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Category: Album Reviews

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

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I Love You, Honeybear, the sophomore release by Father John Misty, weaves conflicting emotions of disillusionment and passion into a conceptual folk rock mix of airy vocals, guitars, horns, and strings. While Fear Fun consists of lighthearted skepticism, I Love You, Honeybear deals with heavier issues like his relationship with his wife and his own self-faults. “C Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” features horns that compliment his somber and wispy voice, and “True Affection” is a synth pop commentary on closeness. “Bored in The USA” confronts the alienation of consumer society to a piano and a purposely out-of-place laugh track. Featuring strings and horns on many songs, the album contrasts the large sound of an orchestra with the intimacy of Tillman’s lyrics. I Love You, Honeybear is full of musical and lyrical contradictions that perfectly describe the perplexity of love itself.

-Camilla Grayson

Purity Ring – Another Eternity

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Purity Ring opens their second album with all the pulsing synth present on their debut.  Megan James’s gentle vocals yield a happy contrast to the powerful beats, mixing dance anthems with spacey ballads throughout “Another Eternity”.  “Stillness in woe” and “repetition” are slower tracks that demonstrate Roddick’s ability to blend instrumentals perfectly to the tones of James’s voice.  In conclusion, this sophomore release receives all the right attention with its varied electro-pop songs, but it fails to provide anything new from their first album.

-Ben Phillips

Will Butler – Policy

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Recorded in one week in Jimi Hendrix’s old Living Room, Policy marks Will Butler’s (probably most known as Win Butler’s younger brother) first solo album to date. Though this is his premier album, the Arcade Fire musician did compose the original score to 2014’s award-winning motion picture “Her.” Since then, he’s employed his menagerie of musical skills to compose a sonically diverse debut. Because he’s a part of Arcade Fire, the urge to expect a style and fluency throughout the album close to that of AF is natural, but that’s not what Butler delivered. The album as one single entity doesn’t have the most natural transitions, but with that in mind, each song has a distinct feel much like each Arcade Fire album has a distinct feel, and each song is reminiscent of a different AF phase. Granted, it still isn’t Arcade Fire. Butler adds a flair of punk in “Take My Side (1), “What I Want” (6), an 80’s background vibe in “Anna” (2), some thick experimental funk and accidentals in “Something’s Coming” (5), and altogether more experimental takes on melody in each track. We hear the familiar rhythm and piano of Neon Bible in tracks “Finish What I started” (3) and “Sing to Me” (7), with a splash of that choral background ohhing and ahhing that’s so Funeral and so loveable in tracks “Finish What I started” (3) and “Witness” (8). The most accessible and most consistent tracks are “Witness” (8) and “What I Want” (6), bringing in the most energy and the most danceability. His lyrics are zany (“I’ll give you a pony/ if you cook it for dinner I know a great recipe/ for pony macaroni” – ‘What I Want’), he’s got a little extra angst, and he’s proving his musical worth as an individual. All he’s missing is the cohesion throughout the album, but I wouldn’t write him off so soon.

-Kira Hynes

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – After

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Lady Lamb’s sophomore album, After, starts off with typical pop-rock sound with “Vena Cava” and “Billions of Eyes”,  with a hint of 60’s beach music in the mix.  But in the next track, “Violet Clementine”, she adds in some eerie, Modest Mouse-y, banjo, as well as a chorus of singers and horns.  Shifts like this happen often through the album; “Sunday Shoes” is a stripped down acoustic track, “Milk Duds”, “Ten”, and “Atlas” are all sort of alt-country.  But she never changes so much as to lose her unique sound.

-Justin Johnson

The American Spirit – Season of Violence or Mourning, Protest, And the Birth of Bishop Killborne


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American Spirit plays an assortment of ambient folk on their newest album that combines the woozy vocals of Father John Misty with the southern twang of My Morning Jacket. Their debut album features hazy songs led by acoustic guitars. Some songs are supplemented with light drums on songs like “All Night”, while others feature harmonicas and banjos like in “Going on My Own Way”. There is a musical depth through the background vocals but also a lyrical depth in their lyrics about  longing and discovering something more. Season Of Violence or Mourning, Protest, And The Birth of Bishop Killborne is a creative album full of talent.

