Mercury Rev- All Is Dream (V2)
From the opening notes, it is obvious this is a departure from their past recordings, more subtle and atmospheric, less guitar influenced, a whirlwind of orchestras, strings, lush operatic voices, slide guitars, pianos, and understated drums that appear sporadically throughout the album. The vocals sound similar to Neil Young, Mark Linkous and Wayne Coyne, while as a whole, this made me think of what would have happened if Daniel Johnston had appeared on Pink Floyd's release "The Final Cut". Fans of Spiritualized and Sparklehorse might be especially pleased.
Tight Bros From Way Back When - Lend you a Hand (Kill Rock Stars)
If Rick Sims was diced up into crouton-sized pieces and devoured by AC/DC while their drummer was hopped up on 300 hits of speed, you might be describing the Tight Bros. In the same vein as Digits, AC/DC and Clawhammer, the formula seems to be simple- loud is good and is only created through a full stack of Marshall amps, anything less is pussyrock. If you ever get sick of labels, sweaters, funny glasses and pretense, releases like this remind you that sometimes straightahead senseless rock is the best bullshit detector.
Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power - Remixed and Remastered (Legacy/Columbia)
When I was a young punk, I listened to the stooges' raw power on vinyl religiously. I wanted to be badass. I wanted to be Iggy Pop. I didn't care if I had to shoot myself full of heroin, cut myself to ribbons and wear skintight silver pants and a badass cheetah print leather jacket and nothing else. I wanted to be Iggy Pop. Now I'm a much older post-punk, listening to the remixed and remastered version of raw power on CD in my nice car. Let me check...yep. I still wanna be Iggy Pop.
Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets (Relapse)
It finally happened. Neurosis went pop. It was only a matter of time I guess. They started working with Steve Albini a couple of years ago on their follow-up to Through Silver in Blood, Times of Grace. It seems like they've added more and more pop sheen to their already complex foundation. Is that an acoustic guitar I hear? Is that Britney Spears doing soulful backing vocals? Okay... I lied about Britney. Let's face it...this album kicks your ass up and down the street.
Nineteen Forty Five - Together We'll Burn Like Autumn Leaves (Daemon Records)
This is a collection of mostly loud, concise midtempo pop songs, a hybrid of boy/girl vocals and slightly noisy guitar driven mystery rock. Whereas John Doe & Exene would complete each others sentences, instead this band's vocalists sing/share their lines. Nothing disasterous here, certain songs would have made a perfect seven inch single and some good potential for future releases. To break it down, four really good songs, five so-so songs, and one song that could trigger a potential Elastica-type copyright infringement lawsuit brought on by Black Francis.
The Dismemberment Plan - Change (DeSoto Records)
There's a big black cloud over the Dismemberment Plantation and the indie bootyshakers will be crying in their Rolling Rocks. "There's no heaven… no hell" croons Travis Morrison on the opening track, and the pessimistic lyrical attitude reigns supreme from there on out. The frantic energy of "Emergency" is replaced with a rolling groove, yet The Plan impresses with an amazing ability to convey feelings of sadness without writing morbid music. An attempt to sort out issues: disaffection, loneliness and most of all: finding oneself jaded as all hell with life.
King Brothers- self titled (In The Red Records)
Blues Explosion-type garage rock with Japanese speaking reverb-drenched vocals, similar to David Yow & Jackie Chan making sweet love while using the microphone as a contraceptive. This release proves the best drummers only need three piece sets and the best guitar players need only one string, regardless of the country they are from. Loud organs and sloppy guitars, it is very rare that anything with handclaps and screaming doesn't cut the mustard and this is no exception.
The International Noise Conspiracy - New Morning, Changing Weather (Epitaph)
From the Swedish post-punk cookbook: One part Nation of Ulysses-style lyrics, one part The Make-Up-style instrumentals, mix in a pinch of communism and some residual horns from their recent tour with Rocket From The Crypt... Voila. Unfortunately, it appears that our Swede friends have encountered a musical perestroika of sorts. The energy remains, but the catchy anti-capitalist scum lyrics and instrumentals are lacking. The wall hasn't fallen yet, but Glastnost is upon us.
