Category Archives: Album Reviews

Album reviews by WQAQ staffers

Aer- “Aer” (2014)

So, here I am, writing my one required album review for the semester. I figured I’d go out of my comfort zone and review something that isn’t rock. WHAT TODD? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING THAT ISN’T ROCK?! Yes, yes I did. So, here it is: my album review for Aer’s self titled album “Aer”, which is in the genre of…god help me……RAP.

Ok, so I actually like Aer a lot (I’ve seen them twice in the course of less than a year. Don’t judge). Having said this, I wanted to view the album critically and constructively, to try and see it from a diff……Oh what the hell I am saying? I listened to this album fully expecting the typical Aer sound. I got it and then some.

Every song on this wonderfully crafted album reeks of groove, supa hot fire lyrics and a hell of a lot of swag. Songs like “I’m With It” hook you in with a catchy groove and then Carter and Dave shell out some serious lines. “Whatever We Want” should be the new ‘I’m with my crew and we don’t give a damn’ theme. And don’t get me started on “Sincerely”. This song was the first song I heard off the album a couple of months back and I knew from this one song that the entire album would be nothing less than perfect. Carter Schultz and Dave von Mering, you make me proud to be part of the Fresh Aer Movement.

So, my final thoughts on this album? If you don’t buy it, you are doing it wrong. VERY WRONG.

Hope by Manchester Orchestra

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.

TTNG (This Town Needs Guns) live at The Space 11/5

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 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, 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.

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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.

The Venomking

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.

Matt Greene “Shades of Greene” Mixtape Review

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.

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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.