Thursday, January 10, 2013

Site News: Indefinite Hiatus

So I guess it doesn't go without much to say that I haven't been able to keep doing this. As much as I have enjoyed writing, and your readership, it's become painfully aware that I can't upkeep this among the other aspects of life I have right going on now.

Maybe I'll pick it up later, maybe it'll be left like this forever, maybe it'll fall into the public domain, I haven't decided yet.

Thanks to all that contacted me to review music, those who have read, and the artists that inspire me to listen to new music.

If anyone wants to contact me, you will still be able to contact me through dan@retroactivereview.com

So 'til next time...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Active - Nootropics by Lower Dens


So this is "Nootropics" by Lower Dens, their second studio album. This music can be classified as Nu Gaze. This genre is the continuation/offshoot of Shoe Gazing.

The album kicks off with "Alphabet Song", which starts off with a simple sounding drumbeat, then the synth joins in, and a minute into the song, the vocals finally come in. The song's vocals are clean, but with the genre, the verses are droning and forgettable, though the chorus does pick it up a little, it's not much to really say. The music is solid, the vocals are all in tune, but there is too much space of something interesting between the choruses that turn me off.

"Propogation" is the lead single off the album. It starts off with a faint guitar riff that's looping, and then the bass, drum, and synth come into fill out the sound. The synth wavers, which provides more depth, and there's use of other effects that provide good ambiance as well. The vocals kick in after about a minute, and they sound solid, though droning once again. The chorus of continues within the genre, but adds a lot of depth with the use of harmonies, and additional backing vocals that dance around in the background of the music.

This genre of music really is not what I'm into. As much as I am into alternative music, this music lacks a punch that keeps me interested. However, the music is still done and made really well, and there is nothing that is grating or unappealing to my ears, it's just nothing is catching it, and that's apart of the Nu Gaze genre. The vocals are droning, but at times quite haunting, and the musicality works well, as there are a lot of little licks that added through a lot of the songs that add a lot of intrigue and depth to the music.

Notable Tracks: Propogation, Nova Anthem

100 characters or less review: Nootropics by Lower Dens gets you back to gazing at your shoes
7/10

Lower Dens Official Website


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Active - Strange Clouds by B.o.B.


So this is "Strange Clouds" by B.o.B., his second album, the follow up to his debut album "B.o.B. presents: the Adventures of Bobby Ray".

It kicks off with "Bombs Away", featuring Morgan Freeman. Yes, that Morgan Freeman, but thankfully he does a spoken word piece, no rapping. The verses are done in a flow that is a lot more reminiscent of Eminem, which is to say, it's angry, but it sounds like someone trying to be angry, but it's not. The chorus is okay, but it's disjointed, and not very catchy. It's trying to make someone think with the verses, but it goes from deep to childish very quickly with lines like "fuck rules, fuck boss, you can be whatever you want". Song is okay, but it feels like parts put together, not a song in itself.

"Strange Clouds" is the title track, and lead single, and it features Lil' Wayne. The beat has an odd bass that is grating in the verses, as it's an odd chopped up dubstep beat. Just getting that out of the way. The verse flow is good for B.o.B., and the pre-chorus for the first and second verse have good wordplay, with "I'm top chef, you top ramen, I'm top shelf", though Lil' Wayne's verse is uninspiring, and really a rehash of B.o.B.'s verse. The chorus could be better, but it's not bad. Song overall is all right.

"Strange Clouds" is an okay album. There is a lot of meh on it, and frankly, a lot of the beats used are grating, such as "Out of My Mind" featuring Nikki Minaj, and the title track. The verses are hit and miss, but a lot of the verses use the same flow, with the same emphasis, same patterns, and a lot of the themes are repeated, the main two, look how much money I've made, and you want to have my lifestyle. This album lacks balance, and this album is reminiscent of albums made in the '90s, a few tracks, but the rest is filler.

Notable Track(s): So Hard to Breathe

100 character or less review: Strange Clouds by BoB is a lot of filler, not nearly enough killer
6/10


B.o.B. Official Website

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Retro - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone by Explosions in the Sky (Febrary 20th 2007)


So this is "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" by Explosions in the Sky, their fifth studio album. The album is named in reference to "Catcher in the Rye". Once again, Explosions in the Sky are an instrumental rock band, so no vocals will be heard.

It kicks off with "The Birth and Death of the Day", it starts of quietly, then some distortion enters and echoes out, and then a loud crash, and the song picks up. The song starts off with a feeling of awakening, namely with the lead guitars rapid picking of high notes, and the ascending chords that ring out in accompaniment. The song progresses into a quieter, yet solid middle, and then builds, a lot, at the 5 minute mark, culminating in a melodic release 40 seconds later, which lasts 'til almost the end of the song. In the end, it's a very haunting line that leads into the next track.

"What Do You Go Home To" is a haunting track. It's highly simple, it uses a lot of simple ideas, and a lot of recursion to great success. The piano used in the song adds great feel and depth. The song is paced well, as you feel a bit lost, and the song lets your mind wander through the majority of the song. The song slows down at the end, a sort of feeling of that you're home, and you feel relief, but you also feel a bit of questioning everything too.

"All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" is a highly interesting, seemingly short album, as it's only 6 songs, but it clocks well over 40 minutes. There is a lot of texture and feel in this album, and a lot to keep your interested with the variance of instrumentation, phrasing and build up of tension and release. It is a very satisfying listen, and it works as a full album, though you can easily listen to individual songs and feel just as satisfied.

 Notable Tracks: The Birth and Death of Day, Catastrophe and the Cure

100 characters or less review: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone by Explosions in the Sky is a great aural journey full of depth and feel
7.5/10

Explosions in the Sky Official Site


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Active - Blunderbuss by Jack White


So this "Blunderbuss" by Jack White, his debut solo album. For those who somehow don't know, he was the lead singer for the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and drummer of the Dead Weather.

The album kicks off with "Missing Pieces", which starts off with a riff an old analogue keyboard riff (as opposed to piano), with a matching bassline, then it quiets down, and goes into the meat of the verse. It's interesting to a point, but the verses aren't really anything special. The keyboard solo is highly interesting as it provides a lot of tension, though the end build up is missing that coup d'etat.

"Love Interruption" is the lead single off the album. It starts of slow, with an acoustic guitar and keyboards, then vocals come in. It's interesting in that it has a duo of vocals, one female vocal, and White. Also, it has a bit of a country/western feel in the melody, and the starkness of the song. The melody and lyrics are good, though they don't blow you away. Similar to the lead track, it leaves you unsatisfied.

"Blunderbuss" is the title track. It's a slow, country feeling song which is brought out by the use of the slide guitar. The song is interesting musically, as it pushes the country feeling the furthest with the inclusion of strings, and White's vocals when harmonizing with them is pleasant. However, once again, the song falls short. It's missing the bits that give it tension, a rise and a fall, it has some tension and release, but largely it sits in the middle.

This whole album, to be frank, is very disappointing for Jack White's standards. Most of the songs clock in or around 3 minutes, and lack the development that make the song interesting. It's missing the hook, the extended build up of tension and satisfying release. This is an album that a lot of the songs sound the same, and acoustic guitar with a slide that has large country influences, or an analog keyboard with some guitar work that is a bit upbeat, but feels very unfinished. The later songs end up mixing it up a bit more, with some dirty blues and ragtime, but it doesn't make up enough for the lackluster opening.

Notable Tracks: I'm Shakin'

100 character or less review: Blunderbuss by Jack White leaves you wondering where the rest of the song is for a lot of the album
6.5/10


Jack White Official Site