CD Reviews: Get blown away by STS9s Peaceblaster
Peaceblaster, 1320 Records Lets face it, STS9 is a live band, known for their boisterous live shows that some fans cross several states to see. So bottling a sound and style of music that holds up so well live, and is in fact created for live performances, is damn near an impossible feat; but somehow they pull it off yet again on their fourth studio release, Peaceblaster.This band of five yes, you can actually call them a band since the members play real instruments around the heavy electronic production has created an ode to both sides of Americas coin: Its collective goodness and rampant corruption. The mood of the album is dark and gloomy at first as STS9 explores the back alleys of society through sound. Suddenly things shift and the mood soars upward to the clouds where a bright and pure sun beats down on all mankind.While most of Peaceblaster sounds like its designed to keep the listener in a perpetual trance (The Spectacle), there are moments on the album when the bands raw emotion breaks through the cloud cover. Beyond Right Now and Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist manifests anger through distorted guitar riffs over building synthesizers. When it comes to electronica, STS9 are at the top of their game and quite possibly the entire genre.Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Long Road, Compass Records Colorado string-man Drew Emmitt, best-known for his work in Leftover Salmon, is so embedded in the roots of acoustic music that no matter what he does play a cover of Supertramps Take the Long Way Home, say; or sprinkle drums and a Hammond B3 organ liberally through an album; or electrify his mandolin he never lands far from something traditional and familiar. Its easy to argue that Emmitt is best when he stays closest to old-school bluegrass; the version of his Gold Hill Line here rips, and aside from the drums, its all acoustic. But the reggae lilt and organ lines to Beat of the World, or the rocking electric guitar solo on Take the Highway add a texture that makes Long Road accessible to a far wider audience.Stewart Oksenhorn, Aspen Times
Fleet Foxes, Sub Pop Fleet Foxes is what would have happened if The Beach Boys had abandoned surf music after their first album, bought a shack in the Appalachian Mountains, and lived and recorded there for the rest of their days.The Seattle bands self-titled debut is a carefully arranged, beautifully cohesive study in folk, pop and lonely songwriting, spanning jangly drums on Ragged Wood to drifty odes on Oliver James.There has been a slow-moving wave of new folk records in the last three or so years, all of varying quality, often with better production than theyll take credit for. Fleet Foxes takes full advantage of its Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill) engineering and Sub Pop backing, fleshing out single-voice vamps on White Winter Hymnal with summery vocal harmonies and tambourines. It sounds like The Shins (also produced by Ek), if The Shins spent a lot more time reading.The first three tracks on Fleet Foxes cover upwards of five decades of distinctly American music. They ease you into the world the band creates for itself, where poetry and pastoral art are held in equal regard with sunny harmonies and occasional hi-hat rockouts. Its complex without being difficult and better than anything else out of the baroque pop haze.Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
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