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Episode 26 – The List Pt. 1

The end of the year has come, and with it once again is our 3 part series of the best albums to happen in the process. In this episode, with a list Oscar Schindler would find inspiring, we tackle 12 - 9 like a Detroit business man on the hot dog vendor that scratched his Plymouth.

From the Blog

RUN

Pros:
great packaging and artwork
good running time
great vocal rhythms
overall “bigger” feel
overall “heavier” feel
Cons:
boring songwriting
uninspired production
lazy lyrics
lack of any other personnel involved
unnecessary and unintelligent swearing

 

If you asked me to describe an album in only one word, normally I’d tell you “that’s crazy!” and continue on my way.  However, I have come across one of the rare albums that allows me to do just that in Run.  Uninspired.  That’s the unfortunate word that sums up the sophomore effort from Aaron Bruno’s Awolnation.

Where the first AWOL album (self titled) has creativity and uniqueness bouncing around every corner, Run is just your average run-of-the-mill electronic hip hop album. Big beats created using very common sounding electronic drums and big low-passed synth basses fill a majority of the songs (there are a few shorter “ballad-y” tracks but those are so full of over-processed background vocals and swimming reverb that it’s really hard to enjoy them) And this brings me to the core of my issues with this album.  The production just sounds amateur to me.  The guitars (when there are any) have absolutely NO high-end in them, giving the whole album a low-end consuming woofy sound. The drums are just your average stereotypical electronic drums, and the vocals are just short little phrases repeated several times to fill in the verse (giving the vocals a more “sampled” feeling rather than a “sung” feeling).  The whole album seems lazy to me, which is a crying shame considering the brilliance of the first AWOL album.  Overall, the “one man writes, produces, performs, and records everything himself” trick just fell flat on it’s face with this one.

Standout Tracks
Windows
Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)

 

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Evermotion

Evermotion marks the 7th full length album from Boston based alt-rock mainstays, Guster.  Coupling up with producer Richard Swift, (Foxygen, The Shins) the constantly evolving sound and songwriting that drives Guster’s progress through time is alive and well on this new outing, if maybe less accessible on occasion.  The production of the album is as tectonically tight as always, with every inflection and instrument getting as much of its own space as an asteroid.  The first half of the album sports classic Guster. Bolstered by ethereal harmonies and catchability on par with a strong run of the measles, it slowly builds to a clear album highlight in ‘Simple Machine’, the first single off the album.  The second half of the album slows things down and yields a bit more of an experimental vibe, though never straying too far from the lab.  Songs like ‘Expectation’ and ‘Never Coming Down’ are fine examples of this, hearkening back to older entries like ‘One Man Wrecking Machine’ and ‘Jesus on the Radio’, respectively.   While Evermotion isn’t quite as rock solid as previous entries, there is plenty to love here.  It’s no small feat to be so consistently excellent over 7 albums while also being so apt to try new things. Several points of this album show Guster at their best, and the rest, while slightly more ephemeral, shows they are far from a dry well of ideas.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
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