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 The Case for Late Registration

This past Saturday, Complex Magazine sent out a tweet commemorating the 9 year anniversary of the release of Kanye West’s second album, Late Registration. 
Despite much criticism from others (most notably from a certain writer on this blog), I have long maintained the Late Reg as my favorite Kanye album. I’ve even gone so far as to say it’s his best; an opinion I’ve gone back and forth on in recent years. 
However, there are some (again, above mentioned Undercard writer) that don’t share this opinion. Some even go so far as to say it’s his 6th best album (when including Watch The Throne). I find this to be offensively wrong. So allow me to make the case for Late Registration to be AT LEAST Kanye’s second best album.
Point #1: Quantity AND quality- Not counting the album intro and the 3 skits, Late Registration is a lengthy 16 tracks. Of those tracks, only one is skip worthy (more on that later). That’s just over an hour (63:50 to be exact) of really good music. 
Point #2: Hot out of the gates- How’s this for a list: “Heard ‘Em Say”, “Touch The Sky”, “Gold Digger”, “Drive Slow”, “My Way Home”, “Crack Music”, “Roses”. Those are the first 7 tracks (again, not counting the intro and skits) of the album before you get to the only sub par track of the album, “Bring Me Down”. That’s nearly half an hour into the album. Most artists would be thrilled to have that many quality tracks on an album, much less the first seven. 
Point #3: Notable tracks- First, a fact; Late Registration has what is UNARGUABLY West’s most popular song in “Golddigger”. Now for personal opinions. It also features his two most heartfelt songs: “Roses” is a song about his ailing grandmother in the hospital, and “Hey Mama” is a wonderful tribute to the most important person in his life. It has one of his most underrated songs in “Gone”, which also features one of his best verses (second one, after the instrumental break). “Drive Slow” is one of the coolest tracks he’s made, and holds up remarkably well despite the Houston sound that was all the rage at the time fading away over the years. Finally, it has what I think is West’s best all-around track (production, lyrics, lyrical content) in “Hey Mama”.
So there you have it. Now, go and listen to Late Registration and see how right I am. Feel free to let me know on twitter at @RunMizzou11. Go ahead, I’ll wait… 
By - Kurtis Klay

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Now Playing- Colony House and Young Rising Sons

  Every Tuesday night, I browse through the new releases on Spotify; looking for something to listen to while I relax at my house that night. Each week is kinda hit or miss. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a couple acts that enjoyed.
  First was Colony House. They just released debut album, titled When I Was Younger. Despite their Tennessee upbringing, they have kind of a West Coast sound. Most songs are upbeat, catchy, and kind of echo-y. While they’re not necessarily a band I’d make sure I saw live, they have a sound build for festival performances. Their first single, and lead track off the album, “Silhouettes” epitomizes the rest of the album. Except for one track, which happens to be my favorite. “2:20" is an electro-blues song that comes out of nowhere. It’s a shame its about as short as the title suggests.
Familiar Comparison: Young The Giant

  That same night I came across an LP from Young Rising Sons. The short, four track release is catchy and up beat. It straddles the line between mainstream and indie pop very well. It’s not like the cookie cutter stuff you hear on Top 40 radio, but still can appear to a wide audience. Young Rising Sons may just live up to their name thanks to some exposure on two major networks. ESPN is using “King of The World” in their college football promos, while MTV used “High” during it’s Video Music Awards broadcast. 
Familiar Comparison: Alt-J
By - Kurtis Klay

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Chris Walla Leaves Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie and Guitarist Chris Walla have announced that he is leaving the band.  Death Cab For Cutie released a statement via their website (www.deathcabforcutie.com) saying that Walla will be joining the band for the remainder of their summer festival shows.
The rub of this whole thing is DCFC is finishing up their 8th studio album that is slated to be released in early 2015 and this is the first Death Cab album that was not produced by Chris Walla.  This yet-to-be-titled DCFC album is produced by Rich Costey and according to a statement from Walla working with Costey on the new album was “one of the greatest joys of my professional life.” 
Why is Chris Walla leaving a very successful band that he has been a member of for 17 years? According to Walla he reason is that he longs for the unknown.  In his own statement Walla outlines the next step “Moving forward my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible.  Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.”
I was a taken back by this news simply because you would think that Walla would pursue this other endeavors while still being an active member of DCFC.  Much like Ben Gibbard did when with The Postal Service and his own solo album.  Some people just long for a change in life and it appears that is where Chris Walla is in his life.  It will be very interesting to see what happens to the sound of Death Cab moving forward because for the last 17 years Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla were the two legs that helped Death Cab For Cutie stand.
Read the entire DCFC statement here http://www.deathcabforcutie.com/ and read Chris Walla’s statement here http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/music/
By - Craig A. Brenner

