Hope by Manchester Orchestra was released on September 16, 2014 and is one of the best albums I have heard in a while. You may think to yourself, “oh this album only has acoustic versions of the songs on Cope, it can’t be anything special,” but that is where you are wrong. I was expecting the same thing, just some normal acoustic recordings, but nothing of significance, but I have learned to never EVER doubt Manchester Orchestra. They are not just any acoustic recordings with an acoustic guitar and softer vocals, they have so much more to them. In songs such as See It Again you hear extra soft vocals in the background that send chills up your arms, and if chills up your arms are not enough for you then you can move on to songs such as All That I Really Wanted. During this song there are more string instruments added which sound like violins and possibly cellos, which will ultimately send chills down your spine, which will hopefully be enough. If you make the mistake of just listening to Cope and not Hope by Manchester Orchestra, I do feel sorry for you and send my deepest apologies for the heavenly music that your ears are so unfortunately missing.
The chance to see TTNG, the infamous math rock pioneers from the United Kingdom, in itself was something special. But to see them at an intimate venue such as The Space only heightened the experience. Having missed them last November when they made a stop in Hamden, I marked the date when I learned TTNG would be touring back to the U.S. I was also lucky enough to have tickets for the show gifted to me by my girlfriend, Ashleyann Silva, for my birthday. Let’s just say I didn’t need any alternative motivations to get excited for this show.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with the one man band that is Henry Kohen, under the monicker Mylets. Hailing from Los Angeles, Kohen provided a captivating performance, highlighted by several layered guitar parts live with a loop pedal and triggered analog samples, while delivering angst-ridden confessions over top. Following Mylets was Emma Ruth Rundle, another solo act. In a long black dress, and a floral crown, Rundle sang emotionally over effected electric guitars, delivering ballads of love and loss. Henry Tremain, singer-bassist-guitarist of TTNG, stood idly on the side of the stage, eating a banana, and singing along to his label-mates’ songs in between bites.
The openers set the stage for TTNG, literally, as they helped the band set up. Once all the pedal boards were in place, amps were warmed up, guitars were tuned, and drums were tightened, TTNG exploded into their track “Gibbon” from their 2009 release, Animals. The onlooking crowd began to shout along with Tremain, “Once more in to breaches I cannot gap. One more chance to second guess your thoughts. My friends said that you would be a tough nut to crack. Come back lets settle this up…”
They then proceeded into their version of a “hit single” in “Cat Fantastic” from their 2013 release 188.8.131.52.0. The dense crowd began to move with Tremain and the Collins brothers, drummer Chris and guitarist Tim, as they bobbed along to the complex time signatures and tempo swings that are signatures of TTNG.
The band played a diverse setlist, crossing their discography effortlessly and gracefully. A major high point of the show was when TTNG debuted a new song. The track, consistent in style and complexity, mirrored that of the work on both Animals and 184.108.40.206.0, while Tremain sang in falsetto melodies. This song is only another reason to be excited that the power-trio from Oxford is releasing new material in the near future.
Tremain sparked fans excitement when he doused himself in both a bass guitar and an electric guitar at the same time. Throughout the song Tremain would alternate between the two necks, much like how one would play a double-neck guitar, filling in bass parts when needed and dueling Tim Collins in guitar parts at other times.
Tremain’s amazing feat stole the show. As did his banter with the crowd between songs. One fan labeled him as “Banana Man” for his earlier side stage antics. Tremain and the Collins brothers also went back in forth with the sound engineer several times to ensure their audio was just right.
TTNG closed their set with “If I Sit Still, Maybe I’ll Get Out of Here” from their 2008 self-titled EP. The crowd rejoiced and sang along to the timeless chorus, “Yesteryear still rings in my ear. Like buttons and pins this mess we’re in dissolves in time.” To say that TTNG’s performance was the best I’ve seen in an intimate setting would be an understatement. The trio blew myself, as well as the rest of the crowd, away with their deceivingly full sound and playful stage presence. Hopefully we’ll get a new record from the lads soon, until then we’ll have to settle for their near studio-quality live renditions, and goofy Facebook posts.
I chose to review The Venomking, who is a pop/hip hop artist out of Norway. The two songs featured were entitled “My Brother, My Friend” and “Light Up”. I found that both of these songs had a good background beat, definitely more on the pop side, mixed with lyrics that were more characteristic of hip hop and rap.
