August 2004 Archives

Paul Westerberg - Folker

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Paul Westerberg - Folker (Vagrant) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

As musically active as Westerberg has been in the last three years, it's tough to believe he can keep his batteries charged and his craft this sharp. Folker is proof positive that he's deep in the midst of a rejuvenation period, though. Much of what's offered here lyrically and musically recalls the final 'Mats album All Shook Down. Even the folkier slower material doesn't sound like the work of a man crippled by time, but one savoring his youth. Is his best work still ahead of him?

Mark Lanegan Band - Bubblegum

Mark Lanegan Band - Bubblegum (Beggars Banquet) [audio]

First off, don't worry about that Weird Chill. Lanegan's earlier odds & sods EP was just that, and the recordings that they were culled from are stronger without 'em. Bubblegum runs the gamut of Lanegan's loves, from Beefheart/Watsian howlers, to silkily depressing ballads, to QOTSA robot-rock pounders, with some duets thrown in to boot (yay for PJ Harvey!). Somehow all that variation makes for Lanegan's most consistently listenable solo release to date. That there's some mighty chewy bubblegum.

Aberfeldy - Young Forever

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Aberfeldy - Young Forever (Rough Trade) [mp3s]

Yeah, y'know - this really is a fun record. It doesn't arrive with any pretense, even though it has every right to. Belle & Sebastian could never do twee pop in this manner, always finding ways to complicate their results. With essentially the same elements, Aberfeldy take art school posturing out of the mix and focus on creating organic, simple and largely acoustic pop songs with a trad-folk twist. "Slow Me Down" and "Vegetarian Restaurant" are two of the genre's best singles of this (or any) year.

Adam Sandler - Shhh....Don't Tell

Adam Sandler - Shhh....Don't Tell (Warner Brothers)

Song and skit subject matter is as follows: fucking a toaster, an old man getting hurt skateboarding and surfing, masturbation, a homosexual robot, being elected the Mayor of Pussytown, having a dick the size of half a tic-tac, rubbing waffles on your mother-in-law's breasts, a man who cannot find his whore and your senile grandmother thinking you are her pharmacist and telling you her genital warts have spread towards her anus. Move over Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, it's Adam Sandler.
DJ Rels - Theme For a Broken Soul (Stones Throw)

Madlib's too busy for his own good. Hot on the heels of laying down the tracks for MF Doom's Madvillainy record, he assumes the pseudonym of DJ Rels and positions himself in left field far away from his estimable hip-hop sensibilities. Theme For a Broken Soul isn't a bad effort by any means, although it's certainly aimless. Tracks this repetitious which stretch on for six, seven, and even nine minutes should at least be rooted in solid grooves. It's DJ Shadow for dummies.

Diplo - Florida

Diplo - Florida (Big Dada) [upcoming shows]

Florida is exactly what I've always wanted an electronic/hip hop/psychadellic/rock/dance album to sound like - yet, save for a very select few, none have come even close. Completely captivating, ridiculously layered beats that left me staring at the Turntable Lab equipment page thinking "you can do that with this???" Easily on par with the genre's biggest and brightest. An amazing debut.

Floater - Acoustics

Floater - Acoustics (Elemental Records)

How do you write about one of your favorite bands of all time without sounding like a complete dork? Floater, one of the greatest power trios of modern music (it's true), goes completely unplugged yet sustains the trademarks of their heavy art rock: aggression, melancholy and beauty. Blues, reggae and flamenco guitar are thrown into the mix, but Robert Wynia's irresistible voice is the instrument to follow. Floater truly makes every note its own and as a result, goose bumps will rise.

Ikara Colt - Modern Apprentice

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Ikara Colt - Modern Apprentice (Fantastic Plastic) [mp3s] [video] [upcoming shows]

It looks as though Ikara Colt were mistakenly lumped in with the post-punk revivalists at the time their first record was released in 2002. Modern Apprentice is front to back buzzsaw atonal rock and roll, untied to any time period or movement. Like Sonic Youth before them, the musical vision can be singular to a fault if pursued at length. Wisely, Ikara Colt left most of these songs short enough to avoid that foreordained pitfall. Noise with structure, rock without trappings.

