January 23, 2006

January Listening Habits

I initially began composing this piece last Thursday evening, but instead wrote the Yellowcard review posted below. I'm quite glad that I did, as I think it turned out rather well. Thanks to all who read it and either posted a comment or contacted me directly. Your feedback is very helpful to me. Anyway, I wanted to spout random opinions about what I'd been listening to lately, so here's my opportunity.

I'm rather fond of We Are Scientists' debut album With Love and Squalor. It fuses the upbeat energy of Hot Hot Heat with the bigger sound of Phantom Planet (post-"California") to create a record worth blaring loudly from your speakers. I purchased it this evening and highly recommend that you do so as well. I've just recently started listening to Arctic Monkeys' debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. Pegged as "the next Oasis" in the UK, their brand of raw rock is catchy and amusing. It's set to release in the U.S. next month, though it'll be interesting to see whether they're as big here as they supposedly will be over there.

Matchbook Romance has been beaten nearly to death by the sophomore slump. Their new album Voices is a slow, boring affair. Only first single "Monsters" has much enthusiasm, but it's not indicative of the rest of the album. Their debut wasn't exactly a revelation, but it was quality screamo-pop that demanded multiple listens. In their attempt to flesh out the sound, they've lost the excitement that propelled much of their last album. The instrumentation is definitely a marked improvement, but it's just not enough.

Also slammed by the sophomore slump is Hawthorne Heights, but... well, they weren't so good in the first place. Their new album If Only You Were Lonely won't change any minds. I read a (negative) review of the album over at AbsolutePunk that claimed they had the potential to be the next My Chemical Romance. Certainly they'll be popular (they already are), but everything about the band just seems so paint-by-numbers. Both My Chemical Romance albums have been exhilirating listens, which is much more than I can say about Hawthorne Heights. Amusing tidbit: I went to school (from K-12, I think) with the guy who produced their debut. Good guy, great talent. Bad band, though. Not his fault.

British band Clearlake have just released their third album, Amber, and it's a very solid listen. They've somehow found the middle ground between Coldplay and Secret Machines. It's definitely worth looking into, though I've not spent that much time with it yet. Rocky Votolato's new album Makers comes out tomorrow. Votolato's acoustic rock recalls Ryan Adams, and to a much lesser extent, Dashboard Confessional. Seems worth checking out, though I've only heard it twice thus far. I've also given one listen each to the new albums from Mates of State and MC Lars... both sound fairly similar to their previous albums. Mates of State are a married couple that make way-too-cute indie rock, and MC Lars is a smartass with a laptop who drops rhymes about emo and iPods. I'll elaborate at another time if either captures much more of my attention.

As for 2005 tunes, I've been listening to Anberlin and Copeland, as well as David Ford. I may post a "Five More From 2005" type post later on this year where I'll honor five more albums from last year that I discovered a bit too later. If so, expect all three of those records on there. That's all for now. I have no clue what my next post will be about... I may buy an HDTV this week, so perhaps I'll glow a bit about that.