Buck the World. It is reported that he is working on another album currently as well, although no release date for it has been given. Some of the well known artists that have appeared in his albums include 50 Cent, Ludacris, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Young Jeezy, and many others.

Although it is clear that Young Buck has some great talent, since 2004 he has been involved in a lot of controversies, making one wonder if he is all about the music or all about insults. In fact, one incident occurred at the VIBE Awards in 2004, where he allegedly stabbed Jimmy James Johnson in the chest, after a brawl broke out between Dr. Dre, Johnson, and several police officers. However, Young Buck was never convicted.

There have since been many incidents where Young Buck has thrown insults, using his music to do so. For some time there was a feud between Young Buck and The Game. The Game ended up being kicked out of G-Unit, and The Game went on to release a track that insulted Young Buck. Young Buck hit back with the track known as "The Real Bitch Boy," which threw back the insults. Many tracks have gone back and forth as both artists use their music to insult each other.

That wasn't the only time where Young Buck used his music to hurl insults at others either. One song he released name "Off Parole" was directly insulting to Lil Wayne, and he has since released "Personal," which was insulting Terror Squad and DJ Khaled.

Young Buck was later kicked out of G-Unit by 50 Cent, and Young Buck went on to release slander songs on the internet against the group, although the other camp hit back with slander sons of their own.

For the past five years, there have been many incidents of Young Buck using music to throw insults at other artists. Although the man definitely has talent and is an excellent rapper, it is sad that he uses his music to be an outlet for his "beefs" with other artists. The question is will he continue this pattern his next album, or will he begin focusing more on his music instead of insults? That remains to be seen.

Check out ChinaShop magazine - the online word on music, culture, interviews, bars, clubs and bands. You'll see pics and video of exclusive events and interviews from the music scene, including a day in the studio with Young Buck.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Melissa_Benson

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music Review of Elephant Shell by Tokyo Police Club

“Tokyo Police Club” are a four-piece Canadian indie rock band from Newmarket, Ontario. Tokyo Police Club were formed in 2005 and they are Dave Monks (Vocals and Bass), Josh Hook (Guitar), Graham Wright (Keyboards) and Greg Alsop (Drums). Their musical genres are mainly indie rock, garage rock and post-punk revival.

Elephant Shell has a good opening with “Centennial”. In the few seconds upon opening, you can hear the sound of a malfunctioned robot. The robot might be stuck or jammed somewhere, i thought to myself. Shortly, the draggy keyboard and Dave Monks just come in. Centennial is not a fast tempo track, but the guitar and bass seem to be able to work this track out. In the bridge, handclaps joining by keyboard, just come in for a brief second. And that might be one of the best moments on Centennial. At the end, i like Dave Monks goes, “I’m only wishing well, though you won’t believe me, this coming Thursday evening, is our centennial…” and succeeded by wedding-like keyboard. A short opening, but i’m convinced to find out more about Tokyo Police Club.

“In A Cave” starts with guitar that comes in from afar before joining by In A Cave’s core bassline. Before Dave comes in, the music is already really good. When it comes to the chorus where Dave again goes, “All my hair grows in, wrinkles leave my skin, but still, don’t fade… I’ll be back again when the tide is in some day…”, the keyboard suddenly enters and the rest of Tokyo Police Club can be heard helping Dave out in the background. The second verse gets even fiercer with the guitar and bass, but somehow it’s not loud. It still manages to sound light and effortless. The best bet on In A Cave is definitely the remaining 1 minute after the second chorus. Dave just struts his stuff, “Elephant shell, you’re my cave and I’ve been hiding out, will you tell me a little bit about, a bit about yourself?” and joining him are the guitar, bass, drums and keyboard which play in notes that we first heard in the beginning. Only this time, Tokyo Police Club add some magic to it! Impressive stuff by Tokyo Police Club here!

From the lyrics of “Graves”, it sounds like a script of a horror movie. “Pack your ashes pack a watch, change of clothes and a face cloth, meet me where your mother lies, we’ll dig graves on both her sides…” The guitar keeps playing in a loop once Graves opens before the drums, bass and keyboard come in all together. A sudden adrenaline rush! Graves is one of those tracks that don’t really have a chorus and relies on the music to drag it or make it a longer track. After Dave’s vocals on the second verse, it feels like Tokyo Police Club are having a short break by playing the music. They really do have a strong liking for keyboards. Nearing the end, Dave just sing to the end accompanied by a howl-like sound that comes on and off.

