Albums Reviewed by Alex Bieler and Ben Speggen

Categories:  Music    Music Reviews
Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Albums Reviewed by Alex Bieler and Ben Speggen by Bieler-Speggen

The Avett Brothers
The Carpenter
Universal Republic

The Avett Brothers are back at work on “The Carpenter,” the band’s seventh full-length album and the follow-up to 2009’s “I And Love And You.” Album opener “The Once and Future Carpenter” begins with delicate finger-picking but moves to a fuller mash of drums, bass, and organ to then close with gentle piano, epitomizing what you’ll find here: introspective, raw emotions infused with pulses of celebration punctuated with sadness and contemplation (“Winter in My Heart”) to heel-clickin’, foot-stompin’ everyone-to-the-dance-floor barnburners (“Pretty Girl from Michigan”). Lead single “Live and Die” is radio friendly – from the catchy chorus to the slide guitar in the back – but songs like “Paul Newman vs. The Demons” stand out as louder, unexpectedly heavy yet good surprises. “Carpenter” manages to retain the characteristics fans have come to appreciate while deepening the Avett’s catalogue, making the three-year gap between albums worth the wait.   4.5 / 5 - Ben Speggen

Cat Power
Matador Records

It’s been six years since Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, released her last album of original material, and the time sure made a difference. On “Sun,” Marshall eschews much of the Delta blues and slow-moving soul that highlighted 2006’s “The Greatest,” instead employing a much more up-tempo sound built around electronic textures and synths.  While the shift in style may be striking for those more used to “Cross Bones Style” or “Lived in Bars,” what’s even more interesting is how confident Marshall sounds throughout “Sun.” On earlier albums, the Georgia-born songstress could sound downtrodden and, at times, fragile. Given how much Marshall’s smoky voice can carry a song, like on “Manhattan,” this change has a remarkable impact on “Sun.” Now, she seems completely self-sufficient, trusting in her abilities more than ever before, at least when she was in the studio. 4 / 5 -Alex Bieler

Animal Collective  
Centipede Hz

Mere seconds into “Centipede Hz,” the Animal Collective is kind enough to greet you, proclaiming in robotic tones that “this is the new Centipede FM.” While the statement is fairly obvious for most listeners, the statement is a sign that this is definitely not the new “Merriweather Post Pavillion.” Instead of the more accessible, pop-driven sound of the critical darling “Merriweather,” “Centipede Hz” is a return to more experimental roots, and the results are mixed. While seemingly a mess of sounds and samples at first, time shows that Animal Collective’s latest effort has solid, grounded base, especially on tracks such as the standout psych-folk piece “Rosie Oh.” However, the album’s overall length and schizophrenic song constructions don’t necessarily pair up well. Animal Collective reviews tend to either hail cries of perfection or decry the band as a mess, but “Centipede Hz” ultimately lands somewhere in between. 3.5 / 5 -Alex Bieler

Divine Fits  
A Thing Called Divine Fits
Merge Records

While you could call Divine Fits an indie supergroup, don’t let the band’s members hear you saying that. While supergroups sometimes get generally categorized as a lesser side project, Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade fame are taking the new band very seriously. With New Bomb Turks’ drummer Sam Brown in tow, “A Thing Called Divine Fits” is, unsurprisingly, much like a Spoon album with dashes of new wave thrown in for good measure. While some songs seem like extra tracks that couldn’t make the cut for Spoon’s “Gimme Fiction,” standouts like “What Gets You Alone” and Boys Next Door cover “Shivers” show how well the talented duo can work together. Divine Fits may sound like Spoon’s cousin, but with Boeckner as the newest member of the Daniel clan, I’m looking forward to the family reunion. 4 / 5 -Alex Bieler


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


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.”


The human body is capable of amazing things.


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.