June 2007 Archives

Hooray for Earth - S/T

Hooray for Earth (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Hooray for Earth describe their influences as "Cradle of Filth and Enya." But that doesn't really do justice to their music. Personally, I'd call them one hell of a party: The Magnetic Fields, The Cars, Queen, Nirvana and, yes, Cradle of Filth and Enya all rocking out on a bunch of half-broken synthesizers at a post-millennial disco might come close to approximating the sound. This is not your father's (or older brother's) synth-rock. And let's all be glad for that.
John Doe - A Year in the Wilderness (Yep Roc) [audio] [upcoming shows]

John Doe has been releasing music for well-nigh thirty years, but it wasn't until recently that he seemed to perfect things. His amazing Forever Hasn't Happened Yet in 2005 was easily his most impressive album released as a solo artist, and in 2007 his follow-up ranks among his best. The key to Doe's success is a long-developed blend of Americana country, rock and blues approached from a punk rock background. His secret weapon is his revolving lineup of guest players, currently including Dave Alvin, Kathleen Edwards and Aimee Mann.

Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (Lost Highway) [audio] [upcoming shows]

When people talk about Ryan Adams in present-tense, it's because he's saying or doing something fucked up. Talk about his music, though, is always either a relentless stream of fawning praise for his earliest work or completely ponderous discussion on how he'll be regarded 20 years from now. If you'll allow me to break in with a word about Easy Tiger, I will. It's a continuation of his hit or miss 2005 trilogy; inoffensive alt-country that's largely forgettable except for the two or three absolutely breathtaking songs he always seems to write by accident.

Behind the Mask DVD

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon DVD (Anchor Bay Entertainment) [trailer]

Behind the Mask is the best horror film of 2006 that you never saw. Anchor Bay (as usual) does a great job with this release. There's an interesting 30-minute production diary feature, seven minutes of deleted scenes with director commentary, as well as 22 minutes of extended scenes. The four lead actors contribute a fun audio commentary track and there is a pdf version of the full screenplay via your DVD-ROM drive. The only piece missing is a commentary track by the director. If you are a horror fan, see this film as soon as possible.
Lillydale - The Act of Becoming One's Own Shadow (Mt. Fuji) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If you've ever wondered what power pop sounds like, the opening track "Wind Chimes" could be Exhibit A. It builds up majestically; the repeated "how you shine" soaring against a persistent guitar line. Lyrics like "Cause we're transmissive satellites/wavelengths dance from broken stereos" and "flipping through the pages/landed on a chapter/but this story's already been read" support cymbal-laden guitar rock. (The spelling of said lyrics is atrocious, but I forgive them, because I like the music. Especially the vocals, which remind me of X or Eleventh Dream Day.)
Joan as Police Woman - Real Life (Cheap Lullaby) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Garnering UK esteem and an idiosyncratic status with Antony and Rufus, Joan Wasser (Dambuilders, Black Beetle) seduces listeners with slippery-as-silk vocals ranging from raspy falsetto to pulsing vibrato. "The Ride" is lightened by R&B vibe, "Save Me" features bizarre chant and harmony and "Christobel" exudes weird energy. Overall pace is slow, but serious listeners of voice will be thrilled. Brief peaks of vocal fervor, rapturous harmony and artful instrumentation tease with future masterpiece potential.
Jay Reatard - Night of Broken Glass EP (In The Red) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great time to be alive. Whether you know it or not, we are bearing witness to Jay Reatard's "Golden Era." The last time I can remember one person being so prolific without suffering insignificance one iota was between 1996 and 1996, when everything Robert Pollard recorded inside or outside of Guided by Voices was immaculate. Reatard's latest 4-song ep picks up right where Blood Visions left off last October and serves as a delicious appetizer for whatever's around the corner. Own this before it owns you.
The National Lights - The Dead Will Walk, Dear (Bloodshake) [audio]

I got my wish! Sonya Cotton appeared to do harmonies for someone else! And she brought along Chris Kiehne, who produced her last album. He produced and arranged this one, too—the Phil Spector of folky Americana songs about killing people and throwing them in the river—as well as played various instruments like banjo and lap-steel under Jacob Thomas Berns' acoustic guitar and vocals. The gentle instrumentation jars with the gothic-horror lyrics, but who said a slasher film needs a loud soundtrack?

The Mitchells - Slow Gears

The Mitchells - Slow Gears (Pigeon) [audio] [more audio] [upcoming shows]

You know, there's something to be said for the slow and steady approach. Over the course of their 12+ year career, The Mitchells have taken their time to grow into their sound and the results are perfect. Slow Gears is a master-class thesis on indie rock since the '90s—ten well-crafted story-songs propelled by churning guitars, with calculated dissonance and woozy textures weaving in and out under Caleb Wetmore's confident baritone vocals.
Andy the Door Bum - The Mt. Holly Sessions (After Birth Casserole) [audio]

The musical grab bag of the year (so far) is here. Andy comes at you with some drugged folk; Tom Waits crossed with early Sebadoh. The full band kicks in on "Eyes #2", recorded in glorious drum heavy lo-fidelity. Add to that droning middle eastern music with taped messages of someone refusing to surrender his weapons. Some of the backing vocals will induce vertigo and as a bonus, there's also some speedy screaming folk. Andy is the beloved troubadour who never bothered taking music lessons because he blew the money on booze.

