May 2007 Archives

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81 (RCA) [audio] [upcoming shows]

BRMC's aptly titled song "Weapon of Choice" from their latest Baby 81 takes them to battle using sexy vocals, thick, distorted guitar riffs and sultry basslines. The guys' surprise attack comes from the heartbreakingly acoustic-based "Am I Only;" a track that taps into deep emotions and heartbreak. Veering between the edgy and uplifting Kinks-like "Berlin" and the orchestral, utterly depressing "All You Do is Talk," BRMC creates a varied, thrilling rocked-out album. It's totally hot.
Haste the Day - Pressure the Hinges (Solid State/Tooth & Nail) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Haste the Day's first release with new lead vocalist Stephen Keech proves to be their most mature effort to date. Keech's effect on the band's sound is immediately apparent on the album's title track, "Pressure the Hinges." The album's song structure is more sophisticated, due in part to an improved balance in the interplay between melodic harmonies and guttural screams. However, with the exceptions of "Janet's Planet" and "Chorus of Angels," the production makes most of the other tracks sound too similar.

Remate - No Land Recordings

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Remate - No Land Recordings (Acuarela) [audio] [upcoming shows]

No Land Recordings is a completely reimagined approach for Remate, whose last album was as direct a message from performer to listener as they come. The material here is the work of a reborn studio rat; scattered, but thematic and dreamlike. Twenty-five songs (and songlets) are spread the length of two discs, most every one indicating a refusal to compromise. You're either on board or you aren't, but few albums this conceptually sound will disappoint in the long run. If In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is your late night jam, consider giving this a spin.
The Rikters - Don't You Get It EP (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Rikters are back with Don't You Get It, a 7-song ep that flies by while listening to it and gets better every time. Guitarist/singer Doug Jenkins really shows off his voice on these songs, especially on "Want It You Got It." "You" is a flat out rocker and parts of "Give Me the Wheel" dabble in Radiohead territory. Great bass lines, sharp guitar and pounding drums are prevalent throughout this indie/power pop disc. With 2 eps under their belt, I'm hoping for a full length follow up that rocks as hard as this ep.
Throbbing Gristle - Part Two. The Endless Not (Mute) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The 25-year wait for the new Throbbing Gristle album is over. Part Two. The Endless Not isn't nearly as subversive or confrontational as earlier recordings, and it seems the godparents of industrial music have mellowed with age. They do retain a signature sound; a pulsating, dark dirge spiked with noisy loops and saturated with murky ambiance. The music is at times complex and almost pretty, but absent is the challenging aural assault that once earned Throbbing Gristle the title "Wreckers of Civilization."
Sonya Cotton - Out of the Ocean (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I expect a lot from my sophomores, and Sonya Cotton gets an A. To her second album of sorrowful folk—the lyrics evoke loss and yearning—she has added piano, percussion, and backing vocals here and there. I wish we could clone her, so everyone can have Sonya doing their harmonies; the end of "The Dying Light" has achingly beautiful ones. Her voice is just lovely, as if Karen Peris, Natalie Merchant and Judy Collins mixed theirs together to create one that wasn't babyish or throaty or reedy. Just lovely.
Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet (We Put Out/Atlantic) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Porcupine Tree's 56th album (or something like that) is a gallery of moody, almost supernatural prog rock with skyscraper-high songs that pour from an always-on faucet of beauty and throbbing heaviness. Not familiar with Steve Wilson and Co.? Well, Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson) make appearances and while the 'Tree shares only the "prog" tag with those bands, they could've toured together in 1981. If you choose to navigate the Seven Seas of Porcupine Tree, begin by hoisting your sails here.

Goon Moon - Licker's Last Leg

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Goon Moon - Licker's Last Leg (Ipecac) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Goon Moon features Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails) and Chris Goss (Masters of Reality). The songs on Licker's Last Leg feature disturbing yet beautiful lyrics combined with an interesting mix of industrial, desert rock, and other unusual musical styles. Each track has its own unique personality and the album as a whole offers pleasing, and sometimes surprising treats for the listener's ears. This is some of the best and most creative work I've heard in quite some time.

