Broken Bells-After the Disco
While some of you may not necessarily be familiar with the name Broken Bells, I would be fairly surprised if most of you were not familiar with the two collaborators for this project: James Mercer, the brains behind indie juggernaut The Shins, and Danger Mouse, the highly sought after hip-hop producer. In 2010, the duo released its eponymous debut album to fairly decent critical acclaim, and caught fire with the catchy lead single “The High Road.” They then followed with the “Meyrin Fields EP” in 2011, which for the most part was pretty forgettable.
Back in November, the group released the track “Holding on for Life” and announced they had a new album on the horizon. “After the Disco,” 11 tracks spinning for about 46 minutes, is that new effort. It takes its place of appeal somewhere between the first full-length and the EP. Staying true to its title, there are plenty of nuanced neo-disco styled grooves and the hooks Mercer has made a career off of, but it’s difficult to listen to this album and not feel to some degree that you are listening to The Shins’ b-sides. I understand that this is a completely different project with two very talented musicians, one of who is one of my favorite songwriters, but the highest points were released last year, between the lead single and the title track.
I found the rest difficult to keep my attention. That is not to say that I wouldn’t recommend this album to fans of either Mercer, Danger Mouse or their past work together, as it’s still very worthy of a spin, but they simply don’t reclaim the magic found on their debut. “After the Disco” is out now via Columbia Records.
Young the Giant-Mind over Matter
As a general rule, I tend to distance myself, especially over the past few years, from rock music with too much gloss. Don’t hear me wrong, I like things to sound good, and I like to distinctly be able to hear every part of what I’m listening to, but there is a point where enough is enough and too much is too much.
I haven’t had much of a relationship with Young the Giant, aside from loving their song “Cough Syrup” a few years ago. Gloss aside, it’s catchy as hell. I know that they rose to prominence with the song “My Body,” which is a fairly catchy tune as well, that just felt like it was about five years behind its time. Now the band has released its second full length, “Mind over Matter,” and in all fairness, I think the title has it backward. There are plenty of solid hooks, catchy vocals and infectious rhythms, but the mind has very little to do with much of it. The single “It’s About Time” seems reminiscent of the glory days of faux-hawks and those leather wrist cuffs (I was guilty of both), but makes fighting a head bob or foot tap difficult. All in all, the album provides a light-hearted approach to rock and is easily appreciated by the casual listener, but don’t approach it expecting the mind to matter. “Mind over Matter” is out now via Fueled by Ramen (what?!) Records.