Album Reviews

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 2:00 PM
Album Reviews by

The Black Keys  / “El Camino” / Nonesuch - 4.5/5

Bluesy guitar riffs and driving drum beats are no surprise for The Black Keys, and with producer Danger Mouse in tow, the Akron, Ohio natives serve up more fuzzed-out, hard-driving tunes on their seventh LP “El Camino.” Riding on the success of 2010’s “Brothers,” the boys have already hit pay dirt on lead single “Lonely Boy,” a sludgy, irresistibly catchy tune that will leave you dancing like Derrick Tuggle. From there, the boys keeps rocking until “Little Black Submarines” slows it right back down, starting off with some folky finger-picking until the hymnal explodes into frenzy of instruments. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney keep jamming on from there, and by the time Dan pleads “No, don’t let it be over” on album closer “Mind Eraser,” you’ll be on jamming your finger on the replay button in no time.

-Alex Bieler

Kate Bush / “50 Words for Snow” / ANTI Records - 4.5/5

After a six-year wait, Kate Bush returns with her first all-new studio album since “Aerials.” The art-rock legend evokes a wintry backdrop throughout “50 Words for Snow,” taking her time as her hushed voice guides her stories along. “Snowflake” starts off the album with a duet with her 13-year old son regarding a falling, well, snowflake as Bush allows the hauntingly atmospheric synth pulses and harrowing piano keep the song alive like a flickering flame in the harsh winter winds. The album allows each of its seven songs space to breathe, with the shortest track sitting at just under seven minutes. Despite the length, Bush keeps her eccentricities tamed, allowing her tales of lost connections and lusty snowmen to wash over the listener like sonic snowflakes in a gorgeous wintry dream.

-Alex Bieler

Jonathan Coulton / "Artificial Heart" / Rocket Science - 4/5

After a five-year long hiatus from extensive songwriting, Jonathan Coulton pairs up with producer John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants fame for a match made in nerd-rock heaven. Coulton, best known for the song “Still Alive” from the influential videogame “Portal,” shows that even after the long wait, he can still pump out catchy pop tunes focusing on different facets of everyday life. The quirkiness is still there on “Artificial Heart,” although reeled in a tad more than the lonely-giant-squid-themed songs of past. At a massive 18 songs, some of the tracks fly by without much notice, especially when all the tunes measure in at under four minutes, except for a new version of “Still Alive,” featuring Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara on vocals. Still, “Artificial Heart” provides an enjoyable blast of pop charm.

-Alex Bieler

She and Him / "A Very She and Him Christmas" / Merge Records - 4/5

Piping out holiday tunes is nothing new to Zooey Deschanel, who first serenaded us with some Christmas classics in “Elf,” the 2003 holiday comedy where she was opposite Will Ferrell. This time, Deschanel (She) teams up with recording partner and other half of She and Him, M. Ward (Him), for 12 smooth, easy holiday listening festive tracks, as they take classic songs and infuse their throwback ‘50s-esque-style approach to indie pop to get something very She and Him indeed. An even slower than normal “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a standout track, as Deschanel digs deep into her range to croon this classic. And with a portion of the proceeds of each purchase being donated to 826National, this is a holiday purchase you can feel good about getting for yourself or the She and Him fan in your life.

-Ben Speggen

Erie Reader: Vol. 5, No. 20
Now Available — Pick It Up Today


Associate Editor Alex Bieler breaks down the West Coast band's expansive new album, which comes out Oct. 16.

Lyons Den Productions shares the incredible news of their upcoming eco-horror film, Unearth.

Hip-hop meets cat sounds in the wonderfully weird Meow The Jewels.

High school football provides priceless entertainment. 

Rain barrels are reimagined into works of art for “Don’t Give Up the Drip.”



High school football provides priceless entertainment. 

Rain barrels are reimagined into works of art for “Don’t Give Up the Drip.”


The human body is capable of amazing things.

The Rocky Horror Show is the most interactive musical in theatrical history — the audience is half the fun. 

The Martian, a film adapted from a sci-fi novel, is set to release on Oct. 3. 

More than 60 artists’ works will be on display at the Woman’s Club of Erie in their 3rd Annual Fine Art Gallery Show. 

Tyler Smilo and Max Garcia Conover put on a lesson in modern folk.

 Goat, Kyozin Yueni Dekai, and Johnny James and the Indeterminates will be bringing the noise to Erie Ale Works.

The emblematic relationship between EPS and the City of Erie.

Channel your aggression the right way by punching your ticket to see veteran rockers Godsmack and Rob Zombie play Erie Insurance Arena.