November 2009 Archives

Circulatory System - Signal Morning

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Circulatory System - Signal Morning (Cloud Recordings) [audio]

Brace yourself for a 46-minute ride of psychedelia in its most potent form. Signal Morning, the new Circulatory System record, has infinite forward movement, a creation with such depth that it begs for multiple listening sessions. Meticulously crafted riffs off fuzzy guitars, four-track tape manipulations, and deranged lyrical fury coalesce to form the most complex, wholly new record of the year. This album breathes musical brilliance and imperfect elegance. I say, seven years well-spent. Long live Elephant Six.

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

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Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster (Interscope) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The Fame Monster, like The Fame before it, is unfuckwithable where the big, banging club tracks are concerned. Lady Gaga is praised for the theatrical, visual element of her performance, but she really does write strong material to back it up. Where she's weakest is her softer side. The ballads are just self-indulgent and go nowhere slowly. "Bad Romance," "Dance in the Dark," and "Telephone" all rub shoulders with her best work, though, and she's already half way to a greatest hits album just a year into her career.

The Middle Eight - Love EP

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The Middle Eight - Love EP (self released) [download] [upcoming shows]

The Love EP is such a strange sound in the context of 2009 indie rock. It's not skuzzy, purposely camouflaged in lo-fidelity or derailed by gimmicks. In fact, it's all "la-la" choruses and straightforward melodies (occasionally with full brass accompaniment, as is the case with "Ain't No Compromise"). The most recognizable comparison I could make would be Sloan at their most playful, but even then I'm selling them short. The Love EP is a hard, refreshing kick in the mind grapes.

Coming Soon - Ghost Train Tragedy

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Coming Soon - Ghost Train Tragedy (Kitchen) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The bad news is that Ghost Train Tragedy is, at fifteen tracks, about five tracks too long. And even at ten tracks, there would still be some filler. The good news is that when Coming Soon is on, they are really on. "Moonchild" and "Walking" are both challenging and entirely familiar, portraying the band as supremely confident musicmakers who could hold their own against any '80s guitar band we now worship. Maybe one day, they'll get the formula down for an entire album's worth of material as good as their best songs are now.
Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (Dead Oceans) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Califone is a sophisticated band with an old school sound. Their new album All My Friends Are Funeral Singers demonstrates how they have mastered the mixing of traditional blues and soul with electronic and rock flourishes. Tim Rutili's tortured vocals align perfectly with the brilliant musical arrangements, helping to construct Califone's always interesting style. "Giving Away the Bride," "Buñuel," "Ape-Like" and the title track are all crucial entries into the Califone canon.

Thavius Beck - Dialogue

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Thavius Beck - Dialogue (Big Dada) [audio] [upcoming shows]

He's probably better known for his work with other people than for what comes out under his own name, but Dialogue is a solid collection that spends time on both sides of the line between hip-hop beatmaking and electronic experimentalism. Even when the tracks feature vocals, they rise above categorization (they're not MTV-ready, but they're too tech-y to be backpacker hip-hop). The beats are the real draw, though. It's as if Kraftwerk, The Neptunes and Fennesz fell into a supercollider and fused at the sub-atomic level.

Shudder to Think - Live From Home

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Shudder to Think - Live From Home (Team Love) [audio]

The twelve-year evolution of Shudder to Think ended in 1998, leaving members to focus on side projects, solo albums, and many a song for television and movies. Whether you heard them as an ultra-unique punk band or an ultra-unique alternative rock band, once you were bitten by the bug they became an instant favorite by way of cutting guitars, bizarre lyrics, and that hypnotizing falsetto. The reunion was a major to-do, captured as a greatest hits of sorts on Live From Home, an album that will no doubt please us fans longing to recapture the magic.

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

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