“Juno” has some drum beats going on. As Dave sings in the chorus, it looks like there’s a sound in the background which i think is produced by the instrument Xylophone, adding some Christmas feel to it. Reaching the chorus, Juno seems to be turning to keyboard to go along with Dave’s vocals, “You and your soapy eyes, called it off so late at night, but your hand’s on your heart, because your head’s always right…” The Xylophone also plays its part here on a few notes that really complement the chorus. As Juno goes on, it ends on a sudden and tired note, “Juno, you’re tired…” But i’m just getting started to know Tokyo Police Club.

“Tessellate” has some high and sharp pitched guitar in the beginning. Just as Dave sings each phrase of the verse, the keyboards which possess some catchy ingredients just come in at the right time to make sure we as listeners are having a good time listening to Tessellate. In the chorus, Dave sings with his already-known voice, “… Dead lovers salivate, broken hearts tessellate tonight…” Tokyo Police Club show some effort here by adding hand claps along side to Dave’s voice. The real deal on Tessellate is definitely the sound of the keyboard which always never fails to capture my attention as it’s too good. And at times, it sounds like a piano. Now i just can’t get the sound of it off my head.

“Sixties Remake” kicks off with some crunchy guitar opening that reminds me of those motorcycles engine on the highway. As this song goes and reaches a point where an exclaimation of “Hey” can be heard, i already knew Sixties Remake is one of the tracks that is going to be my favourite on Elephant Shell. The crunchy guitar is one of the factors that keeps Sixties Remake so good. In the chorus, Dave just goes, “Hey! Bat your lips, shut your eyes… Hey! Swing those chains, and start a fight, because you’ve got nerve, but we’ve got tapped…” This has got to be one of the loudest and crunchiest tracks on the album.

“The Harrowing Adventures Of…” has me thinking that this is one of the tracks that might be suitable for babies. The xylophone just plays in notes that will make all babies in the world smile upon listening to it. It’s not long before Dave enters the bay twilight zone, “The harrowing adventures of, you and I when we were captains of, submarines made of steel…” When it got to the point that sounds like a chorus, acoustic guitar can be heard playing in a way that blend in so well with the vocals of Dave and xylophone. Two string instruments which sounded like a cello and a violin can also be heard here. I really didn’t expect that to come, but Tokyo Police Club surprise me here. The Harrowing Adventures Of… is undefiantly cute and cheeky in its own way. It will gulp you down slowly.

“Nursery, Academy” is a short rock track that i find Dave sings on different notes in a few minutes. In the beginning, Dave can be heard singing, “I would’ve gone back home, i would’ve gone back home, it’s bad enough you’re here and it’s worse that you’ve come along…” Smart lyrics i thought. This song begins to pick up in a short while once the bass comes in. Keyboardist Graham must have worked very hard here as the keyboard is all over the place with different notes. Tokyo Police Club are trying very hard on this track to make it sounds as good as possible. I can feel that they work very hard on this track.

“Your English Is Good” has Tokyo Police Club choiring, “Oh, give us your vote, give us your vote, if you know what’s good for you…” before the whole track sounds very full as the music comes in all together. Your English Is Good is cheeky and cute with the keyboard playing in repetition in the same notes throughout the track. Everytime the keyboard enters, a smile appears on my face. Tokyo Police Club also go together with, “Because your English is good, we can see it in your bones, in this neighborhood, we ain’t driving you home…” With such title, Your English Is Good will definitely catch everyone’s attention in the tracklist section. Plus another good thing is the cute keyboard and choir that are in this track. Sweet and cute!

“Listen To The Math” has a slow opening where Dave’s voice seems to be the music here. The keyboards and bass add some weight to Dave’s singing as he’s into the second part of the first verse. Once it gets to the chorus, it feels light with the guitar. “It’s a ruse, it’s a laugh, experts they’d agree, listen to the math…” Shortly after the chorus, the guitar switches to a chrunchier note that seems to be able to add some extra effects and weights to Listen To The Math. Another mention is the deep background voice that comes in during the chorus. It just follows Dave’s singing in the background. Listen To The Math can regarded as a ballad that will stick to you like a fungus after a few listenes.
As the last track on Elephant Shell, “The Baskervilles” has some moments on it that stands out. The choiring moments by Tokyo Police Club is worth mentioning and appear on some parts of the song and never fail to create an impact on the listeners. They would go, “Alright, we tried to help…” As we get further into The Baskervilles, the track starts to pick up and the music just sounds as lively as ever. The guitar and keyboards work their way out here. Even nearing the end, Dave increases his singing tone and yell, “A toast to the last of a dying breed, they’re crawling back to bed, they’re falling back to sleep” to the end. A very strong finish by Tokyo Police Club.

