Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living With The Living

Ted Leo is the Billy Bragg of the 2000's. It's a comparison that he doesn't seem to like, but an apt one: he's the thoughtful punk with a conscience, he's content to let his lyrics do all the talking and with his Pharmacists, doesn't try to overwhelm the solid musicianship with volume and speed. He does try to branch out on his new album, Living With The Living, but the end result is the same - another great album. There's a lot of the Ted Leo standard of "thinking man's punk," but on "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb" he sounds more like Dexter Holland of the Offspring - and it's better than you'd think. His attempt at a reggae-influenced song, "The Unwanted Things," is, unfortunately, not better than you'd think, but when he takes a stab at a dancier song with "The Lost Brigade," it works, and well.

That's not to say that the old formula isn't still a good one. "Sons of Cain" is one of the best songs on the album, and "CIA," which is to Living With The Living what "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone" was to Hearts of Oak, is right up there with it. "Colleen" is a little slower, but still great, and "Annunciation Day/Born on Christmas Day" is faster, but still great. All in all, a simply great album that makes me want to pick up a sign and go protest.

Overall: 9/10

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Man Man and Will Ferrell

My first reaction to Man Man's show last night was that it was like Will Ferrell playing the cowbell on Saturday Night Live times a million. It was just an exuberant, balls-to-the-walls performance which was out of this world. Bunnygrunt was great too. KWUR Week never disappoints.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Takka Takka

I was looking at the great blog aggregator, and saw, much to my surprise, that Takka Takka is listed as one of the "hot" bands. Takka Takka is a great band out of Brooklyn (represent, yo) who, much like another band, is currently sans label. They recently released a 3 song EP, Talk Faster, which is available for download on their website. It's pretty simple, lo-fi indie music which lies somewhere between Bishop Allen and that other unsigned band out of Brooklyn. After hearing Perry Went Home, Sex Robots, and So Many Dynamos rock your socks and locks (of hair) off, I'd recommend heading over to and checking it out.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy 40th Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain would have been 40 today.

Mr. Cobain came to KWUR studios back in 1991. He loved college radio.

Damn. 40. Talk about "bored and old"...

Hey, look, we're in Pitchfork!

Pitchfork Media overhypes pretty shitty bands and ignores lots of great music. But sometimes, they get it right.

"According to Man Man's MySpace, the follow-up to Six Demon Bag is "well underway," and they're currently recording in Chicago.

The band will take a break from recording to hit the road this Spring. And when Man Man tour, they tour hard. The dates they have scheduled start March 15 and don't let up until April 15.

There's also a one-off show this weekend in St. Louis."

Dates: 02-24 St. Louis, MO - The Gargoyle (Washington University)

Yeaaaaaaaaaah KWUR Week.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Are you ready...for MAN MAN?

Somewhere between a voodoo witch hunt and a Neanderthal mating ritual…Their entire set consists of one song woven into another, a humongous medley of quasi-nonsensical yelps and wails, with band leader Honus Honus pounding the keys on his organ as if they were on fire and only his fingers could put them out.
-‘Sup Magazine

Man Man are just so much fun to look at, with tons of toys for improv antics, animated faces, beards, glasses and their Tom Waits-meets-Zappa-meets-a-ship-of-drunken-pirates carnival of sounds.

Here are some more facts about Man Man: They're from Philly. They dressed all in white, with white war-paint streaked under their eyes. They all sang big full-throated man chants; they all seemed to play several instruments at once, and "instruments" should be interpreted loosely-- not only guitars, accordions, saxophones, and keys, but steel buckets, toys, spoons, and bowls of water. They sang about falling out of love in Brooklyn and falling out in general. They swooned mightily together or epileptically jittered in sundry directions at invisible psychic cues, imposing a pantomimed theatricality upon their very real transportation. There were no breaks in their set, so the music deeply respired like something large that was asleep, and that you hoped would not wake up...

Man Man's power isn't derived from the genres they stumble across, or the maniac light in their eyes, or the sweat pooling in their beards. It's the unbearable sadness in their marrow and how they transform it, like the existentially distressed but heroically steadfast men men they are, into a terrible and lionhearted joy.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oh wait, I'm supposed to be a student too....

I got a little bogged down this week, so I haven't been able to review CDs, but more will be on the way. In the meantime, a Kings of Leon fact: two of the brothers in the band wanted to be country stars, and dropped out of school to pursue country before switching genres. This little factoid wasn't prompted by their new album leaking...not at all.....


