Review Roundup: March 20

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 at 6:36 PM
Review Roundup: March 20 by Ben McCullough & Britton Rozzelle

Angel Du$t — 'Pretty Buff'

As bands evolve and create new music, the direction of their sound is often a hot topic among fans. It is always satisfying when a band takes steps forward towards crafting the purest expression of themselves. On their new record, “Pretty Buff,” the electrifying punk-rock supergroup Angel Du$t has incorporated new tastes and style to evolve their sound to a delightful, upbeat, place in pop-rock.

Unlike their previous albums, the songs on “Pretty Buff” are not something that will incite people to run around, wall to wall, hurling their bodies into each other; however, the energy is still there. Yes, the music isn’t as chaotic and exhilarating as what they are known for, but the up-tempo acoustic rhythms and slightly overdriven guitars work wonders paired with their fuzzy licks and solos, along with layers of new sounds. Bongos, synth, saxophone, maracas, tambourine and acoustic guitars all take Angel Du$t’s sound to new depths and expand upon something that’s been so good since the band’s day one. The tracks encompass a new kind of artistic energy, but if anything, they feel more Angel Du$t-esque than what their music previously sounded like.

At first listen many of these songs sound like a peeled-back, acoustic version of what I am used to hearing from them. I quickly began to realize these songs are full of so much more than anything they’ve done before. So many wonderful, extraordinary things are happening in these songs. The level of attention to detail is something we haven’t seen from the band and we get to hear them push their creativity to new limits.

When I heard the first two singles, “Big Ass Love” and “Take Away The Pain,” released in late 2018, I knew Angel Du$t was now taking a much more experimental approach to their music. This was the first time they released in over two years and I was extremely excited when I saw the songs drop. I was quite surprised upon first listen due to the lack of fuzz-driven power chords, shouting and breakdowns and was curious if this is what their music was going to sound like on the next record. I wasn’t thrilled by the new sound at first, but I think that’s because I was just so perplexed and expected nothing of the sorts from the band.

Tracks like “On My Way” and “Let Me Know” have a very similar feeling to songs off of previous records whereas tracks like “No Fair,” “Light Blue” and “Take Away The Pain” all feel like something brand new. Some of my favorite tracks such as “Bang my drum,” “Park” and “Five” do a beautiful job at finding the perfect blend between their old sound and new techniques to create songs that really encompass the feeling of “Pretty Buff.”
“Bang My Drum,” a track released on the EP “Lil Buff” earlier this year, starts off with a crunchy guitar lick that immediately had my attention. The song then leads into bright, warm chords from an acoustic guitar being played as maracas shake and different drums build up the energy, and I felt completely submerged by the sounds only 30 seconds in. The song’s catchy pop feel comes from the upbeat acoustic guitars throughout the song along with a bright layer of synth underneath everything else that’s going on. A soulful explosion of a saxophone solo is featured, which is luckily not the only time we hear from the instrument. Vocalist Justice Tripp’s style is very similar to previous records and it adds an extra push of power to the track.

Other than a few songs such as “Let Me Know” and “Biggest Girl,” I only have good things to say about this album. These two tracks are certainly not bad, but I don’t find myself being consumed by the emotion, energy or overall sound. Luckily, the other 11 tracks on the album are as beautiful and creative as can be, making up for anything I wasn’t too fond of.

Unlike almost everything they’ve previously written, this isn’t mosh music; however, it is still most certainly music for fans to dance their asses off to. I cannot wait to hear all that I can of “Pretty Buff” live, and if it’s anything like the recorded versions, I think fans will be in for a treat.

Standout tracks: “Bang My Drum,” “Park,” “Take Away The Pain” & “Five.”
Ben McCullough | 


Idiot Pilot — 'Blue Blood'

 Several years ago, I wrote about Idiot Pilot’s 2007 album “Wolves” as part of Spectator Music’s “Album That Changed My Life” segment. It was a record that got me through many things and introduced me, inadvertently, to a bunch of bands that I now appreciate.
The problem with my ongoing love of Idiot Pilot is that not many seem to know who they are, and their last album was that 2007 release. If they did, it was largely because their song “Retina and the Sky” was featured on the soundtrack for Michael Bay’s “Transformers.”
Until now, anyway.

“Blue Blood” is what happens when you take two now-seasoned musicians, wizened by time and side projects, and re-pair them to create a piece that captures the energy they once had while iterating and modernizing it. It is boisterous and layered — spanning 12 excellently-produced tracks that cover themes from love, doubt and self-image. Gone is the melodramatic teenage angst, replaced by a more introverted and analytic narrator — taking in the world, and reflecting it through each explosive drum beat, sustained falsetto note and electronic melody.

Standout tracks like “Sideways” and “Asylum” embody this the most — the former being a simple, but consistently well-produced track that highlights the strength of Michael Harris’ vocals, the latter being a stunningly unique dark dance song about relationships. Meanwhile, “Only So Much” sheds the layers and brings us to an intimate, country-guitar fueled tableau. A softer affair for the band, sure, but a welcome addition to this album that truly feels like a proof of concept; it’s more evidence that this band is something special.

“Blue Blood,” is a must-needed post-rock album for 2019, capturing elements of a band’s past and breathing new life into them for modern audiences that may have missed them in the 2000s.
My only plea is that it doesn’t take another 12 years to get a follow-up.

Standout tracks: “Sideways,” “Asylum” & “Only So Much.”
Britton Rozzelle |

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