Album Review: COIN’s How Will You Know If You Never Try

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COIN released a whole new studio album, and it is exactly what I was waiting for. The new album, titled How Will You Know If You Never Try, was released April 21, 2017 and is COIN’s second full studio album. It includes the single “Talk Too Much”, which was released in 2016. Personally, I’ve been waiting for new music from COIN ever since they released “Talk Too Much”, the hit banger that brings a party with it’s awesome dance-worthy beat and melody. As soon as I heard “Don’t Cry, 2020”, the first song off the new album, I knew it was going to be just as entertaining as “Talk Too Much” promised. 

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The album flew by the first time I listened to it. Not every song on it is a hit, but a couple definitely stand out. “Boyfriend” includes funny elements of back and forth dialogue and features big drums and an upbeat tempo.  “Lately II” starts slow, does an interesting pickup halfway through the song, and basically sounds like two different songs fit under one title. I was feeling the beat from “Feeling” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, which brought the cool guy vibes of “Talk Too Much” back to the album. As a bonus, I got Neon Trees vibes from the whole album, which I was definitely grooving with. 

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The chill, sweet tones of “Malibu 1992” was a good finish for the album, and I appreciated the nostalgic mood it set for the second listen through. COIN gained some popularity with the 2015 single “Run” from their first full album, self titled COIN. The new album capitalizes on this success and delivers with a few danceable jams and a solid overall album. COIN’s new music is worth a listen, so check them out. 

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Kenzie Wamble

Album Review: Dirty Projectors

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Dirty Projectors began a while ago as the solo project of frontman David Longstreth, before finding success as a full band with their blend of experimental yet accessible indie pop on albums Bitte Orca and Swing Lo Magellan. However, a new self-titled album finds Dirty Projectors returning to its solo roots under Longstreth. 

Dirty Projectors marks a change in style with its R&B inspired sound. Although I always appreciate artists trying new genres and changing up their music, some of these attempts work better than others. While there are many great moments on this album, a lot of it just does not seem to work so well; not totally unsuccessful, but lacking. 

“Keep Your Name” makes the new stylistic turn of this album immediately clear, with it’s distinctive distorted vocals a bit jarring on first listen. The track comes across a bit as a failed experiment, with the vocal changes (including a pitch shifted sample from their last album in the background) proving to be more irritating than anything. The lyrics feel pretty harsh, with lines such as “I don’t think I ever loved you” and “What I want from art is truth, what you want is fame.”

“Up in Hudson” has some great instrumentation, yet it is brought down by rather awkward, unsubtle lyrics that feel out of place, including “And we both had girl and boyfriends blowing us up SMS” and “Now I’m listening to Kanye on the Taconic Parkway, riding fast/And you’re out in Echo Park, blasting 2pac, drinking a fifth for my ass.” The chorus, however, is probably one of the high points of the album, and the strong outro to the song helps save it despite these earlier flaws. 

The remainder of the album is similarly inconsistent. While there are still great moments to be found, such as the refrain of “Little Bubble”, or the nice backing vocals from Dawn Richard on “Cool Your Heart”, other songs, such as “Work Together” just feel more annoying than anything else, with the overused effects detracting from the overall quality of the song. Some of the middle stretch of the album blends together a bit, with some less remarkable tracks. Although a bit disappointing in comparison to previous Dirty Projectors albums, it is by no means a bad album, with many strong moments on it despite some issues.

Website / Twitter

-Noah Prince

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Lucius Has Gone Mad, and It’s Fantastic

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Bonnaroo-bound folk-pop quintet Lucius is on a beautiful trajectory. In 2014, they performed in a high
school classroom
. In November of 2015, they played for the Alzheimer’s Society in Washington and participated in Bedstock to support MyMusicRx (an
organization that curates musical performances for hospitalized youth.) Now,
Lucius is becoming too popular for these intimate venues and more local causes – but
they are still wholeheartedly about the music – and that unadulterated passion manifests in their work.

The earliest version of the Lucius ensemble was a vocal duet: Jess Wolfe and Holly
Laessig, who met at Berklee and began working together. Their resolution to sing melodies
in unison was a happy accident that has since become their auditory trademark. Mutual
friendships brought guitarists Andrew
Burri
and Peter Lalish and
drummer Dan Molad into the mix, and
a sixties-esque synergy ensued. Jess and Holly dress identically for
performances, usually with corresponding coordination from Andrew, Peter and
Dan. But their sound is even more cohesive than their aesthetic; Lucius has
synchronized their groove while leaving room for the individual members to
contribute singular dynamics.

“Born Again Teen”, the first single on Lucius’s forthcoming album Good
Grief (
out March 11th) Is
a romping celebration of a return to adolescent boisterousness, with a playful
video to match.  

