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April 18, 2024

  • Jeanette Winterson for “gAyPRIL”
    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
Spring Housing Guide

Crowe scores another winner with ‘ Vanilla’ soundtrack

Various Artists

Vanilla Sky Soundtrack

There’s something cheekily subversive about someone snagging the soundtrack to “Vanilla Sky” thanks to Tom Cruise’s mug on the cover and then enduring a 10 minute sonic experiment by the wildly over-hyped Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Ros.

It is that kind of programming that makes a soundtrack to a Cameron Crowe film so intriguing.

While the fine new track by R.E.M. called “All the Right Friends,” and other cuts by Radiohead, Bob Dylan, the great Jeff Buckley, and Peter Gabriel are all terrific, it is the inclusion of some lesser known talent that helps to make this such a smart, eclectic, eccentric collection.

Twee Scottish tapeheads, Looper, make an appearance with the funkily thumping “Mondo 77” and of all people, The Monkees turn up with their fantastic tune, “Porpoise Song.” Paul McCartney’s title track is a one-off, but it is a catchy one-off. And the Red House Painters offer one of the album’s finest cuts, the haunting lament, “Have You Forgotten?” that embodies the sadness and remorse that courses through this disc.

It is hard to argue with a collection that lets the other-worldly vocals of Jeff Buckley rub shoulders with Peter Gabriel and Radiohead, so I won’t.

Cameron Crowe has assembled one of the best soundtracks of the year. Here’s hoping the movie is half as good. Grade: A-

-Erik Pepple

Therion

Secret of the Runes

Therion started as a typical death metal band. Eventually, they shifted tactics and reinvented themselves as a symphonic metal outfit. Secret of the Runes is like any good symphony with a full story going on (this one’s being an ancient Nordic creation myth). It’s kind of hard to gather that from the performances unless you’re experienced in the operatic arts (or Swedish – half the disc is native language). Fortunately, the extra fancy booklet gives you the Cliff’s Notes version with complete translations. Packaging alone makes this a pretty cool disc. Musically, it’s not too bad either.

Publicity for this record parallels Therion’s intent and Wagner. I’d concur. The disc is essentially an opera infused with metal guitar and drums mixed way up front. Songs generally follow a traditional classical form for the vocal sections, while becoming more metallic at the instrumental bits. As a whole, the solos are tuneful, and the riffs surrounding the verses are solid throughout. There is a good bit of keyboard thrown in, reminiscent of older Mortiis. Come vocal time, you get a high or really high female and male bass and tenor. For a song like “Nifelheim,” the multiple vocal layers complement one another well. On the few songs that rely on the soprano, the verses become less appealing yet retain their novel blend of rock and classical song construction.

Most traditional rock fans would likely shake their head at this record. There are no catchy choruses, no hit singles, nor any chances for airplay whatsoever. It’s certainly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s OK. I buy into it as an interesting experiment and a chance to break one’s usual habit in a safe and comfortable way. There’s enough rocking going on to make the usually bitter operatic pill tasty enough to swallow without remorse. Grade: B+

-Brad Klypchak

Hoobastank

Hoobastank

As you listen to “Crawling in the Dark,” the first single off Hoobastank’s self-titled debut album, you catch yourself thinking one thing: Man, this sounds so much like Incubus. It looks like Hoobastank saw a lot of Incubus shows (which makes sense, seeing that they are from Agoura Hills, Calif.) because they often come across with the same sound. They also share the same producer, with only adds to that Incubus-ish quality.

While there are similarities between the two bands, Hoobastank is able to stand on its own. The band rocks just a little bit harder and there is no one standing behind a turntable.

“Crawling in the Dark” is probably the most sound-a-like single on the album. “Let You Know” comes close, but it is definitely louder. Hoobastank finally settles down a bit with “Too Little Too Late,” if you call slightly slower singing and a remotely softer introduction slowing down. “To Be With You” is the track that you could call the “ballad” but it is by no means a sissy love song. “Hello Again” is laced with a incredibly catchy guitar hook.

Hoobastank wisely copy just enough of Incubus’ sound to attract new listeners, but it has enough talent to stand out on its own and not sound completely like an Incubus clone. Grade: B

-Lisa Bettinger

Will Hoge

Carousel

With scratchy vocals, a happy guitar and some fairly introspective lyrics, Will Hoge’s latest album Carousel has the singer/songwriter tunes you just can’t get out of your head. And, remarkably, that is a good thing.

