July 2007 Archives

Linda Draper - Keepsake

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Linda Draper - Keepsake (Planting Seeds) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Hey, wanna come by the coffeehouse tonight? Linda Draper and her guitar will be there. Yeah, her songs are simple, but their spartan-ness showcases her lyrics and sweet Joan-Baez-on-the-low-notes voice. You know how I fixate on the words... she's got lines like "My eyes see things a little out of tune" and "looking over your shoulder/at the mountain of salt you tossed." Guests will play bass and piano, and if we're lucky, she'll bust out the toy xylophone. I'll get us a table and a pot of tea.
Iron & Wine - Boy With a Coin EP (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Ever since Woman King, Sam Beam has been damn interesting. Earlier low-fi home recordings were great, but the mark of a one-trick pony was looming. He began experimenting with strange sounds like drums and currently uses such newfangled instruments as piano. The effect of the increased instrumentation is outstanding, bringing new life to his songs. He could have a swing orchestra behind him and the quality of the songwriting would still stand out above all the brass and woodwinds. This is greatest hits material.

UNKLE - War Stories

UNKLE - War Stories (Surrender All) [audio] [upcoming shows]

James Lavelle's UNKLE project returns with a slightly different objective this time around: making something which closely approximates a rock record. With production help from Chris Goss (Kyuss, etc.) and cameo vocals from the likes of Josh Homme and Ian Astbury, UNKLE takes a trip back from the far reaches of space to Earth itself—specifically the American Southwest. No, it's not a Desert Sessions album by any means, but it's the most organic-sounding UNKLE release ever. For optimal effect, strap on the headphones.

Chris Cornell - Carry On

Chris Cornell - Carry On (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Carry On is Chris Cornell's first release since the dissolution of Audioslave. Many of this album's songs possess a vein of neo-southern rock, which might best be heard on the track "Safe and Sound". The songs are more melodic and laid-back when compared with his previous body of work. The shift in bearing can be somewhat surprising at times, especially during a dawdling rendition of "Billie Jean". This is a solid effort, but may not be considered his best.

Aether - Aether Sound

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Aether - Aether Sound (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Aether build a large and ambitious sound on what seems to be a very simple premise; the proto-shoegaze of Cocteau Twins and the romantic tomfoolery of The Psychedelic Furs. But upon that already sturdy foundation, they heap layers and layers of modern, epic, gorgeous guitars and lush reverby organs and keys. The singer, at his best, sounds like your favorite Bono stuff and at worst, your least favorite Bono stuff. For fans of The Furs and, probably, The National.

Pharoahe Monch - Desire

Pharoahe Monch - Desire (SRC/Universal Motown) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There are very few people on earth who can write a line that floors me with its elegant genius. Near the top of that list are JD Salinger, Michael Chabon... and Pharoahe Monch. My expectations for this disc have been building for eight long years, and I'll be damned if this didn't meet all of them on the first listen. This is one of the all-time great voices in rap, and this album might get more people to recognize that. Hip-hop can take the rest of 2007 off; this is the best album we'll see this year.

Ween - The Friends EP

Ween - The Friends EP (Chocodog) [audio] [upcoming shows]

It's a bad sign when your favorite part of a CD pre-order package is the t-shirt. Such is the case with The Friends EP. Over the top even for Ween, "Friends" thuds on with the grandiosity of a gay bar anthem, and the keyboard-driven "I Got to Put the Hammer Down" is catchy as heck. But the remaining songs, the best being "Light Me Up," don't do much despite their south-of-the-border feel. And what's with the shortage of guitar? Here's hoping the upcoming full length will have been worth the four-year wait.
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (Hear Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Paul, the most talented Beatle, still has a great voice after nearly 40 years of screaming "Helter Skelter". He still has a great gift for melody and songwriting, even after a couple shaky decades. Unfortunately, his creative comeback launched in 2005 is not altogether continued here in 2007. Much of the album sounds so simple it leaves the listener initially unfulfilled and requires several more listens to disentangle the banal ("Gratitude") from the brilliant ("You Tell Me"). When you read this, Paul, please know that I say this with much respect.

The Jesus Lizard - Live DVD

The Jesus Lizard - Live DVD (MVD Visual)

This disc contains a great 50-minute live set—The Jesus Lizard ripping it up at Boston's Venus de Milo circa 1994. Whether you're a fan of the band or not, it would be in your best interests to see the raw intensity of The Lesus Lizard live on this DVD. David Yow was always a great frontman and, in this performance, you can clearly see why. The disc is pretty bare bones, unfortunately, but there are five more live cuts from a 1992 CBGB's set appended as bonus footage.
Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos (Roadrunner) [audio] [upcoming shows]

20+ years since Dream Theater's inception comes the release of their tenth studio album Systematic Chaos. Do not listen to this album if you are seeking simple, riff-centric, catchy pop metal tunes about cars or girls that you expect will satisfy your musical yearnings in five minutes or less. Do listen to this album if you are seeking complex, solo-filled and technically proficient progressive metal compositions with religious/political undertones that average over nine minutes in length.

Leyode - Fascinating Tininess

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Leyode - Fascinating Tininess (Eastern Developments) [audio]

Fans of Prefuse 73 take notice: not only is his acoustic side project Savath + Savalas featured on one of the album's standout tracks, but Leyode are also inked to his label Eastern Developments. Ethereal and indiscernable vocal loops, intertwining piano lines, digital soundscapes and rock solid head-nodding beats make for an album which unveils layers of itself after repeated listens. "Irene" is probably the most accessible track, and also an excellent starting point. You could do much worse when reaching for an album to lose yourself to.

