March 2003 Archives

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master and Everyone (Palace Records/Drag City) [upcoming shows]

Through beautifully revitalized and produced Southern gothic, "Master and Everyone" is the emotion soaked ballad of a broken hearted man. Oldham pines love torn depths accompanied by acoustic guitar, scattered synth effects and Marty Slayton's feminine vocals for a duet or two. By the end of the album the gorgeous self-reflective intimacy of tracks like "Hard Life", "Wolf among Wolves" and "The Way" made me want to profess everlasting love to the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

David Clement - Your Free Gift

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David Clement - Your Free Gift [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Liz Phair pal David Clement suffered though more than his share of major-label nightmares while bringing this sophomore disc to the public. Which is a shame, because Your Free Gift's skewed melodies, spot-on instrumentation, and propulsive pop-rock (a la David Byrne fronting the Attractions) makes for an effervescent, surprisingly substantial listen - like a candy bar that's somehow good for you. Hopefully the "kids" can get their hands on this baby somehow.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Pig Lib (Matador) [mp3]

Pavement was clearly one of the most significant rock bands of the nineties. The Jicks, with their second release, unfortunately confirm that they won't be among the significant bands of the double O's. We've heard it all before, but better, my friends. Well, "Vanessa From Queens," would make a pretty good single, in Malkmus's lightweight & goofy tradition, and "Dynamic Calories," on the 5 song bonus CD included with the first 25,000 copies is lot of fun, running right on the edge of greatness. But overall, the Jicks are a sadly diminished thing.

Longwave - The Strangest Things

Longwave - The Strangest Things (RCA)

I certainly thought the 80s fucking rocked. What I remember of them, anyhow (hey, that's what we have John Hughes and VH1 for). While also just barely old enough to recall that era, Longwave heartily agree. Bunnymen, U2 (before they got all "I'm Jesus" and "Save Africa" on our asses), Depeche Mode, and shoegazing Britpop all gets mixed together on The Strangest Things, and the mélange is damn good, too. Strokes/Interpol better get their drool handkerchiefs ready.

The Sun - Love & Death

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The Sun - Love & Death (Warner Brothers)

Schizophrenic at times, but still a somewhat satisfying six-track EP debut from Columbus, OH's The Sun. "Love & Death" was recorded one weekend at Jay Bennett's house in LA following a tour in 2002. At their best, The Sun swaggers with grainy garage-punk revivalism… but this disc is short on the gasoline-drinking, balls-to-the-wall attitude that makes most garage rock special. Word on the street is that their shows get a little more intense.

John Fahey - Red Cross

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John Fahey - Red Cross (Revenant)

We crept into the graveyard, a blood red moon low on the horizon. My skeleton friend pulled out his guitar and made sounds like nobody alive could have. Looped, bent, weaving, ringing, howling stuttering guitar from the next world. I’m looking straight into the fires of hell and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The lo-fi last recordings of a dead mad, an old-west shootout at midnight, a disciple of Christ, today.
Califone - Quicksand: Cradlesnakes (Thrill Jockey) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

The sound is often densely layered and sludgy, combining mostly acoustic guitars, some banjo, keys, cello, quiet electronics and most importantly, a great variety of percussion. Rutili's lyrics are wonderful, but always drawled so as to be mostly unintelligible without referencing the lyric sheet (thankfully enclosed). They've purposely hidden all the obvious hooks around the corner, slightly out of reach. Almost every moment seems just a little too restrained, but when they do let loose it's heavenly. Unfortunately, the last album, Roomsound, was more convincing.
DJ Krush - The Message At The Depth (Red) [upcoming shows]

Forget drugs - this is your brain on glitch. Locked up drum machines, arrhythmic Blade Runner beats, and misfiring synth laser cannons all combine on DJ Krush's soundtrack to some imaginary robot revolt. The machines are too pissed to dance, which is a shame - even a little bit of head-nodding would do this disc well. However, Krush's groove is more unique than most conceptual DJ efforts these days.
Crooked Fingers - Red Devil Dawn (Merge) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

After Archers of Loaf disbanded and long-lost brother Grimm, Eric Bachmann, crossed the Rubicon into whiskey-soaked folk, he has delighted the dejected with his pack-a-day Diamondish voice and sub earthen tones. Red Devil Dawn continues the sabulous journey with some twists. Added to the cocktail are Tequila ("You Threw A Spark"), and even Margarita Daiquiris ("Marie") along with the regular fair which all lead to fairy tales for grown ups.

Noel Sanger - Summerbreeze 2

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Noel Sanger - Summerbreeze 2 (Nettwerk)

What do you do when you're asked to mix an album as the follow-up to DJ Tiesto's masterful set on the first Summerbreeze title? Simple. Start with a dark, progressive sound. Blend in a tasteful collection of melodic vocals, add a dash of tribal beats and a pinch of synth hooks to flavour. Mix on high for 140 minutes. Serve extremely hot, and enjoy.

Starecase - Firstfloor

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Starecase - Firstfloor (Hope Recordings/Kinetic Records)

This Bristol duo's debut LP is a curious mix of their excellent breakbeat sound, and some experimental chillout tracks that don't quite rise to the occasion. Some very poor lyrics only serve to make things worse, but when these guys get it right, they get it RIGHT. Their first single, "Faith," gives you reason enough to hit the dance floor, and you'll quickly forget about the rest of the album's shortcomings.

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