October 2005 Archives

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (Matador) [audio/video]

Just how good is Twin Cinema? Even Dan Bejar's songs, which have historically been a non-factor, demand repeated listening here. Carl Newman's never sounded more authoritative, forging melodies that hook you the first time and annihilate you the tenth. The remaining Pornographers are tighter and more musically explosive this time, and Neko Case takes ownership of the more somber, torchy material she's given. In short, everything every member has been involved in up to now has simply been a rehearsal for Twin Cinema, one of the best rock records in years.

Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns

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Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns (Kickball) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I'm digging the fuzzy sound infiltrating indie pop these days. Paired with eerie melodies and a voice that is equal parts PJ Harvey, Hope Sandoval and Tracey Bonham, it becomes Giant Drag. I was immediately drawn in by the name of the album; who doesn't love hearts AND unicorns? And pleasantly surprised by intense and thoughtful lyrics of songs with titles like: "Kevin is gay" and "You're full of shit (check out my sweet riffs)." Ironically, a giant drag is one thing this band is not.

Drunk Horse - In Tongues

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Drunk Horse - In Tongues (Tee Pee Records/Wantage) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If you ever spent time doing bong hits and listening to "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" through your Koss headphones, this CD is going to sound awfully familiar to you. In fact, if you' ve recently spent time listening to Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu or just about any other band mining the '70s stoner rock quarry, it will sound familiar to you too. But you know what they say about familiarity.

Brakes - Give Blood

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Brakes - Give Blood (Rough Trade)

Featuring at least one member of British Sea Power, the vocals sound like a slightly more violent Gordon Gano, while the band may be a sedated version of Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments with bits of Vic Chestnutt and Uncle Tupelo thrown in. Song topics involve ingesting drugs, lots of swearing, Karen O, Sleater-Kinney, and hating the vice president - the track "Cheney" says only "stop being such a dick". Includes two barely recognizable covers, "Sometimes Always" by the Jesus and Mary Chain and "Jackson" by Nancy Sinatra.

The Shapes

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The Shapes [audio] [upcoming shows]

Consider this album an aural representation of the yin-yang shape; it's all about balance. In the tradition of the Brunettes and the Raveonettes, the Shapes throw male and female vocals back and forth atop candy-coated guitar riffs. But there's grit underneath the sugar, and the minor keys lend a sense of melancholy. So while "Tunnel Vision" will have you gleefully dancing around your room as the chorus builds to a yell, "Monochrome"'s plaintive chorus will have you recording your angst in your journal. Great stuff.
Burnside Project - The Finest Example Is You (Bar/None) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Burnside Project have actually been around long enough to predate the Postal Service phenomenon, though they'll surely benefit from it in the end. The new album is their nicest yet, reigning in the preciousness of that Gibbard/Tamborello archetype and giving the music a big modern rock shot in the arm a la the Killers or the Stills. The more jaded among you may run off screaming, but, for an album that's been made 100 times by 100 bands in the last 2 years, this one's better than most.

Röyksopp - The Understanding

Röyksopp - The Understanding (Astralwerks) [upcoming shows] [audio/video]

One of the very few electronic albums that have caused me to sing their lyrics under my breath for days. It would be very difficult to make a poppier electronic album and still have it be any good. This is music made to inspire dancing while you remain sitting on a couch with your favorite libation. (Think the Mitsubishi girl on one extra valium.) Not a huge step forward from Melody AM, and the uber-pop melodies might wear on some listeners over time, but largely excellent.
The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors (Merge) [mp3/audio] [upcoming shows]

The Rosebuds have always had a flair for winsome love songs full of vaguely-psychedelic hooks. On their latest release, the hooks are still there, but the mood is more melancholy, with happy melodies showcasing lonely lyrics, or, just the opposite with dreamy words set to a dirge. But no matter how lonesome the lyrics or ominous the melodies, the songs, for the most part, are so beautiful that you don't mind the pain.
The Dandy Warhols - Odditorium or Warlords of Mars (Capitol Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Dandy's return with another collection of insipid post-glam alterna-rock, while everyone but themselves and Capitol Records wonder what the big deal is. The highlight is "Down like Disco", which is nothing more than a glammed-up ripoff of Van Morrison's "Gloria". Now if they included a tiny mirror, cut straw and fifty minutes worth of cocaine, this cd might be bearable. In the end, their contribution to rock and roll may be the first band ever to feature an attractive woman who is better looking with her shirt on than off.

