August 2006 Archives

Goons of Doom - The Story of Dead Barbie and Ghost (Volcom) [audio and video] [upcoming shows]

Goons of Doom follow-up their Bikey Zomby ep with this 16 song lp that deals with surfing, the devil, getting laid, broken toes, rock n' roll, and general horror. Pro surfer Ozzie Wright leads this pack of ghouls straight from the bowels of Australia. The Goons sound like a hybrid of 50's rock n' roll and 70's punk with some Sonic Youth guitar noise layered in the mix. Brace yourself for such stand out tracks as "Bikey Zomby", "My Song", "Fingered", and "Hello Kitty"...just to name a few.

Snow Patrol - Eyes Open

Snow Patrol - Eyes Open (A&M) [audio and upcoming shows]

Before I begin writing this review, I just want to let the cat out of the bag ... I am secretly fond of Snow Patrol. Yes, Snow Patrol are slightly cheesy (I know) and I’m not usually down for anthemic pop-rock, but Gary Lightbody seems to have a certain charisma. (Now you’ve all stopped laughing, I’ll continue.) Eyes Open displays a slender development from "Final Straw." The songs seem to have grown in epic stature and intensity, and if that failed to convince you, there is an enjoyable epic pop ballad with Martha Wainwright.
Stereolab - Serene Velocity: A Stereolab Anthology (Rhino) [audio] [more audio] [upcoming shows]

If there's anyone left out there in need of a simple introduction to the vast back catalog of Stereolab, patience has served you well. Serene Velocity is a gripping primer, a sixteen-track mixtape of sorts, which brings remastered versions of the best singles and deeper cuts from the band's Elektra albums together into one convenient set. Purists always argue that "best of" compilations cheapen the artists' work, but I'll be damned if this isn't the best Stereolab album I've ever heard.

The Campbells - Pound on Your Boxes

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The Campbells - Pound on Your Boxes (May-Wallace Records Inc.) [audio] [upcoming shows]

What do the Campbells sound like? Well, let's pretend that the Jayhawks decided to put out a new album. They called up Buffalo Tom to help out, and then checked to see what The Purrs were up to. Everyone went into the studio to pound on their boxes ("but not too hard, you could get hurt"), and ended up with a half-dozen twangy rock songs, including a protest against the treatment of American Indians (interesting side note: J Campbell was prophesied to be a singer by a Lakota medicine man).
Dirty on Purpose - Hallelujah Siren (North Street Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Dirty on Purpose release their full length debut “Hallelujah Sirens” at the perfect moment in the indie landscape. You see, Dirty on Purpose hails from the right scene - Brooklyn - and plays the right kind of music - spacey shoegazing rock that is all the rage. Yes, they are on the cusp of everything that’s trendy right at the moment, but it is ... ohhh so good. The delicate harmonies, the fuzzy guitars, and wispy vocals will have you bowing.
Tom Thumb and the Latter Day Saints - Kindermusik (Three Ring Records) [audio] [more audio][upcoming shows]

It's ironic that the Space Needle reissues, and this EP from the band that has come closest to carrying on their musical legacy, have been released within a few weeks of each other. Although much of the album is driven by organ and crystal clear production, the gritty, stirring reworking of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" lets you know that they are capable of stripping it down without losing any intensity, similar to John Vanderslice, Anders Parker, and Okkervil River. This EP is a much too short 26 minutes.

The Weepies - Say I Am You

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Weepies - Say I Am You (Nettwerk) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Deb Talan and Steve Tannen have done it again. This duo of singer/songwriters strike back in their follow-up to Happiness, an acoustic-pop charmer from back in 2003. This time through they deliver 13 great ditties and manage to keep the charm - this is bordering on irresistible. Standout tracks include the super-sweet "Gotta Have You" and the haunting "Love Doesn’t Last Too Long." Not to be confused with other Nettwerk compatriots Barenaked Ladies or Avril Lavigne.