Darren Tan

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music Review of The Red Album by Weezer

"Weezer" are a four-piece American indie/alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California and they were formed way back in 1992. As to date, Weezer comprise Rivers Cuomo (Vocals and Guitar), Patrick Wilson (Drums and Vocals), Brian Bell (Guitar and Vocals) and Scott Shriner (Bass and Vocals).

Weezer (The Red Album) has a crunchy opening with "Troublemaker". The opening guitar strumming sounds like "The Good Life" from Pinkerton. Rivers just sings in a fast pace to catch up with the guitar and drum beat. While singing the verse, the bass will come in at certain beats and produces sounds as if the thunder is going to strike. It’s very catchy how Rivers’ vocals and the guitar work together. When it gets to the chorus, Weezer will just go, "I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker, doing things my own way, and never giving up, i’m a troublemaker, not a doubletaker, i don’t have the patience to keep it on the up…" It has this vibe that makes you want to sing along. Simple but amazing opener, just sets the right mood on!

"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" is a track that has a variety of musical composition. Suddenly it’s this, and suddenly it’s that. It’s like listening to a few tracks which have been re-composed and re-produced to a single track. It has the Weezer rapping, singing, choiring and yelling at different parts of the song. Although with the varieties going on, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) just sounds good. It’s a wild yet smooth ride throughout a track that’s over 5 minutes long. Weezer are really beyond where they normally are.

"Pork And Beans" opens with really cute and catchy guitar hook. I just like the squeaky sound that sounds like a pig’s squeak during the verses. It works very well with the guitar as well. The second verse contain a piece of lyrics that caught my eyes, "Everyone likes to dance to a happy song, with a catchy chorus and beat so they can sing along, Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts, maybe if i work with him i can perfect the art…" The chorus on Pork And Beans is totally different from the verse. It has Rivers singing on a heavier tone and the music just explodes and gets louder. And brings the normal and old Weezer back. To me, Weezer always sound good no matter how new and old they are.

Weezer has it slow and soft with "Heart Songs". Once Rivers breaks the silence and enters the verse. The whole song just comes together. As he sings the verse he mentioned a number of popular artists whom he grew up listening to that have influenced his musical style. Before the bridge comes, Weezer are so soft, so smooth and so friendly to our ear. The music and everything else just floats on like clouds. When the bridge comes, they just take on a stronger tone and violin can be heard playing as well, lifting Heart Songs onto a powerful finish. Otherwise, it’s all smooth and "These are the songs… They never feel wrong, and when I wake for goodness sake… These are the songs I keep singing…" Lovely and lovely!

"Everybody Get Dangerous" is a really dangerous track! With the guitar work that is going at the same speed with Rivers’ vocal. It’s very catchy to just listen to the vocals. The chorus just gets better with "Everybody get dangerous… (Boo yah)" It’d drag you to sing along with Weezer. In the background of the verses, you can listen to the sounds created by samplers and synthesizers. It features the fast guitar riffs that if you listen on earphones, the sound would keep circling from left to right. Cool effect! The last 30 seconds which features some yelling and drums are all that needed to end this energy-pumped track.

"Dreamin’" features vocals from Brian. Dreamin’ is a simple rock track that will bring you back to the old successful days of Weezer when they just got started into making and playing music. The guitar and bass sound somewhat lazy just as Rivers breaks into the verse. When the bridge comes, Weezer just shift into a lower gear and have it slow. Brian can be heard here where he would sing after Rivers on every phrase. The ending guitar plays in a slower version of the guitar that we have heard in the beginning. Just right before the end, Weezer surprise us with a short break, "I don’t want to get, with your program… Take back the love…" The good old days.

In "Thought I Knew", Brian takes the vocals. At the beginning, the synthesizers can be heard clearly before the guitar just strums the way in so tastefully. The guitar also has a pop-like element in it. As Brian sings, the guitar just know how to add the extra effect to Brian’s singing, especially the part "Thought I knew, but I didn’t have, a clue…" Great piece here. Throughout Though I Knew, the music itself was great, with the help of synthesizers and the great playing of guitars, even listening to the music is good enough to get you tapping you feet. I’m impressed here by Weezer.

