February 2007 Archives

Palodine - Desolate Son

| No Comments
Palodine - Desolate Son (Tarnished) [audio]

Swathed in American Gothic—as in Stephen King, not Grant Wood—Palodine sound a lot like labelmate Vivian Linden; Katrina Whitney's voice can also be confused with Cat Power or Dolores O'Riordan, depending on the track. Seemingly innocuous guitars and percussion morph into a gloom of menace, as the songs cover such uplifting topics as murder, abuse, "broken down cars and broken down dreams," and a mining death. But they make tragedy sound lovely.
Sonic Youth - The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities (Geffen) [audio and upcoming shows]

If you're thinking of introducing yourself to Sonic Youth with this album, stop right now. If you're already in a record store, don't even go near the "S" section. As the title hints, this is clearly for fans only. And I don't mean the casual SY fan, such as myself, but rather the weird dudes at the show who rhythmically bob their heads to non-rhythmic 20-minute feedback solos. Outrageously, 8 of the 11 tracks are instrumentals, and the best track is the 25 minute version of "The Diamond Sea". Outrageous.

Snagglepuss - The Sound Report

| No Comments
Snagglepuss - The Sound Report (Coolidge) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The '80s had Fetchin Bones and the '90s had Sugarsmack. Naturally, a new decade had to give way to a new project for Hope Nicholls and Aaron Pitkin, Charlotte, NC's most enduring power couple. In the seven-member Snagglepuss, most every musical corner they've explored in the past has been brought together. The Sound Report, the band's third LP, seamlessly integrates the southern-fried pop and unhinged mayhem of their previous endeavors with a newly revealed appreciation for the sickly slick radio mainstays of their youth. There's sax. There's violence. And you're invited.

The Fratellis - The Flathead EP

| 1 Comment
The Fratellis - The Flathead EP (Cherry Tree/Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The latest iPod commercials feature the title track of this infectiously raucous EP. The other three songs are just as loud, just as catchy, and just as filled with clanging guitars, military tattoo drumbeats, and slurred lyrics evoking anything but sweetness and light: "clean out the bank and bump off your daddy/you can come live with us among the has-beens and the addicts." Think The Libertines (everyone else does) meet The Strokes, with a splash of Supergrass. Derivative, but done well.
The Hidden Hand - The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote (Southern Lord) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Quietly proving yet again that they are one of the best hard rock bands going right now, The Hidden Hand return with their masterwork The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote. It's a dazzling tome of flawless classic rock in the making, and arguably their most powerful record. With ten more thoughtfully written, insanely catchy jams to add to the 'Hand's towering repertoire, Resurrection..., which closes with the band's most epic and progressive song, "Slow Rain," invokes beauty, doom and triumph. Absolutely mind-blowing, as always.

The Science of Sleep DVD

| No Comments
The Science of Sleep DVD (Warner Independent) [trailer]

The Science of Sleep never got a big theatrical run... thank God for DVD. On the disc is the film, an audio commentary with writer/director Michel Gondry and cast, a 30 minute making of featurette, an interview called "Lauri," and two short pieces on saving kittens. I would skip the commentary and go directly to the making of feature and the "Lauri" piece. The latter is an interview with the woman who created the creatures for the film. If you like to hear the word "kitty" 1000 times in five minutes, check out Rescue Some Love.
Minky Starshine & The New Cardinals - Hooray For L.A. (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Oh Minky, you slut! While I wasn't looking, you went to town and brought ex-Posie Ken Stringfellow back to "produce your record." He made your "harmonies" smoother and your "arrangements" looser—I'm just beside myself with jealousy over the way he must've touched you. In his hands, your moans intensified from lowly demo quality to classic AM Gold. Now when I look at you I see a vampy but vibrant band I don't recognize, Minky... and damn, you look good!

