Twenty.

Dec. 18th, 2011 11:54 am
urgencytobleed: (they called me anal girl)
You get two albums today because I honestly couldn't decide. Don't get used to it, though. There are no more ties.

Deas Vail - Deas Vail


Deas Vail's last album, 2009's Birds & Cages, has become over the past couple of years something very important to me. It is an emotionally-charged pop tour de force so, naturally, I was expecting a lot from its follow-up, perhaps ultimately more than the band could possibly match. Still, I feel I am justified in being slightly let down by their self-titled third album. The problem with the songs here is that they don't push far enough. Birds & Cages was memorable for the sheer power and force behind many of its tracks but nothing on Deas Vail ever quite reaches a similar peak. These songs are also very simplistic structurally, adhering to a traditional verse-chorus format so strictly that they often feel half-written; the absence of substantial bridges or any sort of emotional pay-off is apparent and the album suffers for it. Even Wes Blaylock's voice, which is capable of reaching spectacular heights, often comes off as uninspired and restrained. Despite this, Deas Vail is a highly enjoyable listen. The fact remains that even the band's most lackluster melodies are still very catchy. Songs like "Quiet Like Sirens" and "Wake Up and Sleep," despite never really going anywhere, will quickly get caught in your head. But, unsurprisingly, the most memorable moments are the less predictable ones. Opener "Desire" is almost too good for this album, setting an impossibly high bar with its intersecting and overlapping vocal melodies; in this instance, the repetition works. "Towers" is most akin to the building intensity of the band's best songs but never quite matches them - still, it is a commendable effort. Then there's "Common Sense," a mostly acoustic ballad which showcases Blaylock's flawless falsetto and is the album's emotional core: earnest, plaintive and truly affecting. For the most part, though, Deas Vail seems an uncertain, transitional step for the band. Hopefully, by their next release, they'll have sorted out the kinks and come to terms with the kind of band they want to be, because I know they have it in them to create something far more impressive and lasting.


Maria Taylor - Overlook


Maria Taylor isn't particularly known for taking risks but with her fourth solo album, Overlook, she does take a few - though, of course, following the inoffensively beige LadyLuck, most anything would probably sound like a risk. Still, though it doesn't come close to standing up to her wintry, electronic-tinged debut, 11:11, it's the most refreshing thing she's released in years. It's also her most subtle and taking that into account, along with the fact that it's barely thirty minutes long, Overlook can seem, at first, deceptively slight. However, the album has a lot more to offer than is immediately apparent. Those risks I mentioned are most obvious in Overlook's first two tracks, "Masterplan" and "Matador," both of which place Taylor's effortless, airy vocals over a bed of edgier, louder instrumentation and melodies that are a bit rough around the edges. Later, the playful "Bad Idea?" shows off Taylor's slightly twangier side. Though these brief experimentations are fun, it is still quiet, ethereal introspection that Taylor does best. "Like It Does" is more rooted, almost soulful, and Taylor's vocals are forceful in an achingly restrained way. Near the end of the album, "Idle Mind" and "Along for the Ride" float along soothingly, not unlike 11:11 if it were simplified and less spacious. Maria Taylor may not be the type to constantly reinvent herself and Overlook may not be a very innovative or exciting listen but you can't blame a girl for sticking with what she does best. Though she does not veer far from her comfort zone, she resists falling into the more generic and syrupy traps that marred LadyLuck, and the results are pretty damn beautiful.

urgencytobleed: (Default)
I've actually heard a few of these albums since writing this up. Oh well. I guess that's what I get for being lazy about posting.

I close my eyes to conjure up something but it's just a faint taste in my mouth. )
urgencytobleed: (Default)
I've decided to make it my goal to post everyday this week until I've milked 2009 for all it's worth; this is a rather ambitious goal because I still have a lot of writing to do (and, as we all know, I am physically incapable of brevity) but I'm going to try to stick with it. In accordance with that, here are eleven more... honorable mention-ish songs. There might be one more (much smaller) set of these before I get to my actual list; I haven't decided if there are enough songs left to warrant that yet. Also, if you download something, maybe take a couple of seconds to leave a quick comment? Of course I'm not forcing you to but it does make me feel like I'm doing some good when I get one every so often.

Music this way. )
urgencytobleed: (Default)
A bunch of random songs I've uploaded recently for whatever reason. Might as well spread the wealth, right? Some of them are songs I've already posted but have likely fallen victim to the strange Box.net glitchy mp3 upload issue so if you're OCD about music like me hopefully these ones have no problems with skipping and strange noises.

