Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New Music Tuesday

By Nick Romanow

APSCI – Thanks For Asking – Quannum Projects


APSCI, a husband-and-wife rap duo, are definitely living in a world of happily ever after, which might be good for their personal lives but doesn’t do much for their careers. “Thanks For Asking” introduces an innovative, refreshing take on modern rap: funky, soulful and often very electronic-sounding. In a world where it seems like most up-and-comers are content to latch on to the latest fad, it’s notable and laudable that APSCI are trying something new. Unfortunately, their fresh style grows stale very quickly, the duo sticks to pretty close perimeters from song to song, and the raps themselves don’t stir up anything interesting.

By the sixth song, “Voice Print Identification,” on the 17-track album, APSCI sound bored with themselves, lifelessly reading off a brief biography that leads into “Anais ‘ Godzilla,” which features some of the best beats and effects of the whole album but never quite gets off the ground.

The same can be said for the entire album, which is filled with video-game beats and irritating chorus vocals. “Thanks For Asking” isn’t bad but it’s a repetitive, forgettable experience. On the track “See That,” about halfway through the album, Mr. Lif shows up to lend some talent and some cred, waking the audience up long enough to once again lead into an unnecessary and unpleasant chorus. Putting APSCI up against Lif, one of the better rappers around, only highlights exactly what’s missing with this band. They have nothing to say and very little to do. “Thanks For Asking” is an album that’s as complacent as a married couple could ever be, and while APSCI probably has a happy home it doesn’t make for interesting music.

Fruit Bats – “Spelled In Bones” – Sub Pop Records


Hearing “Spelled In Bones,” the latest album from Chicago’s Fruit Bats, is the type of experience that doesn’t come along very often. “Spelled In Bones” has all the signs of a breakthrough album by a band that has toiled away for some time and finally perfected their sound. This isn’t a next-big-thing type of band or a savior-of-rock listen; it’s the sound of a band that is confident but not complacent. Fruit Bats have found a unique footing the world of indie-pop, showing up all the other new bands that have rushed in on what has become the new trend in music. However, where most bands fail by falling victim to formulas and similarities is where Fruit Bats thrive.

From the opening acoustic strumming of “Lives Of Crime” to the subtle electronics and beach-evoking slide guitar in “TV Waves” to the huge melodies of “Canyon Girl,” Fruit Bats prove song after song to be the cream of the crop, an inimitable band that knows how to make pure pop music with unique twists. And like any good pop experimentalists, Fruit Bats have a perfect ear for tones and sound. Incorporating myriad instruments and effects, including so-obvious-it’s-clever use of field recordings on the closing “Every Day That We Wake Up It’s A Beautiful Day,” Fruit Bats paint a soundscape that usually only the most seasoned veterans can create. Likewise, the lyrics steer away from the clich餠hopeless-romantic standard of the current crop of indie-pop. Instead, Fruit Bats create landscapes with a keen, literate style that occasionally turns Pavement-style clever (such as the “Legs Of Bees” couplet “I’ve been tryin’/I’ve been tried”) or melt into a Nada Surf-esque intelligent-love song (such as the Prince referencing “Earthquake Of ’73).

Combined perfectly with front man Eric Johnson’s soft but powerful voice and ear for melody, “Spelled In Bones” is a deep, but not dense, experience that only grows on multiple plays. With a natural feel and a grand scope, “Spelled In Bats” clearly spells out that Fruit Bats have arrived.

By Tim McCall, Collegian Staff


“Going Out Heavy”

Barebonz Entertainment


From the get-go of their first album “Going Out Heavy,” the Milton MA band Superlow lets it be known they play their instruments fast and loud.

What makes them worth a serious listen is the fact that they continue to play fast and loud throughout the entire album: a whole ten songs for over 30 minutes. The guitars never stop wailing and the drums never stop pounding as vocalist and guitarist Ed Thrill sings into the microphone.

The very first note out of Thrill is a misleading one. At first he sounds similar to Bruce Springsteen as he sings, “Hey there, are you looking at me,” but as the song and album go on he sounds similar to Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Despite the two comparisons, Thrill is a one-dimensional singer. This is no insult of him or his abilities, but he is; the dimension he uses works well with the album.

The rest of the band features Thrill’s twin brother, drummer Mark Thrill, as well as bassist and backing vocalist Pete Abajoli. They also sound a lot like the Foo Fighters, but where the Foo Fighters lose is in that Superlow is obviously a three-piece band and the Foo Fighters are a four-piece band.

The only negative aspect of the album is the relatively bad lyrics. Lyrics don’t have to be poetic or even storytelling, but they should at least make sense. On “Like Heroin,” Thrill sings, “You need her like heroin, you know she’ll put the needle in.” These two lines may sound out of context with their randomness, but they really were in a row and they make no sense. The rest of the album has better lyrics than this song. Their themes of teenage angst and dead-end jobs are not that bad, but they are done much too frequently in today’s rock ‘n roll even when the band members are no longer relatively close to their teenage years.

Bad lyrics aside, Superlow is one of Massachusetts’ best local bands and this album only shows why everyone outside of Massachusetts should hear.