"Cold Dark World" has a dark element to it. And this time, it’s Scott to take the stage. Just as the title suggests, it’s really a cold dark world when you listen to this track. From the lyrics, this song would make you think it’s a happy track. "Angel girl in a cold dark world, i’m gonna be your man, angel girl in a cold dark world, i’ll make you understand…" But after listening to the music, you would think twice. The last 23 seconds where Scott can be heard yelling, we can hear that his voice shares subtle similarities with Rivers. Could be a good thing for Weezer though.

On "Automatic", it’s Patrick’s turn to take the vocals. With the piano in the beginning, Patrick sounds really soft and lay it low in the verse. When it comes to the chorus, Patrick just belt it out like a rock and roll star, "Hey! It’s automatic when you know it… Hey! It’s automatic when you feel it…" During the bridge, a short guitar solo can be heard and as it draws closer to the end, Patrick just howls as the piano and synthesizer play in the background. Great fading by Weezer.

"The Angel And The One" is a slow ballad and Rivers is back on the vocals. It starts off slow and gradually picks up the note while the tempo remains the same. It reaches a point where Rivers really raises his singing tone, "I’ll take you there my friend, i’m reaching out my hand, so take it… We are the angels and we are the ones that are praying… Peace, shalom…" The word "Shalom" means peace in English and it’s a Hebrew word. While the rest of Weezer is singing, "Peace…" Rivers just howls until the song fades. In the remaining 1:30 minutes, the synthesizers and guitar can be heard playing as to complement how the song is going to end. The Angel And The One is like a hike toward a mountain top and upon reaching the top, one just takes a good rest and falls asleep. Great ending by Weezer!

Darren Tan

Friday, May 8, 2009

Music Review of Vampire Weekend's Self-titled Album

Vampire Weekend” are an American four-piece indie band from New York that was formed in 2006. There are four members in Vampire Weekend, which include Ezra Koenig (Lead Vocal and Guitar), Rostam Batmanglij (Guitar, Keyboard and Backing Vocal), Chris Tomson (Drums and Backing Vocal) and Chris Baio (Bass and Backing Vocal). Vampire Weekend’s music genre are mostly indie pop and a little bit of African music influence, which is called Afro-pop. It’s very obvious in their music that they don’t belong to any rock genre. Many people would have wondered how they have decided on their band being called Vampire Weekend, it’s a question to be answered. According to LimeWire Music Blog, Vampire Weekend was derived from one of Ezra’s amateur films, which was also of the same name. You’ve guessed it.

Vampire Weekend is something you don’t hear everyday. If you’re looking for something fresh, something friendly to the ears, something cute, then you’re at the right place. You’ll love Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend is really cute at “Mansard Roof”. Some non-stop drum beats, clever percussion, catchy and cute guitar hooks. There were some moments that their guitar playing styles reminded me of The Strokes. Mansard Roof is a very short song, but it will definitely haunt you in a good way. After listening it for the first time, i always i always hit “previous” button. Reason? Mansard Roof is suitable for anyone at anytime.

Oxford Comma” has a catchy and steady drum beats to it. It’s a song that will surely but slowly grow into you. And what i found out was that, this song is actually a very good song to sing along. Imagine you’re having a karaoke session with your friend, Oxford Comma would definitely be a darling for anyone to sing. It’s not a fast track where anyone couldn’t catch their breath when singing, and it’s not those tracks that require high pitching voices. During the break of this song, the guitar solo was cute yet great. I found myself smiling whenever that part comes along. “Lil’ Jon, he always tells the truth..” I’m having Vampire Weekend Comma.

