C-Mon & Kypski – Where The Wild Things Are

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Artist: C-Mon & Kypski
Album: Where The Wild Things Are [jamm;2007]
Grade: A
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak

You probably remember the book “Where The Wild Things Are” from you childhood, the story written by Maurice Sendak in 1963 has been read to children ever for decades. It tells the tale of young child named Max getting punished for acting like a monster and being sent to his room, while there his imagination takes off and lands him in a fantasy world full of wide eyed monsters, and dark forests. The setting proves to be a wonderful place for Max to cook up all sorts mischief.

In the same sense C-mon and Kypski on their album “Where the Wild Things Are” cook up their very own a fantasy land, and proceed to create their own mischief. Their recipe calls for a little bit of music form a whole lot of different genres. The instructions call for months of meticulous mixing, blending, and stirring of those genres. And the final product comes out too in the form of some kind of monster, this time in the form nicely packaged shiny compact disc.

The sound ranges from from pumping dance music to hip-hop to Balkan music, it has 80’s style synths, rock vocals, DJ scratches, sing-a-long melodies, grooving lyrics, and that just covers the first few songs on the album. The transition between different musical styles is executed with a great deal of skill, and it comes as a breath of fresh air as so many artists today tend to stick with just one sound.

This album is for people that want to hear something fun, exciting, and different. For Fans of I’m From Barcelona, Caribou, Gogol Bordello, Beck, Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, and imaginary monsters from your childhood.

Norah Jones – Not Too Late

Norah Jones

Artist: Norah Jones
Album: Not Too Late [Blue Note; 2007]
Grade: A
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak

Norah Jones gained quite a bit of fame with here debut 2002 album “Come Away With Me” and won 8 Grammy’s for her effort. Top 40 radio stations around the country were playing her music and even my mom bought the album, so listening to the latest Norah Jones album was done so with some precaution.

After hearing her recent left of center collaboration with artist like Mike Patton, a musical madman, I was a little more optimistic, and it turns out my optimism was fulfilled. Jones continues to create beautiful piano melodies and her voice is as graceful as it ever was, but the execution of the songs is a little bit different, and a lot more interesting.

Jones took back much of the songwriting control that she had outsourced for her previous albums, and as an outcome her songs are little bit darker and carry with them bigger feeling of authenticity. The songs of the album were written during her 2004 and 2005 tours, “The Sun Doesn’t Lie” was written while she was in Brazil, “Until the End” was written in the South Pacific and “Rosie’s Lullaby” was written in Australia.The album all together sounds much more like a debut album, with all of its vision and opportunistic feel, but it also at the same time it has the maturity of an older album, together the mix makes this her best album to date.Some of the people lending their musical talents on the album include long time collaborators
vocalist Daru Oda and drummer Andy Borger, other guests included vocalist and current tour mate M. Ward, guitarist Jesse Harris, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler of the Kronos Quartet.

For Fans of Regina Specktor, Cat Power, Iron & Wine, Elliot Smith.

The Seawhores – Forest

Artist: The Seawhores
Album: Forest [Essay; 2006]
Grade: N/A or Penetrated or Used
Review by Paul Sobczak

Members of this no holds barred noise rock band originate from Fargo, but now prefer to hold up camp in Minneapolis. I have witnessed these guys perform live, to give you an Idea of what it is like I will describe what happened while I was caught unsuspecting by their incredibly loud walls of filthy noise.

As the story goes I was a participating in an event called the Zombie Pub Crawl, which as you might have guess, entails people dressing up like zombies, getting drunk, and staggering from bar to bar searching for unsuspecting humans with hopes of feasting on their juicy brains. The event happens every year in Minneapolis, this year the crawl ended at a practically ugly bar where, unbeknownst to me, The Seawhores were playing. Equipped with drums, guitar, and truck loads of distortion they took the stage and filled the air with their abrasive sound waves. Being this was the final destination of the night, me and my undead companion who I arrived with were particularly intoxicated.

It is as you might know, is a common myth that zombies do not need to urinate, in fact, quite the opposite is true. When zombies have to urinate, they will, and they don’t care what gender the bathroom is labeled as, usually they bypass the whole idea of a bathroom and instead urinate on humans. Luckily for humans sake, my friend fell in the first category, and with the Seawhores up on stage in the middle of their set, I was in the back defending my fellow zombies decision to have at it in the Women’s bathroom. Little did I know that the woman defending the bathroom was a fierce and violent zombie completely hypnotized by human behavior. She is to be avoided at all costs as I would soon find out. After my brief grunting explanation of my stricken zombies need to go, she with no haste decided to straight out, without warning, punch me in the face, which is a very mean thing to do to a unsuspecting zombie, but apparently not to this lunatic undead beast, because she did it two more times, each time square in the face. Just when I started to think she was going to start power drumming on my face, my friend finished up doing his deed and luckily got kicked out of the bar. Dragging me behind him I escaped the torturous grip of that evil zombie and thus concluded my night with the Seawhores.

