Category Archives: Reviews

Tyr’s Day Music Review: Rogue Wave’s Permalight

Remember that really cute song from a few years ago by Rogue Wave called “Eyes”? I know, right!? Awesome. That’s these guys!

The above was what my brain told me when iTunes recommended Permalight based on my then-recent Athlete purchase. So I bought it at the same time not realising the cruel joke iTunes had played on me. It, in its infallible wisdom (praise be to iTunes), obviously thought that if I was buying one mediocre album that would make me crave similar works by better bands, I’d want another. Just a simple misunderstanding, and I’d be happy to forgive you iTunes if it had not cost me money.

Do you like Stars, the Decemberists, and Death Cab for Cutie? Continue reading

Tyr’s Day Music Review: (Sigur Ros’) Jonsi’s Go

Double dose of reviews today! I was just too excited about this album (released on April 6) not to post the review as soon as it was done.

Sigur Rós is on an indefinite hiatus, but fortunately their lead singer, Jón Þór Birgisson, has released a solo album in the interim. If you are familiar with Sigur Rós, then you are used to not understanding a single word sung. Their songs are either in Icelandic or in the band’s own made-up language Hopelandic. The vocals are just another instrument and you can let your imagine fill in possible lyrics. In fact, on ( ), you are supposed to do this and record what you want to hear in the blank liner notes.

In the first track, “Go Do”, on Jónsi’s solo debut Go, I immediately started imaging English phrases to fit the words he sings: “Go sing. Too loud. Make your voice break. Sing it out.” Wait. It is English. Aw, hell yes! Continue reading

Tyr’s Day Music Review: Athlete’s Black Swan

This was another purchase based on the previous accomplishments of a band. I have been an Athlete fan ever since I heard their first album Vehicles & Animals while I was backpacking around the British Isles. Joel Pott’s immediately recognisable voice has a pleading quality to it that makes me believe he means every word he sings (even if he is a snarky bastard in real life). Their last forgettable album held my attention only briefly, so I was awaiting a return to form. Wrong.

The first song, “Superhuman Touch,” has a Keanean synth quality to it that is impressively worked into Athlete’s trademarked sound (of synth parts similar to the Final Fantasy “Crystal Theme”). It’s an energetic intro to a slow blah album. To be fair, the first three songs are fine. Continue reading

Tyr’s Day Music Review: Barenaked Ladies’ All in Good Time

Thanks, that was fun, Steven Page. The Ladies are now without the writer and lead singer of their most popular songs from their 20 year history, so All in Good Time is an important album for the four remaining members to prove that they can hold their own.

Barenaked Ladies’ albums have always had an unorganised quality because of the two writers, Steven Page and Ed Robertson. Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan have made additions here and there, but it was always the Steven and Ed show. With Steven gone, Kevin and Jim step up to write three and two songs respectively, but I wish they had just left the song writing to Ed. I’ve never liked Kevin’s whiney voice, so his three tracks are instant negatives for me. His potentially listenable “Another Heartbreak” becomes boring as the already repetitive chorus is repeated over and over to no useful effect. Jim’s “On the Lookout” is okay; skip “I Saw It”.

The album only shines when Ed is at the helm, but, even then, not all the time: “Four Seconds” shows that he has forgotten how to write catchy “One Week” style raps. “You Run Away” is the first single; it’s a meaningful song to the band and a beautiful song in general. In a CBC Radio interview, host Jian Ghomeshi mentioned that the song was written about Steven’s departure from the band.  Ed, paraphrased from my faulty memory, replied: “Hey, don’t jump to conclusions Jian. This song could be about anyone who suddenly left a band I was in for 20 years”. For that old Ladies’ sound, look no further than “Ordinary” (makes sense) and “Golden Boy” with its fun sing-a-long-able chorus. “Every Subway Car” has a great verse and bridge melody, but its chorus falls flat.

With a handful of good Ed songs among his misses and the yawns of the others, I am excited to see what Steven releases as a solo-effort in response. Barenaked Ladies’ albums of old were fun and witty and had the benefit of two talented song-writers who put forth their best material. Without Steven, the Ladies are even more naked than before (hah! I’m so witty. I bet no other reviews of this album will use that joke). Objectively, it’s a pleasant listen…but not what I, as one fearing change, expect—nay, deserve—from the Ladies.

Not recommended. It’s good as unobstrusive background music, but honestly! What kind of a recommendation would that be?

Buy/Steal/Youtube: “You Run Away”

Or just get: Barenaked Ladies’ Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits, you cheater.

Tyr’s Day Music Review: Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach

Gorillaz albums come around infrequently enough for me to forget that I never enjoy them in their entirety.  I only remember those few great addictive hits which haunt me in between releases. Like Demon Days, I bought Plastic Beach without hearing a single track in advance. I put my trust in front man Damon Albarn to deliver another great album, and that he has done (with the help of a lot of guests)…just not as great as his last effort.

The “Orchestral Intro” made me immediately aware that this album was going to be something special, so imagine my disappointment when it took so long to get to that point.  Snoop Dogg does not enhance the catchy “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” and the lovely intro to “White Flag” is a teaser for an awful track. Finally things pick up when Albarn sings on “Rhinestone Eyes”, and then “Stylo” appears.  It’s not my favourite song from Plastic Beach, but it’s easy to recognise as single material (and is indeed the first).  Even Mos Def can’t ruin it—as he does with the absolutely horrid “Sweepstakes” later in the album. And the next track…oh, do I have to?

When I listen to new albums I do my best to predict what the singles will be. This time, I got two out of three, and I have no idea how I could have guessed that one of the most grating tracks would be the second.  On May 9th, look forward to avoiding…  “Superfast Jellyfish” featuring de la Soul, who collaborated on Demon Days’ “Feel Good Inc.”  What the hell happened this time?  It’s…it’s honestly not worth commenting on.  You’ll hear it enough on the radio in a few months.

But fear not! Then comes the run of greatness the opening seagulls promised me, packed between the two worst.  My favourites of the bunch are “Empire Ants” and “Melancholy Hill”, the latter being the best song on the album (which will be the third single later in 2010, presumably to win back fans turned off by the Jellyfish one).  The title track was my other pick for a single; it begins the solid, but not particularly inspiring, cooldown. I hoped for an orchestra reappearance and seagull number at the very end, but they are in the penultimate track for some reason, leaving “Private Jet” sounding tacked on. 

If Gorillaz had cut the weak-ass tone (mos) deaf rappers from this album, it would have made me oh-so-happy.  I love to hear rap well done, but the best are rarely the ones who make it mainstream.  Try Vancouver’s DNA6 for an example of what I’d love to see mixed with Gorillaz’ experimental-pseudo-pop.

I recommend the album, but cut “White Flag”, “Superfast Jellyfish”, and “Sweepstakes” from your iPod.  It has a great sound overall, and is perfect to chill-out to, but where is the “Clint Eastwood”? “Feel Good Inc.”? “DARE”?  Maybe my next spontaneous Gorillaz purchase four-to-five years from now will have a new song of the calibre I expect and crave.

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