August 2008 Archives

Hidrogenesse - Bestiola

| No Comments
Hidrogenesse - Bestiola (Austrohúngaro) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express may be the most obvious inspiration for Bestiola, but it's largely an homage to everything krautrock from the late 1970s. Assembled from ten individual songs to create one 39 minute-long epic, it's hardly as high-concept and unfun as I make it sound. Hidrogenesse comes at the genre without heavy hands, leaving plenty of room for the often dense arrangements to ebb and flow naturally. Bestiola is weightless and animated throughout, unlike even the most accessible examples of krautrock's past.

Conor Oberst - S/T

| No Comments
Conor Oberst (Merge) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Honest question: say you are a media darling indie songwriter with a "band" that is barely a band, and mostly just you with an adorable name. Then you make an album that your bandmates either play on almost every song or mix the album for you, and it sounds exactly like what your "band" does normally. What in the good fuck is the point of releasing it as a solo album? As far as I'm concerned, this shit should be Conor Oberst by Bright Eyes. It's dumb. However, it has brilliant music on it, so I guess I'm stuck with it.

U2 - Boy: Deluxe Edition

U2 - Boy: Deluxe Edition (Island) [audio]

Being a U2 fan for over 20 years hasn't always been easy, but the reissue of 1980's Boy reminds me of everything I loved about the band as a wide-eyed kid. Not only is the remastering of the original album glowing and warm, but the second disc of extras consists of things I never thought I'd hear. The pre-Boy singles are here. The pre-singles demos are as well. Turns out U2 really was a sloppy garage band once! This should be the standard by which any other deluxe edition is measured.

Conveniens - Clear

Conveniens - Clear (self released) [audio]

Clear starts off slow and it's not until the fourth track "Da Da Ack" that the audio madness begins with fractured middle eastern influenced chaos. This is followed by blistering sax solos, indecipherable ramblings, an accordion playing sparing melodies, slap dash drumming, the soundtrack to the seventh inning stretch in hell and while "Electroflux" is nine and a half minutes of free jazz mayhem, "Cadium Red" follows it by unleashing a soothing mesh of John Tesh-like piano flourishes making sweet coerced love to Zamfir and his flute.

Spiritualized - Songs in A&E

| 1 Comment
Spiritualized - Songs in A&E (Fontana) [audio/video] [upcoming shows]

While at first it might seem a little bloated at eighteen tracks, there are six brief interludes with varying degrees of soothingness among them. Add some flute, Bermuda drums, strings, distorted stomps and his recent discovery of drug influenced gospel. There's hints of Pink Floyd's The Final Cut in there somewhere too. By his own admission, J Spaceman can only play three guitar chords so it's remarkable that he can make such moving songs using the same two chord progressions from his Spacemen 3 days.
Hotpants Romance - It's a Heatwave (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Hotpants Romance? Sorry, no thanks. On this all-girl trio's debut LP, Hotpants Romance aim for Bikini Kill-esque rebellious punk rock but just come short, sounding like annoying teens filled with relentless and whiny complaints. The short, repetitive tunes were all too similar, but once in a while there was a tiny glimpse of hope. With lots of improvement and maturity, these girls can be on to something. Lots of improvement.

Extreme - Saudades de Rock

Extreme - Saudades de Rock (Open E) [audio] [upcoming shows]

After a thirteen year absence, Extreme are back with their fifth studio album which picks up right up where Waiting for the Punchline left off, but without being weighted down with too much angst and strife. This time around they're having fun again. The result is a solid and thoroughly enjoyable rock/metal album with plenty of musical twists and turns that consistently hold one's attention. If you're still skeptical, check out the tracks "Take Us Alive" and "Slide."
Dag för Dag - Symmetry of Standing EP (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

At their most hushed levels, Dag för Dag (an American-born and Sweden-based brother/sister duo) recall the early sound of Damon & Naomi. When they ratchet up the energy ever so slightly as they do on "Ring Me Elise" and "Racing to Racine", though, it's easy to close your eyes and be reminded of Unrest or another like-minded band from the early '90s who traded call-and-response lyrics between singers of the opposite sex. A thoroughly enjoyable 4-song teaser for the upcoming album I'm keen to hear.
Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning - Something for All of Us (Arts & Crafts) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If you're a Broken Social Scene fanatic, Something for All of Us is a definite addition to the catalogue. BSS co-founder Brendan Canning takes the reins for the first time and proves that he has what it takes to lead the way. A diverse album, ranging from a disco-influenced track to some classic BSS sounds, Something for All of Us is the equivalent of a fantastic collage of Broken Social Scene's discography thus far.