Kelly Clarkson - My December

Kelly Clarkson - My December (RCA) [audio]

Dear Ms. Clarkson: With all due respect, what in the good fuck happened? And before you protest, I already know there are good songs on here—I heard them—but only because I refused to believe that you made a completely bullshit album and I dug in to find them. Most listeners will tell me that it sucks Dom Deluise's manmeat, and I'm not going to disagree. You didn't lose me forever, but next time don't forget that the only thing more important than following your heart is MAKING A GOOD FUCKING ALBUM. Thank you for your time.
Arizona - Welcome Back Dear Children (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Arizona has at least a surface similarity to a handful of Canadian darlings like The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Feist, etc; beautiful and delicate melodies, brittle production and good singin'. If you like The Shins and you like the idea of Rufus Wainwright, if not his music itself, then Arizona will lightly rub the same opiate receptors, like when you hug a girl and try to feel her nipples against your chest. Immensely listenable, highly recommended.

Interpol - Our Love to Admire

Interpol - Our Love to Admire (Capitol) [audio] [upcoming shows]

After Interpol debuted in 2002 with Turn Out the Bright Lights, there wasn't really anywhere to go but down...and down they went. Antics followed, though it was little more than the document of a band long on confidence and short on ideas. Now we have Our Love to Admire, and confidence has become arrogance. Interpol knows now that people will buy anything with their name on it, so the con is officially on. Don't be surprised if the fourth album is just a peanut butter & doo-doo sandwich mashed inside a jewel case.
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once: Music From the Motion Picture (Columbia) [audio]

The film Once is a wisp of a musical held together by the songwriting of stars Glen Hansard (The Frames) and Marketa Irglova. While Hansard channels Cat Stevens when singing quietly over acoustic guitar, several tracks soar into heartbroken wailing, including the stunning "When Your Mind's Made Up." Irglova contributes vocals similar to ex-Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman (I do wish that Hansard had left all of the high notes to her) and delicate piano; she takes the lead on "If You Want Me" and the weepy "The Hill." Exquisite moments abound.

Megadeth - United Abominations

Megadeth - United Abominations (Roadrunner) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Megadeth returns on United Abominations with a new line-up, a new label and a renewed enthusiasm. Dave Mustaine pulls no punches with his politically charged lyrics, backed by straightforward and catchy riff-laden metal music. The subject matter can be thought provoking, and at times you may find yourself googling the lyrical references to find meaning. The duet with Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia on the remake of "A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)" is just one of the highlights on this album.

Pissed Jeans - Hope for Men

Pissed Jeans - Hope for Men (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Like it heavy? Early Butthole Surfers, Flipper, Black Sabbath, Six Finger Satellite and Laughing Hyenas heavy? How about Andrew Weiss-era Rollins Band heavy? In fact, "Secret Admirer", "A Bad Wind" and "My Bed" sound so much like the Rollins Band, they could be outtakes from twenty years ago. Pissed Jeans will remind you that there will never be anything wrong with genuinely kickass sludgey Sabbath-influenced blues with blood curdling vocals to freak you the fuck out.

Boredoms - Super Roots 9

Boredoms - Super Roots 9 (Commmons) [audio] [upcoming shows]

When all mixed together, three drummers, a DJ/conductor and a 24-member chorus are going to create something you're unlikely to hear just everyday. But for Japan's legendary Boredoms, it's but another directional shift in career full of them. "Livwe!!," the singular composition on Super Roots 9, is a whirling, climbing, frantic and frenzied 41-minute symphony that never loses steam. As clearly orchestrated as it is spontaneous, it's thunderously rhythmic, yet lighter than air. It not only asks for, but demands your devotion.
Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Josh Homme and his boys do it again with Era Vulgaris. Translated from the Latin, it means "the common era," which this album is not meant for. An organized, chaotic-sounding record with guitar-and-drum-heavy tracks of murk and ill will cobbled together the way only Queens of the Stone Age can muster. It may taste bitter at first, but after a couple of bites, it digests very well.

Dntel - Dumb Luck

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Dntel - Dumb Luck (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Consider the basic elements that make up your favorite music: singing, guitar, drums, etc. Exclude some of your favorites, like enjoyable melodies. Then add other sounds, like white noise and computerized drums. Now imagine that each and every one of these ingredients is completely and utterly mediocre. Imagine that the quiet lyrics, bleeps, beeps and fuzzy noise all inspire your finger to hit the "next track" button. Not even indie-pop darlings Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst can save this one.

Career Club - The New Record

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Career Club - The New Record (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Career Club must be some kind of oddity in the New York scene. They're not cannibalizing the city's own musical past like most of their peers. Instead, they sit comfortably in the corner where no one's looking and create "jangular" guitar-centric music not terribly unlike the sounds that were escaping the Southeast and Northwest in the mid-to-late '80s. Fans of names like Dharma Bums, Young Fresh Fellows and Let's Active, as few and far-spread as they may be, will find The New Record feels like coming home.

WinterKids - Memoirs

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WinterKids - Memoirs (Little House) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Without their insanely thick accents, are WinterKids just a Fall Out Boy from Surrey? No. The guitars, synthesizers, xylophones and handclaps contain enough Britpop to overcome any American emo-punk tendencies. "Who Am I Kidding?" could have been recorded by The Like, and "Somebody Else's Clothes" evokes Shed Seven (producer Fraser Smith belonged to that band). One complaint—practically every lyric is sung twice in a row, which gets old. Import only right now, but look for "Wonderland" stateside later this year.

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

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