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Posts tagged "II"

Weekly Release Spotlight: Mikal Cronin

Posted on 5/20/2013


Mikal Cronin


Mikal Cronin is a man of contradictions. Lyrically, his songs will bounce between the desire for closure and the insecurity of his motives, or the pleasure of solitude but the fear of loneliness and isolation.  Musically, he spent the majority of 2012 playing bass for the Ty Segall Band, laying down a wall of fuzz for festival goers and simultaneously scaring the living hell out of talk show crowds (their Dave Letterman performance is especially chaotic/incredible). However, Cronin also shows a deep affinity for pop music, going so far as to record ukulele covers of the Proclaimers and Sixpence None the Richer. But despite his highly diverse and scattered musical pedigree, Cronin’s newest record is a terrific showcase of his talents as a songwriter and musical arranger, and is easily one of the most cohesive records to come out of the West Coast garage rock scene in recent years.

The most striking element of this record is how universal Cronin’s lyrical themes are, despite their highly personal nature. He gives the listener a full scope into his troubles and desires, but at no point does it feel alienating or difficult. His life may be on display with this record, but his problems are easily relatable. His music provides the perfect backdrop for his confessional lyricism, blending elements of 1970s power pop, ‘90s grunge, and West Coast garage rock, but with a keen understanding of arranging and layering. Cronin shows distinct confidence and mastery with instrumentation, giving each track the perfect amount of tension and release.

Recently, Adult Swim included one of Cronin’s tracks, “Better Man”, on their newest garage rock compilation, Garage Swim, a collection of unreleased garage rock tracks from bands like Bass Drum of Death, Thee Oh Sees, and King Tuff. Cronin’s inclusion is intriguing. Although the garage scene he’s affiliated with heavily influences his music, his songs have more in common with Blue Album-era Weezer than they do Black Lips or Ty Segall. Those who are expecting another entry into the West Coast garage rock canon with Mikal Cronin’s new album may want to look elsewhere. Sure, this album can get heavy, but that’s not the point. MCII relies more on the power of Cronin’s arranging than it does his fuzz pedal, and listeners will be more inclined to sing their hearts out than bang their head to this record. With MCII, Cronin turns his contradictions into choruses and has made one of the standout records of 2013.

Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer



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Tags: Radio K Weekly Release Spotlight Mikal Cronin MCII

Weekly Release Spotlight: Blue Hawaii

Posted on 3/25/2013


Blue Hawaii

[Arbutus Records]

Montreal’s Arbutus Records has pumped out another act to drool over. Blue Hawaii has released their second album, Untogether. This sophomore attempt is a bit of a diversion from their 2010 release, Blooming Summer, but still presents the compositional nature of fleeting cohesion and predictability with fluttering soundscapes that makes Untogether a much appreciated release.

This album certainly has it share of captivating moments. The album starts of with the track “Follow” which beckons the listener to do just that, as an apparition of a voice begins to come out of the feathery droplets of a dream like soundscape.   Listening to the bouncing beats and glossy waves of bass on the track “In Two” directly into the next track “In Two II” is possibly one of the better moments of the whole album, as it takes a very pleasing turn in tempo and accentuates the strengths of “In Two” to create an atmosphere fitting for many dancefloors.

Untogether is fine addition to 2013 and a wonderful statement from Arbutus Records that they are more than their most recent success. Additionally so, they will continue to produce entertaining acts such as Doldrums and Blue Hawaii to flesh out their sound to define their label, or so much as they care to admit. Blue Hawaii’s new album is an entertaining listen and worth several spins, as nothing is quite the same even after multiple run-throughs.

Written by Jerod Greenisen, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Blue Hawaii Untogether Weekly Release Spotlight

Weekly Release Spotlight: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Posted on 2/11/2013


Unknown Mortal Orchestra


The second record from psychedelic groove-rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra, titled II, finds the band moving into a more introspective and progressive sound from their stellar self-titled debut album in 2011, an album that showcased the band’s ability to churn out hazy grooves and catchy melodies drenched in a sea of reverb. Since their initial introduction into the indiesphere with their highly acclaimed first single “Ffunny Ffriends”, UMO have transformed into a band that is just as comfortable exploring the sonics of psychedelia as they are delving into dark lyrical material, and the new record shows they can combine the two without losing any of the listenability of their first album.
A theme of social alienation consists throughout the record, from the dark murky single “Swim and Sleep”, an exploration into the exhaustion of living, to the punky stomper “No Need For a Leader”, a song lyrically based around anarchy as utopia. Although II offers a heavier load of lyricism than it’s predecessor, the album loses none of the catchiness and groove of the debut, much of the vibe being rekindled on the sunny haze of “Faded In the Morning” or the laid-back pocket of lead track “From the Sun”.

Although the follow-up may not be as immediately satisfying as the debut, repeated listens prove this record to show a great deal of progression for the band as well as a much more succinct dexterity of sounds, rhythm, and groove. For fans of early Pink Floyd, Grizzly Bear or Foxygen, the newest record from UMO is a must-listen.

Written by Andy Engstrom, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: Unknown Mortal Orchestra II weekly release spotlight