New Music Tuesday: Yeah Yeah Yeahs • Major Lazer • The Flaming Lips • The Oh Sees

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Buried Alive”
“Wedding Song”

Album Highlights: The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s return with an intergalactic, sci-fi laden acid rock odyssey on their fourth studio album Mosquito. Shying away from their typical hard hitting mix of electronic dance hits and New York-centric punk rock, the group explores the outer realms of the musical universe with a less produced sound reminiscent their early, gritty art rock efforts. Some of their best work comes through on track’s like “Despair” and “Buried Alive,” which in many ways reflect influences from late 70’s era Blondie with a bit more of an edge. “Sacrilege” stands out as the most impressive track on the album, drawing from their time spent writing and recording in NOLA. The track hits hard with Karen O’s signature wails and it brings down the house with extra help from the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir’s fiery cameo.

Album Lowlight: The only discrepancy I find with this album is the lack of proper pacing between tracks. Although I’m sure intentional, the band brings you to such great highs then completely polarizes you with tracks like “Subway” and “Wedding Song.” Both are great songs in their own right, but after such hard hitting predecessing tracks, they are difficult to get into due to their completely stark nature. Upon second or third listen however, these slower songs resonate the most among the bunch, so quite possibly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs may have done this on purpose. It’s super sneaky subliminal intentions or abhorrent disregard to track list cohesion – your call I guess.

Takeaway: Although different than any of their previous efforts, Mosquito is a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album through and through. Continuing to push contemporary music boundaries and play by individually crafted rules, the band took several risks artistically with this album and per usual it paid off. It looked like Yeah Yeah Yeahs had lost a bit of their bravado with their previous full length, but they made sure to step even further out of the box on Mosquito, reminding all bands classified under the genre “alternative” that there is still a whole lot of room to explore.

~Molly Kish

Major LazerFree the Universe

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Get Free” feat. Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors
“Jah No Partial” feat. Flux Pavilion
“Keep Cool” feat. Shaggy & Wynter Gordon

Album Highlights: You’ll find an impressive roster of guests from across the musical spectrum and a more polished sound on Major Lazer’s latest effort. Songs like “Get Free” with Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors and “Keep Cool” with Shaggy and Wynter Gordon are clear standouts. The collaborations with Flux Pavilion and The Partysquad hit hard. The combination of Bruno Mars, Tyga & Msytic on “Bubble Butt” comes off silly at first, but grows on you with subsequent listens. This is the track that will inspire thousands of photos of girls expressing themselves on Diplo’s Twitter feed.

Album Lowlight: Tracks like “Reach for the Stars” featuring Wyclef Jean and “Playground” featuring Bugle & Arama are forgettable, to the point of feeling like they’re filling the roots-reggae quota for a Major Lazer album.

Takeaway: The oft-delayed sophomore album from Diplo and crew is a solid progression from Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do. Even without his original collaborator Switch, Diplo delivers club bangers (“Jet Blue”), dancehall jams (“Playground”) and even radio-friendly hits (“Keep Cool”). Though the album does no justice to a live Major Lazer experience, it makes valiant effort to bring the home listener there. Twerking is optional, but encouraged.

~Eric Shaden

The Flaming LipsThe Terror

1.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Try to Explain”
“Turning Violent”

Album Highlights: One thing is for certain, The Flaming Lips aren’t going for radio play with their new album The Terror. Wayne Coyne, the mad genius behind The Flaming Lips, has been evolving the band’s sound ever since the “She Don’t Use Jelly” days. And boy, are those days long gone. The Terror paints a sonic landscape that sounds as if it’s the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey on psilocybin. Take one look at Wayne Coyne’s Instagram feed, and this isn’t too far from the truth. However, I believe this album can have it’s time and place. I might put this album on at a party, if I want the party to immediately disperse. I might put this album on at a bar, if I had a personal vendetta against the bar or it’s patrons. The most redeeming quality of this album is only available in the UK with the bonus disc that contains a cover of The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” with Alex and Jade from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Album Lowlight: The days of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are long over and are not coming back anytime soon. The Flaming Lips have been going down this road since 2009’s Embyronic. The classic Flaming Lips sound (see almost everything before Embryonic) of upbeat, happy, psychedelic songs is no more. In fact, like Embyronic, The Terror has little that resembles an actual song. The only melody that got stuck in my head was the phrase “Lust to succeed” from the song “You Lust,” and I just felt like a crazy person singing that around the office today. The Terror consists primarily mechanical industrial cosmic noises that sounds like it was made with the same Moog app I have on my iPad.

Takeaway: I probably won’t listen to this album again after I complete this review. Maybe I am missing the point? For the record, I LOVE the Flaming Lips. I’ve seen them live numerous times and have a ton of respect for Wayne Coyne and the gang, but their albums just aren’t doing it for me these days. Having said all this, I will still go see them in concert any day.

~Kevin Raos

The Oh SeesFloating Coffin

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Come From the Mountain”
“Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster”

Album Highlights: John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees have been continually evolving their garage punk sound, and now it has bloomed into a fully thick sonic stew that is tough to ignore. The Floating Coffin is the lushest release to date and easily the most infectious as the songs pop, full of driving guitar riffs, pummeling drum beats and the characteristic yelp of Dwyer’s vocals. It jumps out of the gates quickly and keeps your head banging, or nodding, throughout. A more evenly distributed creative process among the group was featured on this album as Dwyer has now seemed to settle on the current lineup after years of tweaking. Songs like “No Spell” display a delicacy coupled with a lead-weight heaviness that is unlike anything they have released. These guys make me proud to live in San Francisco.

Album Lowlight: The only gripe I have is towards the end of “Sweets Helicopter,” as the songs builds into a dark tornado there is a completely out of place bass synth. It doesn’t detract from the song too much, but just feels a bit unnecessary from a band whom traditionally relies on more basic instrumentation.

Takeaway: How The Floating Coffin seems to be both equally heavy and light is an enigma to this writer, but that’s Thee Oh Sees for you. On this latest release they explore the many cob-webbed corners of psychedelia and garage rock, expunging the purest forms of rock and roll and tossing them blatantly in the faces of their listeners and fans. Expect this release to garner more attention than previous ones as Dwyer has traded in the jangle-twang for an aural thickness. Expect a big summer from this rising Bay Area landmark.

~Kevin Quandt

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: