December 2007 Archives

Frank Turner - Campfire Punkrock

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Frank Turner - Campfire Punkrock EP (Xtra Mile Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If you like Billy Bragg, you will like Frank Turner... he even has a song called "Thatcher Fucked the Kids." Nothing about the miners' strike, though. Actually, most of the tracks address mid-20s ennui: waking up with a hangover, being "bored of this town... bored of this scene... bored of these people." I especially liked track 2's description of touring with naught but a guitar: "I was raised in middle England, not in Nashville, Tennessee, and the only person in my band is me." NOTE: The EP seems to be import only at the moment, but you can buy mp3s on Amazon.
Rhythm King & Her Friends - The Front of Luxury (Kitty-Yo) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Like much of the electronic-based music traversing the bridge between Berlin and Paris, the songs on The Front of Luxury are grounded in mechanical, robotic tempos. They would be rendered completely frigid and inorganic were it not for the vitality brought to them by the yé-yé girl approach to the arrangements and vocals of Pauline Boudry and Linda Wölfel. Thankfully, this is what you get when you prepare a cocktail of Kraftwerk, Françoise Hardy and Luscious Jackson—a hip party jam that draws from four different decades.

Eux Autres - Cold City

Eux Autres - Cold City (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Eux Autres offer us straightforward twee pop that can jingle-jangle tunefully throughout a slew of three minute gems. The Oregon siblings stand out from the crowd of comparable boy-girl pop bands with songs like "The Town That Never Was" and "When I'm Up" because the Sleater-Kinney-ish guitar hooks grab hold and within seconds you're entranced by Heather's effortlessly sweet voice. The Autres' simple yet sophisticated sound is ideal for fans of The Vaselines or Cub.

Hope Anchor - The City Limits EP

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Hope Anchor - The City Limits EP (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This Providence, Rhode Island-based band's influences are in the range of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Psychedelic Furs, filled with catchy guitar riffs, punchy vocals, and a production value that's just clean enough to leave the edges rough. On their debut EP, singer Paul Everett hits the highs and lows and if you don't have a tear in your eye during "Means to an End", you are dead inside. I considered running away from home after hearing it. Highly recommend to anyone interested in dramatic power rock.

Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light

Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Jimmy Eat World was part of that punk explosion of '94, and it wasn't long until their crossover to the major labels in '96 paid off with a world-full of fans. In the new millennium, the band's sound seemed to take on two completely antagonistic characteristics: it became MTV-friendly and at the same time it actually improved. Chase This Light follows Futures both chronologically and stylistically, somehow commingling catchy emo-rock and popular appeal. Could-be hits like "Carry You" and "Always Be" will insist that you hum along.
ContraNova - Infinity in All Directions (Diabolical Genius) [audio]

I am lost on most concept albums, so forgive me for not following the time machine plot and just listening to this. Mostly, it's just a man and a guitar, similar to Ben Lee or David Bazan, but it's an amazingly sparse record considering the varied instrumentation includes the trombone, oboe, hand claps, clarinet, banjo, double bass, and bassoon among others. "Revolution 10 (Sound Collage #1)" is an orchestral piece spliced together from six different samples of their earlier works. Sampling themselves—let the RIAA wrap their heads around that one.
Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop, Drop and Roll!!! EP (self released) [audio]

Foxboro Hot Tubs is a mysterious new band with a recognizable sound. The band's first (and potentially last) release is a free-to-download 6 song EP of '60s-inspired garage powerpop that fits nicely into 150-second sound segments. This is tremendously danceable guitar rock. Fans of The Exploding Hearts will be of Green Day will be thrilled.

