KCSU mini CD reviews

Sep 112002

Maroon 5: “Songs About Jane”

Abby Berendt: Asst. Music Director

With the power and fury of a thousand sensuous chords, Maroon 5 embraces your ears, yet your body can’t stop that longing feeling. “Harder to Breathe” is the perfect foreplay, with pounding beats and funky guitars, you’ll be gasping for more. But “Songs About Jane” won’t leave you hanging, as it drives a sweet groove right into the soul of seduction. “Shiver” sends a driving chill down your back, while “She will be loved” sways a slow beat of warm devotion. With its pimp-style attitude Maroon 5 mixes a tight groove of funk, R&B, and rock & roll. This is one date that won’t stand you up.

4/5 stars

Optimal I.M.: “The Highlander”

Rebecca Rodriguez: Urban Director

Optimal I.M. is a local hip-hop MC on the up rise. You can catch the CD release party this Friday the thirteenth at Johnny’s place. This first CD, “The Highlander,” is a production evident of effort and aggressive flair. One of the tracks is stylistically laced with female vocals, which makes for a complimentary sound of beat, lyric and voice. Optimal is an MC that any Coloradan could enjoy as he enthusiastically represents – 970 to 303. Songs like ‘You Knew’ call to an in-your-face style aggression, with lyrics spoken with a solid cadence quickly delivered with an accurate rhyme scheme; that’s optimal.

3/5 stars

Division Of Laura Lee: “Black City”

Zach Ginsberg: Program Director

With an attitude to appease punk rock traditionalists and a songwriting sensibility that should garner the respect of every fan of Robert Smith, Division of Laura Lee dishes out their rendition of rock and roll, they call it “Black City.” Adopting the Lo-Fi recording techniques, and the somewhat abrasive down-stroke approach to well, everything. DOLL effectively becomes every other band that as of late wishes to claim the title of “the saviors of rock.” This record undeniably rocks but don’t count on it to broaden your horizons, as it utterly fails to take advantage of the room to work created by The Strokes and The White Stripes, let alone to stretch any boundaries.

2/5 stars

Steve Earle: “Jerusalem”

Zach Ginsberg: Program Director

Always known to speak his mind and follow his own road despite public opinion, Steve Earle once again stands his ground. Providing ample amounts of opinionated-roots rock, laden with oddly placed but intriguing sampling and looping effects, “Jerusalem” refuses to let you look at this as an outdated, out of touch record. Made up of highly relevant social commentary including the initially blood boiling, but ultimately reflective and provocative “John Walker’s Blues” and simultaneously conveying the highly patriotic (in a very cryptic sense) sentiments of “Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)” that effectively highlight the underlying theme of this record. That is to say, be proud of who and what we are, but know that we can do better. It’s wisdom, plain and simple.

4/5 stars

Matt Skiba and Kevin Seconds: “Split EP”

Mike Santos: Asst. Production Director

Do you ever have those occasional thoughts of “what would it sound like if (insert name of punk band here) played on MTV unplugged?” Well, my friends, Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio fame) and Kevin Seconds (from 7Seconds) have heard your prayers and put them onto a split EP that was released by Asian Man Records earlier this month. The 10 song EP (Skiba and Seconds both have 5 songs) is pretty much everything you can expect in a punk rock acoustic album and maybe a little more.

Skiba’s portion of the EP can be compared to your average run of the mill Dashboard Confessional album. With intimate guitar riffs and melancholy lyrics, it definitely makes for a good listen. Seconds’ portion is a change from his 7Seconds days. Sounding more like he has been playing in a 60s rock band, Seconds plays the sun to Skiba’s moon bright major chords and even a tough of some “na na na na na”s (song 10 entitled Motherf*****s). If you were a fan of the Alkaline Trio and/or 7Seconds, this EP would be nice addition to your collection. For those of you who aren’t already fans, pick up this disc and see what all the huff is about.

3 /5 stars

Bop Skizzum: “Reverberating Funk”

Cody Golliher: Concert Director

Bop Skizzum’s energy and cohesiveness of funk is truly amazing. This young group from Denver has put together a funky sound that just makes you want to get up and jump around like you just won a million dollars. The first song on the album “Melody’s Remedy” takes you right into the mix of things with heavy sax and trumpet playing that keeps going till the album ends. Be sure to check them out live at Archers, Sept. 27.

Pietasters: “Turbo”

Peter Fryer: Metal Director

From the opening track of “Turbo” it is apparent that the Pietasters have been listening to a lot of Motown, and must have The Blues Brothers on constant repeat in their VCR. I must admit that it’s been a long time since I’ve visited this band, not since the days of “Strapped: Live” (their best album by far) have I really given a close listen to the Pietasters. But, this record shows that they are here to stay, especially in the aftermath of the brief, but exciting, ska-revival of the late nineties.