Marriage Records Compilation

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Marriage Records Compilation [upcoming shows]

Normally I do not bother with compilations. Most are a disjointed string of songs without flow or consistency. The Marriage Records comp on the other hand, streams so fluidly that you might think that it is a concept album. Each artist delivers a fine song that compliments the next. Marriage Records has produced a wonderful document of the sound of music now in the Pacific Northwest. Highlights include tracks from Thankgiving, Manta, Mount Eerie, and Little Wings.

Liz Phair - Somebody's Miracle

Liz Phair - Somebody's Miracle (Capitol) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

Music probably means more to you than it does to Liz Phair. She's just always happened to be at the right place at the right time. Early on, she sold pre-packaged feminine rage to disaffected college freshmen. And when she could sell highly manicured metaphysical pop to critics, she did it. Now that she's targeting desperate housewives and the Starbucks faithful, it seems to be working as well. I won't fault her for being a savvy operator, but I can't forgive her for embracing banality.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (RCA) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

BMRC abandon their Jesus and Mary Chain aspirations and take a trip to the Delta with a mostly acoustic CD full of harmonica, piano, hand claps, gospel choir choruses, and lots of lyrics about gettin' saved. In other words, they're still ripping off someone else (notably The Band and just about every gospel singer you can imagine), but at least now they're ripping off something interesting.

Khanate - Capture & Release

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Khanate - Capture & Release (Hydra Head) [audio]

Like a slow gas leak and the sudden explosion that follows, Capture & Release - a two song, 43-minute long EP - sees Khanate deepening the depths of depravity by another few miles. With the mind of a poetic serial killer, Alan Dubin's affected, psychotic shrieks pierce the desolate chords that Steven O'Malley bangs out every few seconds. Meanwhile, Tim Wyskida (hissing symbols) and James Plotkin (ton-dropping bass) are slapped from slumber when needed. Capture & Release is more than music; it's some unspeakably disturbing thing.
BlackMothSuperRainbow - Start A People (70's Gymnastics/Graveface) [mp3s] [upcoming shows]

Before I could get the question out of my mouth, my girlfriend walked into the room and asked "Is that the new Boards Of Canada?" Well, no honey it's not, this is BLACKMOTHSUPERRAINBOW and they are from Pennsylvania, America. BMSR sound like Boards Of Canada moved to Bristol over in England and got all trip-hop on us, which is totally A-OK in my book.

The Midget

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The Midget (Impko) [audio] [cd baby]

The songs are built using gently strummed acoustic guitars, banjo, flute, and accordian but are backed by electronic components, such as drum machine rhythm tracks and artificial hand claps. Produced by Dave Fridmann, this could possibly be a co-ed version of Portastatic, a more pop-leaning Giant Sand, made for fans of Sparklehorse or Lambchop. At other times, this borders on indie lounge music, filled with simultaneous boy/girl harmonies, characterized by the Jad Fair-ish geeked-out male vocals and sweetly spaced-out vocals by Amber Rossino.

Supergrass - Road to Rouen

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Supergrass - Road to Rouen (Parlophone)

Nine great songs in a row find Supergrass sounding like Pink Floyd jamming with the Kinks, with a bit of that early nineties British sound that defined bands like Oasis. Their songwriting has much improved; the sound is simply the band with a beautiful string section sitting in. Great, heavy rock & roll well and confidently played. Don't sell this band short - there's not a bad note on this album.

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

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