The Gothees - Meet The Gothees

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The Gothees - Meet The Gothees (Starfish LE) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Bela Lugosi may be dead, but The Gothees are trying their best to resurrect the ghost of Bauhaus and make it the bride of surf pop. The spooky guitars and flat vocals (Ian Curtis, is that you?) don't take themselves too seriously; "there's some irony required." More than half the songs are covers; "Sugar Sugar" makes me laugh with its sexy somberness. The band also manages to mix up a dirge-like version of Donovan with a tribute to Falco ("First there is a Falco, then there is no Falco, then there is").
The New Pornographers - The Spirit of Giving (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows] iTunes Holiday Single

It's a seasonal indie rock single that doesn't completely suck eggnog! The title track is re-purposed from Challengers, but the two others are where the real joy lies. "Arms of Mary/Look at a Baby" is a clever collision of two very different songs (both covers) which somehow become Christmas-y when paired together. Far and away the best thing about this, though, is the original "Joseph, Who Understood", written from the point of view of a guy whose virgin girlfriend just told him she's carrying God's baby. Stuff someone's e-stocking with this, won't you?
The Watery Graves of Portland - Portland (Marriage) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Led by piano but better described as instrumental indie rock jazz, it's far from virtuoso piano playing but there'll never be another Liberace anyways. Think Tortoise and Rachel's. The band lays down a plodding but steady backdrop for the piano to sprinkle some musical pixie dust. The entire album sounds recorded live in one take—listen for the cough during "Timid Virgins Made Dull Company at Weddings". Perfect for edgy art openings or, at a lower volume, your disaffected 13 year-old niece's debutante ball.
Mustard Gas and Roses - Wavering on the Crested Heft (Conspiracy) [audio] [upcoming shows]

During the first three minutes spent listening to this album, I kept waiting for the song to begin. Sadly, it had. Mark Gallagher's experimental piece, with its slow, dark textures and simple layers, fails to congeal into anything really interesting for any satisfying length of time. It contains sparse and brief moments of beautiful sound interlaced with vast periods of dullness. It just seems rather pointless...or is that actually Gallagher's purpose?

Fortune Drive - A Modern Question

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Fortune Drive - A Modern Question (Shy Records) [audio] [upcoming shows]

A Modern Question is good...or is it? Perhaps it's that I'm distracted by how uncategorizable it tends to be as each song steps aside for the next, or maybe I'm just wishing that American rock radio would cover all these bases in a single set. That's just academic, though. What I do know is that Fortune Drive is from coastal England and they sound terrifically un-English, somehow linking elements as disparate as Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Interpol all into one loud stew without overlooking the spaces between them.
The Low Anthem - What the Crow Brings (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

It's peaceful and tranquil, more Damien Jurado than Will Oldham. If there was a duo ever suited to play as the Titanic slowly went down, The Low Anthem is it. So soothing, between passing out every 30 seconds, I realized that if this was pumped into every mall in America for one month, world peace would finally be achieved. Do not operate heavy machinery unless you have "Yellowed By the Sun" on repeat, with the buzzing freakout harmonica solo that reminds me of older-era Radar Brothers, The Band and Crazy Horse.

The Killers - Sawdust

The Killers - Sawdust (Island) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I tried to think of any B-side and cut-track album that ever wowed me and came up with nothing. True to the form, this disc has two or three oasis tracks floating in a sea of hot garbage. I congratulate The Killers for apparently not caring so much anymore about selling a bunch of records, and making and experimenting with whatever music they want. Sometimes though, I wish that music was better.
Creature Feature - The Greatest Show Unearthed (Sumerian) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Once in a while, an album comes along which reminds me that many of us take music too seriously. The Greatest Show Unearthed has a macabre and novelty sound that's reminiscent of a Tim Burton movie soundtrack, or a Crypt-Kickers release. "Gorey Demise", which lists the various methods that people die, is a twisted way you can teach your little monsters the alphabet. Though this album probably has narrow appeal, it sounds like Creature Feature had tremendous fun making it.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This (or any) album by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings is kinda sorta like digging through the boxes of dusty old R&B 45's at the back of the used record store, picking out six or seven that you've never heard of and then taking them home and playing both sides of each one. Not every song is as awesome as you'd hoped it might be, but many of them completely pay off—and the best of them are as good as any classic R&B song you've heard a thousand times in your life.

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

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