October 04, 2006
New Release: M. Ward, Post-War. War seems to be everywhere these days. And when it is in the title of the gentle sounding king of indie lo-fi's album, a statement is made of the world. M. Ward's (that's Matt Ward's) new album Post-War, silkily explores ways of coping with turmoil through 12 beautiful songs.
M. Ward's inspiration for this album, if not his previous four, is the simple, soothing postwar music of the late 40s and 50s. Perhaps it is this inspiration that gives Ward's music this incredible timeless quality — his occasional cliché lyric is forgiven because of this mirage of another time. Ward's ability to create music suspended in space is realized through full, complete songs; his previous albums, including the notable Transfiguration of Vincent, have always included short experimental/instrumental pieces.
Several tracks of Post-War are swollen with the talents of guests such as Neko Case and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Listen to "To Go Home," a Daniel Johnston cover featuring the incredible harmonies of chanteuse Neko Case. Or check out "Rollercoaster," a track where a piano bangs in the background, reminding us of romantic visions of postwar days — and perhaps inspiring us to cope again or at least get to that place Ward creates so that we can begin to.
NYC Band: The Strokes are probably the least obscure band that we have reviewed as a New York City favorite. You have probably heard their songs on the radio and seen their music videos on MTV. What we like about The Strokes, besides their infectiously catchy music, is that even with all of their fame they are still a genuine New York City band.
The Strokes all grew up in New York, still record and live in the city, and if you spend a few days walking around the Lower East Side we promise you will spot at least one band member. The Strokes burst onto the music scene in 2001 with the release of their debut album Is This It. After the release of Is This It, the band was crowned by music critics as the band that would save rock-n-roll, after the void that was left from the death of Kurt Cobain. Is This It had an authentic irresistible catchy pop rock feel to it, and would prove to herald a garage rock revival (and every band after The Strokes beginning their band name with "The," as well).
Fast forward five years later and The Strokes turned out not to be saviors everyone thought they would be. In 2003, they released Room on Fire, and First Impressions of Earth this year, but both albums are diminutive and lackluster compared to the youthful tenacity and sheer talent on Is This It. Even with the flaws on their newer offerings, The Strokes will always remain a solid band. They are all talented musicians and their music is always very tight, acoustically clean, and executed with the precision and clarity one would give to a college dissertation.
The album, Is This It, is an album worth listening to for the first time in one whole serving, but if time doesn't allow for this, the best tracks off of the album are "Someday" and "Last Night." "Someday" has†a maniacally paced lead guitar, but is counteracted with the stupor inducing lull of the bass, and the lilting drone of lead singer Julian Casablanca. "Last Night," the first single off the album, is replete with background clapping and spotlights the talent of drummer Fabrizio Morettis.
We would suggest, skipping Room on Fire, their second album, and opting instead for their newest album First Impressions of Earth. The tracks "You Only Live Once" and "On the Other Side" are worth the first listening. For the truly curious Strokes fan try, albeit perhaps in vain, to find a copy of the cover they did of the Lou Reed song "Take a Walk on the Wild Side," which they sang with Lou Reed at their show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, earlier this year.