July 2009 Archives

Jeremih - S/T

Jeremih (Def Jam) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Poor Jeremih. He seems like a good kid, but he came along at the perfect time to be used by Def Jam as an in-house hybrid of Kanye, Ne-Yo and The-Dream, competing on the charts with those very artists. In a vacuum, his debut album would be something special. There's a lot of melody in his voice, and in the club-oriented arrangements (the best of which, "My Sunshine," packs a punch like Em's "Lose Yourself"... except sweet). The timing invites comparisons, though, and those comparisons will forever damn Jeremih to underdog status.

Cheap Red - S/T

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Cheap Red (555 Recordings) [audio] [upcoming shows]

This is female-fronted, sugary-sweet indie pop with an unexpected "fuck" thrown in here and there, as well as some strings, organ, and whistling. Song styles vary, from the Beach Boys-ish handclaps and off-kilter harmonies of "The Mitten" to the tribute to lo-fi feedback-laced garage rock of "Let's Get Tammy Wynette" to the bouncy keyboard-driven pop of "3 Day Drunk." But they all have some common traits: sloppy, endearing, and catchy. It's bundled with a remix disc featuring Kid606, DJ Downfall and King Prussia among others.

Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall

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Jay Reatard - Watch Me Fall (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Watch Me Fall is the cleanest and poppiest album Reatard has recorded and it's also another step forward in his ever-expanding sound. Lead off track "You Ain't Gonna Save Me" is classic Reatard thrash/punk, but as the record progresses he branches out with acoustic guitars, organs, and cello. Almost every song on the record has a big hook and I hear a Buzzcocks influence all over these tracks. 12 songs in just over 30 minutes; perfect for repeat listening, which I intend to do for the rest of the summer.

The Dead Weather - Horehound

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The Dead Weather - Horehound (Third Man) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The parts of The Dead Weather are greater than its sum, and that sucks. When I first heard that Allison Mosshart (of The Kills) and Jack White (of The White Stripes, duh) were writing music together, I had to wipe the saliva from my chin. So when the album finally arrived, I was disappointed at what a non-event the whole thing turned out to be. There's a bunch of boozy swagger and hot shit riffing to be heard, but these songs are paper-thin. The Dead Weather is a musical curio and nothing more. Bummer.
Cornershop - Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast (Ample Play) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Fifteen years on from their first album, Cornershop is kind of like comfort food. Tjinder Singh's ability to channel the freewheeling British '60s without ever sounding like a nostalgia act is always admirable and almost as often rewarding. On Judy, the first new full-length since 2002, a brilliant light burns at the core of these songs. It's a genuinely fun album to hear; familiar throughout, yet something surprising at every turn. I wish they'd give us one every year, but I'll settle for every seven.
Carcrashlander - Mountains on Our Backs (Jealous Butcher) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Because Lou Barlow and Jessamine never actually had a side project, just the eight minutes of this album's opening title track should shut you up. You get a dose of heavy Opal-like psych rock, vocals with a stoned deadpan delivery, a horn section over a bed of feedback and then an epic guitar freak out to close it out. This entire album has keyboards that give it a trippy vibe, but also imagine heavier moments similar to Priest Driven Ambulance-era Flaming Lips or Sebadoh.
Silent Film Project - Two Days 7" (Kids) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The UK is so hot right now! But, as is often the case when a particular locale is booming, plenty of also-rans come after a piece of the pie too. "Two Days" by Silent Film Project is strictly inoffensive, and that's its problem. The chorus isn't strong, the jangle of the guitars lacks a certain energy and the exuberance doesn't seem real in any way. B-side "Alligator" suffers an identical fate (and is nearly an identical song, for that matter). This film needs a bit more editing—it's not ready.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There seems to be an infinite supply of '80s and '90s twee from around the world that combines elements of saccharine sweet, dreamy shoegaze, and bubblegum garage punk. With so much out there from way back when, it's almost shocking to hear something so good that would fit in so long ago. On their debut album mixed by Archie Moore (Velocity Girl, The Saturday People), NYNY's TPOBPAH ("tuh-po-bup-ahh") confidently belt out twee-centric rock'n'roll that will no doubt be compared to British influences like Ride and The Smiths.
Various Artists - 500 Days of Summer: Music from the Motion Picture (Sire) [audio]

Even without seeing the movie, I have a good idea how some of these songs are probably used... and that's okay. It's the music from a love story without a happy ending. Alongside usual staples like The Smiths (used twice), Regina Spektor (also used twice) and Simon & Garfunkel, we find previously released tracks from Black Lips, Doves and the late, great Mumm-Ra, all of whom may benefit from finding a larger audience. Conveniently, She & Him wrap it up with a Smiths cover of their own, giving the soundtrack an unhappy ending too.
Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care (Domino) [audio] [upcoming shows]