Hobart Smith

“The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes – In Sacred Trust”

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings


Before today’s Bright Eyes and before yesterday and today’s Bob Dylan, the folk world had a hero named Hobart Smith.

Smith was born in the south and raised in a musical family. From his upbringing Smith was a multi-instrumentalist that gathered popularity performing with the guitar, banjo, fiddle, accordion and harmonica among other instruments commonly found in folk music in the first half of the 20th century.

Smith took songs from all over the music spectrum ranging from white performers to African American performs and tweaked them to his own style, but never forgot where they came from.

Sometimes he would record with friend and fellow musician Fleming Brown. The results of some of these sessions created Smith’s only release still in print today, “The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes – In Sacred Trust.”

This release is the product of a trip Smith had went to Chicago in October 1963 at Fleming Brown’s house in Chicago. Ironically, the music recorded that day was never intended to be released for the public to hear.

This is obvious because Fleming’s children enter and leave the room where the recording is being done and his dog is sometimes heard in the background.

The music that ended up in this session showcases a different world untapped in today’s music. Folk music was political then as it is today, but it was a different era of songs about topics such as the Civil War and growing up in the south. Growing up in the south is now a common subject for country music, but folk does it better and this is shown when Smith performs these songs. With this folk music, the listener disappears back to an earlier time well before rock ‘n roll.

Unfortunately, Smith died only a couple years following the creation of these songs due to complications from a stroke. Before his stroke, Smith was still in prime shape to create more music, learn more instruments to perform the music and continue to teach the musicians of the future.



Island Records


Thrice has always been a force to be reckoned with. Their music has always been slightly louder and heavier then their musical peers. So when Thrice signed to the major label Island Records, one had to figure success was just around the corner.

Thrice’s 2003 “The Artist and the Ambulance” came and went. Success was had in small amounts. The band was no longer supporting headliners, they were now the headliners. Kids flocked to see every show they could, causing the concerts to sell out.

Now it is two years later and Thrice is back with a new album. “Vheissu” takes the band’s sound for a spin turn. They have softened up a bit compared to their older stuff; not in a Goo Goo Dolls kind of way, but in a more mature way. As bands age they cannot stay heavy; it’s just one of those things, similar to the Deftones. The softer music is still relatively fast and noticeably so. This time around the lyrics just mean so much more – a sentimental value that their other albums did not have.

The biggest change in the band’s sound is the addition of the piano. This adds an interesting mix because so many bands out there deny the coolness of the piano, when in fact the piano is just as rock ‘n roll as a guitar – just ask Billy Joel. The piano notes in songs are mostly in an intro. We hear this proven with songs such as “For Miles.”

What is somewhat missing is the backing screams of the band’s older albums, though screams are definitely still around if you’re looking in the right songs (such as “The Earth Will Shake”).

If you let Thrice take over, they will surprise you. “Vheissu” is an album that in its entirety is almost flawless. There are songs for everyone: fast songs, medium songs, even a ballad or two. If this is not the music you pump your fist to when you’re alone in your dorm, then what is?

By Allie Roth, Collegian Correspondent

“Greatest Hits”


Jive Records

8 out of 10

Pop music from the late 1990s seems to be making a comeback. Even though the original fan base of such boy bands as the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees has grown up and possibly outgrown the pop years, it’s clear the market is still here. Last year, pop goddess Britney Spears released her greatest hits album, and earlier this year the Backstreet Boys released a new album paired with a club tour and full arena tour. Both brought in large amounts of revenue. It would only seem logical to have *NSYNC follow in these footsteps in an attempt to recapture their glory days. Their newest album is a compilation of what they consider their 12 greatest hits. It proves to bring the listener back to a time when life was simple, music was just for fun, and a little bit of Justin Timberlake was all we ever needed.

The songs vary from early to later, and in one case, the rare. Starting off with “Bye Bye Bye” and then moving right along to “Girlfriend (featuring Nelly),” and singing along seems inevitable. Ballads such as “This I Promise You,” “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You,” “Drive Myself Crazy” and “Gone” bring back memories of a middle school relationship that would last forever and an unrequited crush that would never go away.

Classic songs like “It’s Gonna Be Me,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “I Want You Back” and “Pop” renew one’s latent desire to learn all the dance moves featured in the flashy and lavish music videos. Track 11 is a song that was a bonus track on the foreign release of “No Strings Attached” called “I’ll Never Stop.” This song seems familiar because of the typical pop structure and common pop metaphor of “hearts” and “hands.” And finally, “Music of My Heart” provides a mellow end through the voices of Justin, JC, Chris, Lance, and Joey with special guest Gloria Estefan.

“What’s the deal with this pop life and when is it going to fade out?” No one really knows. This greatest hits CD has everything a not-so-former pop fan could want. The only thing that is missing is the song “It Makes Me Ill,” which could easily replace the ballad “Gone.” It’s just a fun CD that people should include in their collection. Lately, the trend in music has been focused towards more serious and intense music. For times when seriousness needs to be juxtaposed with familiar fun, this CD is more than willing to provide the latter.

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