Tag Archives: rock

Running from a Gamble – Company of Thieves

These are Chicago folks. They are youngsters with a female lead singer who has a cool voice. They put together some popular rock stuff. I like it. The female lead has a distinctive voice but I can’t quite peg why. She has this accent or something. It’s kind of like this wealthy, North Shore lockjaw thing without the pretentiousness. I know, that’s a strange way to describe someone’s voice and it probably speaks to my lack of ability to critique any sort of music. Her name is Genevieve Schatz and she seems to be gaining some acclaim. She rocks.

It’s mostly relatively mellow rock with strong vocals, but it doesn’t stick to the genre. It’s guitars and drums and keyboards and sometimes get’s loud enough that Schatz has to belt out some serious vocals, probably maxing out her volume. They throw in some horns and other stuff in a few songs. Good variety. Their lyrics reflect some anger and some angst, but are plenty uplifting.

I have both of their studio albums and it’s good stuff.

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

I bought this mostly because the Grammy Awards were coming up. Plus, it was only $7.99 on iTunes. That seems less expensive than usual, especially for 16 songs with decent lengths. And finally, they’re Canadian, like The RAA. So it had a lot of things going for it.

I’m not quite sure why the last two full albums I’ve purchased are by primarily Canadian bands with similar themes. With titles like Hometowns and The Suburbs I could be convinced that ruminating about urban, suburban, and prairie landscapes in a melancholic manner is common amongst our northern neighbors. I joke, there are plenty of differences between these two groups. Namely, while The RAA is only three people, Arcade Fire has at least seven people and they throw in a wider range of stringed instruments and keyboards. And while my feeble brain classifies both groups in the rock/alt-rock genre, many critics give Arcade Fire the further classification of art-rock.

I’m on board with that art-rock thing. If you saw Month of May and Ready to Start at the Grammy Awards you probably noticed the multiple drummers, varied background vocals, violins, and a bullhorn. Lotta stuff going on. Both tracks are loud and fast-paced, more so, I think, than most of the other 14 songs on the album. Ready to Start is their hit and it’s a great tune.

The title track, The Suburbs, is filled with a lot of teen angst, especially if you pair it with the video. Seems like Spike Jonze collaborated on the video or just made it and used their music. Not sure. But for the lyrics, this isn’t a bad song. I say so because I’m a little past lyrics with angst; I much prefer anger. But I like the clear vocals and the keyboards and the chorus.

There are a couple songs with primarily female vocals that are good. Empty Room is a short song that has a short, repetitive, male/female duet (mostly female). Sprawl II is the longest song with an 80s pop-style (Blondie-ish) feel and a little electronica tossed in.

Also with an 80s feel, but more rock-like, is City With No Children, which has some heavy background guitar and a mellow male lead. Modern Man has the same type of mellow male lead vocals. Is that even a music description? Regardless, they’re both good songs and don’t feel very alternative.

They seem to mix up the genres a lot. There is one song, Suburban War, that starts out with a 70s style guitar riff that stays there for the first third. Then it transitions into more standard, modern alt-rock, then back again. It’s really cool.

I like the album. I’ll listen to it a lot this year I think. It’s big, 16 big songs, with a lot of variability in style and a bunch of different instruments. I’ve talked myself into liking this album for more reasons than one. It makes sense that they rocked the Grammy Awards. Fire up!

Hometowns – The Rural Alberta Advantage

I bought this based on a tweet from Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross. Not sure why I did this, other than it made me feel cool. And I’m happy I did, because it’s great stuff and has dominated my music listening for January and early Feb.

RAA (as they call themselves) is a three person (one woman, two men) band based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. However, their lyrics mostly talk about the province of Alberta, as you may have guessed. A few songs have Alberta city names in the title, like Frank, Lethbridge, and Edmonton. I would describe it as rock or alt-rock I guess. Dare I say, Indie rock, just don’t put me up there with Indie rock fans, I’m not nearly that cool.

It’s drums and guitars with some keyboards and some other stringed instrument occasionally. The lead is mostly male and he has a kind of twang in his voice. Hometowns was released in 2008. They have a new one that will be released in 2011. I’ll grab when it hits iTunes, for sure.

I’ve been singing In the Summertime, the last song on the album, in my head a lot lately. It’s a moderately paced love song ballad with some female vocals tossed in at the end. Drain the Blood is also great. It’s faster and the vocals are stronger. It seems to be about tortured love of some sort. I need to spend more time with the lyrics.

My favorite song is probably Edmonton. Not sure why. It’s the longest song on the album at 3:54, maybe that’s it. All the songs are short, nothing venturing over four minutes. Edmonton could be about leaving small town life for life in the big city. It starts out, best I can tell, with:

What’ll I do if you never want to come back
Sittin’ in a city that is always on the attack

Or it could actually be about leaving Edmonton for Toronto or someplace, and not about the small town/big town thing. I’ll have to listen to it about 600 more times to get it.

I may not have the tools for music critique. Oh well, I’ll keep at it. I can tell I like this album thought because I’ve listened to the whole album about eight times in three weeks. That’s a lot for me.