September 2005 Archives

Thao Nguyen - Like the Linen

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Thao Nguyen - Like the Linen (Trust Me Corporation) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

If Cat Power and Edie Brickell made a baby, and you woke it up after a nap, and it sleepily sang about jerky boys and bittersweet resignation, then it would sound something like Thao Nguyen. With perky strumming guitar chords and light snare in the background, Nguyen crafts songs ranging from the bluegrass-tinged "What About" (containing the title lyric "Clothesline for all to share/With the holes to my heart like the linen I wear") to the loungey "City Sky" ...well, as loungey as you can be without a piano.

The Mutts - Life in Dirt

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The Mutts - Life in Dirt (Fat Cat) [audio] [upcoming shows]

A train filled with raucous, reverb-drenched garage rock leaves Detroit at 7:00 while a separate train filled with chugging, riff-heavy stoner rock departs Phoenix at 8:35. At maximum velocity, what time will the two trains collide and splatter their combined musical contents all over the hillsides? Nobody gives a damn about the details. All you need to know is that the Mutts were there to pick up the pieces and assemble one hell of a loud, gritty record named Life in Dirt. Math schmath.

Turbonegro - Party Animals

Turbonegro - Party Animals (Abacus) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Oslo party rockers tone down the gay schtick somewhat on their fourth release, and with it some of their heavier riffs, coming off more like a bisexual Ramones than a totally queer Darkness. The lyrics have all the intelligence of a sixth-grader's horny jokes (typical song title: "Blow Me (Like the Wind)"), but the songs are so catchy you'll sing along anyway.
Grandaddy - Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla EP (V2) [audio]

Old is new again for Grandaddy, which means you have to take the good with the bad. "Close The Curtains" is straight up quirky pop a la "A.M. 180" from their 1997 debut full-length, the lengthy "At My Post" goes through moods and movements reminiscent of The Sophtware Slump, and the ear-splittingly annoying "Florida" recalls their earliest singles. But by re-writing their back catalog, the band can't help but sound tired and out of new ideas. Then again, maybe they're saving their best work for next year's full length.


Torche (Robotic Empire) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

Loss of breath. Washes of chills. Ecstasy-induced headaches. These are the recurring symptoms caused by the ginormous and so-heavy-they're-distorted riffs, brilliant Quicksand-esque melodies, and rich vocals (with harmonies!) that Torche - who probably sold their souls to make this - drown you in. Calling it "pure fucking bliss" is both the truth and a gross understatement. You can drink bad coffee, smoke bad weed or have bad sex, but you can't have bad Torche - it'll get you high every time.

Alien Alright - First Impression EP

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Alien Alright - First Impression EP [mp3s]

You'll find traces of the Happy Mondays crossed with a ska-less version of The Specials. Or is this the British version of a too pretty for their own good Modest Mouse? The mysterious London-based artist has kept it simple with layered vocals piled on top piano, harmonica, and strings. Smooth production, quirky reggae beats, slow rhythms, all topped off with deliberately simple guitar solos and scales. Sometimes a bit lyrically overwhelming but I have a feeling that legendary two-stepper Bez would approve.
You Say Party! We Say Die! - Hit the Floor! (Sound Document!) [audio!] [upcoming shows!]

Indie! Dance! Rock! The newest wave loves to announce its arrival with as many exclamation points as possible! It makes sense in this case! If ever music has sounded like a grammatical device, it's this! The downside to being excited all the time is the inability to deviate even the slightest bit from song to song! What might make a great EP of lo-fi party rock makes an aurally abusive full-length! Even the B-52's knew this way back in 1979! You say party! We say try again!

Girl Friday - Swimmer

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Girl Friday - Swimmer (Get Fresh Records) [audio]

Listening to this album made me move several other CDs into the "I'm sorry, but you’re not good enough to get a review" pile. Girl Friday's hypnotic rock sound elicits comparisons to K's Choice and Cat Power. At least from me. From "Give Over," a mesmerizing track encouraging the listener to find "the sweet inheritance of life," to "100 Miles," a ponderous meditation on getting beat down by the man (at least as I interpret it), the entire record deserves to be heard.
Evil Queens - First It Boils, Then It Spills (Addison) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Be prepared for quasi-metal riffs and screeching vocals kicking you in the chest, reminescent of the Touch 'n Go bands of the late 80's. Perfect if you are looking for the band that bridges the gap between early Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, while also touching on the stoner rock bands and Supersonic Storybook-era Urge Overkill. It walks that precarious line, the kind of music both the metal dudes and the indie kids can agree on. I can only imagine their live show.

