December 2001 Archives

Sorry About Dresden - The Convenience of Indecision (Saddle Creek Records)

Sorry About Dresden are consistantly varied. Sometimes this hurts bands as they are too varied to categorize and never quite fit into the mood of the listener, but not here. The mid-tempo pop song is not an easy genre to succeed at, but this works because it avoids the typical soft/loud/soft formula that spells the death of many bands. It ends quietly with a few acoustic ballads, Elvis Costello-ish vocals with bits of slide guitar and piano thrown in. Lots of good songs here.

Lali Puna - Scary World Theory

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Lali Puna - Scary World Theory (Morr Music)

Lali Puna's newest release continues the subtle tug-o-war between Valerie Trebeljahr's delicate vocals and their analog electronic music. Never overriding the tight sound of the band, Scary World Theory becomes that rare album of German avant electronica which allows the vocals to compliment the instruments. This album was released too late to make many 2001 top 10 best album lists, but it will definitely be on mine.

Her space holiday - Manic Expressive

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Her space holiday - Manic Expressive (TigerStyle)

The 2nd snowfall of winter started about 3 hours ago. Light some candles. Play her space holiday; loudly. This album has a symphonic structure and ambient synthetic lucidity mixed with lovely layers of soft vocals and beats. It is a romantic notion of mellow, building to a sparse dramatic climax at times. Watch the snowfall, silently, take it in. Sounds like? Tortoise mixed with Sparklehorse but cleaner with more strings and some Kid A influences.

Sloan - Pretty Together

Sloan - Pretty Together (Murderecords)

Oh my god, did you know Paul Stanley sings lead on "Pick It Up and Dial It"? Okay, not really, but damn it's a good impersonation. Pretty much a typical release from these power-pop Canucks who soften up the sugar buzz with a few midtempo numbers and even a ballad or two in the second half of the CD. Nods to Kiss, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, the Beatles, and the Posies.
Tristeza - Dream Signals in Full Circles (Tiger Style)

I like Tristeza. Someday in the future, the post-punk instrumental bands that are so common today will be the muzak that is piped into our retirement homes to keep us all sedated and happy, familiar melodies aimed at keeping us agreeable and accepting of our surroundings. If you like one of these bands, chances are you'll like another and after three listens, telling them apart will only be more difficult as not too much distinguishes one from the next. I like Tristeza. I like them all.

Superchunk - Here's to Shutting Up

Superchunk - Here's to Shutting Up (Merge)

- - - 75 or less review template (use this for best results!): - - -

[witty opening line about loving this band] [filler] [comment on how superchunk keeps changing their sound up, but always in interesting ways] [filler] [comment on not always liking albums the first time through, but after a couple of listens you can't live without it] [lame fecal matter reference] [it's in your head, it's in your head, it's in your head] [filler] [obscure punk rock reference that makes me look cooler (important!)] [extremely witty exit line (very important! must be funny!)]
The Prima Donnas - Drugs, Sex & Discotheques (Peek-A-Boo)

A conceptual sexified British Casio-rock group, the Prima Donnas released a handful of infectious singles in the mid to late '90s. Drugs, Sex & Discotheques assembles tracks from those records, forming something of a best-of collection -- replete with liner notes that fuel the band's unbelievable mythology. While the package represents a fine chronicle of a fairly interesting project, its musical shtick begins to run thin after about 20 minutes. The group's best moments, highly enjoyable and worth hearing, are included, but, as a whole, this album is hardly essential.

Silver Jews - Bright Flight

Silver Jews - Bright Flight (Drag City)

Silver Jews have always seemed to be the product of a head-on collision between Pavement's Crooked Rain and Calvin's best Beat Happening songs. Lyrical wittiness with a twisted delivery have always been the Jews strong point, something any fan should come to expect by now. This does not have the immediacy of Starlight Walker nor the low-fi amateurishness of The Arizona Record. Instead it creates the perfect medium between the two, combining a heavy country influence and the feeling of being whacked out on a permanently attached decaf IV.
Vanilla Sky - Soundtrack (Reprise)

Damn it, Cameron Crowe has me in his grip. Of course, it's not an entirely unpleasant grip. The man certainly has done his homework for a soundtrack of love and confusion: REM, Radiohead, Red House Painters, the Monkees, Sigur Ros, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, and a delicious Looper track. But something about liking the soundtrack from a movie with Tom Cruise in it (when he isn't a vampire) makes me feel a little dirty, and not in a fun and kinky way.

The Apes - Fugue in the Fog

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The Apes - Fugue in the Fog (Frenchkiss/Self-Starter)

Don't be fooled by the pretty album cover. The debut effort from the Apes is about as laid back as mixing Sam Coomes with the MC5. Almost as pretty as a botched murder. As subtle as walking into a cathedral brandishing a bullhorn. The Apes specialty seems to lie in fusing edgy pop, raw energy and pure evil together to create their very own flavor of DC rock. Simultaneously filling you with both blind rage and an urge to dance, this album is incredibly fun to listen to but not recommended for first dates or bar mitzvahs.

