May 2006 Archives

Venice is Sinking - Sorry About the Flowers (One Percent Press) [audio] [shows]

This music is stunningly gorgeous: quiet boy/girl harmonies set against drowsy guitar, keyboards and drums with lovely viola lines running around and through. Think Eleventh Dream Day on sedatives or Low on uppers; in the 75orless ocean, they're bobbing along next to Everything Is Fine and A Northern Chorus. I want to go swimming in the codas to some of these songs ... "Tours" and "Arkansas" dissolve into loveliness that makes your heart ache. The only negative is that the release date took so long to get here.

The Rakes- Capture Release

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The Rakes - Capture Release (V2) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Rakes' debut record is filled with twelve tracks made up of equal parts punk, art rock, and new wave. There are obvious influences such as Buzzcocks, Bowie, and Wire throughout the album. I'm sure other reviewers have lumped The Rakes in with bands like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, but Capture Release is much more enjoyable and heavier than anything those bands have put out. This record is the perfect soundtrack to wherever there is heavy drinking and hell raisin' being had.
Sambassadeur - Coastal Affairs EP (Labrador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Sweden is ground zero for charming indie pop. Why it's maintained that distinction has to do with the bands there pushing themselves and their listeners with each successive release. That's what Sambassadeur's been doing, anyway. Coastal Affairs is their third EP (their fourth release overall) and it's as flawless as EP's get. Four songs, three originals and one Bats cover, that fit together so perfectly, one might suspect a bit of divine intervention. Never twee and never grand, Coastal Affairs makes its home in the savory place between the extremes.

Evermore - Dreams

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Evermore - Dreams (Sire Records) [audio]

Glancing through the album lyrics as I listened to the annoying first track, I had low hopes for "Dreams." But then "It's Too Late" started in its insistent waterfall guitar line, and I was hooked. Lush guitar-driven rock with a Britpop twist, Evermore evokes the sounds of Embrace, Cast, and the Chameleons UK (with a bit of Peter Adams' strings thrown in). (P.S. The three band members are home-schooled brothers ... the gloomy drama club smokers to Hanson's perky student council cheerleaders).

Hot Chip - The Warning

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Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Their debut, 'Coming On Strong' was disappointing because it was dire, but this is frustrating in a different way. When it's good, it's awesome; evidence of this being single of the year contender 'Over and Over' and opening track 'Careful'. The title track in particular, however, makes me want to hurt people. Halfway through the album I just sorta get bored and restless and want it to end. There's a great EP in there, but you might just want to get the singles from this one.

Joe Wilson - A Day in My Shoes

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Joe Wilson - A Day in My Shoes (self-released) [audio]

It's amazing how different one guy with a guitar can sound from another; happily, Joe Wilson arrived in the mailbox among the Jack Johnson and American Idol wannabes. He brought with him post-emo lyrics and catchy melodies, opening with a sweet manifesto: "Go quit your job Joe and do what you do ... write that brave song that strong song the 'I did nothing wrong song.'" And then he sings of loss and loneliness over charming acoustic pop.
The Blizzard of 78 - Where All Life Hangs (Killing Floor Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Blizzard of 78's Big Star-Badfinger influenced rock n' roll sounds top notch on Where All Life Hangs. Lead singer Pip has quite a knack for writing great songs, while the rest of the band (ex-members of Anastasia Screamed) adds excellent musicianship to the record. Check out the rock in Give, the grittiness of Johnny, and the nautical grooves of Stowaway. Look for appearances by Phil Aiken (Buffalo Tom) and Tanya Donnelly (Belly). TBO78 has been under appreciated for years, hopefully this record will change that.
Track a Tiger - Woke Up Early the Day I Died (Futureappletree) [audio]

