August 2002 Archives

Mike Johnson - What Would You Do

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Mike Johnson - What Would You Do (Up Records)

Sounding nothing like his former band and now sharing a genre with brother in arms Mark Lanegan, ex-Dinosaur Jr. bassist Johnson favors chainsmoking over track marks which leads to some sorrowful, intricate musical compositions on his fourth full length release. Definately somber mood music, it's not recommended for family gatherings but better suited for people needing that musical shove off the cliff to end it all. Keep this away from anyone who suffers from authentic, crippling can't-get-out-of-bed-today depression.

Les Savy Fav - Go Forth

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Les Savy Fav - Go Forth (French Kiss) [mp3, mp3]

Les Savy Fav are prototype postmodern pop stars. Challenged to follow up the Emor: Rome Upside Down Ep, their third full length is an energetic ride through an art-rock funhouse. Who the fuck yells 'woop.woop.' or sings about filing tax returns? Tim Harrington, that's the lyrically literate bastard who. Backed by the start -stop- loudloudloud sound of the incomparable Syd Butler, Seth Jabour and Harrison Haynes, Go Forth is fucking irresistible!
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (Interscope) [audio, video]

What's this? Dave Grohl behind a drum kit again? Kickin' out the heavy jams like a champ? Almost sounds too good to be true, don't it? Well... become a believer. The same grille-punch grooves that everyone has come to expect from the ex-members of Kyuss, this record is the perfect end of summer rock jam. It's really fitting that I got ahold of this record and the metal issue of Spin in the same week. Quit being a tight-belted indie prick and pick it up already.

Aloha - Sugar

Aloha - Sugar (Polyvinyl Records) [mp3]

I guess if this is what they call post-rock, I like post rock, even though the joys of Pedro the Lion and Tortoise have eluded me thus far. But maybe the Sugar transcends the group's banal title for this, their second studio album? Maybe the group's catchy, jazz infused, percussion heavy, eclectic yet accessible stylings can be considered caramelized post rock? Yes, I like that much better.

Spoon - Kill The Moonlight

Spoon - Kill The Moonlight (Merge) [mp3s, stream]

When Britt Daniel woke up on New Years Day 2002, a note under his pillow read "Britt - The world is ready for you. XO - God." After getting dissed in their hometown, then dropped from Elektra records, this is sweet revenge from Texas' (better) version of the White Strokes. Mostly ditching guitars for pianos, handclaps, even a human beatbox, Kill The Moonlight is a heavily rhythmic odyssey that combines the two Elvises, the hip-shaking groove of Presley and the song writing prowess of Costello, into one of the year's best.

AM Stereo - Suffocation Town

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AM Stereo - Suffocation Town (Intelligent Records) [mp3s]

AM Stereo are like the opening band at the emo show: you're not really into them and just keep talking to your friends, but you're also glad they don't suck. Equal parts Replacements songwriting, Hot Water Music fist-pumping toughguy guts, and Get Up Kids jump-in-the-air energy, it's an ideal record for the Friday night drive through the gloomy New England countryside to a show in Boston. The next time they open up for your favorite band, maybe you'll pay a bit more attention.

This Busy Monster - Fireworks

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This Busy Monster - Fireworks (Barsuk) [mp3s]

This Seattle trio specialize in quirky arrangements and personal-yet-wacky lyrics delivered earnestly by one C. Possanza. A good formula, except that great instrumentation can't save the weak songwriting. It doesn't help that I can totally picture Possanza swinging around in a fluffy white pirate shirt singing a slow, dirgy "Come On Eileen." The record closes with "The Curious Sofa," a lilting tune in 3/4 time that concludes with a high-pitched violin and a beautifully played french horn. A song worth downloading, not a record worth buying.

Hey Mercedes - The Weekend EP

Hey Mercedes - The Weekend EP (Vagrant)

In a nutshell, this is 4 great songs that Hey Mercedes recorded when they were in the studio recording the full-length that was released late last year. "Wait a minute!" you say..."There's only three new songs on here! One of them is just a remixed version of a track from the album!" "Keep listening," I'd tell you. "There's a great cover of 'The Promise' hidden at the end." Definitely worth the few books you might shell out for it.

