Archive | November, 2013

Sad Day for Puppets – Pale Silver & Shiny Gold

11 Nov

Sad Day for Puppets is a female fronted Swedish Indie quintet whose sound is based around the mixture of Indie rock and Shoegaze; with some songs leaning more towards one side or the other. Some have even labeled the band as part of the Nu Gaze movement, which is a Shoegaze revival movement, but whether or not it should be considered a separate genre is likely for debate. Released in 2010, this is their sophomore effort.

Unlike some other Shoegaze bands, Sad Day for Puppets don’t bury the vocals under the miasma of fuzz, so vocalist Anna Elkund can be heard very clearly.  Even though they’re a Swedish band, all of their songs are in English, so there’s no language barrier to break through. Also Elkund’s accent is a little thick, but the lyrics are fairly easy to understand. Also many of the songs have more of a traditional pop song structure, with a lot of focus on melody. So unlike some of their contemporaries, their songs get to the point. They skip out on noisy instrumental sections and many times stick to the simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge structures. So their songs aren’t exactly as chaotic as My Bloody Valentine, or Astrobrite. Closest to chaos might be their song “Such a Waste.”

Despite the gloomy looking album cover, the overall feeling of the album feels pretty bright and musically upbeat, but the lyrics at times may not be exactly happy. The songs have a variety of dynamics and sounds, so they differ from some of the more traditional shoegaze bands by not focusing on max fuzz in all of their songs. The song “Beads” consists of just vocals and a fingerpicked guitar with some keyboards and woodwinds for atmosphere, and “First Time” consists a slightly distorted guitar with atmospheric sounds. Some of their fuzz focused songs aren’t so fuzzed out, so you can easily hear the guitar melodies within it. So it adds a bit more to the soundscape instead of just focusing on a wall of sound on every single song.

Sad Day for Puppets may not be as “pure” of a sound that other Shoegaze bands, and would serve as a great band to introduce someone into the genre, but that’s not to say they’re a bad band. Their sound of pop melodies mixed with noisy fuzz guitar with Elkund’s vocals are a nice addition to anyone’s library, especially for someone looking for some more female lead music. Though at 37 minutes and at 10 tracks, this might be a bit too short for some people’s likings, but it is also missing any filler material, so consider that a plus.

You can stream the album for free off of their Bandcamp page: http://saddayforpuppets.bandcamp.com/album/pale-silver-shiny-gold

Rating: 5/5

The Replacements – All Shook Down

7 Nov

Just by looking at the cover, All Shook Down looks a bit dreary and it’s easy to see why. It’s the final album from The Replacements, and the cover seems to fit the mood of a band on its last legs. Especially considering that this was actually supposed to be vocalist Paul Westerberg’s first solo album. With its numerous session musicians with only a few tracks featuring the full band, it seems to lack the energy of most of their previous albums. While it lacks infamous anthems like “Left of the Dial”, “Unsatisfied”, and “Here Comes a Regular”, that’s not to say it doesn’t have solid tracks.

Paul Westerberg was more or less a voice of a generation for many college rock fans, and even inspired much of the boom in alternative rock in the 90’s, it seems that along with his audience, Westerberg was growing up. As a 30 year old man, it seems like he knew he was getting too old, and probably too tired to be singing about adolescent angst. This is pretty evident as their albums were progressively getting more mellowed out, almost like he shook out much of the anger he’s had before.

Despite being one of their more mellow albums, it still features typical Westerberg lyrical tropes, like his heart on a sleeve feelings that are largely self depreciating, and misfits trying to find a place Most of the tracks are very acoustic guitar driven, with roughly 3 out of the 4 tracks without them are fully electric with the other one being a piano driven track, with its appropriately titled “the Last”, with its multiple meanings, and strategically being placed as the last track on the last Replacements album. Even the lyrics can almost be interpreted towards being about the listener, especially with the final line: “It’s gotta last for always” is a great final nail in the coffin for a band with such a large legacy.

While definitely not as ambitious or as memorable as albums like Let it Be or Tim, it’s definitely a decent album. So while it won’t cater to fans of their rougher, it does cater to those who are fans of adult alternative rock. With bands like The Wallflowers, and Train, especially with the latter drawing influence from Westerberg’s music. Though in shear honesty, it’s not their best album, but it’s definitely not their worst.

rating 4/5