Daft Punk - Alive 1997 (Virgin)
Anyone familiar with Underworld's Everything, Everything will know what to expect from the live techno genre. Imagine the exact opposite of Discovery - pure, back to basics, techno for the sake of being techno. All of your favorite early Daft Punk hits, consolidated into a single 45 minute track makes for fun, mindless listening. Rumor has it, this album is only on the shelves until Christmas, so fans should act swiftly.
The Dark Fantastic - Goodbye Crooked Scar (Up)
The Dark Fantastic turn down the rock and roll dimmerswitch to set a mood that brooding sophisticates can sulk to. Generally slow, a restrained beat struggles to propel things forward before finally giving up the fight. Most songs seem trapped in a musical no-man's land that is neither slow nor fast enough. If the band Truly floated your boat this may be your Pacific Princess, as they feature former member Mark Pickerel, but it ends up sounding somewhere near Mark Lanegan and Ian McCulloch sitting in with The Proclaimers.
Guru - Baldhead Slick and Da Click (Landspeed Records)
Far too often, HipHop collaborations fall victim to the One part genius : Three parts mediocrity curse. Unfortunately, Guru's latest project is no exception. Pete Rock and DJ Premier's talents are apparent, but much like a Wu-Tang side project, the problem becomes an issue of too many cooks in the kitchen. With two dozen rappers making guest appearances, something was bound to go haywire. A few stellar tracks, but it's no Full Clip.
Bardo Pond - Dilate (Matador)
Instead of exhausting the atmospheric, stoner sludge rock genre, Bardo Pond have decided to dive headfirst into the deep end of the psychedelic gene pool. Past releases have always had three short songs for every long track but on this release Dennis DeYoung's influence is apparent as their longer tracks dominate and the vibe is allowed to seep into your resin soaked brain. Largely enjoyable, just listening to this may put the results of your next mandatory drug test in jeopardy.
The Autumns- Le Carillon EP (Absalom)
Comprised of four extremely pretty songs in an ultra sugar-coated world of 1950s dreampop, Le Carillon surpasses many of the classic songs it sets out to emulate. "Thieves in Blue" and "Slow Kiss" are locked in a death match to become the "Earth Angel" on the new millenium. Although in their band photo The Autumns look like Blink 182 on their punk rock prom night, the music is (thankfully) pure are relaxing.
Mariner- Hurry up and Wait (Arbeid)
This music seems to fall between two distinct camps- Rachel's or Low with a kick on the tracks with female vocals and The Sword Project, Tortoise or Eleventh Dream Day at their most ethereal moments during the instrumentals. Intricate and delicate, but equally bland, with multiple transitions per song, this music requires a bucketfull of the listener's patience. Although it's all well done, it's also sterile and after ten listens, I was still staring blankly at my ceiling. Most likely and hopefully, this band is much better live.
Fugazi - The Argument (Dischord)
Something weird happened to my favorite politico-rockers from Washington D.C. in the past three years: they got uncreative. Nothing much has changed since their last proper album, 1998's End Hits. Picciotto still howls, McKaye still screams like a maniac, their guitars still come together and then fly apart, but we've heard it all before, haven't we? There's a couple good songs here ("Untitled" and "Full Disclosure"), but at some point in the studio someone hit the "Fugazi Sound" button on the mixing board, and they left to drink some beer.