The Honey's - Shoot From the Hip

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The Honey's - Shoot From the Hip (Derailleur Records) [mp3, mp3]

The most exciting thing I've heard all year - The Honey's sound like the punk rock brothers and sisters of late '80s sleazy hard rock bands like Ratt, Spread Eagle, L.A. Guns and Skid Row with hot, hot, hot female vocals. And, as far as I can tell, it's not tongue-in-cheek, just pure, straight-out, balls-to-the-walls metal. What the band lacks in Hit Parader style (where are the leather pants?) they make up for in the sound. Bang your head!!!

The Constantines - s/t

The Constantines - s/t (Three Gut) [mp3]

When these four boys from Guelph first broke, Canadian music critics swiftly jumped on them like a life raft of real rock and roll. And for good reason. Garage riffs and gruff vocals balance perfectly with slower softer numbers: a delicate balance of hope and pure nihilism. When singer Bry Webb screams "Can I get a witness?" on "Young Offenders," you'll want to scream hells yes. This record is only topped by their live show. Rock the fuck on.

Green Day - Shenanigans

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Green Day - Shenanigans (Reprise)

True appreciators of Green Day are a small but dedicated lot; undoubtedly, most had already heard, in some form or another, the non-album material compiled on the overdue Shenanigans. It turns out to be a CD typical of its sort, with both throw-away tracks and "This-is-why-I-love-this-band" moments represented. Naturally, the latter element is what makes such collections so attractive to fans, and the highlights do deliver. However, their considerable pop-rock shine is greatly diminished by the presence of lesser songs, ultimately making the album an item for completists only.

Cordelia's Dad - What It Is

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Cordelia's Dad - What It Is (Kim Chee)

Cordelia's Dad has always been hard to define. Live shows are stylistically bipolar, either acoustic Americana or driving noisy punk insanity (and sometimes both). At long last, C. Dad delivers an album that spans their gamut and holds together, start to finish: Appalachia, crazy feedback freakouts, instrumental experimentation, ballads and all-out RAWK. Most albums that promise "something for everyone" deliver nothing to anyone in particular. Here Cordelia's Dad shows us how it's really done.

Sparta - Wiretap Scars

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Sparta - Wiretap Scars (Dreamworks) [mp3]

Sounding more like Quicksand than ex-Quicksand member Walter Schreifel's new band Rival Schools, Sparta has the daunting task of trying to sell enough records to remain on a major label. The post-hardcore sound (3 of the 4 Sparta guys were in At The Drive-In) will certainly bode well in the indie rock circuit but will the mainstream buy it? Probably not, though an opening slot on Weezer's summer tour doesn't hurt. Nevertheless, a powerful debut from these El Paso punks.

The Dissapointments

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The Dissappointments - s/t Ragged Dick Productions

This original release brings to mind a combination of an unplugged NoMeansNo, Doo Rag and Rob Crow presenting a demented reworking of musical americana with a giant smirk on their faces. Essentially a disjointed, acoustic based record with crazed song titles, it actually deserves quite a bit of respect. Throw in a protest song against modern fashion trends and twisted cover versions of Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Body Count and Whitney Houston and you have a eclectic, quirky band issuing a challenge only a select audience is ready for.

Enon - High Society

Enon - High Society (Touch & Go) [mp3] [video]

High Society introduces us to a kindler, gentler Enon. There's still the abrasive scouring power of Brainiac, but now with a milder Malkmus-y pop sensibility. There's also a feminine touch, added by newest member Toko Yasuda, giving High Society an intermittent dose of Blonde Redhead delicateness. That being said, High Society does tend to do quite a bit of musical genre-bending. Overall, it's a pretty eclectic collection of tracks. Fortunately, the solid songwriting anchors everything well. The results are less "Man, this is all over the place", and more "Wheeeeeeeeee!"

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