Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #8 – Temple of Plenty by Somos

Artist: Somos

Album: Temple of Plenty

Produced by: Jesse Cannon and Mike Oettinger

Released: March 25, 2014

v600_SomosAlbumCover_300dpiEvery time I listen, I feel as though Temple of Plenty is a prologue to a journey that’s just about to take off.

First off, these 9 songs are so wonderfully crafted; There is nothing faked or fabricated about Somos. I can tell by the timbre of Michael Fiorentino’s voice that every word is heartfelt and meaningful. The performance and production is so tight, yet feels so natural and organic; Nothing is overdone.

“Familiar Theme”, the first track off the record, immediately grabbed me upon listening. The words, mostly. All lyrics on this record seem to connect with me personally somehow, touching on a theme of being in the midst of transition, coming of age, growing older. Temple of Plenty was a record on repeat for me all summer as I was (and still am) coming to grips with a lot about myself and the world around me.

What I also like about this record is that although Somos’ has a very distinct style and Michael Fiorentino has a very discernible voice, no two songs are the same. In my experience, it is very rare for a new band to display that kind of versatility.

I can’t help but think that Somos’ next release is going to be monumental and really hard-hitting, more so than this; Temple of Plenty was testing the waters, so to speak. This record shows great potential and promise in a relatively new and young band, who are masterfully creating music that is authentic and relatable to the typical high school teenager, or to a floundering 20-something like me.

I’m very excited to see what the future has in store for these guys, and can only see good things coming ahead for them.

Listen to:

Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #9 – X by Ed Sheeran

Artist: Ed Sheeran

Album: X (pronounced “multiply”)

Produced by: Benny Blanco, Jeff Bhasker, Peter Cobbin, Ed Sheeran, Jake Gosling, Rick Rubin, Johnny McDaid, Kirsty Whalley, Pharrell Williams

Released: June 20, 2014

X_coverThis album starts off with immediate goosebumps. You have to credit Ed Sheeran that at the bare bones he is at his best, which means that with full orchestration he’s thebomb[dot]com. To create beautiful sounds with just voice and guitar is no easy feat. He’s a master at the loop pedal, a master at layering, and getting all your feels to the forefront of your sensory perceptions feel they’re bursting from your own skin. And although there are subtle orchestrations throughout, both ballads (“Thinking Out Loud”) and stadium powerhouses (“Sing”) shine through.

What I love so much about Ed Sheeran is that he marries a clear Damien Rice influence, pop sensibilities, and spitfire hip-hop lyricism; He combines them all quite wonderfully that it’s simply refreshing, and yet makes perfect sense in a post-everything world. is an update from + and is rich with harmonies, gospel choir moments, and trademark Ed Sheeran acoustic ditties. We get to hear about Ed’s life on the road, past trysts with past loves, and a frequent discord between a father and son.

I had the pleasure of seeing Ed live in Brooklyn a few summers ago and boy, was it worth it! Sold out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the crowd went bananas! You would have thought The Beatles came back to life. It’s just him, his guitar, a microphone, and his loop pedal. He’s a natural entertainer and a pleasure to watch.

There are moments that this album reminds me of late ‘N SYNC, so if you hold that point in time in high regard and fangirled as hard as me and some of my friends, I think you’d appreciate the production value of X and all it has to offer. And if by chance ‘N SYNC wasn’t your thing, you should still give this album a listen; If you love lyrics and appreciate the craft of songwriting, Ed’s got it all here.

Listen to:

Tokyo Police Club’s ‘Forcefield’

TPC_ForcefieldPaul McCartney’s McCartney II, Green Day’s American Idiot, Saves The Day’s In Reverie, MGMT’s S/T, Tokyo Police Club’s Forcefield. I tend to be really drawn to albums within a band’s discography that their core fanbase tends to dismiss or be disappointed by. It’s a slowly developing pattern I’ve begun to notice. I love all the above albums dearly. They’re so deliciously good in their own right, despite their stylistic differences from their previous released material. I rarely get upset when bands do this because all it is is their natural growth as musicians and people and writers. As consumers, listeners, people we do the same! I’ve never understood why people take it so personal sometimes.

