The Opposite Within
( Abascus ) 2004
Welcome to fucking America Caliban!
German metalcore masters, Caliban, have returned with a new full length and a new on home on Abacus records. With the new home comes a change within the band's sound. The band have dropped their thrash metal with breakdowns that would make most hardcore bands cower for a more refined sound that could be described as a German take on Killswitch Engage. A gripe I have always had with Caliban's releases has been the production quality. Fortunately for "The Opposite Within" it was producded by Anders from In Flames and mixed by Andy Sneap (Killswitch Engage). After just a few seconds into "The Beloved and the Hatred" you will notice quite a dent in your skull.. . THIS ALBUM IS THAT BRUTAL.
The only minor complaint I have with this release is the overuse of the singing. In some tracks the singing is very well placed but the track that stuck out like a sore thumb would have to be "My Little Secret" it was around that track that I wished the singing was reduced to just a few tracks. Aside from the monotonous singing at some points this is one mammoth of an album.
leaving a stamp on the metalcore scene with their old sound, Caliban
change things up a bit and for the most part work out brilliantly. One
up to Caliban, one up to Abacus Records, and last but not least one
up to Germany.
We Burn Bridges
Being compared to the likes of Converge, Ed Gein and Botch are definitely big shoes to fill. Especially when you've only released one EP to date. And in a genre that's beginning to be flooded with hundreds of cheesy bands with 'death metal' names, it's getting quite ridiculous. So when I came across this cd in the ol' sctas mail room, I chuckled to myself thinking it was going to be like everything else.. .
And then the sound of pure fucking chaos erupted from my speakers, destroying anything that was in the path of this sonic wall of mass destruction... and mainly my eardrums. When one thinks tech metal they think of the 'murderers' known as Ed Gein. Well, step aside Ed Gein, there's a new sheriff in town. Caligula bring more than the rock. They brought the roll, the breakdowns, and the machetes to let loose on all the non-believers. Not only will this shit make you go insane from trying to figure out what the hell's going on, but then you can spin kick to your hearts content with their menacing breakdowns.
gives no fucks as they tear it down on their debut EP on United Edge.
( Compadre ) 2004
Kate Campbell is yet another in the line of Americana-type performers: she's a singer, a songwriter, a mixture of folk and progressive country, soupcons of rock, old-school Southern R&B, & gospel, looks like just-plain-folks (leaning towards grad-school-cool), all in the lineage of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Terri Hendrix, etc. The more cynical among Us might well ask, "Does the world need yet another performer like this?!?" If she's as good as Kate Campbell, my answer is, "Yer darn tootin' we do, by gum." Campbell has the same winning straightforwardness with a melody and combination of old-school directness and erudite detail with lyrics as the aforementioned, and the album's general ambiance is gentle without being soporific, like Campbell is at peace, if not with herself, with the stories she tells. I mean, jeez, I saw a performer who shall remain nameless at Schuba's in Chicago recently and -- aside from the fact that she don't sing all that well & her lyrics were mawkishly "poetic" in that middle-school manner -- what made her really hard to take was the sense that she was laying some Tremendous Insights Onto the Audience. One of the reasons Campbell's overall approach is so appealing is her unassuming nature, as if she's across the room from you, telling a story. OK, she does get a little TOO earnest and didactic sometimes -- "Crazy In Alabama" is a tad heavy-handed Sixties' History Lesson and she wonders aloud where her Muse [oy] is.
Where is the ghost of Phil Ochs when you really need him to inspire singer-songwriters? Ochs had a healthy sense of outrage, but it was tempered with slightly caustic wit. But if Nanci, Emmylou, early Lucinda, et. al., is your cup of Harmonious Introspection, then you can be good to yourself (in general, do so AT LEAST once a day) & pick up on THE PORTABLE KATE CAMPBELL (which includes re-recordings of songs on her discs on the Compass label - go figure - and incidentally features harmony vocals from Rodney Crowell, Kim Richey, & Nanci G.)
Mark Keresman 11.16.04
( Mute/Spoon) 1973
'Future Days' was Can's last stand with Damo Suzuki intact before he took off to become a Jehovah's Witness. So it is mostly important for being a document of the unparalleled cohesive-ness they achieved before they lost the strange tension that created their sound (and went off towards a somewhat sad conclusion of disco and side projects with The Edge etc.). After seeing the Can documentary most of my earlier suspicions were confirmed. Without Damo, Michael Karoli and Irmin Schmidt took too much melodic control and were allowed to roam much too freely over the rhythmic landscapes created by Jaki Leibezeit and Holger Czukay. The key to Can was it's impossible democracy which requires everyone's instrument to be somewhat obscured by the others. For me, Karoli's guitar is the only element that weigh's them down and dates their sound. Regardless, I consider Can to be in that special group of the most creative and beautiful achievements musical democracy can create along with Led Zeppelin and the Velvet Underground.
Whereas Ege Bamyasi or Tago Mago present a more well-rounded picture of Can's abilities, Future Days succeeds as a different type of experiment. They create a more pleasant, softer surface to their sound that might cause one to wonder how much they were listening to Miles Davis' 'In a Silent Way' and 'Bitches Brew' - which were released almost four years earlier. Considering how revolutionary some of the editing processes Holger Czukay had been using since Can's debut, it may be worth speculating if the 'Bitches Brew' mixing sessions were influenced by Can's method of splicing jams together to create seamless transitions of texture. 'Spray', one of my favorite Can songs, could easily be mistaken for something off of Bitches Brew.
With hindsight, Future Days shows us what a crucial asset Damo Suzuki was in helping to provide a shape and trajectory for Can's jamming tendencies. In addition, even when Can lost their way, I find it hard to find fault with Jaki Leibezeit, who always held down their music with total grace and composure; riding the fence of busy-ness and over-technicality perfectly. The last song on Future days reveals some of Can's greatest strengths and weaknesses. 'Bel Air' features some their most inspired playing and contains one of their signature breakdowns where the music drizzles down into unsureness only to explode back into one of their tightest rhythmic orgies. And then, foreshadowing their fate to come, Czukay needlessly glues on a redundant two minutes of a weaker version of the same jam. Still, 'Future Days' in it's entirety can continuously reveal it's depth and beauty to us now with repeated listening.
Emil Amos 11.28.04
William Of Orange
( Hometapes ) 2004
"When I got to operations I figured I was bulletproof to sound ".
Design - when executed properly - is just as bold as a Pantone 109 yellow billboard on Broadway.. . anywhere. The Caribbean, here presenting five perfect slow jams of the guitar > drum > static-under-lyric bound thesis (they've worked with TomLab), have encased their disc with some damn fine design. Glossed on all folds & taking notes from the yearly tax forms, photo-exceptionalist Sara Padgett's lens and eye shine with stark images of everywhere correct, USA. The enhanced, FLASH-powered portion of the diskette is strongly advised - someone give this girl a hug for me. Make it three.
