Tag: 2008

Solange – Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams

ARTIST: Solange                                 220px-Solange_-_Sol-Angel_And_The_Hadley_St._Dreams

TITLE: Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #9 US, #180 UK

SINGLES: Charting: Sandcastle Disco (#1 Dance, #149 UK), T.O.N.Y. (#62 R&B, #1 Dance), Would’ve Been the One (#3 Dance), Fuck the Industry (#6 Dance), I Told You So (#5 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really

LINEUP: Solange Knowles, Sean Hurley, John Broussard, Manny Patino, Phillip Todd, Noel Langley, Neil Sidwell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Beyonce’s sister makes a non-teen-pop album and impresses for the most part.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was six years after her debut (a forgettable teen dance-pop record) and Solange Knowles came out with a varied album with lots of references to 60’s soul and 70’s funk coupled with a modern production.

Sure it could have done with a little trimming (it’s almost an hour long wwith a couple of six minute tracks that could have shunk a bit) but it was a fine effort and established her as an artist in her own right.

But, as she became a bigger thing (perhaps due to the elevator video with Jay-Z?), in 2015 they released a deluxe version which grabbed some single B-sides and club mixes and made it a 17 track monster. It included a cover of “The Thrill Is Gone” done with BB King, and excluded “Sandcastle Disco” the first single from the album. You can’t stream that song now, anywhere, which is a very curious thing.

There already was at least four other bonus editions done, and three of the five added tracks were on those versions. “Fuck the Industry” was also it’s own single released in 2010. So not only to re-release another ‘deluxe’ edition, and then removing the first single from it? Hmmm, very curious decision suits.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “T.O.N.Y.” was the only original not co-written by Solange. It was a Cee-Lo Green / Jack Splash joint.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, as I yelled about above.

GRADE B: Pleasant soul / R&B record with homages to the old days, but needed some trimming and fewer record company shenanigans.

Foals – Antidotes

ARTIST: Foals                220px-Foalsantidotescover

TITLE: Andtidoes

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #28 Heatseekers, #3 UK

SINGLES: Balloons (#39 UK), Cassius (#26 UK), Red Socks Pugie (#89 UK), Olympic Airways (#160 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probbaly Not

LINEUP: Yannis Phillippakis, Jack Bevan, Jimmy Smith, Walter Gervers, Edwin Congreave

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: British indie dance rock / post punk band wears its influences on their sleeves but pull off a great album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Yes, there’s a bit of the Gang of Four, a smidge of Joy Division, and a bit of other post-punk bands here, but Foals do a good job of coalescing their influences into a somewhat original sound.

Sometimes they’re up and dancy with a very rigid and staccato rhythm – on other songs they’re a bit spacier and loose. Due to this, they’re not locked into the same-old on each track, and the diversity is good for listenability.

This is definitely worth checking out if you want something new and unfamiliar here in a UK post-punk vein.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They mixed the album themselves as they didn’t like the initial mix from producer Dave Sitek

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, early singles are appended.

GRADE: A-:  Great debut, varied and compelling.

Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

ARTIST: Los Campesinos!     220px-LC!_-_WeAreBeautiful,WeAreDoomed

TITLE: We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #43 Heatseekers, #112 UK

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Miserabilia

LINEUP: Neil Turner, Ellen Waddell, Ollie Biggs, Tom Bromley, Gareth David, Harriet Coleman, Aleksandra Berditchevaskia

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hot on the heels of their debut, Los Campesinos! Released this 10-song album. Strike while the creativity is hot.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Acting like a supplement to their noisy debut, this brief 10-song album is almost the perfect digestif.

They are still loud and clattering, and very British / Welsh. The songs on this collection are a bit more focused, while still fund and loud. “Miserablia” may be about the best thing they’ve ever done.

This may be the case of a coda to their original album. If so, the ending is probably a better representation and introduction than the beginning.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band resisted for years calling this their second album, but relented after fans and press kept referring to it as such

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  A fun record, still loud and clattery.

The Fratellis – Here We Stand

ARTIST: The Fratellis                   220px-thefratellis_-_herewestand

TITLE:  Here We Stand

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #80 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Mistress Mabel (#23 UK), Look Out Sunshine! (#70 UK), A Heady Tale

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, no.

LINEUP: John Lawler, Barry Wallace, Gordon McRory

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The dreaded follow-up record actually is more consistent than their debut.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When an out-of-nowhere success story happens in music, the follow-up is usually the record everyone dreads. Will it be a rehash of their previous record? Will it have hits? Will it just be blah? Or will it move the group forward?