Do not listen to this album if, indeed, you need to wake up early. Because you'll just lay there, drowsy, floating back to sleep on a sea of acoustic guitar, cello, and the occasional "blips and bleeps." Not to mention a host of female vocalists taking turns accompaying Jim Vallet, who began the record as a solo project three years ago. This is, however, the perfect pick for moping around and staring at the ceiling: "I've taken hold of your misery." Pour a drink and sulk to the lazy alt-country/folk.
Freegas - Serious Music for Serious People (self released) [audio]

This is my last review I am ever going to write because after listening to this I have decided to commit suicide. The instrumental "Fight!" is the song that sealed my fate. Why would anyone rewrite "Smoke on the Water" and add a second guitar so shrill as to force me to lose my will to live? Freegas is led by the mysterious "P", who plays ten instruments on this- all equally poorly. At my funeral- to confirm I really am dead- play Freegas, specifically "Fight!". If I have one breath left, I will crawl out of the box and smash the cd. Goodbye cruel world.
Beautiful New Born Children - Hey, People! (Domino) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Turn the volume on your stereo all the way up. Remove any glass or otherwise breakable material from the immediate area. Press "play." The Beautiful New Born Children have no time to waste on formal introductions with their debut, so they offer "Do the Do" in place of a handshake and a hello. Eight more deafening and bruising exchanges follow it over the course of 20 minutes and before you realize what's just happened, they're gone as quickly as they arrived. They're sorry about all the snot and blood they left on your speakers.
The Slow Break - Inside the Dark Mountain (Ionik Recordings) [audio] [shows]

Like the results of a fingerpainting session gone wild, this messy mix of styles can't be described easily. Deceptively bright chaos throws forth alt-country, punk and rockabilly guitars and frenetic saxophone under grim lyrics. The best tracks contain Katie O'Brien's yelping rasp; she sounds like Kristin Hersh, Stiffed and Dolly Parton got thrown into a blender with a pack of cigarettes. All bands should put this much passion and fire into their albums.
Dog Traders – Panic in a Pagoda (Sharing Machine) [audio]

Anyone familiar with the website Toothpaste for Dinner can appreciate Drew T’s talent for drawing stick figures and accompanying sardonic commentary. But did you know he could write songs, too? And play music? And sing? I suspect he also adores Guided by Voices, as this album could pass for a cover of Mag Earwig!, especially "Belgium," "Rebel & the Rock" and "Minister and Man." But that’s fine with me: "suburban sprawls and curtain calls are just expected / come back out and take a bow."
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods (Graveface) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Like a really quirky variation on the Dr. Who theme, BMSR's soft, frowny-faced and weird music piles on the synths; watery, funky '70s beats; heart-wrenching melody, and the under-appreciated vocoder. But unlike the fantastic Start a People, Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods just isn't all there. However, some of it will still leave you with an inflated head: it contains some of the band's most effective material in the form of the title track, "Caterpillar House," "Drippy Eye," and the slow "Hairy Mouth." Perhaps the vinyl's better.

Lo-Fi-Fnk - Boylife

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Lo-Fi-Fnk - Boylife (La Vida Locash) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If Junior Senior are playing the big room downstairs, Lo-Fi-Fnk have been booked for the exclusive VIP room one floor up. The Swedish duo of Leo Drougge and August Hellsing have been turning out eccentric electro-pop singles for a few years now, none of which have been easily categorized and have therefore been ignored en masse on this side of the world. 2006 brings about their first full-length album, though, and with any luck fans of everyone from Basement Jaxx to Death Cab will find something about Boylife they can love.
The Bland Allisons – Butcher’s Son (Blood Shake Records) [audio]

This album includes the prettiest music about zombies I ever heard. Yes, zombies, as in "The Walking Dead" (track 5). But you'd never know, to listen to the folky, alt-country lazy guitar and piano, with Sonya Cotton's lovely voice providing harmonies. This EP is a "narrative prologue" to an upcoming full-length ... there's a flood, and open graves, and razor teeth ... consider it the trailer to the movie. I wonder if the title character in "Run, Rachel, Run" will make it to daylight; so long as the music sounds like this, I'll be ok if she doesn't.

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

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