Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Week's Music: Yellowcard, The Strokes, Smoking Popes

When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes

Of all the Blink-182-inspired acts of the early 2000s, Yellowcard made the biggest splash. In less than a decade, the band has experienced both huge commercial success and the stresses that led to a two-year hiatus. On their fifth full-length, Yellowcard sounds renewed. They've ratcheted up the tempo and pushed Sean Mackin's violin back into the forefront. Though this is a clearly a nod to the band's early sound (it's hard not to think that Ryan Key is singing to longtime fans when he says, "Let me back in/Love me again" on the opening track), it doesn't feel like they're pandering to the past. Instead, "Say Yes" shows the band is continuing to hone its craft without losing track of its strengths.

For fans of: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy
Rating: 3 of 4

The Strokes

Before making "Angles," The Strokes had been broken up almost as long as they had been together. With the band members each filling the past five years with different projects, it's not surprising that "Angles" is all over the musical map. "Machu Picchu" dips into reggae, "You're So Right" is cold and robotic, and "Games" is filled with dreamy synths. Everything here is delivered with precision, from the live drums that sound like a drum machine to the guitars that sound like keyboards; only Julian Casablanca's sleepy and often-distorted vocals eschew the glossy production. Despite the strong execution, the tunes lack the emotional pull of the band's early records. The parts are all there, but somehow the whole is missing.  

For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, Interpol
Rating: 3 of 4

Smoking Popes
Wish We Were

Not many 40-year-old singers can deliver lines like "I don't want to go college/I don't wanna be another puppet of the man" without sounding like an idiot. But Josh Caterer is no average singer. Since the early '90s, he's found a way to mix punk rock with Sinantra-style crooning. He uses "Wish We Were" to relive his teenage years--chasing unrequited love ("Wish You Were"), mortgaging his future ("College"), and sleeping on stranger's floors ("Punk Band"). Even though the record is a tongue-in-cheek look at high school drama (the vocals on "Diary of a Teen Tragedy" are straight out of "The Wonder Years"), the songs are seriously catchy. I can't stop singing "I want to come out to the show with you tonight/But I've got mono, I've got mono."

For fans of: Green Day, The Ramones
Rating: 3 of 4

1 comment:

Lindsay M. said...

Yo Spencer. I love reading your music stuff. So cool all the interviews you do, and I love the reviews and concert recaps (since I'm lame and don't get out). I'm an editor for and we're starting a new segment about local entertainment, "Flicks, Pics and Other Diversions." We're looking for contributors and I immediately thought of you. If you're interested, e-mail me or message me through Facebook.