October 2009 Archives

Damien* - Crippled Cute

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Damien* - Crippled Cute (Suiteside) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Crippled Cute is the sophomore release by Italian trio Damien*, and though it might have a few '80s post-punk touches, it reminds me more of '90s bands like Girls Against Boys. Grinding bass and fierce drumming and a completely in-your-face presence charge these tracks in a way I'm sure the studio can't even fully capture. In a live setting, a song like "Unaware Unaware" would tear the roof off. The album does serve more nuanced material like "You Bombonniere" and "Lesser Thoughts" very well, however. Con la lode!

Weezer - Raditude

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Weezer - Raditude (Geffen) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The five stages to grieving the death of the Weezer you knew and loved.

Stage One: Denial (The Green Album... "This is just as good...right?").
Stage Two: Anger (Maladroit... "What the @#*! happened to Weezer?!?!?!!")
Stage Three: Bargaining (Make Believe... "This is Such a Pity is a good song. Maybe they can get good again!")
Stage Four: Depression (The Red Album... "If Pork and Beans is as good as it gets I'm going to stab myself in the head.")
Stage Five: Acceptance (Raditude... "Some of this is actually okay. Silly, but kinda fun.")

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If Derek Jeter played guitar instead of shortstop, he'd be in Yo La Tengo. Popular Songs proves again the trio can consistently crush it outta the park without any over-the-top "enhancements." "Periodically Triple or Double" kills with a screaming organ solo. "Nothing to Hide" rocks out with a perfect fuzzy guitar riff. And "Here to Fall" is simply one of the best tracks of the year. The only let-down is the ending: three tunes that grind in at thirty-five minutes. If I'm Not Afraid of You... was a home run, then this album is a triple.

fun. - Aim and Ignite

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fun. - Aim and Ignite (Nettwerk) [audio] [upcoming shows] Focus Group review

Many will say that fun. is fun. Period. The truth is that fun. is more than just fun. Aim and Ignite is composed of 10 epic pop songs that take you on an amazing ride of tempos, emotions, and genres that include rock, gospel, disco, and calypso. The impressive melodies are driven brazenly by Ruess, whose lyrics have always been stuck in a love-'em-or-hate-'em category. fun.'s songs can be silly, ecstatic, passionate, introspective, heartwarming, and at all times fun. - cormac

I was about a third of the way through Aim and Ignite before I could put a finger on exactly what I was hearing, and then it all clicked. fun. is a literate-sounding, musically-skilled, Paste-bait type of indie band (The Decemberists spring to mind first) playing Queen. No, really. They've got all the four-part harmonies, all the dynamic builds, and, on a couple of occasions, even a Brian May-style guitar solo. As ridiculous as that sounds in print, it's actually pretty awesome in reality. I'm always encouraged by a band who really goes for it. - paul

The baroque pop trio plus almost 20 others (including Redd Kross's Steve McDonald, Roger Manning, and Anna Waronker) playing oboe, cello, viola, calliope, trumpet, saxophone, and accordion. Grandiose, orchestral indie with the vocals front and center above the dense layers. It's hard to top both a Don Henley lyrical reference and a flamboyant musical approach rivaling of Montreal (minus the buck naked live show). Just like the obvious Queen influence on "All the Pretty Girls", any track on here could be used in a Pepsi commercial in 25 years. - mark

The Mary Onettes - Islands

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The Mary Onettes - Islands (Labrador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Mary Onettes' work recalls bands like The Ocean Blue or The House of Love or, when they get a tad punchier, Echo & The Bunnymen. Now that comparisons are out of the way, let me tell you about Islands. It's not a perfect album, but it does what it does well. A lot of revival bands miss the finer points that The Mary Onettes have obviously keyed in on—more complex chord progressions and basslines, era-true keyboard sounds, and reverb. So much reverb! Islands is kind of like watching 120 Minutes in 1989.

Dead Stars - Break the Tide

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Dead Stars - Break the Tide (self released) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Brooklyn's Dead Stars have some immediately familiar sounds even on the first listen—Pixies' loud-soft-loud trademark, Built to Spill, Pavement and Hum when they decide to unleash the wall of guitars. Anyone claiming to be a fan of those bands should get this album today. Heavily Dinosaur Jr. influenced and, while the vocals have nothing in common, "Stupid Town" has a guitar solo that is hard to believe was not played by J. Mascis himself (this is a compliment). The band should provide him with his share of royalties regardless.

Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans

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Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans (Sub Pop) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Pissed Jeans have no time for your bullshit. The release of pent-up anger in "False Jesii Part 2," slams you in the face with a shovel and kicks off their new album King of Jeans. The rest of the record's eleven tracks dig your grave with heavy, pulverizing guitar rock. Blaring aggression is Pissed Jeans' strength, a lesson channeled from the greats: The Jesus Lizard, Flipper and The Stooges, to name a few. The Recession got you feeling down? Pissed Jeans don't really care.

The Black Drumset - S/T

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The Black Drumset (self released) [audio]

Home recorded as a solo project with heavy processed drums, electronically edited into an avalanche of dub, distorted over driven keyboards, minimal vocals, occasional guitar freak outs and even a thunderstorm mixed in. Lots of nods to My Bloody Valentine, Spectrum and The Stone Roses. This entire thing is cut up, looped, run through pedals and eventually lands in a drugged up psychedelic haze that should be enough to convince some psych rock bands to stop dicking around, embrace technology and still release important records.

Mos Def - The Ecstatic

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Mos Def - The Ecstatic (Downtown) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Mos Def returns with an album that benefits as much from its attention deficit disorder as it does its musical schizophrenia. Alternating between the live band feel of 2004's The New Danger and more conventional sample-based tracks, Mos jumps from idea to idea effortlessly while ensuring the album remains engaging throughout. A lesser artist would leave The Ecstatic sounding like a demo reel of half-finished songs, but Mos Def has finally taken ownership of his impulsive style. He's the Robert Pollard of hip hop.

Desmond & The Tutus - Tuckshop

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Desmond & The Tutus - Tuckshop (Awesomeland) [audio] [upcoming shows]

They're probably not acquainted, but Desmond & The Tutus and Vampire Weekend are would-be members of a very tiny mutual appreciation society. Odd that D&TT (from South Africa) sound a little more Brooklyn while Vampire Weekend (from Brooklyn) sound a little more South African, but the fundamentals are the same for both. Tuckshop is a great collection of slightly dance-punky pop tunes, the best being "Kiss You on the Cheek," a wonderful little bit of jingle-jangle with harmonica you'll just love.

Air - Love 2

Air - Love 2 (Astralwerks) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The sad, horrible truth is that Air peaked five years ago with Talkie Walkie. Everything since resembles the scattered and reverberating soundwaves from earlier albums that have gone out into space, bounced off Saturn's rings and come back to Earth completely watered down and played out. Love 2 is a constant 46 minutes of highly stylized mush. It sounds rich and romantic and dreamlike, all things which Air is known for. That's the extent of it, however. No one's gonna remember this album a year from now.

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

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