The second Fratelli’s album does resemble the first, and didn’t really have a song that stuck around or is timeless as “Chelsea Dagger”. But…it’s better.

Track-for-track, while similar to Costello Music in theme and sound, the songs are better and less reliant on the same ‘drunk pub’ sound. They sound like they worked on the thing, instead of bashed it out. The energy isn’t as manic, but it’s still there.  If I want to listen to an entire Fratelli’s record, I’d probably listen to this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One track (“Jesus Stole My Baby”) didn’t make it to streaming, and wasn’t on the album in many cases.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japanese tracks and other bonuses.

GRADE: B+:  Would you like a more consistent record, or one with peaks and skippable tracks? I prefer consistent albums myself.

Thee Oh Sees – The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In

ARTIST: Thee Oh Sees 220px-the_masters_bedroom_is_worth_spending_a_night_in_album_cover

TITLE:  The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  None

LINEUP: John Dwyer, Brigid Dawson, Petey Dammit, Mike Shoun. Some help from Jigmae Baer and Dave Sitek.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Lo-fi garage band doesn’t skimp on the melodies, or the fun, and this makes a listenable record despite the clatter.  

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thee Oh Sees is the third band leader John Dwyer put together in succession. After concentrating on tonal experiments, neo-folk and other recording techniques as side projects, Dwyer morphed the group into a garage-punk type band after drummer Mike Shoun joined.

It’s not something you’d use to test stereo equipment, but it’s got a lot of fun elements. The melodies are there, with plenty of hooks that grab you. The sonic experiments are interesting homages to the psychedelic era, and there’s just a sense of serious fun with appropriate sounding keyboards and guitar.

A few tracks still are laden with the lo-fi recording-experiment BS, but those are easily done away with, and you can just enjoy the garage rock.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dwyer was in two other bands that split apart in 2005 and 2006, thus elevating this from side project to full-time band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: A few exiled, and some won’t dig it. I did, though.

Cage the Elephant – Cage the Elephant

ARTIST: Cage the Elephant     220px-cage_the_elephant_album

TITLE:  Cage the Elephant

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #59 US, #18 Alternative, #6 Hard Rock #38 UK

SINGLES: Free Love, In One Ear (#1 Alternative, #20 Mainstream, #3 Rock, #51 UK), Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked (#83 US, #3 Alternative, #8 Mainstream, #6 Rock, #32 UK), Back Against the Wall (#1 Alternative, #26 Mainstream, #12 Rock, #127 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nothing else made it off the album

LINEUP: Matt Shultz, Brad Shultz, Jared Champion, Daniel Tichenor, Lincon Parish

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: US band emigrates to the UK and releases a fun, raucous record that hits on the radio in both countries.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A bit shambolic at times, but fun. That’s the sound of the first Cage the Elephant album. The guitars aren’t true hard rock sounding guitars but they weave their way around classic rock and blues riffs and can up the power when they need to. Singer Matt Shultz has a confident, cocky delivery that fits right in with the controlled chaos.

Their sound made them fans not only with radio listeners, but with other media producers. The slide-guitar driven “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” was used in several projects, helping the band gain traction in the marketplace and spread their name around.

At times, it does seem the songs and album are going to go off track and devolve into an uncontrolled mess. However, they do pull it back enough to make it enjoyable, and fun, if not dangerous.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After the 2007 SXSW festival, and a Canadian tour, the band moved the London.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: An extra song on their website.

GRADE: A-:  Modern rock is alive, thanks to bands like this. It’s not ‘classic’ rock, but its own thing, and that’s great.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

ARTIST: Vampire Weekend                      VampireWeekendCD2

TITLE:  Vampire Weekend

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #17 US, #15 UK

SINGLES: Mansard Roof, A-Punk (#25 Alternative, #55 UK), Oxford Comma (#38 UK), Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (#168 UK), The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That was almost half of the album there.

LINEUP: Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batamanglij, Chris Baio, Christopher Tomson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album from NYC hipster-indie band is melodic, worldly, but smug at times.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Vampire Weekend blended together influences from around the world in making their debut album, especially on songs like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Their songs are mostly melodic and catchy, and they use a variety of sounds and instruments to accent their simple tunes. The strings on some songs, like “M79”, fit well.

Yet….and it’s a big yet….many times I find myself an outsider listening to this. I’m not a hipster from NY who can afford to go to Cape Cod or lounge around in the Hamptons. I love the Oxford Comma, but not enough to write a song pro or con. Some of this album seems rife with East Coast privilege.