Graham Colton Band - Drive

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Graham Colton Band - Drive (Universal) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

I think this is supposed to be interesting and catchy in a Ryan Adams or Pete Yorn sort of way, but Drive comes off like an updated-for-2004 Toad The Wet Sprocket trying to score the title track to a cheap WB teen drama. No surprise, really, with Brendan O'Brien producing (Stone Temple Pilots, etc.) and helping to write the record. More unecessary adult-alt-rock to clog up the airwaves.
The Mice - For Almost Ever Scooter (Scat Records) [mp3s]

Scat Records has rescued and reissued music by the mid-80's Ohio band The Mice, combining a Europe-only EP and their never-released second LP. Although lead singer Bill Fox has two solo records over the past eight years, finding material by The Mice has always been difficult. This collection of songs combines bits of Hootenanny-era Replacements, early Who, low-fi pop, and Portastatic's skinny white boy vocals. A classic slice of power pop in its purest form, long before production values sacrificed personality.

Dreamend - if by Ghosts

Dreamend - if by Ghosts (Graveface Records) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Dreamend can turn a sweet aural back rub into a noisy dish-breaking fiesta with the drop of a hat, but when the white noise comes the songs are never lost in a black hole of senselessness. Chaotic bursts aside, slide guitars, chimes and naked arrangements make this a mostly touching, surprisingly delicious post-rock haunting. "Ellipsis" and "Ten Guitars from Salem" will have to fight it out for a position on that all-instrumental CD you've been wanting to make.
Steve Earle - The Revolution Starts... Now (Artemis) [album stream] [upcoming shows]

This is the work of a frustrated patriot, a man who romanticizes the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s and man who sees a better country beyond the horizon ("The Revolution Starts...", "F the CC"). It's the work of a man who's had his heart broken by a woman he loves ("I Thought You Should Know"). It's the work of a comedian who's sent a love note to Condoleeza Rice ("Condi, Condi"). It's the work of Steve Earle, and it's his best album in ages.

The Swedes - Photolab 9000

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The Swedes - Photolab 9000 (Self-Released) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Quirky pop is in, which is fine by me since angry facial hair rock makes me cringe like a scared kitten. The Swedes pull off the genre better than most, somewhat successfully blending Shins style pop with Steve Miller / garage-rock guitar licks. These New Yorkers with a photobooth picture obession would feel right at home playing with half the Sub Pop or Merge roster, and I for one wouldn't mind the show (although I doubt I'd buy an advance ticket).
Second Shot - Seven Years Bad Luck (Shove-It Records) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Today on "Pimp My Punk," the show that gleans, preens and steams youthful musicians, we have Second Shot. In an obscenely sleek fashion - this band is tighter than your boyhood Superman undies - Second Shot pays up to its two dads, Dr. FX and Mr. G. Day. Over achievers they're not, but they rip through their fast, melodic same-hyper-drum-patterned songs like champs. Pay attention to the LCD display or else you'll think you accidentally hit repeat.

The Soviettes - LP II

The Soviettes - LP II (Adeline) [mp3s/video] [upcoming shows]

Who takes bubblegum punk seriously? The Soviettes, that's who. The most remarkable thing about these songs is that they make the most striking choruses arise like magic from otherwise run of the mill punk tempos and melodies. There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek yelling and sneering, but with four very capable singers in the band, no song is at a loss for suitable vocals. It's an advantage the Soviettes have over others of the same stripe - they're willing to take chances.
Uncut - Those Who Were Hung Hang Here (Paper Bag) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Uncut have more than one thing going for them right now. Musically, they're mining the same territory Interpol revisited two years ago, but do so without ever becoming absurdly derivative. In addition, they're partnered with Toronto's buzz label of the moment, Paper Bag. Seeing good things happen to good bands is always nice. The only thing working against Uncut is time, because we're fast approaching the twilight of the post-punk boom and people may not be paying attention anymore.

Old Man Gloom - Christmas

Old Man Gloom - Christmas (Tortuga Recordings) [mp3]

As barren as it is busy, Christmas is a sonic abomination crooked with distortion, sublime heaviness, and most importantly, a child-like adoration of our simian brethren. And unlike the holiday, your presents are bits of twitchy sludge and jittery soundscapes that are both full of climactic head-swelling moments and end-of-life drones. Watch the sunset, get bombarded by hail. Smell the flowers, get gang raped. It's a sick system. If none of this interests you, the booklet is the funniest thing you'll read all year.

The Fairways - This is Farewell

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The Fairways - This is Farewell (Matinée) [audio]

Making a band's acquaintance posthumously is sometimes a bittersweet experience and that's certainly the case with this, the final release from the Fairways. Comprised mostly of tracks from their never completed second record, it's rounded out with obscure cover tunes and songs found originally on their split single with the Aislers Set and a tour only ep. Indie pop hasn't sounded this tender and unspoiled since the Cat's Miaow played their final chords some years back.

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

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