September 2004 Archives

März - Wir Sind Hier

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März - Wir Sind Hier (Karaoke Kalk) [mp3s]

The phrase "German engineered" has applied only to automobiles for far too long. März deconstructs glitch electronic, folk, and chamber pop the way others have been trying to since late in the '90s and refashions them all together in one of the more aurally impressive records I've heard all year. Imagine a collaborative effort by Sufjan Stevens, Stephin Merritt and Matmos, listen to Wir Sind Hier, and then realize you're only half the way there.

Blues Explosion - Damage

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Blues Explosion - Damage (Sanctuary) [audio] [upcoming shows]

As Now I Got Worry served to cap off phase one of the mighty JSBX experience, Damage even more ably defines phase two. Around 1998, when Spencer & Co. began experimenting with formula rather than just making the blues a noisier commodity, the band's grasp fell short of its reach. Things improved over time, and decisions once questionable now seem profound. Ideas finally feel fleshed out and the band shows more aptitude than ever. If that's not enough of a good thing, there's even a protest song with Chuck D!

Fu Manchu - Start the Machine

Fu Manchu - Start the Machine (DRT Entertainment) [upcoming shows]

When I picked up King of the Road a few years back, it had a sticker on it that said, "A damn near perfect record." So where the hell is that sticker when you need it? Start the Machine is somewhat of a return to form for Fu Manchu: the beast is bulkier, tanner and better looking after its day under the sun. You could call it stoner rock, riff rock or rock. I'll call it damn near perfect.

Meshuggah - I

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Meshuggah - I (Fractured Transmitter Record Co.) [mp3]

One track. Twenty-one minutes. Pure technical metal insanity. Despite its depth and length, this actually feels like one long, fluid song. Another impressive aspect of this is that it blows the last offering, Nothing-a 10 song album-out of the water. No one in the band said a word when they wrapped this thing up, but they were all thinking the same thing: "I hope we never play this live."

X-Wife - Feeding the Machine

X-Wife - Feeding the Machine (Norte Sul) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

If you were to combine the dense, pre-programmed noise wall of the Jesus & Mary Chain's Automatic with the monochromatic and detached presence of Clinic's Internal Wrangler, the laws of physics and the universe might dictate an altogether unpleasant result. Portugal's X-Wife, undeterred by the forecasted outcome, breathe life into the mixture and turn the mechanic into the organic. Finally, after decades of misspent effort, the robots and the humans are standing on common ground.

The Delgados - Universal Audio

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The Delgados - Universal Audio (Chemikal Underground) [upcoming shows]

The Delgados are working with some sort of magic, or maybe even with the devil's blessing. No song they've ever recorded has been singularly spectacular, nor has any album of theirs been considered an absolute masterpiece. In fact, theirs is a faceless model of indie pop; an anually updated prototype. Universal Audio, while very nice in its own right, is the well from which many better copycat records will spring. When the Delgados speak, everyone listens.

Saturday Looks Good To Me - Every Night

Saturday Looks Good To Me - Every Night (Polyvinyl) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Every Night is the kind of record which makes me seriously consider blowing my meager savings on one of those silver Airstream trailers, asking one of my neighbors to water the plants for a couple months, and hitting the untamed highway. As the dust kicks up and the tumbleweeds dance across the blacktop, "If You Ask" would score the scenic sunset atop the distant mountains. But then I'd turn around and come home, because I really don't have that kind of money!

Har Mar Superstar - The Handler

Har Mar Superstar - The Handler (Record Collection) [mp3] [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

The most Justin Timberlakeian album that has been released since November 5th, 2002. I mean that as a compliment, but I'm not so sure Timbaland is going to take it as one. True story: I got in a car accident while singing along to "DUI," easily one of the catchiest pop songs I've heard all year. Top it all off with a Self/Har Mar cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again" and you've got an album that, at very least, forced me to think long and hard before admitting my love for it.

Daniele Luppi - An Italian Story

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Daniele Luppi - An Italian Story (Rhino) [audio] [video]

It would have been so easy for a project like this to fall prey to the style-over-substance curse, but Luppi made an honest effort to authenticate every second of this homage to '60s Italian film scores. From recording the music at the legendary Telecinesound Studio to recruiting Alessandro "The Whistler" Alessandroni, whom you've no doubt heard in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western films, An Italian Story is remarkably and innovatively fresh for music altogether inspired from another time.

Twilight Singers - She Loves You

Twilight Singers - She Loves You (One Little Indian) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

I never appreciated the Afghan Whigs until I moved away from Cincinnati and their incessant white-trash-soul whining, but now I miss them, and now Greg Dulli's singing covers (Björk!?) with Mark Lanegan. It's more romantic and less sexy than the Whigs, but there's the nagging feeling I've been conned into listening to adult contemporary music. If Dulli's looking for a love/hate relationship, he's found it.

The Figgs - Palais

The Figgs - Palais (Stomper) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

I had the misfortune of forgetting all about the Figgs for a few years. Their brand of ragged, jangly garage pop was a mainstay on my stereo for a while in the '90s, but I up and left. Fortunately they soldiered on, releasing one album after another during the interim. Their latest, Palais, is a double disc that plays so solid and honed it's almost unrecognizable, yet comfortingly familiar. Welcome back, Figgs, even though I'm the one who strayed.

The Tough & Lovely

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The Tough & Lovely

Okay, so I didn't explain AT ALL in this review what this CD sounds like BUT, between you and me, it sounds like Janis Joplin/Cher fronting an early '60s garage rock band inspired by the Shangri-La's. Ha! It's really good if you're into that type of music which, prior to hearing this CD, I didn't think I was.
Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - There Will Be a Light (Virgin) [upcoming shows]

Amen! This album is the most funky, bluesy, rockin' gospel album ever. It might be a bit to Christian for some, but if you like Ben Harper (or the Blind Boys) and you're down with Jesus, this album is a must have. A good listen anytime, great when your feeling down, or just want to keep that cup of faith full.

Northern State - All City

Northern State - All City (Sony Music)

The group's debut was maligned by a few people, but I truly enjoyed the old New York Beastie Boys/Def Jam vibe circling every song. One year later, Northern State have fallen into the realm of complete self-parody. Where it falters most significantly is in the rhyming (and the lyrics in general)... and they know it. "You know I used to be good/I've gone from bad to worse/Now I'm just trying to write another eight bar verse." Um, try again.

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

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