[critic]al thinking

Saturdays = Youth + M83 = bomb-ass record


Saturdays = Youth

(Mute U.S.)

3.5 Stars

Record Review Molly Shaker

“Saturdays = Youth” – the most recent album from French musician M83 (aka Anthony Gonzalez) – is big music.

And by big, we really mean epic.

In almost every sense of the word, “Saturdays = Youth” will rock you with music that moves in all directions. But, the direction this album seems to move us the is backwards – back to the Saturday nights of our youth.

The album begins with the twinkling of piano chords and is gradually taken over by Gonzalez’s catchy falsetto.

Joined by three other players, Gonzalez has created an album that tickles the nostalgia in us the same way Montreal group The Arcade Fire does. The combination of alternative and electronic caters to the technological advancements of the day while still allowing us to bask in the times when music (and life) was a bit simpler.

Regardless of Gonzalez’s intentions, this album truly does bring us back to the Saturdays of our youth. The mix of lustful and tense high school weekend nights come reeling back at us with tracks like “Up!” and “Until the Night is Over.”

“We Own the Sky” speaks to M83’s surprisingly authentic 1980s sound, more specifically the music we’d expect in an ’80s film set in a Midwest high school – the plot revolving around something pertaining to teen angst.

Picture this: Matthew McConaughey’s character in “Dazed and Confused” clearing the halls of his high school – in slow motion, of course: girls drool as he passes, boys try to mimic his style.

And maybe, just maybe, M83’s “We Own the Sky” is playing as he disappears off-screen.

Blind Melon does justice to their friends

Blind Melon

For My Friends


4.5 Stars

Record Review Wes Sharer

Thirteen years after Shannon Hoon’s death, Blind Melon is back with a new frontman (Travis Warren) and they really do Hoon’s memory justice.

“For My Friends” revisits the more folky/jammy rock roots that made the band’s self-titled album such a hit. While they may still need to work on their song construction, what they have here is certainly closer to the band’s old Guns-N’-Roses-covering-Grateful-Dead sound than “Soup” was.

The album starts out on the right note (so to speak) with their higher energy selections, including the title track and the first single, “Wishing Well.”

Then they really let loose with the funkier, swung “Sometimes” which lets the drummer show off his ability to make something so simple so catchy. The only problem with this song is that its climax is lacking the sweet solo we get a few songs later, sounding out of place in 2006’s single “Make A Difference.”

If you’ve never been thrilled by any Blind Melon other than “No Rain,” this album might not change that for you, most of it sounds like it’s reaching back to try to find the magic hidden in that song.

If you’re a fan of their entire collection, however, this album should be exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Overall, it’s closer to their folk rock roots that brought 1993’s “No Rain” than 1995’s “Soup” but none quite make the same impression; it sounds like The Grateful Dead as covered by Guns ‘N Roses. “The Right Set Of Eyes” and “Wishing Well” on the current record are rockier with great energy. “Sometimes” has a great build and a very catchy but ultimately weak climax.

Their early release “Down On The Pharmacy” is better than the more regular sounding “Make A Difference,” a mediocre song, if not out of place, and in simple solo that really gets the job done. “Last Laugh” starts out almost slow, but progresses into a more rocky progression without building up first – it leaves you wanting a “more” that never comes.