CD reviews (May – June 2012)
Our staff writers recommend Of Monsters and Men, The Pretty Reckless and Foals.
Reviewed by Miguel Molina
18, Film & Theatre Arts Charter HS
The first time I heard “Little Talks” on the radio I thought it sounded fun. The song starts with a loud trumpet and the band yelling “Hey!” And then the female and male singers trade lines like a conversation.
I looked up the song and discovered that it was recorded by Of Monsters and Men, an Icelandic band. I got their album, My Head Is an Animal, and I liked all the songs. They remind me of Arcade Fire. The singers, Ragnar þórhallsson and Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, harmonize well, and the acoustic guitar makes them sound folksy.
“Dirty Paws” is an amazing song. It starts quietly, but then the drummer, keyboardist and guitarist start playing louder. I looked up the lyrics—they were funny. It is about a pet dragonfly that ran away and comes back to his owners telling them, “The story of the beast with those four dirty paws.” Music doesn’t have to be that serious, it can just be entertaining.
Their energetic song “Numb Bears” always makes me happy. The numb bears keep telling a person that she “could never make it there.” In the last line the person says, “But I’m already there,” proving the numb bears wrong. That is how life is——there are people who are going to say you will never make it and you have to show them that you can.
The acoustic guitars, accordion and trumpet on My Head Is an Animal are different from what you hear in most pop songs. I like to listen to the album at night because I fall asleep in a good mood.
Reviewed by Sareen Habeshian
16, AGBU Manoukian HS (Pasadena)
It’s rare for me to find music with a new sound, since radio has become too pop-oriented. So when I heard The Pretty Reckless, I was in love. They bring back rock n’ roll with a strong female lead, Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen, who belts out songs about cruelties of life in her edgy yet feminine voice.
The first track on Light Me Up, “My Medicine,” starts with a grungy sound, and when I hear Momsen take a breath, it feels as if she is next to me. Momsen has received a lot of heat for her racy outfits from the media. On “Light Me Up” she sings, “I don’t think I could be anything other than me,” revealing that she will stay true to who she is. I admire that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her.
It’s hard to pick but my favorite song is “Just Tonight.” It goes from a mellow rhythm to rage, making me want to scream and dance. In the song “Zombie” Momsen sings, “I’m not listening to you/ I am wandering right through existence/ With no purpose and no drive/ ‘Cause in the end we’re all alive, alive.” These lyrics show that at times we can become cynical and want to give up, but we always come out of the funk.
This album truly is, as Momsen says, “a record to confront your problems and get over them … It’s death, love, rock and roll, sex, drugs and religion; it covers all bases of life.” This album helped me get through rough times in the past few years while remaining hopeful and sane.
Reviewed by Sydney Chou
16, Sonora HS
I came across the British indie rock band Foals based on a recommendation from iTunes. When I listened to the song “Blue Blood,” which is on their second album Total Life Forever, I loved the funky beats so I got the album for my birthday.
I like songs with odd beats and it’s amazing how it seems like each band member has a different tempo but they stay together. My favorite song on the album is “Total Life Forever” because of its fun, bubbly rhythm.
Although it is hard to understand the lyrics on some songs because of their British accents, the song “Black Gold” adds meaningful lyrics to the cool beats. I only recently realized that singer Yannis Philippakis was describing how oil creates political conflicts worldwide. I respect this band more than others because they are addressing world problems instead of talking about picking up girls at a party.
Another song with great lyrics is “2 Trees.” Philippakis sings, “Help yourself, help the rest/ Inhale, exhale.” I like listening to this song while doing math homework because I feel like I am in a yoga class while trying to solve a difficult problem.
Total Life Forever includes a 48-second instrumental titled “Fugue” as the seventh track. I like this slow and relaxing song because it acts like a small break in the album as if it were a live performance.
Total Life Forever has a good mix of fast and slow songs, and funky beats that are so different from the predictive rhythms of popular music today.