July 2002 Archives

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (Sony) [audio]

This historic reunion of the E Street Band as a studio group is without a doubt Springsteen's most accomplished work he's done in 18 years. It's also the post-September 11th vision of one of music's greatest songwriters, a look at loss, redemption, sadness and courage. Replacing his longtime producer with a man known for rock's "monster" guitar sounds could have spelled C-R-A-P, yet some of the album's finest moments come during slide guitar lines and organ solos. Take a chance on the unhip, see if "Into The Fire" gives you the chills.

Ash - Free All Angels

Ash - Free All Angels (Kinetic Records) [video]

This Irish band of lads (and lass) continues to mature and mesh sugary-pop melodies with the fuzzy punk that they started playing seven years ago. This intermingling of styles results in an album full of can’t-miss singles (at least in the U.K.) including my pick for 2002 song of the year, the infectious "Shining Light". The U.S. version of this release (the U.K. version came out last year) features bonus tracks, videos, live footage and a documentary on the band.
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner) [listen]

To the casual observer, Wayne Coyne might appear to be completely insane. Look from a different angle and you'll realize he's simply a musical genius along the lines of Brian Wilson and that guy from Slayer. Granted, those people (and Mr. Coyne) could also be arguably called "A little off the rocker," but whatever side of the coin you want to look at, you have to admit that this is simply a great album... little black belt girls and giant pink robots in the year 3000 included.
Jason Lowenstein - At Sixes and Sevens (Sub Pop) [mp3]

For any Sebadoh fan who experienced one of Lou Barlow's onstage rampages, this might be the most anticipated and overdue solo record since Wendy & Lisa left The Revolution. This collection of songs is loud and stripped down, angular and consistant - just what disenchanted Sebadoh fans have been dying for in vast quantities but have settled for hearing once every four songs. Hopefully, this release signals an end to the whine-fest as Lowenstein realizes his day job may offically be considered optional.
The Nels Cline Singers - Instrumentals (Cryptogramophone) [mp3, mp3, mp3]

The Nels Cline Singers sing with their instruments instead of their voices - hence the title of the record. A combination of guitar, bass (often bowed), and drums, the Singers are a power trio that lashes out with punk abandon while soaring in the collective improvisation of free jazz. "Instrumentals" is the soundtrack to a late night teevee drama that most networks wouldn't have the balls to air. Except maybe HBO, of course.
David Kilgour - A Feather In The Engine (Merge) [mp3, mp3]

Equal parts looped guitar tracks (think Papa M), tweaked drones (think The Velvet Underground's "Venus In Furs"), and sixties-era pschedelic pop, the latest from this New Zealand legend is a surprisingly impressive album, suitable for listening on all occasions. Drive through the mountains? Sure! Drinking cheap wine on the beach at night? Perfect! The pop songs in particular seem to find the target that bands like Beulah and Apples In Stereo miss, and the instrumentals act as glue to hold the whole project together in a swirl of feedback.

thedamnwells - PMR

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thedamnwells - PMR [mp3, mp3, mp3]

Despite the fact that the band features ex-Whiskeytown drummer Steven Terry and current Star City guitarist Dave Chernis, thedamnwells are neither a country band nor an alt.country band. They do, however, have a cornfield-meets-city-skyline sound (think Clem Snide, the Jayhawks, Josh Rouse). thedamnwells play the type of music that you want to hear late at night in a half-empty bar as you try to convince the cute girl sitting at the bar to go home with you.

Oasis - Heathen Chemistry

Oasis - Heathen Chemistry (Sony) [audio]

Before you buy this record, or even listen to it, think about the last time you saw your ex, a few months after she broke your heart. You talk about getting back together, and maybe in the beginning you will have a good time. You will try to convince yourself that it is still good, but in the end, you will realize that what you used to love just isn't there anymore.

Sonic Youth - Murray Street

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Sonic Youth - Murray Street (Geffen/Smells Like Records) [mp3]

Sonic Youth, a band whose name grows increasingly inaccurate with each passing year, have added Jim O'Rourke to the lineup in an effort to drop the median age down to a whippersnapperin' 42. O'Rourke's presence seems to pay off - much of the aimless noodling of the past few albums is gone. In it's place is a focused selection of hook-solid guitar anthems, replete with the quasi-beloved explosi-feedback digressions. Makes me believe once again that Sonic Youth is capable of providing the soundtrack for a generation, even if I'm not exactly sure which generation it is anymore.

