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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Kings of LeonMechanical Bull
I spent the better part of 2008 to 2011 telling everyone who would listen how Kings of Leon sold out by cutting their hair, shaving their beards and adopting a more mainstream sound, abandoning their Southern Strokes identity. I’ve mostly made peace with that era, regarding it as stylistic experimentation that just wasn’t for me (except for “Use Somebody,” seriously, screw that song), and I still hold out hope that Kings of Leon will return to form. They haven’t quite done that on “Mechanical Bull,” but it’s at least better than their previous album. The lead single, “Supersoaker,” isn’t all that bad, in fact, it’s probably one of the album highlights. On songs like “Rock City” and “Don’t Matter,” the Followills return to some of the hyped-up Southern rock they started out writing. Unfortunately, for every exciting flash of the past, there’s a “Beautiful War” or “Comeback Story,” pop-pandering ballads that contain such Shakespearean gems as “I walked a mile in your shoes/ Now I’m a mile away and I have your shoes.” “Mechanical Bull” isn’t the album KOL purists want, but it’s hard to imagine anything being much better, and it could be a lot worse.
RIYL: The Strokes, The National, Neon Trees
-Michael Lovito, Truth, Justice and the American Way on Wednesday 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

The PreaturesIs This How You Feel?
This Australian band brings strong, soulful vibes to their rock ’n’ roll. In their EP, “Is This How You Feel?,” The Preatures give a wide range of styles that leave the listener longing for a full album. The first two tracks, “Is This How You Feel” and “Manic Baby,” feature a retro, `70s feel with echoing vocals and mesmerizing guitar lines. Tracks, including “All My Love” have a psychedelic feel that leaves the listener wanting more. The EP ends with the upbeat “Dark Times” which takes advantage of the differences between the band’s two vocalists. These soulful Australians are able to captivate the listener, even in this short EP.
RIYL: Alabama Shakes, Fleetwood Mac, The Eurythmics, HAIM – Jack Fitzpatrick, Soul Beat on Wednesday 8-10 a.m.

GroomsInfinity Caller
Super catchy, gritty and resounding melodies make up a large portion of Brooklyn-based Grooms’ sound. This is happy, pretty, party music with steady, unchanging rhythms. The vocals, though mostly forgettable in terms of lyrics, seem more like a twinkly undertone to the effects-heavy guitars. There are several bangers that’ll get crowds to sing along, particularly “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Put this on at your next bash and feel like you’re in a Season 1 episode of UK’s “Skins.”
RIYL: Pavement, A Grittier Rilo Kiley, Sonic Youth
-Clare Teeling, WVAU Staff

Lily KershawMidnight in the Garden
From first listen, Lily Kershaw’s debut album “Midnight In The Garden” sounds like a strong indie-folk addition to the Nettwork label, writing about the facades of daily life and relationships over catchy acoustics. But songs like “Better,” “Ashes Like Snow” and “Marlboro Man” distinguish Kershaw as more than just a Ingrid Michaelson carbon copy. The strength of her vocals, the unique air-tapping, jazzy vibe, and raw introspection of a few of the tracks makes up for the cliches of “Like the Sun” and “As it Seems.” Ironically, the most popular singles on this album are the weakest tracks, and serve their purpose as TV show soundtracks, but not much else. Move past those tracks and take another listen; Lily Kershaw has the talent and aesthetic to be much more than just another pretty voice.
RIYL: Ingrid Michaelson, Laura Marling – Julia D’Amico, WVAU Staff

PEACE – In Love
PEACE is here with their debut studio album and its 1.2 hours long. Great, now we’ve got all the British pop/post-punk we could ask for. The album is full of melodies to bob your head to, lots of upbeat percussion, electric guitar fuzz and slowed down tracks (“Float Forever”). On the surface the record is catchy, but if you try to get any deeper, songs seem to all sound the same, so don’t feel bad if you give up. Everything deserves a chance though, and PEACE’s big fan base shows the guys are worth it.
Try semi-psych-rock “Waste of Paint” and “Toxic” because its melody is pretty likeable. The lyrics are usually metaphors about love, girls, carefree life and other typical post-anything boy band topics. Pretty harmonies and well-played guitar lines and that light mood fused with distortion make this album something most people could agree is easy-listening.
RIYL: The Kooks, Palma Violets, Two Door Cinema Club – Molly Pfeffer, Velvet Sessions on Tuesday 6-8 p.m.

RJD2 – More Is Than Isn’t
“More Is Than Isn’t” is American DJ RJD2’s fifth full album. Like his previous releases, RJD2’s music is constructed from a variety of samples of other artists, mixed in with synths, drum machines and the occasional featured artist. In this particular album, RJD2 appears to be stretching beyond his previously straightforward and groove-oriented songs, to create busier, more experimental songs. Unfortunately, RJD2’s music is better the keep samples he uses. Later tracks in the album like “Descended From Myth” (a funky, horn-section led jam) and “Dirty Hands” (a down-tempo, percussion-free ballad with vocals from RJD2 himself) feel much more streamlined and are much more enjoyable to listen to, because there are fewer things going on. That isn’t to say that the rest of the album is unlistenable. In particular, “Her Majesty’s Socialist Request” and “A Lot Of Night Ahead Of You” are catchy and danceable without feeling clustered. Overall, the album feels a little disjointed, but has several standout moments.
RIYL: Prefuse 73, DJ Shadow, Parov Stelar – Andrew Jordan, WVAU staff

Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back
Motifs from 80s electronic music, house and R&B are woven together charmingly on this sweet and smooth debut. The sparse backing and bubbling bass of opener “Giddy” signals the dominant sound of the album: echoing synths floating over skeletal drum beats, occasionally punctuated by plinking keys and vocal samples. The understated sound gets a little warmer on the album’s upbeat standout track “Keep Moving,” which takes a more funky, disco-tinged approach (think Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”). Lanza’s reverb-heavy vocals have an airy quality that complement the album’s subtle production. However, at the cost of melding with the instrumentals, Lanza’s singing is somewhat unremarkable, though competent. Together, the vocal and instrumental elements of Pull My Hair Back produce an air of sophisticated cool throughout an album that is as listenable as its influence.
RIYL: Jesse Ware, AlunaGeorge, Grimes, Prince – Rafael Smith, The Funk Box on Wednesday 4-5 p.m.

Phantogram – Phantogram EP
Electro-rock duo Phantogram packs swirling guitar pieces with the ethereal vocals of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter in their self-titled EP “Phantogram.” “Black Out Days,” the EP’s opener, is filled with dizzying keyboard bits, colorful beats and Barthel’s sleek vocals. In a stark contrast, “Never Going Home” is a softer piece featuring the Carter’s strangely sweet crooning and a smooth little guitar hook that comes as a surprise to listeners towards the end of the tune. The EP goes back to its earlier sound in both “The Day You Died” and “Celebrating Nothing,” with the return of catchy choruses and tons of distortions both vocally and instrumentally. In “Phantogram,” the duo has managed to create short yet irresistible electro anthems filled with quirky harmonies and solid vocals that manage to stay in one’s head long after they’ve stopped listening.
RIYL: Arcade Fire, M83, Neon Indian – Tori Tropiano, WVAU staff

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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