Motion City Soundtrack / My Dinosaur Life / Columbia
In a time where synthesizers and shoulder-length bangs rule one part of the music world, it’s glad to see pop punk didn’t commit suicide. My Dinosaur Life is living proof of that as Motion City Soundtrack seem to have ripped a page from their history. Littered with random lyrics about Veronica Mars and learning how to speak Japanese, the band are back to their ways and have even added a bit more edge. Not only is the sound vintage (thanks to producer Mark Hoppus), but the 12 tracks on the record seem to form a new identity for the group even though the catchiness is still intact. You could say its maturity, but the truth is, it’s honesty: a quality some present acts can’t portray through innocent vocals and excessive ramblings about infatuation with a member of the opposite sex.
Download: “Stand Too Close”, “The Weakends”
Cold War Kids / Behave Yourself EP / Downtown Records
“They didn’t belong there but kept hanging around, started trouble, made friends, and insisted they be heard”. It is odd to have such a statement on the artwork of a disc, but it fits this new EP by the Cold War Kids. Similar to their previous work, Behave Yourself stimulates the ears with gospel-filled indie rock that breathes off singer Nathan Willet’s howls and overall performance. Add handclaps to the mix (“Audience Of One”) along with vocal swoons (“Coffee Spoon”) and you can tell that the disc is polished with a tiny bit of perfection. With a few lapses scattered about, the only real letdown is the fact the EP with a unique warning label isn’t a full-length one can indulge in on a rainy Sunday night.
Download: “Coffee Spoon”, “Audience Of One”
Ringo Starr / Y Not / Universal
Listening to the latest album from Richard Starkley, or, as he is infinitely better known, Ringo Starr, is enough to transport a listener back to a very specific time in music’s past. Maybe it’s his polished funky rock style that he manages like a veteran tube train operator, chugging through all the usual stops (ie. ‘All aboard!, next stop is the verse, we’re coming up to the chorus, mind the bridge, thanks for riding!’); or, maybe it’s his nostalgic optimism and anachronistic “give peace a chance” attitude that sways and snaps its fingers along to each track on the distinctly up-beat album. Whatever it is, it only takes one listen to tracks like “Mystery of the Night” or “Walk With You” (which features Sir Paul McCartney singing backup) to perfectly beam a listener into a smoky wood-paneled studio in the late seventies where Ringo and an array of his musician friends (his All-Starr’s, as they are sometimes known) are making simpler music in a simpler time. Though collaborators abound (McCartney, Joe Walsh, and Joss Stone to name a few), no song on the album is without a very prominent “Starr” stamp. Look out for the psychedelic sitar breakdown in the title track. Groovy, man.
Download: “Walk With You”, “Mystery Of The Night”