These slow jams cross over multiple religiously worshiped styles, from the Fruit Bats (see: "William of Orange") to a fiber-optic transmitted Flaming Lips (see: "The Druggist's) - all while infusing a strong series of prim & proper percussion, thanks due to Aquarian Drumheads! "The Night Panel" will thoroughly rock your soul with it's drummer boy-esque opener and "pink lemonade & neapolitan ice cream celebration on the last day of grade school" beauty.
The band may have a fetish with OTC medications (or a bit-o-trouble with "asthma attacks" on "William of Orange"), dropping hints at such brand names as 'Dramamine' and 'Dristan' - while delivering five fantastic compositions that go well with any flavor of generic Robitussin. When great design and picture perfect audio meet, all we should be required to do is play it loud and in multiples. "William of Orange" is just this occasion.
If Perishable was still a functioning label - I can totally see The Caribbean finding justified teammates.
"Is it me, or is anybody else out there in TV Land getting a little weary of all these ultra-minimalist, abstract/conceptual improv/drone, so-quiet-can't-tell-when-it's-over albums???
In the informational blurb for Tom Carter's Monument: "The album is an improvised locality where sounds are related by mass and interval as opposed to note or key." Fascinating. In plain English, forget melody, rhythm, harmony -- that's for squares. Just get out that lap steel guitar and generate some kind of (to borrow an album title of the Spongetones') "textural drone thing." OK, I AM being a bit harsh -- this disc is not bad per se, but (at the risk of coming across the Wise Old Towel) I've heard this kind of stuff TOO OFTEN (and done better, at that) over the past 10 or 20 years. It's to the point now where this kinda stuff is in its own way just as reactionary and self-absorbed as old-school arena-rock. I mean, if you're between the ages of 5 and 25 and never, ever heard Alvin Lucier (you want conceptual drone, the absorbing "music" of vibrating metal molecules, listen to his disc Music On A Long Thin Wire, on the Lovely label), Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Charlemagne Palestine, Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3/E.A.R.), John Cage, Morton Feldman, Main, B.C. Gilbert, Maggi Payne, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, Carl Stone, Thomas Koner, Pauline Oliveros, etc., etc., then you might find this to be of interest. Otherwise, this is 50 minutes of vague musings/meanderings on lap steel guitar. Meantime, I'm gonna go record my faithful electric fan (moves the air, soothing white noise) & pitch it to some label.
-Mark Keresman ::(09.22.04).
"Welcome, it's a world of hate." [from Buried Dreams]
So be it...
Fuck it...you know what? If you would only sacrifice the fifteen (or so) dollars for this release, you would clearly see that, essentially, it reviews itself. However, if you're not willing to sacrifice a small portion of your allowance, then you should be first convicted of extreme music negligence and secondly (and most importantly) subjected to extreme music maniac #2's flawless thrashing and subsequent disembowelment.
not reviewed by:
C A R I B O U (or Manitoba for the rest of us)
The Milk of Human Kindness
( Domino ) 2005
Right off the bat, Caribou's The Milk of Human Kindness hooks you. It's almost indescribable the way that Dan Snaith, Mr. Caribou, creates a sound that is so unique, so happy sounding, and so refreshingly exciting. And yet, I shall try to describe exactly that.. .and more. Everyone knows a guitar sound, an oboe, whatever. But what are these? Sure, they're probably synths, or computer programs, but it's more than that. It's creation from the ground up; creative freedom. We live in an age of creative freedom, at least if you believe The Milk of Human Kindness. Even when Snaith bases a song around a guitar part, it seems new. It doesn't sound like a crusty ol' acoustic guitar. Heck, it might not be. Who knows?
At times, this CD does get mired in repetition, but that is one of the luxuries of the un-genre multi-era non-category that Caribou inhabits. Sure it's "electronic" music (that's where they'll have it at Tower), but it's still recognizable as pop, it definitely rocks at times, and it swirls around in a psychedelic yet cranial manner. This isn't stoner music. Trust me, I tried. But by the Canned Heat of track 5, "Bees", arguably the catchiest song on the CD, you're grabbing for the saw and hacking away at the roof of your Ford Focus, trying to recall the windiest road within a thirty-mile radius. It's time to stretch your wings. When's the last time you stretched your wings? Did something that you - who you know you are - normally don't do?
Admittingly, after the first couple of songs, The Milk of Human Kindness does become jumbled, a myriad of noise and beats. It took a few listens to get cozy with it, to open up to it, to just let it infiltrate the auricles. And while Caribou's latest might not make sense right off the bat, it is very much so, curiously enjoyable and damn near transcendental.
Sir Henry Tobias Montgomery I 06.25.05
Arsonist's Prayer / ready to leave, ready to live split
"So die-die and become-perish, let go and be done".
May our creator bless the guy at 'International Books' (Carrboro, NC) who pointed me in the direction of these two bands on a mission. Catharsis: I'm not even going to attempt to compare these guys to anyone I have ever heard, as that would be a great insult to this band that really deserves to be heard. Follow the link below to the band page and download their track; if you are open-minded, into heavy music played the right way, or both, you will not be disappointed. Let me address the fact that I am normally not into what some call "politikal'" music, but when bands such as (the late) Refused & Catharsis have shit to get off their chests, you have to listen. It's taken me quite a while to track down info. on either band, originally thinking this was solely a Catharsis relase, but Newborn have been the toughest band to track down. "(Fuck these) 'I did this yesterday's / (Fuck these) 'Oh, I might do that tommorrow's." The 3 tracks Newborn contribute to this split are unbelievably, amazingly heavy. You have to hear them, as describing any of them, esp. "Dead Poet Society" (track 4), couldn't possibly do them justice. Both of these bands hit the 'neu-metal' genre squarely in the balls, leaving a kid like me only needing to hear much more. 4 tracks, 19+ minutes, beautifully textured & extremely fucking heavy, Catharsis, as well as Newborn are quite possibly two of the best bands you have yet to hear.
Halls of Amenti
( Willowtip ) 2004
This record is NOT normal Cephalic Carnage stuff. But I will say this.. .this record owns all Doom Metal. As if the packaging and artwork isn't enough to purchase this cd already (clear cd with Pink Floyd enspired images), the music is totally nuts. Halls of Amenti is the first disk in a trilogy of 3 doom metal cds Cephalic Carnage has promised to make (GET MOVING ON THAT CEPHALIC!!!). The song on this disk is 19 minutes long dead even. The song is comprised of different sections. If you have listened to Cephalic Carnage before you know they are an ultra fast grind-ish band. This album is totally different. The entire album is slow, and when I say slow I MEAN SLOW. But don't think because it's slow it can't be insane. This album flip-flops time signatures like a mofo. The ending is enough to make your head spin. Basically you get a constant pattern from guitar 1 and another constant pattern from guitar 2. They start out sounding like they are playing the same thing and then guitar 2 begins to trail off. You get confused and then in a matter of seconds everything comes back in and locks. It's similar to something some band nerds would try to do in high school cause they read a book about theory but didn't really understand what they were reading. If you are a fan of heavy music and awesome art then go buy this cd. If your an art fag like I am, you'll buy it JUST for the art and then realize you bought a brilliant album. The singer for this band told me that Halls of Amenti was a "joke" and then within the same sentence said "uhhh or wait, no not really, I dunno", what a weirdo. So maybe its not completely serious, but who cares? 1 song, 19 minutes, great artwork, none of that blast beat just to say "we're fast" crap, and the cd is clear.. .like - what the hell? Oh yeah, when you buy all 3 cds (once they are released) it will have their logo stretched across all 3 of them.