I am not exaggerating when I say I have been listening to Forcefield on repeat all day. As soon as I played “Argentina” I knew I was in for a ride. I must have listened to this album over 10 times in a row. This is not normal, especially for me. This is unanticipated behavior, but I just cannot help myself. It’s resonating. This album is pulsing with thumpin’ bass tones and guitar riffs that just want to make you swim inside crystal clear ocean tides. I’ve also noticed a lot of  s p a c e  on this album – Reverb and delay aplenty but tasteful, not overused. Vocal distortion on David Monks’ cathartic outcries are hungrily welcomed. But let me backtrack –

My first memory of Tokyo Police Club is seeing their music video for “Tessellate” on MTV at some point circa 2008 or so. I downloaded a few tracks off Elephant Shell and that’s about as far as it got. I don’t think I ever got into them as much, but I sure played the 1s and 0s out of “Graves”, “Tessellate”, and “In A Cave”. Great tracks, all! I’m almost certain TPC headlined a local town festival about 20 minutes away from me, but having only heard those tracks I wasn’t interested enough and let it go by. Boy, am I regretting it now.

Forcefields is bridging the dancey/EDM/Top40 assault we have all be enduring like a stinging, raging sandstorm to the authentic indie sound we’ve all really been craving deep down. There is a more polished feel on this record than Tokyo Police Club’s previously released material. I feel like I’m at a dance club on a space station searching for the cure. It’s compelling, adventurous, daunting, daring. I think TPC’s style and overall sound in Forcefield, could’ve been what MGMT could’ve sounded like had they not opted for psychedelic avant-garde. Don’t get me wrong, I love MGMT. But I think some of their fans resented them going that route, especially fans expecting Oracular Spectacular 2.

The intricate in and out synth/keyboard parts are truly the masterwork of this record. The nerve centers in my brain are having the time of their lives picking them out. David Monks’ voice is cool and soothing, navigating the ebbs and flows, peaking and falling. I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun out of listening to an indie pop record. I don’t remember having this much fun listening to a record straight, over and over!

Favorite tracks: Miserable, Beaches, Toy Guns, Tunnel Vision, Through the Wire – Fuck, the whole album is just brilliant. Go listen to it. In order. Like everyone had to do before we had a choice. That’s how it’s supposed to be!

 

Day 4: Explore The Neighborhood

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Today I spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon grabbing iced coffees with one of my dearest friends and because of the warmer weather we had today, I suggested we stroll over to the park. She snapped this picturesque photo of me (and my behind). Look at that sky! So many people were out today with their kids and dogs, taking in what they could of the fresh air before we are plummeted back into the freezing temperatures typical to a northeast winter.

Though I did literally (yet unintentionally) “explore the neighborhood” today, I wanted a post to go along with my challenge even though it wasn’t required I do one. I had to follow five new topics and begin to find blogs/bloggers I like.

Well, I definitely followed more than five topics (I followed 11) and the readers I ended up following appeared when I connected my Facebook/Twitter/Gmail accounts. As to following other readers, we’ll have to wait and see; I’ll have to take some time to explore the blog landscape and see what I like and who I feel inclined to follow. What I will do now though is go through the topics I followed and list why I did (in case you were curious) ;).

Zerotohero – It’s the name of this 30 day challenge and the tag that brings all us participants together to view each other’s work. The post suggested I follow it in order to easily connect with others. Can’t hurt!

Joseph Campbell – I’ve gone on about Campbell before in some of my musings and I’ve read many of his books. If you don’t know about him, the abridged version is he was one of the greatest American thinkers of the 20th century. His written works and lectures span comparative religion and mythology as he found a common thread between all world religions and myths linking it to the world at large, our inner individual psychology, and how we relate to it. He has transformed my thinking so much and although it’s only been two years since I got into him, I will go as far as to say I would be lost in life without his guidance. He died before I was born, but I really wish I had a chance to meet him. He discusses really great stuff and I would suggest him to anyone seeking purpose or direction in life. Reading his words you will come across small epiphanies in every paragraph, and it is a wonderful and enlightening thing. I love connecting with other Campbell-ites, so I definitely want to stay in the loop at all times!

