Viewing: Review - View all posts

Winds Do Change, William Beckett Finds His Voice Again 

Since the break up of The Academy Is . . ., William Beckett has been working on his solo career. Instead of releasing a full-length, Beckett has chosen the route of releasing a series of EPs every so many months. The first was Walk The Talk, which came out this spring. It was kind of all over the place. The EP was not entirely bad, but fell flat and sounded like Beckett was having an identity crisis. However, in late July, he released his second and much stronger installment, Winds Will Change. In these four songs, Beckett finds his stride and delivers the goods.

The EP opens with the acoustic and poppy “Great Night”. It a song about having an enjoyable evening, but knowing that your date isn’t the one. “It just wasn’t there”, he repeats in the refrain. It’s really catchy and has a big sing-along chorus. The next track “Warriors” has more of a rock dance groove that falls somewhere between T.A.I. and Franz Ferdinand and is possibly the best song of the batch. “Scarlett (Tokyo)” should also make T.I.A. fans happy. It’s catchy, but isn’t as strong as the other songs on the EP. The closer, “Dig A Hole”, has verses driven by acoustic guitars that open into a lush synth driven chorus.  The change in dynamics is very cool.  Winds Will Change is a well-produced and well-written collection of songs. If Beckett keeps this up, he will be on his way to a successful solo career.

Essential tracks: “Warrior” & “Dig A Whole”

Yellowcard Stay True To Their Classic Sound On "Southern Air" 

For those of you who get your pop-punk bands confused, Yellowcard was the one with the electric violin. They had a string of hit songs on MTV in the mid-2000s before going on hiatus in 2008. In 2010, they got back together and released When Your Through Thinking, Say Yes the following year. Last month, Yellowcard released their eighth studio album, Southern Air. If you like Yellowcard, you are in for a treat. Southern Air sounds like classic Yellowcard. If you don’t like them, well . . . you can argue that it sounds exactly like every other Yellowcard album.

The album kicks off with “Awakening” a solid opener and mosh-pit starter. It starts off quite and then explodes in that traditional Yellowcard way. For the most part, each track keeps up the energy with big choruses and quiet to loud dynamic changes. The acoustic ballad “Ten” shows singer and lyricist Ryan Key at his most vulnerable, singing to miscarried child. The song has a beautiful melody and is a nice change of pace. Lyrically, Yellowcard has always been a rather reflective band with songs about Ryan Key’s family members, relationships and friends. On Southern Air, there is a greater sense of peace and maturity when covering these topics. Prime examples are “Telescope” and the closer “Southern Air”. All in all, as stated earlier, Southern Air, is classic YC. However, unlike some of their contemporaries, Yellowcard has found a way to be true to their classic sound without rehashing the past.

Essential tracks: “Awakening”, “Ten” & “Southern Air”

John Mayer’s Heartfelt Return 

Two year ago, John Mayer’s stupid mouth got him in trouble. Since then, he’s been hiding out in Montana recalibrating his life and hiding from TMZ. Now he’s back with a very chilled-out Allman Brothers-flavored album, Born and Raised; on it, he declares that he’s “a good man with a good heart”. The album comes off with heartfelt sensitivity. He doesn’t rip any crazy guitar solos, but there’s plenty to enjoy here, such as the title track, which features gorgeous harmonies from David Crosby and Graham Nash. The slow-grooving opener, “Queen California”, is pretty cool and sounds like the cousin of the Allman’s “Midnight Rider”. Also, “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” is a jewel. Welcome back John!

Alabama Almost Shakes 

Alabama Shakes are the hip new buzz band. Their debut record, Boys And Girls, dropped this month and they are living well, having landed an opening slot for Jack White. Their music is vintage soul reminiscent of the classics that came out of Muscle Shoals back in the late sixties. The singer Brittany Howard has a powerhouse voice that is one part Janis Joplin and one part Amy Winehouse. The band plays tight and dirty. On the whole the record is good, however, they don’t really bring anything new to the table. They do a sound job of recreating southern soul, but they haven’t quite figured out how to make it their own. Most of the songs are slowing grooving or mid-tempo. The music is very likeable, especially with the opening song and single “Hold On” and Black Keys-esque “Heartbreaker”. However, nothing really “shakes” until the bonus track “Heavy Chevy” rolls along. The tune is hands down the best thing on the album. It’s an all-round great blood-boiling rock and roll song complete with slamming pianos, and an explosive Keith Richards-style guitar solo at the end; plus, Brittany Howard howls like a female Little Richard. Boys And Girls would be a better album was more music in the vein of “Heavy Chevy”. In the end, Alabama Shakes are a good band with great potential. Let’s see what they do with it.

