Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends breaks from the wispy pop of Coldplay's first three albums and mixes things up a bit. Gone are the easily accessible, radio-friendly chart toppers replaced with a collection of gorgeous ballads, layered symbiotic guitar-focused tracks and melancholy, insightful lyrics. But don't worry -- this is still Coldplay, only darker and more mature. The band teamed with legendary producer Brian Eno, who helped enlist diversity through sound: tribal congas permeate "Lost!"; acoustic Irish folksy guitars meet Spanish handclaps on "Cemeteries of London"; grandiose strings create mystery on "Yes"; and sunshine soundscapes on "Strawberry Swing." The album is bookended by the same instrumental loop starting on "Life in Technicolor" and taking things out on "Death and All His Friends." Viva has a well-traveled feeling, a collection of short stories that gets better with every listen. You may not immediately click with it, but give the album a few spins and you'll grow to appreciate Coldplay on a whole new level.
Last month, UR Chicago spent the afternoon hanging with Australian dance/rock group Cut Copy, in town for two hyped shows at the Abbey Pub and an after party at Smart Bar. We took along our friends from VIMBY (thanks Noah!) to capture the time, where we hit Crust pizza in Wicker Park (some of the guys are vegetarian), the Intelligentsia coffee roasting works in the West Loop (apparently it's not only Chicagoans who can't get enough of those beans -- it's also the band's No. 1 North American coffee choice) and Union Park (where Cut Copy will be this summer as part of the Pitchfork Music Festival). Our final stop, before dropping the guys back at the Abbey, was a quick trip to Dusty Groove -- Chicago's premier record shop for hard-to-find vinyl for serious DJs (lead singer Dan Whitford uncovered a Chic album he didn't have -- and they guys are ga-ga for the '70s disco heroes). Overall, the day was a blast, the weather cleared up and Cut Copy -- who is one of our faves -- couldn't have been a nicer bunch of guys.