Album Review: St. Lucia – When The Night

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St. LuciaWhen The Night
Columbia Records
Release Date – October 8th, 2013

Recommended if you like: Peter Gabriel, Ghost Beach, Charli XCX

Some songs have a way of sticking with you in an indescribable way. The first time you listen to the opening of St. Lucia’s single “Elevate,” odds are you had that feeling, too. Was it the opening synth riff? Was it the incredible bass line peaking its head out during the verses? Was it the huge gang vocals singing the chorus at the end of the song? Whatever it was for you, the catchiness of this lead single was unbelievable. After hearing this song and a handful of others on previous EPs, excitement exuded about the full release coming out.

What tends to happen when an EP precedes a full release is that the previously released tracks are the best ones on the album. While this is certainly not a new thing to do to artists releasing their major label debut, it’s an unfortunate one for previous fans.

This review should not be read as a disappointment towards St. Lucia, but comes as somewhat of a warning to returning fans expecting an album full of brand new songs. While the old songs like “Closer Than This” and “We Got It Wrong” continue to sound terrific, unfortunately the new songs have a harder time sticking their landing.

It would not be surprising to hear some of these songs take off on Top 40 radio, especially with the backing of a major label as strong as Columbia. With someone as talented as Jean-Philip Grobler, he certainly deserves all the attention he can garner. While this debut release has its hits and misses, the hits are most certainly grand slams.

You can order the album on Amazon. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Song of the Week: John Mayer’s “Wildfire”

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“Wildfire”
John MayerParadise Valley
Columbia Records

If you ask John Mayer, he’s a completely changed man. After a throat injury that nearly ended his career, he has a new found respect and love the for the art of singing and songwriting. “I don’t drink really anymore. I warm up before I sing. I warm down,” he says in an interview with the Associated Press. “I do whatever I can. I don’t want to lose that part of my life again.”

Mayer strikes gold with the release of his new album Paradise Valley and starts it off with “Wildfire.” The upbeat song welcomes you to the new sound he brings to the table. Part country, part blues, this song showcases Mayer’s carefully cared for vocals and his always impressive guitar playing. This song is sure to leave you tapping your foot and the rest of the record will remind you of why John Mayer is one of our generation’s greatest songwriters.

You can download the song for FREE below.

You can also download John Mayer’s newest album on iTunes or Amazon, as well as like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

FREE DOWNLOAD

(To download song, right click link and select “Save Link As…”)

Album Review: Little Comets – Life is Elsewhere

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Little CometsLife is Elsewhere
Dualtone Records
Release Date – August 20th 2013

Recommended if you like: Ra Ra Riot, Cold War Kids, Hockey

Remember last year when you saw that video of a random band playing a one guitar version of “Somebody That I Used To Know” on YouTube? Almost 153 million people have seen that video, and thought it was one of the coolest videos they had ever seen on the internet. But well before that, way back in 2010, an odd little band from Newcastle, England did the same thing with an original song of their own. Despite being nearly 3 years old, the video’s view count pales in comparison to the former, racking up just over half a million views. That band is Little Comets, and they are following in a line of tremendous releases from the great people at Dualtone Records. Having originally released in their homeland back in October 2012, Life is Elsewhere is receiving its American release on August 20th while being welcomed by a coast to coast headlining tour.

In what sounds like something out of a sitcom, a Cambridge graduate, a particle physicist, and a sailor make up the trio that is Little Comets. The band was once signed by Columbia Records in 2008, but was released in 2010 before even releasing their first album. Now on their second record, Little Comets is doing their best to show everyone their unabashed joy for producing music that makes you move and think simultaneously.

From the opening of the album, the tremendous guitar playing is showcased in addition to lead singer Robert Coles’ quirky yet intriguing vocals. The first single “Jennifer” is sure to catch your attention. The song lyrically sings of a terribly timid girl in an uncommunicative relationship, but musically makes you want to dance around belting out the chorus. Despite it’s incredibly upbeat and Peter Gabriel-esque production, the song may be at its best when it is stripped down to show the trio’s remarkable harmonies.

To be honest, there is not a track that misses a beat on this record. Listening to song after song, you cannot help but bob your head, follow along with the cruising bass lines, and sing along in your best falsetto voice harmony. Whether it’s the heartbreaking balled “Violence Out Tonight,” or the nearly obtuse dance tune “Worry,” these songs reaches an entire spectrum of dance rock songs that you will never hear anywhere else.

What makes these songs so fantastic is perhaps not just the music, but the depth of the lyrical content as well. “A Little Opus” is a song about the restraints of old scholarly institutions in British society. “Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night” sings about the inevitable demise of a mortal relationship. “In Blue Music We Trust” is a personal song that thematically explores impending fatherhood and the simplistic beauty of familial attachment.

