October 2007 Archives

The Gunshy - There's No Love in This War (Latest Flame) [audio] [upcoming shows]

You can't really sing along to this album; not many melodies will stick with you, but goddamn, the words will. Matt Arbogast culled them from his grandfather's letters home during WWII. "December 18, 1943" comes closest to being hummable, maybe because it's one of the few that express joy (his wedding ring arrived that day; he dreams of saying "I do, I do, I do, until my throat is sore"). Speaking of which, Arbogast's voice sounds like Tom Waits in desperate need of a cough drop. But it fits the ragged and raw emotions expressed.
Sixtoo - Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man (Ninja Tune) [audio] [video] [upcoming shows]

If it was Esquivel who perfected the art of space-age bachelor pad music, Sixtoo has snatched the baton and propelled the concept into the 21st century. Carefully assembling a patchwork of beats and found-sounds, his work on Jackals and Vipers transcends its raw components, managing to envelop the listener in an almost narcotic waking slumber while simultaneously poking and prodding at random intervals to ensure attention is paid. Pour that martini, light that Cuesta Rey and enjoy the night in.
Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror DVD (The Weinstein Company) [trailer]

The first half of the theatrical Grindhouse experience is loads of fun. This 2-disc set features an extended cut of Planet Terror and a decent amount of special features. Some of those features include an audio commentary with Robert Rodriguez, a 10-minute film school, a piece on the casting of the film, a short on the special effects that were used and the trailer for Machete (my personal favorite) . If you thought Death Proof was too talky, Planet Terror might be up your alley if you like old John Carpenter films and zombies. I know I do!

Terror Visions - World of Shit

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Terror Visions - World of Shit (FDH Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Usually when the sticker on the case says "electro punk," it is heavy on the electro and less on the punk. Not so here. When you combine the short synth-driven songs, distorted screaming and low production values with images of a mirror with a pile of cocaine on it, a naked ass in the reflection, along with a bruised, puffy Ray Ban-wearing face and a bloated shirtless torso, you know what to expect and you get it. If this story doesn't end face down and full of yellow-green foam, I've been bullshitted.

Celestial - Dream On

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Celestial - Dream On (Skipping Stones) [audio]

Celestial's auteur Andreas Hagman lives in the second hour of a 120 Minutes episode from 1989, right between the videos Dave Kendall would play for the latest Galaxie 500 and Blake Babies singles. Don't let the fact he's from Sweden snow you; he was watching with the rest of us. Dream On is beautiful in that unpoised and introverted way a lot of college rock from the late 1980s was, but also harkens back to the beginnings of twee pop like The Field Mice and The Cat's Miaow—delicate in its urgency.
Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There's no good reason I should like a new Devendra Banhart album anymore. He has all but abandoned his hauntingly sweet and sentimental early folkie sound, deciding rather to channel Jim Morrison's "Lizard King" persona as best he can...and we all know Morrison was a Sucka MC, right? Although it's uniformly pretty good, the best of Smokey Rolls can be found in songs like the warmly emotional "Bad Girl" and the upbeat shuffle "Lover," both of which illuminate Banhart's most undeniable quality: his cherubic voice.

State Radio - Year of the Crow

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State Radio - Year of the Crow (Ruff Shod) [audio] [upcoming shows]

State Radio's Year of the Crow combines roots reggae, punk and rock music. The songs, infused with a critical bent toward political and social issues, will certainly stir up a bit of controversy. While there may only be a few songs on this album that really grab you, this eclectic mix of sounds is supported by extremely compelling songwriting throughout. "The Story of Benjamin Darling, Part 1", "Omar Bay", and "Wicker Plane" are notable highlights.
Le Loup - The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (Hardly Art) [audio] [upcoming shows]

With that mouthful of an album title and Le Loup's affiliation with all things electro-folk, you could be forgiven that their album would be filled with yawn-inspiring poetic, pretentious drivel. Luckily for Le Loup, their music of breathily layered vocals, gently plucked banjos and minimal dance bleeping beats is more artful than artsy-fartsy and rousing numbers like "Look to the West" show that the band have got some meat behind that Stevens sound (re: both Cat and Sufjan). Slightly affected? Possibly. Still fixating? Definitely.