-Camilla Grayson

Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Three

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Based out of New York, Matana RobertsCoin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee is the third album of a slated 12 that will compile her Coin Coin project. Having grown up in Chicago in the late 70s and early 80s, her childhood was filled with musical influences, specifically of jazz and its component instruments. Roberts is known as a sound experimentalist. This album is full mechanical, repetitive hums, crackles and reverberations, masked by eerie oohs and experimental saxophone melodies, Roberts’ main instrument. Fading in and out of the noise is Robert’s voice, sometimes melodic, but often it is just raspy and chant-like, or just plain talking, being that Roberts also works with spoken word poetry. Her album is full of the sounds of life, not its melodies, which weave together in sincere incongruity and culminate into a whole of transfixing uncertainty.

-Kyra Hines

Proving WUOG can be your home whether you are really cool or still think 1977 was the best year for music (it was, ok, it was) we have both Dan Deacon AND the Pop Group playing on the radio these days.

Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer

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Baltimore is really churning out some great music these days and Dan Deacon is one of the city’s very best artists. Since his stunning breakthrough, 2007’s Spiderman of the Rings, Deacon has put out the gorgeous, live-instrument focused Bromst (one of my favorites of that year) and the ambitious America, and now Gliss Riffer, which  feels like vintage Dan Deacon, while still experimenting with the ideas and forms that his fans are familiar with. The opener “Feel the Lightning” feels like the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to a Dan Deacon pop song. There’s a really discernible structure and catchy synth parts that augment Deacon‘s traditional joyful, electronic chaos. Gliss Riffer takes a really dramatic left turn is the last 2 tracks of the record. “Take It to the Max” and “Steely Blues” are two of the most experimental tracks Deacon‘s done since signing with Domino and display his masterful composition skills as well as his ability to create huge environments with his array of musical ideas.

-Andy Tabeling

The Pop Group – Citizen Zombie

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The seminal post-punk band, The Pop Group has released Citizen Zombie, their first LP in 35 years, and they’ve picked up right where they left off.  When beloved bands reunite and  release new material, the new records often derided and met with skepticism, as it can never match the expectations presented by a legendary back catalog.  With their three short years as a band from 1977-1980,  The pop group seamlessly blended the noise of the Birthday Party, the political outrage of the Clash and the Sex Pistols, and the nerdy white punk funk of American New Wave, all the while lending more influences to these contemporaries.  On Citizen Zombie the Pop Group still have the raw political energy and the rage of a young band while still offering a mature, postmodern sound that seems wiser than their previous work.  The opener and title track, “Citizen Zombie” is funky and savage which somehow manages to include jazz inspired sounds, feedback and futuristic noise.  In contrast to their usual punk-funk, tracks like “Mad Truth” and “s.o.p.h.i.a.” are dancefloor ready snythpop tracks.  The Standout track is “Nowhere Girl” and its most reminiscent to their older material and verges on the anthemic, combining love song and atypical optimism with huge, blaring guitar riffs and U2ish backup vocals. Closer “Echelon” sounds like a synthed up Nick Cave song as its very pretty and eerie. Although the political lyrics can be bulky at times (see; “Nations”/ “Immaculate Deception”) they are still intriguing and give the album a dystopian vibe.  The Pop Group’s Citizen Zombie is a strong effort that holds up to the band’s impressive discography without sounding trite and overdone.

- Tom Jurgens

Title Fight – Hyperview

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Title Fight’s third full length album, Hyperview, is an extreme departure from the aggressive punk of their previous releases, even the most recent  Spring Songs EP (which featured heavily in WUOG’s rotation last year).  They’ve replaced the loud, post-hardcore sound, with a lusher shoegazey guitar sound that still packs the punch of their previous albums.  Hyperview is still a killer punk album and it shows that Title Fight’s steady growth has paid off with such a rewarding album.  It may prove divisive to fans of their older material, but it’s as good a place to start as any for the uninitiated.  “Chlorine” still has guitars that swell and explode into softer, melodic vocals.  “Hypernight” is still firmly entrenched in post-hardcore despite the shoegaze inspired riffs.  “Your Pain is Mine Now” is beautiful and heart-wrenching with the refrain “Don’t cry your eyes out.” This song feels like the centerpiece of the album as it  strips away the noise and shows the strong influence of mumbling post-punk and nineties indie rock dressed up as punk.  The band stated that Dinosaur Jr. and the Beach boys were big influences on the record, and the transition from “Your Pain is Mine Now” into “Rose of Sharon” encapsulates those influences perfectly.  This record is glorious, go listen to it.