The Major Labels - Aquavia

| No Comments
The Major Labels - Aquavia (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Power pop geeks get excited by the strangest things. For me, finding Fit Me In by Key was an exceptional moment in my never-ending vinyl hunt. If going through the discount bins at used record shops for forgotten classics is your way to find exciting music, discovering The Major Labels in the "New Arrivals" section may leave you dumbfounded . This new trio offer genuine, quality pop rock, reminiscent of '70s favorites 10cc (see "Richard Randolph"), Wings (see "The Sweet"), and Emitt Rhodes (see "Hummingbird").
The Bleeps - These Things Happen/Doing So Well 7" (Otter Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Two years is a long time to wait for 4 minutes and 29 seconds of new music, but this second single by London guitar/drum duo The Bleeps is a fuzzy, bouncy good time. "These Things Happen" stops and starts and jerks like something from The Fall's early years, while "Doing So Well" is a more fluid and lighthearted game of hopscotch through dynamic drum fills and distorted guitar riffing. The sound is a familiar one, yet comparisons prove elusive. I bet that's what they aimed for.

CSS - Donkey

| No Comments
CSS - Donkey (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

You know how children lose much of their fun, youthful appeal once they begin to grow up and mature? Well that's the feeling I get whenever I listen to CSS's newest album Donkey. Sure, maturity and change is essential to most artists but, in CSS's case, it just doesn't translate well. With the exception of a few signature catchy tunes, the majority of the album just lacks that unique spunk that we loved so much.
Billie The Vision & The Dancers - I Used to Wander These Streets (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Almost every year these Swedish visionaries deliver another self-released, free-to-download LP that makes you want to transfer money to their foreign bank account. The Billies seem to have found their own balance of lovely, lighthearted, melancholy folk-pop on I Used to Wander These Streets. The new songs are frequently silly, always appealing, and addictive as ever. It won't be long before fans of Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura and I'm From Barcelona are hooked on the happenings of Pablo and Lily. Mark my words.
Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs (Atlantic) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Nothing would make me happier as a fan than for Death Cab to release an album full of songs as good as the two or three really good ones that appear on each album, but it's never happened before and Narrow Stairs, though better, continues the frustrating tradition. I'm left with no choice but to think they're a lazy band, one that gives up incrementally after a "Movie Script Ending", "Crooked Teeth" or, in this case, "Cath" gets written. Prove me wrong next time, guys.

Nneka - No Longer at Ease

| No Comments
Nneka - No Longer at Ease (Yo Mama's Recording) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Nigerian-born and Hamburg-based singer Nneka Egbuna caught my ear in 2006 with Victim of Truth, a kitchen sink-type debut album encompassing all things pop, soul and hip-hop with native African influences. No Longer at Ease continues to defy basic categorization, though it's warmer and less guarded in approach. The curtain between artist and listener has been ripped down and what's revealed is probably the most engaging album of its kind in many years; since The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, anyway.

Black Francis - Svn Fingers

| No Comments
Black Francis - Svn Fingers (Cooking Vinyl) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Charles Thompson has been a Pixie, a Catholic, and gone solo under a couple different pseudonyms, all in an apparent attempt to screw up your alphabetized cd collection. In 2008, as Black Francis, this experienced rocker is out to prove that 40 really is the new 20, and he's making quick work of it. His new mini-LP (don't call it an EP) is a 7 song, 20 minute mix of all things Frank Blank. Some songs are eccentric, others frenetic. Some are mumbled, some delivered in clear falsetto. As a whole, it's a great contribution to an ever-growing discography.
Eye Alaska - Yellow & Elephant EP (Fearless) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Hailing from Orange County, you already kinda know ahead of time that Eye Alaska will be as soulless as rock music gets (really, it's been at the ass-end of pop culture for well over 10 years). You won't be surprised, then, when I tell you that Eye Alaska sounds like Maroon 5, The Killers and one of any thousand teen tv-show soundtrack bands playing at exactly the same time. It's not cacophony, just lost and inessential.
Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop, Drop and Roll!!! (Warner Bros.) [audio]

Foxboro Hot Tubs are back, once again channeling '60s pre-punk garage rockers and expanding on their debut EP literally, by tacking on 6 songs. The additional songs bring with them additional comparisons, including The Kinks ("Alligator") and The Zombies ("Dark Side of Night"). Most songs sound like something written forty years ago by The Beau Brummels, The Pretty Things or any of the oodles of other talented bands you're likely to find on an old Nuggets or Pebbles garage rock compilation...only they're performed by Green Day.

Islands - Arm's Way

| 1 Comment
Islands - Arm's Way (Anti-) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Arm's Way builds upon Islands' last record, Return to the Sea, in such grand proportions that at first it doesn't even sound like Islands. With multiple listens though, one truly begins to appreciate the intricacies and musicianship behind the record. It's still the same old band, led by mastermind Nick Thorburn, but just improved and much better. Glimpses of their signature bouncy pop remains on certain tracks, but overall, it's a giant leap forward.
The ESPS - Dream of the Rarebit Fiend/(Standing in the) Tellers Line 7" (self released) [audio]

Despite the fact this record sounds like it was left on a voicemail, these two exceptional songs from The Espeleta/Shafer Project—ESPS for short—are a slingshot back to '70s divinity like Big Star or the Flamin' Groovies. Aping that style is easy and has been done to death, but this couplet of guitar-pop perfection burrows down to whatever place in the soul from which music like it originated, surfacing with dazzling results when others all too often miss the mark. Instantly classic.

Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 5.02

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2008 is the previous archive.

September 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.