On Air Next 8/13
Radio 1190 KVCU
AND WE ARE BACK. After a one-week break from the column we are glad to give you a quick update on what's been happening at Radio 1190. Our youtube channel has recently been updated with video performances from Brothertiger and Blanket Empire and our website now features reviews of the new Beach House record and updated charts and playlists! You can find it all on the new and improved radio1190.org. And don't forget to click on our live stream so you can hear these awesome records spinning in rotation right now.
Akin to their 2010 breakout release The Monitor New Jersey-based punk group Titus Andronicus have released their longest, most ambitious album to date, The Most Lamentable Tragedy. This over an hour and a half, 29 song album is a semi-autobiographical rock opera told in five parts wherein lead singer Patrick Stickles plays the part of our hero who has lost his mind and is trying to get himself back together. Though bands such as Fucked Up and Husker Du have attempted before the concept of a punk rock opera but none have been as expansive or wild as The Most Lamentable Tragedy. Across the album, string and horn sections as well as a silent intermission track give the immense feeling that this is truly a DIY rock opera.
On the new record, Stickles and company stay true to their style where their melodic but ferocious style of punk is infused with heartland rock resulting in the punch of the So So Glows but the audacity of Bruce Springsteen. The group sounds tighter than ever allowing Stickles' vocals to shine through letting the story take center stage on the album. That being said, the storyline is anything but accessible. The lyrics not only project a sense of anxiety and confusion but also reference the band's past work forcing the listener to read it as prose. Though this may not be the best way to convey a story, the pay off once the story is digested is incredibly rewarding. At the end, it's clear that Titus Andronicus is sounding their best and is at their wordiest much like their older best albums have been, a combination that has us to believe that the group has just released their magnum opus. Out now on Merge Records, The Most Lamentable Tragedy is Radio 1190's CD of the Month for August.
Boston-based Vundabar have been involved in DIY scenes and tours for years now and after a few small-scale releases they have released their most realized album to date, Gawk. In a very balanced mix of jangle pop, garage rock and sludge pop, the trio sound simultaneously loose and well composed while pumping out catchy hooks at a mile a minute. The group musically stays incredibly tight where steady drum grooves and spindly guitar lines take the forefront where the bass keeps the whole band on track. Though these tracks can get loud, anthemic and raucous, the quieter moments show that the crew are masterful songwriters that know the secret to crafting a song to party tracks that will be stuck in your head forever. Gawk as a whole doesn't necessarily have a coherent concept or storyline, the album succeeds in as a badass collection of rock songs. This band is small and young and without a doubt, the group may indeed be making great indie rock albums in the near future.
Seattle-based band Grave Babies have been making dark music for quite some time now, but on their newest record Holographic Violence the darkness has never seemed so...dark. Their sound, deeply influenced by post-punk, is more melodic than one would expect, but deep, woozy bass lines and menacing guitar lines make this record closer to an electronic interpretation of goth rock. The vocals are electronically harmonized where it seems like the lead singer is singing over himself wherein it sounds like he is closer to an otherworldly creature than a musician. Though the album is spooky and unnerving, the more melodic moments like "Pain is Pleasant" sound very cheesy and almost forced. Sadly, the group would sound even better if they pushed themselves to be a little more experimental and even get noisy in sections. Though the change in tone for the group isn't offensively bad, the decision to play it safe may not be the best way to further your sound when it is already so dark in the first place.