Pretty rad huh?
( C-Side ) 2004
I've recently read a lot of reviews that compare the band of interest to Neutral Milk Hotel, and each time I question this as genuine. I first was introduced to the Channel by a friend who was of the conviction that they were. They are, but not in sound, only in that they are producing art that is different from a lot of static that floats out of indy-experimental-america. In composition, Channel's sound is reminiscent of Elliott Smith's Figure 8, but not his lyrics. Rather the mood of this album is some sort of combination of Smithıs beautiful melodic voice and the mass of joy and confusion resonating in Of Montreal. And somewhere at the end symphonic closure steadily rocks the sound into silence in a sweet glorious soundscape where Sufjan Stevens blossoms.
Watch this band closely! And while it may take time, these sounds and ideas are reshaping and reconfiguring disorganized underground post-rock with the eloquence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Note: this music is "heard" rather than "listened to". The diction contained within these rather lofty poetics (with the exception of "Water's Covered Me"'s declaration of a"wish to see my wife again") is in no way distinguished enough over the flow of Channel's well-orchestrated sound dynamics to leave the listener with inspiration to track down specific quotes in online lyrics databases. The Channel has desegregated lyrical voice into their orchestraıs purpose, so that you donıt have to clean up those mental disturbances often created by NMH-esque artists.
Simon Jolly 02.03.05
Gang's All Here
( Kemado ) 2005
The band least likely to get a call from PETA looking for a song to back a 30-second advert (well - other than Pig Destroyer), Cheeseburger have seen, studied and near-perfected the Tap's "Smell the Glove" raw and unmatched power. With one-off track names like "Cocaine" and "Rats" that bulge at the seams with chord-power like the golden rocket in Robert Plant's pants - it had to come from New York.. . or from GG Allin's lost scrapbook.
If this main slice doesn't last (it must!) - I give this band of razzle-dazzle cats the top billing for an AC/DC tribute crew. 2 lads and one 'Christy K', who we think is a lad as well from the promo pics - Cheeseburger are hungry and haven't held out on any of the toppings.
Gang's All Here was made for "11". Rawk.
Cherub Records Comp V2
Cherub Records Comp V2
( Cherub ); 2003
Comps can be a tough combo when it comes to reviews. You may absolutely despise some artists on the disc, while at the same time coming off with a few new favorites or already loved artists. Blending some of the most unique independent bands the Virginia / DC scene has to offer (the Id, Kids Techno) , and a few others from discovered scenes like Chicago's "Cougars" and Florida's "(schwa)ray", the second installment in the Cherub Comp series satisfies. With an overly-impressive unreleased track from "Brian Hall" ( Walker's D ) & an excellent new-to-me introduction to the DC trio "Gena Rowlands Band" ( Last Words of Lesley Gore ), this comp is well worth the $5 it takes to get it in your hands.
The Impossibility of Reason
( Roadrunner ); 2003
"You are they one who led us to believe"
suggest your weak-ass hit the gym before buying this album because it
is HEAVY AS SHIT! There's more metal on this CD than a skyscraper infra-structure!
When their t-shirts read full blown ass-ripping metal you
better believe it. A complete step up from their previous effort Pass
Out of Existence, The Impossibility of Reason exhibits
a sharper, heavier, more concentrated Chimaira. Less focus on the electronics,
more focus on the guitars. I believe this is where the guitar solo makes
its triumphant return to metal. Rob Arnold executes every bit of his
axe handling duties flawlessly. And Mark Hunter is only more confident,
louder, and even more pissed off. With the rest of the rhythm section
making no small part of their job, they fill out the sound to a brutal
head banging pounding. Completely blowing away the metal competition
this year, Chimaira have come out of the clear blue sky to kick anyone's
ass and leave them begging for more. This is one CD I could not pull
out of my CD player. They have delivered what so little have been able
to accomplish: A heavy, stripped down, bloody knuckles album to please
any metal head. Crushing riffs, anthem-induced choruses, and unforgiving
on every song! I could sit here and run off stand-out
tracks but that's listing the entire album! Infact, I much prefer
The Impossibility of Reason to another long-anticipated
album, Metallica's St. Anger; and if you know me, that's
really saying something! If this album doesn't leave you with whiplash
and with one hand stuck with devil horns and the other on the repeat'
button, check your pulse kid, cause your either dead or - well, your
chin up chin up
we should have never lived like we were skyscrapers
( flameshovel ) 2004
"all the birds that you saw in your kitchen television want your hands to stop mouthing your backdoor religion"
(*For the "proper" review, skip to paragraph two) You're in the mid-backseat of your parents station wagon - a huge 2-level, 3-row wagon kids. In front of you are, as said, your mom & pop and behind you and your brothers are 5 kind faceless chaps making music that traps you in this particular automobiles nostalgia for many years that your mind will never forget. The sound, as described by your older brother later at the dinner table to mom & pop, is what could be if 'Blue Screen Life'-era Pinback (hear: 'collide the tide') should have found their way onto 4 of the 8-tracks that 'How Memory Works'-era Joan of Arc were recording on. Pops, of course, fails to make this connection while mom - who always sides with you on any issue - offers up some more peas and gravy (she's also become quite a fan of "virginia, don't drown"). You immediately excuse yourself and retreat to the rear set of the station wagon to again attempt to capture the chills that chin up chin up gave you earlier in the day. It's only then that you take notice to the fancy banjo that accompanies "all my hammocks are dying" and you begin to realize that this group of gents may be incapable of immediate categorizing. You fall asleep to the final plucks and dream the most incredible, bizarre and sparkling visions.
*Reader, as you try to imagine the sounds cast on 'we should have never lived like we were skyscrapers', I have but one thing to borrow from the vaults of time - a comparison to how the Animals felt toward the city of San Francisco:
"if the viewer cannot understand it particularly those of you who are European residents save up all your brand and fly trans love airways to San Franciscan U.S.A., then maybe you'll understand the song.. ."
Short word: hear this album, don't just take our word for it - chin up chin up deserve better. The contents could be filed under: math-rock, but the math you're hearing is likely that to be calculated specifically on scientific machines. "why is my sleeping bag a ghetto muppet?" You chose Animal, and he's as fucking trashy as Oscar in my book - but nice choice.
