Archive for the ‘Music Reviews’ Category

Music Review: “The Union” – Elton John and Leon Russell

In Music Reviews on October 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

When I first heard Elton John was coming out with a new album, I was thrilled. Then I listened to a few songs on YouTube (the album had not yet been released). I’ll be honest, I didn’t like what I heard. Leon Russel’s voice grated on me. The sound seemed tired and I wanted Elton. Just Elton and Davey (guitar) and Bernie (lyrics) doing their “thang.”

So, with reluctance I bought the album because, come on, it’s Elton-freaking-John. There’s going to be a gem on there somewhere. There always is. (That and he’s been my favorite musician since high-school).

That being said, I’m glad I bought the album. It’s different, I’ll say that much. But, it’s different in positive way. It’s a little bit folk, a lot gospel, with a tinge of county and just a tad pop thrown in for good measure. Elton hasn’t done much pop since 2001’s “Songs From the West Coast” which was freaking unbelievable.

Elton John during his "Face 2 Face" tour with Billy Joel. Phoenix, AZ / March 2009. Photo by Jeremia Schrock.

The more I listen to The Union, the more I like it. If you’re an Elton enthusiast this album will sound like a mix between “Tumbleweed Connection” (1970) and “Peachtree Road” (2004). There are even moments of “Honky Chateau” (1972) on there, too. All three excellent albums.

Songs that really stand out include the current single “If It Wasn’t for Bad” and “Hey Ahab.” They are fucking solid.

“Monkey Suit”, “Gone to Shiloh” and “I Should Have Sent Roses” are also growing on me. “Monkey Suit” sounds very 1950’s and “Gone to Shiloh is just…sad. Sad in that “we few, we happy few” sort of way.

Be warned, it may take more then one listen for The Union to really stand out. The more you listen to it, the more you start to sing it in the shower. Especially “Hey Ahab”, which, you know, makes sense.

Album Released: October 19, 2010.


Those Sweet Old Blogging Blues

In Alaskana, Art, Cinema, Culture, Drink, Health, Music Reviews, Political, UAF on October 4, 2010 at 3:22 am

I plan on writing an actual update sometime early this week. However, before then, I wanted to throw out a few topics I plan on writing about which include health, journalism, music, and politics.

Why? Because I want to do something with the blog tonight/this morning but have no energy for anything investigative (i.e. that isn’t already in my head and doesn’t involve anything more then spellchecker and Google). You know the mood…where you want to feel productive, so you get away with “thinking” about being productive?

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

Topics for future posts:

Health: Asthma; the Life Insurance process
Journalism: How to Write a Decent News Article; the Ethics of Journalism
Local Music Review: For both Feeding Frenzy and Good Dazes’ (Germ of Creation) new albums; Blurb about a buyers experience at the recent Record Expo.
Non-Local Music Review: Serj Tankian’s new album Imperfect Harmonies and Maroon5’s Hands All Over.
UAF: ASUAF Summer Senate Score Card; Photo slide-show of two university professors research.
State Politics: Scott McAdams and Lisa Murkowski position overviews (to match the one I did for Joe Miller).
History: What Norwegian Vikings Can Tell Us About Masculinity; something with Teddy Roosevelt since it’s his birthday this month.
Film: Maybe something on the Scandinavian Cinema Society I have recently formed with a fellow film enthusiast.
Drink: Brew Reviews-ala-the Northern Light

There are many other things I can and will write about. Some of them I haven’t even thought of yet!  I understand this post could be considered “lame”, but I try to view it as a “teaser” of future posts to come. Feedback is always appreciated.

Music Review: “How to Destroy Angels” by HDA

In Music Reviews on September 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

This will be a quick review of “How to Destroy Angels” self-titled album which was released on July 6th. For those not in the know “self-titled album” means their album is named after the band. So, in this case, How to Destroy Angels. Maybe that explanation seems unnecessary, but I know I was in my teens before I figured that one out. Anways, on to the review:

HDA is not something I can listen to all the time. I actually began this post almost a month ago, and it’s taken me this long to get back to it. However, it is still a cool album. The album feels like a composite of both Industrial and Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi as sung by a woman. For your ear’s, take a listen to these sounds for comparison: Michael Aranda’s Erosion and Phillip Glass’ classic Koyaanisqatsi. Toward the end of the album, however, HDA starts to sound like Metric or Silversun Pickups. Which, might I add, is really cool because I lurve luv love those guys.

