September 2007 Archives

Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil

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Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil (Vice) [audio] [upcoming shows]

A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, this album sounds as it is was recorded with a Jack and Coke in one hand and a guitar roughly grasped in the other. Add a cigarette casually dangling between their lips and you get the picture. Sounds affected? Well, it's not; it's pure, unadulterated and old fashioned lo-fi guitar rock, with that same energy and devil-may-care-about-the-current-fashion-for-electro attitude. Good Bad Not Evil is unpretentious, raw and foot-tapping good.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Addicted to Bad Ideas (Chunksaah) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Calling what they do "gypsy punk" is just a cheap, easy reviewer trick. The traits of traditional Eastern European music are all over this album, sure. The guitars and the rhythm section? Pretty damned loud. But there's a detailed attention to songcraft, chiseled with the tools of artisans rather than beaten into shape by mallets, which could never be conveyed by such a tossed-off phrase. This high-concept, high-energy troupe of nine continues defying categorization, but more importantly continues making hungry and vital records.

Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof DVD

Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof DVD (The Weinstein Company) [trailer]

On this 2-disc DVD, we get the international cut of Death Proof, which is about 20 minutes longer than the theatrical version. The second disc contains mini-docs on casting, the stunt drivers, Zoe Bell, editor Sally Menke and Kurt Russell. I highly recommended this for fans of the genre, even though Dimension will be double dipping later with a release of the theatrical version of Grindhouse. It's worth your money just for the missing reel scene and Kurt Russell licking Rosario Dawson's foot...creepy.

Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound

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Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch & Go) [upcoming shows]

They aren't going to shock you with reinventing themselves because there is no need to improve on what they do—it's still crisp, rigid and cutting. Sure, even my patience was tested as Albini repeats "Can you hear me now?" for the entire eight and a half minutes of "The End of Radio" and I may not ever need to hear that track again but "Steady as She Goes" makes it all worth it. Whether they are dicking around or not, Shellac is still the pinnacle of all the hard rock indie bands.

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux) [audio] [upcoming shows]

After wading through another hour of intentionally obtuse bullshit from the mind of Aesop Rock, I am finally ready to declare that his "art" has no worth. His voice is a monotone rhythmic instrument that values rhyme over communication. The continued attempts to fool listeners into thinking that vapid bullshit is somehow valuable if it requires a dictionary, thesaurus and half pound of cannabis to decipher is insulting. The only thing Aes does better than anyone else is sound like a pretentious asshole. If you want us to care, we need more than a vocab lesson.

Ian Brown - The World is Yours

Ian Brown - The World is Yours (Fiction/Polydor) [audio] [upcoming shows]

In 11 years, The Stone Roses released exactly two studio albums. In the 11 years since their demise, frontman Ian Brown has now released five. So which is more important: quality or quantity? Forget that argument; it's a red herring. All you need to know is that The Stone Roses actually contributed something to the scene in which they existed. Ian Brown as a solo artist is in touch with nothing past, present or future. The World is Yours is just one more insufferable trip he's taking into a deserted pop hinterland. Sinéad O'Connor guests, 'nuf said?

Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold

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Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold (Caroline) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If Kate Bush were to emerge from retirement with a series of gothic fairytales for grownups, this album is exactly what it would sound like. A fascinating debut, Fur and Gold intertwines husky vocals with the mysterious tones of harpsichords and far off strings to create a sound which is both darkly gothic and ominously sexy. The brains behind the Bat, Natasha Khan, has the same unnerving presence as fellow female vocalist Björk, but is more dreamy than kooky, fashioning an album steeped in ingenuous atmosphere, but honed on a shamanistic blade.

Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

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Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara (Nettwerk) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I don't even want to try and describe this album; I just want you to listen. It's so lovely you'll ache, yearning for something you never knew you needed. Gorgeous. Yes, it's slow, but oh, how it works its way into your veins, coursing through until you're forced to dig out your journal and record your latest sadnesses. Someone more clever than I dubbed the sound "Canadiana." Serena Ryder's strong backing vocals complement Tony Dekker's plaintiveness well; think Sonya Cotton and Will Oldham.

Hurt - Vol. II

Hurt - Vol. II (Capitol) [audio] [upcoming shows]

My initial reaction to Vol. II may best be described by a quote from George Bernard Shaw; "All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct." All of my consummated preconceptions of how this album might sound were completely shattered. The cultivation of Hurt's songwriting skills and musicianship coupled with improved production values elevates this album to a higher plane than earlier efforts. Six months from now, and onward, this will be the album I'm still listening to.
Flight of the Conchords - The Distant Future EP (Sub Pop) [video]

Musical comedy is a genre that is rarely done well. For every fan of the "D" you'll find two who want to stab Jack Black in the esophagus. Luckily FotC aren't as obnoxious and have an endearing charm about them. New Zealand's "fourth most popular folk-parody duo" also have an HBO series that is really fucking funny. This EP offers a taste of their full length album, due in early 2008. With songs that are simultaneously catchy, well written and hilarious, the duo of Hip-Hopopotamus and Rhymenocerous may be onto something.