But the second single, “Madness”, is where the promise of
the new album truly lies. “Madness” is more complex and exhilarating than the
songs on Lucius’s previous album, Wildewoman
(which has a slightly more subdued merit of its own.) It is a climactic
declaration of stylistic progress.  Richly
textured instrumentation constantly shifts beneath the melody, until thrilling
halts in sound announce the hopelessly catchy chorus. Violins you didn’t even
know you needed enter the mix midway through and give the song the flare of
innovation that is characteristic of Lucius’s whole discography. Soon after, a
surprising foray into a higher key (perhaps meant to demonstrate a fit of
madness) adds intrigue to the already captivating ride. Experience the brilliance
below:

If Lucius’s new sound is this kinetic in studio, we can only
dream of what it will be like in concert. This group is a force of nature on
stage, always nailing vocal challenges and adding nuanced theatrics to live
renditions of their work. I had trouble choosing which live performance to
feature here because each one is inimitable. Ultimately I decided on the one
where I liked Jess and Holly’s look the best. Feast your eyes and
ears – and drive yourself to sweet, sweet, madness. 

Follow Lucius on Facebook, Twitter
and Instagram (where they
are particularly active), and YouTube to
track their vibrant ascent into prominence. Their U.S. tour has already been announced,
but they have indicated that more dates will be added soon, and Seattle is
likely to be among them.

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DJ M-Schizzle



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Baby Artists are Adorable: Alex & Sierra’s “It’s About Us”

I’ve never really been a fan of vocal competition shows, especially in today’s day and age, just because I tend to fall in love with a lot of artists, and if they don’t make to the top of the show, or on the pop charts, they fall off the grid and I never hear from them again.

But that being said, a lot of shows have brought some good artists. Which leads me into topic of the week, some pretty people singing pretty songs.

I was just minding my own business the other day, listening to Andy Grammer, getting ready for his show in February, and while checking out the show, I decided to take a listen to the opener, just to get a feel for them before the show.

And I feel a little grimy, and very white girl right now, but I had a bit of a fling with a folk pop duo. Please try not to cringe tooooo much.

Gang, meet Alex & Sierra.

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They won season three of The X Factor USA last year, and just this year in October released their debut album It’s About Us. And I’ve gotta say, it’s got some good tracks on it.

Let’s just start off with my favorites, because we all know I’m some weird moody, soulful ballad lover.

The first track off the album, Little Do You Know. Sierra has this incredibly beautiful velvet voice that has a pretty limited range, but I still think is very pretty. We’ve seen that I am not particularly prone to having a preference for female artists, because for the most part, little whiny girl voices tend to annoy me, but Sierra’s vocals when she intoned “Little do you know I’m still haunted by the memories/Little do you know/I’m trying to pick myself up piece by piece,” honestly draws me in. In this track, Alex doesn’t come into the song until the chorus, which he sings himself. The two don’t harmonize until the second crack at the chorus, and they fit together nicely (Thank god for that, because they’re dating, so…). But regardless of this point, it’s still a pretty mournful, song. It’s soft, a little sad, not very creative lyrically, but the two sing well together. Harmonizing well is difficult, but I think, just going off this first track that Sierra’s vocal are going to take lead in this vocal duo.

Let’s move on. “Bumper Cars” is probably my favorite track in the entire album, and probably because there’s a lot of simple piano melody throughout, and because the duo start off the track singing together, which highlights more of the chemistry and just well round harmony skills between the two. They know what they’re doing. This is also a sad love song, with a bridge that Alex cries out, “This was supposed to be fun/ This was supposed to be the one,” to which Sierra responds, “Maybe we stayed too long/Maybe we played all wrong.”

Okay, so yes, for the most part, this album is very piano pop, with a lot of love ballads (cue the track “I Love You”) that are unimaginative in lyrics, but very clean and pure in vocals. There are some other great songs on this record though! “Just Kids” is the one track on this album that seems to gain a little bit more of a mainstream pop feel, and I get a hint of LIGHTS or Ellie Goulding or something like that from Sierra. I liked this track because Alex takes some of the lead vocals here and he does some great things with the arrangement. It’s also a little different from the rest of the album because they’re not just expressing love or heartbreak, so I’m glad they experimented there a bit. “Broken Frame,” also a great track, has some more interesting instrumentals, and a little bit more overlay of vocals rather than choppily cutting up verses per person.

The record takes a weird turn when they hash out this country inspired track “Cheating,” which just seemed really strange and a little creepy since the lyrics were literally “Do you ever thinkabout cheating on me?” Honestly, that’s a strange song to write with someone you’re dating. They finally end the entire album on this jazzy, saxophone laden tune, that I like, but seemed very out of place. But they really used their vocals on this track, so good for them for trying something different there on the end.

By the way, you can listen to the whole album here:

Okay, verdict.

I like them. They remind me a lot of James Morrison or Kris Allen and Lenachka in their “Prove it to You” duet on his record Horizons. When they keep it simple with their voices and some piano, I think they do what their voices are good for. They definitely try to attempt every genre possible in this record with hints of indie, folk, pop, country, and jazz, and for some parts it works, and for other parts it doesn’t. Overall though, as a debut album, they did a solid job, and I’m excited to see what kind of future music they’ll create when they mature a little as artists and come into their own.

And hey, at least now I know I’m not going to see a crappy opener.

