December 2005 Archives

Dirty Three - Cinder

Dirty Three - Cinder (Touch & Go) [audio & video] [upcoming shows]

Assuming you're already somewhat familiar with the work of the Dirty Three, you know the best things about their work are the elaborate and winding build-ups that make each track a pilgrimage to a celestial place where noise and color collide into a brilliant display of light. Those fireworks are mostly absent from Cinder due to shortened song lengths, leaving the build-ups to simply fade back into the silence from whence they came. Songs featuring vocals from Chan Marshall and Sally Timms offer some redemption, but not quite enough.

Living Things - Ahead of the Lions

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Living Things - Ahead of the Lions (Jive) [audio]

Without so much as a single whack of the cowbell, Living Things gets the ears ringing with a hearty show of modernized classic rock and punk a la Iggy, the Stones or Blue Oyster Cult on their much-delayed debut, Ahead of the Lions. Somehow, they’ve even managed to write "Don’t Fear the Reaper II." Creepy. If there’s a secret rockstar guild out there, then now would be the time for its' members to start thinking about teaching Living Things the secret handshake.

The Goons of Doom - Bikey Zomby EP

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Goons of Doom - Bikey Zomby EP (Volcom Entertainment) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Originally a joke band featuring pro skateboarder Ozzie Wright, who shares vocals duties with wife Bang Bang Bunny Fant, it's possible they have created a new musical genre- Australian horror punk, performed wearing capes and covered in (hopefully) fake blood. They manage the fake accents, while the music is influenced by Wire, The Damned and also Richard Hell. How many punk bands can pull off a song over ten minutes long? The most quotable lyric- "I'd rather get fucked from behind by Godzilla."

The LeeVees - Hanukkah Rocks

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The LeeVees - Hanukkah Rocks (JDub Records) [upcoming shows]

This album transcends novelty status due to the actual songwriting talents of its creators, including Adam Gardner of Guster. If you didn’t listen to the words, you’d figure it was just another indie pop record. But if you do listen to the words … “How Do You Spell Channukkahh?” gives a shoutout to the National Spelling Bee; “At the Timeshare” includes mom on the phone from Florida; and “Kugel” laments the low-fat trend. Fun stuff.

Oranger - New Comes and Goes

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Oranger - New Comes and Goes (Eenie Meenie) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There's no telling what made me mistake Oranger a few years ago for a band I wouldn't like (the smart money's on their Amazing Grease affiliation). Plainly put, I was stupid. After hearing the delectable confections cooked up for New Comes and Goes, it makes me long for that brief period of time in the '90s when every band worked as hard on melody as they did on guitar riffs (i.e. early Sloan and Weezer records). New "does" come and go. Oranger reminds us great guitar pop is never too far away.
Lousy Robot - The Strange and True Story of Your Life (Traveling in Place Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

You know how sometimes you love pulling on your comfy sweater that still fits even though you got it in high school? And it's still stylish after all of these years and makes you happy? That's what listening to this album is like - think Jesus and Mary Chain and the Pixies (on Valium). Lousy Robot isn't breaking any new ground, but they definitely have the indie pop sweater formula down: warm, fuzzy, and incredibly catchy.
The Spectacular Fantastic - Goes Underground (Ionik Records) [audio]

Why do we love Mike Detmer? Because he'll fix your car, weld the broken gate, help you sheet rock and then go out and play an amazing set of Wilco and Yo La Tengo-inspired indie pop. Some people have to work to develop songwriting hooks, but they fall out of Detmer consistantly and effortlessly- while remaining primarily a home based recording artist. This time around he expands his Neil Young-influenced sound with organ and ELO-inspired synths into his usual perfect power pop.

Honeyhander - Woolly Mannerisms EP

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Honeyhander - Woolly Mannerisms EP (Strictly Amateur Films) [mp3] [upcoming shows]

The guys in Honeyhander must have terrific record collections. Better still, they must have had a talk before writing songs and decided as a group to combine as many sounds and influences as possible without becoming unbearably derivative. If you can name me another band that, over the course of five tracks, will make me think of The Cure, Skinny Puppy, Marilyn Manson, Chavez, PiL, This Mortal Coil, and Gang of Four without even scratching my head, I'll tell you they're just copying Honeyhander. Unexpectedly amazing.
The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Memphis Industries/Columbia Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

1-2-3-4 Get your butt out on the floor! 2-4-6-8 I think this record's really great! Yeah! Woo! This collection of exuberant shouts, cheers, and big boisterous sound evokes Saturday morning TV back in the '70s as remembered on VH1; it's like a bunch of cheerleaders, backed by a marching band (with a piano in tow), showed up on Sesame Street to support the Double Dutch team. My favorite parts are "Get it Together"'s crazy recorders, kickdrum, and record scratching and "We Just Won’t be Defeated"'s chanting. Gooooooooooooo Team!
Private Eleanor - No Straight Lines (The Beechfields) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

The majority of the tracks by Baltimore's Private Eleanor are quiet, delicate pop songs featuring gently stroked acoustic guitar, filled out by piano, tamborines and violins, marked by melancholic double tracked vocals and occasional sullen male-female vocal harmonies. They are broken up by extended jam outs and bouncy pop-driven organ. Obvious reference points would be Wilco and Elliott Smith. In the most complimentary sense, this could have been the final album Elliott Smith should have made.

My Morning Jacket - Z

My Morning Jacket - Z (ATO) [audio]

If this is MMJ's The Bends, does that mean we get their OK Computer next? This will be remembered as the point when the band found their focus, both in their writing and sound. That wet, luscious reverb is largely abandoned in favor of (gasp!) catchy-as-hell melodies and a cleaner sound, which is a revelation in their musical development. Further proof that when your band has a vocalist whose pipes are anointed from on high, you are best served to get out of his way as much as possible. Z's place in my Best of 2005 is all sewn up.

My Morning Jacket - Z

My Morning Jacket - Z (ATO) [audio]

The sound of MMJ's Z is a departure from their last three records and it works wonders. The guitar-driven southern rock sound is still there, but this time around they add a lot more organ as well as some electronic noises. "Off the Record" is their biggest and catchiest pop song to date, the organ in "Into The Woods" gives off an evil carnival groove, while "Wordless Chorus" shows off Jim James' love for R&B. MMJ 's sound is evolving and it will be interesting to see what they do next.

The Mars Volta - Scabdates

The Mars Volta - Scabdates (Universal) [audio]

Scabdates is essentially an aural collage of stuff you might hear at a Mars Volta concert, along with stuff you might hear if you're traveling with or hanging out backstage with the band (crying babies, voices in Spanish and English, individual instruments). There's plenty of spacy, effects-laden noodling, and improvised stream-of-consciousness lyrics. If you think of their marathon jam session concerts as transcendent experiences, you're going to love Scabdates. But if you've written off the band as trying too hard to be artsy, this CD will help make your case.

Silversun Pickups - Pikul EP

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Silversun Pickups - Pikul EP (Dangerbird Records) [audio]

Loud-before-you-know-it choruses and whispery fragile female vocals, always adding dissonace in baby steps until you have full blown distortion blasting you out of your chair. Trippy vibe music featuring cello, blaring organ, and chiming slide guitars, a rougher around the edges Joy Zipper or Breeders, with guitarwork reminescent of Opal. This is what would have happened if Eric's Trip had ever ventured into a real recording studio and found the Spacemen 3 were the inhouse engineers.

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

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