It seemed at the demise of the ska “revolution” bands had two options: 1. Just fade away, as many acts did, or 2. Keep on truckin’, with perhaps some new ideas. Although the Pietasters haven’t fallen as far from the ska-apple tree as acts like the Gadjits, they certainly have shifted musically. There are all kinds of feel good tracks on this CD. The opening track, “Told You the First Time,” is reminiscent of something you would find on the Blues Brothers soundtrack, but there are also the more reggae-ska tracks like “Drunken Master,” and of course the Motown balladesque “Got to Stay,” there’s even some rock, as is found on the track “Wrong with You.”

Don’t worry; there are still plenty of ska roots in tact, with a few traditional tracks finding their way onto this CD. It’s nice to see a record with as many musical styles mixed in a kind of grab bag of “feel good tunes” as the Pietasters have done. It’s a fun listen that shows maybe this ska thing wasn’t just a fad, and that bands like the Pietasters have what it takes to stay on as musicians. So polish those two-tone wingtips, hop on your Vespa, and get ready for a kickin’ good time.

3/5 stars

ATREYU: “Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses”

Peter Fryer: Metal Director

With the steady flow of crap Victory Records has been releasing over the last few years, it’s nice to see that they’re getting back into the game with some good acts. (Taking Back Sunday and Darkest Hour, to name a few). Atreyu definitely falls into this category.

The genre of hardcore metal has been going through quite a shift as of late, gone are the days of Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Strife, and Integrity. These days bands are trading the tough fist pounding style of the mid to late nineties for more thought provoking melodies, more of a metal edge ala In Flames and the like, and heaven forbid, singing. Even some, dare I say “emo” tendencies are finding their ways into the metal/hardcore genre. One only has to look to bands like Thursday, From Autumn to Ashes, and Skycamefalling to see that this is true. So, what’s up with Atreyu? What sets these guys apart? Is it the fact that their name is a reference to “the Neverending Story,” reason enough by the way to like these guys. No actually, it’s more than that. It’s the fact that you’ll find yourself singing along to such lyrics as “I watched my aspirations crash to the ground on the backs of the angels that I’ve slain”. Yeah, who would’ve thought that might be popular on a campout? If anyone could do it, it’s these guys.

This album mixes it up too, there’s enough metal for those of you with a craving for crunchy guitars, power chords, devil horns, and breakdowns so heavy you have to double check your pants to make sure the load wasn’t too big. There’s also some great lyrics, and thought provoking ideas, mainly dealing with love, however an anti-religion anthem “at least I know I’m a sinner” finds its way onto this CD as well. This track is pretty sweet, with guest vocals from Efrem Schulz (singer for Death by Stereo) who offers some musical ideas of his own. So, if you’re looking for something with a little bit of everything, solid song structure, good vocals, crunchy and melodic guitars, dance parts for you mosh pit fools, and plenty of angst-ridden lyrics look no further than Atreyu. They were obviously sent here to rock your socks off!

4/5 stars

Common Rider: “This is Unity Music”

John Holland: News Director

There have been several punk rock super groups before but I don’t think any of them compare to Common Rider. The band is made up of Jesse Michaels; the former lead singer of Operation Ivy and Mass Giorgini and Dan Lumley from Screeching Weasel and Squirtgun, so I knew only good things could come from that kind of a combination. The album definitely has an Op Ivy feel to it, although the songs are a little more mellow. The guitar riffs have a bright but dirty tone and they are only complimented by awesome walking basslines. Michaels’ voice has definitely grown up, along with his songwriting, which is still highly philosophical. This album is very raw and pure, and that’s what makes it so good.

4/5 stars

Rainville: “The Longest Street In America”

Patrick McElroy: Station Manager

“Some albums take more time, more pain and more heart to make than the others.

This one of those albums.” -Rainville

The Denver-based foursome’s sophomore effort “The Longest Street In America” is more cohesive, powerful, and musically superior to their debut album, “Collecting Empties.” TLSIA marries Rainville’s four-piece rock ensemble with John Horan’s scratchy harmonica, Bret Billings’ crying pedal steel and moody keyboard work by rhythm guitarist Ian Hlatky.

The result is music-induced heartache that falls heavy and thick in “Can’t Hide” and “Let Me Come Back Home,” and pop sensibility that shines through in “Emma” and “Five Dollar Shower.” TLSIA takes the love, truth, pain and cheer of the band’s spiritual home, Colfax Avenue, and lays it down on a record that sweats blues, screams gospel, hollers country, and pushes poignant, palatable and just plain pure rock & roll right through your dancin’ shoes, and into places you’re afraid to talk about.

TLSIA may likely see the birth of rock stars in Rainville, and just think…you hear it first. Rainville’s CD release party for “The Longest Street In America” will take place tomorrow night (Friday the13th) at Archers. For more information on Rainville visit www.rainvillemusic.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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