For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
The Young Veins – Take a Vacation! (2010)
This is a Panic! at the Disco off-shoot. These guys wanted to have more retro rock material while the rest of Panic wanted to have more dance-oriented music. Of the two, I like this retro rock more. It sounds very ’60s despite being released 40 years later. But they’ve had less success. They just released this one album, decided they’d done all they set out to do and went on indefinite hiatus. A no-hit wonder perhaps, but the album is good.
These guys remind me of a mix between Gold Motel and The Coral. Gold Motel have an innocent, early ’60s, jangly feel while The Coral have an early ’70s psychedelic thing going on. Some of The Young Veins’ songs feel a little psychedelic (like Everyone But You), but for the most part feel like the best kind of almost-generic oldies radio stuff. I think a lot of people would, without any other information, assume these guys are an oldies band. And I think I know some people who would lie to fit in and say that their dad listened to this stuff and they remember listening to these guys in high school.
I think, like Wolfmother, they do a great job of honoring their musical influences without necessarily copying them. The Young Veins have a Beach Boys kind of feel. Or maybe an American early/mid-career Beatles feel. But both of those aren’t quite right.
I feel like I don’t have a lot of specifics to say about a lot of these songs. Cape Town was my favorite. Especially the chorus. But all of the songs are just good. Or really good. There really are no lowlights.
Maybe this record only deserves a 3/5, but it made me want to make music. Maybe it just reminded me of the music that made want to start playing in the first place. But I’m giving this a 4/5. It makes me sad that they just did this one album and were done.
The Black Keys – Brothers (2010)
Again, Tim shares The Black Keys.
I had heard Tighten Up before. And I think it’s pretty typical of the album. It kind of has this dirty soul thing going on. But I hadn’t really listened to this album before. My first real introduction to the band was El Camino. And I think I like that album more than this one. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen this album floating around for the last five years and there’s been some … maybe not hype, but at least big expectations built up. Both weeks there was just one other suggestion. With El Camino, I liked it more than the Sleigh Bells album. But I prefer The Young Veins to this.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this album just fine. I’m just trying to be honest about my biases. Now for some specifics.
I think my favorite tracks were Next Girl, Howlin’ for You, and especially Unknown Brother. Everlasting Light was pretty good too. And I think Too Afraid to Love You sounded like it could have been a Doors song.
My only complaint against She’s Long Gone was that it felt long, even though it was only three minutes. Actually Black Mud felt the same way, and it’s a minute shorter. At least with Black Mud I can be specific and say that it just didn’t feel like it had much of anything going on. The Only One was relatively long and slow, but it felt better than those others.
I didn’t really like The Go Getter. It just felt a little too noisy and not well put together. But that was the only real lowlight. It was disappointing that Never Gonna Give You Up wasn’t the cover I was expecting, but it wasn’t bad. Although, instead of fuzz guitar licks, I think it could have used some bari sax.
So I gave this a 3/5.
The Hippos – Heads are Gonna Roll (1999)
I shared this album partly because the skinny kid fixing his tie on the cover is one of the producers behind Charli XCX’s Sucker and Haim’s Days are Gone (two albums which Chris has shared) – Ariel Rechtshaid. And partly because it’s an album that reminds me of summer. Sometimes nostalgia is a wistful longing for the past. I fully admit that in the case of this album, I may be remembering it more fondly than it deserves.
And speaking of the cover, except for Ariel, this is a fairly faithful homage to The Animals’ debut album. Although what good knowing that does is beyond me. These guys and this record sound nothing like The Animals.
This gets lumped in with the third wave of ska, although there are very few songs that have that signature ska feel. Thinking is the most obvious, but Struggling has it on the chorus and Pollution does a little as well. Far Behind does as well, but it’s actually a re-working of a song off their first album. Thinking probably wouldn’t stand out to me at all, but it does have my favorite opening line of any song I can think of.
And Struggling is my least favorite on the album, but I’m not sure I can tell you exactly why. It might have something to do with the weird synths and the minor verses, but I’m really not sure. I just don’t like it. But actually, this album is rather synth/keys heavy and it mostly doesn’t bother me.
Some of my favorite songs are on the back half of the album: The Sand, Paulina, He Said. They’re just different songs. The whole album is kind of quirky, and I think those three songs are, if not typical of the album, at least good reminders of staying on your toes when writing (and listening to) music and not getting in a rut. And if for nothing else, this album deserves a listen for that reason.
Here’s what my friends thought:
“Lost It – This is good. Why haven’t I listened to this before? I know I’ve looked for other ska bands, but not so much since I’ve started using spotify. Youtube and Pandora didn’t have any Hippos.
Wasting My Life – This sounds like a more ska-oriented Smash Mouth. Very good.
Thinking – I had to restart it to hear the best opening line of any song. I’m not sure I agree, but its a good line.
Always Something There – I think they should have sped this up more. I like the original song better, sadly. They did a nice job but I think it would do better with a higher energy tempo. There was unfulfilled potential here.
Paulina – this ones fun in a bit of a silly way.
I really liked this album. It reminds me a bit of a local ska band I know that really plays a whole lot of stuff other than ska…” 4.8/5 – Spencer
I think Spencer was referring to Viewers Like You, the band that he and I are in together, although The Hippos don’t really remind me of VLY. If you’d like to share your thoughts on The Hippos, or whatever else, you can do so in the comments below.
“I’m beginning to think Paul keeps sharing Ska albums because he is bound determined to change my mind about Ska. Or he just likes messing with me. But this album was something a bit different. You can hear the Ska influences, and several songs just grated on my nerves, but overall it was a transitional album. It felt like some band members still wanted to do Ska, while others wanted more pop/rock. The result was an interesting blend of music. It started kind of weak for me, but the middle was great, before weakening again for the close. I rarely call out individual songs, but the cover for Always Something There to Remind Me was particularly good. Overall it gets 3 stars (and hopefully appeased the Paul). :-)” – Tim
I do like messing with Tim, but I share ska because I enjoy it. I know it’s not for everybody. There’s not one album where I absolutely love every song. But I’m also trying to share a variety within the genre.