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Ariana Rivera

Outlander in the Emerald City: “Dance the Gloom Away” with Springtime Carnivore’s New Album

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With Seattle’s rain accumulation on the steady upswing, I think it’s safe to say we could all use a bit of sunshine.  Well, you’re in luck: Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled debut comes in clutch when trying to brighten up a particularly overcast day.  With lofty melodies and a tone that places a warm and fuzzy feeling deep in your bones, Springtime Carnivore provokes a nostalgia for a time that many of us (including Greta Morgan, mastermind behind this project) have never actually experienced.  Head-bopping beats, whistling melodies and bright keys epitomize the best aspects of early ‘60s pop, and Greta’s voice is just distorted enough to give it that lo-fi feel we all love. 

The album begins with the short “Western Pink”, a keyboard-dominated instrumental that flows right into the poppier aspects of her sound.  “Collectors” and “Name on a Matchbook” each showcase SP’s supreme talent for weaving catchy pop sensibilities amongst fuzzy guitars and psychedelic-tinged keys, creating an indie-pop song that will force you to drop what you’re doing and dance around like a teenager at a Sock-Hop.

Things slow down with the ballad-y “Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)”, featuring a beautifully bare vocal track free from effects until her reverb-drenched harmonies flood the chorus.  “Other Side of the Boundary” is even more stripped-down, and is best categorized as a truly melancholy acoustic ballad.  This tune allows SP’s folk side to shine beautifully, and her falsetto in the chorus leaves you with chills running down your spine.

After picking up the tempo a bit in “Last One to Know” and “Two Scars”, Springtime Carnivore ends on a somber note with “Find a New Game”, featuring only Greta and her keyboard. Get a taste by listening to the latest track available for streaming, “Sun Went Black” below:

From full-blown indie-pop songs to simple piano accompaniments, Springtime Carnivore reaches a wide range of appeal, all the while maintaining loyalty to a ‘60s sound that the younger generation wishes we could have experienced the first time around. However, her record brings a modern twist that gives the music much more depth and longevity.  I’m sure we’ll be envied by our grandkids for being able to experience her sound the first time around.  

Check out her full album on iTunes and Amazon, and get a taste on Autumn Tone Record’s Soundcloud

AND if you dig what you hear, catch her with the Generationals at the Crocodile THIS SATURDAY (November 15)!

Katie Hanford

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Katie Hanford

New Track: Belle and Sebastian – The Party Line

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You could say there’s a good reason why Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity called Belle and Sebastian “sad bastard music.” After all, the Scottish group originally rose to prominence with the melancholic chamber pop of their first few albums. Those who know them only for that, then, may get a bit of a surprise when they listen to B&S’s newest track, “The Party Line.”

This lead single off of their ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is possibility B&S’s first track with a bonafide beat (though I could be wrong—I’m partial to their sad bastard music myself). Synths permeate the song, anchored by the pulsating bass, while singer Stuart Murdoch’s characteristic plaintive voice sounds a little strange in this new musical environment—not to say that that’s a bad thing. In some ways, “The Party Line” is a little reminiscent of “Electronic Renaissance” from B&S’s first album, Tigermilk, so perhaps it’s not so much of a departure after all. Nonetheless, fans of the classic B&S sound shouldn’t be too worried—if the album trailer is any indication, there’ll be plenty of their typical orchestral pop on the record as well. And its producer, Ben H. Allen, has also worked on such great albums as Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion and Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest. So there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for this upcoming album, not the least of which is the fact that B&S is one of the most consistently excellent pop groups out there, in my humble opinion.

Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance comes out on January 20th, and you can pre-order it now on iTunes or Amazon and get “The Party Line” as well. Alternatively, you can pre-order it at Matador Records, where you can also get the nice-looking deluxe box set (it even comes with a set of pins!).

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LeAnn Nguyen

Hungary, Hungry Huskies: WHAT ON EARTH is this?!

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Power-punk has returned in the city of Budapest! Catchy riffs and anthem-like choruses fill the spaces in-between WHAT ON EARTH’s dominating drumline. While Tamás Dalmáci pumps through angst-filled pop lines, guitarists Viktor Mosolygó and Ákos Kocsány build off each other’s classic chordal structures.

Since forming in January, the band’s been writing and recording quite the collection of kick-ass tracks. I had the pleasure of hearing their first single in advance (embedded below), and even in its un-mastered form, a smile came across my face as Ádám Darida’s bass drum caused my legs to shake in raucous rhythm. Sum 41-esque guitar parts mix with alternating melodic tones that call back to the early 2000’s as our ears bled in our parents’ garages. I’m certain that the coming weeks will bring more broken bottles and hearts as philosophic lyrics mold with woes of ex-girlfriends past.

For all that and more, check out the ensemble’s first official song, How We Live (embedded below – after the jump)!

If you liked it, check out their Facebook, Bandcamp and SoundCloud to stay up to date in a country that’s just 9 hours away. And come back every week for more from Budapest and the surrounding area… I’ll be here until December to bring you another look at a world of music that I’ve never seen or heard before!

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DJ Desman