monthly guides, music

March 2010 Monthly Music Guide

Looking for something new? Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately…

Artist: Flobots
Album: Survival Story (March 16, 2010)
Style: Genuine lyrical flow backed by genuine instruments

The follow-up to Fight With Tools is just as strong. Flobots brings the kind of non-computerized and non-derogatory rap that I can get into, with genuine instruments (including a viola!) providing the backdrop for fast-flowing intelligent lyrics. As a conservative I don’t agree with their whole worldview, but I love their attitude within it, their passion for justice and hope for improvement. The album’s themes also include the power of unity, looking back on hardships as blessings in disguise, and the importance of personal responsibility – even if I believe they put too much hope in man’s ability to do good on his own.
Standout Lyric: Who’s this coulda-been-Rhodes’-Scholar-centerfold / Everyday’s a resource to be sure….
But I feel guilty like the flight went down /
And my cell phone wasn’t on airplane mode
Standout Lyric II: Appetite has grown fools / Empire has sown rules
Let’s throw out craving and things with no use
People dropping jewels / Gems cant shine like our light
To air is human / So the sky is our birthright
In Case It Bothers You: About half a dozen curse words are sprinkled throughout the album
Or just watch a music video: “White Flag Warriors”

Album: Sing It Now (EP) (March 23, 2010)
Style: Teenage girls on guitar and piano; a less commercialized Taylor Swift

These 17- and 19-year-old sisters are an oddity on Tooth & Nail’s electric-guitar-dominated lineup, but it’s hard not to be charmed by their earnestness. Unfortunately their boy-crazy fairy tales have a limited demographic, and I’m afraid of them coming off as a Christian-lite version of Taylor Swift. But I liked their songs before I got tired of them, and I’ll be keeping an eye on them as they grow into their full potential.
Standout Lyric: You were on my mind all day, the next day, and the next…
I think it’s safe to say now that I love you
Remember everyday I’m thinking of you
In Case It Interests You: The Puckett sisters are known as Christians and are on the Tooth & Nail label

Artist: Flatfoot 56
Album: Black Thorn (March 30, 2010)
Style: Celtic punk rock with bagpipes, mandolins, and a dose of Christian joy

I still say the recorded discs can’t capture the euphoric atmosphere of a Flatfoot live show, but they keep getting closer. Their newest album is a lot of fun and it comes in clearer than ever. The drums pound, the guitars chug, the mandolin twangs, and the bagpipe shrieks in this impossible-not-to-smile-as-you-move-in-rhythm punk-fest. They’re even kind enough to throw in a couple beautiful stripped-down acoustic numbers to give us a chance to catch our breaths.
Standout Lyric: House of straw! House of sticks! Can’t shake this house of bricks! House of straw! House of sticks! Can’t shake this house of bricks!
Standout Lyric II: Woah-oh! It’s through our weakness we grow stronger! Woah-oh! It’s through our weakness we grow stronger!
In Case It Interests You: The Flatfoot guys are known as Christians and love to encourage their fans to spread God’s love and build each other up instead of trying to go it alone.

Artist: She & Him
Album: Volume Two (March 23, 2010)
Style: Indie duo in the vein of folky classic-rock country or somethin’

Even the grammatical structure of the group’s title is sort of endearing and self-consciously quirky, and their simple sounds (especially her soft vocals and his picking electric guitar) hearken back to under-appreciated genres of half a century ago. There’s enough reverb or whatever on the tracks to fill the room and make me claustrophobic, but otherwise it’s refreshingly pleasant. The lyrics tell stories (though they’re mostly melancholic) and her voice begs to carry you away.
Standout Lyric: Remember last summer when we had the chance /
To find each other, start making romance /
But it didn’t come off because you found another /
Without one hand of a clock, what good is the other?
Or just watch a music video: “In The Sun”

Artist: Demon Hunter
Album: The World Is A Thorn (March 9, 2010)
Style: Accessible metalcore with engaging melodies and even some synth

Demon Hunter’s fifth studio album fits safely within the confines of hard-hitting yet still accessible metalcore. It completely submerges in solid metal elements while continually coming up for air with engaging melodies that for some reason remind me of Kutless or those popular alt-rock singles of the early 2000’s (but without those tired four chords). It gives that kind of music a fresh feel, but as far as metal goes it doesn’t really add much to my existing collection. For alt-rock accessibility, skip to “Driving Nails.” For a metal submersion, skip to “The World Is A Thorn.”
Standout Lyric: This is what you try to sell me. / Subjective nothingness. / Pull your sickness from my throat. / Let me breathe the truth. / Let me breathe the truth.
In Case It Interests You: The musicians in Demon Hunter are known as Christians and are on the Tooth & Nail label
Or just watch a music video: “Collapsing”

Artist: Portugal. The Man.
Album: American Ghetto (March 2, 2010)
Style: Fun indie-synth-pop bordering on intentional nonsense that’s easily forgotten

These prolific musicians have released an album every year since 2006. There’s nothing that I particularly dislike about this one; I just have a hard time remembering any of it after I’ve listened to it. The band’s art, lyrics, synths, and vocals create a vaguely pleasant vibe, like a foggy memory of childhood or a silly dream. But the nonsense is tauntingly deliberate, hinting that there might be a deeper purpose.
Standout Lyric: “deeper in and deeper still / the belly was the bank / the lion holds the mouth we feed / still died at forty-five”