The Bird and The Bee - S/T

| 1 Comment
The Bird and The Bee (Blue Note) [audio] [upcoming shows]

"Say my stupid name, it's stupid how we always seem to do it again" Inara George sings on "Again and Again," the first track on The Bird and The Bee's self-titled album, and in many ways the song encompasses all the themes the band will revisit over the record's remaining nine tracks: coquettish and often juvenile sexual ruminations filtered through a candy bossanova toolbox. Deceptively intricate, this non-pejorative "Girl's Record" is substantive bedroom pop from a group that earns their name.

The Bird and The Bee - S/T

| No Comments
The Bird and The Bee (Blue Note) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Inara George and musician/producer Greg Kurstin have teamed up to breed a perfect blending of jazz and trip hop in an overall pop package. What works for The Bird and The Bee is the harmony of tones, both lyrically and musically—you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll dance. Ms. George has an amazingly soft, sweet, and seductive voice that can somehow get away with singing the less-than-saccharine lyrics to songs like "Fucking Boyfriend" and "I'm a Broken Heart" without making you lose interest for a beat.
My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats (Becalmed) [audio] [more audio and upcoming shows]

My Teenage Stride sound like The Smiths. But the Stride's latest album Ears Like Golden Bats is far from an uninspiring rip-off. Obviously, the moody lyrics and aching vocals clearly nod to Morrissey. Yet subtle, dance-inducing beats, strong basslines and jangly guitars are cleverly combined to produce upbeat, listenable songs that remain distinct from one another. And if you listen closely, you can definitely pluck out a few Bowie references from amongst The Smiths' rubble.

KC Booker - S/T

| 1 Comment
KC Booker (Rolling Jack Records) [audio] [more audio]

As soon as the first track "Crackerjack" started up, I was doing a little dance in my chair. Then it transitioned into "White Lightning," and I wondered how The White Stripes had turned into an old Southern blues guitarist who traveled through time into the middle of a turntable and a beatbox. All you have to do is look at KC's influences—John Lee Hooker and Run DMC, Muddy Waters and Beck—to figure out how it happened. The album slows down by the end; I prefer the hootenanny feel of the first several tracks.
Kristin Hersh - Learn to Sing Like a Star (Yep Roc) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Freshly 40 and just as busy as ever, Kristin Hersh's latest album has her own name on the cover (as opposed to Throwing Muses or 50 Foot Wave) and marks her first release for the Yep Roc label. Since you never know ahead of time which Kristin you're going to get—quiet and contemplative, lively and loud or somewhere in between—be aware that Learn to Sing covers most, if not all, of the bases. Whether this is the only record she releases in '07 or just the first, you're unlikely to hear many things that sound better.
Emancipator - Soon It Will Be Cold Enough (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The perfect companion for a sad, silvery winter's afternoon, Emancipator's debut record Soon It Will Be Cold Enough may be perfect for chilling out to, but it is captivating enough so that it is not reduced to background music. There is little variation between each of these pretty tracks (a violin here, the gentle scratching of a record there, a songstress working her way into a song over here), but that's not the point—the soothing trip-hoppy beats are really all you need. Draw a bubble bath, slide in, and let your mind be... emancipated.

Mas Rapido! - Pity Party

Mas Rapido! - Pity Party (Parasol) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Sonny & Cher, The White Stripes, Quasi, Viva Voce, and now Mas Rapido! Apparently, and mathematically speaking, one guy + one girl = a powerful band, and Mas Rapido! is power(ful) pop. Pity Party, the duo's second LP, has obvious classic rock influences, often reminiscent of '70s guitar pop. Songs like "Emily Lloyd" and "Chasing Rainbows" will make you groove despite your best efforts and facades. There's no fighting it. When you throw your next shitty party, put on Pity Party.

TIMZ - Open For Business

TIMZ - Open For Business (self released) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

TIMZ has a unique stage to stand on, as an Iraqi-American rapper coming of age in today's political environment. This album starts strong with lightly Middle Eastern beats covered by some insightful lyrics born from TIMZ's unique cultural point of view. Unfortunately, the solid momentum he picks up drags to a crawl by the end of the disc, relapsing into tired themes regarding my money and yo titties, balanced on uninspired beats.

