Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reviews: Oasis, Department Of Eagles, Rise Against

There are so many albums being released this week, I can't possibly do a full review for all of them. I've already reviewed Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping, but here are a few others I've been listening to:

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul (* * * 1/2)
I've learned a few things from the new Oasis album. First, Oasis hasn't lost all of that fire that they exploded onto the scene with way back when. In fact, they sound better and more consistent than they have in years. Second, Liam can actually write a decent tune, as evidenced by the Lennonesque (of course) "I'm Outta Time." And third, Oasis will never get over wanting to be, tying to be, and failing to be the Beatles (but I suppose we all knew that already). Dig Out Your Soul is a rock record that, at the very least, reminds us why Oasis was such a big deal in the first place.

As with Don't Believe The Truth and Heathen Chemistry, the results are still a bit hit-and-miss, especially during the middle section of the album, but the band sounds stronger, fresher, and best of all...more relevant. Dig Out Your Soul won't as Oasis' definitive comeback, but it should satisfy long-time fans.

Favorite Tracks: "Bag It Up," "The Shock Of Lightning," "I'm Outta Time"

Department Of Eagles - In Ear Park (* * * 1/2)
Department Of Eagles is releasing the most recent record in an explosion of indie folk albums to garner some serious attention this year. Though sometimes thought of as Daniel Rossen's Grizzly Bear side project, Rossen and Fred Nicolaus, the core of Department of Eagles, have been making music together since college in 2001 when the band was formed. It's an offbeat, almost low-fi combination of electronica, folk, and classic orchestral pop.

The sparse, yet complex arrangements employ a variety of sounds and instruments, all tastefully organized to provide a unique backdrop for the soft, even vocals. At it's best, the album is delightfully quirky, like "No One Does It Like You," which sounds almost as if it could have been released in the 1950's, or "Around The Bay," a blend of clever percussion and atmospheric guitars that gets under your skin.

Unfortunately, In Ear Park doesn't make for an especially captivating listen when consumed as a whole. The album drags during the halfway point, and can't quite redeem itself even with a couple of strong songs toward the end. Still, Department Of Eagles have made a unique and legitim
ately interesting record that can at least be enjoyed for the successful integration of its influences and its beautiful composition.

Favorite Tracks: "No One Does It Like You," "Around The Bay," "Balmy Night"

Rise Against - Appeal To Reason (* * * *)
Rise Against remain one of the few truly punk bands today getting any respect. It's not hard to see why, with
a combination of ferocious vocals, blazing guitars, and thoughtful lyrics, Rise Against stand above the pack. Appeal To Reason continues the smoother, yet more explosive sound of their 2006 effort The Sufferer And The Witness, though occasionally the band branches out a bit with the old-school punk sound of "The Dirt Whispered," the 3/4 waltz bridge of "Entertainment" and the acoustic soldier-ballad "Hero Of War."

It's sometimes over-dramatic and a little too long, but Appeal To Reason is one of the better mainstream rock records to be released this year. Bringing both the melody and intensity to new heights; Rise Against raise the bar for the punk-rock genre.

Favorite Tracks: "Collapse (Post-Amerika)," "Kotov Syndrome," "Entertainment"


Also, check out some other new releases at Spinner this week that are very much worth a listen (or two).

Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping (see review below)

Annuals - Such Fun (will post review later)

Glasvegas - Glasvagas

Little Ones - Morning Tide

Spinto Band - Moonwink