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>Two Rock releases caught my eye this year, one thanks to Pitchfork and the other thanks to iTunes. Both albums surprised me, one was a good surprise while the other was, well, not so much. So here’s my take on the two.

Yuck caught my attention on Pitchfork, when the first single from their debut self titled album was posted to their site. However “Rubber” (the first single) is not only the standout of the album it’s one of only two really great songs on the album while the rest fall really flat.
“Get Away” is a perfect Rock album opener, great hook and melody and some seriously amped up instrumentation from the band. By the time you get to “Rubber” which closes the album, it feels almost like you’ve listened to an hour of a Alternative Tribute radio station as most of Yuck’s album feels like retreads of other Rockers material from the 90’s. You can hear all the greats heavily influencing the sound on this album. Nirvana, Weezer (“Suck”), Green Day (“Holing Out”), Pearl Jam, Blind Melon (“Stutter”), there’s even some Blues Traveler-like material here. Not to say that the band doesn’t do well with the sounds, it’s just the album becomes too much of a hodge podge mess to enjoy as a whole. It’s not a terrible album, there are songs that are probably really good on their own but jumbled with everything else they lose some luster. The biggest problem is there’s nothing there that really screams Yuck, nothing that shows they have a unique identity in the rock field. There are still good moments that come from the album, “Operation” is another stand out as well as the instrumental “Rose Gives a Lilly”, the album just doesn’t make a great statement about who this band actually is.

2.5 of 5
Best: Rubber, Get Away, Operation

The sophomore album from Cage The ElephantThank You Happy Birthday” has its faults but no one can say those faults are a lack of excitement and energy.

The album is a great diverse mix of different Rock sounds, but unlike Yuck this group manages to make every song their own by putting a unique stamp on each song be it with vocals or the arrangements. They go from really loud and aggressive Hard rock tracks like “Indy Kidz” and “Sabertooth Tiger”, to subdued acoustic leaning tracks like the fabulous album closer “Flow”.  A slight departure from their more acoustic-y Hip Hop/Rock of their debut album, “Thank You Happy Birthday” is alot more exciting and feels like a group just really having fun recording and trying to push boundaries and try new things in different ways. Lead singer Matthew Shultz brings a weird high pitched vocal, but he’s really confident and experimental with it giving the listeners something new with every song. The band and the albums Producer Jay Joyce are just as adventurous giving us a very hard sound but adding really creative starts and stops, backing electronic blips.At times the album can be a little too much to handle, but I definitely commend the group for staying true to who they are. Their sound is new and unique and that’s something one should always look for in new music.

3.5 of 5
Best: Aberdeen, Shake Me Down, Flow

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