Trying To Never Catch Up
What Made Milwaukee Famous
Brew City’s got no beef with the soubriquet of Austin’s What Made Milwaukee Famous, and justifiably so. WMMF shows great musical versatility with the release of Trying To Never Catch Up, a puree of inspiration from The Beatles circa Magical Mystery Tour, The Cars, vocal tonalities reminiscent of Julian Casablancas on Is This It?, and forays into bopping realms inhabited by the likes of The Shins. Although all of these elements are individually likeable, some even ideal, the result is a befuddled collage instead of a cohesive album.
The spaceship-meets-synthesizer vibe on “idecide” serves as a seamless introduction to the deeper, darker, danceable “Mercy, Me.” When followed by poppy “Hellodrama,” the most accessible and audience-friendly, listeners are duped into believing that only more unadulterated awesomeness is on its way. However, Trying To Never Catch Up falls slightly short. WMMF shows a broad scope of capabilities, and independently songs are solid, but this album lacks direction. Listening to Trying To Catch Up from beginning to end proves challenging and puzzling because ultimately too many ingredients are going into the musical mix.
The Karaoke Meltdowns
The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns is a glorious romp that consumes listeners in a surreal poetic landscape for about forty blissful, folksy minutes. Beth Filla’s rich vocals, reminiscent of Nico, paired with guitarist Andrew Chalfen’s quirky libretto fashion an album that can come off as cool even when using a horse-drawn carriage as percussion. Filla refrains from attempting obnoxious tonal acrobatics, and her simplicity is the a warm campfire maintaining the mellow manner of The Karaoke Meltdowns. If Rilo Kiley were any good, this is what they would sound like.
“I Am Annabelle” melds groovy guitars and Filla’s proclamation: “I’m a sweet and sour lie on a teenage jealous high.” “I Know That You’re High” is an absolute standout, with bright piano and some of Chalfen’s best lyrics. The short and sweet “Baby You Were Lied To” underscores girl power sentiments and an ob-la-di ob-la-da attitude. The Karaoke Meltdowns will make you want to braid your hair, make flower chains, shake a mean tambourine, and love every second of it.
Mohair’s Small Talk is a typical extravaganza of ennui. A major identity crisis plagues this record because Mohair never bother to define themselves as unique from any other misguided neo-new-wave-garage-blazer-wearing band; I have gathered that Mohair is the sad lovechild of The Monkees and Hot Hot Heat. Mohair have compiled a gang of giggly preteen-lovable songs on Small Talk, they are a relatively good looking bunch, they are English, and that’s basically all they have going for them. The songs sound recycled, passionless and overproduced.
Although Small Talk is overall formulaic and noncreative, there are a few glimpses of potential for growth. “Thin Air” allows Mohair’s aptitude for instrumental arrangement and harmonizing falsettos to shine, and “Ella May” has a sort of cutesy awe. Whether the parallel of The Lucksmiths’ tongue-in-cheek “Adolescent” is intentional or mere coincidence on the track “Ella May,” it does make the song a bit more amusing. There are no new ideas, interesting inspirations, or apparent aspirations emitted from Small Talk. It may be worth one listen, but it’s definitely not a keeper.
Robbers & Cowards
Cold War Kids
Don’t let the opening riffs on Cold War Kids’ Robbers & Cowards scare you off; it’s really not as Maroon 5 as it first seems, I promise. CWK liberate a splendid array of detailed and attentive bluesy pieces, all worthy of sways, head bobbing, and, sometimes, claps. There is not one disagreeable song on this LP.
Egocentric ode to the self “Tell Me In The Morning” itemizes woes of liaisons gone awry, “I guess it backfired, cause my motive was to take and never care bout what I give,” assembled with a solid backbeat, and the best of Nathan Willet’s ferocious howls and yelps. “Saint John” chronicles the life of a man on death row who is “just waiting for a pardon,” with barbaric tambourines and some illustrious storytelling. Finale “Rubidoux” proves an epic of intensity, with island-inspired guitar, and be sure to stay tuned for the earthy hidden track starting at seven minutes and twenty seconds; it’s a beautiful raw cut.