Hoge and his band come to Toledo’s Hard Hat Concert Hall tonight at 8 p.m. as they open for Ohio favorite sons O.A.R.

Carousel features Hoge as a Bob Dylan-esque figure with catchy riffs and casual lyrics.

“She Don’t Care” opens the album with an infectiously bouncy guitar and Hoge wailing effectively about love’s caste system and “Let Me Be Lonely” is a perfectly crafted pop-rock song that grips onto your memory and refuses to let go.

While “Your Fool” is Hoge’s latest single, “Wish” is the only made-for-radio track on Carousel.

For most of the 10-track album, Hoge sounds like a less depressed Adam Duritz. Likewise the band’s backup is a little happier than Duritz’s Counting Crows, but with all the same melodies.

Carousel is a great step for Hoge. It is the kind of infectious, rootsy guitar rock ubiquitous around college campuses. Grade: B

-Dan Nied

Angra

Rebirth

My prior Angra encounter was Angel’s Cry and I was pretty disappointed with that. Contrary to the disc’s positive buzz, I found the Brazilian band straddling the power vs. prog metal fence simply too happy and nice. Now a couple years later, I skeptically sat down to listen to Rebirth and found myself somewhat surprised. On Rebirth, Angra managed to concoct a mid-year Malmsteen record minus Yngwie’s guitar extravaganza.

Songs on this could just as easily come from an album like Malmsteen’s Trilogy or Magnum Opus. Credit songwriting as well as new throat Eduardo Falaschi sounding like a slightly coarse version of Mark Boals for that. Instead of Yngwie’s virtuoso style, we get reserved playing that fits the song structures pretty well. There’s a really good guitar tone especially evident during the solos. Tempos range from hyperfast power metal to the unfortunate ballad (“Visions Prelude” maims a Chopin work). Angra’s flaws from the past are lessened but occasionally rear their ugly head. Keyboards are mixed pretty far forward on some tracks making the songs a little too perky. When it shifts like this (like on “Judgment Day”), the music takes on a proggy, Stryper-esque tinge. When they stick to lurking in the dank and dark, it’s much more effective. “Nova Era” and “Acid Rain” serve as two of the better tracks on the disc. For the first, speed is of the essence. On the second, they take a couple chances tempo-wise, shifting from a medieval gothic choir to near-shred to that usual Malmsteen groove.

Ten years ago, I could see this album becoming a regular listen. Now, it will rarely make the player. It?s a decent yet unremarkable album. When I do put it in, I’ll enjoy, but the times that’ll happen will be few and far between. Grade: C+

-Brad Klypchak

De La Soul

AOI: Bionix

AOI: Bionix is the second in De La Soul’s Art Official Intelligence trilogy. And while it is not as immediately arresting as its predecessor, Mosaic Thump, it does boast a collection of songs that make it a laudable contribution to the catalog of one of hip-hop’s premier outfits.

Beat-heavy, and socially conscious, the raps by Posdnuos are intelligent and quirky, a welcome shift from the incessant boasting on the first AOI record. Their constant boasting in the vein of cats like Master P and P Diddy came off as insecure and unnecessary rather than confident. Folks who get De La’s idiosyncratic groove do not need them to shamelessly boast. With Bionix De La boasts about being more than money-hungry rappers in tracks like the superb Latin tinged, “Watch Out,” in which they claim “I’m not so much street/As I am a light post/Shining high above all.” They claim to be in it for the love of the art, and that is evident throughout the album.

While “Watch Out” is no doubt the strongest track on Bionix, other songs are arranged and written so beautifully, there are moments where De La seem to transcend all genres. With “Baby Phat,” they pay respects to a lover who is not model thin and in “Special” they craft one of the best hip-hop ballads since the Roots’ “You Got Me,” and De La’s own “No Good.” They even get into a sexy, pornographic groove on the slinky sleaze funk of “Pawn Star.” Slick Rick even makes an appearance on ?What We Do (For Love).”

The problem with Bionix, as was the problem with Mosaic Thump, is that at 18 songs the album seems to suffer from overkill. Incidental skits like the Reverend Do Good snippets are humorous, but do disrupt the flow. Rev. Do Good is a great character when isolated from the album, but when integrated into the record seems like extraneous noodling.

That’s small potatoes, though, for an album that boasts some of the tightest beats and clever rhyming on any rap album this year. Grade: B+-Erik Pepple

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