Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ten Years Gone: Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

This entry is part of an ongoing series in where I take a look back at landmark films and albums released 10 years ago.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill may very well be the last great artistic statement that Ms. Hill will ever make. A series of bad decisions and unfortunate events have made a follow-up look less and less likely with each year. Think about that; it's 2008 and we have yet to receive a second studio album. Considering all the critical acclaim and commercial success, a sophomore album seemed inevitable. If a follow-up album were announced today, it would immediately become one of the most anticipated albums of the year, which says a lot for the quality of Miseducation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tilly and the Wall - "Chandelier Lake"

It's songs like this that remind me why Tilly and the Wall remain one of my favorite current bands going. You can call them cutesy or whatever, but their pop intuitions are nothing but serious business. While their latest album, o, doesn't have as many magical moments as their 2006 effort, Bottoms of Barrels, there is still plenty of that Tilly and the Wall charm to go around and the evolution of their sound will still make it worth your time. The first album, Wild Like Children, established their trademark sound, relying heavily on Jamie Presnall's tap dancing as the percussion and a minimal splattering of acoustic guitars, pianos and harmonies. Bottoms of Barrels, a top 10 album for me in '06, added a fuller sound, bringing more bottom and live drums to the mix. o sees Tilly and the Wall sounding more like a traditional rock band than it ever has, with its heavy use of distorted guitars and live drums on nearly every track. The tap dancing is still there, but it's no longer the backbone of the group. "Chandelier Lake" shows that they can still excite and remain unique with their expanded sound. It has all the elements that've made the group so beloved in the first place. Of course, the tap dancing is there, but what I've always loved about its use in the group is that it never comes off as gimmicky. The arrangements add to the music without taking too much attention away from the song, which is all you can ask for of any musician of any sort. And what would a great Tilly song be without twee harmonies and a sunny chorus? On paper, it may not seem any different than your average Tilly song, but the heavy guitars provide an exuberance and energy that hasn't been seen in their catalogue yet. It makes you smile, but instead of simply tapping your feet, it makes you want to bounce from side to side.

Tilly and the Wall - "Chandelier Lake"

To buy the CD, vinyl or MP3 of o from Insound, click here

Monday, August 11, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Monthly Muxtape: August 2008


1. Little Boots - "Stuck On Repeat"

The real euphoria kicks in during the first breakdown when we're left with just one steady synth and a fugue of background vocals. It steadily builds and you know where it's heading next. Another wave of bubbling synths will eventually come in along with the drumbeat, but the breakdown is extended for so long that it almost teases you, and when it finally comes together, you're reminded of how exhilarating dance pop can be when it's handled with a mature approach.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Adventures at Lollapalooza 2008

Welcome again to my Lollapalooza recap for 2008. Armed with two frozen water bottles a day and a small umbrella, I made my way back and forth across Grant Park in the scorching sun for all three days with a smile on my face. It was also a treat since Saturday was my birthday and I usually can't think of a better place to be than surrounded by good live music. Also, I apologize for the quality (or lack) of some of the pics for the first two days. Stupid ol' me, I didn't have the same settings that I used last year and didn't figure out how to zoom closer until late Saturday. D'oh!

Day 1 - Friday

Bang Camaro

These guys started the festival off for me with a ton of power and presence. They play heavy metal covers with a ridiculous amount of bombast and musicians. Twenty vocalists in a rock band sounds almost like a parody on paper, but Bang Camaro was quite the opposite. I didn't dare laugh, but bobbed my head instead. I really didn't expect them to be that good.