Voxtrot - S/T

Voxtrot (Playlouder/Beggars Group) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Coulda. Shoulda. Woulda. For a couple of years now, Voxtrot have promised some great and not-so-great things through a string of eps that ranged in quality from OMG to WTF. Now it's clear the band really needed the space provided by a full lp to stretch out and keep some of those promises. Ramesh Srivastava's previously direct songwriting style is obscured at times, but that's far from a bad thing. In actuality, it shows Voxtrot is a band with many moods never revealed before by the one-dimensional nature of those eps. They could, should and finally did.
Sage Francis - Human the Death Dance (Epitaph) [audio] [upcoming shows]

One of underground's biggest rappers from the smallest state has risen again to present one of his best albums to date. Sage Francis's 2nd release for Epitaph records Human the Death Dance is a cryptic look into this MC's journey. With a storybook lyrical flow mastered from his Poetry Slam days, Sage has his feet strongly planted in hip hop with this dark and powerful piece of art. Do yourself a favor and enjoy what Sage Francis has been dying for. True Hip Hop Sucka!

Elliott Smith - New Moon

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Elliott Smith - New Moon (Kill Rock Stars) [audio]

Elliott Smith was the fifth Beatle, just born at the wrong time, and in Nebraska. With George as the quiet one, Elliott would be the sad one. He created beautiful melodies and harmonies over his seven profound years as a solo artist, a number of which remained officially unreleased. New Moon is not a collection of throw-away demos or re-arranged sound fragments, but rather 24 must-hear songs recorded between 1995's Elliott Smith and Either/Or in 1997.
Wheat - Everyday I Said a Prayer for Kathy and Made a One Inch Square (Empyrean) [audio] [upcoming shows]

True to their roots, Wheat's fourth album feels like a sonic art project disguised as an indie rock record. Aside from a few head-bobbers, notably "Move=Move," at least half the record qualifies as slow-burning sound experimentation, topped off by loose, meandering vocal melodies. This isn't feelgood summertime car stereo fare; it's a classic grower, and feels intensely personal. This album almost requires—and rewards—the use of headphones, heart, and mind.
Great Northern - Trading Twilight for Daylight (Eenie Meenie) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Great Northern's Trading Twilight for Daylight has a soothing, introspective tone, thanks to neatly arranged songs using piano, synths and swirling guitars under mesmerising vocals. The band transmit a poppy, radio-friendly persona, particularly with "Just a Dream." Tracks like "Telling Lies" present a hopeful, upbeat mood that wouldn't be out of place if featured on Grey's Anatomy. Overall, this work is easy on the ears and perfect for summer.
Albert Hammond, Jr. - Yours to Keep (Scratchie/New Line) [audio]

From the first strains of toy piano to the neatly placed acoustic guitar riffs, Yours to Keep sounds a little bit like what could've happened if the Strokes had met on the warm streets of L.A. and spent some time in the sun before recording. Nonetheless, Strokes references should be kept to a bare minimum because Hammond more than holds his own when flying the nest. This is an album for just about anyone interested in acquiring some awesome new pop music for the upcoming summer days.

Mediavolo - A Secret Sound

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Mediavolo - A Secret Sound (Kalinkaland) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Most bands reliving the dreampop genre of the early '90s go to great lengths getting the sound right, tweaking the guitars and synths just so, but treat the vocal component of the work with no respect. Odd, since singers like Lush's Miki Berenyi and The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler were what made the original work within the genre so brilliant after all. Enter Mediavolo, who succeed where others fail thanks to the sweet honey tones of Géraldine Le Cocq's perfect voice, completing the whirling pastiche of sound and ennui that defines dreampop. This is the new standard.