Essential tracks: “Heavy Chevy” “Hold On”

More Fun. With "Some Nights" 


A few weeks ago, Fun. released their sophomore album, Some Nights. Propelled by the success of the album’s catchy first single “We Are Young”, Fun. are blowing up. The song is prominently featured in Chevy commercials while the music video has made its way into rotation on VH1. However, the attention is deserved. Some Nights is an excellent record that lyrically and musically fits next to its predecessor, Aim And Ignite, but also incorporates new influences that make it more appealing to a wider audience.
The album's musical focal point is lead-singer Nate Ruess’s golden tenor and honestly emo lyrics and story telling. On a few songs, the band toys with auto-tune effects on the vocals. It works sometimes with tracks like the up-tempo “It Gets Better”, where it is used a double of the lead, but in the track “Stars” it gets kind of annoying. Ruess has one of the most beautiful voices in current popular music, so the auto-tune effect is unnecessary. Other new tricks include hip-hop influenced beats which depart from the more straight-forward drumming of Aim And Ignite. In interviews, the band has sited Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark And Twisted Fantasy as influence in the way the album was produced, thus adding further context to the change up in percussion. However, the percussion on certain tracks like the title track, "Some Nights", is reminiscent of Graceland-era Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend’s Contra. This is mostly in the way the underlying beat sounds like more traditional African drumming instead of straight up hip-hop. Regardless, the band makes it work.

One of the great things about Fun. is that their music is so eclectic. Some Nights is filled with very catchy pop songs and hooks created by mashing up many styles and influences. The harmonies on “Some Nights (Intro)” have a very Queen nature to them; whereas the next track opens with harmonies structured similarly to Kansas's "Carry On My Wayward Son", before the song is driven by some of the traditional African drumming I described earlier. The ballad, “Why Am I The One”, busts into a chorus reminiscent of 1970s Elton John. The biggest stand out on the album is “One Foot”. It has a great hip-hop groove accented by a horn section and the verse could have been a lost Paul Simon melody reborn in 2012.

Some Nights
is an enjoyable listen and one of the strongest releases of 2012. Fun. have created an album that is accessible to their increasingly growing audience. At the same time, Some Nights is a rich album with a lot to take in. Essential tracks are: “One Foot”, “We Are Young” and “Why Am I The One”.

The Return of Ringo Starr! 

With drum hits that replicate the opening of the Beatles’ song “Glass Onion”, Ringo Starr’s newest disc Ringo 2012 kicks into gear. A stabbing guitar line follows that sounds very similar to the opening riff from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It’s not a total rip off; it’s more an allusion to remind listeners of Richard Starkey’s roots – incase anyone has forgotten! That’s been Ringo’s modus operandi for the last ten years. In that time, he has pounded out five albums of Beatlesque material, trying to make music that fits sonically with the band’s early rock or psychedelic periods. The first of these albums were 2003’s masterpiece Ringo Rama and 2005’s Choose Love. Both are rock solid and stand comfortably next to any Beatle solo album. Then, there was 2008’s Liverpool 8 which was high on filler and followed by 2010's X & Y which was all filler. Even the high number of high-profile special guests (which included Paul McCartney) couldn’t save it.

I am relieved to announce that Ringo 2012 is definitely an improvement over Liverpool 8 and X & Y. The album is lean and mean with nine songs clocking in at 28 minutes and 55 seconds. Two tracks are rerecorded versions of some of his lesser-known songs from the 1970s “Wings” and “Step Lightly”. Five are new originals co-written by Ringo. Lastly, there are two are covers. One is Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” and the other is Ringo’s take on the standard “Rock Island Line”. The cover tunes have a lot of energy and are worth checking out as are the rerecorded tracks from 1970s. Of the new originals, “Anthem” is good not great and “Samba” is forgettable. However, the album ends strong. The mid-tempo pop song “Wonderful” is delightful with its tasty lead guitar work. The next song, “In Liverpool” is about Ringo’s childhood and rise to stardom. This topic is definitely something that he has sung a lot about on recent albums, but he pulls it off once more and the power ballad comes off as one of Ringo 2012’s highlights. The album closes with the groovin’ rocker “Slow Down” which is co-written with and features Ringo’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh on guitar. It’s a satisfying conclusion to an album that proves Ringo Starr shouldn’t be written off.

Essential tracks are: “Wonderful”, “In Liverpool” & “Think It Over”.

Foxy Shazam Takes You To Church! 

Holy crap! Did someone resurrect Freddy Mercury? No, that’s just the sound of Eric Nally, the charismatic lead vocalist of Foxy Shazam – the band that just unleashed an excellent brand new LP The Church of Rock and Roll produced by the Darkness’s Justin Hawkins. The record borrows from 80s pop-rock and 70s glam and tastefully adapts them into a modern setting. The album opens with a virtual rock and roll blitzkrieg going from the epic head-banging opener “Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll” into their super-catchy single “I Like It” with this its sassy chorus of “that’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen and I like it” following that with the Queentastic “Holy Touch” and Pat Benatarish “Last Chance at Love”! The pace slows with “Forever Together” and “(It’s) Too Late Baby” allowing listeners to catch their collective breaths, before they are hit with another barrage of glamtastic awesomeness that includes highlights like “I Wanna Be Yours”, “Wasted Feelings”, “The Temple” and the funky “The Streets” and closes with the power ballad “Freedom”.

The Church of Rock and Roll
is ambitious album that delivers the goods. From front to back it’s one fun good time. Foxy Shazam have arrived and on behalf of the Rolling Clone Blogazine, I like it.

Essential tracks are “I Like It”, “Holy Touch”, “Last Chance at Love” “Wasted Feelings” and “I Wanna Be Yours”. (Yes, I know it’s half of the album.)

Ben Kweller’s “Go Fly A Kite” Flies High 

When Ben Kweller was writing his new album, Go Fly A Kite, he was definitely mad at someone. This is not to say that the songs have to be autobiographical, but the lyrical themes of anger, loss, betrayal and, at the end of the record, resolution are not hidden. After 2009’s country-tinged Changing Horses, he has returned to the 1970s-influenced brand of indie power-pop of his first three albums. Country Kweller has its charm, but it’s nice to have him return to his classic sound. What makes Ben Kweller’s records interesting is that he doesn’t write just one style of song. With Go Fly A Kite, he writes rockers, ballads, waltzes and folky-influenced mid-tempo tunes, yet each song fits well musically next to the other.

The album opens with a kick in the teeth with the rockin’ “Mean To Me” with its gritty guitar tones and driving drums. The song “Jealous Girl” sounds like the cousin of Kweller’s 2006 jem “Penny On A Train Track” with its triumphant sounding piano intro and big sing-along-inducing chorus. The following track “Gossip” has the feel of something off of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album with it’s simple waltzing piano and no frills drumming, also the way Kweller delivers the word “dowhahahown” is very Lennonesque. The next song “Free” has some sweet 1970s country-rock harmonies in its chorus and a groovin’ guitar solo, before switching into a more pop-folk vein for “Full Circle”. However, the best song on the record is “Time Will Save The Day” which rips to life sounding like the power-pop love child of Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain. The rhyme structure of the choruses is very tight and drive the song along while the chorus opens up very melodically making the song a lot of fun. Lastly, the album comes to satisfying and bouncy up-tempo conclusion with “You Can Count On Me”. The track brings in more rich 1970s folk-rock harmonies while Kweller delivers a message of optimism and comfort with: “When your lost and you need new eyes to see, you can count on me”.

In the end, Go Fly A Kite doesn’t let Kweller fans down. It’s more complex than what listeners might hear the first time they give it a spin. As of now, it is the best record I’ve heard in 2012. I think buying the whole album is a worthy investment, but if you’re a single-song buyer, the essentials are: “Time Will Save The Day”, “Jealous Girl” “Mean To Me” and “Free”.

The Jim Ivins Band Return With New EP 

This month, the Virginia-based Jim Ivins Band released their new EP Everything We Wanted. It’s an 8-song collection of very accessible acoustic-driven pop-rock tunes reminiscent of a blend between the Goo Goo Dolls, John Mayer’s Room For Squares and Sherwood’s A Different Light. Although a few of these songs such as “Run” and “Rollercoaster” appeared on Ivins' 2007 solo album 99 Cent Dreams, the versions on Everything We Wanted sound more polished. Overall, the EP's production is great and the songs are filled with hooks that explode into large radio-ready choruses. Highlights are the title track as well as the openers “Run” and “The Sight of Fire”. The lyrics are heartfelt without being sappy, in “The Sight of Fire” Ivins sings: “You burn your bridges, because you like the sight of fire” – who hasn’t met that person? Anyway, Everything We Wanted is a very likeable record ideal for a long drive on sunny day.