A-Punk” is a fast track. The guitar on this track is fast and definitely piercing. I can’t really imagine myself playing guitar on A-Punk. It’s like you couldn’t stop even for a second! There was an instrument that sounded like a flute, or even organ, or even some DJ equipments everytime Ezra went, “Look outside at the raincoats coming, say OH…” in a repetition manner. And it’s really good. From the lyrics, i’m guessing that Vampire Weekend are singing about a girl whose lover is no longer around. A cute and fast track which can’t be missed.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” is somewhat similar to Oxford Comma. It started off slow and soft, later on when it picked up the tempo. It’s not loud, just that it sounds much fuller in its music. If you listen carefully, you’d realize the numerous instruments being played in this song. But Vampire Weekend just made it sound so simple, and so good to listen too. Being not so familiar with the African sound and don’t really know how it sounds like. Somehow, i can feel that this song has the African influence mixed with the Western Modern music, making it one of the memorable tracks on Vampire Weekend. Oh you know the part that i like? It’s when Ezra sang in the chorus, “But this feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel too..” I love it even more when Ezra did it twice. And oh ya, the cello in Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa would sound better even if compared to a bass. Yet again, everyone would definitely love this track, from young to old, girls to boys. Magnificent! The ending part where you’d find the whole Vampire Weekend moaning in a melody-like voices and howls, it’s simply too good!

M79" got me thinking that this would be a really great rock tune. However i was proved wrong, not only it was not a rock song. It was a track with really cute music that leveraged on the instruments like violin and violin, which would normally be seen or heard in an orchestra performance. But this time, you have it in Vampire Weekend. It’s really amazing to see a four-piece indie band from New York capable of writing and producing such instant hit and classic. Just imagine playing this track in a prom, i think the crowd would appreciate that the fact M79 is neither a rock song nor love song. It’s just a fun song with really good music for everyone to enjoy. I can’t help myself but imagining what would it be like to have M79 included in The Sound of The Music or even Mary Poppin. Definitely a song that will be remembered for a long long time. Oh ya, even my parents find M79 gorgeous!

Campus” is another really catchy song with some clever lyrics. The bass keeps repeating in the verses and when it comes to the chorus, “How am I supposed to pretend, i never want to see you again, how am I supposed to pretend, i never want to see you again…” The guitar playing style which really resembles The Strokes’, was on again. But this time is louder than those of Mansard Root. Not only that, it has some electronic elements to it which made it stand out as well. The fact that i like this song is that i find it really has some good music going on and it really blend in well with the singing.

Bryn” started off with some really high pitched guitar sounds accompanied with steady drum beats. The longer i got into Bryn, the more i love Bryn. Throughout the whole track, the guitar can only be heard after both verses. And there were some instruments being played in the background in a constant note and key, my guess would be an organ. Somehow, i don’t know why, but it keeps bugging me to think that the sound of the guitar found in Bryn is similar to the sound of a Bagpipe.

Vampire Weekend continued with “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”. This track has some disco/club feel with it. The drum beats on this track is somewhat like those you’d hear in a march. Sound kind of patriotic. The real thing is that when listening to this song, my mind tells me as if i were in a club or disco, just chilling and dancing. The rest of the Vampire Weekend did a good job as well where they did a backup vocal whenever Ezra sings at the chorus, “Blake’s got a new face..” But hey, at times i really do sing “Blake’s got a new face” in the shower, in my bedroom or even driving. Such a powerful phrase!

I Stand Corrected” has a fairy tale feel-like at the beginning and it started slow. And honestly, it sounded like “Little House of Savages” by The Walkmen. The beginning of these both songs are so similar. Overall, it sounded like a sad song. The tempo began to pick up when the chorus came in, “I stand corrected..” The break has a really sad sound to it when Ezra went, “Lord knows I haven’t tried, i’ll take my stand, one last time, forget the protocol, i’ll take your hand, right in mine.” Accompanied by the violin, i can feel the sadness in this this song. One of the songs that let me feel in.

Before the last track, “Walcott” has some really strong and fast piano going on. And no, this is not the player of the football club, Arsenal. It has got nothing to do with Theo Walcott. It’s just a song named Walcott. From the lyrics, i can tell that Ezra is singing about a desperate boy named Walcott who is desperately wanting to get out of Cape Cod, or rather, hoping to get out of Cape Cod. There are some evil lyrics to be found in Walcott, “The Lobster’s Claw is sharp as knives, evil feasts on human lives, the Holy Roman Empire roots for you.” Sound evil enough? One of Vampire Weekend’s strengths is definitely their creativity!

The normal Vampire Weekend album ends with “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”. It’s a rather slow and catchy track and you can hear the drums echo here and there throughout the whole track, as mentioned earlier. It’s really not that bad, and most people would not have noticed it. The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance has a slow but catchy bass at the beginning. I like the guitar, it sounded sloppy and lazy. Just nicely suit the tempo of this track. Organ and violin can also be heard here and there, making this song more than just great. The last 1:48 minutes was pure instrumental, and need i say more? It’s perfectly played and arranged! Especially the violin.

