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by Stephen Rowland

28 Sep 2010


Oh, Clarity. Where have you gone? Why can’t you come back? Why have you left me alone?

I speak of course of Jimmy Eat World’s second full-length, the apex of its ever-lengthening career, and a paragon of emo when emo’s flame was still burning bright. Released in 1999, it put the likes of the Promise Ring, Modest Mouse, Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, and all those, sad, sad, pensive bands to shame while said bands were creating the best music of their careers. It was a mainstay in my Discman, filtered through a cassette adapter in my old Mazda truck that possessed only one operational speaker when I was 17 years old. Attached to, and enthralled by, its apparent simplicity yet simultaneous complexity, each song graced my ears over and over again, with lyrics confessional, thoughtful, and challenging, and music shimmering and beautiful even in its most aggressive moments. To this day, I still cherish it. Static Prevails (1996) was a strong debut, but Clarity was such a monumental leap forward that I knew, I just knew, the band would evolve into a musical force to make naysayers and hipsters eat their arrogant little words.

And then there was Bleed American (inexplicably going self-titled after the attacks of September 11th, 2001). After one listen, I was in full-on contempt mode. A pop record? A fucking POP record? Not just a pop record, but one with treacly ballads like “Hear You Me” and “My Sundown”, so ready for dishonest touching moments on WB programs and the last dance at the prom. And let’s not forget embarrassing misfires like “Get It Faster” which set eyeballs rolling with its pseudo-metal interludes; and added to that, the confusing phenomenon of “Cautioners” and “A Praise Chorus”, which are literally, chord-for-chord, the exact same song, albeit with slightly different arrangements, tempos, and instrumentation.

Yet, it all grew on me, and as Jimmy Eat World continued to decline, Bleed American became their second most adventurous album. And I do love pop. I just didn’t get what I wanted.

by Stephen Rowland

27 Sep 2010


In 1997, revered alternative country act the Scud Mountain Boys called it a day, and leader Joe Pernice (along, obviously, with his brother, Bob) quickly formed the Pernice Brothers, a group with a much less interesting name making decidedly more interesting music. Debuting on Sub Pop in 1998, Joe and Co. have been cranking out solid and often brilliant music for over a decade. This article examines and reviews all their major releases and hopefully gives insight into the songwriting evolution of the band, or more specifically, Joe Pernice. I feel it’s time we give them their due—they are by no means unknowns, but still fly a bit under the radar.

 

Pernice Brothers
Overcome By Happiness

Sub Pop (1998)
Rating: 5

Yeah, more like Overcome By NyQuil, as this record is the sonic equivalent to drool on a pillow. It’s so mellow it has fallen asleep. And it’s asleep so hard, it is almost comatose.

Now the actual Brothers Pernice’s prior group the Scud Mountain Boys had a similar sound, but there’s really nothing positive to say about them. If people were talking about them—which they weren’t—they were classifying the Scuds as an alternative-country band. I think not, unless Cat Stevens singing Burt Bacharach tunes is country. Or an alternative to that.

by Christian John Wikane

21 Sep 2010


Brooklyn residents didn’t know how lucky they were on the evening of September 8th.  Neither did Gothamites who took the No. 2 or 3 train to Atlantic Ave. and walked along the restaurant-studded sidewalks of Fifth Avenue in Park Slope to Southpaw. The evening’s attraction had traveled a collective 6,447 miles to perform one show. Without the promise of reappearing in New York (or anywhere else for that matter) anytime soon, the three members of the Family Stand walked out onstage to the sound of an adoring audience clearly thrilled to have the band back in its hometown.

The occasion for Sandra St. Victor, Peter Lord, and V. Jeffery Smith to unite for one night only was the release of In A 1,000 Years, their fifth studio album since first arriving on the scene as Evon Geffries and the Stand in 1987.  One inspired rechristening later, the Family Stand released Chain (1990), landed a number three R&B single with “Ghetto Heaven” and continued to saturate the airwaves with “In Summer I Fall”. Moon In Scorpio (1991) held listeners of progressive funk-rock rapt while also underscoring that the musical range of the Family Stand was not limited to such facile genre hyphenations. The terrain of their musicality was (and remains) vast, confounding an industry driven by categorization and commodification.

by Souleo

14 Sep 2010


When you’re a musician who has spent the past 20 years existing safely within the circle of various bands, stepping out on your own brings no small amount of pressure. Jody Porter, guitarist for the power-pop group Fountains of Wayne, is feeling that pressure with the release of his debut solo album, Close to the Sun.

No longer able to hide within his former indie bands such as the Belltower, the Astrojet, or the previously mentioned Fountains of Wayne, Porter is adjusting to being front and center by focusing on what comes most naturally to him: making great music.

by Dylan Nelson

17 Aug 2010


For all their eclecticism and all their mixmanship, electronic duo Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto, a.k.a. the Books, elude the label ‘DJs’.  The schizophrenic sonic adventure of their new album The Way Out evokes images of dusty crates of forgotten media and mad sound engineers doing experiments on inscrutable metal interfaces, but neither looks so familiar as they do emanating from contemporary hip hop classics like J Dilla’s Donuts or DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… The samples feel different. They often land in the mix with a strange intensity, as though they carry the weight of their history a bit more conspicuously. And why shouldn’t they? The Way Out includes sounds and voices from sources as mundane as weight loss and self-help tapes.

Something more, however, than the stamp of unmitigated obscurity makes the Books’ samples distinctive, a quality magnified, though far from originated, on the new album. They are more assertive than the subjugated, ambient sounds of albums like the KLF’s Chill Out, more cohesive than the disruptive noises of outrageous producers like Lee Perry, and more purposeful than the exotic experiments of dissonant noise groups. They don’t contribute to a pastiche of styles or lend a flavoring of genre. Nor are they meant solely to illustrate a point or explain a lyric. The Books’ samples, which include everything from bits and pieces of everyday noise to extended recordings of Hebrew stenography, are somehow more essential and more secondary at the same time—used for their own sake to create something utterly unrelated.

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