Discovery – LP

discovery

Rating: ★½ · · ·

When news that Rostam from Vampire Weekend and Wes from Ra Ra Riot would unite to create an album under the name of Discovery, the Internet was afire with fans of both bands, all hoping that they could combine the magic of their individual outfits into something that would supersede both.  LP is the title of said album, and while there are definitely moments that seem worthy of accolades, it’s unclear at this juncture just how far the adoration will carry the group.

Opener “Orange Shirt” hits from the opening with musical beats reminiscent of Passion Pit, except it goes beyond that similarity, as Wes actually has a quality vocal to place atop the beats.  However, the beats just don’t seem to hit too hard, nor do they really go anywhere; it’s sort of a stationary song in itself, and doesn’t quite build.

“Can You Discover” is somewhat of a remix, as the lyrics come from Ra Ra Riot‘s “Can You Tell.”  Unfortunately, once you strip away the textures from the original, the song seems really simple, as if it was sort of an afterthought in its production.  Also, using auto-tune on the vocals seems like a huge injustice, ruining the power of Wes Miles’ voice.

The middle of the album seems to be where you find the meat and potatoes of the album, or maybe it’s just the potatoes.  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” features Angel from Dirty Projectors, which adds a different touch to the monotony of the album, and it probably has one of the stronger beats on the album, but the keyboard meanderings get a little tiring. “Swing Tree” is in this section of the album, and it probably carries the most interesting production, at least up to this point in the album.  The high pitched electronics don’t sound too basic, though the beat looped in seems to be one of the most common element throughout the album itself.  And here, you also find “Carby” which has vocals from Ezra of Vampire Weekend.  It’s probably one of the gems on the album; probably one of the few songs you could throw into a club mix.

In it’s entirety, the one thing that this album doesn’t have is the catchiness factor, which both members exude in their own right with their main gigs.  Almost every beat seems mundane, as if they just took the samples from the radio, and reran them through some sort of mixer.  It takes the heart out of the music itself, and all the moments of joy that we usually associate with these two artists are rendered useless for the most part.  Overall, the album comes off as a generic stab at taking indie bands to the dance floors of the world, but ultimately, it seems like this might fail.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/07-carby-ft-ezra-koenig.mp3]

Download: Discovery – Carby [MP3]

FT5: Bands I Refuse To Apologize For

0619top5coverSince this is my first post, I thought I should give everyone a little bit of insight into who I am. Unlike the other ATH writers, I refuse to have “Guilty Pleasures.” Either I like a band, or I don’t. I won’t apologize or make excuses for what I listen to, and I try not to give other people a hard time for what they like (one exception would be Nathan). I’m not saying every band I like is great. Sometimes they have great musicians with bad lyrics and catchy beats. Sometimes they’re just catchy. And the best is when I hate a band, but I hear them so often that I’m tricked into liking them. That being said, here are five bands on my iPod that have play counts at or around 30, and that’s just since April.  Follow the jump for more.
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Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Much has been made of Ra Ra Riot‘s history as a band, which, though interesting and heartbreaking, doesn’t really do a sufficient job of discussing the band’s current output. The Rhumb Line is their first full length album, although the band has been around for quite sometime, with nothing more than an EP to their name. And, I suppose that we could be disappointed that only 6 of the album’s 10 songs are new, but that would take away from the stunning debut they have given us.

The album begins with “Ghost Under Rocks,” a tune driven by the orchestral cello and violin work that the band uses to create the darker tones of their pop numbers.  The blistering drum work on the opener adds just as much power, making a mark on the listener almost immediately.  They follow this up with another song off their EP, “Each Year,” but it’s a driving song, with the guitar carrying the song, and those listening, along.

They do their best Vampire Weekend impression with “St. Peter’s Day Festival,” but the use of orchestral pieces gives the song a little bit more splendor, making it a song that won’t wear you down over time.  Ra Ra Riot slows it down a bit for us with “Winter 05,” a song that relies musically on violin and cello.  It’s a beautiful song, and one that gives you a break from the fast pace of the album.

Then its back to the EP songs, and two of the best songs that band has written up to this point.  “Dying is Fine” is truly one of my favorite songs of the year.  The music makes you tap your toes, while the vocals couldn’t possibly be better.  “Can You Tell” starts off slowly, with reference to a long lost lover, before it bumps up the pace.  This might be the peak moment of the album.

In “Too Too Fast” we find the band relying upon synthesizers to hold the aesthetic of this song.  The female vocal accompaniment during the chorus is quite fitting, and it pushes the song further into the music of the past.  Still, the song has a certain freshness that tells the listener to keep on going.

However, the album kind off falls off from here.  “Oh La” just doesn’t have the same impact on the listener as the previous numbers.  It’s slower, and it kind of throws off the pace of the album.  From here the band jumps to a Kate Bush cover, which is good, but it takes the number of new original songs down to 5. “Run My Mouth” marks the point where the album kind of loses its luster.  The final song just doesn’t add much to the overall feel of the album; it’s almost as if it could have been left off.

Now that the album is over, you kind of feel a little let down.  It didn’t end as well as it started off, which disappoints.  Still, the first seven songs on this album are ridiculously good, even the ones that were revisited from the past.  It’s worthy of repeated listens, and it’s worthy of being in your collection.

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