November 2001 Archives

Kid Rock - Cocky

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Kid Rock - Cocky (Wea/Atlantic)

Remember liking music because it inspired your most primal urges, and you felt you were into something illicit? Before you decided your path to cool to was knowing all the outre indie rockers? When rockstars actually tried to make one record sound different from the last, caring if the whole album was listenable? Kid Rock clearly does. Unapologetically play this at full volume and fucking rock out like the old days, and for once, don't over-think everything.
Backstreet Boys - The Hits: Chapter One (Bmg/Jive/Silvertone)

OmigoIlovehetallonehe'ssodreamyandIovethesongwhere theysayooohoohhoohhbabyit'syouandIwanttokissthe brodingguyandIonlywanthisandidon'tcareiftheyarefacileand tediousbecauseomigodthoseboysaresohandsomeandgood dancersandsincethisisagreatesthitsidon'thavetolistentothe crapsongsjusttfamousonesiwantitthisway!

Britney Spears - Britney

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Britney Spears - Britney (Bmg/Jive/Silvertone)

Hey Britney, if you really love Rock-n-Roll, you've got a funny way of showing it. If I were you, I would also start asking some serious questions about the whole popstar tutor hiring process, because it looks like you've learned spelling from Prince, a musical genius, but no speller. Anyway, congrats on making your first consistent end to end record, even if it's nothing but empty calories. xo Leslie. P.S. You looked great in Vegas! Keep swearing!
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists - The Tyranny of Distance (Lookout)

You will be tempted to pass off the latest from the former Chisel front man, Secret Stars member and Punk Planet hero as yet another foray into the already overcrowded singer/songwriter realm ...that is, until you wake up the next morning and find yourself singing the album to yourself in the shower. At that point, you will realize that this is near-perfectly written, produced and executed pop rock. Reminiscent of a young Costello if D.C. rockers had kidnapped The Attractions.

Mogwai - My Father, My King

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Mogwai - My Father, My King EP (Matador)

This EP is one track lasting twenty minutes featuring their trademark sound- starting slow, building, soaring, crashing into nothing and beginning over again, turning it up a few notches the next time around. This band is a dense noise orchestra, that somehow seems to keep applying layers when it seems impossible to add to the avalanche of sound. Without any vocals, this is more similar to the material on Ten Rapid than Rock Action. Anyone who hasn't liked them so far won't be convinced of anything by this new release. Until then, it's our secret.

Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American

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Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American (Dreamworks)

Whenever I listen to something this happy sounding, I automatically think of sugar. It's not Britney pop ('if you love me at all, don't call.' and 'you rip my heart right out' in the track Your House), but it still makes me feel happy, giddy, and guilty. A smarter blink 182? No, better. Covers the gambit of human feeling quite well with power punk styling. Buy before "Bleed American" gets stricken from the album artwork.
Portastatic - The Perfect Little Door EP (Merge)

At some point I cannot recall, I found myself listening to Portastatic a lot more than Superchunk. Not to slight the champs of indie rock but I guess I needed something less hyper while still getting my fix. Joining Mac on this EP is Ken Vandermark, perhaps the busiest jazz musician in indie rock circles. Although two songs end or begin in all-out skronk fests, he blends in nicely and it's a natural pairing, creating a fresh layer on some reworkings of early songs. Highlighted by the live track, this is the best release by Portastatic in a few years.
Plug Spark Sanjay - Fuse Time For The Working Force (Childlike)

The streets of dirty Jersey join together with the cremé de la windy city to form an unlikely rock and roll superpower. Like a cross between your favorite indie rockers and your favorite hard rockers, Bob Weston and Steve Albini have worked their magic with these guys to provide that crisp, edgy sound you know and love. It is said that Jersey bands have formed their own, unique style to accomodate the sound system at Maxwell's. This album is living proof.

New End Original - Thriller

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New End Original - Thriller (Jade Tree)

A while back, I downloaded a couple of tracks by this band New End Original. It's got Jonah from Far, Norm and Scott from Texas is the Reason and the drummer from Chamberlain. These songs were really good. Really, really good. Once I realized the album was out, I spent two weeks scouring the record stores for it. I'd even check under all the ex-bands these guys were in, trying to find this fucking record. Well... I found it. And now that I have it, I kinda wish I hadn't gone through all the trouble.

The Pattern - Immediately

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The Pattern - Immediately EP (Wichita/Lookout!)

Do the Math by The Peechees is a favorite record of mine and regardless of their later material, I will always defend that release. Their singer appears here in all his snotty glory, recalling the best era of The Who if Roger Daltrey lost a knife fight to the cast of West Side Story. Not as fast as The Peechees, The Pattern trade speed in exchange for power chords. A perfect six songs in 14 minutes, some may argue the best releases are just too damn short and if so, this is one for the prosecution.

