Thrice – Beggars

Thrice-BeggarsIt was hard to say what direction Thrice would take after the ambitious four volume, 26 song “Alchemy Index” released in two parts, in 2007 and 2008.  The Alchemy Index explored a number of different genres including electronic and folk while also remaining true to their roots with some very aggressive numbers as well as some straight rock tunes.  Thrice could have very easily stuck with any number of sounds they’ve explored in the past but with the release of “Beggars” it is clear, they have continued to progress by once again reinventing themselves.

Beggars is exactly the album Thrice needed to make at this point in their career.  The band very much wanted to shed the overall vibe of their past couple of albums which becomes strikingly obvious as the bass guitar kicks off the first track “All the World is Mad.”  Simply put, this album has soul.  It grooves from start to finish embodying a distinctly more upbeat sound.  Brothers Edward and Riley Breckenridge who play bass guitar and drums respectively, shine on this album.  Each song is dominated by killer bass grooves and loud precision drumming, which is especially nice considering the more subdued rhythm section on The Alchemy Index.  Another noticeable change is the strong influence of blues, jazz and roots music.  The blues influence particularly stands out in Dustin Kensrue’s vocals.

As upbeat as this album is, it also has a dark side.  Lyrically, Kensrue writes of a dark and dreary world full of pain and heartache.  The chorus of “All the World is Mad” proclaims, “Something’s gone terribly wrong with everyone; all the world is mad. Darkness brings terrible things; the sun is gone- what vanity! wretched fires.” On the flip side there are number of tracks that speak of hope beyond this life. “Wood and Wire” tells of an innocent man on death row who longs for endless glory.

While Thrice’s past material may not have been as accessible due to it’s aggressive nature, Beggars will appeal to a broader audience. If you are someone who loves rock music, then consider checking out this album, you won’t be disappointed.

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Jeremy Messersmith video and free album!

Here’s a nice little video for a nice little song call Tattooine by Jeremy Messersmith. For those of you don’t know Jeremy Messersmith is local Minneapolis singer song writer. He writes some really great tunes and puts on a wonderful live show. If you like what you hear, head over to his website, www.jeremymessersmith.com where you can currently download his album “The Alcatraz Kid” for free!

Imogen Heap – Ellipse

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Whether intentional or not Imogen Heap’s third solo release Ellipse is highly influenced by 90s female pop artists. Heap’s vocals are often reminiscent of such singers as Alanis Morissette, Paula Cole and Enya. The chorus of the opening track “First Train Home” sounds very similar to the Donna Lewis hit “I Love You Always Forever” as Heap instead sings “first train home, I’ve got to get on it.” The song “Swoon” would have fit comfortably on an Ace of Base album. As obvious as these influences are and as much as they serve to provide a catchy more accessible sound, Heap’s unique brand of electronic music remains intact. Ellipse is full of bleeps and bloops, vocal effects, and synth beats that flow from danceable to ethereal. However, the album does suffer from over-production, especially an over use of vocal effects.

Lyrically, the album has a less angry “Jagged Little Pill” feel to it, exploring the ins and outs of a romantic relationship. Heap is cleaver at times, but occasionally comes off as cheesy. The chorus of “Bad Body Double” is juvenile while the chorus of “Half Life” which proclaims, “It’s a half life, with you as my quarterback, It’s a daft life” is just silly.

Imogen Heap is definitely a talented artist and musician, unfortunately, “Ellipse” often falls flat. With that said, there are still some strong moments here and will likely appeal to fans of Heap’s music. Some stand out tracks include “Tidal,” “Between the Sheets” and “2-1.”

Follow the link to hear Ellipse for yourself and let me know what you think.

Ra Ra Riot review

Ah, a night at the Varsity Theater, not a finer music venue in the Twin Cities and not a more fitting band to grace its stage than Ra Ra Riot. 

The night started was started off by a little four piece band called Princeton and despite being young and slightly cheesy they put on a pretty good show.  Their sound consisted of mostly indie pop with some obvious cues taken from the likes of the Smiths and early Beatles. 

