October 2004 Archives

Nouvelle Vague

Nouvelle Vague (Peacefrog) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

French musicians Olivier Libaux and Marc Collin obviously harbor a great love for new wave/punk singles from the late '70s and early '80s. Why not combine that love with another? Nouvelle Vague takes the work of such bands as Joy Division, PiL, Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy and the Cure and refashions them as bossa nova standards. The goal was to have relatively unknown female vocalists perform without ever hearing the originals so as not to tarnish the purity of these new arrangements. This method not only works, but exceeds expectations.
DJ Green Lantern/Beastie Boys - New York State of Mind [audio]

Working with both the blessing of and a little assistance from the Boys themselves, DJ Green Lantern has compiled and mixed what is probably the most solid release in the entire Beastie discography (official or not). New backing tracks, re-cut rhymes, guest spots from big names (Busta Rhymes, The Clipse) and a track-to-track flow that's unparalleled makes New York State of Mind not only essential listening for fans of the group, but just the thing to win over the doubters you know.

Luna - Rendezvous

Luna - Rendezvous (Jetset) [upcoming shows]

When you heard Luna was going to break up, you probably thought "yeah, that makes sense." And it's not that Dean Wareham has been entirely static or single-minded for twelve years, but that the intent has become exhaustive for both the band and its fans. I find it fitting that any album in their catalog could have replaced this as the final release, because it means Rendezvous is as true a document of Luna's gift to music as anything they've ever made.

Mos Def - The New Danger

Mos Def - The New Danger (Geffen) [audio]

I wasn't one of those people who'd been waiting five years for The New Danger to arrive, so pardon me for not greeting it with the disdain some of Mos Def's longtime fans have shown. I'm familiar with his past, though, and from the very beginning it's always been apparent that man likes to break ground. Sure, the fusion of hip-hop and rock is hardly revolutionary anymore, but in Mos's capable hands it sounds loose and immediate, alive and breathing. A "safe" record would have been the real disappointment.
Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself (V2) [upcoming shows]

A two pound bag of Skittles, some fuzzy guitars, forty seven Pixie Stix, a long car ride with a healthy game of punchbuggy, three soft kisses on the cheek in broad daylight from your secret crush and one ambiguously worded note to you passed in the back of geometry class is the best way to sum up Please Describe Yourself. Fuzzy candy pop is supposed to be fun, after all.

Money Mark - Demo? Or Demolition?

Money Mark - Demo? Or Demolition? (Chocolate Industries)

Oh Money, Money, Money... who put you up to this, man? You can tell me, it's o.k. Was it Biz Markie? That Biz ­he's such a trickster. You know, when he said it was a good idea to release an album of leftover Luscious Jackson instrumental tracks with half-finished lyrics sung over the top, he was probably just kidding.

n. Lannon - Chemical Friends

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n. Lannon - Chemical Friends (Badman) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Setting aside the bold similarities between Lannon's voice and that of the late Elliott Smith, we're left with a warmly original record that brings together the traditional loneliness of acoustic songwriting with the epic futurism of synthesized instrumentation. "The Nature of Things," with its programmed drums and 4AD-style reverbed guitar atmosphere, is simply gorgeous. "Fortune Cookie" is more like Dylan reimagined in a naive, embryonic state. The bulk of the album rests comfortably between these extremes and its missteps are few.

Giant Sand - Is All Over the Map

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Giant Sand - Is All Over the Map (Thrill Jockey) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Oh Howie, I really appreciate that you at least tried to take your Adderall while you were making this record, but we're never going to catch up with you, are we? I almost know what you're doing on one song and then zip - you're eating candy and playing pinball. By the time I make change you're unraveling your socks to see how long a thread you can make. Somebody needs a time out, and it's me.

Racetrack - City Lights

Racetrack - City Lights (Skrocki Records) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Do you remember mid-90's college rock radio? When a "let's start a band!" attitude, some pretty chords, and a little more enthusiasm was all that you needed to get a tour with Velocity Girl? Well, Racetrack sounds like they might - and that's a really good thing. The guitars and production are bigger and better than back in the day, but the herky-jerky rhythms, boy/girl vocals, and alternating cute/angst-ridden lyrics are still representing. Yes Virginia, geeks CAN rock.

Slingshot Dakota - Keener Sighs

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Slingshot Dakota - Keener Sighs (Immigrant Sun Records) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Despite the melancholy that saturates Keener Sighs, there's still enough room for Easy Bake Ovens and undone shoelaces. Is this quirky lyrical theme a shiv in the back, or just a unique personality trait? Your stomach might say one thing, but the gooshy piano, melody-driven guitars (think ragged power pop) and Lisa Loeb-esque/skinny boy vocal trade-offs might say another. This could be of those situations where you're on the fence for a very long time.

Cobra Killer - 76/77

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Cobra Killer - 76/77 (Monika) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

76/77 is a strangely infectious record, yet nearly impossible to categorize. It's not electroclash, but it's electronic. It's not '60s soul, but it includes a lot of those elements. It's not a new wave record, but it bubbles over with the same artistic spirit. While distinctly European, Berlin duo Cobra Killer's objective is to embrace American music ("L.A. Shaker" is even built around a Southern Culture on the Skids sample). Remember how deceptively clever Whale's "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" was? 76/77 is that times eleven.

Silkworm - It'll be Cool

Silkworm - It'll be Cool (Touch & Go) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

I want to write this review in a Monster Truck Rally Radio Voice, to deliver the news that not only is Albini back, he is so back. Not since Firewater has a Silkworm record sounded this good, and for once, after hearing a band spent forever putting something together, It'll be Cool actually delivers and proves a little extra effort pays off in spades.


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farma [mp3s]

Now here's an idea that I would have never come up with on my own: psychedelic heartland rock. While farma's earnest vocals & jangly guitars remind me of Springsteen or Creedence, there's some post-Beach Boys/Stereolabby influences in there as well. The arrangements are spacious, often drenched in reverb, and frame the vocals quite well. If bands like farma could influence crap-meisters like Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows, I might actually listen to the radio once in a while.

Hot Snakes - Audit in Progress

Hot Snakes - Audit in Progress (Swami) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Trouble Everyday - Days vs. Nights (Turnstile) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Dear Lord, hasn't this post-punk disco-funk thing been done to death already? You'd better have a pretty damn good reason for creating Trouble Everyday. What's that? Just listen to Days vs. Nights and your motives shall reveal themselves? Oh, hey, you're onto something here, Yaweh. This kind of sounds like the first couple of Fugazi records; a different beast entirely from that overworked revival fad of '02. Thanks, Chief. While you're dabbling around with music at the moment, could you possibly smite Sammy Hagar?

Calamalka - Shredders Dub

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Calamalka - Shredders Dub (Plug Research) [audio]

Dub is such a peculiar genre, and one of the only ones I can think of that relies solely on the studio engineer's intervention for recordings to even meet the requirements. Former skater turned musician Michael Campitelli has embraced dub's roots and, now, redirected its future. As Calamalka, he's released what's essentially an album of solo drumming with only minimal accompaniment and made it not only palatable, but consistently captivating as well. And I haven't even been smoking up. Just imagine!

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

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