Album Reviews: The Decemberists, Madison, JJ

The King is Dead by The Decemberists

After the more theatrical than listenable “Hazards of Love” LP, it’s really nice to have the Decemberists back in form. “The King is Dead” is for the most part a pretty comforting record. It has an intentional (almost forced)  ‘rootsy’ sound. Banjos, steel guitars, and harmonicas are all featured pretty prominently throughout. Sometimes it kind of sounds like an Ivy League lit majors take on “Old Crow Medicine Show”, but it’s really not half as bad as that sounds. The single “Down By The Water” starts out with a harmonica that sounds like it was taken straight from “Black River Killer” by “Blitzen Trapper” but then Meloy’s nasaly voice settles in and song transforms, fairly seemlessly into the type of powerful and wordy thing that The Decemberists are known for.

So knock me down, tear me up
But I would bare it all broken just to fill my cup

If one song falls a little flat its probably “All Arise!”. The fiddle intro and Colin Meloy opening the first verse with “Baby wants a new spin, baby wants a broken heart” is a first class trip to awkward land, and the rest of the song never really recovers, despite trying its best to be charming. This miss is a pretty isolated event though. The vast majority of “The King is Dead” is pretty meticulously constructed and surprisingly soulful. The type of stuff that sounds fun to play.

 

The Decemberists – Down By The Water by Pretty Much Amazing

Calamity Song MP3
Rox in the Box MP3

The King is Dead: 4.5 out of 5.

 

The Noise Some People Make EP by Madison.

The first song I heard off of this EP was the lead track “#1”. A pretty solid song, in the same vein as “Metric” or the last “Yeah Yeah Yeah’s” album. It’s got those sexy ‘indie rock chick’ vocals accompanied by a sort of edgy synth. The whole thing doesn’t fall too short of kicking ass. Unfortunately the less of the album was a lot more like a less appauling version of Ke$ha, than it was like Karen O.  Unfortunate.

#1 MP3

The Noise Some People Make:1.5 out of 5
Kills by JJ

JJ clearly love popular hip hop music. With “Kills”, the Sweedish duo samples a whole slew of recognizable hip hop and pop favorites and procedes to make them sleepier/stonier/chiller in large part by adding Elin Kastlanders voice to the beat or to othe people’s lyrics. In a way it kind of has that “ohhh hey that song!” effect, thats pretty common on “Girl Talk” songs. While I like the samples, and I love Kastlanders voice, I’m not sure I ever really got into this one aside from “Kill Them”, which might just be the best TI has ever sounded.  Other songs like “New Work” just made me want to listen to the original song again (Empire State of Mind).  It’s a fine mixtape to play in the background, but not nearly as captivating as “n2” was.

Kill Them
New Work

Kills:2.5 out of 5

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