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

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The Avalanches - Since I Left You (Wea/London/Sire/Modular)

Question: Why didn't The Avalanches release this album directly following their tour with The Beastie Boys? Answer: It took them over a year to clear it with the legal department. Featuring more samples than a Negativland recording, incorporating everything from Madonna to Blowfly. Think of this as an Australian dance remix of American pop culture. Dance music for those of us searching for something more than just dance music.
Radiohead - I Might Be Wrong, Live Recordings (Capitol)

From last year’s Kid A to their first hometown show since Creep, the past 14 months have been all about Radiohead. This is a gorgeous summation of those events, featuring a beautifully straightforward piano version of “Like Spinning Plates” and the never-before-released but long-time-favorite “True Love Waits.” Showcased is their knack for creating music in a concert setting that takes the complexity of recorded versions and adds a rare intensity, something worth hearing for their sheer talent at tweaking something different into any song.

Red Planet - Let's Degenerate

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Red Planet - Let's Degenerate (Gearhead)

Sometimes, there ain't nothing like punky rock and roll songs about drinking it down and getting it on. One seeking a fix of such would do well to seek out Red Planet. In this day of pretentious rock revivalists, they stand out as a band genuinely interested in making fun records that pay homage to past greats like the Real Kids and early Replacements. Let's Degenerate is certainly nothing you haven't heard before, but it's probably just the thing for your next drunken gathering. Watch for party fouls.

Daft Punk - Alive

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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.

New Order - Get Ready

New Order - Get Ready (Warner)

New Order's first album in eight years was supposed to be the grand return of one of the most important bands of all time. Although the group, formed from the ashes of Joy Division in the early 1980s may be a much-cited influence, Get Ready sure is a sleeper. Even with the hit single Crystal, heavy-handed production and clumsy, predictable rhyme schemes hamper the songs. Merits are simply overshadowed by the excellence of previous albums. Record number nine in their repertoire comes off not so much as "bad" but pointless.
Crush Kill Destroy - Punctuate Our Phrases (Makoto)

Put this band on the list of mostly instrumental math rock/post punk bands along with The Mercury Program, A Minor Forest, Dianogah, and Roots of Orchis. There are a few spoken word parts that recall a less convincing, more subdued Steve Albini but the instrumentals are precise, build on a melody and metamorphosis many times over. Not much distinguishes Crush Kill Destroy from the rest of the pack, and they could be accused of being interchangeable with those previously mentioned bands but I would consider it a compliment.
The Birdwatcher - Afternoon Tales The Morning Never Knew (Arena Rock)

The Birdwatcher is the side project of Windsor for the Derby's Dan Matz, providing you with the soundtrack to the last supper if it was being served in a retirement home cafeteria. Like it or not, these songs had to be released, similar to things you may have shouted at your ex-girlfriend even when you knew some things were better left unsaid. The highlights are the few droned out distorted instrumental parts, which ironically enough are the best part of WFTD's material. Future, meet the past.
Neil Diamond - The Essential Neil Diamond (Sony/Legacy)

Kids love Crooked Fingers, and with good reason, haunting melodies, delivered with a certain smooth whiskey baritone are as addictive as crack even to untrained ears. Discover where Eric Bachmann got his groove by listening to Neil for a while. Girl You'll be a woman Soon and Shilo are reason enough to love the grandaddy of ennui, and forgive I am I Said and a Streisand duet. Bonus: for the first time, your mom will actually think you're cool.

Death Cab for Cutie - The Photo Album

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Death Cab for Cutie - The Photo Album (Barsuk)

Don't tell anyone, but the new Death Cab sounds like Elliott Smith and BTS co-wrote it. Keep the secret to preserve the indie cred of the band who's put out one of 2001's best records. Successfully pulling off heart wrenching lyrics without sounding cloying, it's a great soundtrack for those times you're almost ready to have a nervous breakdown, but don't want to go all the way over the edge.

Michael Jackson - Invincible

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Michael Jackson - Invincible (Sony/Epic)

TLC plus Johnny Gill divided by King of Pop era disco beats multiplied by family friendly (and we all know this means faux hetero and kid safe) themes equals "Invincible." Rather than state all the other obvious things one could about MJ, it'll improve your life more to learn that club soda is still the best way to remove all manner of stains including red wine and mustard. Remember: Blot, don't rub!

