#reviewoftheweek / Of Monsters And Men - Beneath The Skin

Of Monsters And Men came out of nowhere with their debut album and were a massive hit both in the pop and alternative worlds. That put an incredible amount of pressure to repeat that success on their second album. With that, it looks as though they have created one of the year's best album. The thing is, this album is more artistic than pop-friendly and may not translate incredibly well on pop radio. This album feels more like something that Death Cab For Cutie or even TV On The Radio would record. "Crystals" is by far the album's most accessible and leads the album off well, with other tracks like "Empire" and "Orphans" showing off the band's song craftsmanship. Other standout tracks, showing off the band's less folk and more alternative side, are "I Of The Storm" and "Black Water," both of which receive a remix on the deluxe version of this release. It's nice to see that OMAM have not tried to remake their success throughout this new album, but rather showcase their talents with excellent alternative rock songs that should have them winning critical praise and awards by the year's end.


#reviewoftheweek / Slightly Stoopid - Meanwhile... Back At The Lab

Almost 20 years ago, Sublime was all the rage on the So Cal music scene. Slightly Stoopid has been just that for the past decade or so, and this album bridges the two bands' sound better than ever before. Slightly Stoopid has been know for their reggae and punk driven songs, but as the band has matured over the years, their artistry has become more prominent. This album could possibly be their most defining collection of songs. Highlighted mostly by reggae and mellow acoustic tracks, they'd pulled together their party vibe and live show energy and harnessed it in the studio. One of the biggest surprises on the album is the lead track "Dabbington" which is a funky instrumental that gets you in the mood to listen to the rest of the songs. Other highlights include "This Version" and "Rolling Stone." There are probably more radio friendly songs on this album than Slightly Stoopid have ever recorded and they are driven by "Life Rolls On" and "The Prophet" which has a major connection to a song previously recorded by Sublime. Slightly Stoopid are the current crown holders for the best of So Cal, once owned by Sublime, and it doesn't look like they're ready to pass it on any time soon.


#reviewoftheweek / Matt Costa - Eucalyptus EP & Cat Mosta EP

Matt Costa's plan is to release a handful of EPs by the end of the year. His first two are folk masterpieces. Costa has dabbled in a lot of different styles throughout his short career, but has shined the brightest when he presents his music in stripped down folk format. "Eucalyptus EP" is primarily instrumental, and as it was released first, eases you into the classic folk sounds of Matt Costa. "Cat Mosta EP" was mostly recorded with the intent of becoming demos, but Matt felt that his fans needed to hear his music in this way and decided to release it. Costa's music is defined by the lyrics on these two EPs, and rather than make the listener wait for an entire collection, he's hitting us up with snippets of what he's working on. It's a great insight into how a musician works, and the intimate and short collections are miniature works of art.


#reviewoftheweek / Amos Lee - Live At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony

Live shows don't always translate well into live albums. This is not one of those cases. Amos Lee's collaboration with the Colorado Symphony is one of the best live albums to come out in years, by any artist. You might think it's just Amos with his guitar and a backing orchestra, but that's not the case. In fact, Amos has his full band, and the music is only supplemented by the incredible instrumentation of the "backing band." It's not a Amos-plays-all-the-hits album either, making it excellent for both die hard fans and the casual listener. Some of his bests are included, though, such as his first ever single "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" and popular "Sweet Pea." The album is bookended by two of his best ever, leading off with a spirited rendition of "Windows Are Rolled Down" which kicks the whole show off into high gear. He closes the set with an encore capped off by "Arms Of A Woman" which is one of his most poignant, showing off the songs subtleties and really showcasing his talents as a songwriter live on stage. Amos is as good a live musician as he is in the studio, and this should turn on even the most casual of listeners to wanting to see him live.


#reviewoftheweek / Bag Of Toys - Eating Monsters

Bag Of Toys are severely underrated. Sure, their blend of acoustic pop is the kind of music that seemingly only a certain type of music fan can love. You hear elements of Jack Johnson and Bob Marley and Sublime all throughout, however, these guys are blending acoustic pop and lyricism with the same ease and intensity as was going on in the 60's. They've, of course, put an updated modern twist on that style, and on this album, they'd surprised us with a large collection of new tracks that are fun and bouncy without seeming like a continuation of previous releases. Their west coast vibe is evident, and on songs like "Hold On Me" and "Callin' All Friends" you are reminded as to why this band puts you in a good mood all the time. Their light hearted and subtle comedic side is always present, and this time is no different on songs like "Stinky Gorilla" and "Boner In My Baggies." "Love" is another standout track, showing off a bit of simple reggae influence, which is absolutely present on several other tracks. Bag Of Toys can be an unfamiliar band, but they have a familiar sound that makes their newest album excellent.

BURN THIS / July 2015

  1. Matt Nathanson "Gold In The Summertime"
  2. Family Of The Year "Make You Mine"
  3. Moon Taxi "All Day, All Night"
  4. The Revivalists "Keep Going"
  5. Anderson East "Satisfy Me"
  6. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats "I Need Never Get Old"
  7. Tim Rogers & The Bamboos "Easy"
  8. Allen Stone "Freedom"
  9. Leon Bridges "Better Man"
  10. Alabama Shakes "Sound & Color"
  11. Dawes "Right On Time"
  12. Rayland Baxter "Yellow Eyes"
  13. Angus & Julia Stone "From The Stalls"
  14. The Staves "Make It Holy"
  15. William Fitzsimmons "Pittsburgh"
  16. Chadwick Stokes (featuring Lucius) "New Haven"
  17. Xavier Rudd & The United Nations "Flag"
  18. Slightly Stoopid "The Prophet"
  19. Blues Traveler (featuring The Dirty Heads & Rome) "Vagabond Blues"
  20. JJ Grey & Mofro "Ol' Glory"