April 2003 Archives

Hot Hot Heat - Make Up The Breakdown (Subpop) [mp3, mp3] [upcoming shows]

"It is not new wave worship; it is the sound of punk teaching itself to dance." Everything I read about HHH quotes this statement from SPIN. Probably because it is so damn accurate. Like the Strokes, Interpol, etc., HHH manage to create a sound that's totally new, yet at the same time, totally familiar. It is a bit over-the-top, yes, but it is very well-executed. Slip on your tight jeans and extra-medium T-shirt, your studded belt and pointy Italian boots, and shake your fat ass. Derivative is the new original.

The Postal Service - Give Up

The Postal Service - Give Up (Sub Pop) [mp3]

Hailed as the great perfect combination of electro-IDM and Indie Rock Songwriting (tm), the duo of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (DNTEL) produced Give Up by trading ideas through the mail. The result is an indie kid's wet dream: glitchy electronica with sensitive-boy vocals layered on top. But the album is less genius collaboration than an 80's pop rehash, and the duo end up sounding more like O.M.D. with a bad meth problem. After five minutes I started scratching the skin off my arms. Ouch.

The Notwist - Neon Golden

The Notwist - Neon Golden (Domino/City Slang) [audio and video]

You know, Neon Golden is a lot like this former Bavarian hardcore band's live show: eight dollars worth of good electro-rock in an 18-dollar package. Although one of the better records released last year, nothing else on it quite lives up to the addicting indie dance beats of "Pilot," a song that would be a certified platinum single if hits were defined as "songs rock webloggers worldwide love to love". Worth it for that song alone, the newly released domestic version is something to check out.

The Sea and Cake - One Bedroom

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The Sea and Cake - One Bedroom (Thrill Jockey) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

There's nothing substantially 'new' here, except for the last track. "Sound and Vision" keeps Bowie's original keyboard compositions, changes the guitar line, features Chicago mates The Aluminum Group on backing vocals, and ends up sounding warmer, more intimate and generally better than the 1977 hit. Not to say the rest of the album isn't perfect, blending Oui's electronic smoothness with the art-pop of The Fawn, One Bedroom captures the indelible freshness classic to TSAC.

Fischerspooner - #1

Fischerspooner - #1 (Capitol) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

It's probably seriously uncool to mention Fischerspooner, seeing as how the album has been overhyped to the point where it has become a parody of itself. But every time I listen to the disc, I have this fucked up urge to walk into the bar, drink way too much, then hop into my car and drive really really fast. Instilling a violent, drunken deathwish. I like that in my dance music.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell (Interscope) [video]

Over half of the songs on this debut full-length clock in at less than three minutes. Although there's no lyrical brilliance that quite matches their breakthrough hit, "Bang," (You know, "As a fuck, son, you suck") there's an undeniable force that knocks the White Stripes' similar set up on its ass. Add to that Karen O's ability to channel pure sex in her voice, they’re proving damned hard to write off as just another NYC band.

The Black Keys - Thickfreekness

The Black Keys - Thickfreekness (Fat Possum) [mp3s, album stream] [upcoming shows]

If John Lee Hooker and Jimi Hendrix had a baby, it would be The Black Keys. Hooker's patented boogie standards showing through on their 1st release the big come up and Hendrix' dirty fucked guitar solos popping up in small perfect moments on ''Hard row'' and ''set you free'' on the new Thickfreekness. In the world of 2-piece blues groups, Doo Rag might have set the stage, and The White Stripes might have stolen the show, but these boys have taken it back to the untainted modest roots.

Kennedy - Self Titled

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Kennedy (Sea Level) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Possibly in reaction to his day job, Kennedy's sophomore release struts all over the garage floor as an uncomplicated, and often vile, collection of revivalist rock. After all, who wouldn't scream the f-word after a long day of working on Carson Daly's radio show? Lord knows I would - and I'd also give this album the quality playing time that it's worth. Or at least try to forget things with a bottle of tequila and the want ads.

The White Stripes - Elephant

The White Stripes - Elephant (V2) [upcoming shows]

It doesn't matter that they have a $5 million contract with a major label, or that they are sporting country western clown clothes, that all their best songs are an amalgamation of their earlier songs, or that the record starts out with a bass guitar. The White Stripes music has always been a soundtrack for drinking, fighting, fucking, and driving like a dead Earnhardt. And Elephant is no different.
John Guilt - The Mirrors and Uncle Sam (Munich Records) [mp3, mp3, mp3] [upcoming shows]

The first proper long-player from NYC's John Guilt (formerly Maestro Echoplex) continues down the path opened by their previous EP (strummy, organy, folky indie rock), but with a somewhat richer, fuller sound. The Mirrors And Uncle Sam evokes the spirit of the old Nation, the one where a teary-eyed Henry Ford can talk about "fellers" in glorious black and white. There's a real sense of detached melancholy throughout, and a ghostly, midnighty feel. It's a lovely and sad anti-paean to Modern America.
Daniel Johnston - Fear Yourself (Gammon) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Few write more convincingly about love, obsession & heartbreak than Daniel Johnston, probably because nobody else believes in the power of love more. Fear Yourself, produced by Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse), delightfully surrounds Johnston's fragile, child-like voice with lush strings & goofy orchestral indulgences (glockenspiel!). Most songs are drenched in a sweet melancholy, & have a surprisingly mature feeling, a world away from Johnston's early lo-fi masterpieces. However, the best tracks are a quartet of up-beat rockers, that sound most like great, lost hits, from weird old 1993.

Calexico - Feast of Wire

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Calexico - Feast of Wire (Quarterstick/City Slang) [audio] [live mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Never thought that I would be telling people how well a mariachi brass section can blend with a classical guitar. Really. Calexico seems to have found exactly what works for them on Feast of Wire. They accomplish what many bands never do - write songs that sound distinct, yet familiar enough for you to fall in love with them. Required listening on your next roadtrip to Mexico.

Matthew Good - Avalanche

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Matthew Good - Avalanche (Universal) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

First off, let me say that I like Matt Good. Yes, he's got an oversized ego and a mouth to match, but his music shows occasional flashes of brilliance that makes you think there's a lot more we haven't heard yet. So you'd think his first solo album would show us what he's capable of. Instead, we get an overproduced, self-indulgent mess of an album, but if you listen real close, you might find some of that brilliance somewhere in there. Oh, and the packaging is nice. Seriously though, I like Matt Good.

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