A Joyride with the Black Keys' El Camino 

The boys from Akron are back. This month, the Black Keys unveiled their follow up to their 2010 critically acclaimed Brothers. It’s called El Camino and it’s awesome. This time around, the Keys reteam with Danger Mouse, their producer on 2008’s Attack & Release as well as their 2010 hit single “Tighten Up”. Where as Brothers was a darker soul/blues album, its successor is much poppier and upbeat while the guitar tones have more of that Jack White “Icky Thump”-era bite.

Die-hard Black Keys "fans" might be turned off by the slickness of El Camino’s production, but haters can go jump off a bridge. The Black Keys are no longer that little band playing clubs and recording on analog tape machines in their basements. As they head off on their first headlining arena tour, they are deservedly one of the biggest and best bands in America. On El Camino, the band experiments with new things like multi-layered harmonies, bells and a greater usage of organs and synths. However, the Black Keys sound has always been defined by Dan Auerbach howling blues vocals, dirty-garage guitar and Patrick Carney’s straightforward, but hard-hitting drumming. These elements are still at the record’s core. Therefore, the Black Keys signature sound is still there as the band explores new territory.

As to the essential tracks: the opening song “Lonely Boy” is classic Black Keys and one of the catchiest things they’ve ever written. “Gold On The Ceiling” and “Money Maker” are a lot of fun too. However, the biggest gem of El Camino is “Little Black Submarine”. It’s starts off as a quiet unassuming folk song and blows up into garage-blues ecstasy. It’s their answer to “Stairway To Heaven” and the guitar solo will smoke your eyelids off and leave your speakers steaming.

A Very Pleasant She & Him Christmas 

Sorry Justin Bieber - of the Christmas records out this year I recommend checking out She & Him’s A Very She & Him Christmas. Unlike many other competing seasonal albums, this one doesn’t suffer from over-production. The vibe is one where you are relaxing by the fire, drinking eggnog while your friends Matt Ward and Zooey Deschanel serenade you with some of their favorite holiday tunes. The instrumentation stays tastefully understated: sparse guitars, light percussion and some BrianWilson-inspired harmonies thrown in for accents. The mood remains warm as Zooey’s honey sweet voice croons out some of the best tunes in the Christmas canon, “The Christmas Waltz,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song” and so on. They even dig out an obscure Beach Boys holiday gem, “Christmas Day” as well as their better-known “Little Saint Nick” – although, the latter doesn’t compete the original. A minor problem is that the record stays very chilled-out and doesn’t really change gears very often. However, She & Him’s solid takes on “Sleigh Ride” and on Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” provide nice momentary changes in tempos and are the record’s peppiest songs.

All in all, A Very She & Him Christmas is a very pleasant holiday album. Essential tracks to add to your seasonal playlist are the album’s opener, “The Christmas Waltz” and “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” as well as Matt and Zooey’s vocal duets on “Sleigh Ride” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

Prolific Tom DeLonge Unleashes Killer New Angels & Airwaves Disc 

Props to Tom DeLonge! He has been a busy dude. A month after releasing the excellent new Blink-182 album (see the RCB review of their single “Up All Night” here), he presents listeners with a solid new Angels & Airwaves album, Love Pt. 2. If you didn’t get last year’s free download of Love Pt. 1, both parts are packaged together if you buy the physical CD.

With Love Pt. 2, the bottom line is if you like Angels & Airwaves, you’ll be pleased with this record. In some respects, Angels & Airwaves are like AC/DC where listeners can expect a very consistent sound from record to record. Angels & Airwaves’ music continues to fuse 1980’s U2-ish musical soundscapes with synthesizers and punk rock. And like AC/DC, some albums are better than others. Love Pt. 2 is one of the Angels & Airwaves best records and is probably their best record since their fabulous 2006 debut, We Don’t Need To Whisper. 2007’s I-Empire had some standout songs, but the disc was ultimately weighed down by the long extended techno-beat synth intros that killed the record’s momentum at points. Love Pt. 1 was a strong album, but Love Pt. 2 is better. There is more “meat” to the music. DeLonge and co. keep the synthy intros in check and the album rocks harder. DeLonge and guitarist David Kennedy pull tricks from their experience in Box Car Racer and make the guitars a little heavier with a punkish punch, enhancing the records momentum without distracting from the bands key identifying sonic elements. The track “Inertia” is a prime example of this. Also, there is an overall sense of romantic optimism in the album’s lyrics, making Love Pt. 2 more uplifting than its predecessor.