DJ Mehdi - Lucky Boy at Night

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DJ Mehdi - Lucky Boy at Night (Ed Banger) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Lucky Boy at Night is the revamped, remixed version of DJ Mehdi's 2006 album Lucky Boy, and considering how absolutely amazing the source material was, the redux exceeds all expectations. Imagine driving Prince's little red corvette through an early-'80s block party in Brooklyn, then finding a timespace wormhole and arriving in a Paris studio as Daft Punk (whose Thomas Bangalter remixes "Signatune" here) began work on their debut. Though it's an homage to music that's already happened, music like this never actually existed until right now. OWN IT.

The Aliens - Astronomy for Dogs

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The Aliens - Astronomy for Dogs (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Even if The Beta Band never strayed too far from what they did best, you could hardly say they were a bore. Well, The Aliens (former Beta Banders) are a pretty big letdown in that regard. Astronomy for Dogs is like Let it Bleed-era Rolling Stones filtered through the rosy shades of 1990s "Madchester" foolishness on (yes, sorry) sheets and sheets of acid. It at least sounds nice, what with the heavily-layered background vocals and rumbling use of the Hammond B3 as the foundation for a few songs. Too bad it has no discernable aim.

The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

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The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City (Thrill Jockey) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Where Blueberry Boat is a magical mizmaze of memoirs and melodies, all other offerings from the Friedberger family (including Grandma) lack the pizzazz that made that particular release so particularly pleasing. Some lack charm by sounding almost conventional (EP), and some by sounding ghastly unconventional (Rehearsing My Choir). Widow City is not a masterpiece, but it is a step in the right direction: a melodic and cohesive album that is not markedly erratic or eccentric. It reminds us that the Furnaces, at their best, can produce wildly operatic arrangements that are simultaneously jarring and comforting.

The Go! Team - Proof of Youth

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The Go! Team - Proof of Youth (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

How to approximate the sound The Go! Team makes in three easy, simultaneous steps: 1. Tune an old AM car radio to a Motown oldies station and roll up the windows. 2. Put a Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five record on your turntable and drop the needle. 3. Turn on the television and change the channel to an old rerun of CHiPs. However, that's just a hell of a lot of unnecessary work when all you really have to do is play Proof of Youth all the way through...and then again...and again.

Crowded House - Time on Earth

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Crowded House - Time on Earth (ATO Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Twenty-one years after their eponymous debut, Crowded House is back and better than ever. I did all but dream it was over for the Crowdies, only to find their latest release may be their greatest. After years of solo work and musically reuniting with brother Tim, Mr. Neil Finn is back sounding completely fresh. He's balancing a fine line between the pop charts and indie rock, and producing something so strong that it plays out better then a greatest hits retrospective of the last 20 years.

Lauderdale - S/T

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Lauderdale (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Eleven of the thirteen tracks come in between 3:18 and 3:55, so they know the formula and execute it effortlessly. "Exhale" reminds me of a grittier Gin Blossoms with Eddie Vedder-like vocals while "Breathless P.M." slows things down and adds a slide guitar. At different points they seem on the verge of anger, but instead cooler heads prevail and no punches are thrown. Overall, consistency rules and highs and lows are avoided. It echoes the Goo Goo Dolls thirty drummers ago crossed with mid-tempo Americana country rock.

