“Floral Green” – Title Fight / “¡Uno!” – Green Day / “Babel” – Mumford & Sons

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Floral Green kicks off with a bang. This record’s first three songs all punch you in the gut before slowing down for the catchy single, “Secret Society.” The album veers into a different territory next with the other single, “Head In The Ceiling Fan.” This is a slow song with ample feedback and Title Fight’s guitarist, Jamie Rhoden, crooning over a cadre of distortion. This album reminds me of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, but mixed with Nirvana in some places. None of these songs sound like the Title Fight of the early pop punk days, nor the abrasive indie punk of Shed. However, this release is another sound that the band has mastered. They’ve taken the successful aspects of those earlier songs and matured them into their own sound. Certain tracks, like “Like A Ritual,” have an almost Radiohead guitar sound in the outro, as well as does “Lefty.” The record ends with a two-song indie crescendo that hearkens back to their live jams that they developed a few tours ago. It can be compared to Modest Mouse or Radiohead.

My only complaint is that I would have enjoyed more songs with Jamie’s voice on them. However, Ned Russin’s rasp holds this record together very well. Furthermore, he lends himself to far more poetic lyricism than prior releases, especially on the track “Leaf.” This record rocks and should be picked up in a hurry.

-Matthew Koerner

Recommended Jams: Numb, But I Still Feel It, Head In The Ceiling Fan, Make You Cry, In-Between

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To be perfectly honest, I did not have very high hopes for Green Day’s new album, ¡Uno!, after their previous release, 21st Century Breakdown, did not go over well with their fans. But now it’s safe to say that I was gladly mistaken. ¡Uno! is one of those good old-fashioned rock albums we all love, with some interesting influences interspersed throughout. It’s produced by legendary Green Day producer Rob Cavallo, which means it sounds a lot like what we’ve heard in previous Green Day releases. On the positive side of this, I think it’s very American Idiot-sounding with some Foxboro Hot Tubs thrown in for fun. Plus, we finally get to hear some more shredding guitar solos much like the ones heard way back on albums like Kerplunk! I could do without the megaphone effect on Billie Joe’s voice on every song, but that’s just me.

“Nuclear Family,” “Stay The Night,” and “Let Yourself Go” have that classic Green Day sound, and they’re all big hits off the album. “Kill The DJ” takes Green Day in a completely new direction, with some electronic and disco influence the likes of which we’ve never seen from the band. “Troublemaker” is very 60s and actually reminds me a lot of The Kinks. “Sweet 16” and “Oh Love,” however, are the two cheesy songs off the album, and are nothing special.

All in all, if you had doubts about this album but loved everything Green Day has put out prior (with the exception of 21st Century Breakdown), definitely give this album a shot. I almost guarantee you’ll love it.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Nuclear Family, Stay The Night, Let Yourself Go

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Ever since the release of Sigh No More back in ’09, I had that sneaking suspicion that Mumford & Sons would become one of those bands with one or two big hits early on (“Little Lion Man” and “The Cave”) and then quickly die out. But overall, I knew this band had such a unique sound and such passion for their music that their next album would be just as fantastic as the first.

Good ol’ Mumford & Sons did not let me down they released Babel, which takes a lot of its sounds and concepts from Sigh No More. Seeing as how successful that first album was, it makes sense to follow the same formula. “Babel,” “Below My Feet,” and their first (already hugely popular) single, “I Will Wait” are all classic Mumford & Sons at their finest. “Broken Crown” reminds me of “Thistle And Weeds” off the first album, and Marcus Mumford even sings a very similar melody. Despite sticking to the regular stuff, the band also shows they are willing to experiment with new sounds, like on “Whispers In The Dark;” some atmospheric tones are mixed into the background, creating a very different tone. The band also tries their hand at using full-on electric instruments on “Below My Feet,” as they demonstrated as musical guests on Saturday Night Live (this also showed how much raw energy Mumford & Sons puts into their live performances). The more I listen to the album, the more I realize how great every song is. “Hopeless Wanderer” is probably the “weakest” track, but it’s the slowest, softest song on the album, so this makes sense. It only clocks in at just over 2 minutes anyway, so you can get right back into the action.

Marcus Mumford’s lyrics are all generally about the struggle we’ve come to know as love, and some tracks (especially “Ghosts That We Knew”) also discuss his desire to forget old haunts and to be able to move forward with his life. The way this plays out is that some of the songs end up being incredibly depressing while others shine powerful, uplifting rays of hope down upon the listener. There’s really very little middle ground.

If you love Sigh No More, then you’ll love Babel; enough said. Mumford & Sons experiments a little here and there, but they stick very closely to their original formula. And with a lineup consisting of an acoustic guitar, keyboard, upright bass, banjo, bass drum, and tambourine split up among four dudes, that’s a pretty damn unique-sounding formula.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: I Will Wait, Ghosts That We Knew, Below My Feet

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