Common: Electric Circus
Jeremy Newsome & Yoseph Assefa: KCSU DJ’s
In the prime of an illustrious career that spans over a decade and includes an impeccable discography of exceptional music, the Chi-town emcee Common delivers yet another jewel. “Electric Circus” is the fifth installment in a long arduous journey of personal growth and musical achievement. Riding on the crest of earning a Grammy for his work with Erykah Badu on “Love of my Life (Ode to Hip-Hop),” and his lead-off single “Come Close” featuring Mary J. Blige, Hip-Hop heads are blessed with experiencing the very evolution of music firsthand. With Hip-Hop’s number one drummer garnering the production credit for eight of the thirteen tracks on “Electric Circus”, ?uestlove stretches the boundaries of what your stereotypical Hip-Hop album is supposed to sound like. This album presents an encompassing range of musical elements that include rock, soul, and Hip-Hop components. Never one to leave a listener bored with tiresome lyrics, Common expounds upon facets of everyday life, liberation and internal struggle. The albums only dark spot lies in “Jimi was a Rockstar,” through this ridiculously long opus Common directs his focus on singing, where he sounds more like a congested Donny Hathaway. Average listeners that are set in their ways may be a little thrown off by the direction of the album, but after a short time the hypnotic soundscapes that are induced will be enough to keep any listener begging for more. Listen to Cypher Sessions Saturday, from 10-12pm on 90.5 KCSU.
The Realistics: The Realistics
Jeff Speckels: KCSU Volunteer
Manhattan’s Realistics are members of the same clamorous garage-punk revival that has brought notoriety to Detroit’s White Stripes, Sweden’s Hives, and New York’s own Strokes. The self-titled EP is a collection of happy-pop inspired melodies put to three guitars, a drum kit, and an overbearing 70’s-inflected organ. The melodies are good regardless of their maniacal sameness. They are equal dashes of Elvis Costello and the Jam sprinkled over a solid, sunny garage-rock beat. The strongest song is, unsurprisingly, the lead track. It is a propulsive, upbeat, party-time song with “I’ve-heard-this-before” lyrics the tune is called “It’s Alright, It’s OK,” so just use your imagination. The rest of the disk is a fine representation of a tight pop band with nothing new to say. Once the Realistics stop telling us about their failed relationships and banal drunk-time fumblings they might be able to draw upon their instrumental tightness to create quality rock ‘n’ roll.
The Eskimos: Something Must Be Transmitted Somehow
Tom Lucero: KCSU Underwriting Manager
Athens, Georgia based band The Eskimos have released their highly anticipated second album “Something Must Be Transmitted Somehow.” with a sound reminiscent of the late 1960s and 70s, the band acknowledges, “Sure we are aware of Neil Young, The Band, Small Faces, etc. … but what we try to do is take elements from all kinds of music, absorb it all and then filter it through our own ideas,” a fitting explanation. “We’re not that interested in sounding like anything at this point,” says vocalist/guitarist Drew Sinclair.
From the start, you can hear the influences, different artists styles that are combined to form a unique sound. The songs have a very melodic feel to them, with strong vocals, strong percussion and a spacey, psychedelic feel. Tracks like “The Pills” or “Sadie Maybe” have an upbeat, happy feel, while songs such as “Satellite Blues” or “Roaming Demon” have a slower, more emotional, “bluesy” tone to them. Just know … if you’re interested in rock (circa 1960-80), tune into the Eskimos latest release, Something Must Be Transmitted Somehow.