Chris Walla Leaves Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie and Guitarist Chris Walla have announced that he is leaving the band.  Death Cab For Cutie released a statement via their website (www.deathcabforcutie.com) saying that Walla will be joining the band for the remainder of their summer festival shows.

The rub of this whole thing is DCFC is finishing up their 8th studio album that is slated to be released in early 2015 and this is the first Death Cab album that was not produced by Chris Walla.  This yet-to-be-titled DCFC album is produced by Rich Costey and according to a statement from Walla working with Costey on the new album was “one of the greatest joys of my professional life.” 

Why is Chris Walla leaving a very successful band that he has been a member of for 17 years? According to Walla he reason is that he longs for the unknown.  In his own statement Walla outlines the next step “Moving forward my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible.  Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.”

I was a taken back by this news simply because you would think that Walla would pursue this other endeavors while still being an active member of DCFC.  Much like Ben Gibbard did when with The Postal Service and his own solo album.  Some people just long for a change in life and it appears that is where Chris Walla is in his life.  It will be very interesting to see what happens to the sound of Death Cab moving forward because for the last 17 years Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla were the two legs that helped Death Cab For Cutie stand.

Read the entire DCFC statement here http://www.deathcabforcutie.com/ and read Chris Walla’s statement here http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/music/

By - Craig A. Brenner

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Watch Beck Performs “Loser” On Austin City Limits 

Beck is one of my bucket list acts to see live.  So count me as one of the people that can’t wait to watch his episode of Austin City Limits.  Video has surfaced of Beck performing one of his greatest hits of his career Loser.  If this video is any indication of what to expect from the episode then my excitement level for this episode just went ot 11. 

Beck’s episode will be the season premiere for Austin City Limits 40th season and will air on October 4th. 

By - Craig A. Brenner

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Vague Details Emerge For New She & Him Album “Classics”

Using the word ‘vague’ to describe the detail for the new She & Him album Classics is not an understatement.  Today new details for the album were released today and those details include such nuggets as the release date (sometime in the fall) and that a majority of the album was recorded live with a 20-piece orchestra.  That is all we know about She & Him’s 4th studio album of original material.  These album details are the antithesis of the ones we got from the Foo Fighters earlier this week.

Look for Classics to come out sometime during the months of September, October, or November via Columbia as you watch episodes of The New Girl on DVR.

By - Craig A. Brenner 

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Foo Fighters Announce Details For New Album Sonic Highways

We all need to take a few minutes and rejoice in the fact that there is going to be new Foo Fighters music very soon.  The band has announced many details for their 8th studio album Sonic Highways.  First off the new album will come out on November 10th.  Next piece of news about the album is that it will be 8 tracks and will clock in with a tidy running time of 44 minutes.  The full track listing goes as follows:

1. Something For Nothing

2. The Feast and The Famine

3. Congregation

4. What Did I Do?/God As My Witness

5. Outside

6. In The Clear

7. Subterranean

8. I am A River

In other Foo Fighters related news the original HBO series that shares the same name as the new album will debut on HBO on October 17th at 10pm cst.  You can watch a trailer for the show and pre-order the new album at www.foofighters.com

By - Craig A. Brenner

Filed under foo fighters

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Interpol Announces North American Tour 
Now time for even more news about everyone’s favorite band…Interpol.  Today the band has announced dates and details for the 2014 North American tour in support of their upcoming album El Pintor.  The tour makes a stop in Kansas City area on September 29th at the Granada in Lawrence, KS.  For those wondering that is a Monday evening so make sure to plan accordingly.
For details on limited pre-sale that starts July 15th (tomorrow morning) at 10am check out www.interpolnyc.com.  The remainder of the tickets go on sale on Friday, July 18th.
By - Craig A. Brenner

Interpol Announces North American Tour 

Now time for even more news about everyone’s favorite band…Interpol.  Today the band has announced dates and details for the 2014 North American tour in support of their upcoming album El Pintor.  The tour makes a stop in Kansas City area on September 29th at the Granada in Lawrence, KS.  For those wondering that is a Monday evening so make sure to plan accordingly.

