April 2002 Archives

Tom Daily - The Burlington Northern (Thick Records) [mp3s]

This LP kicks off with the anthemic track "The Kids Are Not Alright", sounding not unlike something found in Bob Pollard's suitcase. The next two songs fall somewhere near Superchunk/Weezer and one even manages to name drop Reese Witherspoon, perhaps an indie rock first. If albums were judged by only the first three tracks, this would be an album of the year candidate. The quality drops off but all fans of Mac McCaughan and the Apples In Stereo will be pleased with the entire collection.
David Holmes - Come Get It I Got It (13 Amp)

Fresh off the genius Ocean's 11 soundtrack, David Holmes drops a mixtape-esque collection of rare-as-fuck soul tracks alongside vintage-sounding new songs by his pet project, The Free Association. While I miss the current hip-hop and garage rock juxtaposed in his live sets (De La, White Stripes), Come Get It has more than enough brilliant selections to rectify the omission; Muddy Waters "Tom Cat" and the brilliantly amateur (and blatantly drug-addled) cover of "Purple Haze" are worth the price alone.

Gomez - In Our Gun

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Gomez - In Our Gun (Virgin) [audio]

First, Gomez was raw and powerful with 1998's Bring It On. Then, they effortlessly recorded an album that was brilliant, clever, and soulful with 1999's Liquid Skin. Now, Gomez shows that they can be polished with In Our Gun. A pair of raspy singers trade off on songs that are sometimes catchy and light, but are always musically interesting. In true indie-kid style, I feel In Our Gun is not quite as good as older stuff, but still pretty damn good. [read leslie's review of the album]

Boards of Canada - Geogaddi

Boards of Canada - Geogaddi (Warp Records) [audio]

In the same way I don't like onions but enjoy onion soup, I fell for BoC's debut electronica record "Music Has the Right to Children." The Scottish pair doesn't disappoint or evolve on this release, rehasing childhood themes, but do seem a bit mopier. Any fan of the genre won't be disappointed, but for the crossover audience they're notorious for attracting, this may just be too much of what once seemed like a good thing. [read kate's review of the album]

Hope In Ghosts - Self Titled EP

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Hope In Ghosts - Self Titled EP [mp3s]

Hope In Ghosts is the project of Ted Flynn, who plays everything but the drums here. Track one features an electric drill and a phoned in narrator telling a story about an attempted hookup with a girl that never happens over a Tortoise-like beat. The other tracks are high quality instrumentals plenty reminscent of Slint and Seam. If one release should have been longer, it's this one and at just over fourteen minutes long, I was sorry to see it end. Better yet, my two word review - more please.

Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

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Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow (MCA Records) [audio - album mix]

"Conscious" hip-hop tends to be on the wack side; I like to see bitches hugged instead of slapped as much as anyone else, but you better come through with extra-dope songs to make up for any lacking in the gat department. Fortunately, Blackalicious do conscious better than anyone else in the game, and this disc's peerless, multi-dimensional lyrics and jaw-dropping production almost make me forget that, yes, knowledge is indeed being dropped. Jigga who?

Consonant - Self Titled

Consonant - Self Titled (Fenway Recordings) [audio]

Clint Conley's long anticipated comeback album, and although there is a Mission Of Burma-ish feel to the bass lines and no mistaking the voice, there's much less dissonance, screaming and only occasional odd time signatures. For someone who hadn't released any music for at least 15 years, it seems he was so far ahead when he stopped he could actually miss that much time and still be ahead of the pack. Mr. Conley firmly reclaims his hold on being the second most important Boston musician ever behind Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.
Midtown - Living Well Is The Best Revenge (MCA Records) [audio]

Sam Goody's ad for this album bears the slogan "hardcore emo pop punk with a Jersey accent" – that's nothing less-than-apt, but far less dire than it appears. Like the (cough) modern rock hits (cough) of Jimmy Eat World - who's last album this polished release is obviously modeled upon - Midtown have made the guilty pleasure of the year. Hide it under the seat from your cool friends, but that only insures the disc won't melt while being in your car all summer.
Girls Against Boys - You Can't Fight What You Can't See (Jade Tree) [mp3 1] [mp3 2]

Send a note to the wife and kids, the latest platter of post-apocalyptic disco-metal from Girls Against Boys caused me to cash in my stock options and hop on a plane to Vegas where I'm blowing my cash on cards, booze, smack, and hookers. Damn, it feels good. (Okay, I made all that up. Really, I'm a loser fantasizing as I sit in my cluttered work cubicle listening to the music Rob Zombie would make if he weren't a cartoon character.)