While most artists / bands / those of genius achieve success only after a death or retirement - c.u. c.u. have one of the more unfortunate stories that to this day lingers. While the recording of this said album, 'we should have never lived like we were skyscrapers', was still in the works - chin up x 2 lost one of it's glorious five in a horrible tragedy. Bassist and CO-percussionist Chris Saathoff, accompanied by his girlfriend who was saved from harm, was the victim of a hit-and-run in chin up chin up's hometown of Chicago. This fantastic album of ten choice offerings (of which half were finished after the band's loss) is dedicated to Chris. Somewhere this young man is weeping tears of joy - his bandmates have delivered an amazing album.
Now go do your best to locate that track entitled "Fuck You, Elton John" - and let the dance begin. Anyone who can prove us wrong in that this band was NOT named after the tune "Chin Up" from Charlotte's Web (where Charlotte encourages Wilbur) wins knowing more than we do.
+ k a l e b 11.07.04
Chin Up Chin Up
Chin Up Chin Up
( Flameshovel | Record Label ) 2005
For me - it was "Fuck You, Elton John" that first puzzled my brain into cluing in on Chin Up Chin Up. All coming from one vastly influential compilation put out by Schapendoes Records (the last thing we ever did). Then, the track was off of CUCU's 6-song self-titled EP that I immediately sought. Right about that time, CUCU was gaining momentum and about to release their stellar debut LP, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, on Chicago's Flameshovel Records - Chin Up Chin Up's home.
This reissue of the fantastic EP gathers the 6 original tracks and adds on superb bonus audio & video ('carrying capacity' [hallway films], for the LP title track). Bonus features - after you hear the original lineup, include the twinkling breakbeat remix of "Skyscrapers" (Stephen Snydacker) and Tim Kinsella (undercover, as usual) and his glitchy / incredible take on "The architect has a gun" that makes new of an already impressive song (from We Should Have Never.. ).
Chin Up Chin Up truly are the solid star that gleams in the polluted skies, directing all who follow 'hope' back home.
Fuck you, William Giraldo - from us all.
all's well that ends well
( Equal Vision ) 2005
"We're screaming at the same moon".
Hardcore needs more piano. The cowbell is a dead tool.
Chiodos, a name I figure you should both research and plan to hear plenty more of, have shoved countless genres into one giant box and named it all's well that ends well.
Be it the piano-led underscore of "The Worlds 'Best Friend' Become Redefined", that mid-way breaks bad into another realm of breakdowns and digital handclaps, to "One Day Women Will All Become Monsters" - both a ballsy track title and a throaty anthem of pure post-ATDI relevance, Chiodos took over an Ohio studio in early 2005 and left behind nothing to be desired. all's well that ends well is an album that will bend listeners minds, defy genres and - ultimately - be a defining statement for all (if any can match it) that follow behind it.
The piano, though credited as a keyboard (Bradley Bell), is the standout instrument on Chiados' Equal Vison debut. The presence of ivory is heard all throughout the album, though not holding this six-piece from hauling in leagues of drums, guitars and deep-end vocals giving fans from Darkest Hour (see:"There's No Penguins In Alaska") all the way to RUSH ("No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room") something worth destroying the furniture to.
Are you seeking diversity in a solid hardcore album? Look no further. Lead voice Craig Owens stated "We take pride in sounding better live [than on album]".. . could it get much better than this? Sign me up.
Ultra-passing grade to Paul A. Romano [many Mastodon projects, Godflesh.. .] for a terrific job on the artwork side - melding photographs of disscected baby dolls, skull anatomy and Victorian letterstyles to cradle an already impressive album. Yes.
The City On Film
( Redder Records ) 2005
Braid and Hey Mercedes - two bands with plenty of acreage covered and many adored fans to call their very own. Bob Nanna was there for each one of them as the lead singer / guitarist, and as The City On Film - he has merged his former sound with an acoustic foundation that is sure to please the masses.
Opening with "Mary, I'm Ready" (the closing track "Conclusion" its instrumental doppelganger), American Diary pulls you into the illusion that this 6-song EP is a stripped down, "where's the rock" affair with fragile vocals and an acoustic guitar. And while this would likely prove to be a solid combination of talent as an EP, "Pony's last trick" comes along and the drums and electricity flares. Joined by members of Minus the Bear to fill out the complete sound, "Pony's last trick" will carry listeners and long-time fans alike to the days of Frame And Canvas. The formula continues to deliver in even waves, with "Astray! Astray!" being the patterned acoustic keeper transferring directly into "You're gonna need that patience soon", where the intensity is again turned to "go".
With countless numbers of bands worshipped by the Myspace youth playing Braid cards they found in their older brothers collection, its reason enough to say that Bob Nanna is a pioneer and important step of the indie rock sound. With American Diary, he justifiably adds honorable mention to his past - while breaking new ground on yet another worthwhile era.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
( self-released ) 2005
I'm sure that for those of you who have already gotten your hands (and ears) on the self-titled, self-recorded debut album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you've already instinctively made the comparison between lead singer Alec Ounsworth and the Talking Heads' David Byrne. I'm also certain that the aforementioned of you have already exhausted yourself by reading an interminable onslaught of meritorious record reviews hailing CYHSY for their veritable indie-pop quality and carefree ability to make even the most calloused music veterans surrender and bob their heads in approval and delight.
But for those of you who haven't heard, allow me to be the bearer of good news: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is my (and should be your) personal summertime album of this year, not only for its exuberantly vivacious album art and seemingly buoyant melodies that will have you aching to push the repeat button like a morphine addict craving a fix, but also for its less conspicuous yet equally commendable emotive songs.
In the particularly compelling sixth track on the album, "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," the peculiar juxtaposition of Ounsworth's shaky and weary vocals with incredible accompanying instrumentation initially creates an odd fusion but before the song is in its second verse, it becomes apparent that Ounsworth's voice operates in an enchanting synchronization with the instrumentation, successfully intensifying with the more forceful chords and richer synth beats while mellowing beside the shuffling drums and steady bass.
However, even without any concentrated assessment into the instrumentation of the vocals behind the band, all of the songs on the CHYSY album offer the listener a nonchalant, absolutely revitalizing reversion to the days when music's purpose was limited to just making you feel good, creating that upsurge in happiness and that undeniable urge to open up your windows, sing along, and tap your fingers against the dash. I'm not promising anything exceptional or revolutionary about the contents of the CHYSY album, but I can assure you that if you so much as have ears, you can put aside your jaded quest for groundbreaking, avant-garde new music and make some space for what CHYSY offers without any refutation or shame: one wholesome, refreshing, fucking good pop album.
Hae Jung Shin 08.12.05
Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus
( Baria / Earthology ) 2005
Do not let the first few seconds of the intro track fool you - Cloud Cult does not make fragile, classical music. Advice From the Happy Hippopotamus, the sixth album from Cloud Cult, is a high-energy record that mixes violins and strumming guitar with psychedelic sounds, clips of dialogue, synthesized clicks and beats and lots of intense drumming. Unconventional songwriting and instrumentation may sometimes prove to be a disaster, but in the case of Cloud Cult, it ends up working quite well. Lead singer and chief songwriter Craig Minowa nearly shouts his way through most of the songs with an occasional high-pitched yelp here and there, but he is still able to maintain a sincere and steady voice on the slower tracks.
