Greetings! For those who don’t know me, my name is Joe Padilla (also known as Rick Thunderbird). Every week, I will be doing reviews for UIC Radio. Most of the time, this will consist of two recently wide-released albums and one album that has either slipped under the radar from years past or supports a local artist in Chicago. My ratings will be on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. A 10.0 does not necessarily mean a perfect album, but it designates an album that is masterful in the quite possibly flawed world it creates. So, without further ado, here are my reviews for this week!
CHVRCHES- Every Open Eye (Sept. 25)
CHVRCHES’ debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, was a sparkling, startling opening salvo, with bright, booming synths, alternative radio gems such as “The Mother We Share” and “Gun” and a budding indie icon in lead singer Lauren Mayberry. After such a well-received first album, it can prove quite the daunting task for any band to follow up. Thankfully, Every Open Eye is completely on par with their debut, in a surprising way. Every Open Eye is similar to their debut in many ways, but it is the subtle tweaks to their sound that still fascinate through each listen. It reminds me a bit of the National, who have carved an impressive career out of tweaking their sound slightly at a snail’s pace. With returns including brilliant single “Leave A Trace” and “Clearest Blue”, it’s hard to ask for more.
Neon Indian- Vega Intl. Night School (Oct. 16)
Alan Palomo may have done a TED Talk entitled “The Myth of the Auteur” but listening to his newest album under Neon Indian, it’s hard to see the band as anything but a one man show. Vega Intl. Night School is Neon Indian’s best album, for reasons that may seem strange to the initial listener: Groove, reggae and some damn fine sleaze. An impulsive listen to Vega is sticking your arm elbow deep in brilliantine. It seems that Palomo has found himself stuck in the 80s, with perfectly retro synths that replace most of the old chirp and clatter that his instrumentals use to rely on (not that this was a bad thing necessarily, 2011 single “Annie” is still perfect ear candy). We now have the obsessive, mutilated reggae that is “Annie” and the observant nightstalk of “Slumlord” that wouldn’t be out of place on Power Glove’s Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon that brings Palomo into new, extremely exciting territory.
Jorge Ben- África Brasil (1976)
Jorge Ben (also known as Jorge Ben Jor) is one of the most esteemed musicians in all of Brazil, and África Brasil is perhaps the best reason why (though 1970’s Força Bruta runs a close second, which includes one of my favorite songs of all time, “Oba, Lá Vem Ela”). What sets this album apart from Ben’s previous releases is the tight, American and Afro-Cuban funk that litters this album’s tropicália and samba rhythms. No one has made an album remotely like this, and África Brasil is still miles ahead of anything from the Western Hemisphere in it’s cosmopolitan rock. The cohesion is absolutely astonishing, with genius groove numbers such as opening track “Ponta De Lanca Africano” and “Taj Mahal”, which Rod Stewart copped the “Dee dee di di dee” for his own “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”. Ben filed a lawsuit and won, and all of Ben’s royalties went to UNICEF. What a man, and my word, what an album! Boa Jorge!