Capitol K - Island Row

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Capitol K - Island Row (XL) [audio]

Considering electronica's reputation as lacking warmth and passion, "Pillow" is a lovesong showing more than enough heart. A chorus of "I don't want to sleep tonight, tomorrow I'll see you" is crooned in falsetto over queasy synthesiser and Tabla-bashing, before being broken by a catchy do-do hook. Elsewhere on this genre-crossing album, Kristian Robinson playfully toys with two-step instrumentals, Arab Strap-y fretwork, drum-and-bass and samples collected from as far afield as Brunei and even London. However, in the favoured ground of inner city electronica and eastern scales, Capitol K thrives.

Weezer - Maladroit

Weezer - Maladroit (Interscope) [audio]

Not everyone was a fan of the last weezer record. I equate it to the band taking a big healthy shit. I don't know about you, but after dropping a big load, I feel much better. Using "Hash Pipe" from the last record as a starting point, Maladroit proves that Weezer is back in good health, producing it themselves (instead of pop turd master Rik Ocasek) and throwing out big rock riffs left and right. New tracks like "Dope Nose" and "American Gigolo" prove the merits of taking your time in the can.

Eels - Souljacker

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Eels - Souljacker (Dreamworks)

Treading a fine line between amusement and farce, Souljacker's quirky bouillabaisse (distorted surf guitar over live breakbeats and crisp string arrangements) makes it easy to assume the Eels' tongues are firmly planted in their Unabomber-beard-covered cheeks. But don't take for granted that frontman E's lyrical preoccupation with "Friendly Ghost"s and "Bus Stop Boxer"s is just another special effect in the mix; there’s sincere empathy for the freaks here, along with an underlying musical tenderness for even the homeliest "Dog Faced Boy."
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Plastic Fang (Matador) [mp3]

Mr. Cristina Martinez and Co. get all classic rock on our asses, and damn if they don't make em jiggle just as nicely. The lo-fi hiphoppery of "Flavor" and "Bellbottoms" is replaced by a more straight-ahead and polished (yet no less funky) guitar-based approach, aided and abetted by none other than Dr. John and Bernie "Funkadelic" Worell. Yet even if the new production values are a turn off for you, there's still enough signature JSBX hoot-n-holler to put the extra syllable in par-tay.

Gomez - In Our Gun

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Gomez - In Our Gun (Virgin) [audio]

Save two tracks, "In Our Gun" lacks the intimacy of previous efforts, seemingly under the auspices of trying to cram more stuff into their songs. Gun is highly listenable, as a wider variety of the band's abilities are showcased. For my money you could put an all bagpipe and harmonica corps behind Ian's vocals and I'd be riveted, but luckily, these songs are accessible and instantly likable for anyone.

Grandaddy - Concrete Dunes

Grandaddy - Concrete Dunes (Will Records)

Often times a b-side compilation (or b-sides in general) offer the listener insights into the evolution of a band's songwriting. Sometimes a b-side sucks, and makes you appreciate the greatness of a group's more poignant works. This is the case with concrete Dunes, a collection odd and mostly forgettable melancholy songs. I went searching for a piece of the brilliance that was apparent in 2000's Sophtware Slump, and was left disappointed. Only recommended for the die-hard fan.

Ben Kweller - Sha Sha

Ben Kweller - Sha Sha (Big Hassle) [mp3s]

It's spring and Ben Kweller is on the radio! Well, no. But he should be! This 20-year-old Beckish prodigy plays definitively good power pop, joyful and silly and soaring. Irresistibly catchy Weezer-style anthems ("Wasted and Ready") alternate with quirky piano ditties that ought to make Ben Folds nervous. Early adopters, beware: Most of these songs have appeared before, on the self-released Freak Out, it's Ben Kweller and last year's EP Phone Home. Happily, sweet little Ben changed 'em up some.
Superchunk - The Clambakes Series Vol. 1: Acoustic In-Stores East and West (Merge)

A thank-you compilation to its fans, Superchunk's limited edition release (1500 copies) culls material from the band's current and back catalog as performed at in-store appearances during the past year. Fans are treated to striped-down, acoustic versions of favorites like "Driveway to Driveway," "Art Class", and "Hello Hawk." The only thing missing is crowd sing-a-longs and Mac's witty between-songs banter. Emo-pop fans unfamiliar with Superchunk really should check out these old-timers (HA).
Mates of State - Our Constant Concern (Polyvinyl) [mp3]

MOS start their second release off with "Hoarding it for Home", an example of call and response indie pop done right. Following tracks fail to reach a similar height, yet remain interesting enough to warrant attention. A guest trumpet is fittingly added to the drum/organ mix on "Uber Legitimate", while "Halves and Have-nots" glows when Kori Gardner sings the line 'Never stay alone'. Complimenting the Yamaha Electone that defines MOS are the emotionally mature lyrics of two bandmates in love. Although at times redundant, the album is so short and sweet it's guaranteed repeated play.

