February 2005 Archives

Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze (Interscope) [audio/video] [e-card] [upcoming shows]

Everyone's asking... "Will they still be able to kick ass without Nick Oliveri?" "They lost Mark Lanegan, too?!" "What the fuck? The Disneyland marching band?!" Don't worry your pretty little head. The Queens of the fuckin' Stone Age are still kickin' all the ass that needs to be kicked. This is what it sounds like when you disappear into the desert, smoke more pot than should be humanly possible and then put the whole thing to tape. Crushing hooks. Killer riffs. Fuzzed out majesty. Bow to your fucking Queens, baby.

Comeback Kid - Wake the Dead

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Comeback Kid - Wake the Dead (Victory Records) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Pop quiz, hot shot: 1) The cowbell is to rock 'n' roll as _____ vocals are to hardcore. 2) True or false: melody has a place in hardcore. 3) Can it still be hardcore without a breakdown every three seconds? The answers: gang, true and absolutely. If you're still suspicious of these answers, just listen to Wake the Dead. The only thing left to be answered specifically about this energetic little band is: can it last beyond the listener's teen years?

The Chills - Stand By

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The Chills - Stand By (MPM) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Almost an entire decade has come to pass since Martin Phillips last released a proper Chills record, and with good reason. In that time, he found himself the victim of addiction, near poverty and diminished health. Stand By would be a worthy return under any circumstances, but even more so under these. The subtlety of The Chills' later albums is abandoned in favor of the playful nature of earlier works, and Phillips miraculously sounds younger now than he did 20 years ago. Welcome back.
Turpentine Brothers - We Don't Care About Your Good Times (Alive) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Boston's Turpentine Brothers are brazen liars. One listen to the album and it's pretty obvious that they do care about your good times. This stockpile of disorderly garage r&b is highlighted by the thundering organ work of Zack Brines, but band founders Justin Hubbard and Tara McManus round things out with such admiration for the genre they've chosen. In addition, Hubbard's versatile cords deliver either a menacing growl or a self-confident baritone precisely when called for. Best served with whiskey and cigarettes.

Iron and Wine - Woman King EP

Iron & Wine - Woman King EP (Sub Pop) [mp3]

Is it possible that Sam Beam is getting better and better? While many were initially skeptical when the stripped down, guy in his basement segment of Beams career moved into real recording studios, everything since has been exceptional. And now comes this EP, and quality abounds. He almost shifts into a different gear for this EP, as if that third cup of java just kicked in. Still soft enough to lay your head on, but maybe with a little foot tapping added in. If you are a fan already, it's a no brainer, if not, it's time to be.

The Decemberists - Picaresque

The Decemberists - Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars) [upcoming shows]

Intelligent indie-folk-pop. The Decemberists third LP brings the group's nasally nerdy lyrics to a head, verbally versatile and melodically pleasing indie to boot. Similar to their other albums, Picaresque takes us through the lives of seemingly fictional adventurers, all along the way making intelligent note of the complexities of the world around them and the strange situations in which the characters find themselves. I want to live in a Decemberists song, please.


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Jesu (Hydra Head) [mp3]

Jesu makes it nearly impossible to crack a smile. Or take a breath. Or love life. In fact, this sounds so unhealthy that it's hard to even recommend listening to it. But even sadness can lend a comforting hand. In his latest incarnation, nihilism fetishist Justin Broadrick goes off the deep end to invoke human decay and all its crippling effects via super heavy guitars and fittingly grimy production. You'll want more even as you question why.

Eisley - Room Noises

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Eisley - Room Noises (Reprise) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

Eisley falls into that very narrow category of bands with underground buzz who are on the verge of becoming widely known. Poor kids, the pressure must be immense. Though they should be applauded for writing and performing better material than a host of their peers, Room Noises betrays the band's penchant for overcompensation; clever musical and lyrical turns simply for the sake of cleverness. What could have been a wonderful pop record is tainted by its desire to be something more.
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Worlds Apart (Interscope) [audio]

A decidedly different effort from Source Tags and Codes. ...AYWKUBTTOD have learned to pull the density of their sound way back, occasionally to Jack White-like levels. This allows their trademark wall of sound approach to feel more like the crescendo it is meant to be. The songwriting is actually improved on this record, with a number of melodies that I have been humming all week. Add well-placed symphonic elements, and you get a worthy follow-up with just the right mix of growth and familiar territory.

Bear Claw - Find The Sun

Bear Claw - Find The Sun (Sickroom) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Many years have passed since I would claim to appreciate an album sounding like this one. You know the kind I'm talking about; that muscular, aggressive, rhythmic blueprint that once dominated Chicago's indie output. Credit Steve Albini if you want, but it's Bear Claw themselves who've done the hard part. They've breathed life back into a genre of music that's been in a vegetative state for a decade. The next thing you know, the Lounge Ax will be forced to re-open.

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