Drop the Lime - We Never Sleep

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Drop the Lime - We Never Sleep (Tigerbeat6) [audio] [upcoming shows]

One day not too long ago I realized I was heartbroken about the rote and unimaginative nature of modern electronic dance music. The next day I listened to Drop the Lime's We Never Sleep and all hope was recovered. With its bowel-shaking bass lines, infectious grime and dubstep beats, and surprisingly sexy vocals, this album will make even the sorriest wallflower get off his haunches and party it up.
Andre Williams and the Diplomats of Sound - Aphrodisiac (Pravda) [audio]

Remember those dark days when your favorite artists turned out some horrible stuff in the mid-eighties to late nineties? Slick, clean production overpowered any raw energy that was there. I think that the Diplomats of Solid Sound have robbed Andre Williams of that raw energy by backing him on his latest effort. Andre still has it, but when you polish a rock enough, you get a shiny diamond. I like the rock better.

Paris Hilton - Paris

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Paris Hilton - Paris (Warner Brothers) [audio and video]

Would I lie to you? I swear I was driving downtown listening to the new Paris Hilton album when fucking champagne bubbles began oozing from my car stereo. About half of Paris is completely sterile mall pop in the vein of Hilary Duff or Ashee Simpson, but the remaining half is surprisingly accomplished, exquisitely produced and hypersexy—custom-made for those who appreciate disco heavyweights from Donna Summer to Goldfrapp. Miss Hilton has been inexplicably famous for years, but now there's a causal link... and that's hot.
The Royal Army Recording Co. - Mary, Your Ghost is Showing (self released) [audio]

Described as a "collective," The Royal Army Recording Co. sounds like their members include the Beach Boys, Pedro the Lion, Grant Lee Phillips, and John Vanderslice. Most of all, though, they remind me of The Bland Allisons. Like that band, the lovely acoustic folk-alt-country-pop sound belies the darkness of the lyrics; it seems almost like a concept album, what with all the waiting and dying and cemeteries. My favorite line: "You were once a projector / now you're just an empty screen I see."
Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo to Anywhere (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Kick the junkie out of gritty British band; can said band still be cheeky? With Dirty Pretty Things (not to be confused with thriller starring French cutie Audrey Tautou), Carl Barât, otherwise known as the sensible Libertine, attempts to wax the post-Doherty sound. Which turns out to be grimy and catchy in a Clash sort of way, but lacks the unpredictability and sincere harmonies that made the 'Libs famous.
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast (Matador) [audio] [more audio] [upcoming shows]

As ever with Matmos, there are a few moments on this album where their unconventional instrumentation pays off, mutant disco being created from sounds such as the burning of live flesh. Unfortunately, this album has also confirmed my suspicions that the duo’s concepts are ultimately more interesting than the results. Certainly a band to talk about, with maybe the odd listen.

Boy Eats Drum Machine - Pleasure

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Boy Eats Drum Machine - Pleasure (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows] [videos]

Rife with a distinctive Hawaii-meets-California-waves-to-Mexico vibe, Pleasure has absolutely zero trouble living up its name. BEDM is the work of one Johnny Ragel, and his friendly croon, sampled beats, kooky background sounds and subtle keyboard work make for a mostly relaxing, sometimes somber, experimental pop experience, although things get peppy with “The Taste of Your Mouth” and the perfect, doo-wop inspired “Let’s Get Lost Sometime.” Easy to fall in love with, this is one unique piece of work from one severely gifted boy.


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SSM (Alive Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

White soul lives! Members of The Hentchmen and The Sights stumble through saturated sloppy guitar chords, drunken vocals, reverb drenched keyboards, and weird sound effects. You can't go wrong by sticking to the Blue Cheer, ? and the Mysterians, Lyres, and Blues Explosion playbook, heavy on the wah pedal and handclaps. The final track, "The Seer", at over six minutes, is the absolute peak. As it trails off, you can lay back covered in sweat, smoke a cigarette, sleep a bit and sneak out before anyone notices.

