Music review: Mumford & Sons keeps its sound steady

Few contemporary artists have the ability to create and deliver music that grabs a hold of a person’s heart and soul and squeezes out every feeling, every emotion, every drop of life and splays it across a canvas of song.

Mumford & Sons are among the few and do so quite well. In its debut album, “Sigh No More,” Mumford & Sons sets itself apart from other mainstream groups by creating a unique sound that is good but inflexible at times. It is soft, followed by a punch of vigor, then suddenly receding. And people love it.

On Sept. 25, Mumford & Sons released its second album, “Babel,” and with it came the same rich and passionate instrumentals and vocals.

The music in “Babel” has soul, finesse and power in its simplicity. The melodies aren’t complex. The notes and chord progressions are nothing new.

What makes Mumford & Sons different in “Babel” is its ability to force all of its being into the songs and then blow them up to that iconic Mumford & Sons sound on the album and in live performances.

“Frontman Marcus Mumford’s impassioned and rasping vocals give the air of a man who is at least singing for his supper and, on occasion, even his life,” said Ian Winwood of BBC, regarding the sounds of “Babel.” “[The songs] flutter like a quickly beating heart, melodies drifting in and out of focus as the moods shift from gentle refrain to dominant force. It’s beautiful and stirring.”

Other critics were not so impressed. However, many who rated the album lower did not dislike the music itself. What disheartened them was the lack of progression in the sound and style of Mumford & Sons. They heard “Sigh No More” and loved it. They expected a grander, more majestic and advanced tone in “Babel,” but instead got just grand and just majestic.

I’m perfectly satisfied with the latter. Mumford & Sons’ powerful yet often gentle sounds stir the soul and emotions and move them in ways that few other contemporary musicians can. I am delighted Mumford & Sons stuck to its passionate style. I am delighted with the lack of change.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

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Music review: Dave Matthews Band boasts its refined sound in new album

The Grammy Award winning group, Dave Matthews Band, released its new album, “Away From The World”, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, relieving fans’ much anticipated tension. Media reviews range on a spectrum  from “boring and weak” to “impressive and beautiful.”

“I’ve been listening to Dave Matthews Band for a long time,” freshman Curtis Hunter said. “I bought their new album and was very impressed. It was classic Dave Matthews. All their music is beautiful. This album is no exception.”

Dave Matthews Band is known for its smooth melodies with strong vocals and jazzy riffs backed by horns and keys. “Away From The World” followed suit but did so with a more refined,  mastered style.

Approaching its second decade of existence, DMB has taken its time to craft and perfect its style and sound. The album represents this tone well. While the distinct sound of Dave’s voice and classic saxophone remain, the grittiness has been cleaned away.

Many might find this attractive and enjoyable,  while others prefer the sometimes sharp and rough sounds of the “old” Dave Matthews.

“While ‘Away From The World’ is nice, I found it almost too perfected,” sophomore Eli Casteel said. “What made Dave Matthews so fun to listen to was the imperfections — you didn’t know what they were going to do with a song when it starts. [‘Away From The World’] is too predictable, too boring. It lulled me to sleep.”

While big-name bands will always have mixed reviews and opinions, DMB has remained noticeably consistent over the years.  “Away From The World” is not excluded from that pool.  The classic sounds one can expect from DMB all remain. What sets its new album apart is the way DMB took that sound and refined it to create a nicer, polished tone.

I have always been a fan of DMB’s ability to fuse jazz-like sounds with a more or less rock style base. I am a jazz enthusiast, so hearing DMB focus slightly more on that in “Away From The World” was refreshing. It is not my favorite DMB album, but it is still classic Dave Matthews, which is always fun to listen to. There is so much talent in the group, and they manage to orchestrate their music incredibly well.

Peter Duell Staff Writer

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Music review: The Avett Brothers delivers album of contrasting emotions

You know those songs that seem to capture your soul and before you know it your toes are tapping and your head is swaying? Well, the Avett Brothers has mastered the mysterious art of connecting listeners to symbolic meanings much deeper than a mere scramble of lyrics. I’d call it an erratic mixture of emotions that somehow all flow together. Know what I mean? It’s like one moment you’re singing along to a melancholic verse, and the next your heart is pounding to the upbeat and synergistic chorus.

Scott and Seth Avett have been into music ever since they were young and once played in a rock band named Nemo. Eventually, in 2000, the band became The Avett Brothers (Bob Crawford was added as Bass guitarist) and it was not until two years later that they hit the road running and released their debut album “Country Was.”

The band’s music is a combination of country and folk, and has a modern day Beatles vibe mixed with the blues of Doc Watson. I saw the Avett Brothers live this summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, Colo., and their passion flowed out from their voices and collective instruments in all directions; all coming together to create this magical noise.

The Avett Brothers released their newest album, “The Carpenter,” on Sept. 11. Once again they have hit the target with the overarching goal of music: relating to their audience and capturing the pure, simple peace that music brings.

Similar to previous albums, this one is so very real, and when you really listen to the words they pull you towards a conundrum of pensive thought. Every song is a story, one that pulls you in and makes you feel at home with the melodic folk beat. And in each is several lessons that we can all connect with.

In the song “Once and Future Carpenter,” Scott Avett sings, “Well we’re all in this together, If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” How many of us are constantly wishing for something better than the circumstances we’ve been given instead of simply living without fear of the future. Motivational, right?

Looking at the band’s big success album, “I and Love and You,” the Avett Brothers’ new album returns to the rebellious arrangements and whimsically jaunty lyrics of that and earlier albums. As is seen in their song, “Through My Prayers,” the contagious background humming of the cello and the elevating picking of the banjo chime perfectly through their song’s mixtures of light and dark, comedy and tragedy, and fast and slow. Check out “The Carpenter” and get ready for a roller coaster wave of emotional enrapturement.

Christina Spencer Staff Writer

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