by Steve Marovitch
At first listen, I thought Platinum Weird’s Make Believe sounded amazingly polished for a first album, but after finding out the band is comprised of music veterans David A. Stewart and Kara DioGuardi, it became less of a surprise that this “new” band would sound so solid.
Platinum Weird is the ’70s rock scene-inspired project of two musicians who have spent a collective half-century in the American music industry. Stewart was longtime member of The Eurythmics with Annie Lennox, and is a prolific songwriter and record producer. DioGuardi is without a doubt one of the most influential songwriters out there, writing hits for the biggest names in pop music today.
When you put two prolific artists like them together, apparently you get something that sounds a lot like Fleetwood Mac. Is it as good as Fleetwood Mac? Well, not the Mac I know. Despite DioGuardi’s best efforts to channel Stevie Nicks, she just doesn’t have the same tonal quality to her voice that makes Nicks’ vocals so endearing. The album, however, is still enjoyable, especially if you’re looking for something new that doesn’t sound particularly mainstream. Make Believe isn’t an experimental album or anything close to it, but it’s not Fall Out Boy either, so don’t expect the same emo crap most labels are currently deeming “rock.”
The standout song of this album is the single “Will You Be Around.” The acoustic guitar, lush strings and folky percussion on this track meld seamlessly to create the perfect backdrop for DioGuardi’s star vocals. “Will You Be Around” is one of those songs that makes you want to sing along, thanks to a fantastic hook and heartening lyrics. Another great song is “Lonely Eyes,” again showcasing the fantastic songwriting ability of the duo. Overall this is a decent album and fans of Stewart or DioGuardi should check it out.
Some Loud Thunder
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
by Brian McGovern
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the group that essentially invented the both alliterative and acidic term “blog band,” has released its sophomore album, Some Loud Thunder. After the freakish, and violently fast, rise in popularity of Clap, the world could only expect a horrific Hindenburg-esque crash from the most overrated underrated band in the world.
Thunder, however, is absolutely everything but a disappointment; its release solidifies the bands place on the top tiers of independent music. Unlike their debut, this album doesn’t open with the weirdest, least-representative song on the record. The namesake track starts things off with what we’ve come to expect from the Brooklyn band – a high hat-driven beat, a melodious bass riff and Alec Ounsworth’s one-of-a-kind voice, all at their best. Same old band at first, but the album shows how the band continues to push the limits of the pop song form.
This album achieves a brilliant balance; songs seem to be on the verge of exploding into cacophonic chaos, but always are restrained and brought back to earth. For instance, in “Emily Jean Stock,” organs, church bells and drums come out from every angle. While the layered vocals sound like
a car with its brakes cut loose, Ounsworth proves to be a brilliant driver. What could be a horrific crash turns out to be a ridiculously exciting ride.
Mellower songs like “Long Song No. 7” pepper the disc with some appreciated variety. The slow tempo tracks still have that element of the avant-pop; stray accordions and tremolo picking interrupt the conventional construction to create an other-worldly atmosphere. In terms of avant-musicianship, though, the quintessential example is found in the stand-out track “Satan Said Dance.”
“Satan” must first be described by screaming: “AAAAH!” It’s a whirlwind of sound, beeping, ghost organs and happy gang vocals. If you’re planning your Halloween dance mix already, this song should be included.
Not the perfect album by any means, Thunder leaves room for improvement. That is just
a minor detail however; it takes a real nit-picker to find much wrong with the album. Clap has set the bar high once again and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.