Angel and the Love Mongers have just a hint of the talent that made The Smiths and The Cure so great. For the most part, that tinge of talent should be understood as the same kind of misinterpreted artistry that has made modern bands like The Killers popular and famous.
Angel and the Love MongersThe Humanist Queen**1/2
Angel and the Love Mongers have just a hint of the talent that made The Smiths and The Cure so great. For the most part, that tinge of talent should be understood as the same kind of misinterpreted artistry that has made modern bands like The Killers popular and famous. It’s perfectly average music that is playing off the images of bands from yesteryear. This doesn’t make Angel and the Love Mongers’ first release, The Humanist Queen, a bad album. It’s catchy at times, easy to listen to, and on tracks like “Sideways,” it sits on the edge of being emotionally evocative. But right away, songs like “Speak Straight To Me Or Die” take away any progress that front man Angel Zuniga may have made in his effort to be the bands he grew up listening to. It just won’t happen.
The absolutely flawless production and heartfelt passion that Enrique Iglesias has put into his eighth studio album shows the raw talent the man embodies. With songs like “Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song),” and lyrics like “Maybe if I knew all the things it took to save us, I can fix the pain that bleeds inside of me,” the evolutional path that this man’s music has taken is obvious. OK. Now that you’ve realized I’m lying, I’ll tell you the truth. This album sounds exactly like Enrique Iglesias. It’s filled with synthesizers, melodramatic themes and melodies, and voice loops. He whispers to you as if you were his only lover and hedges all of his bets on one song (in the case of this album, that song about ping-pong). If you like Enrique, then great, have fun. If you’re a normal person, you can just ignore Insomniac.
Vulture WhaleVulture Whale****
Vulture Whale doesn’t seem to try too hard to differentiate their songs. It’s one of the few unfortunate things about the band that, on their self-titled first release, has a more energetic indie-rockabilly sound than most other bands like them. It’s a sound that is often muted among modern musicians who, like Wilco, have either toned down their country roots for the serenity of folk or have muffled it with overproduced instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong: Vulture Whale is not Kenny Chesney. They’re a band that embraces their Southern roots (Birmingham, Ala.) and uses a perfect mix of country and rock to make an album that is not only accessible, but a fun and memorable listen.
The EssentialsThe Essentials***
The sheer idea of The Essentials, from Eugene, Ore., is impressive. Sure, their self-titled first release is just typical jazz–at that, it’s a little raw and under-produced. But they actually have 11 people making up the entirety of their jazz, rhythm-and-blues band. As a group, each member has some kind of connection to the University of Oregon music program, most of them having graduated from it. At times, they sound like Stevie Wonder. Other times, when they slow down, there is a hint of Marvin Gaye. The Essentials are an impressive feat, and if jazz is your thing, you’ll be happy to know of them.
The Essentials will be playing at the Blitz Bar, located at 110 N.W. 10th Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 10 p.m. The show is 21 and over, and there is no cover charge.
-All reviews by David Holley