The Santiago Steps - A-flutter

The Santiago Steps - A-flutter [mp3]

I keep hearing rumors that Orange County is an awful, desolate place (like New Jersey with nicer weather and a few less rubber factories). After listening to this album, which was recorded in Orange County by residents of Orange County, I don't see how that could possibly be true. Nothing but well-polished, buoyant and fuzzy pop/rock. The perfect soundtrack to a warm and sunny Sunday morning. We all agree that tracks one and nine, where Carolyn keeps counting up to four, are the coolest. The Big Star cover is really nice too.
Hot Rod Circuit - Sorry About Tomorrow (Vagrant) [mp3]

The origin of the name Hot Rod Circuit includes the phrase "sitting around stoned, watching the Simpsons." Instant point in my book. Then they put an amazingly hot girl on the cover of their new record. And now I find out that their merch offerings include a Hot Rod Circuit thong... how rockin' is that? Add a fun (not overly groundbreaking or original) rock record with tons of good, Weezer-esque hooks and you've got summer taken care of.

RMSN - Sickening Bridge

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RMSN (Shipping News) - Sickening Bridge (Quarterstick)

This is the second in an ongoing series of EPs by Louisville's Shipping News. Three elaborate, moving songs with equally elaborate packaging (handmade in Chicago, land of the starving yet drunk artist). This release features two great additions to the mix: Chris Higdon of Elliott on guest vocals on the second track and one of the longest song titles ever..."Now That Your Diamond-lined Star Is Failing You, What Fair Silhouette Would Best Suit This Satellite." Good thing I had some room in my 75 word quota, or I wouldn't have put...

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch Records)

When Uncle Tupelo split, I followed Jay Farrar and became a big Son Volt fan. This Sun Volt fandom must have lasted an entire summer and I actually got to see them live a couple of times. I admittedly didn't even pick up a Wilco record until Yankee Hotel Foxtrot found its way into my grubby palms. It's like a modern day Revolver on crack. Tweedy writes songs like he's channeling Lennon. Filled with killer hooks and tons of weird noises, it's amazing. Forget "alt-country." Bring on the Wilco.
The Casket Lottery - Survival Is For Cowards (Second Nature Recordings) [mp3s]

I remember picking up the first Casket Lottery CD thinking "Ex-members of Coalesce... this is gonna be totally fucking sick." Then I got it home, popped it into my CD player and was like "Wait...this is competent, heartfelt, emo garbage! Like the get up kids on math! I love it!" Well... this is the second full album since then, and they've still got it. This one is a lot darker than the previous outing, exploring themes of broken family and alcoholism... things I deal with every day.
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags and Codes (Interscope) [audio/video]

With a name of scattered corpses and a reputation of shattered stages, a …Trail of Dead novice could be forgiven for expecting an feedback-drenched LP where only an occasional "aaaaugh" punctuates the dissonance. Nothing could be further from the truth about one of the most multilayered and quietly poignant works of rock in recent memory; the flailing is definitely present, but instead of merely pummeling, …ToD’s skinny fists raise like antennas to heaven.

Leels - self titled

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Leels - self titled (Emporer Jones Records)

The Leels is a side project of the Florida-based band Home with backing from members of the band Merigue. Home's prolific output declined severly when they decided to spend money on their recordings instead of just putting out throw away full length low-fi pop masterpieces every six months. Essentially, this sounds like early Home material, which always resembled the Flaming Lips, Giant Sand and the Grifters having a jam session. A nice collection of simple catchy understated space anthems that declare nothing at all.

The New Year - Newness Ends

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The New Year - Newness Ends (Touch & Go) [mp3 1] [mp3 2]

The biggest difference between The New Year and its previous incarnation is the addition of bass. Where slow-core kings Bedhead depended on an array of shiny Fenders to produce intricate, strum-happy tunes, Matt & Bubba Kadane's new group grows up and fills out. Recorded in Chicago with beef jerky connoisseur Steve Albini, Newness Ends sounds best on songs like "Gasoline" when it's going all out. Best off all, the vocal and guitar lines that made records like What Fun Life Was classic are still intact.

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