Folk Implosion: The New Folk Implosion
Gabriel Schirm: KCSU DJ
Skinny man Lou Barlow, the leader of “The New Folk Implosion” is, on this album, using the wonderful K.I.S.S method of musical styling. Keep It Simple Stupid, a method some lesser bands use to bore listeners, has been Barlow’s forte in his past albums and now that Barlow’s past partner in crime John Davis is no longer with the band, Barlow finds his own unique K.I.S.S groove. The simple songs on this latest album have brilliant heart felt lyrics. Barlow gets so engrossed in his lyrics he has invented many words for his tracks which guarantees to keep you listening closely thinking “say what?” These creative lyrics fuse very well with guitarist, Imaad Wasif’s, excellent acoustic guitar all-star abilities. In tracks like “Pearl” Wasif could have coined the phrase “making love to the guitar.” Unfortunately for us the crew decided to continue odd synthesized sampling on tracks like “Coral.” But if you’re in the mood to chill out on a Sunday afternoon to some deep bass lyrics about the trials and tribulations of life and some great guitar “strummins” this latest album is for you.
Amon Amarth: Versus the World
Nate Harper: KCSU Metal Director
Swedish musical heroes Amon Amarth’s latest opus Versus the World is an amazing example of the genius that metal music is capable of achieving. The masters of Viking Metal have again called upon their vast knowledge of intricate drum patterns, harmonic guitar solos and Norse mythology to create an album as musically complex as it is brutally crushing. The album contains nine new tracks and a bonus CD of 14 re-mastered and unreleased songs as well. Alongside such new classics as “Death in Fire” and the title track “Versus the World” can be found old favorites like “Thor Arise” and an excellent cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Never happy to make their name on repetitive music Amon Amarth leads the listener on a sonic journey through excellent riffing, super sonic drumming, raspy vocals and well thought out guitar compositions, the final product being one of the few must own metal records to be released this year.
Rainer Maria: Long Knives Drawn
Amber “Vinny” Villani: KCSU DJ and Manager
Who says that an emo/indie band can’t put out more than three decent albums, well pretty much everyone, but Rainer Maria has proved them wrong. After A Better Version of Me toped the CMJ charts some naysayers predicted the end of Rainer Maria, but they are still here and now more refined than ever in their fourth album in eight years. While guitarist Kyle Fischer’s vocals are fading, bassist Cathlin DeMarraias has turned up the volume and her mesmerizing vocals have taken over the harmonies that were once a trademark for Rainer Maria. Not to worry if you are a “Rainer Maria lover” there are still tracks like “The Awful Truth of Loving” that stay true to the broken hearts ballads of Rainer Maria that everyone and anyone can relate to. This album takes you on a journey through the broken heart. DeMarraias’ impassioned vocals and lyrics like, “won’t you hold me/hold me/make believe that you don’t loathe me” (found on track 2 “Long Knives”) how can you not feel as though you have been personally invited on a tour of DeMarraias’ soul.
Malik Idbeis: KCSU RPM Director
Did you ever wonder what would happen if everything good from 80’s music was reincarnated? Well, if you’re like me, you didn’t. There is answer though and it is Fischerspooner. Their album, #1, is a straight electroclash rocker. Somehow or another Fischerspooner managed to rework a generations worth of music that we all wanted to forget and make it cool again. Starting right at the beginning, you can feel the 80’s vibe in the synth line in “Sweetness” and it doesn’t quit. From there they move onto “The 15th” by the UK post-punk band Wire. Throughout the album, you are engulfed in retro synth sounds, mixed with new electro elements to push the 80’s revolution to the for front of music. “Invisible” illustrates this extremely well with its lazy electro beat and old school bass line, proving once again that music really is a cycle, and that sometimes the sequel is better than the original.
Troubled Hubble: Penturbia
Jessica “Blush” Gronewold: KCSU DJ
An Indie-pop-ride through topics spanning divorce, childhood crushes, love and heartbreak, and even the occasional thought from your friendly neighborhood animal. This Illinois quartet will make your head bob and your feet tap with songs like “I Love my Canoe” and “Understanding Traffic.” Reminiscent of early Modest Mouse, the forth album from this young band will have you singing along instantly while it tugs at your heart strings, makes you laugh and almost makes you cry from its honesty. A refreshing change from the growing popularity of bitterness in today’s music scene, these guys don’t hold back and don’t hide behind unsolvable riddles and metaphors. They lay their thoughts out on the table, leaving the listener hopeful and happy. What else could you want?