After the first listen of Life is Elsewhere, you might find yourself questioning how this odd collection of tunes could ever stay in your iTunes library. Give it another chance. By the time you’ve heard this record 3 or 4 times, you’ll begin to question why you ever consider disposing of it.

You can order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Song of the Week: St. Lucia’s “Elevate”

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“Elevate”
St. LuciaElevate – Single
Columbia Records / Neon Gold

A quick Google search of “St. Lucia” will offer you some terrific vacation spots for the small Caribbean Island that is part of the Lesser Antilles. Although not a St. Lucia native, the Johannesburg born songwriter Jean-Philip Grobler draws his inspiration from childhood vacations to the beautiful tropical island. Grobler’s St. Lucia has taken off very rapidly, with a slot at Lollapalooza on Saturday August 3rd (as well as an aftershow slot at the Lincoln Hall), and a new album coming out October 8th with the support of Columbia Records.

There’s no better way to try and describe St. Lucia’s music than by listening to the latest single, “Elevate.” With a tremendous amount of 80s pop influence, St. Lucia refines the once comical sound into a dance inducing popular sound that is quickly coming back. Grobler’s soaring vocals show off his remarkable range and provide a catchy melody from start to finish.

With a history of starting the careers of artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding, St. Lucia has set themselves up very well by choosing Neon Gold to help them release their debut album.

You can download the song for FREE below.

You can also download St. Lucia’s most recent EP on iTunes or Amazon, as well as like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

FREE DOWNLOAD

(To download song, right click link and select “Save Link As…”)

Album Review: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

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The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars
Columbia Records
August 6th 2013

Recommended if you like: Ingird Michaelson, Sleeping At Last, The Lumineers

Most people are a little disappointed when a band releases a self-titled album. The title of an album often provides an opportunity for the artist to give some added subtext, what best encapsulates the essence of what the album is really about. On the surface, some may see The Civil Wars’ new release as a self-titled album. At the core of it, however, this album title could not be more appropriate.

No one expected the immense amount of success The Civil Wars received with the release of their debut album Barton Hollow in early 2011. Except for maybe Charlie Peacock, way back in January 2010. Nevertheless, the simplistic music that consists almost exclusively of John Paul White’s guitar, Joy Williams’ piano, and their vocals makes for some of the most heart wrenching music your ears have ever had the luxury of hearing. In a matter of months, the duo exploded; on their first national tour they were playing 500 capacity venues, and in January of 2012 they sold out the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Barton Hollow went on to make countless “Best of 2011” lists as well as winning two Grammy Awards for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

All of this success came at a price, however. In November 2012, the duo announced they would be taking a hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Mourning quickly ensued as droves of fans worried that The Civil Wars were finished forever. Yet despite all the uncertainty of the future of the band, a new single was released and hopes were once again raised that all was well with Williams and White.

In an interview by the Associated Press, we hear from Joy Williams that she and John Paul are not speaking and that producer Charlie Peacock spoke loosely on his behalf for the interview. With all of this in mind, the songs provide a deeper meaning into the songwriting and singing that came together for this new album.

You can feel a sense of regret and hurt in Williams’ voice that sets the tone for the entire record when she opens with the lyrics, “I never meant to get us in this deep, I never meant for this to mean a thing. I wish you were the one, wish you were the one that got away.” The same intensity is felt in the lyrics of “Same Old Same Old” as the duo harmoniously sings, “I wanna miss this, I want a heartache. I wanna run away, but I won’t. ‘Do I love you? Oh, I do. And I’m going to ‘til I’m gone. But if you think that I can stay in this same old, same old, well, I don’t. Oh I don’t wanna fight, but I’ll fight with you, If I have to.”

From a musical standpoint, you will definitely notice the additional instrumentation such as drums, electric guitar, mandolin, and even some sampled beats. In the stand out song “Dust to Dust,” the sampled drums and bass line help to drive the song and seem to bring a new spark to the band’s sound. The electric guitar in “I Had Me A Girl” and “Oh Henry” provide a strong backbone to Williams and Jones’ otherwise bare vocals.

While the album is loaded with strong songs like “The One That Got Away,” “From This Valley,” and “Tell Mama,” the two final songs seem to bring out a different tone. “Sacred Heart” is sung entirely in French, and although it is a gorgeous song, its joyous sound seems to stick out on a record filled with dark and heartbreaking songs. “D’Arline” feels like a bit of an afterthought thrown on last minute with its production feeling a little off and the guitar playing is fairly distracting.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to know whether this album will be given the opportunity to be performed live, or if there will ever be a follow up. Williams sums up her feelings on the state of the duo quite well as she says in her interview, “What I’ve noticed is people may be curious about it, but once they listen to it, they are hooked. … It’s so honest and it’s so rich and, not to toot my own horn, I’m just really proud of what we created together. And we created it together — we just happened to be in a bit of a civil war ourselves.”

You can stream the album for free starting today via iTunes. You can order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.