Despite the upbeat melodies, Minowa chooses to deal with more serious subject matter on many of his songs. Death often comes up (check out the semi-creepy dialogue in "Light At the End of the Tunnel"), as well as depression and hopelessness (see "Living on the Outside Of Your Skin" and "The Man Jumped Out the Window"). However, Cloud Cult still delivers an encouraging message through all the dark themes.
Cloud Cult's ingenuity cannot be debated; their latest offering is both enjoyable and reflective, with an interesting blend of instruments and sounds. Advice From the Happy Hippopotamus may be a little quirky, but catchy tunes and solid songwriting are not sacrificed.
Clue to Kalo
One Way, It's Every Way
( M U S H ) 2005
I put on Clue to Kalo's album One Way, It's Every Way in the background as I had planned to research some car insurance. A mellow album, nicely suited to background music, if it weren't so damn perfect. I didn't even make it through the first track "the younger the old", clocking in at a minute, thirty-seven, before I gave up on Geico® (don't worry, I caught up on that later). The first track starts off with a creaking chair and a softy strummed guitar. A gentle wash of cascading electronic blips and beeps sneak their way in building a richly textured musical backdrop that provides an introduction to the layered vocal tracks. The album plays as a whole rather than a track to track affair. Raising a finger towards the skip or shuffle button would be a bit of a shame and ruin the intended effect of One Way.
Mark Mitchell, the voice and talent behind Clue to Kalo, makes beautiful music partly grounded here on earth, and partly floating in the ether. One Way, Its Every Way is book-ended by two similarly named tracks, the afore-mentioned "the younger the old" and the final track "the older the young". The remaining eight chapters/songs in between make for a rewarding listen, worth revisiting. Clue to Kalo's sound might bring to mind at times american analog set, or perhaps, a more organic Postal Service. It seems like the instrumental arsenal at Mitchell's fingertips is limitless and that he's rather adept at all of them. One Way, Its Every Way comes two years in the making and, the album's delicate nuance and headphone - essential harmonies truly displays a labour of love. I'm finding it hard to argue with the label, that with his second album, Mitchell has established himself amongst a growing crowd of bedroom Beethovens and/or Brian Wilsons.
Seeing as how One Way would be worth it's price for the album artwork alone, you really ought to do yourself a favor and decorate your walls and please your ears.
Muppet Organ 09.20.05
( Contraphonic ) 2004
"I was lonely for so long, now I cannot even recall what it was like - but I guess I can do it again"
catchy jangles and fuzz explode from the onstart of Clyde Federal's
5-song EP (for 10 songs, buy it quick or read below) Sensitive
Skin with opening kindling "Behold". Follower "Model Hot", a dedication
to a fine species becomming beyond the normal hot into that "tip of
the flame" hot slows the pace for a few before crossing back into
what many bands nowdays attempt to achieve with true guitar rock on
"Behold". New York, I think Illinois has your card pulled on all that
rock revival business, and Clyde Federal is just one of the better
bands actually proving it with songs you want to hear more than one
time. Guitars, drums and autoharp have, honestly, never sounded so
'Harmacy'-era Sebadoh in a cozy Manchester (UK) studio
circa-1967 and you have one take on the likeable harmony heard here
( specifically see closer "ordeal" ). For a limited time Sensitive
Skin will be package as a 'double EP' with 2002's Please Be Real
that I soon hope to hear following the cleverly amped offering that
is given here.
Give Them Rope She Said :: v2.0
(Edsion Recordings); 2004
it take for an album to be considered a classic? Does it have to come
from a group that's had nothing but mainstream success since the day
the band was formed, then to release an album decades into their career
that's been on the Billboard 200 since the release date? Or is it possible
that it can come from a group that has had no commercial success,
next to no radio play and probably one of the most underrated
bands of its genre? Well if that is possible - Coalesce did it.
This is a group that's been around for years and everyone knows who
they are but not many people hail them as 'their favorite'. Well guess
what fuckers? Now's the time to hail,
if you didn't already. Coalesce has given new hope to a genre that's
becoming known for creating carbon copies of bands for years now. And
they gave hardcore a breath of fresh air with a RE-RELEASE. Half the
bands these days can't do that with their debut, and they're doing it
for a SECOND time (originally released in 1997) with their re-release
of Give Them Rope She Said (v2.0)
All I have
to say is - Thank You.
Colin Clary & the Magogs
Her Life of Crime
(North of January); 2004
"Do you plan of leaving, and can I go with you when you go?"
'Her Life of Crime' is every bit of a 60's get-a-way vacation album, fit for the $2 a gallon modern age. The 'Endless Summer' guitar of opener 'the shape of this town' should get you well on your way to the salty shores if nothing else. To simply say Colin Clary and the Magogs create catchy tunes along the lines of the Beach Boys would be every bit of easy - even if they do have a clever, pink bubblegum of a song like 'pet sound', telling of 2 lovers making out to the Wilson boys classic album. What they have crafted is an album that distinctly stands out in today's sweep of "who told the 80's we wanted them back?".
Colin Clary has a unique voice, somewhere between Tripping Daisy / Spree vocalist Tim DeLaughter and KOLS's Ben Barnett covering the Lily's. Joining him on many of 'crime's choice tunes is Hannah Wall (My First Days on Junk) - and her sugary voice sends songs like 'pet sound' and 'the shape of this town' swirling.
Like all love, there is also the hurt that is associated with it. 'You drove me crazy and broke my heart (but I'm still glad you were born)' make sure these tender issues are addressed - all while giving the overtone that life is still carefree and wonderful. As playful as the artwork that delivers it - 'her life of crime' wins big in todays junk music scene.
On the issue of hurt and love, why won't stunning cover model Penelope Wall return my calls? Ouch.
Collections of Colonies of Bees
( Polyvinyl ) 2005
Instrumental music is often a pedantic, plodding, highly pretentious
art form. The songs are often ten-minute epics that lack heart and over
accentuate overriding hubris. The arrangements are typically repetitive,
the musicians usually "dazzle" us with their foot pedals but
lack in playing ability, and production on the record renders it inadmissible
as artistic. Luckily, Collections of Colonies of Bees
rarely fall fate to these irritating traits.