Rob Crow - Living Well

| No Comments
Rob Crow - Living Well (Temporary Residence) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

Being a current member of both Cock Goblin and Pinback, I guess his idea of downtime is a solo record on which he plays every instrument. At least some of this was recorded while babysitting, the proof being his baby speaking during the intro to "Leveling." You'll find his signature double-tracked vocals, angular chord changes and traces of accordian, piano and hissing looped industrial noise on "Burns." In his vast musical output, this is not quite as poppy as Pinback, not as short as Heavy Vegetable, and not as heavy as Cock Goblin.
Mira Calix - Eyes Set Against the Sun (Warp) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Having listened to Mira Calix's work through her career, the atrociousness of this album should hardly surprise me. After starting strong with a catchy 10" in '96, she has steadily spiraled into the realm of what she would like to think of as avant-garde. What she truly has created is a pitiful attempt at the field recording/traditional instrumentation genre, with plodding songs that go nowhere, pointless, meandering lyrics, and atonal melodies. Either I just don't get it or she hasn't released anything good in 10 years—I'll let you pick.

Erin McKeown - Sing You Sinners

Erin McKeown - Sing You Sinners (Nettwerk) [audio and upcoming shows]

I only listened to this because one of the songs had "Rhode Island" in the title. (It should be the new state song, btw.) This is one of the most pleasant musical surprises I've had in a while. Much of the album reminds me of Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine"; it is a decidedly confident meld of jazz, folk, and pop that can only be described as "toe-tappingly dope." Erin has that kind of old-style swagger in her voice where she almost dares herself to miss a note while imbuing a warm personality into her tunes. Highly recommended.

Erin McKeown - Sing You Sinners

Erin McKeown - Sing You Sinners (Nettwerk) [audio and upcoming shows]

Where Sondre Lerche's Duper Sessions and Brian Setzer's Dig That Crazy Christmas meet, Sing You Sinners resides. That is to say the album lies somewhere between honest talent and the soundtrack to a Gap commercial...or between fun and annoying. Generally speaking, doing cover songs is a dangerous practice. Making a throwback album is another risk. So let's focus on the positive: Ms. McKeown has some really fun music, a great voice, and a talent for choosing good songs (e.g., "Rhode Island Is Famous For You").
Opening Flower Happy Bird - The Projectionist (CNP Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Opening Flower Happy Bird belongs to Of Montreal's school of music. But the former band is the cool, bad kid with whom your mom forbade you to associate. Their latest album The Projectionist plays with cheerful disco beats and darker acid-trip-inducing rhythms, all under pretty, vaguely sinister vocals. Wise, slightly tortured lyrics prove The Projectionist isn't just kid's stuff. Overall, the album balances entertaining pop with an experimental edge that brilliantly refrains from sounding trite.

Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion

Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion (Island) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Pure pop albums that reference the past without being suffocated in self-awareness or irony are on the verge of extinction, making the debut by Mika something of a rarity. It's abundantly clear the man has done his homework, but the resulting music has a wide-eyed childlike quality about it—so pure and innocent. If the Scissor Sisters lived on Sesame Street with Freddie Mercury as their landlord and Harry Nilsson delivering their mail, they still couldn't make an album as cheerfully poptastic as Life in Cartoon Motion.
Christine Fellows - Paper Anniversary (Six Shooter) [audio] [more audio and upcoming shows]

This quiet album could easily fade into the background. But as you take in the intricate, oddly cadenced lyrics, and the interplay among the varied instruments (from piano and cello to bells and tuning forks), you realize it's really quite accomplished and deserving of your full attention. Fellows has created unusual melodies to support little dioramas, from "Vertebrae"'s account of a hospital visit—"I fiddle with his blankets fetching coffee no one will drink"—to the title track's exuberant celebration of a first anniversary.

Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 5.02

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.