July 2006 Archives

Brief Candles - They Live We Sleep (Latest Flame) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Brief Candles not only draw from, but wallow around in their influences like muddy little piggies. The name itself is an old Zombies song, the album's centerpiece is a scorching cover of A Flock Of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song" and the wall of guitars and other sounds is as much Slowdive's as it is their own. But I'm not here to fault them for any of it, because every bit of They Live We Sleep works and works well. Only a fool would insist that all new music be devoid of influence

Sneaky Thieves - Accident (s)

Sneaky Thieves - Accident(s) (self released) [audio and upcoming shows]

This is undoubtedly one of the most darkest, depressing records my ears have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Period. The Seattle-based Sneaky Thieves have this gloomy, experimental rock sound that will force you into murky, haunting and psychedelic corners you never even knew existed. And to say the bold & complex lyrical content is a hugely sinister & cinematic experience would be a huge understatement. Fans of Radiohead take note, this is surely one of the records of the year, just turn of the lights and enjoy…
Pony Up - Make Love to the Judges with Your Eyes (Dim Mak Records) [audio]

With wry observatons - track 2 is called "The Truth About Cats and Dogs (Is That They Die)" - set to a guitar/cymbal/keyboard soundtrack, Pony Up bring The Casting Couch, The Like, and Suddenly, Tammy! to mind ... and a little bit of Avril Lavigne. Laura Wills and Sarah Moundroukas trade vocals; I prefer the scratchiness of Sarah's voice, but both sing of the cycle from desire and longing ("What harm could I do to you?") to being trapped and lonely ("I miss not knowing you so well").

Schwervon - I Dream of Teeth

Schwervon - I Dream of Teeth (Olive Juice) [audio] [more audio][upcoming shows]

NYC boy/girl duo Schwervon pile on foot stomping drum beats with loads of guitar noise on their newest record. Add in boy/girl vocals that complement each other perfectly, a love for Sonic Youth and The Pixies, and I Dream of Teeth becomes a solid indie rock record. Keyboards and a glockenspiel guest star on a few songs and add that certain something to the album. Throw in a Princess Superstar style rap song and that pretty much closes the deal for me.
Vanessa and the O's - La Ballade d'O (Rushmore Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Former Espiritu vocalist Vanessa Quinones happened to meet former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and a new musical partnership was formed. The resulting album La Ballade d'O is a lush offering adorned with chiming guitars and bright arrangements strung together by the sultry vocals of Quinones (more charismatic than Nico ever was and sexier than Laetitia Sadier ever tries to be). If the first Velvet Underground album had been recorded in the present day and was narrated primarily in a French tongue, this is ostensibly how it would sound.

Various Artists - Invaders

Various Artists - Invaders (Kemado) [audio] [more audio]

Finally, the soundtrack for my tacky, ultra-violent, ironically hip sci-fi movie, which is like a cross between Starship Troopers and He-Man. Music will be provided by Danava (opening credits), Diamond Nights (hero's theme), Warhammer48k (enemy's theme), Pelican (revelation scene), Wolfmother (sex scene!), High on Fire, The Sword, Big Business, Saviours (battle scenes), Night After Night (celebration scene) and the Fucking Champs (closing credits). Okay, so there's no film. If there were, we'd have another Last Action Hero on our hands: shitty film, decent music.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - Zulu Rock (Ze Records) [audio]

After Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s initial recordings as part of the downtown NY art rock scene of the late 70’s, she started to explore African rhythms more along the lines of what Paul Simon’s Graceland would sound like. The major difference being that she predated him by at least two years. Though not as raw and funky as her earlier tracks, there are some worthwhile moments here. The appropriation of African music into a western context tends to be more lacking than rewarding however.
Let's Be Active - Keep The Fuzz Off My Buzz CD + DVD (Sickroom) [video] [audio]

This 15 track compilation was packaged together with a dvd movie of these four bands on their spring 2004 tour through the midwest. Paradise Island plays dance electro, lo fi guitar and spoken female rant. William Elliott Whitemore is a husky-voiced, banjo playing troubadour while Jarrett Hilarious mixes humor and spoken word snippets throughout the comp. The discovery here is The Shadow Government (FT)- their track "Noble Flavor" is a heavy, trippy ride, while the footage of the double drummers in their live show left me floored.

Candy Thong - EP

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Candy Thong - EP (self released) [audio]

Thought The Dead Milkmen were hysterical? You will love Candy Thong. Songs about bleeding in your gym shorts, armpit hair, the forming of their own band, hipster restaurants, liking Black Sabbath and killing motherfuckers, all lovingly rendered in minimal drums and bass. It's as if they've never heard music before, (except Black Sabbath) and I love them for it.