The Masons - Let You Down Easy

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The Masons - Let You Down Easy (75 or Less Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Masons are not your typical band. Boasting sixteen Rhode Island indie rock veterans—including members of Throwing Muses and Velvet Crush—and led by studio mastermind Kraig Jordan, members trade off vocal duties and mix the varied genres into a cohesive collection of songs. Lyrics focus on dark comedy; a baby being eaten by bluefish and everyday observations such as dog sitting. It's a melting pot of Leonard Cohen, ELO, Television, Devo and Ween. Yes, 75 or Less released this cd but don't hate us because we heard them first.

Two Cow Garage - III

Two Cow Garage - III (Suburban Home) [audio] [upcoming shows]

III is the record that should put Two Cow Garage on the map—the Ohio power trio's best work to date. The band has a thing for classic rock and it's heard plenty on III, but they put their own whiskey-soaked stamp over it. The pristine production by Matt Pence (Centro-Matic) helps Two Cow become an amazing studio band, while already being a phenomenal live act. "The Great Gravitron Massacre", "Mediocre", "Should've California" and "Gape & Shudder" are instant standouts.
I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends (Mute) [audio] [upcoming shows]

What a fun group! Smart and upbeat pop music from Jönköping, Sweden...sounds like maybe The Bats and Pavement meets Spoon. But I'd bet anything that they're more fun live than Spoon, who bored me to tears last time I saw them play Boston. This is a great record with cool harmonies and lyrics, great production, chicken pox, tape recorders, and all sorts of other fun stuff. Long live pop!

Mew - Frengers

Mew - Frengers (Sony Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Mew's third CD, a 2003 release in the UK (pre-Glass Handed Kites), emerged stateside to much acclaim in January 2007. Equal parts new wave and shoegaze, light-as-ether castrato-like vocals and lush erupting guitars echo the Cocteau Twins, Sigur Rós and Sparklehorse. Frengers is a sophisticated pop symphony of orchestral joy and jangle; an impressive work with both fevered intensity and cool clarity of sound. "And for a summertime groove/this will prove/inevitable to choose/for a VW cruise."

Chevelle - Vena Sera

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Chevelle - Vena Sera (Epic) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Chevelle's fourth studio release Vena Sera provides the listener with a slightly different sound than the trio's previous work, probably due in part to the addition of new bass player Dean Bernardi. I continue to find this album to be more and more likable after repeated listening, and it keeps making its way back into my current playlist. The low-end mix is ideal for playing at high volumes while driving. If you need something loud and hard, this is it.

The Postmarks - S/T

The Postmarks (Unfiltered) [audio] [upcoming shows]

A girl named Tim with a charming hush of a voice is one third of The Postmarks, a band that sound as if they come from a Nordic country rather than Miami. The style on their debut is a beautiful blend of '60s euro-pop and modern-day sweetness. It seems to twirl and glide through the air and into your ears. Listening to this album is the musical equivalent of diaphragmatic breathing—it's bound to leave you relaxed and feeling at peace with the world.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

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Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Panda Bear can best be described as Brian Wilson catapulted into the 21st century, decorated with airy, jumbled vocals, strumming guitars, delightful, floating melodies, field recordings, and intricate sample rhythms. The tracks on Person Pitch dramatically change and blend into each other, creating a cohesive, yet dynamic composition. This Animal Collective member's third solo release should easily make most critics' Top 10 of the year, and should not be missed.
Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing (RCA) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Let's agree to stop assigning adult standards of musical competence to Avril Lavigne albums, okay? She may be 22 and happily married now, but she's still making kid music. The simple truth is that 14 year-olds find depth where the rest of us see shallowness, and the fact that Avril has retained the ability to tap into that adolescent mindset is something for which she should be praised instead of ridiculed. She's sort of like Alice in Wonderland, able to fall down the rabbit hole into teen angst virtually at will—only now with F-Bombs!

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

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