November 2002 Archives

Had - Here Is Something Fun For You To Do, Color This Picture EP [audio] [upcoming shows]

You know a record isn't very good when the best thing you can write about it is that the band have managed to tune their instruments. That's not to say that the debut EP from Central Washington's Had is bad, just unnecessary. The six songs here run the gamut from emulating Guided By Voices on "Daffodil Valley" to mimicking any number of early English space-rock bands on "Acrophobe." Nothing horrible, but the lackluster production and one-dimensional songwriting left me wanting some sparkle.

Eyes Adrift - Self Titled

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Eyes Adrift - Self Titled (SpinART) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Curt Kirkwood is one of those guitar heros who peaked way too early to ever cash in on his talents and the commercialization of alternative music in the mid-90's. By recruiting musical heavyweights Krist Novoselic of Nirvana and the drummer of Sublime, Kirkwood makes a brilliant career move and the result is his most inspired studio work in a decade. For those familiar with the Meat Puppets, this falls somewhere between Up On The Sun and Huevos, including the first musical tribute to Jon Benet Ramsey to not involve Elton John.
The Streets - Original Pirate Material (Vice Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I initially tossed this album aside as bad two-step. Spouting even-metered rhymes with a sticky Cockney brogue, Mike Skinner layers his verses about suburban livin, working dead end jobs, getting pissed at the local pub, housing boards on PS2, living paycheck to paycheck, over a collection of soft drum loops and R&B hooks. So it's kind of like two-step, but with an emcee waxing "36 Chambers," instead of spouting the previously requisite cants of "boh, boh, boh" between flips of the record.

Unbunny - Black Strawberries

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Unbunny - Black Strawberries (Two Ton Santa)

I often hear Neutral Milk Hotel mentioned whenever someone talks about Unbunny. Valid comparision, ok, but it is not that Unbunny comes across as NMH Jr. per se; more like Unbunny's Jarid Del Deo buys his mushrooms from the same guy Jeff Mangum does. Songs like "In A Way" and "Swans Are Fainting" have that instantly-endearing quality that seems to crush your heart and make you smile at the same time. Unassuming and achingly beautiful, Black Strawberries creeps in, wraps around you, then quietly slides away.
The Apples In Stereo - Velocity of Sound (spinART) [mp3]

Following their Let's Go EP, some wondered whether it would be possible to pour any more sugar into their sound but The Apples In Stereo, with twelve tracks clocking in at just under thirty minutes, instead release the fastest and loudest songs of their career. Some traces of their trademark The-Monkees-on-Dexitrim sound remain but mostly these shift between Fastbacks-inspired punk and retro-sounding slower tracks with heavily distorted power chords. These songs, with blaring guitars and drums, beg to be played at a very loud volume.

Sixto - Sixto

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Sixto - Sixto (Star Star Stereo) [audio]

Somehow combining Fugazi style dual-guitar rhythms with solos fit for arena rock, and we're talking in the same song here, this Wisconsin quartet have a keen ability to play themselves into an interesting frenzied vamp, without producing anything overly remarkable. Featuring ex-members of dis- and Seam, they take more than a couple pages out of Hum's repetoire, albeit with less distortion and more purposeful picking. If mid-90's Chicago-area math rock is your ultimate favorite, Sixto make music with you in mind.

RMSN - Variegated

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RMSN - Variegated (Quarterstick)

The third and final release in this series of EPs, this one is, at first glance, one track longer. Take a closer look and there's an extra, unlisted track stuck on the end. This may as well be a whole new Shipping News album. An awesome release except for that damned packaging that makes the process of opening this fucker rougher than Christmas at Harry Houdini's house. No matter... these tracks are soon to be compiled onto one CD, maybe there'll be a jewel case involved.

Luna - Close Cover Before Striking EP

Luna - Close Cover Before Striking EP (Jetset Records)

Dean Wareham has a balance problem. He can't quite find the perfect level between writing cutely whimsical songs and dense, VU/Television influenced jams. To my ear, he gets it right every other album. Romantica didn't quite make it for me. Close Cover Before Striking, however, brings the scales back into equilibrium - only the Stones cover falls a little flat, and the two Quicktime videos actually make me appreciate Romantica a little more.
Rocket From the Crypt - Live From Camp X-Ray (Vagrant) [mp3]

I could sum this review up in one word: disappointing. If I were to elaborate a bit, I could lengthen it to: very short. If you really wanted me to get longwinded and try to fill up my 75 word quota, I'd say that while it's not my favorite Rocket record (by far), I still like it for what it is: ass-kicking rock and roll. I just wish it rocked a little more...

Mountain Goats - Tallahassee

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Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (4AD) [audio]

What happens when a smart, clever singer/songwriter whose straight-to-a-boombox songs about food and figures from Roman history earned him a fanatical cult following signs to the 4AD label, records an album at Tarbox studios (home to the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev) with Tony Doogan (the man who makes Belle & Sebastian sound slick & pretty) about a married alcoholic couple who move across the U.S. desperately trying to save their gin-soaked relationship by buying a house in Florida? Talla-fucking-fabulous-hassee.
Metroscene - First Light At Last Orders [audio]

I am of the opinion that every city in North America needs its own version of an English rock band, complete with the accents and floppy hair. Metroscene make Atlantans luckier than most with their danceable mod-rock, spacey guitars and head-bobbing rhythms tied together with smiling sweet melodies. Drawing equally from UK influences like Blur, Pulp, and Teenage Fanclub, almost any of these songs would fit into a Britpop club's playlist. Quite possibly the best self-released disc I've ever danced in my chair to.

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