Click for links. )
urgencytobleed: (ben whishaw!!!111!!)
So I saw Maria Taylor live a couple nights ago and it was spectacular. I'm not going to bore you with my incessant babbling but basically, she was totally fucking amazing. The songs sounded so much more alive than they do on record. I mean, I love her albums but they're really restrained and calm, even in the most upbeat or loudest moments. Live, though, they were totally rocking. Especially "Xanax" - which was every bit as kickass as I was expecting it to be (it was the song I was most excited to hear based on the performance videos I'd seen of it) - and "Song Beneath the Song" which was the set closer and basically turned into one huge jam session. Her voice also sounded flawless and much more commanding and intense than it usually does in her studio recordings, especially on the songs from 11:11 and on the choruses of "Replay" which she got really into. It wasn't a very long set but I was very impressed. She's got the kind of music that could easily be boring to witness live if the performer doesn't have the charisma and talent to pull it off but she definitely does. And, on a shallow note, she was way pretty in person as well.

The Whispertown 2000 opened and I happen to be a huge fan of theirs, too. Their set included stellar renditions of "Ebb and Flow" and "Erase the Lines" which made me very happy as they are by far my two favorite songs on their newest album. They also played two new songs which sounded very, very good. For their finale, they were joined onstage by Maria's band (minus Maria herself sadly) for "From the Start/Jamboree" which was tons of fun and rocked on every level. Morgan and Vanesa's harmonizing was perfection and they were both almost too adorable to handle. The funny thing is, Maria and Morgan's voices couldn't be more different stylistically - Maria's is so smooth and soft and soothing while Morgan's is much more rough and wild and takes a bit of getting used to but they both sounded absolutely spot-on and their two sets actually complimented each other very well. It was all so good.

Pretty much, yes, I'm just using this opportunity to post more music by both of them because I love them so. And also I may be using it to brag just a little bit. If you really want to read my random musings about Maria's stage banter and how sexy I thought everyone was, see here (because all the cool kids have two Livejournals, don't you know?).

My sweet brags (sorry for the shitty scans). )

urgencytobleed: (jenny smile)
I'm too busy to write long reviews of these albums right now so if I keep trying to do so it's not going to happen until next year probably. Also, they're not as fresh for me anymore so that makes me feel less enthusiastic about writing a lot too. Anyway, here are some songs from them and some brief words... just because I don't have the time to write a ton about them doesn't mean they're not good, alright?

 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!



This seems to be a very divisive album - and for good reason since it mostly sounds nothing like the band's previous releases - but I happen to be madly in love with it. In fact, I think I can say without much hesitation that it's actually become my favorite Yeah Yeah Yeahs album by quite a large margin. As much as I love thrashing around and screaming along to Fever to Tell and as much as Show Your Bones has grown on me since the first time I heard it (I used to feel pretty "meh" about it; now I fucking love almost every track), this album is by far their most mature, layered, and emotional work yet and this new direction works very well for me. When I first heard about its emphasis on synths over guitars and its supposed Donna Summer influence, I have to admit I was a little worried about how all that would turn out. But it turned out to be pretty brilliant. Electro-dance numbers like "Zero" and "Heads Will Roll" are instantly catchy but where this album really shines is in its quieter, more introspective moments. "Runaway" starts off as a piano ballad and, while it's pretty enough already, completely transforms into this dense, pulsing, gorgeous sea of synths, strings, and Karen O's unmistakable voice. As much as I love her shrieking and screaming, I think her voice is most effective when it's more restrained and tender. When she sings about halfway through, "All along/Not so strong without these open arms/I hold on tight," it is so effortlessly beautiful and moving. "Hysteric" combines the best of both worlds - it's catchy and emotional - with a chorus ("Flow sweetly/Hang heavy/You suddenly complete me") that is downright dreamy - a word I never thought I'd use to describe a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. And closer "Little Shadow" is also perfect; it's deceptively simple at first but once you listen closely, you realize just how many subtle layers are there, and Karen's voice has never sounded so fragile and sweet. "Dull Life" is a bit of a sore thumb as it's the track that's most easily compared to their older stuff, opening quietly before erupting into a punk-y, energetic, and completely kickass chorus. Basically, the entire album is pretty mindblowing to me; even the weaker tracks have their moments of brilliance. It may be quieter and less aggressive than their previous releases but, in my opinion, it's no less full of passion and attitude. Don't write it off just because it's different.

(These files are so huge, sorry; I didn't realize until after I uploaded them. Speaking of, has Box.net removed its 10MB file size limit? And does that mean I can finally post Joanna Newsom's "Only Skin" here without compressing it down to an unlistenably low bitrate? Fuck yes!)


