July 2004 Archives

Michael Gira - I Am Singing to You from My Room (Young God Records) [audio/video]

Michael Gira doesn't mind ruining surprises. For his second post-Swans solo outing, he goes DIY with just an acoustic guitar and a DAT machine to show us what the next Angels of Light record might sound like. A hint: the revenge tale "My Sister Said" is utterly heartbreaking. Wrapping up this bulky document of damaged folk lamentations (there are 17 songs, including some stripped-down Swans oldies) are three out-of-character fairy tales. A promising infancy of what is sure to be another gem.
The Ordinary Boys - Over the Counter Culture (B-Unique) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Thank you, Great Britain! You've gone years without producing a band truly worthy of scorn and ridicule from all sides, and we were beginning to wonder if you had any more lambs to place upon the sacrificial altar. We gratefully accept the mungo feast you've prepared this time with the Ordinary Boys; a band so hollow and vapid they almost make me sorry for saying those mean things about Menswe@r a decade ago. By comparison, they were the masters of their trade.
Caviar - The Thin Mercury Sound (Aezra) [audio sampler] ["On The DL" ram/asx] [upcoming shows]

On the follow-up to their criminally overlooked self-titled album, Caviar continues to masterfully blend mid-90s college rock riffage with tasty sampling (Lou Reed, Little Feat, Les Baxter) and witty lyrics. Like the debut's quirky hit "Tangerine Speedo," Thin Mercury Sound features a made-for-radio classic, "On the DL" as well as Brit-pop (think Oasis, Super Fury Animals) flavored rockers ("Lioness," "Light Up the Sky") and songs that belong on a John Hughes film soundtrack ("Hey Let Go," "Clean Getaway"). This is the feel good CD of the summer.
Tommy Stinson - Village Gorilla Head (Sanctuary) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Being an ex-Replacement doesn't pay the bills, so getting on Axl Rose's payroll was a pretty shrewd business move for Tommy Stinson. Two or three dates a year he has to play "Paradise City" in a big empty room, but the rest of that time is all his. And it was time spent wisely based on what can be heard here, his first album of original material this decade. The Westerberg influence can still be felt, but that's to be expected isn't it?

The Izzys

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The Izzys (Kanine) [mp3s/video] [upcoming shows]

The copyright says 2004, but if you were given this CD with no accompanying information, you'd be stroking your chin trying to figure which great lost '60s garage blues rock act was responsible for its contents. At times, the songs liberate ideas from the Jagger/Richards book of clichés, but only when the momentum builds so much that it has nowhere else to go. Without reinventing the wheel, The Izzys create something of a rarity: an honest rock n' fuckin' roll record.
Free Moral Agents - Everybody's Favorite Weapon (Gold Standard Laboratories) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Whatever you do, don't listen to this album until it's dark outside, the moon is barely there and, optimally, a light rain shower is providing the necessary background ambiance. Alright, perhaps those conditions are a little limiting, but it's simply not intended for daytime use. Dubbed-out, highly affected schizo/r&b jams ("songs" seems too rigid a term) of this nature require a dash of weariness and a pinch of speciousness to be enjoyed as intended.

Velvet Revolver - Contraband

Velvet Revolver - Contraband (RCA) [audio/video]

Let's get this out of the way, right now: Despite the hype, despite the past members of that great band, Velvet Revolver is NOT Gun 'n' Roses. Velvet Revolver goes more for the power chords. The punk riffs. Fine and dandy, as long as we have some rippin' Slash solos, right? Oh yeah... I forgot the other important point: Scott Weiland? Horrible fucking voice. Deep lyrics about his battles with drug addiction don't matter if I can't stand to hear his chump ass sing 'em.

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

This is still a great fucking record. If you don't agree, you're an idiot.

Thanksgiving - Nothing

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Thanksgiving - Nothing (Marriage Records) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

While living in Portland, OR, Thanksgiving was the only band that could get me out of the house. Adrian Orange posesses a singular, extraordinary talent that fades in and out throughout the album. A new sound emerging from the bedroom shows and unfinished songs of the Pacific Northwest. It's simplicity without medioctity. It's solemn, without being melancholy. Adrian Orange displays the rare gift of intensity, without drama. Enjoy this release and await the spectacular that is sure to follow.