Roy - Killed John Train

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Roy - Killed John Train (Lujo) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Roy's latest effort is filled with a wide array of musical tastes. On parts of Killed John Train you can hear the hiss from a four track and the gloss of pro tools. In other spots you'll hear their love for country/folk rock and you'll catch indie pop hooks a la their debut record. "Jesus Drives a Trans Am" has a country feel to it with the accompaniment of a drum machine. "Middle Son" is rocking in all of it's indie glory, while "Reno I'm Coming Home" features a killer harmonica part with haunting, distorted guitars.
Balun - Something Comes Our Way (Brilliante) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Digital blips and synthesized melodies touched by human hands in combination with analog accents like voice and accordion. Hailing from Puerto Rico, it’s nice to see that it just isn’t American kids in their Brooklyn studio apartments taking a nod from Markus Popp. There’s a lot more substance here than your minimal electro-laptop pop, too. Washes of texture create a dreamy backdrop for delicate melodies, nothing that you’ll be humming at the bus stop, but memorable nonetheless.

Rye Coalition - Curses

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Rye Coalition - Curses (Gern Blandsten) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If listening to Wolfmother constantly is helping you relive the days of Sabbath, then this might be a good choice to help you get your AC/DC jollies. Sounds like Dave Grohl decided to produce a more Grohl-ish version of Queens of the Stone Age with its homage to 80s metal slightly less masqued. These are beer-bottle-smashing songs, the kind of stuff that cracks you up and raises its goblet of rock all at once. The too-cool-for-fun need not apply.
Mission of Burma - The Obliterati (Ninja Tune) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There are few albums that I would argue the 75 or Less credo over. This is one of them. Almost every one of the songs on this album warrants at least 75 words on its own. Concisely convoluted, dissonantly melodic, and bursting with creative muscle, each one of these twisted avant-punk nuggets is a puzzle begging the question that anyone who’s seen MoB live must wonder: how the hell do they keep cranking out this amazing stuff?

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Thom Yorke - The Eraser (XL Recordings) [audio]

The Eraser was kept a complete secret up until six weeks before its release. The press didn't know anything and the fans didn't either. In fact, I wonder if anyone but Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich knew about it at all. As it turns out, secrecy was the wisest course of action. Even though Radiohead have been writing more minimal and electronically geared material for half their career now, Yorke alone lacks the gravitas to make this exploration successful. The Eraser sounds like a demo tape, nothing more.
The Colour - The Devil's Got A Holda Me (Rethink) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Bluesy swamp rock, sorta like The Cult but not on steroids, and sorta like The Darkness but young. Though sparsely produced and raw, the songwriting has a Foreigner vibe at their drunkenest while balancing the rest of it on ass-loads of voodoo snakebite guitar strutting. "Chariot Of Gold" starts out with the hazy stomp of "Waiting For The Man" then eases into some fine boozy cock-rockin'. In a perfect world they'd be Paul Rodgers's favorite band.

Shearwater - Palo Santo

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Shearwater - Palo Santo (Misra) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Shearwater's fourth album “Palo Santo” lies somewhere between folk and slow-tempo rock…it’s a recipe of breathtaking vocals, painful lyrics, rich instrumentation, slick arrangements, haunting melodies and beautiful textures… all of the elements pull together to construct dreamy soundscapes and provoke the most frosty & heartfelt of emotions. Palo Santo is a truly fantastic record that is likely to go unnoticed by many. Seek it out…you will not be disappointed.
Twilight Singers - Powder Burns (One Little Indian US) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Greg Dulli lays down more of his rock/soul trademark sounds on all 12 tracks of Powder Burns. You aren't hearing anything new on this record, but that's not a big deal since Dulli's been writing great songs since his Afghan Whigs days. There's no shortage of good writing on his latest effort. "There's Been An Accident" is haunting and beautiful, while "Bonnie Brae" is hands down one of the best songs Dulli has ever written. Guest spots are filled in by Ani Difranco, Joseph Arthur, and John Curly.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - Best Off (Z.E. Records) [audio]

This is an essential collection for those unfamiliar with Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s funky, sparse brand of proto punk dance rhythms. Spanning her six albums that she completed before succumbing to cancer in 2004, this music is an integral link in the DNA chain that has brought us bands like LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture. The future of music isn’t happening now, it’s already passed you by. This collection makes for a great rear view mirror.

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped

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Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped (Geffen) [audio] [upcoming shows]

SY are such an institution that they are almost beyond critique at this point. It'd be like raggin' on Everest for being a mountain. All the classic elements are still here, still strong, and still sound fresher than most 19-year-old jerk bands that have never owned Sister. (They're out there…) They've been endlessly exploring the vast and bewildering universe they created on Daydream Nation, and they could keep doing it forever, I don't give a fuck.

Peeping Tom - ST

Peeping Tom (Ipecac Recordings) [audio and upcoming shows]

Don't buy this. A part of your brain will tell you to, because it can be interesting at times, and weird, and different, and the discerning music elite side of your brain will compel you to get it. And you'll listen to it for a week or two, trying to decipher it. And then you will go back to your Gnarls Barkley album and never look back, because different, in this case, means "not that good". Save yourself the headache.

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