The Vines - Highly Evolved

The Vines - Highly Evolved (Capitol) [audio]

Next Big Thing hype is hanging heavily around the neck of Aussie foursome The Vines. Is it worth it? Perhaps. The band doesn't pigeonhole itself like other NBT artists do (The Strokes = '70 art-punk; The Hives = Detroit-style garage punk). Instead, The Vines leap around from angry two-minute blasts of grunge-punk (yes, like Nirvana) to bouncy Beatlesque pop (on the fab "Factory") to cloud-soaring shoegazing bliss ("Mary Jane"). I'm buying it hook, line and sinker.
Mull Historical Society - Loss (Blanco Y Negro/Beggars XL) [videos, mp3]

Strings, xylophones, 12 string guitars, and all that other stuff that makes record-store-clerks wet themselves, with soaring vocals - and a song about Xanadu - to boot. Music for eyeglasses that (thank heaven) is summery enough to stave off boredom. Lush, orchestral jams from across the pond are nothing new; fortunately, the Scotsmen (Scouses?) of MHS do a helluva lot with a tired formula.

McLusky - McLusky Do Dallas

McLusky - McLusky Do Dallas (Too Pure)

I would like to get the McLusky hype machine started right now, please. The second album from this British trio belongs at the top of your "rocks a lot" pile, right above the Hives. Sounding alternately like Damon Albarn and someone who just got stabbed in the toe, the singer spits out hit after melodic punk hit, deftly satirizing pretty-boy modern rock along the way. Funny, fierce, and boasting song titles like "The World Loves Us and Is Our Bitch," this should please fans of the Pixies, the Wedding Present, and their brethren.

Kepler - Missionless Days

Kepler - Missionless Days (Resonant/Troubleman Unlimited)

Hailing from Canada’s capital, Kepler reach near perfection with their latest slow rock release, Missionless Days. The simple beauty of Gara's minimal guitar, Khan and Kish-Watt's soft-spoken lyrics and the textural blend of Sheridan's brushed drumming cohere into subtle slowcore layers. Contemplative melodies subdue most tracks as crescendos build and ebb, yet Kepler add flavour with up-tempo songs like 'The Steel and the Stone' and 'Dogs and Madmen'. For perfection, see the band live, it will give you goosebumps.
My Morning Jacket / Songs:Ohia - Split (Jade Tree)

Dear My Morning Jacket and Songs:Ohia,

Thanks ever so much for the split ep. MMJ, I literally couldn't get "O Is the One That is Real" out of my head for a month. And for the other two songs proper, you must get a lot of comparisons to old Neil Young. Personally I think that's a good thing. And Jason Molina, just based on "Translation", I would like to have your babies. Keep it up.

All Time Quarterback

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All-Time Quarterback - s/t (Barsuk) [mp3, mp3]

I know you're so indie you had the Elsinor releases, but for the regular people, here's a recompilation of the best of Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard's even lower-fi experiment, including a great Magnetic Fields cover. Turn out the lights, put this on and pretend your gas stove is a campfire for the ultimate insider experience. Recorded on a Walkman's condenser mic, you really get the feeling he's singing just for you.
Guided By Voices - Universal Truths and Cycles (Matador) [mp3s]

Even though they put bands twenty years younger to shame and have more potential hits than Toto, this won't be the release that will turn Guided By Voices into household names. Contained here are the usual power chord anthems fans expect with a stripped down production that manages to sound slick without being suffocating (see Do the Collapse). Despite being potentially their best hi-fi release to date, non-fans will continue their holdout while long time fans will get their usual fix.

Imperial Teen - On

Imperial Teen - On (Merge)

For completely different reasons, this album brings back the feeling I got when first hearing Redd Kross. I think it's the application of new wave song formulas the same way RK re-conceived the 70s power ballad. A diverse collection, "On" is just plain fun and the right weight for summer listening, something you can feel without having to overthink. Think of it as musical Hi-C, just enough nutrition to get past the parents, just enough sugar to get you high.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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