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Radiohead - In Rainbows (self released)

In Rainbows is a soaring, uplifting work. Yorke's vulnerable vocals delicately float over fairly straightforward but effortlessly catchy melodies and rhythms. Bass and drums are very back in the mix, giving things less of a drive than expected, but this is counteracted by head-nodding compositions and gorgeous string and guitar elements. While lacking the dramatic expression and some of the powerful rock and electronic elements that Radiohead have been known for, In Rainbows is a collection of elegant, well-crafted songs that combine to create a beautiful whole.
The Rentals - The Last Little Life EP (Boompa) [audio] [upcoming shows]

As long as the core of The Rentals consists of Matt Sharp and at least one Haden sister, the band will still pretty much sound the same despite however many years they hibernate between releases. Here, the analog synths are smartly mixed down for the new decade, but the commerciality of the second album is also tempered—meaning this EP is a metaphorical crossroads; a launching pad that could send them either direction with the upcoming LP. Well, either way is fine, but time's wastin'.
Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala (Secretly Canadian) [audio] [upcoming shows]

As precious as a baby's coo, Jens Lekman's second full-length extends his light-hearted choirboy pop into more orchestral realms. The dozen lullabies on Night Falls Over Kortedala have more bounce than any of Jens' previous work, a handful of soulful harmonies and a few mushy moments along the way—but those sweet, sweet melodies make up for it. If you like the idea of a Swedish Jonathan Richman, jump right in.

Dave Gahan - Hourglass

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Dave Gahan - Hourglass (Mute) [audio]

Where Gahan's first solo album Paper Monsters had little more to offer than pompous ego-stroking, Hourglass is a reinvention of his persona outside the realm of Depeche Mode. Seemingly humbled by his own creation, his voice takes a backseat to the lush, ocean-sized instrumentation of some really, really gorgeous music. "Saw Something" and "A Little Lie" highlight this shift in personal priority the best, leaving an almost infinite amount of breathing room. Revelatory? No, but definitely worth hearing a time or ten.
Wrong Reasons - Bury Your Problems (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Wrong Reasons hammer out some rockin' country blues in the vein of Johnny Cash and The Gun Club, while smokey-voiced singer Joe Fletcher sings like he just woke up and can't remember the past week. It's not quite rockabilly or C&W—and it's much too filthy to be roots—but take the best qualities of those genres and you are getting close. If even half of these lyrics are based in fact, let's hope they all share in the redemption they give the listeners.

Gallows - Orchestra of Wolves

Gallows - Orchestra of Wolves (In at the Deep End/Epitaph) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Orchestra of Wolves is an appropriate title for this album, because I imagine that the sounds a wolf pack makes while it's disemboweling you would not be too dissimilar. The music is an unrelenting tirade of screaming and raw guitars. Punk fans, who feel your minds have been poisoned by the recent glut of pop-punk progressive-emo fare, will find this brand of UK street-punk to be a remarkably refreshing antidote for your ills. Kind of like getting your nursing degrees in good punk music.

Kinski - Down Below it's Chaos

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Kinski - Down Below it's Chaos (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Kinski keep up the krauty jams with more vocals than on past releases—not unlike the unholy union of Deep Purple and Pell Mell. "Boy Was I Mad!", which features over four minutes of build up before finally kicking out the jams, becomes a runaway musical train. In the end, guitars win! As much as I love them, on this album I realized it's a fine line between a really great, drawn-out Kinski intro and a really bad, drawn out Pink Floyd or Metallica intro.

Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers

Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers (Nonesuch) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Chic-geeks, baristas and NPR listeners of the world...unite! The magnificent Laura Veirs is here to assuage your weary, modern-day minds with wonderful music that manages to be poetic and acoustic, yet non-minimalist. Over the past eight years, Ms. Veirs has made six very decent studio records, each with their fair share of fantastic songs. New tracks like the Sufjan-friendly "To the Country" and the pop-rock stunner "Wandering Kind" will soothe your listening ears while you shine your thick-rimmed glasses.

Mondo Generator - Dead Planet

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Mondo Generator - Dead Planet (Suburban Noize/Mother Tongue) [audio] [upcoming shows]

When Nick Oliveri isn't getting arrested for performing naked onstage in Brazil, he's recording with his now full-time project, Mondo Generator. Dead Planet is an unrelenting punk-infused rock album that features raw, unapologetic lyrics. This recording will provide long-time Queens of the Stone Age fans with a sense of comforting familiarity due the songwriting style that Oliveri has cultivated over the years. It's a sound that we've all been craving, and is once again at hand.

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

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