January 2006 Archives

Box - Hello Special Glowing World

Box_ - Hello (Special Glowing) World! (self released) [audio]

Pack the Advil- You will need a high tolerance for pain, due to the ear piercing digital noises, possibly created solely to make your left eye twitch. Picture Wayne Coyne attempting to induce a seizure or a prepubescent Bill Callahan jamming out with Pan Sonic. Sometimes subtle panning electronic noises, drum beats and synths and at other times digital noise blanketing the underlying song into audio obscurity. Listeners willing to stick it out will be rewarded with some truly original dissonant indie electronica.

Oakley Hall - Second Guessing

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Oakley Hall - Second Guessing (Amish) [audio] [upcoming shows]

What might it sound like if John Doe and Exene spent a lost weekend in the bars of Nashville, befriended a number of underemployed local musicians and transposed the rootsy punk rock of X into punky roots rock instead? It might sound like Oakley Hall's sophomore album "Second Guessing", that's what. No John Doe. No Exene. No Nashville. Just a bunch NYC yokels who are as adept at banging out the rock n' roll as they are exploring the finer points of Appalachian musical traditions.

Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic

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Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic (ATO Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Mike Doughty can sing anything and I'll listen to it. Even if he doesn't use many notes and sometimes sounds alarmingly like Dave Matthews (who guests on one track). Fans of Soul Coughing might miss the funky trappings, but the stripped-down sound here lets Doughty's gravelly voice come through. And lyrics like "Beware the thrum of hearts in your presence." Some of the songs sound the same, but the ones that stand out are definite ... stand-outs, like "I Hear the Bells" and "Sunken-Eyed Girl."

Elba - st ep

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Elba - st ep (self released) [audio]

Although created by only two people, this recalls Hit to Death-era Flaming Lips or a pissed off Pinback, epic in its own little way with five of the six tracks coming in at over four minutes each. The glue holding it all together is the persistant smashing drums and cymbals, walls of buzzing guitar and ethereal reverb-coated vocals (which is probably just someone with a really bad headcold, but who cares.) The entire EP has a genuinely home recorded feel, but it's just sloppy enough to make it endearing.

Finest Dearest - Pacemaker EP

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Finest Dearest - Pacemaker EP (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

As far as I can tell from their website, the only place right now that you can buy Finest Dearest in person is a few record shops in San Francisco. Luckily, the Internet exists for those of us who don't live nearby. This EP slides easily from one track to the next, from "Sleep Until the Weekend"'s Suddenly Tammy-ish keyboards through to "Pacemaker"'s layered vocals over grungy guitars and quirky rhythms. Think Velocity Girl plus cello run through the shoegazer machine.
The High Violets - To Where You Are (Reverb Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

In 1992, you couldn't throw a distortion pedal ten feet without hitting a member of a shoegaze or dream-pop band right in the noggin. That's not the case anymore, but the High Violets have the distinction of being a better qualified candidate than most newcomers, thanks to the sugar-spun vocals of Kaitlyn ni Donavan and their choice leave the songs direct; unobscured by frivolous sonic haze. Back then, they'd have given Lush a serious run for their money.

Super Numeri - The Welcome Table

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Super Numeri - The Welcome Table (Ninja Tune) [audio]

The tribal drum beats on the 25 minute track, "The First League of Angels" spliced with the backwards-masked guitar and sitar-like sounds, collapses just after the eleven minute mark and for six minutes stumbles around before riding the bass back to the original groove. In the end, it's a wonderful mindfuck of a track. With seven tracks coming in at over 78 minutes, the ambient introductions and distorted repetitive drum rhythms are the missing link between Tortoise, Ui, and Muslim Gauze.

Two Year Toque – The Midi West

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Two Year Touqe – The Midi West (CDB Records)

This is the first submission I’ve heard that includes songs about peeing, pooping, abusing insomnia medication, and dogs eating ferrets. At the same time, it also includes adorable love songs with lines like "He is my one and only/ She loves to have and hold me ... He has eyes/ She loves biscotti." Overall, the lo-fi, exuberant sound gives the album the feel of a late-night family party when the tipsy uncles and sugar-mad cousins grab random instruments and laugh themselves silly.

