EP Review: Minor Characters – Heal Me, Healing Times

Posted on by Celeste in Albums | Leave a comment

If I had to sum up Minor Characters in an idiom it would be “short and sweet.” They’re a band that understands the concept of leave them wanting more, and clocking in at 17 minutes and ten seconds, the band’s new EP sticks to that theme.

The hardworking Chicago foursome dropped their first EP in November of 2011, and their sophomore effort, Heal Me, Healing Times, seems like a natural extension of their debut. Maintaining the same ebb and flow of the last EP, “Heal Me” starts off the album with slow, halting strains that burst into a strong but simple drum backbone. Draped over that backbone are the staples of Minor Characters’ sound: catchy guitar riffs and lead singer Pelletier’s hovering falsetto. Aurora Borealis,the second track of the EP, maintains the catchy riffs with a bouncy and undeniable guitar line overlaid by a story that, when you listen a little closer, might be darker than it first appears.

While still sticking to their strengths, this new EP, especially the second half, is a little more introspective and melancholy than the first. “Sun Trials,” a flowing and soulful track heavy with a sense of ending, explores a relationship cycling through the seasons, “Don’t take me for granted/I don’t know when winter’s coming.” “Expatriates” closes out the album, the band branching out into new territory with a winding and mournful piano ballad about displacement, “Watch out, we left home to be left out.”

While there’s a clear divide in the tempo and tone of the first two songs versus the second, the EP doesn’t feel disjointed – it has a story to tell. The band performs March 1st at Lincoln Hall – if you’re in Chicago I’d suggest you watch them tell it live.

EP Review: Ugly Purple Sweater – Washington, DC

Posted on by halley in Albums | Leave a comment


Is judging an EP by its song titles as bad as judging a book by its cover? Because even before listening to Ugly Purple Sweater’s new EP I was all about “I Will Not Regret” (which is a personal mantra of mine, along with the likes of “No Shame” and “No Looking Back). Regardless of what you may think about snap judgments and jumping to conclusions, you’ll be happy to know the DC band’s new creation bears up to any and all levels of scrutiny.

The EP is 4 tracks long – meaning my only complaint is that I wish it had more material! Hopefully that will be coming soon. Despite my instant inclination to love “I Will Not Regret”, my actual favorite track ended up being “I Can Tell the Difference” which builds up to its core right around :49 and then proves an excellent example of this band’s story-telling style. “ I Will Not Regret” is a sad, more soulful-sounding song, “Central Detention Facility Blues” has an old-school finger-snapping feel to it, and “DCUSA” will strike a chord with any DC’er who’s seen the gentrification of the district progress and accelerate over the past few years.

Overall, this EP is a great listen for DC- and non-DC’ers alike. It’ll be publicly available January 8th, followed by the band’s performance at Black Cat on the 12th. Take advantage!

Track by Track CD Review: Robbie Williams – Take the Crown [2012, Island]

Posted on by Ricky in Albums | Leave a comment

take the crown

So me and Vik both like Robbie Williams for his earlier solo material, which basically elevated him into a megastar. His new record, Take The Crown is supposed to be his comeback record and has already reached #1 on the charts in the UK and spawned a #1 single for him, so obviously, we would listen to the album. Here are our thoughts as we listened to it.

Tracks 1,2,3
Ricky : checking out robbie williams
Vik : wait until you listen to ‘candy
Vik : weiiiiird
Ricky : thats track 3
Vik : ya
Ricky : the album’s sposda be his comeback album
Vik : jesus
Vik : i think he’s tried to make all his songs sound like whatever tunes are currently popular
Vik : like with track 3. i could hear katy perry sing that
Vik : a bit of carly rae jepsen in track 2
Ricky : ” My main priority was to write what I consider, and hopefully what the world would consider, to be hits. “
Vik : what a hack
Ricky : yea specially when the dude is probably absurdly loaded

#4 Different
Ricky : the 4th track is alright
Ricky : pretty standard robbie williams

#5 Shit on the Radio
Ricky : track 5 could be a Pink song
Vik : haha based on the title alone
Ricky : just cos it has swearing and stuff “shit on the radio” sounds like something Pink would write in a misguided attempt to sound hard
Vik : yeah man
Ricky : everything on this album sounds like a single

#6 All That I Want
Vik : trying to sound like bowie on track 6
Ricky : yeah
Ricky : he’s almost singing with a bowie accent
Vik : yeah
Vik : he has an accent in candy as well. like jamaican
Ricky : a bit U2ish
Vik : yeah
Ricky : i mean if U2 came out with an album it’d probably sound like this song
Vik : i was thinking that but just a tad poppy
Ricky : only with an epic song title
Ricky : the backing guitar is straight out of the joshua tree album
Vik : haha yeah

#7 Hunting For You
Vik : track 7 is a power ballad from 1998
Ricky : it just started
Ricky : life thru a lens came out in 97 actually
Vik : so bad man. and it’s not like i’m being a snob either. i wanted this album to be good
Ricky : this song would have been a b-side on that album
Ricky : should of never enlisted gary barlow for some of this album
Vik : ahhh now the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place
Ricky : although this hunting for you song will be in at least two movie commercials in the next year i think
Vik : haha yeah
Ricky : starring hugh grant
Ricky : as an inept ____ who mumbles his way to a hot girl