So plus for a great, catchy debut, but sometimes it leaves me cold, being a non-moneyed Midwesterner / Pacific Northwesterner.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The hype! My goodness, things were bandied about like “best album (or song) of the decade, or of the last five years” or things like that.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Bonus tracks in Japan.

GRADE: B+: I like most of it, and can take it in somewhat smaller doses than others, though.

Blood Red Shoes – Box of Secrets

ARTIST:  Blood Red Shoes      220px-Boxofsecrets

TITLE:  Box of Secrets

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: #47 UK

SINGLES: I Wish I Was someone Better (#186 UK), You Bring Me Down (#64 UK), Say Something, Say Anything (#79 UK), This Is Not for You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Laura-Mary Carter, Steven Ansell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Yes, another guitar / drums duo. Yes it’s a male and female guitar / drums duo. But it’s not a copycat of the White Stripes, the Japandroids or even Black Keys.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The inevitable comparisons to the White Stripes will come out, since the guitar is rock oriented and loud and the drums are in your ears. But Carter and Ansell are a true partnership in many ways the White Stripes were not. They both sing, and the musicians complement each other in many ways, The songs are all co-written as well.

Vocally, they remind me a bit of the Subways, another UK band from around this time with aggressive guitars and drums. But there’s something a bit more here – they’re pretty deft considering the limitations of simple instrumentations.

Every cut was good to great. It’s a fine album to blast around. Good riffs, good guitar, good drums, good energy. Yeah, it’s good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released several EPs early in their career that’s collected on a release (and I’ll cover next for them). One of those songs was the track this album was named for, but didn’t appear on this.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: They proved me wrong, for sure. Not a copy at all, but something exciting.

Cheap Time – Cheap Time

ARTIST: Cheap Time tumblr_inline_n45kmmreSt1rmfos6

TITLE:  Cheap Time

YEAR RELEASED: 2008

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Really no, unless you liked underground college radio in 2008.

LINEUP: Jeffery Novak, Stephen Braren, Jon Sewell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Nashville trio makes a potentially melodic clatter but the production is compromised with over-driven distorted vocals.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This group got some good notice back in the late 2000’s from the press by being a raw throwback to late 70’s post punk, and yeah, I hear that.

What I also hear are loud, overdriven vocals that to me ruin the melodic possibilities of the songs. They make a nice racket musically, but the production on the vocals just isn’t for me.

Novak, who basically is the band with musicians floating around, has a very diverse set of influences and it shows. Yet for this record, at least, he shouldn’t have pegged the vocals so hot.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Be Your Own Pet singer Jemima Pearl was the original bassist for the group.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C: Good sound for all but the vocals. That ruined it for me.

Stone Gods – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones

ARTIST: Stone Gods 220px-Silver_Spoons_&_Broken_Bones_albums_cover
TITLE: Silver Spoons & Broken Bones
YEAR RELEASED: 2008
CHART ACTION: #67 UK
SINGLES: Burn the Witch (#2 UK Rock, #6 UK Indie), Knight of the Living Dead, Don’t Drink the Water (#2 UK rock, #10 UK Indie), Start of Something
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No
LINEUP: Richie Edwards, Dan Hawkins, Toby MacFarlaine, Ed Graham
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: What happened when the Darkness imploded? Three of ‘em wound up here – and then broke this band up when the Darkness got back together.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: As you all remember, the best thing about the Darkness was Justin Hawkins’ outrageous vocals, lyrics and persona. The rest of the band played just rather generic, but decent, 70’s influenced arena rock. Good riffs and all that, but kind of a dime-a-dozen.

So, when the Darkness went kaputsky, the other guys grabbed a bass player, moved the Darkness’ bass player to singer and rhythm guitar, and went on with it for a while.

Like you’d suspect, this is passable arena rock. Nothing groundbreaking. Some cuts are better than others – the back half of the record drags a bit and you wonder why they released a couple of those as singles. Edwards, who moved to singer, can’t carry a full album without you hoping he gets a spray of Chloraceptic or something.

I admire their pluck for moving on and recording something that’s not horrible and has some decent cuts. Of course, when Justin Hawkins wanted to get the Darkness back together, this band went *poof*.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had recorded a second album that has been left in the can since the Darkness re-formed. Will it see the light of day? Will anyone care, since it’s been six years since it was put to tape?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C+: It’s not bad – a couple of cuts really rock it. But a couple three are exiled and really it becomes kind of a drag at the end. Edwards should stick to his role in the Darkness.