November 2003 Archives

Ted Leo - Tell Balgeary Balgury Is Dead (Lookout!) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

As I wavered from favorite song to favorite song on Hearts of Oak, I overlooked this one, until now. Buy this fantastic EP for the Ewan McColl (and Pogues), Jam, and Split Enz covers, then worship it for the great new originals. Most of the record is Ted solo, stripped down, Billy Bragg-style. Every bit as indispensable as Hearts of Oak.
Tiara - The Summer of the Lion, The Summer of the Lamb (We Want Action) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

This is an album that you instantly fall desperately in love with, wanting to make sure everyone you come in contact with is aware of how special it is. You'll want to evangelize it to the point of obsession, thinking that if you can't covert 10 people into fans of the record you've failed yourself. On their fourth release, Tiara have found their sound, an interesting blend of Death Cab, Built to Spill and Elliott Smith put through a Midwestern blender. It's an album you'll become attached to quickly, wanting to spread it to others like some sort of rock and roll virus.

Kid Rock

Kid Rock (Atlantic) [upcoming shows]

A great reminder old school rock and roll isn't such a bad thing, after all, this earnest effort reflects the simpler pleasures of the midwest. Grab a domestic beer, your favorite squeeze, and take a long ride in the truck to best experience the record, then come back and try to tell me you didn't put his cover of "Feel Like Makin' Love" on repeat while you were on the highway. However, if you must overthink everything, maybe this isn't for you.

Britney Spears - In The Zone

Britney Spears - In The Zone (Jive) [audio] [more audio]

Oops, she did it again.

Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism (Barsuk) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

I constantly get this look when I tell most people I like Death Cab for Cutie. It's this smirk/pained look that tells me without words that they feel better than/bad for me. Hey, whatever. You're missing out on Transatlanticism's sweeping rock opus, a beautiful and delicate thing that bombasts on any car stereo. I've listened to "Lightness" on repeat many a night watching the sunset, quietly singing "Ooh-Wah-Ho," and if that makes me lame, so be it.
Metric - Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (Everloving) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

Metric may specialize in the new wave/post punk du jour, but their keen ear for melody and vaguely classical flourishes set them apart from the hordes of Casio-toting pretenders to the throne. The ten tracks vary from total electric sugar-rush to subdued longing, shot along by Emily Haines captivating vocal delivery. Hey, it's not like Elastica is going to get back together or anything, so get on this shit early so you can gloat.

Guided By Voices - Hardcore UFOs

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Guided By Voices - Hardcore UFOs (Matador) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Michael Stipe recently stated that once a band is together for twenty years, the only option is to put out either a live album or a greatest hits collection. Bob Pollard, prolific as he is, has taken that advice and more than doubled it with the Hardcore UFOs box set. Included are albums of: live performances, greatest hits, of unreleased material (some of which even I haven't heard before), the band's first release (Forever Since Breakfast), and singles and B-sides released by Matador. The box set is simply a dream. Take that, Stipe.
Firewater - Man on the Burning Tightrope (Jet Set) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Tod A. has opened a crack in the sidewalk somewhere in NYC, letting out the gypsy freaks who live in the sewers. Luckily for us, they just want to start a carnival - and inside, it's one hell of a psychedelic klezmer lounge polka skronkfest party. If you can't get into such ululating freakouts as "Anything at All" or "Dark Days Indeed," check your pulse right now and head straight to the hospital; there's no hope for you.
Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Some time ago I went to an ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead concert. Explosions in the Sky were the openers. After they played, and about 30 minutes into Trail of Dead's set, the singer was writhing on the ground screaming at my feet. I looked at him bemusedly and thought, "Yeah, this is okay, but it doesn't hold a torch to Explosions' set." This record cements EitS's stature in the post-post rock world.

The Strokes - Room on Fire

The Strokes - Room on Fire (RCA) [audio/video] [tour dates]

It sounds exactly like the first album - except subtler. The lyrics are still terribly trite. But when Julian unleashes that howl about needing "a little tiiiiiime," for instance, they're once again thrilling, perfect rock and roll, the kind you can feel in your stomach. And the killer parts keep coming. Sprightly guitar licks, or even one of Julian's meaningless lines, will wrap themselves around your brain, squeezing and squeezing until you cry uncle. This is 33 minutes of consistent Strokes-y goodness.

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