Laptop - The Old Me vs. The New You (Trust Me)
This nightmare of a release conjures up a million memories of disasterous junior high school dances long buried beneath a suitcase full of adulthood failures. Imagine EBN-OZN and Soft Cell style euro-synth pop with spoken word interludes about as hip as a David Bowie rap album. This all adds up to only one thing- Laptop are destined for greatness in the same way that Men Without Hats once were. Maybe I'm lame because I cut my hair with a Flo-Bee but this was about as tasty as rotting flesh-flavored sorbet.
Various Artists - Anticon Gigasingle
After hearing Jay-Z and Nelly for the 8 millionth time, the fine folks at Anticon have finally decided to take the law into their own hands. Consider this your hand-delivered invitation into the world of indie hiphop. Catchy beats, great samples and lyrics deep enough to put a left-wing feminist poetry slam to shame. Not the most polished hiphop you've ever seen, think of it more as a look at what's to come.
Bright Eyes / Son Ambulance - Oh Holy Fools split EP
Connor Oberst sounds like someone who may not have eaten or slept much in the last week. Lyrically dense, haunting and fragile, he paints vivid pictures with his words, while musically channelling piano, organ, flutes, and acoustic guitars into a wimprock bitchslap. He will never be confused with Son Ambulance, who in comparison, sound well fed and rested, singing about heartbreak while sounding like he never deserved the girl in the first place. Both well done, but Son Ambulance is just too damn pretty for my tastes.
Dead Kennedys- Mutiny on the Bay (Manifesto Records)
Rather than sell off Jello's body parts to settle their lawsuit, the members of the Dead Kennedys have decided to remaster their albums and also release this collection of live tracks from 1982 and 1986 on the Manifesto record label. These recordings are solid and if you liked them fifteen years ago, you'll love them now. These reissues also sound like much better idea than some stupid Gap commercial would have with Holiday in Cambodia in the background. Thanks to Jello for sticking to his guns.
Film School - Brilliant Career (Me Too! Records)
Quiet, hushed, fuzzy, and trippy, similar to Mojave 3, Spain or Bedhead meeting Jessamine in a knockdown, drag 'em out pillowfight. An audio futon to rest your body and conk out to or the perfect soundtrack for surgery. By song three, I was checking band photos for any signs of adam's apples and even checked my own pulse at one point. There are some good tracks here but calling any album "Brilliant Career" is a risky move. A better name for this LP would have been "Turtlenecks and No Sac" or "Musical NyQuil".
Drag City Supersession- Tramps, Traitors and Little Devils (Drag City Records)
After running out of hypodermic needles and realizing he had been married to Keith Richards for five years, Neil Hagerty promptly quit Royal Trux and spent a month scrubbing his skin with steel wool. This "supergroup" features Hagerty along with appearances by Bill Smog, sounding as if he is singing barefoot on an increasingly hot floor and Edith Frost. Not much consistancy but there rarely is in projects like this. To their credit, "One Chord Compliant", the last track, is as good as anything recorded by the Flaming Lips or the Charm Pops.
Leonard Cohen - Ten New Songs LP (Sony)
Cohen's latest release answers two burning questions 1) Can an artist sit back for close to a decade and still release a decent album? 2) Is Leonard Cohen still alive? The answer to both questions is "Um, I think so..." Suffering from recent cutbacks in the album naming department, Cohen industries compensates for a complete lack of titular originality by producing a beautiful set of songs which sound eerily similar to a collaboration between his aging singer/songwriter brethren Waits and Costello (which, sadly, only exists inside my own head). If only all late night easy listening sounded this good.
Solex - Low Kick and Hard Bop (Matador Records)
The must-have dance party record for stutterers who may have dated Beck. Imagine being served a musical cocktail prepared by your bartenders Pizzicato Five, Bjork, Tipsy, Cibo Matto and Vitamin C with a brain transplant. I could easily picture a sobbing Leland Palmer staggering around the living room to certain tracks clutching his neice while his wife cowers behind the bed. Show tunes for people who don't go to shows.
Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies & Upright Narratives LP (Warp Records)
Not quite danceable but enough down tempo beats to pull off a robot-dance in the solitude of your bedroom. For fans of Placebo Records and Land of the Loops with bonus points for the Dinosaur Jr sample. This would please the obligatory boy band thug without making him head for home for fear of a good old fashioned ass-whuppin'. Dare I say, the Steely Dan of home hip-hop. Left me feeling like a continental breakfast, there was something on the plate but not enough to fill me.
Spiritualized - Let it Come Down (BMG/Arista)
Mr. Spaceman joins the ranks of Eric Clapton, Mark Linkous, Johnny Cash and Rick James as he finally releases a sober album. Trippier than watching Nickelodeon on psilocybe. More heavenly than any church service you've ever attended. I would probably hate this album if it wasn't so damn pretty. If you've never understood Spiritualized, you never will. If you're a die-hard fan, you'll find yourself asking "yeah, but is it as good as Ladies and Gentlemen? Either way, you're screwed. Just relax and enjoy the ride.
Roots of Orchis - self titled EP (Slowdance Records)
How many different ways are there to rewrite the formula for post punk/jazz influenced instrumental indie rock? I am not sure, but there are many different flavors to choose from. The Roots of Orchis have added another tasty option onto the menu. This may be the perfect soundtrack when your girlfriend forces you to attend a lameass dinner party that falls into chaos as the third bottle of wine gets cracked open and the girls start turning cartwheels and smashing coffee tables.
The Microphones- The Glow pt 2 (K Records)
Picture Illayah Kuryakin holding a gun to Mark Kozelek's head and forcing him to record an entire album in three hours. Reluctantly, he agrees and finds although it was rushed, it seems to be his most original release to date. This hushed, fuzzy collection will not give you muscles, nor do I recommend driving long distances late at night to this. But added bits of horns, keyboards, highly personal lyrics and chunks of acoustic guitars mixed with a few brief instrumental interludes varied enough to defy genres equal out to a solid release.
Love as Laughter - Sea to Shining Sea (Sub Pop)
A solid piece of indie pop that does actually rock, a band that sounds like it prefers not wasting time or money over-producing their material, a big plus. Whether fast or slow, it's always loud, driving music that proves what might have been if Mac and Laura had not broken up. Rumor has it that an hour before they were scheduled to record this album, the singer caught the beating of his life and decided to record the album anyways. Worth every drop.
David Candy - Play Power EP (JetSet)
Nation of Ulysses flat-out ripped it up and The Make-Up had two great "live" albums and a busload of wonderful singles. Ian a.k.a David Candy comes back with a new EP that reminds the listener of what it is like to take a shit with the lid down. Ian asks "May I piss in your mouth? That will be eight dollars please". Spend your money on anything else and if you are in DC and see Ian on the streets, tell him Cornelius from Planet of the Apes wants his head back.
Quasi - The Sword of God LP (Touch and Go)
After the letdown of last year's Field Studies, this follow-up may leave the members of Quasi wondering if there is any more unchartered territory left to conquer. Although everything here on the new LP seems to recall older songs, The Sword of God may serve as a good introduction to get fans to rediscover their previous releases. If they do pack it in, Quasi will best be remembered for combining beatle-esque vocal harmonies and an organ-driven beat thrown togther in an indie rock pop blender and that's nothing to hang your head about.
Modest Mouse - Everywhere and his Nasty Palour Tricks EP (Epic)
Less is more. if you have heard Califone and Modest Mouse doing their cover of Slayer's "South of Heaven", you will be familiar with the sound of this new EP. Tim Rutili's influence seems pretty apparent on certain tracks and anyone who may have thought the last LP was a little too slick sounding will be pleased with the sound here. "Night on the Sun" has been part of the live set for over three years and at 30 minutes its a good sized EP worth your time.