Rating: Vamipre Weekend is definitely a band to watch out for in the years to come. They are one of the few bands that created and added new sound to their music. Compared to those being played on the radio and even TV, Vampire Weeked stand out in miles. :-) Everything sounded fresh on Vampire Weekend. From start to finish, they were just having fun and playing some really awesome and amazing tunes. Before this, i thought they were just another indie band with nothing new to offer, but they proved me wrong, big time. :-) It’s really very seldom that we stumble upon such band. As musicians, they really have awed me from head to toe. And as listener myself, it’s really an once in a blue moon occasion where i listened to something that i have never listened to before in my circle of genre. However, the only thing that is preventing Vampire Weekend from being a perfect album is that they lack a hit anthem. Franz Ferdinand had their hit anthem when they released their debut, it was called “Take Me Out. Arctic Monkey’s very own anthem from their debut was “A Certain Romance”. But that’s not going to stop me from looking forward to listen to Vampire Weekend every morning upon waking up from my bed. You might say that i’m crazy, but i’d still listen to Vampire Weekend no matter what, everyday. An amazing band that added new music influence from other continent to their music, definitely one of the best album in 2008. 8.5 out of 10 may be too high of a rating, but honestly, they deserve more.

Stand-Out Tracks (My Picks) Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma, A-Punk, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, M79, Campus, Bryn, One (Blake’s Got A New Face), Walcott and The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.

Darren Tan

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Music Review: “Modern Guilt” by Beck

"Beck" is an American indie/alternative artist from Los Angeles, California. Although born as Bek David Campbell, he is known as Beck or Beck Hansen on stage. Beck is mainly into making indie and alternative music which covers folk rock, hip-hop, electronic, rock and even blues. Beck is also known for being a multi-instrumentalist where he plays guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, harmonica, percussion, banjo, synthesizers and other instruments.

Modern Guilt dives in with folky opener “Orphans”. It has a distant bass sound in the beginning. Once the guitar enters and Beck voices out, the track just hits the jackpot like that. It produces a country-like atmosphere to it, folk and country rock altogether. Indie artist Cat Power also known as Chan Marshall is also featured here to lend her vocals to Beck. In the bridge, the additional flute is a thing to watch out for. Very well-harmonized vocals on Orphans towards the end. Very tempting opener that will haunt especially the adults.

Gamma Ray” is a faster tempo track and i wouldn’t mind if i’ve been hit by Gamma Ray. The music itself speaks for itself. The vocals of Beck just add extra pump and weight to the whole song. The bass and drums keep re-looping themselves until they hit a climax further down into the track. In the verse, the music seems to be taking a break and slowly build itself for a breakthrough in the coming chorus. Every phrase that Beck sings is followed by gospel-like backing vocals. I just love the music on Gamma Ray, infectiously groovy!

Chemtrails” is a track that suddenly slows down Modern Guilt’s momentum. Listening to Chemtrails revokes your imagination, you would like you’re dreaming. The piano and the synthesizers just create a soundscape that is so unreal, you be dreaming away listening to Chemtrails. Even Beck’s vocals on Chemtrails blends in very well with the music. Full of howls and moans to greatly enhance the atmosphere of Chemtrails. The remaining one minute instrumental, you would enjoy the beautiful violin that plays on just before the track ends and fades into silence. :-) What an experience!

Modern Guilt” has a steady drum beats once it enters. Beck moans through each phrase with his vocals. Combined with the music, Beck is twisting his vocals here and there to accustom himself to Modern Guilt. Entering the chorus, the guitar just comes plucking itself in and it’s really good, Beck just goes on with, “Modern guilt, i’m stranded with nothing… Modern guilt, I’m under lock and key…” In the bridge, the piano and violin speak for themselves. Beck just adds in some vocal effects to complement the music. Until the end, the whole track seems to be saving the best for last. It’s very beautiful and i find myself swaying away listening to it.

The bass in the beginning of “Youthless” really revs me up. It’s very tight and fast the way the bass is being played on Youthless. Even Beck sings as if he’s rapping softly at between intervals. When it comes to the chorus, Beck just sings at a slightly higher pitch that seems to be echoing itself through the chorus, “And they’re helpless and forgetting in the background holding nothing, and they’re youthless and pretending with their bare hands holding nothing…” The synthesizers also seems to be having fun from here onwards, coming in and out, creating some cute sounds at intervals that delight us. Towards the end, cello enters and give some extra support to the bass. Very smartly composed music, very tight!

