Album Review

Jose Gonzales
In Our Nature
[Imperial Recordings]
Grade: A
-Caitlin Cremer

There is something fundamentally different in José González’s new album, In Our Nature, than in his first album, Veneer. The classical guitar is still present and ever-compelling, but there is something more innate in his performance as if he connected to something inside of him that drives him. The lines and the texture are stronger and more complex, and the album focuses more on what drives human nature, rather than stories of the heart.

Originally a student pursuing his master’s in microbiology, González conveys his story of atheism and biological behavior. In “Abram,” he speaks to his atheist beliefs. The song is the shortest in the set, but it’s perhaps the most profound. Every line is direct and clear: Even though you mean well, well most of the time/You’ve aided delusion and created bias in our minds.

He also covers war in his songs “How Low” and “Killing for Love.” His songs are not pointed directly at the people who are initiating war but rather at the mentality of it. Using his music for a divulgence into the forms of human behavior paired with the regenerated classical guitar truly makes his music, in one word, endearing. The final song, “Cycling Trivialities,” is, in my opinion, the best on the album. It’s as if it completes the essay with a “so what?” and acts as the conclusion to this chapter. It’s almost as if I can feel a sigh of resignation released in the final note.

Parts and Labor
Grade: B+
-Steve Marovitch

Loud. Explosive. Urgent. These words could only describe two things: me in the bathroom after a Dos Reales burrito and the music of Parts and Labor. Today you’re in luck; I am, in fact, talking about music . and not the kind that comes out of my butt trumpet. Parts and Labor, the Brooklyn-based noise/punk/electro-rock (tack on a few more genres if you like) outfit has been creating some really cool music since 2002. This year, they released their third full-length album, Mapmaker, to my ears’ very serious adulation.

On Mapmaker, the band lets us have it with an aggressive mix of punk rock drums, squealing guitars and bugged-out Casio keyboards. This is an album best enjoyed at high volumes. About 40 minutes in length, the up-tempo 12-song LP packs in a lot of great tracks in a short amount of time. One of my favorite songs on Mapmaker, “New Crimes,” opens with a subtle strum of the electric guitar and slowly morphs into a bizarre punk Irish jig. It’s weird, but it’s good.

Mapmaker is eclectic to say the least. The variety of sounds seems infinite and left me wondering just what the hell they were using for instruments on a lot of the songs. Take “King of the Hill” for example. The song’s high energy drums, epic vocals and wicked guitar breakdowns kick ass, and on top of this rock sundae there is a cherry: a totally bizarre, crunchy, glitched-out synth melody (made with who-knows-what amalgamation of synthesizers and effects).

Overall, this is a pretty fantastic album. The best thing about the up-and-coming band is that they’ll be coming to the Highdive Oct. 26. This CD is definitely worth a listen, so be sure to check them out, and don’t miss your opportunity to see them live here in Urbana.

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