October 2006 Archives

Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire

Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire CD + DVD (Capitol) [video] [video trailer]

Eight years after the eclectic Into the Sun, Sean Lennon returns to parade his songwriting flair on Friendly Fire. Time and heartache have influenced a more consistently gentle sound, with a continued focus on introspective lyrics. Couple that with his undeniable 60's-influenced sound and love of melody, and you're left with a slightly Elliott Smith-esque experience at times, perhaps most noticably on the opener "Dead Meat." 75 words is certainly not enough for such a beauty. Friendly Fire is easily one of the year's best. Highly recommended.

The Dears - Gang of Losers

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The Dears - Gang of Losers (Arts & Crafts) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

From the moment we first heard The Dears, overblown comparisons to The Smiths were made by people who really should know better. If we must explore that path, though, The Dears more closely parallel the music of solo Morrissey. It's well orchestrated, not always immediate, but always very aware of itself. Murray Lightburn does tend to croon at times, and occasionally these things work against one another. Gang of Losers seems to strike a balance the band were unable to find in their past work, however, and any comparisons may soon be unnecessary.

Wolf Eyes - Human Animal

Wolf Eyes - Human Animal (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Well, don't you guys just think you are the cat's meow, huh 75orless writing crowd? "So, to haze new guy. Paul, you take this 45 of Halloween sound effects, and scratch it up as badly as possible. Mark, see if you can get this robot to make some kind of fart noise, and Meredith, take this mic, and go bang some shit around in the kitchen. I'll record it all, and we'll pretend it's a real CD, and get him to write on it. Brilliant!" Thanks, dicks. I see your ruse.

The Format - Dog Problems

The Format - Dog Problems (Nettwerk Records) [audio and upcoming shows]

Finally a fun, refreshing album. I had just about had it up to here {hand raised to forehead} with all these crappy dime-a-dozen emo and pop punk bands going through the motions. Luckily for us, The Format has made some good decisions: (a) not to be just another of the aforementioned crap bands, (b) to openhandedly embrace the pop, (c) to make every track get stuck in your head, and (d) to make something actually worth spending money on. Be prepared to sing along.

The Confusions - 5 AM

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The Confusions - 5 AM (Mass Produktion) [audio] [video]

Dammit, even the MOR radio rock coming out of Sweden is great! The Confusions have enough history behind them that their earliest American contemporaries would've been Third Eye Blind or the Gin Blossoms, and even now they're delivered up with an explicitly big studio sheen. Beneath the crystalline exterior, however, they're writing songs with hooks that go for days and a perceptibly genuine enthusiasm that music-making is actually their day job. Would it fly on American airwaves? That's doubtful. There aren't any "lowest common denominator" moments to be found on 5 AM.

Slouch - Viva

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Slouch - Viva (Cozy Music) [audio] [more audio and upcoming shows]

With the overabundance of electronic music producers out there, it's no easy task to produce a standout downtempo album, but that is precisely what Ian Bradley, aka Slouch, has done. His new album is the happy marriage of trip hop, hip hop, and international sounds, blending breakbeats with Indian percussion, dark musical montages with Middle Eastern melodies, and organic piano riffs with turntable scratches. All of this plus the unique and expertly manipulated samples make Viva a must-hear for fans of DJ Shadow, Portishead, and Daedelus alike.
Stationary Odyssey - Head! Foot! And the Pink Axe (Joyful Noise) [audio and upcoming shows] [videos]

Stationary Odyssey is not of this earth. They've obviously done their research, though, because they know exactly what it means to us earthlings to be heavenly. With an ability to make rainbows right before your eyes, Head! Foot! And the Pink Axe is pregnant with melodies you never before thought possible and has plenty of post-rock quirkiness that'll keep you anything but stationary. It's a basket of instrumental genius, and it's just begging you to dive in.

The Black Neon - Arts and Crafts

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The Black Neon - Arts and Crafts (Memphis Industries) [audio]

Disclaimer: I drive a black Neon. And ladies, it's a '97! That said, Arts and Crafts starts out very euro and Kraftwerk before distilling into hazy, summery, jangly English psychedelia. Its fuzzed out and bass-heavy musical sunshine is perfect for drinking like, three bottles of Nyquil and trying to stay awake. This is a druggy album. This album is so druggy that Andy Dick would listen to it and be like, "That's fucked up."