#8 Into the Silence
Ricky : nevermind this track is the u2 cover song
Vik : yeah the rest of the album is starting to sound that way
Ricky : i can already see bono cashing in his royalty checks
Vik : okay i never made it past track 8 yday
Ricky : gotta do it now
Ricky : theres only 5 more tracks
Vik : …and omg track 9 haha. i’ll wait till you get there
Ricky : its called hey now yeah yeah
Vik : yeah
Ricky : sounds like something bieber would write
Ricky : but im not there ya
Ricky : i wouldnt be surprised if track 8 became a hit though
Ricky : its got stadium anthem quality
Vik : yeah, a few of them would probably sound good in a stadium

#9 Hey Wow Yeah Yeah
Ricky : okay im on track 9
Ricky : hahaha
Vik : right? it’s like he’s trying to channel ting tings or something
Vik : may have wrote this in 2008
Ricky : the beginning sounds like timbaland
Ricky : produced
Ricky : only thing missing is the periodical “yeah”
Ricky : but yeah this is a tings tings tune, or karmin or something
Ricky : hey wow wow yeah yeah clap your hands now is a chorus
Ricky : that was the first real crap song though imo

#10 Not Like The Others
Vik : this is a perfect song for a montage of a bunch of faux hipsters dancing on a NY rootop for a cell phone commerical
Ricky : yeah
Ricky : probably by samsung
Ricky : ‘you and me not like the others’
Ricky : its probably already being practiced on glee
Vik : haha
Ricky : this song can be a katy perry song i feel
Ricky : but i think every electro pop song could be a katy perry song
Ricky : this song is going to be a hit though

#11 Losers (Featuring Lissie)
Ricky : who is Lissie
Vik : i was just googling that
Vik : not much
Vik : i thought it might be nicole kidman again
Ricky : robbie williams circa 2002 would have got kylie
Ricky : this song is okay, nothing special
Vik : gone back to generic pop for tracks 11-12
Ricky : yea
Ricky : oh 12 is a bonus track apparently
Ricky : im just going to stop listening..13 is also bonus track
Vik : haha really?
Ricky : yea
Ricky : this would probably make a good review article
Vik : yeah track by track man
Ricky : its serviceable record, probably gonna have hits but i’ll probably forget about it next week
Ricky : would be my concluding statement
Vik : yeah

In defense of Reptar: an album review of Body Faucet

Posted on by Celeste in Albums | Leave a comment


Something must have been in the water in 2012 – it was a year of magical events. Not only did Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson patch things up (to a collective sigh of relief from humanity, their faith in true love restored) but, even more importantly, two phenomenal albums were dropped in 2012; one to great acclaim, and one to not such great acclaim.

Django Django and Reptar both dropped their debut albums in 2012. Django Django’s self titled album was released in January to rave reviews – Reptar’s body faucet was dropped in May to less than rave reviews – to give a general idea, Django Django recived a 7.2 from Pitchfork. Reptar? A 3.0.

So why the 4.2 point difference in their marks? Reptar sampled too liberally from contemporaries – Animal Collective, Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend. They had too much enthusiasm and not enough focus. Boiled down to it, Reptar was deemed to be too much sugar for your diet without the necessary fiber to make it worth consumption – kind of like chewy granola bars.

And I don’t declaim the first two points – Reptar samples liberally from other artists on their album, yes, and their enthusiasm is nothing if not unbridled. But depending on how you spin it, couldn’t those also be points of praise?

From the moment the beat drops on Sebastian to the last meandering a capella chorus of City of Habits, Reptar has crafted themselves, what I would argue to be, an eclectic and adventurous first album filled with, true, sugary-sweet afro-beats and synth that unabashedly points to its audience and says, “you! Get up and dance!” but also with thoughtful lyrics and a detailed eye for rhythm and instrumentation that belies their reputation as nothing more than a good time live.

The foundation of the record rests on Water Runs, an unconventional ode to relationships, some newly beginning and others falling apart at the seams, Sebastian, a wink to the saint who became a gay icon, and office origami which tips its hat to themes of dreams, nightmares and creativity. Without these three staples the album might not hold up under the sugary sweet goodness of sweet sipping soda and houseboat babies. But these two fine spun confections are necessary counterparts to the more experimental and bizarre Natural Bridge. While some have argued that this album is a hodge-podge mess of dance beats and enthusiasm, I would argue it’s actually a very well balanced and organized creation that takes into consideration not only the recorded listening experience but also the live one. Not an easy task.

I began by comparing Reptar to Django Django not only because their albums dropped in the same year and I’ve had them both on repeat for the past two months, but also because I see parallels between the two albums. When I listen to Django Django I hear a modern twist on Simon and Garfunkel and the Beach Boys, with maybe even a wink to Daft Punk at the end of Waveforms. Both bands sample from their ancestors and contemporaries, but with enough of their own spin that I would argue that they’re both still “advancing their field.”

Does Reptar take itself too seriously? Absolutely not. Reptar is a silly band name. They put a lot of emphasis on having fun. Their live show might or might not have included a disco ball. Does that mean that they don’t take their craft seriously? Absolutely not.

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