Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Dodos - Beware of the Maniacs

A one man band, who happens to have a drummer along the way, Meric Long proudly marches forth with the freak (folk) flag long established in California. Wait, let’s start over, this isn’t really freak folk at all. These songs are a man with a guitar played blisteringly fast, well, and very much in a blue(grass) tradition. Besides his technical virtuosity, the drumming adds a hauntingly hollow skeleton on which Meric sings wistfully, wails confidently, and plucks that guitar so prettily. Imagine the world’s loveliest beluga whale, in a deep blue aquarium, with a large maple dreadnaught guitar, and all the other sea creatures hammering out simple complex percussion as the kids gather around the tank, bopping their heads. Early Animal Collective, raw The Robot Ate Me, or Uncle Billy at your families last picnic after one too many opium hits, this is astonishingly fresh and rightfully raucous. Play all the damn time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dead Syndrome- The Ortolan

An ortolan is a French bird notorious for it’s use in gourmet cooking. Caught in nets, the bird is overstuffed until it is 4 times its size. Then, it is drowned in brandy or any other hard liquor on hand and roasted over hot coals. Eaten whole, this album has a perfect title. Sweet bird flesh folk songs, bone guitars crunching in your teeth, piercing your gums during the extended jam sessions, the salty keyboard riffs pouring out of your jaws, the bitter lyrical organ meat hinted at throughout. You also have to eat this album under a napkin or linen cloth, although this time for hipsters and not God. It teeters uncomfortably close to Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, and CYHSY, while mostly dancing in modern blah pop. But, through solid production, having fun, and being damn talented, it doesn’t make a shit. This album is damn good. Give it a chance. They will be popular soon, so get in on the ground floor.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Good Life - Help Wanted Nights

While putting the crunchy vocals of Tim Kasher slightly ahead of brushed drums, Album of the Year wasn’t. Murky, subdued. Vivid and listless. 37 shades of tri-color rotini. Having an actual band, instead of whoever happens to be wandering through Omaha, keeps this album expansive, consistent, and crunchy in all the right ways. It’s like sticking pop songs in the broiler. What’s more spectacular is that this album is nothing more than archetypes and clich├ęs of small town drunks and whores. An abstraction of Tim’s first movie. But he abstracts them so well, that the cheesy parts don’t seem cheesy and the serious parts aren’t taken all too seriously. It keeps everything focused on lodging his wailing and guitar howling and drum drummering deep inside your log cabin mind.

Child Bite - Gold Thriller

You never expect such an obscure band to be so excellent. Sure, they have more influences than Zsa Zsa Gabore has husbands, but this entire album kicks more jerks than the serious. Instead of filling up 20 tracks of blah quality, they’ve provided 6 exceptional tuneskies, all perfect in composition, length, lyrics, and use of fuzz. And oh, the fuzz. Fuzzier than the eyesight of Zsa Zsa’s makeup artist. And last five husbands, for that matter. Play this heavily, you fools.

Jaguar Club

As far as decades go, the ‘80s were nothing short of waking up with your pants off in a Eurotrash 2 door coupe 30 miles east of where you were last conscious. How you got there, why you got there, and the strange, incredulous feeling you get looking back on those times all are the ’80s. New wave. Mall hair. Stirrup pants. Wait, let’s stick to New Wave. New Wave began as a way to brush off punk bands and sell them to society at large. Once bands started to call themselves New Wave, all bets were off. As everything does, it was cool, then cheesy, then on VH1, and now it’s ironically hip. In comes The Jaguar Club. They are New Wave. I don’t know why they bother, but them’s the breaks.

Tennis and the Mennonites - Quilt Noise

“Read me a story Uncle Oberst!”

“Man, I fucking hate kids.. which one do you want, little snotty Jerstin?”

“How to be a song writer!”

“Fuck. Ok. Once upon a time, pick up a damn guitar. Start singing. Wiggle your voice like fish having sex. The End.”

“Aww, that sucked, you’re a dink, Uncle Oberst!”

“Fuck, fine, let’s get out my damn finger puppets. I’m going to cry.”

“Yay!”

M.I.A. - Kala

Take a jalapeno mango flavored popsicle and jam it in your ears. Take it out and repeat, while hand clapping. Get a beat going, jam it in your ears, get a beat going, jam it in your ears, get a beat going. This is M.I.A., aka Maya, aka Mathangi Arulpragasam. If you don’t get it yet, you will. At some point you’ll know. Over your broccoli and cheese soup or over a political enemy you’re snuffing out, you’ll screech “Jimmmmmmmy!” in a high falsetto and you’ll understand. It’s Lady Sovereign with some actual problems to be pissed about. No, there is no going back. Good luck, we’re counting on you.

Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil

Every generation has their tragedies. What defines us is how we deal with these tragedies as a society. Once upon a time, the survivors of the Hindenburg were kept in terra cotta pots. Not too long ago, every family had their own image of their favorite cat floating on a door down the flooded Mississippi River, never to be seen again, matted and framed above the fire place. For our generation, we only have the mental images of the Black Lips guitarist pissing in his mouth and playing guitar with his own pecker. You didn’t have to be there; it’s an image that is collectively carried by us as a society. Oddly enough, the only way to erase these images is by spinning this disc. This perfect grungy punky invasion era brit pop southern anthem disc. It really is their best yet. It really is perfect. It really is punk as fuck.

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter is none more classic than playing apple pie and eating baseball. Between our ears, amber waves of grain undulate through long past memories of warm summer nights, rolled down windows, first loves sitting passenger, and Bruce Springsteen falling out the dashboard. Folk has been born, died, relived, accepted, rejoiced, forgotten, returned. From Woodie fighting the fascists armed solely with a G and C chord, to last summer’s freak folk explosion, Josh Ritter returns quietly to a time when Bob Dylan was still doing covers. Even when Historical Conquests explores either a nuclear annihilation or Joan of Arc, he does so simply and effortlessly. For those who are already fans, this is his most wide swinging album to date – barn burners, motor-mouthing, and simple sweet ballads all are patriots here.

Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills

Go to any town in the Midwest, find a dinky high school out in the scraps, then look for the kids in black standing on the side of the road “off school property” grumbling and smoking cloves. Take the Shout Out Louds sophomore release, put it into a Cure dust jacket, throw it to the hungry crowd, and no one would be the wiser. Every lyric breathlessly uttered finds itself somewhere between Robert Smith or Morrissey while the jangling guitars meander around simple 4/4 percussion and, at times, a string quartet. Most importantly, it doesn’t sound hokey at all. Somehow, be it the sincerely uttered dark and brooding words or the simple sweet Swede-pop of it all, it simply works. Definitely for Cure/Smith fans.