But all is not lost; you too can experience the Seawhores in all of their rotten glory. They will be performing tonight Friday the 2nd of Feburary at the Aquarium located downtown Fargo. The Whores will be playing tracks off their newly released album Forest, which is full unrelenting music, easily enough sound to make 5 separate albums full of insanity. They will be performing alongside The Malmbergs, His Mischief, Fup adn Echo. My only caution is, beware of the psycho zombie.

The Gothic Archies – The Tragic Treasury

The Gothic Archies
The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events [Nonesuch;2006]
Grade: A
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak and Scott Ayash

I suggest that you the reader of this dreaded music review take a second and examine if you really want to subject yourself to such an awful recount that tells the woeful story behind the Gothic Archies. You would be much better off if you decided to put this paper down never to pick it up again and go play a game of football at you grandmothers house, or even better,eat an over sized eggplant.

This review is a failure at describing the situation that gave birth to
such an idea as The Gothic Archies. It will only scrape the tip of the
story; the whole thing is too much to bear in just one sitting. The story, as it goes, begins in September of 2003 with the first song which is appropriately titled “Scream and Run Away”. The song puts to music the story as written by Lemony Snicket in his books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. It sings a tale of the Baudelaire orphans, and their plight as they try to escape the evil grip of the treacherous Count Olaf.

There are 12 more dreadful songs on this album that span the time until October 2006, the month when the final song, and this album was released. Each song tells the story many have tried, only to fail miserably in their attempt. One of the miserable songs vocalizes the story of being attacked by deadly leaches, another tells of the Baudelaires disguising themselves as a two-headed freak and a wolf baby. The song’s carry with them a feeling of wretchedness, and you will probably not believe me when I say this, but they are also quite amusing and rather funny at times.

All of the songs are written and preformed by Stephin Merritt, the man
behind the indie rock band The Magnetic Fields, except for one song in
which Lemony Snicket himself lends his tired hands to play the accordion. The album does follow Snicket’s unfortunate tale, but if you have not read those dreadful books, you can still enjoy these songs. However, before you partake, I implore you only listen after careful contemplation, because these songs sing of terrible, terrible things, and you would better spend your time on something else.

Battle Of Mice – A Day of Nights

Battle Of Mice

Album: Battle Of Mice
Title: A Day Of Nights[Nerot; 2006]
Grade: C
Review By: Paul Sobczak

This album chronicles the merge of two Neurot recording bands, and what happens when two of the collective artist go through horrific break-up, and record the sound.

Lead vocalist Julie Christmas of Made out of Babies and guitarist/keyboardist Josh Graham of the Red Sparowes, were is a relationship prior to the recording of A Day of Nights, and somewhere in making the album, their relationship took a turn for the worse, a very harsh turn for the worse judging from the sound of the album.

Somehow this record still got recorded and the outcome can best be described by imagining you are going out on the town with a bunch of good friends and having a good time but something seems wrong all night, like they are up to something but you ignore it, and have a good time. At the end of the night you are walking down the street and enter a dark alley, this is what your so called friends have been up to all along,this was their plan, get you drunk, walk you down this empty dark alley, and rape you to pieces and leave you to rot in the bare alley.

If you are into music that is mixes a together feelings of love and hate, and if you prefer it on the louder side, this album is for you. Likewise if you have fantasies about similar situations like the one described above please do give these guys a listen.

Subtle

Subtle

Subtle

Subtle
For Hero:For Fool[Lex;2006]
Grade: B
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak

Take everything you know about hip-hop and forget about it, enter Subtle. This sextet takes what you think you know about the boundaries of hip-hop and extends it far beyond what has previously been imagined, incorporating genres like electronica, rock, and avant garde that truly takes hip-hop to another level.