Maria Taylor - LadyLuck



Oh, Maria, Maria... I love her but this album is kind of underwhelming. I mean, it's not bad but I feel like she can do so much better. It seems like she's afraid to step very far out of her comfort zone or something like that and it keeps most of these songs from being that memorable though I am happy that she's putting a little more power behind her voice on a few of them. They just don't quite have that... special something about them that makes them stand out; I mean, her songs have always been mostly quite slow and simple, but I don't know, these ones haven't quite grabbed me yet. Maybe they will but I doubt I'll end up liking this as much as her other two albums. But, that being said, there are a few real gems. "Time Lapse Lifeline" is very catchy and repeat-worthy though I think I like the acoustic Savannah Drive version from last year just a teensy bit more. It's followed by "It's Time" which is actually shaping up to become one of my favorite Maria songs ever. The lyrics and melody are very simplistic and repetitive but it somehow works and it's hard to explain exactly why. Later on in the album is "Orchids", which starts out as a minimal but pretty acoustic ballad before becoming a bit livelier and electrified for a bit and then transitioning back to a mellower sound. And closer "Cartoons and Forever Plans" is adorable and catchy, almost verging on cheesy but, for me, not quite getting there. So while it might not be a totally satisfying album overall it's still got its moments. And, um, it's either a testament to my obsession with him or a testament to his insane talent that Andy LeMaster was involved in all of the best, in my opinion, songs. Seriously, people. Now It's Overhead. Listen and be amazed. Apart from Lydia, this is the band I feel most strongly about pimping out to as many people as I can. Because they're pretty much the best band on Saddle Creek. Bands like Bright Eyes and Cursive get all the attention but NIO deserves it too. Anyway, oh yeah, this is about Maria. Here are some songs.

urgencytobleed: (lee pace is adorable)

Apparently, Maria Taylor likes to release things under the radar - or I just don't pay enough attention to her. Last year, the Savannah Drive EP nearly got past me and now, she's released news of her upcoming album and two songs from it, and I had to find out about it through a random 45-second video promo that showed up in my Last.fm recommendations. But at least I found out somehow, right? And I'm only a few days late so it's not that bad. And now I've made sure to sign up for Maria's mailing list so that hopefully I don't miss anything else.

Anyway, the new single may be familiar to some. It's called "Time Lapse Lifeline" and an acoustic version of it was featured on the above-mentioned EP (need it for comparison?) and I instantly fell in love; I definitely think it's one of Maria's best songs ever. The shiny brand new album version took a couple listens to grow on me but now I'm starting to love it as well. It's a lot more upbeat and therefore gets stuck in your head even more easily than the Savannah Drive version. I also love the (synthetic, I'm guessing) addition of strings. And Maria's voice, gah, it's just so beautiful - especially when she gets all intense during the "You were dead as the leaves/Now you're new like the springtime" part; I hope she sings like that more on this album because sometimes I feel like she sounds too timid and quiet. So basically, yeah, it's really good and you can download it for free here! I don't use iTunes but I guess it's also available on there along with another song called "Orchids" which is currently streaming on her myspace as well. It's slower and more sparse and not quite as good but it's still very pretty and also, Andy LeMaster on backing vocals <3 <3 <3. Anyway, the album is called LadyLuck and I don't think an official release date has been announced yet, but I've heard March. Exciting!
urgencytobleed: (lee pace is adorable)
Before we get to the actual ranked list, here are a few albums that are good but not quite good enough to make it. I felt like they deserved a mention, too, so make sure to check these out if you haven't.

read more... )

Okay, I tried to make this post look all pretty with the words next to the pictures and it didn't work out as well as I thought it would and I'm too lazy to attempt to fix it. But it's still readable, I think, so I hope it doesn't look too bad.
urgencytobleed: (mindy and leighton are so cute)
Here are a few random songs/artists I am loving at the moment. No *NSYNC this time, I promise. ;)

Click for music. )

And also, because I'm feeling generous and because no one is really getting anything out of me keeping them to myself, here are links to some random things I have uploaded in my MediaFire folder - a few albums, some songs. They are all good, I promise, so download whatever you'd like! Remember to change xx to tt for the links to work.

Links. )
urgencytobleed: (audrey tautou)
Song of the Day



Maria Taylor with Andy LeMaster - Tell Me

DOWNLOAD

Last week, Maria Taylor released a digital EP entitled Savannah Drive. Enlisting the help of Now It's Overhead frontman Andy LeMaster, it consists of stripped-down versions of a few songs from 11:11 and Lynn Teeter Flower along with three new songs. Of both the new and the old, this track is the one that has stood out the most to me so far. It's the most obviously collaborative song, making good use of both Maria and Andy's vocals, and it's really quite a simple song but sometimes it's the simplest ones that leave the biggest impact. And besides that, I could probably listen to Maria recite the phone book and think it's beautiful anyway. You can purchase the rest of the songs in mp3 at Amazon and I'm sure it's available in other places as well if Amazon isn't your thing. Apparently, Maria is also planning to release a new full-length later on this year, so make sure to look out for news about that.

And just for the hell of it, here is another song I am (more predictably) obsessed with right now. I can't really explain why it's so good (except for the general reasons like "oh my god amazing harmonies!") so just listen to it. And after this, I will try to stop making such repetitive posts that consist of the same bands over and over. ;)

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Shannon

April 2012

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