When I first heard Begone Dull Care, I nearly pulled a muscle trying to bestow all sorts of praise upon it. But the inviting pop sheen that then seemed so brilliant has worn off over time, exposing a collection of songs not as strong as originally believed. Begone Dull Care collects sparkling arrangements and beats, and even some hummable melodies, but at its core it's just a going-through-the-motions kind of record compared to the duo's earlier work. Beware the sugar high.
Title Tracks - Every Little Bit Hurts 7" (Dischord) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Back when Q And Not U was seen as "the next Fugazi", it wasn't instantly clear how important drummer John Davis was to the band. Since the breakup, he made the switch to frontman as the singer/guitarist alongside Laura Burhenn in Georgie James, and now with his solo project Title Tracks. Back on Dischord Records, you'd expect a punkier sound, but what you get is concise, rocking indie-pop with a retro sound. If you know what's good for your ears, you'll keep your eyes peeled for this one.
Sleep of Oldominion - Hesitation Wounds (Strange Famous) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The past five years for Sleep are all here in Hesitation Wounds. He's shredded a lot of pain and spilled his thoughts and lonely memories in a lyrical machine gun delivery. He's a trailblazer, stampeding through his head and running over inner demons with a haunting production. He fights and unleashes a barrage of damage from his past, all conquered in "Hesitation Wounds." "Spent" and "Orchestra of Strangers" stand out for me, but it's "So Far" which is what he's all about. Sleep is a rapper who lives through his words, and without them he is dead.
One For the Team - Build a Garden EP (Afternoon) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Folks in MPLS already know what the rest of the world is slowly finding out: One For the Team is an indie pop sensation. Thanks to NPR, Daytrotter, and Spin, this band is getting some great exposure for their brokenhearted pop songs. The new ep is instantly addictive, with shared boy/girl vocals that find a resonance similar to Tegan & Sara, and an acoustic chamber-pop sound that reaches epic heights like that of an Arcade Fire song... only this time it sounds like it's being performed just for you.
Akron/Family - Set 'em Wild, Set 'em Free (Dead Oceans) [audio] [upcoming shows]

It's a great year for bands who rounded out the freak folk scene in the early '00s, because they've shed a lot of their more experimental tendencies in favor of solid and direct sounds (see also: Grizzly Bear). On Set 'em Wild, Set 'em Free, Akron/Family give us an album that's still textured and cerebral, but based on driving and persistent grooves. The opening cut "Everyone is Guilty," in particular, sounds like something from the first or second Chicago album. Good luck finding another band willing to explore that style.
Lindsay Katt - Picking Out Boxes (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

After a listen, my coworker became stressed out by Lindsay Katt's lack of exposure. "She's just as good as anybody else on the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack [his wife makes him watch it]! And she did the whole thing herself!" Indeed, if you like Sara (Bareilles or Melson) or Emiliana Torrini, you will like Katt. But I like her best when she sounds like Erin McKeown. Backed by strings and percussion and armed with keyboards and smart, staccato lyrics, it's only a matter of time before Katt's songs appear on a TV show.
Bat for Lashes - Pearl's Dream 7" (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother reviewing a single when the song is also contained on a readily available album, but the Cenzo Townshend radio edit of "Pearl's Dream" (like "Daniel" before it) is completely essential. Townshend tweaks the song without really altering any of its DNA. It's so much brighter and the syncopated percussion is brought forward in the mix, making headphone-listening a real treat. Also, the 909s remix of "Sleep Alone" is actually Dave Sitek in disguise, and he twists that up in a wonderful way.
The Chatham Singers - Juju Claudius (Damaged Goods) [audio]

Out of the ten thousand or so albums Billy Childish has released since the 1970s, I've heard only a few. What stands out, though, is how Childish is always so on-point with anything he attempts. The Chatham Singers, his latest collaborative project, digs deep into the well of blues, folk and gospel sounds. He and his wife Julie Hamper (with help from bandmates including Blur's Graham Coxon) coax the past out of the present. The ghosts of Hank Williams and The Carter Family inhabit every second of Juju Claudius.

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

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Dinosaur Jr. - Farm (Jagjaguwar) [audio] [upcoming shows]

There's really no negatives to Dinosaur's 5th album (with the original members). As usual, the songs are jammed with heavy guitar riffs and super-hooky melodies. Fans of Bug and Green Mind are going to love this record. "I Don't Want to Go There" can be put on their best-of list, while "Over It" should be getting major airplay across radio waves and "Pieces" has become one of my personal favorites. Three guys in their forties making music that is more relevant than anything on the radio and then some... radical!

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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