Overall, Angel’s & Airwaves fall into the category of an “albums band” versus a “singles band.” Each track flows into the next to create one complete listening experience. Therefore, the best way to appreciate the band is to listen to their records all the way through (not on shuffle!). However, for you single song purchasers, the biggest highlights are the opening three songs “Saturday Love”, “Surrender” and the Muse-like single “Anxiety” as well as “Behold A Pale Horse.” Check this record out; it’s in the running for being one of Rolling Clone Blogazine’s top five records for 2011.

Alice Cooper's Extra Ghoulish (and Extra Cheesy) Sequel 

For those kids who wish My Chemical Romance would write a sequel to 2006’s The Black Parade, check out Alice Cooper’s new disc, Welcome 2 My Nightmare. It’s the sequel to his 1975 album Welcome To My Nightmare (yes – a very clever title indeed). One must listen to the record having a sense of humor and appreciate Alice Cooper’s very tongue-in-cheek lyrics about ghouls (“Ghouls Gone Wild”) and why disco still sucks thirty years later (“Disco Blood Bath Boogie Fever”). The album is for the most part pretty good, not great. It’s funny, cheesy and over-the-top. If you go in with the right frame of mind, you’ll probably enjoy it. The best songs are “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”, “I Gotta Get Outta Here” and the ballad “Something To Remember Me By”. I’m not sure how I feel about his duet with Ke$ha, “What Baby Wants”. It might be so bad it’s good or a sign of the Apocalypse. You pick. In the meantime, rock on Alice!

New "Tricks" From Attack Cat! 

Power-pop lovers are in for a treat. Last month, Cleveland rockers Attack Cat (a.k.a. Rachel Hoskins and Dave Douglas) dropped their new EP, Dandy Outlaws. It sounds so sweet that you’ll probably get a sugar high just listening to it. Dandy Outlaws picks up where Attack Cat’s debut EP When The Moon Was Big left off, but moves into new territory. The record sounds bigger, the production cleaner and the hooks catchier. The EP has a Cobra Starship vibe, only Attack Cat are better. Get the whole EP, but biggest highlights are “Tricks,” “RCA” and the lead single, “You Want Me Crazy” (which was actually mixed by the legendary Chris Lord-Alge). Check it out! Eat your heart out Gabe Saporta!

Red Hot Chili Peppers Chill Out On New Disc  

Five years have passed since we last heard new music from the RHCP. Things have changed, for one they have a new lead guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, taking the place of virtuoso John Frusciante. The new album, I’m With You, sounds like the RHCP, but overall the vibe is more laid back. It is not as daring a work as it’s predecessor, the double-disc Stadium Arcadium, but it is consistently quality work from start to finish. Veteran RHCP producer and musical guru, Rick Rubin is back at the helm, guiding the band as it redefines old chemistries and creates new ones with Klinghoffer. Klinghoffer is not Frusciante and does not try to be. The guitar work has certainly been downplayed. The member that really shines on this album is drummer, Chad Smith. His beats are fun and the drum’s production quality is great. He’s never sounded better. Frontman Anthony Kiedis for the most part has given up on rapping his lyrics and continues to grow as a singer. Lastly, there is Flea, the sold backbone behind the RHCP’s signature groove.

If I were to describe I’m With You in one word, it would be “pleasant.” This is the RHCP’s in transition, but still making quality music. Essential tracks are opening track “Monarchy of Roses” with its Blondie-esque disco synth, the understatedly beautiful “Police Station” and then the single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.”

Kravitz's "Black and White America" – There’s A Great Album In It . . . Somewhere 


Lenny Kravitz’s Black and White America is an epic 16-song work filled with socially conscious lyrical themes and funky throwback soul grooves. Like many of his previous albums, Kravitz plays most of the instruments. Black and White America includes some of his greatest songs, but is ultimately held back by a failure to eliminate the clunkers. Although he is a proficient multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, perhaps he may have benefited from some input from outside musicians? The album starts off strong, but a lot of the last third of the album is ultimately forgettable. Had Kravitz trimmed off some of the fat, Black and White America could have been the best album of his career.