Ben Folds - Rockin' the Suburbs

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Ben Folds - Rockin' the Suburbs (Epic)

A bit of a sleeper album. After a few unenthused listens upon its release, I filed this one away. I recently came back to it, and am now finding it to be one of the more bright, well-crafted pop records of the year. The songs sound like They Might Be Giants running into Billy Joel at a piano bar. Quirky yet sober compositions result, most of them thumbnail sketches of intriguing characters and situations. They're not as immediate as much of Folds' former group's material, but they're ultimately worth warming up to.

Guru - Baldhead Slick and Da Click

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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.

The Arsonists - Date of Birth

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The Arsonists - Date of Birth (Matador Records)

Two criterion for great HipHop: 1. It should make even the skinniest, most rythymless kids get up and dance 2. It should instantly transform the listener into a thug of Percy Miller-esque proportions. The Arsonists' sophomore effort meets and exceeds in both categories. Beats that would put the greatest producers to shame, lyrics that provide blistering commentary on the state of HipHop. The Arsonists assault their contemporaries and take jabs at the music industry while simultaneously laughing at themselves. Decent car stereo required.

The Queers - Live in West Hollywood

The Queers - Live in West Hollywood (Hopeless)

Live in West Hollywood contains most of the Queers' classic pop-punk songs from their 1993 to 1996 heyday, all done up in a more slap-dash way, along with some of the band's less bright, more questionable material (eg. "I Want Cunt"). The disc is certainly a convenient place to hear many of the band's best tracks recorded in a more spontaneous fashion. However, taken as a whole, it feels rather flat, unlike the group's more fleshed-out records, the most essential of which is Don't Back Down. Beginners should start there, not here.

The Eyeliners - Sealed With a Kiss

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The Eyeliners - Sealed With a Kiss (Panic Button)

For the past four years, the Eyeliners have been releasing mostly unheralded records, all of which feature their engaging brand of female-fronted, melodic, fast-paced rock and roll. Sealed With a Kiss finds little change in the formula: perhaps problematic for cynical critics, but a boon for the listener who has fallen for the band's simple, catchy style. Universal songs about friends, love, and music abound here, all of them wide-eyed and containing more than a small dose of charm.

Circus Devils - Ringworm Interiors

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Circus Devils - Ringworm Interiors (Fading Captain)

Circus Devils are the lastest offering from the musical machine known as Robert Pollard and it is his noisiest and chaotic release since the Nightwalker debacle. The trademark one-minute anthems are here but buried beneath a soundtrack of deranged synths and screeching feedback. As with any Pollard release, the key is to edit out 60% and listen to the pure genius that remains. This sounds like one typical drunken weekend captured on tape or to put it in math terms: 30 pack + 4 track = Circus Devils

Explosions In The Sky

Explosions In The Sky -Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die (Temporary Residence)

More layered vocal-free noiserock from Texas, this time by the band from Austin who, rumor has it, the American Analog Set discovered on tour and sent a cassette back to the label with a note that read "THIS TOTALLY FUCKING DESTROYS." Good stuff that sounds like the guitar and rhythm sections of Godspeeed You Black Emperor! partnered with Duster in the big Wrestlemania event: sometimes they fight together behind the official's back in a big loud violent romp, others they let their individual flair shine.
Preston School of Industry - Goodbye To The Edge City EP (Amazing Grease Records)

The breakup of the band Pavement has given birth to this new musical morsel from former band member Spiral Stairs. This five song EP contains nothing but pleasant low-fi pop songs- nothing that will change the world but all are solid. The last track, a simple instrumental ditty with a drum machine that sounds like it was borrowed from Ween's "The Pod" sessions, seems to sum up the casualness of these songs. While not quite the Silver Jews, another Pavement offshoot, PSOI is no slouch.

of Asaph - ...what

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of Asaph - ...what a wonderful day it was

This EP is a lot like one of those old "What if..." comic books. You know, the ones where they take your favorite heroes and twist the situations that actually happened into something completely new, producing new and sometimes unexpected results? Well...this EP is like "What if that last Don Caballero album had, at some point, started to rock?" Dynamic, powerful, and (dare I say it?) melodic. Definitely worth your time to check it out.

RMSN - Carrier

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RMSN - Carrier (Quarterstick)

RMSN = Shipping News. For some people, that's enough reason to snatch this album off the shelf and cram it into the nearest CD player. Throw in insane, limited edition packaging and you have a hit. That is, of course, if you don't notice that there are only three tracks. Three really good tracks, mind you, but only three, nonetheless. The songs are great, but I feel like it took longer to open the fucking thing than it did to listen to it. Word is that this is only the first in a series.

Bardo Pond - Dilate

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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

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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

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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

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.

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