( YepRoc ) 2004
I think there are alot of people / critics / fans who toss the term "pop" around with a very skewed definition trailing it. In an attempt to keep this frivolous situation (ie: my ramble) short - 21st century "pop"ular music (by this writers opinion) normally gets attached to either mainstream "blah" (for example, Everclear) or catchy little jingles that remind you of the great explosion in the "bubblegum" sixties. I'm rambling because North Carolina quintet (or more, depending on the photo you're viewing) The Comas are begging me, a kid who just writes out of love and despises the term, to attach this "pop" thing to their unbelievable album 'Conductor'. I suppose if I had the controls at the "mass definition database" here on our miles beyond corrupt globe, I would put a soundclip of "tonight on the wb" next to the modern text for this term. Structured around a band that sounds so very much in control and on fucking fire, "tonight on the wb" had me stuck, replaying the glorified damned thing over & over. Lead-man Andy Herod, and his "your legs are so skinny / you're so rich with meaning" atop this 3-plus minute gem coated so heavy in charred irony (".. I love it when you fall apart") may just reinstill your faith in not only catchy music but fantastically accesible music altogether.
Continuing right along on this path of rebirthing your corporate senses is a stunner of a track by the name of "employment". Weezer at their height (Blue Album-era) didn't write a better tune that this one here, and that's a tough break - 'cause "Buddy Holly" was pretty damn good.
The thing that truly sets 'Conductor' apart from those who attempt to call themselves a decent rock band, and after we point out Alan Weatherhead is all over this record, is the overall sum of it. The Comas know exactly when to put the intensity down (see: ""tonight on the wb", "invisible drugs") and break out the pedal steel and / or synth (see: "moonrainbow", "hologram"). Smart bands are tough to come by in this global twitch of leather jacket bullshit "they" try to feed us all - and that is just one of a countless number of aspects making The Comas so very, very listenable.
I hear 'Conductor' was, like alot of normal folks lives, driven by a relationshop gone grim - but "I get my information from a tool" - so I could be wrong (but I'm not). Then again, the moon is a loose theme as well, so maybe you should get the family motivated and hear some of this wonder. Pop never sounded do right - and 'Conductor' packs more genres into eleven tracks than nearly any album I have resting on my shelves.. . and I'm a collector kids.
Now, if we tried to get off of your monitor without making mention of the bonus DVD packaged with 'Conductor', there would be a band (The Comas) and a creative force (Brent Bonacorso) done completely wrong. This isn't your standard "hey - we're a rock band, come watch us play some shit and drink some shit and, yeah, shit around" bonus documentary - this DVD, labeled 'Conductor the movie" is a new finding in itself. These eleven movies ("Hey, isn't that the chick that died on Dawson's Creek!!??") are just as groundbreaking as the music that inspired them - to imagine they were created solely for use as the "live production background" is just too damn cool for school.
The final score: Chapel Hill - 11, all the naysayers - zip.
:: kaleb 11.26.04
Comets on Fire
Like a blinding series of non-forcasted panzer attacks, how does one prepare for the wrath that Comets on Fire unleashes on opener 'The Bee and The Cracking Egg'? If you know what is best for you, you make a last-minute dash for the forest - Blue Cathedral serving as your personal navigation, the Sun & Moon as your timing devices. Truth be told, being awoken to the morning sun as 'Pussy Foot the Duke' and all her lovely array of feedback and 'east-end of the piano' is the stuff of dreams. Hazy dreams that last all morning, all afternoon and make "normal" folks relocate to woodsiest areas of the Earth.
By nightfall, 'Whiskey River' will serve as your protector, a lone guitar screams atop mountains of instruments, closely resembling that of a modern dial-up modem gone haywire. Horns, care of one Tim Daly, appear from the darkest corners as nearly eight minutes of your life slip by knowing they were well taken care of. Voices appear, their exact message barely distinguishable - think Jim Morrison, had he been in his most reckless disposition circa-'The Soft Parade'.
on Fire have made their descent, the planet we currently
inhabit will soon be no longer. The lucky few have prepared, for the
clouds that dissipate post-Blue Cathedral's arrival reveal what
rewards survival can bring. The term Nebulous
Coma has never felt so pleasant.
Tournament of Champions
to the Constantines came this summer, when a friend
asked me to accompany him to a NYC show. The venue was small, dark,
and smoky, and when they took the stage and began to play, it felt like
the walls were going to collapse in on us. The energy, the electricity
- the total indescribable ROCK - was palpable. Everyone in the crowd
felt it, and even those who never dance (me included) were doing some
total rump-shakin' and/or hardcore head-nodding. I left the Mercury
Lounge that night a changed girl - these boys are GOOD. Tournament
of Hearts doesn't quite capture the intensity of a Constantines
live performance, but it comes close. The production is slightly cleaner
and crisper than their last album (2003's excellent Shine
a Light), but the sound remains dynamic. The album has an underlying
tension that propels the songs - thundering, sometimes bluesy, sinewy,
and even almost sexy (!) at times. Singer Bryan Webb adds to the mix
with his raspy, almost dirty vocals. Songs like "Hotline Operator"
and "Love in Fear" slowly simmer and blister before they open
up and explode outward, while others like "Working
The album closes with the surprisingly delicate "Windy Road", with vocals whispered by guitarist Steve Lambke. This is a "record of desire" - the dark side, the dirty side, the side that lives only in the shadows. It's a reoccurring theme that's evidenced in the album's lyrics as well, with stories of attraction and lust intertwined with chaos and disorder--there cannot be one without the other.
As the song "You Are A Conductor" suggests, "There's a little evil in everything."
You Fail Me
First let me get me one thing straight. Converge did not by any means sell out. I've heard a lot about the move to Epitaph was gonna break converge and they were gonna sell out. Not the case but unfortunately that doesn't mean "You Fail Me" is the record we've all been waiting for.
Converge shouldn't have lied when they said this was a natural progression because they didn't go anywhere musically nor production wise. Seriously, good production could have helped "You Fail Me" - and seeing as Kurt Ballou, who produced "Jane Doe" produced "You Fail Me", it is head scratching wondering how this happened. Production was not the only thing that took a hit either, Jacob Bannon's vocals have been taken down a notch. Once the owner of one the gnarliest voices in extreme music in general now has been reduced to a much more hoarse yelp. To be honest most of these tracks sound like demos that weren't good enough to be on Jane Doe.
with all the negativity surrounding this review it would seem impossible
that I would say anything good but that is not the case. Every track
has a section worth listening to and a few tracks like "You Fail Me"
and "Black Clouds" are just plain good. It's a shame that one of the
leaders of the hardcore scene just kind of stayed where they were and
let all the other bands that ripped them off like it was their day job
get ahead of them. I guess the only place to go when you have reached
your peak,("Jane Doe") is down hill.
Goodbye Cruel World (Expanded)
This album was listed among The 50 Worst Rock & Roll Records of All Time, a rather entertaining and un-PC book (regarding "classic" rock, that is -- routinely & viciously savaged are the Doors, Cat Stevens, and the G. Dead), and it doesn't rate very highly in the Costello canon compared to This Year's Model and Get Happy. Yet, compared to The Juliet Letters and Mighty Like A Rose--both way strained and heavy-handedly arty--it's actually pretty good. The songs themselves, though not Elvis' best, range from the kind of stuff the EC of 1980 would've hated ("Sour Milk Cow Blues," OY) to darn good ("The Comedians," later covered by Roy Orbison)--the main culprit is the production, which oozes that 1980s slick, twittering, Miami Vice / (in)Human League, over-produced, over-processed "sheen" that renders the Attractions as anonymous as any lot of studio hacks that you wouldn't remember from the recordings of Rick Astley, Shalamar, Miami Sound Machine, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and/or Stacey Q. [God, I'm old.] DAMN you, original producers Langer & Winstanley!
Why, then is this worth buying? This reissue, expanded to two CDs, includes a bunch of rare tracks (B-sides, such as an incredible solo version of Richard Thompson's "Whithered & Died") as well as demo & live versions of many of Goodbye's songs, proving the resilience and quality that lay beneath the fussy, the frosting-over-powering-the-cake production. For hardcore EC fans, this set is well-worth another chance.
-Mark Keresman ::(09.27.04).
on the glowing review of a certain site, I figured that Clearlake was pretty much
the second coming of British rock. After hearing takes from a couple friends that
said the release wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I was still tempted enough
to plunk down some cash for Cedars anyway. On the first (and even second) listens,
I have to admit that I wasn't very impressed. As soon as the disc stopped spinning,
I couldn't remember a single thing from it, and it went right back into my stack
of current rotations.
(Philo / Rounder)
Texan singer/songwriter Slaid Cleaves returns from an approximately four-year hiatus with a tougher sound, courtesy of producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams' back-when guitarist), augmenting his country/folk amalgam (think Robert Earl Keen, Butch Hancock, Ryan Adams before he became a "stah") with judicious use of terse, biting guitar and some firecracker drums. (But make no mistake, this isn't a "crossover" bid -- SC's sound is primarily acoustic, with acoustic guitar, mandolin and high-lonesome dobro.)
his Lone Star brethren, Cleaves has a knack for vivid detail, earthly melodies
and unadorned, direct vocal delivery that make you feel like you're within the
songs, a privileged observer to unfolding stories instead of a passive listener.
While Wishbones isn't exactly revelatory, it's nice to know the legacy
of Guy Clark and the late Townes Van Zandt is in good hands.
The Headphone Masterpiece
(Ready Set Go!); 2002
" All I want is pussy / give me some religion " - From the bio at codychesnuTT.com, word is Hollywood Records did this cat wrong - dropping his band 'The Crosswalk' prior ro the release of that outfits full-length effort "Venus Loves a Melody". Then a heart-broken Cody C. took to the bedroom of his own home and laid the foundation [ALL to 4-track] to what would eventually become the 36 track, incredible double-disc set known as "The Headphone Masterpiece". With it's extreme lo-fi hiss & pops, off kilter vocals and pre and post-song banter, you at times feel as if you have gotten hold of a "golden" session tape from the early 70's. Crusing casually in between soulful ballads (With Me in Mind; She's Still Here) and the extreme (Bitch, I'm Broke; Juicin' The Dark), The Headphone Masterpiece is just that - straight classic. The enhanced portion of the disc also has the brilliant video (and then some) for "Look's Good in Leather", which originally appeared on MTV2 well over a year ago and started the urban buzz about the king. If you don't yet know, now is the time to find the hell out - ChesnuTT will save rock'n'roll (hanging with the Roots and touring in support of Dave Matthews can't hurt anything - can it?).
L i n k s :Ches NuTT
Coheed and Cambria
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth : 3
(Equal Vision); 2003
second installment of that which is known as Coheed and Cambria kicks off with
an instrumental track. Kinda makes you feel like youre going to see Star Wars,
or watching a re-run of an old Star Trek. After an excruciating 2 minutes of that,
you finally hear a familiar sound ... Travis Stever on guitars. Alright, you think,
nothing too different. Not really sounding like the last album at all ... Then,
like a bat out of hell this song bursts out of your speakers. Followed by an all
too familiar voice ... Claudio Sanchez. Ahhhh, ye ole Coheed. Why wouldn't this
album be amazing? Think of the last, and how strangely odd, yet satisfying the
last album was. Although its not qute the same sound, it is a breath of fresh
air from all the pop propaganda flooding the music scene these days. Almost every
song on this cd is over 4 minutes, most over 6. With such lengthy songs, one would
think he'd be tired of hearing the sounds escaping the speakers ... but not I.
The range of Claudio will never get tiring. Hearing him belch out like an 80's
metal singer, then screaming like any modern hardcore vocalist will never get
tiring. Exploring many more sounds on this album than the last, I think that Coheed
and Cambria have finally found their place. A very notable sophmore release from
this four-piece. Expect more ...
Music In A Foreign Language
(One Little Indian/Navarre); 2003
Llook out for Lloyd! The rajah of romantic disillusionment returns with another round of erudite, deprecatingly sardonic lyrics & tenderly captivating melodies. For this album, he reunites with Neil Clark of his old band the Commotions, but don't expect any of the power-pop-esque strum & snap of those days of yore, or any of the 1960s/Jimmy Webb-like songcraft of Don't Get Weird On Me, Babe. In fact, this is probably his most low-key album of all, with a predominantly acoustic, folk-oriented sound, with pedal steel guitar and keyboards elegantly filling out the sound. But he's still simmering in those juices of angst, contempt, and melancholia -- even the song titles give you a club to how Cole is feeling: "No More Love Songs," "Today I'm Not So Sure," and he even covers Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good." But he still has his way with a subtle melodic hook, and the songs linger long after you've gone to sleep 'cause staying awake is more trouble than it's worth and you're tired of brooding and moping.
misery indeed loves company, set an extra place at the table for Lloyd Cole. [If
I were on a TV review show, I'd give this a hearty thumbs-up].
Everyone Alive Wants Answers
( Leaf )
This is one of those releases that literally sounds timeless. Although it is clearly a product of the digital age of manipulation, it shuffles through a hazy world of plucked strings and soft edges. Most of the tracks feel like they were captured from the edge of something more, yet that subtle space is also what helps make the recording what it is. Imagine someone playing classical records in the apartment below you, or listening across a field to hear a string quartet on the other side and you're somewhat close to the sounds of Everyone Alive Wants Answers. Mostly, this is loop music, but there's a subtle quality of manipulation at work in these little mini-symphonies. The opening album-titled "Everyone Alive Wants Answers" mixes the sounds of birds with stuttering strings and what may be someone warming up on a harp. It all prickles along through a soft haze of hiss and soon the album has moved on to "Ritournelle," as a loop of a string waltz drifts along slowly before the needle again slides off to the side and the crackle and hiss of age creeps into the track. "Your Heart On Your Sleeve" is a building, slowly-ascending filtered loop of what may have been a music box at one time, while "Goodbye Sunshine" is all backwards loops of Parisian city life that is the soundtrack of leaves leaping off the ground and re-attaching themselves to tree as seasons retreat backwards. A mixture of William Basinski and Vivaldi, Everyone Alive Wants Answers is for those who enjoy electronic music with a bit of sepia tone. It may remind you of your childhood, it may remind you of sleeping in on the weekend, and it may simply find a place in your collection next to the rest of your warm fuzzies. Nostalgic without being sappy and ambient without being pure wallpaper, this is 13 tracks and just about 40 minutes of beautiful music.
The Cooper Temple Clause
Kick up the fire, and let the flames break loose
( morning / bmg UK ); 2003 [ import ]
" And so it has to change, the notebooks now in pieces ".
For some most bands, change
is not an option. The man in the suit behind the bigger-than-jesus desk says, "If this pathetic shit sold the first round, just carbon-copy that little fortune,
put a fresh gloss on the cover and sell, sell, sell! Maybe toss in a bonus DVD
for fun, that a way the kids can't just burn it." The Cooper Temple Clause aren't
scared to mix shit up, and even though they share distribution with "by the book" Union Jack boys 'Westlife', their label seems to let them have a decent percentage
of artsitic control.
The Crack Pipes
Snakes In My Veins
Emperor Norton, 2003
I think I'll have to agree / that this is sumthin' that I'll want to
( Suicide Squeeze ) 2005
Like any self-respecting addict, I put myself through hell indulging and refraining from listening to Blocked Numbers for equal periods of time in order to examine the effect of the music on my ability to assign value and meaning to it. Now all philosophizing of music aside, this shit is really catchy. In fact its catchiness seems to be defined by a self-fulfilling playability, which upon execution, digs itself deeper and more meaningfully in and upon itself.
For a good ten tracks, Wargo et al manage to maintain a playability that is full of colorful hooks and melodic devices that catch and stick and pull you back. Bassist Matthews hops around on silky basslines, while drummer Foubert finesses his way back and forth with great timing.
The standout track, and the one that I played a dozen times before the album was released, is "No Room for Change." Granted: none of the other songs on the album are as sticky; All members stand out as proficient, and the sly structural positioning of key components give it a classic sound and memorability. I especially like the snippet that is tacked onto the last minute of the album, gripping and pulling you back to start the whole album over.
The band cites The Motors and The Nerves as influences. Upon inspection of these rare gems, their elements become evident at the base of the Crystal Skulls. However, several modern nuances collide throughout and fuse it all together at the crown. On the whole, Blocked Numbers is immediately engaging and progressively catchy. An easy 12/13 skulls.
Ridge Bardo :: 05.05.05
Cult of Luna
( Earache ) 2004
The REAL soundtrack to our apocalypse has finally arrived.
Swedish doom metal extraordinares Cult of Luna have come back with what could be called the "Dark Side of the Moon" for extreme music. Having stepping up their game alot, the Cult have put together a record that should forever go down as a gem in doom metal history. The whole album works as cohesive units, meaning that listening out of sequence just wont do it and stopping in the middle is a no no as well. The album opens with the track "Echoes" - the 4 minute wait for the bulk of the track are the most excruciating 4 minutes you will ever experience. Like a suspense flick that keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for the murderer to pounce on the unsuspecting victim, "Echoes" contains that sort of suspense until you reached the guitar down tuned lower than the core of the earth. Then you reach a very soothing halt in the song when beautifully sung female bridge pleasantly surprises us (I'm not talking about bull shit From Autumn to Ashes female vocals here) only to be bludgeoned back into submission. That is only one song for you folks.
A mere review can not explain what Cult of Luna achieves with "Salvation." Finally all the naysayers can shut their trap about this band being an Isis or Neurosis clone because Cult of Luna has just surpassed anything any of those bands have ever done.
you brilliant Swedes - you have just made my life with the perfect
Art Is Hard (E.P.)
Saddle Creek, 2003
Someone to love - and you fuck it up! " - cursive rock. Yes, 'art is hard' is
a fantastic song in itself (see 'ugly organ' review) but the main focus here is
a brilliant, non-album 6+ minute song entitled 'sinner's serenade'. Serving as
that one extra track you wish 2000's Domestica had on it, the portrayal of a fucked
up relationship situation 'sinner's serenade' evokes would have fit perfectly
alongside prized Domestica tracks 'The Martyr' and 'Making Friends & Acquaintances'.
My only gripe is that I paid a dollar more than I could have at the show a couple
of weeks ago. Oh well, word is Tower needs the money. Speaking of art, it seems
art comes rather easy to somebody, 'cause the packaging & actual disc art for
this 2-song release is AMAZING! The disc is mostly "see-thru" clear with the full-color
cover art as well as lyrics from 'sinner's serenade' printed all around. Beautiful.
The Ugly Organ
Saddle Creek, 2003
hidin' in the leaves . . in the cd jacket sleeves". Out with the old, in with
the new. Cursive's fourth release, the newest full-length since 2000's 'Domestica',
an album autobiographically based around a turbulent relationship, finds Tim Kasher
and his extremely talented legion continuing to explore territory it seems they
will soon own. Fans of early Cursive albums that have not kept up with the past
2 EP's (the fabulous 'Burst & Bloom', as well as the split with Japan-based Eastern
Youth, '8 Teeth to Eat You') will undoubtably notice a much more "matured" approach
to what most call "indie rock". The addition of Gretta Cohn on cello will certainly
spark a desire to see them live, as she can hold her own in the band with a "I
can play as gentle / I can make this instrument bleed" approach that is unlike
any other. Fans of Tim's "slower" outlet, The Good Life, will also appreciate
nearly each track on 'The Ugly Organ', as the songwriting and pace has made for
a "heavier Good Life" type of album. As far as standout tracks are concerned,
this entire album shines. I have listened to 'The Ugly Organ' more than any other
cd I have come across this year (and many from last year as well), making it a
permanent part of my daily thought process. That's not to say this album is 'soft',
for it surely has its hungry moments ('Some Red Handed Slight of Hand', "A Gentleman
Caller'), and these moments are totally a band at it's best. God bless the Cursive.
Cyann & Ben
Happy Like An Autumn Tree
( Locust ) 2004
Don't confuse Parisian co-ed quartet Cyann & Ben with the free folk or acid folk movement/sub-genre - they are successors to Pink Floyd, the PF before psuedo-profound, lugubrious albums like The Wall, that's to say. C&B have the save diaphanous, languid, rich-with-weary-resignation vocals, elegantly forlorn melodies, slow (though not slow-core) tempos, pre-recorded sound effects/samples, their group sound is ensemble-oriented and relatively conservative (generating mood & texture) use of keyboards & electronics. I mean, after first listen, I looked for Norman Smith or Alan Parsons to be listed among the engineers or producers. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, as - now, let's not throw the baby out with bathwater - the Floyd did have their cool post-Syd Barrett moments (Saucerful of Secrets, Animals, Meddle). And after a very difficult day or extremely rough night, the overcast reverberations of Cyann & Ben are REALLY very soothing and comforting without becoming sappy or precious.
[Btw, this would make a perfect gift for that older friend, sibling or parent that's not bought an album since Dark Side of the Moon.]
Mark Keresman 01.09.05