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Aug 11

Album Review: Broken Hearted Toy

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“Note: This review previously appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.

The Laureates might have an elitist name but there’s no denying they elevate the art of garage rock on their second full-length CD. The 10 songs on Spells only take up a little over a half hour, but none of them feel short-changed. Well-crafted arrangements frequently burst into instrumental passages featuring the Chicago-based band’s intriguing blend of guitar styles.

Recorded during a year when The Laureates were also releasing a cover tune each month on their website, the CD often harks back to the original British Invasion. The social satire of ‘Life Of Leisure’ evokes The Kinks while ‘Changes, ETC’ exerts the power of The Who. Lead singer Chad Preston doesn’t vary his approach much, but the band backs him with ethereal harmonies, and his talky, melancholy vocals are well-suited to songs’ off kilter lyrics. ‘Robbers,’ a tale of homicidal thieves, is set to a Beatlesque arrangement, while the mutual paranoia of ‘Monitor Me’ bristles with punk intensity. Already critically acclaimed for their debut, There Are No More Gentlemen, The Laureates have beaten the sophomore jinx in style.

Aug 11

Album Review: babysue

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“We don’t normally review CD-Rs…but in this case there’s no actual physical CD as Spells is only being officially released on vinyl and as a digital download. If there’s one word we could use to sum up this band’s sound that word would be…unpretentious. Instead of clobbering their listeners over the head with complexity and technology, the folks in The Laureates offer a nice crisp clear dose of underground guitar driven pop. You won’t hear hundreds of overdubs here, the latest sampled sounds, or the coolest new synths. Rather and instead, these folks use the basics (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) to deliver their cool rhythm-driven pop/rockers. In terms of overall sound, what these guys are doing reminds us somewhat of The Feelies…but the songs themselves are markedly different. Lotsa cool guitar licks here and some really killer vocals that sound like it’s a real person (?!) singing. Cool rockin’ stuff…simply neat and totally hip.”

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