Elekibass - Welcome Wonderful World

Elekibass - Welcome Wonderful World (Happy Happy Birthday To Me) [audio]

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, the Elephant 6 collective, specifically the Kevin Barnes-led band Of Montreal, needs to give this a listen and take a bow. Although these English singing Japanese imitators seem to be a few albums behind, there is no mistaking the bizarre fragile indie pop, Beatle-esque melodies, layered Brian Wilson vocal harmonies and oddball sound effects. Anyone missing the heyday of the Athens lo-fi psych pop movement can rest easy knowing it has spawned some quality spinoffs.

Remate - On Junk

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Remate - On Junk (Limbo Starr) [Video] [upcoming shows]

I hope Remate never spends too much time in America. As a native of Spain, he has the benefit of observing American indie-folk music from afar and is less likely to fall into the trappings associated with the underground machine here in the States. His most charming qualities are that he writes like no one else while obviously admiring everyone from Will Oldham to Jeff Tweedy, as well as wrestling with his own tongue to sing his songs in English. Remate is speaking, literally and musically, a new language.

Biirdie - Morning Kills the Dark

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Biirdie – Morning Kills the Dark (Pop Up Records) [audio]

Jared Flamm's slight gravel counterpoints nicely with Kala Savage's clear sweetness as they sing about love and longing; their voices remind me of a stripped-down Raveonettes. Highlights are the opening waltzy ode to Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and "The Other Side of Sunset," which declares: "The saddest songs are sung sweetly and out of time." A few tracks are slightly schmaltzy, but overall they’ll get in your head and stay there, "the smog and the fault lines" and all.

Tender Trap - Language Lessons EP

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Tender Trap - Language Lessons EP (Matinee Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Mainstream radio would have you believe that Hilary Duff defines pop music. They are wrong. Tender Trap IS quintessential pop. Infectious sing-song melodies, sweet girl-on-girl harmonies and an ounce of synthesizer for good measure. Twinges of Belle and Sebastian, hints of Velocity Girl and a whole lot of Heavenly (understandably so – Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey were members). Lyrics like, "writing his name in bold, italic, underline is making me fall about with laughter in my mind" make me swoon and bop. Pop-a-licious!

Chris Brokaw - Incredible Love

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Chris Brokaw - Incredible Love (12XU) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Despite being a member of Codeine, The New Year, Come, and various other projects, Chris Brokaw may be the most prolific unknown musician of the past decade. With this release, he takes the pop potential shown on his previous EP My Confidante and stretches it out over a full length album. A full collection of midtempo pop ballads, complicated finger picking, as well as three minute catchy straight ahead rock songs. Although talented enough to allow genre hopping, don't be surprised if an a cappella yodelling double lp is next- and he pulls that off too.

Spanish for 100 - Metric

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Spanish for 100 - Metric (Cien Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

An EP of solid songs, from the spacey jangle of "Go Away, Come Home" (I had a list of what I want and what I need, I spent all night on what I want) to the Jayhawks mournful twang in "Jungle With Lions" to the Built to Spill guitar in "Fell a Bird" (Smile so big it split the lips, Frown so hard it broke the jaw) to the Verve-like "Golden Days."

XXL - ¡Ciautistico!