The story of Subtle starts off in 2001 when MC Adam “Dose One” Drucker and sampling guru Jeffrey “Jel” Logan both members of the abstract hip-hop label Anitcon Records, decided to start working with keyboardist Dax Pierson. Dax eager to start playing saw an opportunity to invite some of his friends and fellow musicians into the group. The invites extended to woodwind player Marty Kalani, Guitarist Jordan Dalrymple, and electric cellist Alexander Kort. Together they make one of the most interesting and dynamic live hip-hop bands currently making music. Soon after their formation the sextet was putting out 12″s and a full length album were produced shortly after. In February of 2005 tragedy fell upon the group as their tour van slid on a patch of ice paralyzing band mate Dax Pierson, leaving him unable to play keyboards anymore.

The band fully embracing their fallen band member, continue to include Dax on the new album where he is responsible for a great deal of the ideas and backing vocals. Inside this album you get a taste of the pain and the triumph that has surrounded Subtle existence. The sound walks the gamut from melodic guitar offerings laced with cello, to dark evolving electronic soundscapes all wrapped tightly together with the intense and incredibly fast vocal delivery from lyricist Dose one. This album is for the many people that have been disillusioned by the current state of mainstream hip-hop, because it destroys it.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
Songs For Christmas
Grade: C
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak

Over the last five years to coincide with the holiday season, Sufjan pronounced “Suf e yawn” has released a new Christmas ep. This year the final year of the series, marks the release of the “Songs for Christmas” box set. Inside the hearty package you will find 40 Christmas songs, a song book with lyrics and a chord chart, short stories by Stevens, a comic strip, animated music video, and if thats not enough you get some stickers too. As on all of Sufjan’s CDs you get his distinct take on songs, which can be a little different than what you might remember from last years holidays, but luckily his changes come a welcome variation.

Sufjan is a quite ambitious fellow, along side these 5 Eps he has also recorded 6 full length albums, and plans on recording one album about each one of the 50 States, his most recent being Illinois. Sufjan a multi-instrumentalist plays oboe, recorder, banjo, guitar, vibraphone, piano, and a host of other instruments too numerous to mention here. On many of the track he plays several of the instruments by using computer aided multi-tracking. That said, Sufjan gladly shares his music with friends and family, who
appear playing instruments and singing along in chorus’ in many of his songs. If you have already spent all your Christmas cash you still in luck because you can stream each album in its entirety from the record labels website at AsthmaticKitty.com

Under Byen

Under Byen

Under Byen

Artist: Under Byen
Title: Samme Stof Som Stof
Label: PaperBag 2006
Reviewed by: Paul Sobczak

One day back in 1995 two friends Katrine Stochholm and Henritte Sennevaldt were biking together somewhere in Denmark, on that simple afternoon the idea of what later was to become Under Byen was born. The name pronounced Oh’nah-Boon is Danish for “Under The City” and comes from a song they developed when they were starting out as a band. Under Byen has released quite an impressive discography, three full fledged albums , 2 EPs, 2 remix albums and even a soundtrack to a movie . 2006 sees their first release here in North America on a small independent record label know as Paper Bag Records out of Toronto Ontario. And simply put their music , it’s amazing!

That small humble idea has grown into a tremendous project that has engulfed the lives of those two bike riders and 6 other members. The band consisting of vocals that are a sweet intermingling of extravagant Björk styled vocals, homely Joanna Newsom song craft, and instrumentals that take on a playful youth mentality much like the music of Toytronica wizards Psapp. The instruments that show up on the record are no easy undertaking, comprising of violin, guitar, drums, cello, accordion, harmonica, organs, they even credit one member with playing the saw. The music seems to wander around slightly, it fades in and out, dancing in the spotlight for awhile then retreating back into the shadows . “Samme Stof Som Stof” (“Same Fabric as Fabric”)is sung in Danish as their previous album have been and only adds to its allure. Their entire new album can be streamed online at paperbagrecords.com/player.

For Fans of CocoRosie, Lali Puna, Múm and Sigur Rós

BT

BT

Artist: BT
Album: Binary Universe [DTS; 2006]
Grade: A
Review By Paul Sobczak

BT is the alias of Brian Transeau, one of electronic music’s influential artists.He has made an impact on the genre and is known as the Godfather of Trance Music.

More recently he has explored a less dance-oriented side of electronic music.His latest album, This Binary Universe, was a huge undertaking.During the process, Transeau developed and coded new software that he later used to time correct, shift and manipulate the sounds on this album.It is easily seen that Transeau has a love affair with computers. The first track, “All That Makes Us Human,” was written in machine code and took approximately 6 months to compose.

