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July 2014
Peter Matthew Bauer
"Liberation!
"
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Thank God The Walkmen are on a “hiatus.” As unpopular a statement as that might be to fans of the beloved indie-rock outfit, the resulting album, Liberation! (Mexican Summer), by the group’s former bassist Peter Matthew Baur reinforces the truth behind what I think. Baur has taken the time as a chance to expand his wingspan creatively, producing an album that’s slick, resonant and infectiously psychedelic.
 
It’s a heady journey through the artist’s far-from-normal life, never lacking in emotion and fundamentally based in a sense of optimism. Also, one of the most fascinating things going on with Liberation! is how it blends local and international aesthetics without ever feeling like appropriation or pandering. Songs such as “I Was Born in an Ashram” and “Philadelphia Raga” feel organic and refreshing, incorporating exotic influences without ever making them feel awkwardly placed or unnecessary.
 
The whole effort is the culmination of a meditative post-“hiatus” tour through Europe, and it shows. The record is relaxed and casual yet exploratory, never seeming to break a sweat while being thoroughly entertaining. The collection of songs has a comforting accessibility reminiscent of couchbound evenings of honesty-filled, drunken/stoner chats with your best buddies, which may seem to come few and far between as all of us get older and busier. - Daniel Ludwig

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Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

A simple interwoven electric guitar riff accents rough, acoustic guitar strums, and then singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan’s wispy, lilting vocals enter the equation like a glimpse of sunlight parting the clouds of an overcast sky. Thus, begins Hop Along’s latest full-length album Get Disowned.
 
Opener “Some Grace,” a subtle bare-boned introduction, shares a bit of the fragility and vulnerability that can be found in Quinlan’s lyrics. The song morphs into faint electronic bleeps dissolving into a serene calm. However, the pending storm arises with the following track and the album’s lead single “Tibetan Pop Stars,” which cuts through the tranquility with boisterously dirty power chords and rolling thunder drumbeats. Once again, the vocals seem to play peacemaker, a calming force among the turmoil. That is, until the chorus takes flight, then falls to earth with the repeated lines “nobody deserves you the way that I do,” which gradually rises from the ashes of a broken heart. “No Good Al Joad” is paced by steady downhill bursts of acoustic guitar that is pierced by the interloping hammer of a pickaxe electric guitar. Quinlan’s vocals strain in an effect that expresses the emotive tug and pull of the narrative. This all comes to a head after a brief percussive interlude, which captures the ear signaling for audience participation. She reveals, “You are my favorite, because you are a long shot. You are my enemy, because you forgot.” This is just before pulling back into a corner to protect herself as she gathers the strength to share a bit of philosophical wisdom and universal truth: “Everybody is a little hard to love sometimes.”
 
With the precise production work of Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart, Get Disowned is a balance between agitated artillery-style rock with intimate, late night confessional vocals that dig their nails into your skin while simultaneously whispering sweet nothings into your ear. Despite the constant presence of distinctly tenacious guitar thrashes, Quinlan’s lyrical message remains a priority. It is often aided by the fact that the vocals are directed at the listener. In this manner, Hop Along invites us into an emotionally turbulent household leaving no curtains drawn or door locked.
 
You can purchase Get Disowned via Hot Green Records. Hop Along will also be celebrating its release tomorrow night at The First Unitarian with Bandname, Little Big League and Mary Lattimore. - Michael Colavita

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