The Sound of Silence

The Concretes, The Concretes

The Concretes started when three women reached the conclusion that they could make pop music as well as any of their idols, who, by the sound of things, must have included the Supremes, the Crystals, and maybe some Mazzy Star. About 10 years and as many members later, the group has their first proper release, which is suitably self titled and released on their own label, Liking Fingers. Other releases include three EPs, the first two of which were combined and released on the Up label as Boyoubetterunow and featured the pretty mugs of their mothers on the cover.

What’s interesting about the Concretes is that while they’re made up of eight permanent members, and feature a handful more during live performances, their sound is gentle, almost delicate. If you listen for them, the horns, piano, strings, bells and various percussive instruments are quite obvious, but a more natural and less suspicious spin of the vinyl will keep them in their subtle backgrounds. Conversely, constantly in the front and center are the beautifully shaded vocals of Victoria Bergsman, who’s responsible for the Hope Sandoval comparisons that the band can’t seem to escape. And then there’s the girl group, Phil Specter influence that undoubtedly the band themselves are aware of. It would be almost impossible to arrive at such a luscious sound otherwise. But to say that the Concretes are only doing what’s been done better would be a mistake. Each song has its own charisma and character that slowly win you over. Before you know it, you’ll be singing along and calling twice a day. Truly with this indescribably wonderful album, the Concretes prove good things really do come to those who wait. -Nathan McKee

Alvin and the Chipmunks, Chipmunk Punk

Face it. Alvin and the Chipmunks introduced svelte rock ‘n’ roll to an entire generation of children. In the 1960s, the group’s lighthearted renditions of classic rock favorites shot them straight to the top of the billboard charts and into every home in the United States. They soon became known as the "Jacksons of the rodent family" and should have been enjoying their success, but not all was right with Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Their iron-fisted stepfather, Dave, was notoriously short tempered and demanded perfection the boys, especially from the mischievous and charismatic Alvin. The boys also suffered from what is commonly known in animation circles as "not really existing" and thus never aged a day in almost 25 years.

This constant criticism and lack of being is credited with sending the group towards edgier waters. Their heralded 1980s album Chipmunk Punk was the product of that adversity, and has since become synonymous with the punk/new wave/singing marmot movement of the 1980s.

Singles: "Call Me", "You May Be Right" "Let’s Go (I Like the Night Life, Baby)" -Bradley Carroll

Portland Trail Blazers Championship Team, Blazermania

Before the "Jail Blazers," before the weed, before the half-empty Rose Garden, before the sucker punch, before the terribly biased reporting, before John Canzano, before the suspensions, fines, dog fighting, the middle finger, nanny stoppage, parking lot melee, loading dock incident, Coke can controversy, trading card catastrophe, night club shooting… before Bob Whitsitt, there was something called Blazer Mania. For everyone that has forgotten (The Oregonian), let this record stand for what once was the Portland Trail Blazers.

It makes you wonder what it would sound like if this year’s squad cut an album.

As it was, the championship album has the actual play-by-play highlights of the six-game series against Dr. J and the Sixers. Blazers voice Bill Schonely narrates the team’s mercurial rise from fledgling losers into NBA champions, beloved sports media darlings, and the pride of the Pacific Northwest. Seems almost like 28 years ago.