The first song, My Brother My Friend, incorporated female background vocals that played really well off the males hip.hop style lyrics. It reminded me greatly of “Where’d You Go” by Fort Minor. This song focused largely on questioning why people take recreational drugs when they know how deadly they are. The slow beat and light female vocals played well with the sadness incorporated within the melody, as his brother, his friend is now gone. This contrasted with the harsher words of the VenomKing who although sad, was also angered that his friend was gone. Overall, i enjoyed the song a lot.
The second song, Light Up, was entirely about smoking weed and absolutely nothing else, which is cool if thats the kind of song you’re looking for, but there was no depth to the song at all. The beat was good but the lyrics were not very dynamic, there was a lot of repetition with little variation between any of the rhymes. I expected a little more after hearing the first song which had a lot more dimensions than this one, but this song was still pretty good for what it is.
The best rappers of the digital era have started with mixtapes: Wayne, Wiz, Mac, Cole, and Greene. Matt Greene has dropped his debut mixtape entitled “Shades of Greene”, a clever play on his last name.
The young gun from Middletown, New Jersey, got his introduction into music through the pianos and drums, then found a love for hip hop. That love grew into passion as Greene began to write rhymes of his own.
“I just have rhythm,” Greene said after recalling how he was able to play the drums the first time he ever sat down at a set. Greene’s rhythm is evident in his voice, which moves in a deep tone across some familiar beats. Greene borrowed beats from J. Cole, Logic, and Phoenix to name a few, a diverse collection of background music that accents his clear articulation through the 13 tracks.
Greene’s talents are particularly on display on the track “Drift Away” where he raps over a smooth Pretty Lights production. His creativity and flow over the beat help to showcase his lyricism, which is exceptional for a first mixtape. Some thematic elements Greene used were inspiration, dreaming, and nostalgia.
Greene also performs with the group Off Top, a compilation of Greene, Gnarly Nonsense, Parker Caexar and Eric Foster. They’ve performed two shows in New Jersey in the past few months and are planning to book more in the upcoming future.
Needless to say Greene’s voice is going to take him far in the hip hope game. Central Jersey is starting to develop a solid underground rap scene, and its safe to say Greene is on the forefront. His local following has helped his mixtape already to reach over 3,000 people through his Facebook. You can listen to Shades of Greene on his Bandcamp.
As a lifelong fan of Weezer, it’s safe to say that I was thrilled to be reviewing the latest album from the group, but at first, I took that thrill with a grain of salt. After all, the more recent albums by the group have been lackluster, to say the least, and there has been a real desire to hear this group touch upon their roots is something that the dedicated fan base of Weezer has wanted since the mid 2000’s.
After the release of their singles, “Back to the Shack,” and, “Cleopatra,” fans of Weezer were yearning to hear what the rest of this album had in store, hoping that the band had continued to give the fans that classic sound that they have been waiting to hear. Well, I can assure everyone that this album definitely lives up to the hype.
“Everything Will Be Alright in the End,” is an album that successfully combines everything we know and love about Weezer, with a few fresh additions. Fans of the band will certainly be thrilled to know that this album carries a nostalgic essence of the Weezer’s style during the 1990’s. The album, (which was produced by Ric Ocasek, the brains behind Weezer’s, “Blue,” and, “Green,” albums), brings back the lovable lyrics and catchy grooves that made their first albums so memorable, along with a few interesting vocal collaborations between the group and the band Best Coast’s, Bethany Cosentino. The album is also filled with the trademark quirky guitar solos that only a mind like Rivers Cuomo can think of. I will admit that the three songs in the middle section of the album, (following, “Lonely Girl), seem to fall victim to a tedious use of chord progression, an issue that was present at the ending section of, “The Green Album.” Nonetheless, this is only a minor issue, as the rest of the album certainly makes up for this section.
It’s certainly a refreshing site to see an iconic band pay homage to old style, and create an album that makes the listeners remember why they fell for that band in the first place, and this is an act that Weezer executes perfectly on this album. My personal favorites are, “Lonely Girl,” and, “Foolish Father,” but that’s only a fraction of what this album has in store. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I STRONGLY suggest that you do so, because you will not regret it at all.
Overall Score: 9/10