June 2005 Archives

Odd Nosdam - Burner

Odd Nosdam - Burner (Anticon) [mp3]

As cLOUDDEAD's primary arranger and beat scientist, Odd Nosdam had a hand in shaping both a new direction in hip-hop and the aesthetic that would one day define Anticon. Burner is his first proper solo recording, and the wait has been worthwhile. The album's lead single, "Untitled Three," is enhanced even more by the ethereal vocals of Jessica Bailiff, and ends up sounding like the best track My Bloody Valentine never got to make. As a whole, it's disarmingly powerful and subtle in equal measure.
The Purrs – No Particular Bar, No Particular Town [audio] [upcoming shows]

Who knew the Verve had gotten back together? With Evergreen-era Echo and the Bunnymen? Uncanny how a boy from Seattle can channel Richard Ashcroft and Ian McCollough. Backed by the same dreamy guitars and sparkling cymbals as the bands they fronted. With a splash of Love and Rockets. Another EP that makes me look forward to the full-length album.
Various Artists - The Sexual Life of the Savages (Soul Jazz) [audio]

This entry from the illustrious Soul Jazz vaults finds the label unearthing an impressive array of US and UK-inspired post-punk from São Paulo, Brazil. Clocking in at just over an hour, it's a stellar listen from start to finish. The 18 tracks making up the comp showcase the absolute best of this short-lived and often overlooked scene, which took place throughout the 1980s. It encompasses stylings from the entire post-punk paradigm and on a whole comes as an easy recommendation for fans of Talking Heads, ESG, Suicide and Gang of Four.
Settlefish - The Plural of the Choir (Deep Elm) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The first band that popped into my mind when I first listened to Settlefish's The Plural of the Choir was At The Drive In. There are definitely some similarities between the two bands, not that Settlefish don't have their own sound. From the melodic "Kissing is Chaos" to the rocking out "It Was Bliss" to the pretty "The Marriage Funeral Man", the record is an achievement for Settlefish. Bonus points also for movie soundtrack-like interludes between songs that glue the record together.
InterFAC3 - Dreaming of Summer Days Between Topanga and Will Rogers (Raging Sea Design) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

The galactic sounds of InterFAC3 (aka Andrei B. Cabanban) recall James Plotkin's mid-1990s work like The Joy of Disease and Old's Formula. Made with guitars, samplers, effects, synths and drum synths, the quirky Dreaming of Summer Days Between Topanga and Will Rogers knows no boundaries, shuffling children's music with meditative pieces, rock-feuled dance with doomy requiems, and alien soundscapes with schmaltzy orchestral frolics. While the monstrous bulk of this may invoke boredom, Cabanban's instrumental lattice work lends the one-man band scene a few points.

System of a Down - Mezmerise

System of a Down - Mezmerise (Sony)

Mezmerise finally made me realize why I love SOAD so much. After Toxicity, I thought it was because they'd crafted a modern metal masterpiece. But no, it's because they make it seem so damn easy. Mezmerise is equal parts Tenacious D, Fishbone, and pure punk-metal fun. And it sounds like they wrote the whole thing in two days. The result places fun just above politics in its priorities, and is as infectiously loud as anything I've ever bought. Plus hearing the lyric "gonorrhea gorgonzola" is good for my soul.
Pernice Brothers - Discover A Lovelier You (Ashmont) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Whether or not you've read the book Joe Pernice wrote about the Smiths' Meat Is Murder, you should know before listening to Discover A Lovelier You that he betrayed his intentions ahead of time. More than any other album he's made, this one revels in the sound of mid-'80s London. The guitars are crisp and bright; the tempos upbeat and merry. His voice lies atop the music with a > melancholy joy as it usually does, but in a new context. Discover could be one of the better albums of both 1985 and 2005.
Angeles Drake - I Wish You Would Come Home Already (Threadbare Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Ooh, it's as if Angeles Drake wrote this album specifically for me to listen to. They sound like my favorite Britpop/shoegazer bands of the early '90s, but they're from Los Angeles RIGHT NOW. Which means I can go see them play, hurrah. Soaring melodies reminiscent of Ride – check. Brooding guitars and occasional keyboards like the Chameleons UK – check. On the 75orless playground, they would totally be hanging off the monkey bars with Athlete.

