The Rocket Summer: Calendar Days
Abby Berendt: KCSU Asst. Music Director
Think confetti guns. An explosive, self-triggered jubilee, so small and simple, yet loud and memorable. That is The Rocket Summer: a hand-pulled confetti gun. Bryce Avary, a man of many talents, combines his intense instrumental knowledge and upbeat, boyish vocals to create the debut album, Calendar Days. Avary (a.k.a. The Rocket Summer) fully embraces pop-rock and brings much needed respect to the tremendously tainted genre. Much like Ben Kweller, this 20-year-old rocker gives a high-energy performance, traveling from the keyboard, to drums, and to the guitar. Calendar Days is an infectious concoction of catchy loops and memorable hooks that will leave any naysayer’s head-bopping and toe-tapping. “What We Hate We Make,” is a novelty sing-along complete with a 6th grade girl’s choir. But it is “Cross My Heart” and “This Is Me” that truly expose this explosive jubilee and amazing talent. With only one record and two decades under his belt, Calendar Days is an overwhelmingly amazing debut for the small and simple Avary.
Ghost Cauldron – Invent Modest Fires
Malik Idbeis – KCSU RPM Director and host of In the Mix
I often feel that it’s my job as a music lover to present new and amazing things to people of a like mind. And it’s even more important to present them to those who don’t. Ghost Cauldron’s Invent Modest Fires has awakened this feeling in me once again! The album spans the spectrum of styles, from epic DJ Shadow-like symphonies to progressive hip-hop and even rock. Ghost Cauldron (DJ Kaos and CE.EL) show that you can be great without a genre.
This album features appearances by Anti-Pop Consortium, Nick Taylor and Apani B Fly. All of them bring their own style to mix with an already eclectic sound. Anti-Pop Consortium continues to push hip-hop’s boundaries on “Fear” and “Only at Night.” Nick Taylor lends his voice to mellow, yet creepy rock on “See What I’ve Become” and “Right Now.” Apani B Fly shows that women can MC just as well as the men on “Whole World.” Still, you can’t forget about Ghost Cauldron’s own creations, ranging from rock on “Garage Beat” to epic rising songs like “Fire Walk With Me.”
Invent Modest Fires is so amazingly well rounded that anyone will love it. This album is probably my favorite release of the past few years. If you experiment with new music, do yourself a favor and give Ghost Cauldron a go.
Ziggy Marley: Dragonfly
By: Chris Dittmer, Sports Director
As a college student, one might search for a disc that can double for study sessions as well as raging parties. This one fits the bill quite well. There are a few surprises on this album, including “I Get Out,” which sounds like a Lenny Kravitz track throughout the chorus. Dragonfly will surely draw comparisons to his 1986 work “Hey World!” The reggae-pop genre is alive and well on almost every track. Reggae purists will be disappointed, but fans of some solid beats and a relaxing experience will enjoy it. Marley uses horns with success on “Rainbow in the Sky.” Horns are perhaps the most underrated instrument on a reggae album. Marley does falter with his need to express views on political and social issues that would be best left to someone else. In the end, Dragonfly will leave you feeling good and remembering the “Good Old Days.” Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes, Ziggy is the oldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley.
Uncle Tupelo: Still Feel Gone
Patrick McElroy – KCSU Station Manager
It’s over a decade old. It was recorded in 1991 and released in 1992, but Uncle Tupelo’s sophomore record Still Feel Gone has all the enduring potency of a classic. Uncle Tupelo helped define the Alternative-Country & Americana genres … literally. One of the genre’s most prominent periodicals was named after the band’s debut album, “No Depression.”
Still Feel Gone infuses country storytelling with rocking realism. With powerful imagery, brilliant in its simplicity and poignant in its proximity to real life, Uncle Tupelo succeeded by subscribing to the mantra, “write about what you know.” Lyrics like, “imagine where you and time to kill will stay… when the Bible is a bottle and the hardwood floor is home… when morning comes twice a day, or none at all…” leave the listener dialectically absorbing both the brutal and callous reality and bleeding-heart emotion of their songs. This inspired record will relate to fans and newcomers alike.
Sarah “Sugar” Coates: KCSU Prime Time DJ
It has been four years, but the much-anticipated Lagwagon album is finally out and ready to be enjoyed. The first full-length album since 1998’s “Let’s Talk About Feelings”, Blaze features classic Lagwagon with dynamic guitar duos and catchy lyrics from front man Joey Cape. Such songs as “Burn,” “Lullaby” and “Never Stops” show the influence of Cape’s side project, Bad Astronaut, reticent in this project’s slower, more melodic tempo and emotional lyrics. Lagwagon’s signature sound shines through in other hard-hitting and energetic songs such as “E Dagger,” “Dancing the Collapse” and “Billionaire.” The album is one that you listen to from beginning to end without having to skip songs. It’s obvious that Lagwagon took their time to produce these 14 tracks of quality punk rock-it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite. By the time you reach the end you’ll want to start Blaze over again.
King Britt: Adventures in Lo-Fi
Rebecca Rodriguez: KCSU Urban Director
King Britt: you know him as the DJ of hip-hop’s group Digable Planets where he laid down smooth jazzy beats with slick lyrics to match. Inevitably, he has evolved as a producer and this album seems to be another progressive step in this peculiar time in hip-hop. If you want to get hyped up, this isn’t the album for you. The beats are down tempo – they’ll put you in a mellowed out groove, but you can’t just casually listen to this album’s mix of spoken word and poetic flows. The lyrical content is carefully planned by Britt and requires a careful ear to catch the unique concept of the album- I’ll leave the concept for to you to figure out. Lyrical contributions by Cherrywine (of Digable Planets), Bahamadia, Quasimoto, Posdonus and Trugoy (of De La Soul) backed by Britt’s chilled-out beats make for an intriguing LP. Britt utilizes technology to enhance his music and it draws you in until you’re locked into the sound. Adventures in Lo-Fi is a contribution to hip-hop worthy of appreciation.
The Fleshtones: Do you Swing
Sharon Gaudreau: KCSU Public Affairs Manager
Imagine throwing southern rock, 60s to 70s influenced jam sessions, punk riffs, a couple harmonicas, maybe a tambourine or two, and a pint of beer into a blender. What’s the result? Each song on Do You Swing, the latest album by rock veterans The Fleshtones.
After 25 years in the music business, Do You Swing proves these guys still have a decent knowledge of good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, something we don’t hear too much on Top 40 radio these days. The songs range from bouncy, catchy “Alright” (perfect for a day on the beach), to the grungier, more in-depth “Right On Woman.” However, with all this alleged diversity, each song still contains the same musical flavor, and gets repetitive near the end of the album. Lyrically, it seems the Fleshtones follow the same trend (hence the pint in The Fleshtones’ musical blender.)
So how do I swing? Right up the middle. The lack of musical diversity makes this album difficult to appreciate. However, for hardcore Fleshtones fans, don’t worry. Do You Swing serves up another course of hook-laden rock ‘n’ roll just the way it was meant to be.