Learn to Feel
Learn to Feel, by Los Angeles band Wilderman, is a raw slice of a new pie. Mixing heavy blues with synth pop in a weird and brilliant way, Wilderman brings new sounds to an old genre.
Familiar gritty guitar blasts over shimmering synth chords creating a very interesting twist and mixture of sound. The two pair oddly well together, especially with the unmatched emotion given up by the vocals. To be examined in a different context, the tracks on this album are an outstanding example of American rock/blues without the added synthesizing. It's got the right chords, rhythms, and solos to stand on its own but the synths add a level of clear melody as well as sheer noise to the mix. This is where I'm on the fence. To hear the tracks without the synth, they would be thinner, but still rich in texture from the heavy vocal. I feel that the band takes it overboard at times for the sake of being hard hitting, which I can understand. I think the synth would be better utilized if it were slightly more reserved, but that's just my opinion.
It is the addition of the synth, though, that really makes this record stand out. That, combined with all of its other elements, creates a record so distinct yet unique it's hard to stop listening to it. Be warned though, Learn to Feel starts out very loud and driven, but is balanced out by down tempo beauty of tracks like "Wave" and "Change" on the records second half.
For a heartfelt and wild ride through many plateaus of sound, check out Learn to Feel from Wilderman.
Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of the Postal Service
The Postal Service, an all but forgotten side project of Death Cab for Cutie's prolific music man Ban Gibbard, was an important record to many growing up through the mid 2000's. Its melancholic lyrics and upbeat electronic structure spoke volumes to many people, leaving a lasting impact and influence on a generation of music makers.
Here, we have a number of artists recreating the songs from Give Up in a folk image as a testament to its staying power. This new collaborative effort flips the originals on their heads, stripping them back and replacing the drum machines with reserved percussion and the electronic melodies with slide guitars and banjos. 11 different artists each tackle a track, and all do a wonderful job of keeping the original song alive while breathing new life into them. Gibbard's electronic pop translates surprisingly well into folk.
One of Give Up's most memorable tracks, "Such Great Heights" gets two efforts, while the rest of the album is played out in original order. With the exception of a few tempo changes, the tracks are recognizable right away with each artist giving their own spin on them. The same hooks and melodies are there with little structural change. "Clark Gable", done by The Parmesans, is the most strikingly different; transforming a tight, melodic song into a jangly back-porch sing along.
Although some covers are better than others, Never Give Up is a great take on a greater record and a nice splash of nostalgia. The music translates well and shows the timelessness of Gibbard's original cuts. I think I'll go dig out my vinyl copy of Give Up and remember what being 16 felt like.