For details on limited pre-sale that starts July 15th (tomorrow morning) at 10am check out www.interpolnyc.com.  The remainder of the tickets go on sale on Friday, July 18th.

By - Craig A. Brenner

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Weezer Album “Everything Will Be Alright In The End” Finally Gets Release Date

It has finally happened.  On this “Weezer Wednesday” the band has finally given us the release date for the album they have been teasing for months.  Everything Will Be Alright In The End will grace us with its presences on September 30th, 2014.  The album will drop 25 days after Weezer plays the “Buzz Beach Ball" at Sporting Park in Kansas City (September 5th) 

If you have the time I highly suggest going back and listening to all of the previous “Weezer Wednesday” teaser clips.

By - Craig A. Brenner 

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New Video Alert: Interpol - All The Rage Back Home

*Disclaimer* 

I am a pretty big Interpol fan.  I remember when I first heard “Obstacle 1” and I was instantly hooked.  I loved the sharp sound of the guitars and the fuzziness of Paul Banks’ voice and how incomprehensible the lyrics were.  I tell you all of this so you know I am writing this from the point of view of someone who loved Interpol’s first two albums and was left underwhelmed by their last two albums.

For a few months Interpol has been teasing aspects of their upcoming album El Pintor and today we get our first “official” single and video from said album with “All The Rage Back Home.”  I use quotes because this is the actually the third single from El Pintor (the band previously released “Anywhere” and “My Desire”)

This song is in wheel house for Interpol fans.  It hits all of the right points for fans of the older Interpol albums so job well done in doing that guys.  As far as the actual video it is a pretty bland for my taste.  The only note worthy aspect of the video is that Paul Banks is playing bass guitar in it.  As many know Interpol is short a bass player since Carlos D left the band a while back.  I must say I was surprised to see Banks slappin’ da bass in the video because I was under the impression Interpol had outsourced someone to play bass and were going to continue as a four piece band.  

El Pintor hits stores and the internet on 9/9/14 via Matador Records.

By - Craig A. Brenner

Filed under interpol

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Review: Jack White - Lazaretto

Perfection is pretty difficult to achieve. Duplicating perfection is near impossible.

This was the task at hand for Jack White when putting together his latest album, Lazaretto. In 2012, the already well established White released his first solo project, entitled Blunderbuss. The result was what may have been the best album released that year (in a looaadded year, I may add). The album flows beautifully, mixing different times and tempos throughout. Every song is extremely well written. And, to top it off, you have White’s world-class talent on guitar. 

So, needless to say, the bar was set remarkably high for White’s follow up effort. And right out of the gate, it seems thatLazaretto is up to the task. The first two tracks, “Three Women” and “Lazaretto” pick up right where Blunderbuss left off. Three tracks later, we are given the instrumental “High Ball Stepper”, where White delivers riff after face melting riff. And “Black Bat Licorice” is a gritty masterpiece, with a dash of Cajun and bluegrass influences. 

 Where does this album “fall short”? I listened to the album several times in the process of writing this review and it’s tough to say Lazaretto does fall short. It’s unfair to compare this album to Blunderbuss, and it may be every bit as good as White’s last album. Comparatively, the slower tracks on Blunderbuss were a little better done than on Lazaretto, but that’s just nitpicking at that point. All in all, Lazaretto is a fantastic album and does not disappoint. Listening to it made me realize something I didn’t think was possible: Jack White is criminally underrated. With as much as he is involved in (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather, etc.), it seems he should get a lot more notoriety than he does. 

Grade: A 

By - Kurtis Klay

Filed under jack white lazeretto

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The Roots - …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 

When going through a band’s album catalog, it’s interesting to see how their sound evolves. Some bands stay in their wheelhouse throughout their career, while some bands change from album to album. The latter can be applied to The Roots, and can especially be heard on their latest album …and then you shoot your cousin. The Philly hip-hop group have transformed from underground legends to appearing on TV on a nightly basis. Their sound, however, has not followed the same mainstream path. The Roots’ last album, Undun, was a concept album masterpiece; following the life of a fictional character in reverse order. That album still stuck to, no pun intended, their roots of hip-hop beats created with a drum set, bass, and electric guitar. 

