Monday mornings come with exhaustion and an inability to get out of bed. This feeling can only be cured by upbeat, energizing music such as one of the numerous songs from Femi Kuti’s new album, No Place for My Dream.
Don’t let the album title fool you: the songs are anything but depressing. Born in London, Kuti moved with his family to Lagos, Nigeria as a child. There, his music career began at the age of 15 as a saxaphone player in his father’s musical group. From there, Kuti would go on to produce a few albums and even open for The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
No Place for My Dream combines a mix of Latin beats with a diversity of percussion. In addition, every song on the album has a deep, social message that serves to educate the listener. Kuti pulls inspiration from his personal experiences growing up as well as his observations of the current condition of the world. His piece, No Work No Job No Money, speaks to the challenges faced by those unable to make ends meet, who lack basic social, health, and financial resources.
Carry On Pushing On takes a more global activist approach. Focusing on collapsing economies and the wars affecting the world at this very moment, the song urges a societal progression and dissolution of a corrupt system.
Whether or not you agree with Kuti’s assertions, his musical style is catchy and motivational. Unlike other artists, Kuti causes us to be more active listeners and consider his stories and opinions.
6 months ago
When I heard that one of my favorite bands, Britain’s Arctic Monkeys, was coming out with a new album, I could hardly contain my excitement. Upon first listen, however, I found myself disappointed. The album, entitled AM as an homage to the Velvet Underground’s VU album, seemed toned-down in comparison to some of their earlier work. In addition, with the frequent falsetto backup vocals, the album felt more akin to indie pop than the rock I had come to expect from the band. Where was the spit and spite, vim and vigor? Have the Monkeys conceded to the over-produced sound so common among popular artists today?
The answer is partially… but not nearly so much as I feared upon first impression. After several listens, I came to appreciate the polished sound, the sinister beats (which merge a hip-hop sound with 70’s rock accents), and the way Turner pulls poetry from everyday occurrences. In other words, AM is to the Monkeys what El Camino was to the Black Keys—a more mature and professional album, but one that sacrifices a bit of the raw, organic nature of past albums to appeal to a broader audience.
This is not to say that AM is completely devoid of Turner’s boyish charm or the energy so characteristic of the band. These elements are present, just more subdued. For example, vocals are more frequently crooned than spat, and the driving beat is partially hidden beneath layers of sound; however, this gives an overall air of tension, of fervency. As one reviewer stated, this is an “after midnight album;” the party is over, and though they may try desperately to cling to the release offered by frivolity (“never knowing when to stop”), revelers are finally left alone with their thoughts, considerably darker now the bright lights have faded away.
by Katy Stringer
6 months ago
Clouds Call to Ground is Winter Circle’s first attempt at a full-length album. When I first heard them, I thought of Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars. The voice was raspy, and the sound was edgy. At first, it was great. As the album continued, however, it became repetitive and, to be honest, boring. The first track, despite the good start, is depressing, especially as vocalist Kevin Dawson almost screams “I’ll beat you to the ground.”
As I continued to listen, I realized that in almost every song, they would sing the refrain twice. If the choruses had more substance to them, this may not have bothered me so much, but it felt as if, in each song, the group made up for their short refrains by repeating it. “Let the Bullets In” had a lot of potential. The duo slowed the beat and it seemed to make the song more emotional. I wish they had done more with it, though, rather than falling back on their habit of repetition.
I most enjoyed “Porcelain” and “Javier, Lost in Mexico.” For me, they offered the right mix of soft and hard without being overly repetitive. Altogether, I can say: the album wasn’t terrible. I do believe Winter Circle has potential; they’ve got a good sound, but their arrangements and lyrics still need some work.
by Jillian Flint
6 months ago
Minus the Bear’s album, Acoustics II, combines poetic lyricism with catchy beats to create a hypnotizing album that is difficult to put on pause. Lead singer Jake Snider may not have the most unique voice, but his talent is evident and on the mark. There is a beautiful transcendence of mood throughout the album and no song that sounds like it does not belong.
My personal favorite song on the album has to be the very first track, Riddles. Its lyrics embody a relatable topic to just about every listener; that one person who, despite their devious emotional mind games, you just can’t seem to get over. It has a beautiful sadness to it that is also found in the track, When We Escape, another one of my favorites.
There is a certain similarity to many of the songs that may seem repetitive, but that does not take away from the album’s quality. Acoustics II is a mature album with complex lyrics that leave a bit of interpretation to the listener. If you want to sit back, relax, and possibly fall in love with some music, I would highly recommend this new album by Minus the Bear. If you are already a fan, then continue to listen. This album clearly appeals to the dedicated listener. Its quality is apparent, its instrumental combinations are mesmerizing, and its lyrics hold quiet a romantic essence.
by Rebecca Zolet
6 months ago