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche

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Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche (Asthmatic Kitty) [upcoming shows]

Warning!: if you hated Sufjan's Illinois, you'll hate Avalanche. I made an ass of myself by assuming this was an hour of filler not good enough for Illinois...and sure, there's plenty of the same-ol'-same-ol' here, including some dreamy yet forgettable instrumentals, needlessly long song titles, and three (count 'em!!!) alternate versions of "Chicago." Illinois fans will love to hear the rest of what was allegedly scheduled to be a double album, and surprised to hear more than what they expected: Avalanche has plenty to offer.

Jade - Banned in America

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Jade - Banned in America (Arg Productions) [audio]

Apparently, the album title derives from a time when Jade was stopped from entering the US for “dressing like a prostitute” - bizarrely resulting in a ban from the US for 5 years. Anyway, just when you thought bands such as Evenassence & Linkin Park couldn’t get any worse, along comes Jade. The lyrics are, quite simply, the worst I’ve heard in my entire life and after just 30 seconds of listening, your left wishing Jade and her gothic, nu-metal, pop trash was banned from every country on the planet.
The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off (Record Collection) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The guitars on A Hundred Miles Off are jangly and drenched in echo and reverb, while the drumming is simply amazing. Singer Hamilton Leithauser's voice is on a whiskey-soaked field trip to channel Bob Dylan. "Louisiana" has some nice trumpets and piano in it, which gives off a Calexico feel. "Emma Get Me a Lemon" is one of the best songs I've heard all year; in fact, this record is one of the best to come out so far this year. A perfect soundtrack for drinking beers in the backyard on a summer afternoon.

Scott Walker - The Drift

Scott Walker - The Drift (4AD) [audio]

In the 1960s he was a teen heartthrob, in 2006 he hits slabs of meat and does Donald the Duck impressions over nightmarish strings and drums reminiscent of The Birthday Party. Oh, and there are a few moments where he sounds like Jamie Stewart’s quieter moments in Xiu Xiu. As is often the case with uncompromising music such as this, the line between genius and cuckoo is somewhat blurred. Confusing.

Juana Molina - Son

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Juana Molina - Son (Domino Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This fourth effort by eclectic Argentinian song-sorceress Juana Molina is a soothing auditory elixer blending the acoustic, electric and organic. With vocals reminiscent of Stina Nordenstam and -at times of improvisational flow - Rickie Lee Jones, comparisons to Bjork are obvious due to Molina's melting of dichotomous styles: but as the Icelander uses technology to create frigid layers of echoing sound, the Argentinian submerges 'neath an otherworldly ocean of sound to birth a pulsing and and intimate organic voice. Blips and beeps becomes a sweltering breeze or swarm of bees. One of my top listens of 2006!
1986 - Nihilism Is Nothing to Worry About (self released) [info] [upcoming shows and audio]

Though sometimes a little too entrenched in mid-90's power pop, (more like 1996, guys) some quite pretty moments shine through the muck. Mostly built upon a formula of rootsy, feedback-heavy guitar rawk, they top it off with some fine vocal harmony and more than enough slippery twang and "hoo-hoo"s to keep it light and breezy. It's what I remember Soul Asylum's Hang Ten sounding like but I'm probably wrong on that point too.

Sebadoh - III

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Sebadoh - III (Domino Records) [audio] [more audio] [still more audio]

Nothing like a reissue to make you feel old. While Sebadoh's third release was the natural progression of the home recorded cassettes Eric Gaffney and Lou Barlow had been trading off, no one was expecting this, their strongest release with the classic line up of Barlow, Gaffney and Jason Lowenstein. 23 tracks of the infamous down-strumming, self loathing lo-fi confesssionals, now with a second disk of 18 tracks, including the overrated Gimme Indie Rock single and hilarious Jon Spencer anecdotes in the liner notes.

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