Friday, May 30, 2008

Atmosphere shows different side with new album

image courtesy of
By Jonathan Juliano

I’ve seen promos at the end of MTV dating shows for Atmosphere and his new album When Life Gives you Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold. This seems appropriate because the criticism against rapper Slug has always been that he talks about relationships, and girls, and that he is too much of an "Emo rapper." I feel bad for anybody that makes this their first album by them because when Slug was in his prime, he was amazing. The beats from producer Ant might not have been as complex, and Slug’s rhymes were always about the same girl, but there was something you could respect because of it. Bits and pieces of songs helped you construct his personality and how bad this girl was for him and how much he loved and hated her. It was obvious that he was only a rapper because it put money in his pocket where as seeing a psychologist would burn his pockets clean off.

When Life Gives you Lemons shows a new Slug that makes me think maybe making music helped him because the album shows growth and a maturity. On the MTV promos Slug has long greasy hair hanging out of his wool hat, and sports a creepy mustache. The look matches his blue collar album. Every song is a story about people struggling in life. Slug has always had one or two songs per album that were stories (his best being “Woman with the tattooed hands”), but every song on this album is a tale about people struggling in life, which really fits the album’s title. His new songwriting strategy makes sense because he’s too old to rhyme like in the past. The problem though, is that the songs sometimes blend together and sound redundant. On some songs it works brilliantly and on others it makes me welcome global warming for Atmosphere.

Ant is one of the highlights of the album. He gets exponentially better with every album he produces. The big experiment was using a live band but Ant has adapted and it is to the point now where a past his prime Slug may just be holding the beat maker back.

The song “Puppets” has hand claps and a deep and heavy piano. I never thought I would like a song with hand claps (excluding that Hey Mickey you’re so fine song) but it works amazingly. The story over this beat is about a guy Slug knows (he’s really talking about himself) who wants to live a rock star life but isn’t really there yet. “Who needs fame and fortune when you get the same love that the fame is snortin…” The chorus reveals the thirty-something rapper’s frustrations of never really making it and settling.

The two most compelling songs on the album are “Me,” and “Waitress.” After listening to at least six Atmosphere albums since high school, “Me” might be one of my favorite songs. He is so honest and the beat has a repeating guitar and an eerie female voice to match the grittiness of the rhymes. He tells his whole story from the divorce of his parents to divorcing his wife, and how his parents affected his views on relationships.

“And Mom and Dad were never getting back together/ So he was on some Baby we gonna make it last forever.” The story progresses to how he dated a girl for five years and had a son with her but they broke up. After all the drama, after naming an album Lucy Ford, after the song “Fuck you Lucy,” and all the hatred he put into every album, on this album he says, “Now he’s got a best friend instead of a wife/But he feels like he stole the best years of her life." I could really talk endlessly about this song but listen for yourself and I will move on to “Waitress.”

“Waitress” starts with a sad piano and Slug raps in first person as a bum who goes to a diner every day and sees this one waitress who hates him. The bum knows the waitress is sad “By the way I can see it in your eyes, you’re tired of life/Not a stranger to the fight…” She threatens to call the cops on him, and she yells at him but when he isn’t there she worries about him and wonders where he is. The song ends with Slug saying, “I had the chance to make a difference but I didn’t/in the cafĂ© bathroom getting free tap water/ thinking damn I should have been a better father to my daughter.”

When Life Gives you Lemons, is just what the album is, people surviving, Slug surviving through his misery, fighting his monsters, and just trying to live one day at a time, trying to paint his life gold. The album is not is not a lemon, but it is not his goldest, it’s somewhere in between, but give credit to the group for evolving into something new entirely.

Monday, May 12, 2008

'For all the rockers... I know who you are'

Motion City Soundtrack's front man, Justin Pierre, delivers a show stop performance at the Chevrolet Theater in Connecticut. ( photo by Amy Willard)

Other image courtesy of

By Jennifer Penna

The Honda Civic Tour, which hit Connecticut, on Saturday May 10th proved to be a night of entertainment, great sound, and of course rock. The concert opened just before 6:30 PM with Doug Neuman, a jazz cover artist. While he demonstrated he has a good voice, singing songs like Fall Out Boy’s "Dance Dance," placed him outside of the style of the concert.

It wasn’t until 7:00 PM when Phantom Planet took the stage, dawning their own band shirts and jackets, that the audience rose to their feet. Even though they got off to a rough start with some rocky vocals, the band had electrifying energy and guitar solos performing songs off their Raise the Dead album such as "Geronimo," "Do the Panic," "The Living Dead," and their hit single "California" off The Guest record.

After a fifteen minute intermission, The Hush Sound performed keeping the momentum that Phantom Planet had generated. After Brendan Urie, lead singer of Panic at the Disco, came out to perform a quick solo, The Hush Sound continued by rocking out their hit songs "Honey" and "Wine Red." These songs show the audience that they are a band to watch out for and that they have a surprisingly good sound. The alternative rock quartet from Chicago have a jazz type feel with the piano that adds an element a lot of other bands today do not have.