James Leroy - Distinction

James Leroy - Distinction [audio]

James Leroy is not a man, but a band hailing from Lethbridge in the Canadian province of Alberta. There's no PR push and no underground hype, rather a simple request on a p2p network to download their album before downloading anything else. That's how I found them and haven't been able to stop listening since. Vocals resembling a younger Mac McCaughan, earnest use of live playing, drum machines and dubious sampling... all amazing. The only thing holding back James Leroy is geography.
Neurosis - The Eye of Every Storm (Neurot) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Wow. I've typed this review about 3 times. I mentioned the (great) acoustic albums released by Steve von Till and Scott Kelly. I mentioned the (not so great) collaborative album with Jarboe of Swans. I mentioned my intense curiosity on what those releases would add up to this record sounding like. Fuck it, man. I'm gonna sum it up right here: Mellow. Intense. Beautiful. Goddamn motherfucking MAJESTIC. Buy it. Listen to it in your car while driving through a summer rainstorm. You won't regret it.
Minus the Bear - They Make Beer Commercials Like This (Arena Rock)

Usually, I would never use the phrase "sounds like Depeche Mode" along with the term "awesome" in any sentence unless it read like this: "It would be awesome to kill every band that sounds like Depeche Mode." Well... I guess there's a first time for everything, huh? The band with the name inspired by BJ and the Bear (think about it) drops a new EP filled with sweet hooks, great riffs and... depth. So... yeah... it sounds like if Depeche Mode were awesome.

Radio 4 - Stealing of a Nation

Radio 4 - Stealing of a Nation (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Electroclash as a genre may have tanked with Fischerspooner (remember them?), but punk-edged dance music hasn't thrown its last soiree. In their major label debut, Radio 4 hones infectious dance guitar ("State of Alert"), waxes the Happy Mondays ("Shake the Foundation") all the while proving that bongos are so the new cowbell.
The Hidden Cameras - Mississauga Goddam (Evil Evil/Rough Trade) [upcoming shows] [audio]

Toronto's Joel Gibb and his Hidden Cameras return with what may be their best effort to date, having fine tuned the ramshackle fracas which dominated the first two albums. Still present are the humorously explicit un-"pc" lyrics and Spector-ish wall of sound, but this time the songs are built around some infallible melodies and an unparalleled exuberance at which earlier material only hinted. "Music is My Boyfriend" is destined to be the centerpiece of newly made mix tapes for the rest of the Summer.
Sigur Rós - Ba Ba / Ti Ki / Di Do (Geffen) [upcoming shows]

For a series of compositions never intended to stand on its own, Ba Ba / Ti Ki / Di Do does just that and does it well. The EP is comprised of three distinct parts, thematically tied to one another through the use of a wind-up music box; its speed altered and tones manipulated to accent the surrounding instrumentation. The music here is quite unlike what you've heard from Sigur Rós elsewhere; still icy, still spiritual, but entirely disembodied and abstract.
Bloc Party - Little Thoughts/Tulips (Wichita Recordings) [video] [upcoming shows]

Remember when bands earned their admirers by releasing a stream of blistering singles and putting on live shows people can't wait to tell their friends about? "Little Thoughts," the title track from Bloc Party's third, is so melodically buoyant and timeless it could be mistaken for the signature song of most any veteran post-punk critical darling. An impressive feat from a band whose recording history can be measured in months rather than years.
Kings of Convenience - Riot on an Empty Street (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

"Homesick," the album's opening track, stands out from what follows it by sounding not similar, but exactly like Simon & Garfunkel. While it alone makes the album a must-own, there's another 11 songs which bounce between polite folk and chamber pop; each dripping with the kind of poignancy that makes teenage girls pull the covers over their heads to cry and thirtysomething men to gaze backwards into their younger years and lament their questionable decisions. An eye opener.

PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her

PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her (Island) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Polly Jean appears to be going back to her roots. Completely reversing direction from Stories From the City, she's gone back to a very stripped down, venomous approach. Gone are the sweet melodies... Fuzzed out guitar, sparse drums and more feminine angst than you can shake a soccer mom at is the order of the day. While it has some good tunes on it, this record sounds about half done. Maybe she just used up all her good ideas on that Desert Sessions record and this is the leftovers...

Jucifer - War Bird

Jucifer - War Bird (Velocette)

Thank you, Lucifer and O.J. "The Juice" Simpson, for making Jucifer possible. This EP of six songs and an excerpt from a camping trip unveils huge crusty riffs (and huge crusty drums) executed by a married couple. And it's just our luck that the wife has the voice of an angel. Besides the revving "Haute Couture," the real highlight here might actually be an uncharacteristic banjo-plucking ode to America.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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