The song, “Antikythera Mechanism,” refers to the first known analog computer in existence, dating back to 80 B.C. The device was presumably used to calculate the movements of planets and stars.The album is technically amazing and realized in 5.1 surround sound.The pieces range from eight to 14 minutes in length, and Transeau sculpts soundscapes that span the spectrum from ambient to chaotic and is always calculated and amazing.

In Ink Please

in Ink Please

In Ink Please
Formica Table For Two
[Fall; 2006]
Rating: B

Vanessa Palmer and Jerik Hendrickson two former Fargoians, the latter still living here, have just started off their tour of the US on the 22nd of Aug. They will be playing dates starting out on west coast and ending back here in the mid west with the last show being played here in Fargo at the VFW on Sept. 22nd, consider this your invitation. Of course they are touring in support of their new album “Formica Table For Two” available on Fall Records. You can get it right now for just 8 bucks if you pre-order.

In Ink Please refers to themselves as a lo-fi indie pop band, which is true. Their recordings are relatively lo-fi, they have a joyful indie sound, and the songs are full of gleeful pop. Both Jerik and Vanessa share vocal and guitar duties while vanessa also plays a little Mandolin and Rhodes on the album. The sound of the album will appeal to fans of Laura Veirs, Death Cab for Cutie, and Bright Eyes.

The Boy Least Likely To

The Boy Least Likely To

Artist: The Boy Least Likely To
Album: The Best Party Ever [Rough Trade; 2006]
Grade: A
Review by Paul Sobczak

“The Best Party Ever” is easily the most infectious pop album to come out this year. Originally released in the United Kingdom in 2005, now on an offshoot of the Rough Trade Record label, U.S. residents finally get to enjoy this album. The band consists of two members, Jof (lyrics, vocals) and Peter (music, instruments). Together they craft some amazing cute “twee” pop songs that will surely bring a childish smile to anyone’s face. The music is recommended for fans of Badly Drawn Boy, MGMT, Hot Chip, Belle and Sebastian.

Nodak Records/MARK MALLMAN/THE COKE DARES

Nodak Records

Artist: Mark Mallman/ The Coke Dadres
Album: [Nodak; 2006]
Grade: C
Review by Paul Sobczak

The 7″ vinyl single is still alive, and back in all its Nodak glory. That is a record company called Nodak records is currently revitalizing the lost culture of the 7″ vinyl single. Nodak Records most recently put their fourth release, a split single between Minneapolis native Mark Mallman along side likes of The Coke Dares. The A side, Mallmans “In Love Witcha” is a darker expedition into his sound, but not with out a little twisted fun along the way. The Coke Dares has toured along side Magnolia Electric Co., Impossible Shapes, and Jens Lekman. Their songs on the flip side are full-on in you face punk free-for-all anthems, almost enough to cause the record to skip. The cover of the release is pretty sweet too, it comes hand screened from Crosshair in Chicago and is designed by Dan Macadam. The best part of the whole deal is their records are only 5 bucks including shipping and even come with a free CD recording of the record. nodakrecords.com/nodak.html

Akron/Family

Akron Family

Artist: Akron/Family
Album: Meek Warrior [Young God; 2006]
Grade: C
Review by Paul Sobczak

The evening of Mar. 10, 2006 here in Fargo ND marked one very memorable night for the Red Raven Espresso Parlor. Akron/Family quietly slipped into the basement coffee shop surrounded in an unfinished room, stone walls and 20 or so attendees. They preceded to carefully craft a mood through song that spilled over with a mysterious energy, full of tension, harmony and a strange intimacy. Meek Warrior which was hashed out an recorded on this same tour sprouts from the same organic soil that this concert did, making it something that you have to hear to believe. For fans of a earthy, bittersweet, freakish, rustic, loud, and reflective music.

Stars

Artist: Stars
Album: Set Yourself on Fire
Label: Arts & Crafts, 2005
Grade: A

After much consideration for the first ever ThunderRadio music review, I came to the conclusion that this review should consist of an essential album. The best, in my opinion, of 2005 is Set Yourself on Fire by Stars.

This year I compiled a list of the top 74 albums of 2005. The Stars’ album rang in at the No. 1 spot. The album came out in March of 2005, and was the third full-length album from these Canadian natives.

Their music is a lush blend of vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan harmonizing and reminiscing of times past on an intricate dream-pop soundscape. The sound is one to be remembered and leaves a lasting impression and a yearning for more. For the full “best of 2005 list” by Paul Sobczak and other ThunderRadio DJs, see www.ThunderRadio.fm

For more great music, listen to NDSU’s student radio station 105.9 FM ThunderRadio “The Rumble in your Radio.”