Motion City Soundtrack's set soon followed and really got fans excited. They had such a strong opening with "My Favorite Accident" and their high energy continued throughout their performance. The few technical difficulties they experienced did not take away from the intense enthusiasm the band showed. After hearing and seeing them perform "Everything," "Broken Heart," "Time Turned," and many others, anyone can tell that Motion City Soundtrack has really come into their own and improved their stage presence and it seems they are only going to get better from here.

Everyone in the audience was standing from the moment they entered the stage to the last note of the last song even through the slower songs like ‘Last Night.’ The entire band was constantly moving and jumping around including the keyboardist and the drummer. The performance ended with their hit "The Future Freaks Me Out" and the entire band throwing everything off stage from drum sticks to water bottles and set lists leaving the audience to try and grab anything they can from the band’s amazing set.

The main event for the evening, Panic at the Disco, took to the stage with their sophomore album Pretty Odd With the new songs came a new sound that has a mix of hard and soft rock with positive lyrics. While they played a good amount of new and old tracks, the audience seemed to have more energy then the band, which is unlike their previous shows.

Many of their hit singles such as "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," were slowed down in tempo and did not have the same power that they once did. "Strike Up The Band" showed a little excitement with the guitar solos, but it seemed like the entire band and especially the lead singer, Urie, were holding back. "Folkin Around" also added a country sound to the mix whereas songs like "Northern Downpour" had more of Beatles type sound. Even though many of the fans were excited just to be at the concert, Panic at the Disco seemed to be just a shadow of their former selves.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Switchfoot announces tour for a cause!

image courtesy of

On Tuesday, Switchfoot announced a summer 2008 tour that will continue into the fall. The Music Builds Tour is the artists' way of giving back the community by raising money for Habitat for Humanity.

Also, the band has a released a song for the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia: Prince of Caspian film, called "This is Home." Listen to it on their MySpace.

Check out the dates below and for more information, visit their official website.

5.09 Addison, TX
5.10 Santa Clara, CA
5.13 Tonight Show
6.07 SF BRO-AM, SD
8/21/ Detroit, MI
8/22 Indianapolis, IN
8/23 Chicago, IL
9/07 W Palm Beach, FL
9/11 Cleveland, OH
9/12 VA Beach, VA
9/13 Hollmdel, NJ
9/14 Washington, DC
9/18 Birmingham, AL
9/19 Raleigh, NC
9/20 Atlanta, GA
9/21/ Nashville, TN
9/25 Phoenix, AZ
9/26 IIrvine, CA
9/27 San Diego, CA
9/28 Sacramento, CA
10/02 Dallas, TX
10/03 Houston, TX
10/04 San Antonio, TX
10/05 OK City, OK
10/10 Minneapolis, MN
10/11 Kansas City, KS
10/12 Denver, CO

Monday, May 5, 2008

21 not quite blackjack on the screen

image courtesy of

By Ryan Thomas

For the second time, both in his career and in the course of a year, Jim Sturgess lights up the silver screen. This time he is leading the cast of 21, directed by Robert Luketic. Although it is slightly disappointing when compared to the book, due to the many liberties the movie takes with the true story, 21 is fun (if not fresh) and worth seeing.

Sturgess plays Ben Campbell, a genius M.I.T. student dreaming of Harvard Med School. His only obstacle is the 300K tuition, which, as a lower-middle-class working stiff, he has no way to earn. This soon changes when his advanced math teacher spots his immense talents, and contrives to lure Ben into a high-risk, higher-payoff Blackjack outfit.

Mickey Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, corals the brightest minds M.I.T. has to offer in an attempt to re-live his card counting glory days: a time when he took Vegas for 7-figures in a single night, before being pushed into an early retirement by casino security thugs. But this dandy piece of info is kept secret from the team, who gladly walk the fine line between beating the house and getting beaten, for the chance to strike it rich.

Campbell changes all this from the instant he enters the team, lured in by his dream girl, Jill (also a fictional component of the film). Fisher, the group’s former big shot, is envious of Ben’s brilliance; Rosa is determined to exploit Campbell as well as he can, even if that means splitting apart the already loose bonds of friendship and trust in the team; Ben is willing to do whatever it takes to reach Harvard, and eager to take Jill with him if he can. The growing tension makes for a spectacular climax, made possible by a rogue security guard with a grudge against Rosa (played by Cole Williams)

21 is, if nothing else, a great ride. Though slightly confusing at points, it nonetheless keeps the viewer engaged and entertained. However, those looking for a more satisfying experience could try reading “Bringing Down the House”, the actual and, possibly, more exciting account of the real-life M.I.T. card-counting club.

Ryan’s Rating

2.5 Stars; 6 out of 10; 1 thumb up and 1 down; or the equivalent.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Feature Band: Sugar Glyder

image from

This week's feature band comes out of Charlotte, North Caroline. Sugar Glyder is an indie rock band with a great experimental sound. They are about to head out on tour with their 2008, full length album, We Cracked the Sky.

Some tracks to definitely check out:
"Sleepless We Seem" - indie with an experimental edge
"The Good Sheppard" - a good mellow track

for a complete list of tour dates and to hear more, please visit their MySpace at