Monday, February 12, 2007

Albert Hammond, Jr. - Yours To Keep

Yours to Keep, the solo debut from Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., will undoubtedly be placed in the context of the Strokes, and for good reason. According to the NME, part of the impetus for making this album was the motherband rejecting many of Hammond's songs. And if Hammond was only the son of a famous songwriter, you could definitely hear a Strokes influence evident on the album. You would also hear a very solid CD. Owing a lot to the '50's pop of artists like Bobby Darin, it is a fun, simple, laid back album that doesn't have the same aura of 'cool' that permeates throughout Strokes records. Hammond sounds like a guy who just wants to play his guitar and sing some songs, not much more.

The stand-out track on the album is certainly "101." It is irresistibly catchy with good guitars and a big, sing-along chorus. The one downside to the song may be the female vocals that join Hammond, rising out of the background, and serve more as a distraction from the guitars at first, and when the two sing in unison, just feel too much like a top 40 pop song. Another stand-out is the first bonus track, "Postal Blowfish," which is undeniably a rock song. It has big drums and big guitars, and is still catchy as hell. On "Scared," Hammond sounds directly from the '50's bubblegum era until the chorus, which is dark and moody.

The one major knock against the album is that Hammond does not seem to know when to end songs. Often times, he will finish with the lyrics and the instrumentation of the song, then just play something totally different. This is especially evident on "Hard to Live in the City," which ends with a brass section not heard anywhere else in the album, and almost sounds like a ska song, which is the last thing you want to hear on this record. All in all, it's not hard to tell that Hammond came from the Strokes, but it's even easier to enjoy Hammond, with or without the support of Julian Casablancas and co.

Overall: 7.5/10

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ela - Real Blood on Fake Trees

There was a time when emo wasn't such a bad thing. At The Drive-In has the e word listed as one of their styles on allmusic, and Jawbreaker's Dear You is still a classic. So perhaps it isn't a surprise that the first RIYL on the one-sheet for Ela's new CD Real Blood on Fake Trees is Jawbreaker. Ela plays an angular style of emo that doesn't share much in common with the brand of emo that is currently popular. Ela relies on dark melodies instead of comparing ex-lovers to arms dealers to create an intense disc that doesn't quite reaches the heights of Jawbreaker, but doesn't fall to the lows of what emo has come to represent either.

Overall: 6/10

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SnowLeopards - Debut

The debut CD for the SnowLeopards, aptly titled Debut, is very close to being just a generic piece of power-pop. What separates it from the rest of the pack is a retro vibe that permeates throughout the album, especially on "I'm on Fire" and "Hipmatize Me" (which may be one of the worst names for a song I've heard all year). With female vocals also, Debut isn't going to win the SnowLeopards the amount of fame that a debut such as that of the Arctic Monkeys garnered, but it could wind up being either a good guilty pleasure or a building block to successful second album - would that be named 2?


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Friday, February 09, 2007

KWUR Week 2007!

KWUR week is coming!

February 19th - February 24th

check out for details.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pretty Girls Make Graves calls it quits

Following the departure of drummer Nick DeWitt, Pretty Girls Make Graves have decided to break up. They will be doing a final, farewell tour this spring (dates will be posted when I get them), but make sure to listen to KWUR and request anything from either The New Romance or Elan Vital - both great albums from this underrated band.

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Spring Programming to Start Friday Feb. 9

KWUR will officially start Spring programming Friday February 9th. We have a full lineup of over 100 DJs to bring you yet another season of pure non-commercial underground radio.

Stay tuned for more detailed information on KWUR Week (Feb 19th - Feb 24th)....

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

Bloc Party's sophomore effort, A Weekend In The City, sees the British band become more focused and more emotional. The album is centered around life in London, and you can tell that frontman Kele Okereke thinks change is needed. On "Hunting for Witches," Okereke wails "the newscaster says the enemy's among is not the time for liberal thought." This is also by far the album's stand out track, with big guitars leading up to big chorus, making it the album's catchiest and most anthemic song. The opener, "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)" talks about the status quo, and is another one of the album's top tracks, while "Uniform" attacks the influence of MTV. Bloc Party also slows things down a little too frequently on the album. Some of the slow songs, such as "Waiting For The 7:18" are great, resonant ballads, but other times, such as on "I Still Remember," you just want Bloc Party to speed things up again so you can get up and dance to London's shortcomings. All in all, this is a very good, if not great, album which could make Bloc Party the voice of today's youth - the same way that they criticize on "Uniform."

Overall: 7/10

The KWUR blog is back and ready to rock your out.

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