The Roots - Game Theory

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The Roots - Game Theory (Def Jam) [audio and upcoming shows]

From The Tipping Point to Game Theory comes a shift in theme from micro-hip-onomics to macro-hop-onomics: taking the lyrical basis of The Roots music from a personal level to a social level. In rapping about the media, government, and urban Philly, the album takes on a bit darker of a tone than their previous records, with music and lyrics feeling more "poorly-lit bar" than "leg-humping club". The musical excellence anyone has come to expect from the group resounds, and Black Thought maintains his title as Most Under-Recognized Player in the Game.
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 - Ole! Tarantula (Yep Roc) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Robyn Hitchcock has his crazy head up in the stars and his two feet firmly on the ground, and they're surrounded by talented guests on Ole! Tarantula, a cosmic yet folky rock n' roll album. R.E.M. and Replacements fans should be paying attention. Much like John Doe, Paul Weller and Bob Mould, this former Soft Boy delivers on another solid Yep Roc release from a former 70's-80's frontman. Pete Shelley, Yep Roc is waiting for you.

Kill Your Idols - DVD

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Kill Your Idols - DVD (Palm Pictures) [trailer]

Hey you, don't watch this! The music from NYC in the 1970s and early '80s did a fantastic job of speaking for itself, and the present-day NYC bands at least seem smart on record. Rather than recount the history and postulate on the future, though, Kill Your Idols is really just a showcase for Lydia Lunch, Glenn Branca and Arto Lindsay to congratulate themselves while metaphorically castrating the bands of today. The problem? All the current bands who are interviewed (Black Dice and A.R.E. Weapons in particular) actually come across as complete knobs. Nobody wins.

DJ C - Traced Milk EP

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DJ C - Traced Milk EP (Cozy Music) [audio] [podcasts]

The new album from Boston-area producer-dj-remixer-party boy DJ C is electronic poetry at its finest. Much akin to the Japanese style haiku, his downtempo beats are structurally simple but speak volumes. Through the use of subtle breakbeats, a sampled guitar riff here and there, the occasional glitchy moment, some stuttering drum sounds, a hint of dreamy vocals, and a well-placed bassline, something beautiful and mysterious has been made.
Various Artists - An Idiot To Not Appreciate Your Time: The Songs of Silkworm (self released) [audio] [info]

Although this 29-song tribute was planned before the tragedy that took Michael Dahlquist's life, it now serves as a bittersweet farewell to an underappreciated, prolific band. Best are The Bills' "Garden City Blues", The Bismark's "The Cigarette Lighters" and "Couldn't You Wait" by Mirror America. While some stick to faithful renditions, others reinvent their choices, like the radical bluegrass interpretation of "Grotto Of Miracles" by Suzanne The Plan. Many others appear, including The Kadane Brothers, Treasure State, The Soft Drugs and Steve Albini.

Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage

Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage (Roadrunner) [audio] [upcoming shows]

A month ago I would have told you that you'd be more likely to find a unicorn singing Tom Jones covers in my living room than to find a speed metal album in my car's CD player. Inhuman Rampage would have made me a liar. By laying endlessly catchy lead guitar riffs over its unbridled energy, Dragonforce was able to create a perfectly listenable album even for the un-speed-rocked layman like myself. If The Darkness felt like a gateway drug for you, this may be your next step down the road of hard rock.