The Loves - Technicolour

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The Loves - Technicolour (Fortuna Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Technicolour bounces around like a good mix tape, with some '60s music, some acoustic numbers and some rockers. The Loves have much to share with electro-twee-pop outfits of today like The Brunettes, but that's not what makes them interesting. The ace up their collective sleeve is a blending of sounds that are at times sweet, at times gritty, and always gratefully reminiscent of '80s alternative boy-girl bands like The Vaselines or Beat Happening.
Various Artists - Music from the Motion Picture Ocean's Thirteen (Warner Bros.) [audio]

Although there are other artists on the soundtrack, it's dominated by the pounding future car commercial electronica of David Holmes. You'll be taken back to the days when The Chemical Brothers and Crystal Method still played rock n' roll. Holmes makes everything seem more exciting and dramatic. Get behind the wheel of a car and you'll drive 90 without even realizing it. Put this on while doing household chores and you'll fold your towels like never before. Others on the soundtrack include the legend himself Frank Sinatra, Puccio Roelends and Isao Tomita.

M.I.A. - Kala

M.I.A. - Kala (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This second album from Tamil Tiger pop princess M.I.A. is a veritable triumph in melodic adventure and exploration. A colourful explosion of musical genres, blending thumping bhangra beats with drawling and politically pointed vocals, Kala weaves together a global tapestry of harmonious collaborations from sources as diverse as a children's Aboriginal chorus, as heard on "Mango Pickle Down River". M.I.A. consistently pushes the musical envelope on each track, demonstrating that she is a truly original and awe-inspiring artist.

Midnight Movies - Lion the Girl

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Midnight Movies - Lion the Girl (New Line) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Midnight Movies may well be the yin to Stereolab's yang. Where the expressly European Stereolab draws from a list of influences that reads like Julian Cope's Krautrock Sampler, Midnight Movies have clawed and kicked their way through the Nuggets box to arrive at roughly the same place. Motorik beats and melodies barely above a drone, their West Coast psychedelic pop sounds both nostalgic and pre-futuristic at once. Gena Olivier's inviting-yet-distant vocals are even patterned as much after Grace Slick as after Laetitia Sadier. Get your haze on.

Retconned - Unhappenings

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Retconned - Unhappenings (self released) [audio]

If Zack de la Rocha barebacked Jim Carroll in a roomful of cats running over a dozen casio keyboards with dying batteries, Retconned would be the ringleader applying a delicate mix of tender vittles and lube where needed to keep everyone in perfect rhythm to each other, so that anything that was coughed up or shat out was immediately put to good use as either nourishment to keep the party going or fuel set aflame to provide warmth, until the last cat dropped dead and the last popper was washed down. Viva la dry hump.

The New Pornographers - Challengers

The New Pornographers - Challengers (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I'm no schoolteacher, but I'll be damned if Carl Newman wasn't a straight-'B' student in his youth. With The New Pornographers, he has made good music. In fact, the worst thing I can say about Challengers is that it's consistently good. That is to say, at no point does this album have those great 'A+' moments...there is no "The Laws Have Changed", no "These Are the Fables". I'm giving this one a 'B'.

Les Issambres - Late Fairytales

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Les Issambres - Late Fairytales (Fifth Week) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Yippee, I haven't gotten a new fix of Swedish indie folk pop since... well, since Les Issambres sent in their other two albums last summer. This one sounds very similar—jangly guitars, spooky flute, sullen tambourine, girl and boy singers trading vocals—although a kind of sadness seems to hover around the edges. "Feeling Fine" mixes the sadness with anger—put it on a mix tape if you're breaking up with someone.

Sons of William - What Hides Inside

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Sons of William - What Hides Inside (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The past few years have been a rich time for bands coming from the south. No longer forced to play up to hillbilly notions of regional stereotyping, bands like Sons of William are granted the freedom to write intelligently constructed, lyrically literate songs that recall the best of rural troubadours like John Mellencamp ("Lucifer Hands") and Ryan Adams ("Darkest Secret") without being shunned by locals. What Hides Inside is ambitious and profound without sacrificing the vital familiarity of conventions and traditions.
Billie The Vision & The Dancers - Where the Ocean Meets My Hand (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Two things in this world are true: (1) Sweden is to indie-pop as Hershey, PA is to candy bars, and (2) Billie The Vision & The Dancers is the best kept of all Scandinavian secrets. The Billies have produced some of the most appealing pop of the last three years, but always under the radar. With lyrics often story-oriented and sprinkled with pop culture references, and music holding traces of Sufjan Stevens or Loney, Dear, the Dancers promenade through their records with the apt confidence of seasoned performers.

Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution

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Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution (Cuneiform) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Toss away all of your preconceptions regarding conventional song structure elements such as time, melody, rhythm and key. This collection of chaotic compositions is extraordinarily compelling. The often contradictory blend of dissonance and harmony creates an unsettling soundscape that sometimes leaves you with a feeling of wonderment. When you think you understand how a song may progress, it takes a mind-boggling twist, and then contorts again into a knot before you have time to comprehend what transpired. Brilliant.

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