Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

Posts Tagged ‘music’

25 July 09 – Mellowdrone ‘Angry Bear’

Posted by Christina on August 31, 2009

angry_bear2This was a really fun album and my first record review for L.A. Record. I’ve posted my original here but check out the link to see their edited version. They’ve posted a track on their website and you can listen to Mellowdrone’s tunes by clicking the below link to the original article as well – totally worth it!

L.A. Record: Mellowdrone ‘Angry Bear’

In the thick, melodious haze of Mellowdrone’s latest LP comes Angry Bear, an album rich and heavy with lo-fi goodness. Bandmates Jonathan Bates on vox and bass, Tony DeMatteo on guitar and Brian Borg on drums have been going strong for about a decade with a few EPs and band member changes in between. Now with their second full-length album, the trio has released their definitive rock opus.

Starting off minimalistic with vocals and backing guitar, “Where Ever You May Go” is a psychedelic rock ballad without the lighters and pretentious lovelorn emotions. A dash of keys punctuate the chorus throughout while a guitar blares through distortion. With this track, Mellowdrone establishes a woozy wall of sound for a 12-track odyssey through their vast sonic landscape.

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6 July 09 – Regina Spektor ‘Far’

Posted by Christina on July 6, 2009

far-cover-artThis was quite the enchanting album. I had never really delved into the Regina Spektor sphere before I did this review and it was an interesting ride to say the least. Her voice is so unique and the content of her instrumentation and lyrics were nothing like I had heard. I’ll have to really spend some time with this five album strong discography of hers after this.

Ground Control Magazine: Regina Spektor ‘Far’

ARTIST: Regina Spektor – [Album]
DATE: 07-06-09
REVIEW BY: Christina Nersesian
LABEL: Warner/Sire

Regina Spektor’s latest release is undoubtedly a testament to her limitless creativity. Her fifth full-length studio album to date, Far is an absolute thrilling 13-track voyage through the inexhaustible psyche of one of the most imaginative and versatile songstresses of our time. Warbling vocals and a stylistic signature all her own, the quirky qualities of phonetic track titles, unorthodox pronunciations and pleasantly unusual content provide fodder for success to repeat the reception of her chart-topping 2006 release, Begin to Hope.

The album kicks off with “The Calculation,” an overall uplifting tune and surprise love song with a polka-esque introduction. Dark matters of the innards of emotional complexities along with the simplistic naïveté transform computers into child’s play and macaroni art. Already, this track is quite the attention grabber. It’s a universally palatable tune that not only displays her musical capabilities but stands to be a pretty sweet hip-swaying jam as well.

An unconventional lovelorn song, “Folding Chair” presents syncopated beats, a dancey feel-good piano with mirrored guitar staccato, a sock-hop kind of clap and a pretty uncanny dolphin impression. Toes in the sand and yearning for love in the air, this song invokes fading images of a 1950s coastline—silver bullet trailers, baby clothes safety-pinned to convenience and the innocence of sweet hand holding. It’s a track just in time for our summer swelter.

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21 June 09: Gliss ‘Devotion Implosion’

Posted by Christina on June 22, 2009

51lBExRyDJLThis album was absolutely magnificent to review. The tunes were really revamped versions of shoegaze staples and Gliss is pitch perfect with their what they’re trying to get across. They had played a show at The Echo last Monday and I was way bummed I wasn’t able to attend. I’ll just have to wait for them to come back from their tour across the pond.

Ground Control Magazine: Gliss ‘Devotion Implosion’

ARTIST: Gliss – [Album]
DATE: 06-21-09
REVIEW BY: Christina Nersesian
ALBUM: Devotion Implosion
LABEL: Cordless Recordings

Gliss is like the Petri dish lovechild of shoegaze greats, alternative rock fire-starters, maybe even some dancey hipster DJs and most definitely includes a dip in the gene pool of the psychedelic pop rock of the 1960s. In their latest release, Devotion Implosion, some tracks scream Pablo Honey while others stand as clear spawns of Psycho Candy with an overall adoption and simultaneous adaptation of Siamese Dream. Sprinkled with a little “Crimson & Clover” over and over, this sophomoric effort is a pleaser throughout for sure.

The Los Angeles-based band’s second full-length album is a sometimes brooding and sometimes blissful nugget of indie goodness. The album weighs heavily on reliably steady beats and appropriately static-ridden riffs punctuated by the hazy vocals of a dreamlike allure. Gliss, in itself, becomes a sort of umbrella act for the sort of musical style embraced by Krautrock bands of yore. Multi-instrumentalists Martin Klingman, David Reiss and Victoria Cecilia make full use of the genre’s musical tendencies in a neat 10-track odyssey through a seemingly drug-induced space of rootless time.