Feist - The Reminder

Feist - The Reminder (Cherry Tree/Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This cd is horribly sequenced. Tracks 1-3 rule. Tracks 4-5 are ignorable, mindless, waify garbage and you'll be tempted to tell Ms. Feist to go crap in her proverbial hat. But if you get even 20 seconds into Track 6, Feist will own your ass. 65% of this album is just obscenely good. The aforementioned dead zone, coupled with a real energy-sapping dead zone toward the end of the disc, temper my recommendation, but on the strength of the eight good songs I give this a Jim Cramer-style "Buy!"

Miho Hatori - Ecdysis

Miho Hatori - Ecdysis (Rykodisc) [audio]

Miho Hatori returns with a solo album 8 years after Stereotype A, and it was not worth the wait. Following up Cibo Matto's sparkling career, Miho has created a fabulous bossa nova meets trip-hop sound, but with surprisingly few standout tracks. Songs like "Barracuda" (NOT a Heart cover) and "In Your Arms" shine on an album largely full of disappointment. Although there is an overall lack of hooks and a lack of excitement, there are subtle benefits for anyone willing to listen.
Bitter Bitter Weeks - Peace is Burning Like a River (High Two) [audio] [upcoming shows]

You can usually pick out albums created in a communal setting. In much the same way The New Pornographers revolve around Carl Newman, Bitter Bitter Weeks' common touchstone is the songwriting and intoxicating voice of Brian McTear. But also like their Canadian counterparts, this Philadelphia collective strongly depend on the contributions of many (Amy Morrissey and Ric Menck among them). The even mix of thoughtful pop and candlelight balladry creates a necessary variety and, in turn, a necessary album.
The Brother Kite - Waiting for the Time to Be Right (Clairecords) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Now that's what I call a head-trip in every key! The fact that the album art is all watery vistas is no mistake. The music comes at you in wave after wave: harmonies drenched in reverb smothered in guitar soaked in reverb wrapped in reverb-draped keys propelled by reverbed-out drums locking up with basslines that one can assume have been treated with more reverb. This is some serious American shoegaze action.
Sick Puppies - Dressed Up As Life (Virgin) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The second full-length album (first North American release) from Sick Puppies provides ample doses of great songs with catchy lyrics, driving rhythms, and kick-ass bass lines. The song writing is well balanced from start to finish, and the album as a whole is a very good recording. It will make you want to get up out of you seat and move your body to the music while gladly singing along to songs about youthful angst.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - Strength & Loyalty (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Yo! New-Bone-and-Thugs-and-notes-and-bump-and-ImissmyUncleChaaaaarles, y'all! That this even exists is completely absurd; that it's not awful is astonishing. This is a perfect disposable Summer of 2007 album. Spend the next three months driving around, picking one note, and then singing as many words on that note as fast as you can. On Labor Day, you can throw the disc at the head of a zombie in the backyard, as your use for it will be done. (So you won't be looooneleeee...)
She's Spanish, I'm American EP (Bedroom Classics) [audio]

This 5-song ep really isn't for you as much as it is a keepsake for singer/songwriter Josh Rouse and his girlfriend Paz Suay (she's Spanish, he's American...duh). Hearing it is sort of like being a fly on the studio wall, able to observe their private moments. As with any couple, some are adorably touching and some are awkward and clumsy. If you're not bothered by being a third wheel, though, there's certainly plenty to enjoy here. Breezy, bouncy pop that's equally suited for both a weekday picnic and a Garnier Fructis commercial.
Sondre Lerche and The Faces Down - Phantom Punch (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

When Norwegian songster Sondre Lerche recorded a jazz cd in 2006, the result was surprisingly good. Spreading his musical wings once again a year later, the former acoustic pop-rocker has returned to his pop-rocking with a heavier electric sound. This time the results are mixed, but without much of a predictable pattern; some heavier tunes come across as phony, while others are spot on. As expected, mid-tempo songs like "John, Let Me Go" and "After All" are the truly memorable tracks.
Eleni Mandell - Miracle of Five (Zedtone) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This album starts with a lullaby, drifts into a waltz, and then meanders through a loungy haze of jazz-tinged sultriness. Mandell croons, whispers, and growls about how she needs "true love just like sugar in my coffee," about how the make-out king is "singing like he could be crying," about how her "sinking prayers drift by waving their handkerchiefs." All the while, she strums her guitar against a background of upright bass, mellotron, sax and clarinet. She's the smoky bourbon next to the fizzy seltzer of Erin McKeown's latest.

Ne-Yo - Because of You

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Ne-Yo - Because of You (Def Jam) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Two things: 1. This record is the fucking jam from front to back and 2. There's absolutely no involvement production-wise from exceedingly tired names like The Neptunes or Kanye West or Timbaland. It's all Ne-Yo, thank you very much, and he's got the Midas touch with what looks to be everything he does. Yes, Because of You is club-ready, but it becomes considerably more vibrant at home through headphones. If Justin Timberlake was first in line to inherit Michael Jackson's crown, he now has stiff competition.

Coffinberry - God Dam Dog

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Coffinberry - God Dam Dog (Morphius) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Coffinberry start off by trying to knock you over, throw in a piano ballad and slowly build the aggression back up song by song. Influenced by everyone from the Afghan Whigs, Arcwelder, Hüsker Dü, Uncle Tupelo and June of 44, the strategy of keeping everything so short works to their benefit. The barely-two-minute "Earthworms in the Sun" sounds like it was written by Jeff Magnum while shooting speed and driving 100 miles per hour. While feel-good bands are all the rage, here is proof you don't always need a hug.

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

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