Slumber Party - Psychedelicate

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Slumber Party - Psychedelicate (Kill Rock Stars)

A sullen hushed atmospheric record with three part female vocal harmonies floating over lightly strummed guitars, an occasional organ vibe and easy to digest song structures added together to create a personal musical floatation device. Picture a domestic StereoLab stripped of their synths, all of their confusing cultural references, and forced to play in the back of your neighborhood record store at no louder than twenty decibels. Better yet, multiple cloned Barbara Mannings joined with the DNA cells of Sylvia Plath producing the perfect rainy day soundtrack to off yourself to.

Centro-Matic - Distance and Clime

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Centro-Matic - Distance and Clime (Idol)

Texas's Centro-Matic faces an uphill battle of Mark Hamill-esque proportions. Problem being that their first album was so perfect, there is simply no way they can top it. Regardless, their newest release makes a valiant attempt and manages to produce a few tracks that will some day end up on their greatest hits collection. All in all, a wonderful album filled with crunchy guitars and raspy vocals that give way to goosebump-inducing melodies.
Now It's Overhead - Now It's Overhead (Saddle Creek)

Saddle Creek is the front runner at updating proven formulas, knowing that if enough time passes, all things old can sound new again. The Faint updates Flock of Seagulls and Bright Eyes could be a prepubescent Anastasia Screamed. Now It's Overhead suddenly appear with their version of Bright Eyes by way of the Oak Ridge Boys on the week the baritone was away in a court-ordered rehab. Now It's Overhead craft great pop songs with layered vocals, adding more guns to one of music's most stocked musical rosters.

Heavy duty stutterstepping indie rock with garbled whiteboy vocals. Picture a beefier Modest Mouse with two guitars, less transitions and fewer sparse arrangements or better yet Girls Against Boys without the busload of hair stylists. ABPK could be accused of being prolific as nearly a third of the tracks go over the seven minute mark, none played at breakneck speeds but all at louder than normal volumn levels. As I turned this one up my cat began to physically abuse himself, always a true sign of music kids everywhere will love.

Bis - Return to Central

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Bis - Return to Central (SpinArt)

A far cry from their impetuous, sugar-fueled early material, Bis' latest LP is an experience in danceable, layered electro-pop. The trio now stand strong as savvy music-makers with a penchant for spacey club beats and tight yet expansive synthesizer arrangements, all bound together with markedly mature, whip-smart lyrics. Tracks on recent releases contained seeds of this direction, but Return to Central is clearly the fruition of a glistening, beautiful new sound. Highly recommended.

Owls - Owls

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Owls - Owls (Jade Tree)

Tim Kinsella annoys the hell out of a lot of people. The prolific Chicago native who screeched in Cap n' Jazz, then formed the blippy Joan of Arc, has impressed the masses with years of experimentation, and confused critics by always providing something to either love or loathe. Owls are what happens when Cap n' Jazz grew up and re-formed, again with Kinsella providing lyrics and vocals, and plopped down an Albini to engineer. Thankfully, they've toned things down from frazzled, chopped up noise to solid, mature songs that don't annoy.

Bluetip - Post Mortem Anthem

Bluetip - Post Mortem Anthem (Dischord)

If you like Bluetip, chances are you already have this CD and know how hard it rocks, in typical Bluetip style. If you don't like Bluetip, or you've never heard of them, you probably either don't know this record exists, or you couldn't really give a fat shit. The real reason to buy this CD is the extensive liner notes in the form of a long narrative by the 'Tip's Jason Farrell. At once informative and extremely funny, it easily makes this record worth the price of admission.

Sultans - Ghost Ship

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Sultans - Ghost Ship (Swami / Sympathy for the Record Industry)

It's a pretty well known fact that I'll buy almost any record that has John Reis on it. My love for all things rock (you know, spiders, snakes, hard drinkin', jail time, etc.) tend to make this an absolute necessity. Strictly adhering to the "three take" rule and recorded and mastered on used media, this album is one of those no-fi rock masterpieces that makes you want to kick the shit out of your dad, just to prove you're a badass.

The Get Up Kids - Eudora

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The Get Up Kids - Eudora (Vagrant)

This guy next to me at work keeps telling me about "The Poop List" while I'm trying to write a review for this record. I keep telling him that I've heard it all before, that it's nothing new, blah blah blah. Then I realized... that kinda sums up this collection of 7", comp songs and covers. It's nice to have all these songs on one CD, especially the stuff I only have on vinyl. The cover of Suffragette City is worth it, alone. I may have heard it all before, but it's still good shit (pun intended).

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

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