Next up was Maps and Atlases.  Where Princeton was still cutting their teeth Maps and Atlases were seasoned musicians.  These guys covered the sounds of indie rock, bluegrass, folk, classic rock and psychedelia.  Everyone in the band was very skilled at their respective instruments especially the drummer.  He was all over the place and yet played with precision.  The two guitarists often traded off guitar solos spending much of their time tapping away at their fret boards.  The bass player wasn’t bad either.  My main complaint with this band was the singer’s voice.  He sounded like he had a mouth full of oatmeal and that my friends is not a good thing.  I found it to be incredibly distracting so I tried to mostly focus on their musicianship.

The main event of course was Ra Ra Riot.  The last time I saw Ra Ra Riot was about a year ago at the 7th Street Entry which is one of the smaller venues in Minneapolis with a capacity of around 250.  In the year since Ra Ra Riot has increased in popularity now playing the 500 capacity Varsity.  When they played the show at the Entry these guys were a very new band and they totally won me over with their energy and amount of fun they seemed to be having.  Plus the music was great.  They incorporated a new brand of indie pop in the vein of Vampire Weekend with a classical touch greatly utilizing both the cello and viola.  Unfortunately at last night’s show I felt they lacked the same kind of energy I remember from before.  Don’t get me wrong they still put on a really good show but it just wasn’t the same.  I think part of the problem is the fact that they only have around 12 songs and after touring for the past couple of years I’m sure they’re starting to get sick of playing those same 12 songs night after night.  On a more positive note, since they have been playing those same 12 songs night after night, they now play them very well.  The band was tight as ever in that regard.  It was also great to see Ra Ra Riot play a larger venue and to see everyone having a good time.  Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and towards the end of their set singer Wes Miles mentioned this will be their last tour in support of their album The Rhumb Line and that they would be working on a new album very soon.  This is great news indeed as I am excited to see what these guys have will have in store for us on their sophomore release and it will be great to hear some new material the next time they’re in town.  If you’re unfamiliar with Ra Ra Riot be sure to check them out at:  http://www.myspace.com/rarariot

A couple events going on this weekend in the Twin Cities

Saturday night Jeremy Messersmith will be headlining a show at First Ave with Chris Koza and Greycoat opening.  The night will also feature James Diers of Halloween Alaska covering DJ duties for the night.  Jeremy Messersmith and Chris Koza are both incredible live and get this, if you buy tickets in advance it’s only 5 bucks (8 bucks at the door).  Doors are at 6pm.

Electric Fetus will be having a tent sale this weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am-6pm each day.  This is a great way to get some new music or even get started on some early Christmas shopping, plus you’ll be supporting a great local independent record store and there aren’t many of those left these days.

Note: If you’re planning on going to the Electric Fetus tent sale you better get there fast!  I was there at 11:30 today (friday) and there was already a ton of people, the CDs especially are going to get picked over pretty quickly. 

Whatever you decide to do have a fun safe weekend!

Welcome to Reckless Abandon

Reckless Abandon is a music blog.  More specially it is an outlet for my love of music and will hopefully one day evolve into something more.

The name Reckless Abandon comes from the song “Reckless Abandon” by blink-182.  The song itself is rather vulgar but never-the-less I’ve always liked the name and recently it has taken on a more significant meaning.  I like the idea of living life with “reckless abandon.”  Not in a crazy chaotic sort of way as the song would suggest but more in the sense of living life without boundaries, taking risks, abandoning comfort and having the courage to do what you love.  That is what this is and music is what I love.

Starting out there are a few things you can expect.  My goal is to update Reckless Abandon weekly with music reviews, concert reviews, essays, and the going-ons of the local Minneapolis music scene.   On my other block “A Wood Between the Worlds” I began writing some music reviews but I found issues with how I was going about it.  First of all they were too long.  I don’t want to bore readers.  I want to be able to trim them down a bit without losing any depth (in someways this is also an exercise in writing).  Second, I found I was just reviewing artists I like.  For me that’s great but I realize not everyone likes the same kinds of music I do, so I’m going to try and broaden the artists I review as best I can.  Other than that everything else is up in the air at this point.  This is an experiment.  I have some other ideas up my sleeve but I’ll keep them to myself for now.  If you have an ideas or suggestions please let me know and thanks for joining me on this journey.

Darren

I almost forgot.  The Banner for Reckless Abandon was designed by my awesome graphic designer wife Rachel!