 …and then you shoot your cousin adopts a much different, more artistic feel. Many of the tracks, especially the middle of the album, has a slower, darker feel. The production is very drum and piano heavy. The upbeat, musically expansive sound heard in previous albums is noticeably absent; almost as if other Roots members weren’t available when this album was being recorded. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With not as much going on in the production, it allows the listener to focus on the lyrics. And as usual, Black Thought delivers on that front. Above all, he shows his versatility rapping over the slower beats.
This album definitely takes some time and effort to really get into. My main issue with the album is it’s translation to a live show. As I’ve written on here before, The Roots put on one of the most fun live shows I’ve ever seen. The flow from song to song is unparalleled. But I just don’t see them being able to incorporate anything from this album in to that flow. But when you have a catalog and reputation like The Roots, you don’t have to make albums to support your live show. You can make the music you want to make, which I have to think was what they wanted when they were starting out in the Philadelphia underground. 
  Grade: B-
By - Kurtis Klay

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Blondfire Interview

I had the pleasure of talking with Erica Driscoll and Steve Stout of Blondfire before they played the Boulevardia festival this past weekend in Kansas City.  We covered many topics including their current tour and the latest album Young Heart.  

By - Craig A. Brenner

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New Weezer Album Gets A Title - Everything Will Be Alright In The End

Yes………..We are that much closer to getting new Weezer album.  Yesterday the band announced the title for the album they have been teasing for months now.  The new album will be called Everything Will Be Alright In The End and considering the band this is an interesting album title.  First off it is a Weezer album that does not have a color scheme associated with it.  Secondly, this is a mouth full of an album title.  Other Weezer albums that were not self-titled color albums featured names like Pinkerton, Malardroit and, Make Believe.  Now I will say this album title is way better than Raditude and Hurley which, are some of the worst album titles ever and just happen to be the worst Weezer albums.

Still no word on when this new Weezer album will be available for purchase but it is safe to assume that info is right around the corner.  Either way lets rejoice because soon we will have some new Weezer music to digest.

By - Craig A. Brenner 

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New Interpol Album Gets A Title El Pintor

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the upcoming albums that are on the horizon for 2014 and one of those albums was the untitled 5th studio album by Interpol.  Well fear not because said album has a title and a release date.  Their new album titled El Pintor (Spanish for The Painter) will hit stores and your favorite downloading sites on September 9th.  

This is the first album for Interpol sans bassist Carlos D and that worries me.  He is a very talented musician and added a lot to the band as a whole and I wonder how good the band will be without him.  The flip side to that coin is that he was still a big part of the band for their 3rd and 4th albums Our Love to Admire & self titled Interpol respectively and those albums as a whole were not good.

Below is the track list for El Pintor (fun fact El Pintor is an anagram for the band’s name) also if you are a nerd like me that likes watching clips of bands doing work in the studio check out the three minute clip above.

01 “All The Rage Back Home”
02 “My Desire”
03 “Anywhere”
04 “Same Town, New Story”
05 “My Blue Supreme”
06 “Everything Is Wrong”
07 “Breaker 1″
08 “Ancient Ways”
09 “Tidal Wave”
10 “Twice As Hard”

By - Craig A. Brenner

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Weezer Teases New Songs “Ain’t Got Nobody” and “The Wasteland”

I really want the new Weezer to not suck.  I can’t begin to tell you how badly I want that to happen.  Weezer is one of my top five favorite bands of all time and the less than stellar product they have put out has been a tough pill to swallow for me.  If the previews Weezer posted for “Ain’t Got Nobody" and "The Wasteland" are any indication than I think Weezer fans can take a few steps away from the ledge.

For a while Weezer has been posting quick clips online of their studio sessions with producer Ric Ocasek (producer of The Blue Album & The Green Album) which have been just enough to keep the fan base interest.  Now we get some full blown “preview” clips to digest.  Above is the clip for “Ain’t Got Nobody" and you can click here to watch/listen to the clip for “The Wasteland

Long ago I gave up hope on Weezer ever reaching the levels they achieved with The Blue Album (one of my dessert island albums) or Pinkerton but I hold out hope they can recapture the Maladroit days.

By - Craig A. Brenner

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