The album starts up strong and steady, motorik beat at the ready with “Morning Light.” The track, with its purposeful clumsiness mindfully finds its place, and then pushes off with a delightfully catchy drumbeat reminiscent of “Just Like Honey,” before diving headfirst into a welcome wall of sound. Weight resting against this seemingly impenetrable fortress of frequencies, the perpetual fuzz suddenly gives way to a pool of distorted guitar riffs, ethereal vocals and subtle harmonies. Left hanging off the breath of one droning note up to the very last second, this track is a clear vision of what’s to come.

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19 May 2009: Iron & Wine ‘Around the Well’

Posted by Christina on May 20, 2009

iron-and-wine-around-the-well This really is an exceptional collection of songs from Iron & Wine. Some are new sounds, some are old favorites and some are tracks finally collected on one album for everyone to enjoy. Hooray!

Ground Control Magazine: Iron & Wine ‘Around the Well’

ARTIST: Iron & Wine – [Album]
DATE: 05-19-09
REVIEW BY: Christina Nersesian
ALBUM: Around the Well
LABEL: Sub Pop

Rare beauties emerge in Iron & Wine’s latest release with a two-disc collection of a rare, never-before-heard and new-to-print collection of unyielding goodness. From hidden treasures of 2002’s The Creek Drank the Cradle to soundtrack-bound leftovers and side-picks from The Shepherd’s Dog in 2007, this sampling from the span of Iron & Wine’s career is nothing short of magic, especially for those rabid fans—however rabid folk fans can get.

The first disc is a deliberate, lower-fidelity collection of soulful selections. The slow scratch and subtle pop of a needle through a record’s grooves serve as a signature undertone throughout. Its raw, basement and concrete wall acoustics add the perfect flavor to the perfect set of songs.

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1 December 2008: Faculty Master Class with Jerzy Kozmala

Posted by Christina on March 24, 2009

jerzy-kosmalaAs my officially last piece for the New University Newspaper, it was with bittersweet feelings I wrote this last piece. I had never reported on a master class before and it was an amazing experience. It was wonderful that the paper chose to cover the event because it really was such a sight to see and such a concert in itself, really.

New University Newspaper: Faculty Master Class with Jerzy Kozmala

Faculty Master Class with Jerzy Kozmala
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 42, Issue 11 | Dec 01 2008

Internationally renowned violist Jerzy Kosmala participated in the second Faculty Master Class last Monday as part of an inaugural series of events organized by the UC Irvine Music Department. Students performed pieces from some of classical music’s greatest composers to a diverse audience of professors, students and community members.

Students who participate in the Master Class form groups at the beginning of each quarter. On Monday, they performed various movements of ensemble pieces by historically celebrated composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn, Antonín Dvořák and Béla Bartók, whose works span from the Classic to Romantic periods and on to the 20th century of musical artistry. Performing and receiving critiques from their peers and the professor of the class, Dr. Margaret Parkins, the students were polite and receptive to Kosmala’s added words of wisdom.

Kosmala thoughtfully followed along with his own copy of the first piece by Mozart. Listening to a trio of clarinet, piano and viola, Kosmala sat in the front row swaying to the allegro phrases, nodding to every forte and punctuating trills. His own viola and bow rested against him as he sat, aware of every glossed-over rest and every dotted note unnoticed.

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29 September 2008: TV on the Radio Progresses on ‘Science’

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

tv-on-the-radioMan this is such a great album. Honestly, though, not as good as some of their previous releases, but comparatively to what was coming out around the same time, this was really great sounding. It also helped that I had heard some of these songs live at Street Scene in San Diego the week before, which was right before I heard the album for the very first time in its entirety.

New University Newspaper: TV on the Radio Progresses on ‘Science’

TV on the Radio Progresses on ‘Science’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 42, Issue 2 | Sep 29 2008

TV on the Radio is the kind of band that continually embraces a very experimental nature. Each track is a cohesive exploration of sound and harmony, a sign that the band continues to seamlessly transcend genres and styles.

Its new album, “Dear Science,” is no exception to this already established impression, showcasing this collection of bandmates at their most creative to date.

The band has come a long way since frontman Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist David Andrew Sitek’s self-released demo, “OK Calculator,” an obvious pun on a Radiohead favorite “OK Computer.” “Dear Science,” is the follow-up release to its 2006 celebrated epic, “Return to Cookie Mountain.” With the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitarist, Nick Zinner and the omniscient David Bowie adorning the band’s various projects, much was expected from the new album.

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28 April 2008: Flight of the Conchords

Posted by Christina on March 19, 2009

fotc-albumThis was such a great CD to review. Flight of the Conchords had been brought to my attention some time ago and I was playing clips on YouTube from their comedy acts on my radio show at KUCI. Of course when – all that time later – they came out with their first CD, not only did KUCI have it immediately, but it was on heavy rotation by the personal accord of each DJ! Having to listen to this hundreds of time for the review was no problem at all.