Johan Skugge - Volume

Johan Skugge - Volume (Mitek)

Track for track, Swedish microhouse up and comer Johan Skugge may not hold a candle to his fellow Scandinavian counterparts (Luomo, Mikael Stavöstrand, etc.), but his clean production, crafty song structures and effective use of vocals make for a rather pleasant listen. Although Volume may not provide any highly original, boundary-pushing production techniques, it'll certainly suffice as a worthy listen for most any devotee of the minimal tech-house variety.
Son Volt - Retrospective: 1995 to 2000 (Rhino) [audio/video]

While the other ex-member of Uncle Tupelo gets most of the press, Jay Farrar chugs along with his countrified rock and trademark baritone drawl. What you'll find here is less poppy than Wilco but more faithful to his musical past. In addition to five unreleased tracks, this collects demos, covers of Big Star, Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen and on Townes Van Zandts' "Rex Blues", a duet with Kelly Willis. If success in the music business is a marathon and not a sprint, I know who my money is on.
The Angels of Light - Sing Other People (Young God Records) [audio/video]

While experimental elements such as whistling, clapping and baby cooing make Sing Other People difficult to sit through at times, the cornerstones of Michael Gira's The Angels of Light - heartbreak, grief and celebration-are as winning as ever, thanks in part to backing band Akron/Family. Furthermore, some of the songs that first appeared on Gira's 2004 solo disc are beautifully redone here, and not since Swans has he written a song as terrifying as "Michael's White Hands," an "ode" to the king of pop.

Common - Be

Common - Be (Geffen) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Kanye should stay behind the mixing board. I much prefer the soulful honesty of his production work to the misplaced arrogance of his rap career, and it is on full display on Common's latest. Kanye's beats are a better match for Common's effortless, street corner delivery than the Jay-Z swagger that made him famous. This is the kind of hip-hop that is best played with the windows down on a long summer drive, allowing you time to focus on the almost-miraculous wordplay and verbal gifts that Common displays.

The Dead 60s

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The Dead 60s (Epic) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

It would be easy to thumb your nose at the Dead 60s for basing their whole existence not just on one band who came before them, but a single album by that one band. The Clash's Combat Rock - a musical landmark on its own - is, without question, the blueprint for this jewel. The dubbed-out drums, infrequent guitar blasts and rubbery bass are unmistakably Clash-ish, and singer Matt McManamon's Joe Strummer impression is shameless. But, as egregious as the concept may be, it's a remarkably entertaining listen.
Turn Around – Self-Titled EP (Order it on their site) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Listening to this EP, I kept looking up at my computer screen to double-check who was playing, wondering if somehow Uncle Tupelo and The Levellers had teamed up without my knowing and suddenly taken over the CD drive. But then the organ and piano would jump into the fray and I'd wonder what the Charlatans were doing on the record. Then it was all over and I'd wonder how long I'd have to wait for Turn Around's next set of songs to come out.

MED - Push Comes to Shove

MED - Push Comes to Shove (Stones Throw) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Following the Stones Throw formula, the label's latest outing features production chiefly from Madlib, their in-house super producer. Push Comes to Shove is the artist debut by Los Angeles MC MED (aka Medaphoar). Although his flow doesn't differ greatly from that of his roster mates Oh No and Wildchild, MED has plenty to say and a plethora of great beats over which to spit the truth. Push Comes to Shove may just prove to be the crossover gem Stones Throw needs to dispatch the bunch into pseudo-mainstream terrains.

Gorillaz - Demon Days

Gorillaz - Demon Days (Virgin)

DJ Danger Mouse is no Dan the Automator. His production work on the new Gorillaz album is more one-dimensional than the psychotic fun Nakamura was able to achieve on the foursome's debut. Notably missing is Zen axe master Noodle's infectious singing, and 2D/Damon Albarn's vocals lack the enthusiasm I expected. However, the new incarnation is more coherent and deep than its predecessor, and Murdoc's bass chops have reached a new pinnacle. A decidedly worthy sophomore album, if not always as fun.

Invisible Cities – Watertown

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Invisible Cities – Watertown (Find it on CD Baby) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Whimsical folk pop that mixes up Aimee Mann, Bettie Serveert, Elliott Smith and Superchunk. You've got your thoughtful songs about old family apartments ("Watertown") and sweet lullabies ("Shooting Star") interspersed with snarling appreciations for the power of whiskey ("Double Fisted") and catchy invitations to the carnival ("Bumper Cars"). The 12-track album clocks in at under 37 minutes, and I find myself repeatedly hitting "play" to take it from the top again. And again.

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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