The record opens with the awesome title track, “Black and White America.” The song is catchy and definitely nods to Isaac Hayes’s “Shaft” in its usage of horns and strings and the call and response backing vocals. Lyrically, it’s political, but hopeful and musically it’s just a darn good time. The momentum is kept up with “Come On Get It” and “Into the Black.” Skip “Liquid Jesus” and then the party continues with the Bowie-esque “Rock Star City Life.” “Boongie Drop” features guest appearances by DJ Military and Jay Z, but sounds out of place kind of like an outtake from No Doubt’s Rock Steady. Some of the more mediocre moments are his James Brown-impersonation “Life Ain’t Ever Been Better Than It Is Now” and the cheesy ballad “Dream” sounds very R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” However, there are plenty of redeeming moments like the Zeppeliny “Everything,” the sexy “Superlove” and the album’s closer “Push.”

All in all, Black and White America is a good album that could have been a great album had Kravitz been more selective. Check out the excellent “Black and White America,” “Rock Star City Life” and “Push.”

Blink-182 Are Back With Their New Single "Up All Night" 


One day Blink-182 will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There, I said it. Haters be damned, you know that they deserve it! Along with Green Day, they brought about the punk-pop movement and released a string of hit singles and classic albums, inspiring countless kids to pick up guitars and start bands.

This past Friday, Blink-182 released their first new single since 2005. The song “Up All Night” picks up where the band left off with their last full-length 2003’s Blink-182. The song has a “Down” meets “Anthem Part 2” vibe. It opens with some spacey drums before a heavy rock riff kicks in. Duel lead singers, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus, then trade lines back and forth on the verse. It is so nice to here those voices together again, especially when they harmonize in the chorus on: “And all these demons, keep me up all night.” So good, that listeners might even forgive Tom for recycling the chorus melody line from his Angel’s and Airwaves song “Do It For Me Now” in “Up All Night’s” pre-chorus. Woops! “Up All Night” won’t go down as Blink’s greatest song, but the song is strong and shows that this veteran band is still growing musically. In the end, it’s good to have them back! Here at the Rolling Clone Blogazine, we can’t wait to hear the full-length album!

You can stream “Up All Night” on Blink-182’s official website.

The Kills Return Dirtier and Better Than Ever! 

 Between the last two Kills records, singer Alison Mosshart made two psychedelic blues rock albums with Jack White and the Dead Weather. Though they were solid records, it is nice to see her return to her original group with Jamie Hince to make Blood Pressures (now if only Jack White would rethink the fate of the White Stripes! – but I digress). Blood Pressures is great. It’s a dirty rock record with a lot of fight to it. Track by track the Kills have made a consistently strong album. The driving low-tom drum beat and ambient guitars of the opener “Future Starts Slow” create a soundscape perfect for a late night drive or your next flight from justice. The Strokes-esque “The Heart is a Beating Drum” is a highlight as are “Damned If She Do” and the playful “Baby Says.” The song “Wild Charms” which is the only track sung by Hince has a vibe similar to John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and transitions nicely with Mosshart’s vocals on the following song “DNA.” In the end, check out this record if you are looking for something to fill the gaping hole in your heart The White Stripes left when they broke up.

Essential Tracks: “The Future Starts Slow” & “The Heart is a Beating Drum”

Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues – A Thoughtful Journey Through The Past  

It’s hard to open up a music magazine these days and not hear some hype about Fleet Foxes. This Tuesday, their second album Helplessness Blues was released and it is one of the year’s best. If you are into chill Americana-folk music with beautiful harmonies, you should check out this record. The songwriting allows listeners to imagine what a Simon and Garfunkel record would have sounded like if Brian Wilson had arranged the harmonies with a little help from Crosby, Still and Nash. The opener “Montezuma” with its chorus of “Oh man! What I used to be. Oh man! Oh my! Oh me!” is a playful nod to the Pet Sounds/SMiLE-era Beach Boys while many of the other lyrics are reminiscent of Paul Simon with their melodic and rhythmic precision and thoughtful poetic imagery. “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” recalls The Beach Boys “Feel Flows” and the waltzy “Lorelai” feels like Dylan’s “4th Time Around” with it’s arpeggiated acoustic guitar. Overall, Fleet Foxes have learned from some of the best and are now adding some beautiful music to the canon.

Stand out tracks are the title track “Helplessness Blues,” “Montezuma,” and “Lorelai.” Helplessness Blues is a record for fans of Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, CSN and Mumford and Sons.