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.