December 2004 Archives

Engineers - Folly

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Engineers - Folly (Echo) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Folly is as enjoyable to listen to as it is frustrating to write about. It's quiet and personal, but it's also ambitious and epic. Much like fellow atmosphere-conscious Brit rockers Doves, Engineers wrap slow burning melodies around the most intricate of arrangements. Walls of affected guitar prevail at times while near-ambient synths and gently strummed chords build the foundations at others. Folly is sort of like dreaming while you're awake or living life while you're asleep. It's a depository of lofty contradictions.

The Muffs - Really Really Happy

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The Muffs - Really Really Happy (Five Foot Two) [audio] [video]

Kim Shattuck benefitted from the early-'90s alternaboom just like many of her peers. But what set the Muffs apart from the pack was her attention to the charms of timeless pop songcraft, much like the Ramones had done twenty years prior. Now that the Muffs have been around for a decade themselves, they still sound at odds with their surroundings in the best possible way. If the world revolved around leather and lollipops, any of these 17 tracks could be a #1 hit. Maybe in the next life?

The Features - Exhibit A

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The Features - Exhibit A (Cherry/Universal) [audio/video]

It's a story as old as time itself: a man with Robert Smith-esque vocal affectations forms a Weezer-tight band to play and record well-crafted nuggets of retro-tinged power pop. And for the most part, it works - the guitars crunch, the bass pummels, the hooks catch, and the keyboards swirl. This story stumbles only when the lyrics occasionally hit pedestrian and pedantic territory, taking potshots at such obvious targets as nu-metal/emo bands.

Hinkley - Frail and Poker Faced

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Hinkley - Frail and Poker Faced ([email protected] to purchase) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

The EP for the Rochester, NY band Hinkley is a bargain at $5. You might as well buy it now before they start selling out premier venues and appear on acoustic specials. Hinkley reminds me of the Wrens, writing catchy lyrics while adding a Chapel Hill punch of indie rock. This unassuming band rocks with an untainted energy that when you hear them live, everything but the beer in your hand and the band on stage are insignificant.

RTX - Transmaniacon

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RTX - Transmaniacon (Drag City) [upcoming shows]

Hagerty's gone, leaving Herrema 100% in control of the RTX legacy. So, how's she done? Remarkably well, it turns out. There remains an underlying looseness to how the band swaggers through its material, but now it's accompanied by focus and aural polish which, at times, makes RTX sound more like a direct descendent of Faster Pussycat than their original Rolling Stones-isms indicated. Still far from becoming a household name, more albums in this vein could at least push them into the periphery of the mainstream.

I Am X - Kiss + Swallow

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I Am X - Kiss + Swallow (Recall) [audio]

I don't know exactly why I love almost anything that sounds like it's from 1984, since I was only 10 at the time. But it's why I had a soft spot for most electroclash and still listen to Depeche Mode and Human League regularly. I Am X (Sneaker Pimps' Chris Corner) suffers this same affliction, though, and ably takes his love affair with synth-driven pop to its logical conclusion. Kiss + Swallow is earnest at times, but mostly makes the best of inspiration rather than imitation.
Poster Children - No More Songs About Sleep and Fire (Hidden Agenda) [audio] [video]

I Poster Children. And, after listening to No More Songs About Sleep and Fire for the whole year, I'm ready to proclaim it "the best Poster Children album ever!" Show me another 17-year old indie rock band who released their best album this year and I'll buy you a hot dog with any toppings you want.

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

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