Walls” already surprises me in the beginning. The violin-like sound created by synthesizers is really the core music on Walls. Beck just sings on as the music goes on like that. Approaching the chorus, there’s a lady-like sound in the background, sometime i would think that it’s Alvin from The Chipmunks which is making those funny sounds. Cat Power is again featured on this track in the chorus, where she would join Beck, “Hey what are you gonna do, when those walls are falling down, falling down on you…” The music on Walls just ends almost the way it started. Weirdly good!

Replica” is fast and delicate simultaneously. The beats on Replica are tight and light. Due to a distant sound in the music, it makes the whole track sort of delicate. Delicate enough you would also hear Beck singing in a distant voice. Piano can also be heard in this track as Beck sings. Nearing the end, the violin only comes in and the whole track turns into an instrumental adventure before fading itself to night.

Soul Of A Man” sounds like a rock track for the army. The bass line just follow every lyrics that Beck sings, like a chick following its mother. Handclaps and guitar riffing can also be heard as Beck sings through the track. When the chorus comes, the whole track seems to be floating in mid-air and Beck goes, “Cold was the storm, that covered the night…” Soul Of A Man is at times like a folk rock track that would definitely be appeal to the old ages. It’s not loud, but its groovy beat will get onto you quietly.

Profanity Prayers” is an upbeat track with infectious drum beats and smart vocals that just know how to enter and exit. Beck can be heard singing in a speedy voice in the verse. In the chorus, he just raises his pitch and let go of his vocals that echo back to him, “Who’s gonna answer, profanity prayers, who’s gonna answer, these profanity prayers…” I also like the guitar that enters in the chorus, it has this special rhythm with it. When Beck is not singing, the music just plays itself out. And i have to say, it’s really good!

Beck ends Modern Guilt with slow-driving “Volcano”. Beck’s voice on this track gives a hint that he might be tired from all the singing that he has done on Modern Guilt. Therefore he’s taking it slow with Volcano. When it comes to the first chorus, you would hear some backing vocals helping Beck out when he goes, “I don’t know what I’ve seen, was it all an illusion? Or a mirage gone bad? I’m tired of evil, and all that it feeds, but I don’t know…” With the backing vocals, it sounds really great as it adds the definitive weight to Volcano and Beck’s voice. Volcano is slow but it’s able to gulp you down slowly after listening to it a few times. Once you get the hook of it, you would find it hard to drop it. Sometimes it’s just beautiful!

Darren Tan

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Music Review Of You and Me By The Walkmen

"The Walkmen" are an American five-piece indie rock band from New York City. The Walkmen consist of Hamilton Leithauser (Vocals and Guitar), Paul Maroon (Guitar and Piano), Walter Martin (Organ and Bass), Peter Bauer (Bass and Organ) and Matt Barrick (Drums). Their music genres are mainly indie rock, post-punk revival and a bit of garage rock.

You & Me kicks off with "Dónde Está la Playa". The combination of the bass and the organ is quite good. At first listen, it sounded really weird. But after a few listens, my perception towards the music in the background as Hamilton sings on totally changed. It just keeps repeating in a loop until the drums and the guitar splash in at the chorus, where Hamilton sings with effort, "I’m dancing, grooving, this lovely wooden floor… Eyes are so sore…" The Walkmen just know when and where to get together and loud. A mid-tempo

"Flamingos (For Colbert)" is an instrumental track. Only guitars can be heard on this track. Could have been an intro for this album.

The Walkmen continued with "On The Water", a track that shares some similarities with the first track. The guitar can be heard accompanying Hamilton’s singing. As this song goes deeper and further, the music gradually gets richer and fuller. At times, Hamilton just know how to use his vocals to the fullest by moaning and howlings. As the end nears, i like the whistling sound. It just complements On The Water so much!

"In The New Year" gets off with some guitar riffs and Hamilton’s vocals. When the chorus comes, the music just shift into a fuller mode. The most notable instrument is the organ. It just has the special connection to Hamilton’s singing, "I know that it’s true, it’s gonna be a good year, out of the darkness, and into the fire, i’ll tell you I love you…" Everytime the chorus comes, The Walkmen did a very good job by lifting In The New Year into another mode. At times, i just think of Christmas while listening to this track. Ho, Ho, Ho!