Nada Surf - The Weight Is a Gift

Nada Surf - The Weight Is a Gift (Barsuk) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

Nada Surf follow up their 2003 near-masterpiece, Let Go, with The Weight Is A gift. Gift plays out like a sequel to Let Go, but like most sequels it doesn't suck. The whole record is pure pop rock in it's simplest form and almost every song on the album feels like it could be a single for the radio. The band brought in Chris Walla to co-produce along with themselves and his production brings out traces of Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins. A perfect soundtrack for the upcoming fall season.

Youth Group - Skeleton Jar

Youth Group - Skeleton Jar (Epitaph) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

The album's title track opens with the line "I feel like hell, you feel like dancing." Much has been made about Youth Group's uncanny resemblance to James, especially Toby Martin's astonishingly Tim Booth-like vocals, but the divide between the two bands is summed up in that one lyric. Youth Group have no horn section at their disposal, nor do they have floor fillers like "Sit Down" or "Laid." What they do have is an endearing collection of beautiful and bleary ballads that provides some solace after last call.

Esthero - Wikked Lil Grrrls

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Esthero - Wikked Lil Grrrls (Reprise) [audio]

In her seven-year hiatus from recording, Esthero has matured and added many more elements to her pop-as-collage sound. The production doesn't just span cultures; it spans eras in a way that Kanye could only dream of. Her voice is as expressive as anything you can find on modern radio, and has an alto strength that roots even the most ambitious high notes. Adult-oriented pop is rarely this danceable or compelling. It's a lot harder to enjoy your Nelly Furtado albums after you hear this.

The Pope - Jazzman Cometh

The Pope - The Jazzman Cometh (Wantage) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Those still waiting for the heirs to the throne of short haired metal (I miss you Karp) can now come out of their mom's basement, roll up their sleeves to show off those faded tats' and finally finish that English doctorate. The Pope is waiting for them with distorted screaming vocals that would make Unsane, Slug and Godheadsilo stand and applaud. My cornerman threw in the towel during the third song, when my face melted off and my cats lapped at the bloody pile of flesh.

Juliana Hatfield - Made in China

Juliana Hatfield - Made in China (Ye Olde Records) [upcoming shows]

Listening to Made in China, I found myself telling Juliana Hatfield to get out of my head. Without missing a beat, she crooned, "You act like you're the only one with a chemical imbalance." A conglomeration of her previous incarnations, "Made" features delicate, sometimes whiney, vocals, jaded lyrics and hard guitar. Noticeably absent is the whimsy of earlier works (think "hey babe"). Heartbreaking balladry makes a cameo appearance, but the bulk of this album is low-fi, stripped-down chick rock. Feels like home to me.

Amy Rigby - Little Fugitive

Amy Rigby - Little Fugitive (Signature Sounds) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Musicians of a certain age always begin playing it safe, working with diluted potency when approaching new material. You've seen Elvis Costello and R.E.M. even resort to making a complete mockery of what they once were. Amy Rigby, naturally, defies convention. The opening 3-song salvo of Little Fugitive may even be some of her best work ever, not that the rest of the album slouches in any way. With her sharp lyrical wit and a gift for great folk rock writing, Ms. Rigby remains intriguingly ageless.
Acid House Kings - Sing Along With Acid House Kings (Twentyseven Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Oh, Swedish pop, you are so fun. Your dorky album cover hints at your 60s-ish schmoopy sound. Your sweet little melodies tootling in the background of my office make me want to sing along. Oh, what a happy coincidence, there's a second CD in here with just the music for my karaoke pleasure! I may need to close the door soon, as I think my coworkers are getting sick of hearing my renditions of "Do What You Wanna Do" and "Will You Love Me in the Morning."

BearVsShark - Terrorhawk

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BearVsShark - Terrorhawk (Equal Vision) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Think At The Drive In's Relationship of Command with a greater range of dynamics. No, think ...Trail of Dead's Source Tags and Codes with more beats per minute. No, actually, your best bet is to take your favorite 3 songs from your 5 favorite post-hardcore albums, and imagine a band that might be able to pull off all of them. In a genre whose trademark sound can often bludgeon you into a trance, BVS has crafted an album that will not allow you to drift off in a haze of complacency. Excellent.

The Stooges reissue

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The Stooges reissue (Rhino) [audio]

The Stooges, with their primitive beats, screeching guitars and Iggy Pop's vocal decadence, have been credited with delivering Detroit punk rock to the masses back in 1969 with their debut album. Rhino has reissued and remastered it into a two disc set - the original album plus a bonus disc with ten previously unissued tracks, including John Cale's original mixes and the full version of "No Fun". Their second album, Funhouse, is also now available in the extended format with unreleased tracks.

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

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