January 2002 Archives

Cracker - Forever

Cracker - Forever (Virgin/Back Porch) [audio]

Although I was a bit disappointed there was only one collaboration between David Lowry and my favorite Virginian Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse), "Forever" still rocks and rolls like I expected it to. "Brides Of Neptune" drips with Sparklehorsey goodness, and "Guarded By Monkees" rocks harder than any of their previous efforts. Although I could do without some of the female backup singer choruses and the silly, disc ending rap session, Cracker's recent offering bounces along and managed to induce car singa-longs in a mere two minutes. Still beautiful.

Five Style - Miniature Portraits

Five Style - Miniature Portraits (Sub Pop) [mp3s]

The instrumental effervescence of Miniature Portraits borderlines ahyperactivity unusual for Chicago post rock. Tracks like 'Marmy the Count' and 'Pledge Drive' jump from conga to marimba to steel drum with the dynamic complexity of a band formed a decade ago. Though matured, Five Style produce a fresh sound of indie dub funk not heard on previous releases. Good record to play for a diverse crowd when you want to get the most staunch indie kid dancing.
Dealership - TV Highway to the Stars (Keiki) [mp3s]

After only a few listens, Dealership's first full-length felt like an album I'd had for years. The songs were so instantly and endearingly familiar that I couldn't help adoring them. Melodic choruses explode from often understated verses, poignant lyrics nicely move along the whole affair, and certain tunes suggest small indie classics. The record isn't flawless -- a few tracks are less exciting than others, and it's a bit on the long side. Still, these things are easily overlooked on a release so overwhelmingly enjoyable.

Thrice - The Illusion of Safety

Thrice - The Illusion of Safety (Sub City) [mp3]

Heavier hardcore music with vocals alternating between the throat-scratching barking of Hot Water Music and the emo-drenched strains of Jimmy Eat World. There are bits and pieces of each song that I can pull out and enjoy but for the most part this thing is giving me a whopper of a headache. Kids who wear hoodies can describe this much better than a 30-year-old corporate world guy like myself.
Various Artists - I Am Sam soundtrack (V2 Records)

A friend said to download "Revolution" by Grandaddy. The next day I bought the record. I thought, how could an album of Beatles covers not be good? The source material is great. But then I thought how easy it would be to fuck up. Thankfully, most of these tracks are covered by great artists who did an astounding job. Even the fucking Wallflowers get kudos.

VPN - For Nearby Stars

VPN - For Nearby Stars (Evil Teen Records) [mp3: 1 2 3]

Off-kilter pop with angular rhythms and haunting vocals. VPN – Very Pleasant Neighbor – is comprised of four artsy New Yorkers who aren't exactly fresh out of college. Ten years of playing together while releasing only two albums hints that VPN is very calculating in what they do, wasting no time on throw-away songs. Perhaps it's what Built to Spill would sound like had late-period, drugs/psychedelic-era Beatles been a bigger influence than Neil Young.
Pinebender - Things Are About to Get Weird (Ohio Gold) [mp3]

Andy Mueller's cover art attracted me to what should have been a decent album. Lethargic rock tracks are stretched long, while senseless lyrics drown in distorted guitars. After multiple listens the lack of bass becomes painfully apparent and the songs bloated. Aptly sharing a name with the Greek god Sinis, listening to this record is like being tied to two bent pine trees, then being torn apart when they are released, though very very slowly.

Twisted Nerve

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Twisted Nerve (Various Artists) - Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Twisted Nerve But Were Afraid To Ask (Twisted Nerve) [mp3s]

Reasons to buy the Twisted Nerve compilation: 1) A rare Badly Drawn Boy song ("Shake the Rollercoaster"); 2) An exclusive Badly Drawn Boy song ("Celebrate"); 3) Two excellent Brit-pop tracks by Alfie ("Montevideo", "You Make No Bones"); 4) A super-snazzy, space-jazz cover of Van Morrison's "Moondance" by Sirconical; 5) Six of the nineteen males on the inner sleeve have moustaches; 6) Can substitute for mix tape that you were going to make for your favorite indie rock chick.

Granfaloon Bus - Exploded View

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Granfaloon Bus - Exploded View (Future Farmers) [mp3]

Slatch.com readers unite – an entire sleepy/twangy country-folk-pop album of drinking songs, according to singer/guitarist Felix Costanza (no relation to George). Drummer, Jeff Palmer, played bass on the last Sunny Day Real Estate album and guests on the CD have played with the Breeders, Mark Eitzel, and Mr.Bungle(!). Finding $3 CDs this good in the used bins is always exciting.

Tenacious D - Tenacious D

Tenacious D - Tenacious D (Sony/Epic)

Hey Jack Black! The Bloodhound Gang called, and they want their joke songs back. What's that? You wrote these? I must have been mistaken, I thought my ten year old brother penned these gems. If you're over the age of 12, stay away. Then again if you think penises and butts are hilarious, this one is for you. D's ego-stroking debut album is further proof that people did not learn their lesson with when Keanu Reeve's "Dogstar" was allowed to record.

Havergal - Lungs for the Race

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Havergal - Lungs for the Race (Secretly Canadian) [mp3s]

It was an anticipative 2 years between bedroom musician Ryan Murphy’s strong 7" My Heart and the 2001 release Lungs for the Race. The intimate quality of Havergal’s post-rock minimalism offer engaging lyrics, at once personal and musing complimented by guitar that stand alone among lo-fi loops. Murphy produced the album in a home studio in Bedford, Texas which reflect in his sonic architecture and beautifully designed harmonies. An album best listened to alone.

Loveless - 5 Song EP

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Loveless - 5 Song EP (Q Division)

I've spent the better part of this afternoon listening to the debut EP by Loveless which happens to feature Jen Trynin (remember her?) on rhythm guitar/backing vocals. Not as spacey/experimental as My Bloody Valentine (whose 'Loveless' album the band is named after), but occupying the same shoegazing pop region, the Boston-based band skips the studio experimentation (tape loops, delayed guitars/vocals) and replaces it with lucid and dreamy songwriting. A relaxing chill pill for the early days of 2002.
Home Alive Compilation II - Flying Sidekick (Broken Rekids)

Good music for a great cause. The second Home Alive compilation lacks the funding of the first one (and the star power) but does serve as a nice introduction to many new (mostly) Seattle bands. The second half of the CD features the best music – the whispery vocals of Carissa’s Weird, the smooth soul of Maktub, the spacey subtleness of Sanford Arms, and the all-star drone of The Makers (featuring Michael Shelley, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey).

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