New University Newspaper: Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 26 | Apr 28 2008

Until about Christmas 2001, the coolest thing to come out of New Zealand was Peter Jackson and his band of actors along with the cinematic phenomenon that is the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Since then, we haven’t really heard much else from our kiwi pals.

Even before the inception of Elijah Wood as a hobbit and Liv Tyler as a mystical elf, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement were creating what would become a marriage of music, comedy and wit. Flight of the Conchords was smalltime in the late-’90s and by 2002, the guys were playing at small, local festivals.

It wasn’t until 2006 that BBC Radio 2 picked up the pair’s comedy act as a radio program. Mostly improvised, the show was based on a novelty band’s search for commercial success in London. When the band was picked up by HBO to do its own series, they based its contents off their radio show and moved everything to New York City.

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14 April 2008: Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep

Posted by Christina on March 19, 2009

dig-lazarus1This was one of the more interesting reviews I took it upon myself to write. I did learn a lot about the notorious mysteriousness of the wondrous Nick Cave and well, it really as all very interesting.

New University Newspaper: Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep

Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 24 | Apr 14 2008

The same brooding yet steady half-speaking, half-singing voice of Nick Cave brings us the absurd and mostly depressed human condition again with “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” In the 14th studio release by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, we hear stories inspired by Biblical tales, epic mythologies and utopian science-fiction literature at the turn of the 20th century mixed with a dash of his personal childhood heroes.

In particular, the album realizes a distinct combination of Cave’s psyche traumatized as a young boy by the idea of Lazarus being revived from the dead. This notion is then combined with the reverence he felt toward Harry Houdini – an illusionist only second to the scale of the escape artistry exhibited by the great Lazarus, in his opinion.

Taking these themes into account, we might be familiar with albums centered on characters of mythology, theology and popular sociology of epic proportions. Fans were left with the taste of an orphic myth concentration after the double-disc release of “Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus” in 2004. We are brought to a realization of a different place in time and all the musicianship inspired by it.

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11 February 2008: Qtrax Jukebox to the Rescue

Posted by Christina on March 18, 2009

qtrax1It was interesting doing the research for this piece on Qtrax. I hadn’t heard about it and I’m always a bit miffed when technology comes up with new ways to just explode over the pop culture scene.

New University Newspaper: Qtrax Jukebox to the Rescue

Qtrax Jukebox to the Rescue
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 17 | Feb 11 2008

Some of us may have been too young to remember when Napster came out. It’s okay to come out of hiding now and admit we have a few Napster-downloaded tracks still floating around on our iPods. Lars Ulrich and his band of millionaire music-makers already had their field day arresting 14-year-olds for downloading music.

Since then, there has been a rise in legal downloading venues online. With the surge of Apple’s family of portable music players and iTunes, they’ve created a lucrative side-project with their iTunes Store. Costing an extra buck, one can download that special track from the latest diva’s premiere album. This gives you instant gratification and keeps you from having to find parking at Borders, and even eliminates those wasted dollars spent buying overpriced albums at Tower Records (R.I.P).

The rise of the BitTorrent downloading protocol encouraged peer-to-peer file sharing. From this we saw Torrent search engines like Mininova and Pirates Bay provide one search field for varying forms of media. Regardless, this is still considered illegal.

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28 January 2008: Black Mountain Leads to ‘Future’

Posted by Christina on March 13, 2009

cdblackmountaininthefutureBlack Mountain is such a great band, it was so much fun doing a review for their newest release. I ended up playing at least every week on my show at KUCI and more than a couple times during roams around campus to drives in my car.

New University Newspaper: Black Mountain Leads to ‘Future’

Black Mountain Leads to ‘Future’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 15 | Jan 28 2008

Black Mountain opens 2008 with its sophomore effort ‘In the Future’ to a population of music enthusiasts long awaiting the release of something worthwhile. We enjoyed 2007 as a year that gave us memorable albums and great live acts.

We didn’t, however, find some of our underground favorites release sounds akin to those first efforts that lead us to fall in love with them in the first place. An undeniable exception finally emerges with Black Mountain, fully restoring our faith with its new album, ‘In the Future.’

Black Mountain fans are finally reaping the joys of that unique sound with this second album. It is just another sign to what wonderful things music will do for us underground enthusiasts throughout 2008.

A bluesy twang in each guitar riff combined with a matured progression of sound is evident throughout. Songs like the opener, ‘Stormy High,’ are a perfect amalgam of a head-banger’s delight with its strong beats and a melody connoisseur’s choice track with its well-thought-out setup of sound. With a chanting choir and a scaling harmonic up and down the fret-board, it’s the prime song to open up the rest of the album and leave us revved up for more.

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