Bill Moyers -Bill Moyers has been and is still (IMO) one of the most cutting edge journalists/TV Hosts of our time. He broke Joseph Campbell into the mainstream media by interviewing him and releasing those interviews through a program on PBS titled, “The Power of Myth“. Campbell unfortunately passed away before their release, so he did not get to witness the impact his had on millions of viewers. This six-part interview is also a great introduction to Campbell’s work; I got into Campbell through this series and his biography, A Fire In The Mind. But aside from that, Moyers is still active today with his show, “Moyers & Company” on PBS where he discusses current events and issues plaguing our nation and interviews great intellectuals, writers, scientists, and thinkers. I’ve recently seen episodes where he interviews astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author Richard Slotkin, environmentalist Bill McKibben, and David Simon who created the hit show, “The Wire” alongside his other journalistic/creative writing endeavors. Really fascinating stuff. I always appreciate hearing Moyers’ insight and input. He has an open, intelligent mind mind and tries his best to understand whoever is sitting across the table from him.

Carl Jung – Jung was really instrumental in shaping Campbell’s writings and since reading Campbell, I’ve been really turned on to him. I had the opportunity of reading the autobiography of the famous Swiss psychologist (Memories, Dreams, Reflections) this summer and, wow. What a trip! It requires some dedication to understand Jung’s perspectives and reasonings, but when you do everything just clicks. He was the one who coined the phrase, “collective unconscious” and realized the power of dream as a means of communication by the unconscious to the conscious self; It is a way to inform the conscious of what is happening within and without. Coincidentally, I ended up reading his autobiography after having a dream about him (I’ll have to blog about that one later. I think I’ve written it down somewhere). I figured it was a sign to explore his thinking and further enlighten myself. Hopefully by following Carl Jung topic posts, the enlightenment can continue!

Neil Postman – Postman is yet another inspiring thinker and author. I read his Amusing Ourselves To Death and though original published in the early 80s, the book has never been more spot on. He discusses the decline of the printed word and the increase of images as means of informing our culture. (Hello? Vine and Instagram, anyone?) He also discusses how technology but most specifically how and why television is a detrimental medium for learning and informing a society. In his opinion it increases passivity, indifference, and apathetic moods. He dissects television news and why it must not be viewed as news but as entertainment. (Frantic theme music, a new story within a span of 20 seconds, jumping from morbid events to a heartwarming story, etc) I actually just reblogged a video of a PBS interview he did. I found by clicking on the tag, if you care to watch.

Dairy-free – I’ve been lactose-intolerant for almost 3 years so any time I can get some dairy-free cooking into my life, I’ll take it! I drink almond milk, use Daiya cheese, eat soy and almond yogurt, and buy coconut milk ice cream in the summer.

Gluten Free Beer – I don’t have Celiac’s but contrary to my doctor’s belief, I do have a gluten sensitivity. Like my mom I get intense (and annoying) muscle spasms and inflammation around my rib cage area, particularly my upper ribcage and sides when I eat bread, pasta, flour, etc. I don’t like chancing pain so I’ve been pretty strict with myself when it comes to ingesting gluten, no matter what form. I don’t have a lactase pill to fall back on like if I were to accidentally eat dairy. This began less than a year ago and although my blood results came back negative to gluten sensitivity, all I know is when I don’t eat (or drink) gluten I feel fine – but I love beer! So I figured I’d follow to Gluten Free Beer tag and get the word on what’s good. I like Bard’s, Redbridge, Woodchuck Cider, Angry Orchard, and Dogfish Head makes a nice GF beer too. But I can’t stand New Planet Ale though. BLEH. I’m looking to become more informed and see what kind of GF beers are out there. I don’t frequent the liquor store often but when I do, I like to know what I’m buying beforehand.

Job Hunting – I’m still just as unemployed than when I started this blog about 9 months ago. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I do have an internship now (unpaid). But still. The search never seems to end. I plan on retouching my résumé and LinkedIn and refocusing my job prospects. It’s hard out there for a non-business graduate. Feels like the world doesn’t want you sometimes – and the bastard child feeling gets old real quick.

Saves The Day – How can I not keep up on posts about my favorite band in the world? 🙂

Music Industry – As a MI grad, it’s probably necessary for me to keep up on what’s going on within my respective field. Despite all the music industry related people/companies/organizations I follow on Twitter, it’s good to check in on another social network medium.

Album Review – I chose to follow this topic because it’s something I want to get better at. I don’t think I was ever taught on how to write a legit album review. Based on the many I’ve read I think there’s a certain way to go about it, including what kind of words to use and how to describe certain sounds and genres. In any case, I just want to read how other people are doing it so I have more of a foundation how to do it myself.