Category Archives: Album Reviews

Album reviews by WQAQ staffers

“Love Stuff” by Elle King

I recently listened to the album Love Stuff, by artist Elle King. This twelve-track CD was an interesting one, to say the least. However, “interesting” isn’t the best way to describe my feelings about it. Overall, I feel that the album is just okay. There are good points and there are bad points, but not enough of one to outweigh the other.

Let’s being with the negatives. The biggest problem with this album for me is King’s voice. She is forcing it too much when she sings, which creates a raspy tone, much like a chain-smoker, that is cringe-worthy at times. When I first put this album on, and was greeted by the track “Where the Devil Don’t Go”, I almost turned the CD off because of how much I was put off by King’s voice. It honestly made me wince when she hit some of the notes. When she forces her voice, and she gets loud, her intonation is poor, which creates difficult to listen to, off-color notes. One of the songs that was supposed to be the “big feature”, if you will, was her single “Ex’s and Oh’s”. Because of her raspy voice, I was less than impressed by the track.

Another problem with King is that some of her tracks are the kind anyone can hear from a generic, angsty female artist. The best comparison I have is that King is like Christina Perri, just with a deeper, less full voice. Two tracks that stand out in this regard are “Song of Sorrow” and “Ain’t Gonna Drown”. It’s simply typical for an angst-style singer, with the whole sort of “the-world-is-against-me” lyricism. These two negatives are heavy hitters when looking at this album on the whole.

Now, I would be lying if I said I hated everything about this album. I want to start by saying that there are three songs that are standout diamonds-in-the-rough on this album. The first is “Kocaine Karolina”, which is a sadder song that talks about a woman who has lived a hard life because of her fire-brand spirit, but encouraging her to keep on going, and not waste away before she dies. This is a standout due to the gentle nature of the song, and the simple melody behind it. Because it’s a gentle piece, King doesn’t have the rasp in her voice like in other tracks from her essential shouting. The next track that stands out is “America’s Sweetheart”, which, despite the title, is about a girl who is a genuine country girl, and not a prim-and-proper doll that people want to see as the “American sweetheart”. This is one of the tracks that King’s raspy voice actually works for the song. The track itself has a sort of Mumford and Sons country-rock feel to it, where King actually does some impressive work. The last of the three is “Make You Smile”. This track to me is slightly reminiscent of Christina Perri’s song “Miles” in its themes, just as a reference point. Once again, its King’s gentler side that makes this track a good one.

The other thing that actually makes this album good is the music in every song. Every song has a different musical style associated with it. This can go from a 70’s rock style, like the song “Under the Influence”, to a hard rock feel with “Last Damn Night”, and may other styles in between. This actually impresses me a great deal, because many artists are not as diverse as King in that regard, and stick to one style of song. This album is twelve tracks with twelve different music styles.

So, overall, I can’t say I’m overly-impressed with the Love Stuff album, but I can’t say I totally hate this album. It has its things that make it something worth while, while there are other things that cause it to drag along the ground. I can’t say I would recommend this album personally, however, just because of how indecisive I am over it. To me, it just leaves a sort of “Oh…” feeling after listening to it, and frankly, that’s how I’m ending this review, because I have no real strong, conclusive way to sum up Elle King’s album.

Panic is Perfect

Coming into the music scene with a number of groovy singles is Panic is Perfect. The San Francisco based band comes together with great riffs mixed with the indie pop sound that we all know and love. Although the genre “indie” is far from dependable, these guys put a sound to it, and it is awesome.

Echo, one of the group’s singles, builds in an electric sound while keeping the classic guitar and drums right there with it. They are not overpowered by the electronica that plagues many of today’s top 40s songs. In a few of their other songs they even add an acoustic sound.

Panic is Perfect is name I personally hope to see popping up a little more in the coming year. They do a great job of creating a progressive sound without ruining it with overpowering electronic elements. Their upcoming EP is set to be released in mid 2015, and it is one that I’m looking forward to listening to.

Diana Krall – Wallflower

When I was given the opportunity to review Diana Krall’s latest album, Wallflower, I already had an idea of what I was getting into. Other than knowing that she is married to rock legend Elvis Costello, I remembered that she played piano accompaniment on my hero Paul McCartney’s mostly standards album, Kisses on the Bottom. Sure enough, that was exactly the tone that Wallflower had, consisting entirely of jazz twists on classic pop songs such as “Superstar” by the Carpenters and the titular “Wallflower” by Bob Dylan, and that was also its greatest downfall. At least McCartney’s album featured two lukewarm McCartney originals to break through the clutter, and even though he recorded the album at age 69, he sounded nowhere near as bad as Krall does on this album. Try to imagine Norah Jones with a perpetual cold and a limited vocal range; that’s what Diana Krall sounds like. Not even vocal cameos by Michael Bublé and Bryan Adams could save this clunker of an album. The only song that could be considered a standout track, and I say this only because I am an ardent fan of the original version, is her cover of “I Can’t Tell You Why” by the Eagles. Other than this, I would not recommend this album to anybody with taste. Listen to Norah Jones instead; at least she writes some of her own stuff. 3 out of 10 stars.

–Jacob Wiseman

Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues

Punch Brothers new album The Phosphorescent Blues was absolutely fantastic. The Punch Brothers a five-piece bluegrass acoustic band featuring Chris Thile, a Macarthur Fellow who received the grant of $500 thousand just to continue playing the mandolin. The album opens with “Familiarity,” a ten-minute tour de force showing off Thile’s absolute mastery of his instrument. The rest of the album does not lack anything as well. On “Passepied,” there are no lyrics, which really highlights Thile’s amazing ability to compose for a more classical pallet as well. With “Boll Weevil,” the mood switches to a more bluegrass almost country feel, where most of the lyrics are harmonized and there is a lot of interplay with the instruments. Overall I think anyone with ears should check out the Punch Brothers, especially this album, The Phosphorescent Blues.

Dolly Spartans- Self Titled

Dolly Spartans is an indie rock band that has vibes of The Strokes, Morning Benders and post punk indie pop. The album itself has a pretty eclectic mix of songs and garners sounds from garage rock to jangle pop but at the core it all still holds to the influence from the Strokes with it’s lead singers droneing voice and the loud guitar riffs and slapdash drumming. The songs are easy to sing along to and easy to get into. it’s really good driving music for when your alone and wanna jam out like an insane person. The track Don’t Be Sad is a highlight of the album it’s just all along catchy get stuck in our head material. I’d rate the album a solid six out of ten it is nothing special but it is definitley some good tunage. They have potential to be a pretty good rock outfit and I am pretty intrested in seeing what they come out with in the future.