CD reviews (November – December 2012)
Reviewed by Sydney Sellers
17, Windward School
I’ve been a Fiona Apple fan since I was 13. Her music has always intrigued me because of her ability to combine compelling melodies with personal lyrics. There isn’t a songwriter today who is as talented as Apple. Her fourth album The Idler Wheel … (the full title is 23 words long) is brilliant. She blends many musical styles including blues, jazz and folk to create a unique sound. The album is not an easy listen; it is an intense journey into an artist’s mind. But after I listened to it a few times I realized it was genius.
The dazzling first track “Every Single Night” made me understand her struggle to cope with everyday life. She sings, “Every single night’s a fight/ With my brain.” These lyrics made me realize that she was unsure about her fragile frame of mind and made me feel like I knew her on a deeper level.
The album has lighter moments. “Anything We Want” remembers a past relationship with spirited drum music. Apple sings, “I kept touching my neck/ To guide your eye to where I wanted you to kiss me.” The song has a playful attitude, which I liked because it lightened the tone of the album.
In my favorite track, “Hot Knife,” Apple and her sister sing to the beat of drums. Lyrics like “If I’m butter, then he’s a hot knife” made me feel the intensity of the relationship. The song is beautiful and has superb harmonies.
The Idler Wheel … is complex and sometimes unsettling. However, it is brilliant, and for a glimpse into the mind of an artist, no recent album compares.
Reviewed by Nicholas Robinson
17, Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts
As someone who has played video games since I was little, a band like I Fight Dragons, which creates songs using the melodies of my childhood, is perfect for me.
I Fight Dragons use guitar, bass, drums and keyboard, but they also program Nintendo GameBoys, video game controllers and game consoles to create notes similar to the low-quality sounds from old video games. All these elements are part of an obscure genre known as chiptune. I discovered the band when a web comic I was reading linked to their cover of “Heart Of Life” by John Mayer. I loved it.
Most of I Fight Dragons’s songs on Kaboom! use a common idea from a video game (saving the world or getting the princess) as the theme. But there’s always a deeper message. Take the song “cRaZie$.” It’s about zombies but when I listen to the lyrics “Whoa ho ho, there’s a body on the floor/ and the crazies/ the crazies/ are coming to life,” I hear a song dealing with the dangers of conformity.
Whenever I’m feeling like an outcast, I listen to songs like “My Way” or “The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth” and listen to the lyrics: “Well, I don’t give a damn about what they say/ I’m not here to save the day/ I may lose it but I’ll lose it my way.” When I hear these words, I’m ready to take on the world.
If you were like me and grew up playing video games, you can’t help but get tingles when you hear the classic start-up sound from a GameBoy. The combination of the powerful messages in the songs and those familiar video game sounds will keep you coming back for more.
Reviewed by Frank Gaspar
15, The School of Arts and Enterprise (Pomona)
When my friend recommended the band Dinosaurs on Mars!, I was surprised to learn that the lead singer, Steven Mucci, is a teacher at my school. After my friend played “A-Game” and “Pick It Up” for me, I was in awe of Mucci’s voice. He’s a younger teacher who gets along with students well, but I still didn’t know what to expect from the rest of the album. When I heard Mr. Mucci was selling CDs for $2, I bought one.
Dinosaurs on Mars! is an indie pop band that plays weird songs about love, aliens and zombies. On “Space Aliens Stole My Face,” a little green man roams the Earth and gives someone a laser gun to assassinate the president. I like this quirky song because the lyrics weren’t about feeling sad, like most of the music I listen to.
My favorite song is “Creepy Disaster.” It’s about someone falling in love, but then slowly becoming a zombie. “I’m looking for you, you’re feeling distressed/ You look in my eyes, but I’m deep in your flesh.” I like this song the most because it’s mysterious. When I listened to the song I couldn’t tell what the man was turning into. I thought it was a vampire. (Mr. Mucci later told me the man wanted flesh, not blood, making him a zombie.)
I like that every song is upbeat and fun. I’ve never heard anything like Dinosaurs on Mars! and I can’t wait to hear what Mr. Mucci’s band releases next.