In my opinion, the best songs on the album (which has only six songs and runs a total of 28:50 in length) are “BBB (Big Black Boots)” and “A Drowning.” But, to be fair, the last 4 songs are all top-notch killers and worth listening to.

According to my iTunes, the album is listed as “Electronica/Dance” which is sorta true. But if I had to label it, it would be “Industrial Punk”. So, if you enjoy half of the bands and video’s I recommended then THIS BAND may be for you.

Happy listening.

Music Review: “Calling You Out” by Netherfriends

In Culture, Music Reviews, UAF on September 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Everybody thinks Netherfriends sounds like Animal Collective. Well, they do, but not as much as you think. I should know: I have their latest album and I saw them live. Last night.

By “them” I mean Shawn Rosenblatt (who, for all intents and purposes, is the band) and touring drummer Scott Westrick. That’s it. Two guys. Making music.

As I wrote in my UAF Sun Star article, which acted as a pre-concert teaser/interview, Netherfriends bears much more of a resemblance to the Australian pop group The Whitlams then they do to Animal Collective. By The Whitlams, I mean if they were to play a live show. In Colorado’s outdoor Red Rock Amphitheater. With a group of Zulu tribesmen.

Shawn Rosenblatt of Netherfriends performs at the Pub during his September 18th show.

In other words, Netherfriends is oddly primal and incredibly cool. Maybe not Thelonious Monk-cool, but Rosenblatt tries pretty damn hard. Which is incredible because Monk and Netherfriends are in two separate genres. The fact I am even comparing these two guys should tell you something.

What Calling You Out is, is driving music. That is no bad thing, however as, being in Alaska, a lot of what I do is drive.

The major drawback to the album is it’s length: it also only has six songs and clocks in at just over 21 minutes. Yeah, it’s that short.

Two of the albums best songs, in my opinion (this is my blog, you know), are “Nunya (beeswax)” and “Friends with Lofts”. When you hear “Nunya” you will immediately hear why I compared Netherfriends to an African tribal group, and “Friends with Lofts” is just plain…pretty. Pretty in a nostalgic way. The sort of nostalgia one has after only a few weeks or months have passed since the event causing the nostalgia.

Calling You Out also makes me think of Vancouver. Which is a good thing. If you get Vancouver, you’ll get this album.

As the band says in the song “Really?”: “How lonely does a man have to be…to say those things out loud?”

Not lonely at all. I just love music.

For further reading:

LiBerry Music Festival as easy as pie

In Alaskana, Music Reviews on August 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Local musician Jesse Hobbs performs during the 2010 LiBerry Music Festival in Ester, AK.

I arrived at the LiBerry Music Festival at 3:30 PM. The Golden Eagle, the only pub in Ester, was packed and off in thedistance I could hear the tinny hiss of music being piped through a sound system. I heard someone (it turned out to be the “Banana Girls Ukulele Band”) up at Hartung Hall singing  a song about construction. I thought to myself  “…yep, this is it. This is Ester.”

The 5th Annual LiBerry Music Festival is aimed at raising money for the construction of a new public library in Ester. According to, the current library contains roughly 5,000-7,000 volumes and is housed in a small red building next to the Golden Eagle.

Sarie Brainerd, one of the members of the ukulele band, lives in Ester. “The community tries to have a couple of fundraisers a year,” she said, noting that all proceeds go to the construction of the new library. Brainerd has been a member of the band for two years now and both sings and plays the ukulele.

I made my way down to the Golden Eagle where local favorite Jesse Hobbs was playing guitar. Outside the pub, nestled around a small table, were the three members of this years LiBerry Pie Throwdown judging panel: Judie Gumm (a local silversmith), Natasha Beadle, and state senator David Guttenberg.

I asked Guttenberg how he’d been roped into becoming a pie judge. “I’m the celebrity judge,” he said, smiling. An older woman emerged from inside the pub and asked how the judging was going: “It’s trouble, it’s nothing but trouble,” Guttenberg said, laughing.

I know that I personally could never vote for an individual who didn’t like pie.

The all ages music festival will continue until this evening at midnight. The concert list can be accessed at the LiBerry Music Festival homepage below.

For further reading:

Ester Library’s Blog:

LiBerry Music Festival homepage: