October 2008 Archives

The Disciplines - Smoking Kills

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The Disciplines - Smoking Kills (Voices of Wonder) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I can't you tell how much I'd been hoping Ken Stringfellow would make a record like this again one day. The ex-Posies troubadour has guested with other bands, released a few solo discs and done some great production work, but none of it has really packed the punch I grew accustomed to with The Posies in the '90s. His new band The Disciplines seems to have recharged his harmony-rich power pop batteries, and Smoking Kills is an embarrassment of riches—the likes of which I've not heard in a long while.
Zebra & Giraffe - Collected Memories (Just Music) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The sound of Zebra & Giraffe is not unlike that of other big, alt-rock bands you've heard. There's some Linkin Park, a touch of Bloc Party and more than a little Foo Fighters. That's not the only common trait shared with Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters. Just as Grohl worked solo on the Foos debut in 1995, Collected Memories is likewise the work of one man, Greg Carlin. Ten blaring tracks of slick, radio-friendly ear candy—completely irony-free. You can almost hear how badly he's wanted to make this record since birth.

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul (Reprise) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Oasis haven't made a great album since...well, ever. But they have made a couple of good ones and, with Dig Out Your Soul, have added a third. For as much criticism as they receive for their transparent Beatles-aping, it's actually the best thing the Gallaghers do. And it works especially well when the tribute is more poetic than literal, like on "Falling Down" and "Waiting for the Rapture." The ghosts of Revolver are audible, but not a distraction (this time). Hit play and enjoy.
Richard Swift - Ground Trouble Jaw EP (Secretly Canadian) [download] [upcoming shows]

Retro exploitation is becoming the scourge of popular music, but Richard Swift pursues his backward-looking craftsmanship with the commitment of a scholar. In his short, yet prolific career, he's never released anything so direct as his Ground Trouble Jaw EP. The opening salvo of "Would You" and "Lady Luck" sounds authentically Motown—not just as recording experiments, but "hit" songs. The remaining three tracks are similarly disarming in different ways, making this one of the best EP's released in 2008.

Ben Folds - Way to Normal

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Ben Folds - Way to Normal (Epic) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Again, Ben Folds ping-pongs between his two extemes on Way to Normal. His awkward and not always funny sense of humor taints what would otherwise be a few really good classic pop songs while heavy-handed sentimentality weighs down his ballads. The best examples of each would be "You Don't Know Me" with a guest vocal from Regina Spektor and the moving "Cologne," respectively. The worst examples? The rest of the album.

The Bloody Beetroots - Rombo EP

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The Bloody Beetroots - Rombo EP (Dim Mak) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Italian dj/producers Bob Rifo and Tommy Tea pair off as The Bloody Beetroots. In an overcrowded underground of DIY hardcore electro-disco, the Beetroots have for over a year now towered above the rest by mixing the thunderous power of distorted bass and driving drums with the lightness of party music on both their remixes and their original compositions. Rombo marks their first "official" release and it's front-to-back a thrilling coaster ride of unchecked synthesized mayhem. Move over, Justice. You're killing my buzz.
Serena Ryder - Sweeping the Ashes EP (Atlantic) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I can't stop listening to the latest release from Canadian singer/songwriter Serena Ryder. Her voice is unique in today's landscape of female vocalists. Wrought with emotion and power, she seamlessly flips the switch between vulnerability and dominance. The songs are well thought out and purposefully restrained so that the dynamic vocals are unchained at the appropriate moments. While the songwriting is solid, it's Ryder's voice that carries Sweeping the Ashes and sets it apart. The full-length will be a killer.

Intronaut - Prehistoricisms

Intronaut - Prehistoricisms (Century Media) [audio] [upcoming shows]

It's been three weeks since I started listening to Prehistoricisms, and I'm still waiting to get sick of it. While I don't normally care for the techy/jazzy metal thing, Intronaut does what like-minded bands can't—they write songs. Prehistoricisms is no six-stringer-riff assault. Rather, the ceaseless rhythms of drummer Danny Walker provide the riffage while the effects-laden guitars and fretless bass paint a near-psychedelic backdrop of semi-brutal, achingly melodic movements. Hunting for that end-of-the-year surprise? This may be it.

Metallica - Death Magnetic

Metallica - Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.) [audio] [upcoming shows]

They're going about this all wrong. Nobody has the patience to listen to seven-plus minute Metallica songs anymore, especially when the payoff never comes in any of them. Death Magnetic should have been a half hour in length with ten songs at no more than three minutes each. It's clear these guys can still engineer a nasty groove, but each one gets diluted by fighting for attention with several others in the same song. Feels like they're out to prove something, but what? Relevance? Well, good luck.
The Precious Mings - Every Time I Sell a Record a Kitten Dies (Weekender) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Precious Mings is the side project of Chikinki keyboardist Boris Ming, along with another twenty or so people also going by the last name Ming. Like Chikinki, The Precious Mings reside in the peculiar gap between the Devo of 1979 and the Blur of 1994, sounding so very very English while banging away on cheap synthesizers and detuned guitars over odd-yet-danceable beats. Not the arty nightmare it sounds like, but a whimsical, left-of-center pop record.

The Fiery Furnaces - Remember

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

The Furnaces are a truly remarkable band that mixes genres into an unnaturally addictive style. Their thirst for experimentation can lead to tours de force like Blueberry Boat, while on the flipside you get their cover of "Norwegian Wood" (yuk!). Remember fails for two reasons: (1) they regularly butcher their beloved songs live with insufferable reworkings, and (2) here they use the live album format as an experiment by melding performances into a mess of segmented recordings. Disappointing, but the next studio release should be good.

GZA - Pro Tools

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GZA - Pro Tools (Babygrande) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There aren't enough rap albums like this anymore. This disc is densely packed with a relentless barrage of verses, often forgoing hooks and choruses in favor of squeezing in an extra 8 bars here and there. RZA's production is featured heavily, and his couple guest verses kill. It is a testament to the strength of GZA's flow that his monotone, battering ram delivery has commanded our attention for 15+ years. No singles or pop music here; this is headphones-on-the-bus hip-hop, with enough meat on its bones to fill multiple sittings.
Various Artists - Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Atlantic) [audio]

Another Michael Cera movie, another achingly hip soundtrack to go along with it. And while I'm sure the movie has its charms, the soundtrack contents read like any random week's worth of posts at Stereogum. Among the familiar songs are new tracks from Vampire Weekend and Mark Mothersbaugh, both worth hearing—but it makes me wonder who's supposed to buy this. Those who know these songs already own them, and those who'd want to hear them would just download them from blogs. A moneywaster.

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

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