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XXL - ¡Ciautistico! (Important Records) [audio]

¡Ciautistico! is the fruit yielded from a peculiar mutual admiration society. Xiu Xiu (the"XX") and Larsen (the "L") collaborate here in ways that surpass most positive expectations which might naturally be placed on such a project. In fact, collaborate is too rigid a term- how about compliment? Nearly all of Jamie Stewart's theatrics are wisely toned down in this setting, while Larsen's often shapeless post-rock experimentalism is compressed into manageable portions suitable for wider consumption. The album's highlight (and hopefully a sign of things to come) is the complete reinvention of Adam Ant's "Prince Charming."
The 40 Year-Old Virgin - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Shout Factory) [audio] [video]

While the opener, Joe Walsh's "A life of Illusion," holds up well, along with James Brown's "I got Ants in my Pants", taken out of the film's context, there is nothing funny about sitting through Michael McDonald's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", Asia's "Heat of the Moment" or Lionel Richie's "Hello". The JoBoxers "Just got Lucky" is on par with anything by The Outfield or Kajagoogoo and I was questioning my sexual orientation by the second chorus. Finally, putting a song by Survivor other than "Eye of the Tiger" is just plain fucked up.

Miller - Complete Buffoonery

Miller - Complete Buffoonery (Fred's Crack Records) [audio] [recent shows]

During an uncomfortable conversation, Seinfeld’s George Costanza might say "I really don’t think we should be talking about this." But Miller- who proudly harnesses the power of the keytar- would probably write a song about whatever strange topic was at hand. With his geeky delivery, which sounds like a mix of Weird Al and Jello Biafra, Miller ponders sex with amputees, the downfalls of spooning, flensers, and the perfect pick-up line. Find the closest humorless bastard and let this redheaded enigma work his magic.

Radiant Darling - Crytomnesia

Radiant Darling - Cryptomnesia (Tense Forms Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

It's difficult not to compare Radiant Darling to The Arcade Fire, Bjork, or even Squirrel Nut zippers. There are two reasons for this: Ami Saraiya has a torch singer quality reminiscent of both Billie Holliday (in sound and attitude) and Nico (attitude only); and the music is mostly rickety, ethereal, Old World and acoustic. While there's nothing incredibly new on this CD, the exotic South Asian trip-hop beats and Indian chanting on "Versadh" are a nice touch, and Saraiya's voice really does grab the imagination.
The Chrysler - Failures and Sparks (Galaxie Gramophone-Parasol) [audio]

This Swedish group has created a landscape that is both fun and introspective, innocent and worldly….the album feels like Nick Drake meets the Byrds-Sweethearts of the Rodeo. The songs wind around a whispering ethereal world touching a hidden spiritual core then move into frolicking folk songs sung around a crackling dancing campfire. The CD invokes the feeling that you have stumbled onto a secret gathering from a forgotten mythic place and that you alone are sharing in a special memory.
The Sun Ups - The Fatal Flaw EP (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I just listened to this album eight times in a row. It's like Mary's Danish signed up for a songwriting class taught by Bjork, but once they got the unusual melody concept down, they transferred to Rock 101, where classmates Lava Hay helped them with double female vocal harmonies. The third track, "Fail You" is a marvel of syncopation ... the verses are in 5/4 and the chorus in 6/8. I love it!

Spider - The Way to Bitter Lake

Spider - The Way to Bitter Lake (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Delicate, fragile guitar picking, slide guitar, tamborine, and flute combined with subtle waves of noise to produce a warm hum and gentle waves of noise. While the general feel of this EP is hushed, "Maggie's Song for Alice" explodes toward the end with a guitar solo and drums over a piano and "End Song" is drenched in mutually distorted guitars and vocals. Among her peers, Spider reminds me of a breathy 'living in a van down by the river'-era Jewel with a complete dental reconstruction or Nina Nastasia on a valium and vodka cocktail.

Stiffed - Burned Again (sampler)

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Stiffed - Burned Again sampler (Outlook Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I grew up thinking the Go-Gos were all sweetness and light, bouncing around with thoughts of vacation and having the beat. Come to find out they were part of the punk scene. And this is what they might have sounded like before the edges got sanded down for public consumption. Throw in some Blondie and No Doubt (you’d swear Gwen Stefani was singing on “Straight Jackers”), and you’ve got loud, bass-driven fun. (Note: There is a full length album, but we got the sampler so that’s what I reviewed.)

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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