Ane Brun - A Temporary Dive

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Ane Brun - A Temporary Dive (V2 Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Like a Norwegian Thao Nguyen, Brun sings almost carelessly, but her songwriting is impeccable. The album starts off with the madrigal-like "To Let Myself Go," rising and falling hypnotically; then it launches into the twangy sardonic swing of "Song No. 6," cleverly detailing how Brun would write "a sobby pink song." If there were justice in the world, it would be a U.S. radio hit. "Rubber & Soul"'s folky sweetness belies the dark lyrics, and I could write a term paper on the metaphors in "The Fight Song," let alone the entire record. I have it in heavy rotation.
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love (Universal) [audio and upcoming shows]

With the juggernaught of Echoes nearly four years past, the Rapture have a lot to live up to. Luckily, Pieces ... strays from the heavily mined Gang Of Four and PiL influences and shoots for a more Talking Heads afro-electro-punk approach ... and pretty much pulls it off. "The Devil" is a standout; Cure-meets-Michael Jackson orgasmic panting, skronky guitars, glitterball keyboards, this one’s the dancefloor killer like "Sister Savior" was a few years back. Morgan better rock this at POP or I’m boycotting.
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love (Universal) [audio and upcoming shows]

This is what Sigur Ros fans dance to so that they won't be embarassed in the presence of actual pop. (Don't take that as a recommendation.) Even if we ignore the tragically horrible irony of a band calling themselves "The Rapture" and making dance music for disaffected emotionless robot hipsters, this album fails to reach the plateau of standard dance-punk mediocrity. (Dance-punk? Who comes up with... Anyway...) Quick note: you can't hide filler songs by making the whole album filler! These self-aware pop-tards have delivered a synthesized train wreck.
Sublime - Sublime 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen Records) [audio]

It’s the 10th anniversary of teenagers, such as myself, buying everything Bradley Nowell had recorded before his death. This two-disc edition includes the self-titled LP, reformatted to the late Mr. Nowell’s original vision: it’s just like the disc you bought 10 years ago, but with a new opener, one alternate vocal track, and a different track sequence. The second disc contains a few good "new" songs, far too many "alternate" versions, and some videos. Maybe it’s just worth waiting for the (rumored) box set.

Humcrush - Hornswoggle

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Humcrush - Hornswoggle (Rune Grammofon) [audio and upcoming shows]

Though Hornswoggle is credited to Thomas Stronen and Stale Storlokken, it's clear the material contained within is actually a record of what happens when the tape is left running at night as the instruments come to life and play themselves. The human component here would have you believe that this compelling mix of free-form percussion and synthesized beeps and farts is the result of their own simple improvisation, and it's wise of them to make that claim. After all, there would be panic in the streets if people knew the machines were taking over.

Beck - Nausea

Beck - Nausea (Interscope) [audio and upcoming shows]

After leaving a few people quite disappointed with the last record Guero, Beck gives us a vastly promising insight into the forthcoming record The Information. Incredibly fun and incredibly danceable, "Nausea" features a huge variety of clattering percussive elements, sampled vocals (which includes strange human chimp noises), a fantastic sing-along chorus and a funky guitar hook to die for. Rest assured, this is Beck at his very best.
The Thermals - The Body The Blood The Machine (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Thermals are getting religious on your ass, but not in a bad way. The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a concept record about Christianity and our government. It's a call-out to America to start making things right before it's too late. It has an end of the world type feel, but the upbeat tempo of the songs won't get you down. The band adds keyboard and organ to create another layer of sound and the songs come out crystal clear with Fugazi's Brendan Canty producing.
TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope) [audio and upcoming shows]

Do you remember the Beta Band? Yeah, me too. When was the last time you put one of their records on? Yeah, me too. That is my only reservation about this record. I put this on, and two paper dolls in my brain clink glasses and yell "Brilliant!", and yet the fat loser at the party in my mind keeps whining, "You know you'll be over this record completely in a year." Here is to hoping they can approximate this level of genius for long enough to stick permanently in our musical consciousness.

The Monkees - Deluxe Edition

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The Monkees - Deluxe Edition (Rhino) [video]

Put together by a TV studio and singing the songs of hired songwriters- who undeniably know how to churn out hits - the only composition by an actual Monkee to appear on the original release, Michael Nesmith's "Papa Gene's Blues," is a clear step above the rest of the material - in that it's not just simple, catchy and forgetable. Lots of music here- the stereo and mono versions plus fifteen bonus tracks on two cds. Extensive liner notes detail the members struggle to avoid becoming the Milli Vanilli of the late sixties.

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

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