"Seven Years Of Holidays (For Stretch)" has an energetic start with the guitar-playing and drums-rolling. In the verse, you’d find the drums and the guitar just conquer the song alongside with Hamilton’s vocals. When the chorus comes, the whole track just switches gear. The music has the effect to make you sway your head, and Hamilton’s voice couldn’t have better timing than this. Great stuff here!

"Postcards From Tiny Islands" sounds like Seven Years of Holidays (For Stretch) at the beginning with the drum beats, only this time it is faster. As Hamilton sings, the drums sounds soft but fast. Only guitar accompanies Hamilton as he sings. When the chorus comes, like previous tracks, the music just explodes with the guitar playing on a catchy repetitive hooks. It sounds like there are two different parts on Postcards From Tiny Islands. What a feat!

"Red Moon" leaves my jaw open as i don’t expect The Walkmen to slow it down with a ballad. But they do it with Red Moon and fill the track with surprising piano-playing. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine Hamilton singing such a ballad. Not only piano, you would also find french horn in this ballad. I just love the combination of the three instruments in this track, guitar, piano and french horn. Wonderful break by The Walkmen.

"Canadian Girl" is really an amazing track on You & Me! It has a jazzy feeling to it. And i wouldn’t blame you if you find yourself swaying to Canadian Girl. It is just so good! Most of the times, Hamilton can be heard dragging his vocals after each phrase of lyrics, or between lyrics. "And only I… Still call you mine… Only I… Still hanging on…" As you sway with Canadian Girl, the further it gets, the better the music gets. The french horn can also be heard after Hamilton’s last voice feature on this track. The remaining 1:20 minutes is just gorgeous, indulge yourself in this memorable one.

"Four Provinces" brings back the guitar riffs of The Walkmen. The constant playing of percussion can be heard throughout Four Provinces. In the chorus, i like how Hamilton sings, "Hey, you, am I getting through? There’s one more silver lining for the weekend… Hey, you, am I getting through? The candles in your eyes still burn…" Especially the phrase, "Hey, you, am I getting through?" Hamilton just sort of yells when he sings this phrase, then soften back for the next line. Sometimes, it makes me want to sing along. Check out the guitar riffs and percussions in this track as well.

"Long Time Ahead of Us" has got some great lyrics. "When you come, come along in the evening, and leave me in the middle of the night, take me tonight as I am, leave me the way I was found…" This track by The Walkmen is slow and at times, it seems that it can never take off. It manages to make us wanting for more, but the music seems to be just playing within the same circle. As it gets to the end, only then the french horn manages to put this track back on the line.

"The Blue Route" has a really catchy and happy guitar hook. I just feel great when listening to this track, it has the same quality as Canadian Girl. Making you swaying and moving your head from side to side. Only here, the guitar sound is very echoic and can be heard almost 98% of the time. It’s simple but yet able to create an instant likeable impression. The Walkmen are creating a guitar wall-of-sound in The Blue Route! Unforgettable!

"New Country" is like what the title suggests. It has some country elements in it, only sounds newer and more modern. Only guitar can be heard playing while Hamilton sings. It’s a pretty consistent effort from star to finish. The Walkmen didn’t try to add any special sound or touch to it. But it’s still a good effort.

"I Lost You" starts off with guitar and horn in the background. It sounds very light in the beginning and Hamilton sings as if he’s way too tired to lead another song. "Drive on, drive on, the highway’s bright and long, the river’s overflowing, the houses burning down…" Gradually into this track, the guitar seems to pick up some energy force and starts to play louder as Hamilton sings on. The second half of I Lost You is just filled with guitar riffs, as if competing with Hamilton’s vocals.

"If Only It Were True" is a slow tempo track that mainly features Hamilton’s voice and The Walkmen’s guitar. It has the quality to be the last track on an album. It’s a good choice that The Walkmen decide to end You & Me with If Only If Were True. Hamilton sings the last phrases before You & Me closes with, "So don’t come calling for me, because baby my dream ain’t through, and when, when I’ve had enough, i’ll die in dreams of you." Sometimes, i think Hamilton has a hard time singing this track, he seems to be struggling with his voice. Still a good track and effort though!

Darren Tan