-Tom Jurgens

The Church – Further/Deeper

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Further/Deeper is the newest release from the Australian outfit The Church, building on more than three decades of experience and 25 albums. As would be expected with any band that created 25 albums and gained and lost a few members along the way, there is a disparity between original Church from 1981 and Church in 2015. The loss of an essential member (Marty Willson Piper) and gain of another (Powderfinger’s Ian Haug), is one of the reasons for the shift into the Church of today. Despite this, their distinct sound carries through: emotionally searching, full of shimmering guitars and distant drums, but still wholly relatable. In Pride Before A Fall, Steve Kilbey’s pleading voice drones “And now you know that actual love / It goes further, deeper,” revealing the album’s namesake and staying true to the yearning songs of the band’s past.  This album brings forth new ground that is apparent from the lead track “Vanishing Man” through to the psychedelic “Globe Spinning.” Further/Deeper maintains the dreamy atmosphere reminiscent of past years while traversing new ground that is applicable to the 2015 music scene.

-Cassidy Reeser

Benjamin Booker – Live at Third Man Records

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Benjamin Booker, relatively new to the music scene, has already made a name for himself with his interesting take on post-war blues.  His self-titled debut album, released last year, combined elements of blues with a DIY, garage-punk sound.  His raspy voice sung, or sometimes screamed, over that lo-fi guitar sound and punchy percussion create a truly unique musical experience.  While recording in a live setting sacrifices some production and overall sound quality, Booker more than makes up for it with his raw, energetic performance.  The live album also features arrangements with fiddle and mandolin, including his cover of Furry Lewis’ “Falling Down Blues”, which he takes in a much folkier yet equally (if not more) powerful direction.  Overall, the album is definitely worth a listen, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Benjamin Booker.

-Justin Johnson

Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass

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Natalie Prass is a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN. I bet that made you think of what she sounds like, and odds are, you guessed wrong. Prass stands out remarkably among a crowded field of modern singer-songwriters by accompanying her songs with the most enormous arrangements I’ve heard from a folk-ish musician since Sufjan Stevens. All of the songs on Prass‘ self-titled debut are filled with gorgeous string sections, soft horns and delicate woodwind passages. The artist that comes to mind for me is the mid-period of Scott Walker’s career (Scott 1, 2, 3, 4) where the arrangements are massive, but only add to already great songs. Thankfully, like Walker, Prass knows how to write a song. The opener “My Baby Don’t Understand” has a gorgeous, addictive melody that weaves itself around some of the most interesting instrumental accompaniment I’ve heard in a while. Tracks like the previously mentioned 1st track and the following track “Bird of Prey” both refuse to adhere to the boring song structures many of Prass‘ peers rigidly follow. Her voice, which sounds almost tiny compared to the orchestral majesty of the songs, takes a little bit of getting used to, but can prove addictive and lovable like the songs it’s a part of.  -Andy Tabeling

Twerps – Range Anxiety

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Twerps combines their reverb based riffs with lead singer Marty Frawley’s warm but slightly off key vocals to create a lo fi album full of breezy harmonies and playful guitar. Range Anxiety, their second full-length, can be energetic, but also sensitive. “Cheap Education” is upbeat, while “Empty Road” is sung as a monotone ballad of love. “Empty Road” is a perfect mix of Twerps’s slacker roots and their sunny guitar. Singing “I don’t mind if you stay, I don’t mind if you go,” Frawley’s ode to apathy is actually a well thought out song that utilizes the power of his guitar to form a chorus in itself. Range Anxiety is a cohesive album that combines the easygoing ambiance of Real Estate with the musical depth of Yo La Tengo.  -Camilla Grayson

You Blew It! – Pioneer of Nothing

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You Blew It! have returned with the 7” Pioneer of Nothing after their sophomore album, Keep Doing What You’re Doing.  On these three songs, You Blew It! Offer more of the same, which is essentially a good thing.  Back in the summer they did an EP covering Weezer’s the blue album, honoring the geek rock gods that came before them.  On this EP, however their influences lean more to the nineties emo of Dismemberment Plan and American Football. Despite what Ian Cohen says, we’re in the midst of an emo revival, which  7” keeps it going strong with the opening two tracks offering textured and intricate guitars that soon give way to angst ridden pop-punk hooks.  On “Lanai”, You Blew It’s! vocalist is reminiscent of Travis Morrison. Slow burning, heavy and sad-emo is back and here to stay at least for a little while.  -Tom Jurgens