PopMatters home | short takes home | archivesPopMatters Music Short Takes
Tora! Tora! Torrance!, Get Into It! (The Militia Group)
I was expecting a big, juicy turd after reading through these guy's press sheet; it references The Hives and The Vines, which I feel was a true mistake. Tora! Tora! Torrance! is about a billion times better than either one of those bands, and after thoroughly enjoying Get Into It, I must say I am thoroughly sore from having my booty kicked, from all directions. To be frankly honest, I hear a lot of Nation of Ulysses and a more aggressive Make-Up in TTT's music. There's enough snot on this album to congest the world's biggest nose, and a slew of naughty attitude, enough to satisfy even the most devout of Jagger fans. It would be a totally inaccurate statement to claim that these guys are a "garage rock" band, because these guys are way more melodic and talented than your typical, no talent garage band (see Jon Spencer Blues Explosion). The songs on Get Into It actually have development and variation in structure, whereas the majority of Hives/ Vines/ Strokes songs are generic, repetitive peanut and corn riddled logs. TTT is the first garage band since The Chrome Cranks that has really blown me away. The lead singer, Kick Koenigs, has the greatest, high pitched screamy voice, and he cuts loose on every track. The guitars are simultaneously dirty and slimey, but crisp and well recorded. The drums could have been higher in the mix, but still shine throughout. If you like to rock out, and I mean really rock out (the songs here are fabulous when played extremely loud, preferably in an automobile), you can't really go wrong with Get Into It. Pick this one up and fasten your seat belt for some super aggressive rock.
Peter Griesar, Superfastgo (Planetary)
One of the original members of the Dave Matthews Band, keyboard player Peter Griesar's debut solo album comes across as a light and melodic album without the polish of Ben Folds. It does grow as it progresses though. The opening "I Do Everything" isn't a bad tune, but it takes too long to get in gear. "Loaded" has a bit more punch within it, but Griesar relies on the keyboard a great deal to get his message across. Tim Reynolds performs on some tunes throughout, one of the few guest appearances. "Bionic" is an early favorite primarily because of its arrangement, similar to Andy Stochansky. The effect-riddled "XXX-mas" is another high point as a Beck backbeat has Griesar sounding a bit like John Lennon. Its polar opposite means the title track is a flop as soon as it starts. The record has a lot of better than average grooves in it, but Griesar sometimes misses the mark, especially on the forced funk of "Naughty". "Spy Girl 76" finds a happy medium as the seventies keyboard meshes with the horn section. When it works, such as on the pretty "Hold on Me", it truly works. But when it doesn't, oh boy! Good but not great.
Busdriver, Temporary Forever (Temporary Whatever)
A lot of fast rappers are pointlessly auctioneering show-offs. Dose One is awful. Busta Rhymes is truly a feigned insane bore. Stunt pace aside, Busdriver, matches his rapid fire rhythm with hilariously demented lyrics. The scattershot brilliance of his pen includes such gems as this "Imaginary Places" line: "HMOs how I hate them so/try to charge me for my halo". The growly wino edge in his voice can take a moment to warm into, but after making peace, it's impossible not to reckon with the way his vocals seamlessly dialogue with the skittering beats and the way his flow is at once wounded and deft. While many underground rappers believe listeners are just those things that sell outs have, Busdriver makes a genuine effort to reach out from the wank and move your booty, prick your mind and strafe your funny bone.
Fabulous Disaster, Panty Raid (Pink and Black)
Holy fuck, these girls are good! Bursting out of the much-lauded San Francisco music scene, these bonafide punksters are all guts and a ton of glory. The four-piece band's latest release Panty Raid comes hot on the heels of their critically successful debut (and fan favorite), Put Out or Get Out, and completely invigorates their already expert sound with more guitar-fuelled, sex-obsessed melodies. Taking a leaf from the yellowing pages of all-girl punk, Fabulous Disaster pay strict homage to the likes of X, The Go-Gos and The Runaways with stylized songs shaking the walls with their hot and heavy hardness and lipstick lyrics. Album opener "Next Big Joyride" is an instant girly-punk classic with charisma-to-burn vocalist, Laura Litter, injecting just the right amount of big fun into the song which could almost be a lost Ramones track with it's choppy rhythms and cheeky abruptness. And, the fun rarely stops -- Fabulous Disaster are the awesome foursome to watch.
Rebecca Hall, Sunday Afternoon (Listen Here!)
The follow-up to her 2000 album Rebecca Hall Sings, this singer tends to move more towards a country or traditional country sound from the folk she perfected last time. "Come Around" has Ken Anderson's bass and harmonica running through it while Hall sings like Emmylou Harris in certain instances. The album title does give the impression this is uplifting music, especially on the Celtic hymnal format to "Sculptor's Song". It could draw comparisons to Enya or even Sinead O'Connor without the Gaelic. Cara Dillon would be another worthy artist to compare Hall to. One noticeable difference is how her vocals are a bit more polished, sounding less fragile on songs such as "Lessons". "Ballad Of Willie" changes gears slightly as it's an upbeat, er, ballad. "Going North" is Hall's shining moment, mixing folk with a subtle trace of dream pop over a swaying waltz arrangement and a concluding whistle. The title track comes off like a work in progress, sounding lightweight as Hall strums an acoustic guitar with ascending strings. Rounding off the album is a pretty "California", which could be mistaken for a Gram Parsons song. It's another very good effort from a talented musician.
Rebecca Hall, Rebecca Hall Sings (Listen Here!)
The debut album from this singer-songwriter contains an eclectic collection of original material as well as a cover of Ralph Stanley's "Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn". Mixing the traditional folk sound in the vein of Linda Thompson, songs such as the opening "Hard Way To Learn" are simple yet quite alluring. Hall's vocals are the highlight of this album with Rachael Birkin lending a hand on violin and viola. There isn't a great deal of difference between the first song and "See You Soon". Recorded in a style that would make Daniel Lanois proud, Hall has a strong yet at times fragile voice that hints often at both. Occasionally Celtic-tinged tunes such as "Man Of Poor Fortune" rear their pretty heads, demonstrating her innate talent. "Like You Do" is another brief gem of a song, with Hall sounding comfortable but not taking it for granted. Aimee Mann comes to mind during "Not The Same" also. One track that isn't quite as solid is "Long Black Shore", recorded in 1998. Thankfully though the traditional "Winter Is Gone" is Hall and Hall only, making it another quality effort. The title of the album is not up for debate -- she sings and sings bloody well.