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22 October 2004

A Day in Black & White, My Heroes Have Always Killed Cowboys (Level-Plane)
As you might guess from the slightly aggressive album title, this trio from Washington DC are afraid of a bit of counter-culture propaganda. Neither are they afraid of being seen as intellectual; with a lengthy Jean Baudrillard quotation on art, industry and signs on the inlay. Incomprehensible as the latter might be, their half hour of "rock explosion" is immediate and almost frighteningly powerful, a fusion of Mogwai, Mountain Men Anonymous and GY!BE-style post-rock with raw, yelled vocals of social rage and despair that close the circle with DC stalwarts Fugazi. Whether such shouty "singing" is your bag or not (I'd have to say not), they make an absolutely spectacular amount of rivetingly pure noise for three people, the drumming especially coming off like a punker Slipknot and making Secret Machines sound like lame ducks. With closing instrumental "The Illusion Of The End" showing that they can do the melodic build as well as the maelstrom bloody, here are a band who should be a tour must-catch. Music for frightening those empty horses with, and no mistake.
      — Stefan Braidwood

The Lolas, Something You Oughta Know (Jam Recordings)
Tim Boykin has been thrilling power pop audiences since the mid-'90s, when he and Bryan Price joined forces as the Shame Idols and released I Got Time and Rocket Cat on Frontier Records. It wasn't until Boykin started his own band that his musical vision really began to come to fruition. Blend the best bits of late '70s power pop (think the Records; in fact, think the Records really, really hard) and early '70s glam, and you've got the Lolas. Something You Oughta Know is the band's third studio release (though they're big enough in Spain to warrant a best-of compilation), and it makes for a trifecta of thoroughly enjoyable albums. Lovely ladies thoroughly permeate the lyrics and song titles, from "Dana the Chromium Girl", "Little Deedra" (a particularly glammy stomper), and "They're Coming For You Barbara" to "Weird Daughter", "Jungle Girl", and "Tim's Mom", but one comes to expect that from power pop artists. "Light Up Every Doorway" is a Jeff Lynne-influenced ballad that's a definite highlight of the disc. With each successive album, the Lolas continue to prove that they're one of the strongest, most consistently enjoyable bands on the scene.
      — Will Harris

Various Artists, In House We Trust 4 (Yoshitoshi)
Yoshitoshi is identified with the absolute best in house music by dint of the fact that the label is owned by Deep Dish, one of the premiere names in deep house. However, this edition of the In House We Trust series is not perhaps as successful as anyone familiar with the label's output would wish. The first disc, mixed by Alex Neri of Planet Funk, is a rather predictable prog-house set piece. The second disc, mixed by Omid 16B, while still a tad on the proggy side, does manage to inject a variety of additional flavors into the mix -- from a smattering of electro to a much deeper vein of acid house. It actually ends with an interesting old school vibe, featuring tracks and remixes by the Mysterious People, Danny Howells and Cajmere. The last track, 16B's "Moog Apella", is the album's finest moment. If you could buy the discs separately I'd recommend the second, but as the first disc is profoundly uninteresting, the set on the whole manages to come out at about average.
      — Tim O'Neil

Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, Wake Up! (To What's Happening) (Palmetto)
Over the past few years, Matt Wilson's been establishing himself as a jazz drummer worth watching even as he's taken on the role of bandleader. On the new album from Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, Wake Up! (To What's Happening), he lives up to expectations, but he also shares the limelight. This recording gives prominence to trumpeter Terell Stafford, who often plays in a throwback style. The ensemble positions itself between mainstream tradition and more abstract styles. Without venturing into free jazz or avant-garde territory, the quartet never dwells for too long in traditional sounds. Wilson himself often plays around the beat, steady enough to follow, but adventurous enough to stand out when he chooses. "Cuban Carnival Song" provides the most notable moments as Wilson uses his entire kit for a series of funky rhythms and entertaining solos. Wake Up! (To What's Happening) relies more on that sort of pleasure than on complicated abstractions, and it makes for an enjoyable listen.
      — Justin Cober-Lake

Adam Marsland, You Don't Know Me (Karma Frog)
Adam Marsland fronted Cockeyed Ghost throughout the second half of the '90s, but, despite producing four solid studio albums (and a rarities collection), it was really his expedition across the United States as a solo performer that brought him the most media attention. Starting in San Diego on 5/11/01 and finishing in Marina del Rey on 6/1/02, Marsland spent 232 days on the road in his 1994 Toyota Tercel, resulting in a live album (titled to trumpet that accomplishment) and a fair amount of press for his trouble. Once home, Marsland put together a new band, a multigenerational one that counts among its members songwriter Evie Sands ("Angel of the Morning") and former Cockeyed Ghost drummer Kurt Medlin. Joining the group on scattered songs are some of Marsland's fellow members of the Los Angeles music scene, including Darian Sahanaja and Probyn Gregory (the Wondermints), Stew (the Negro Problem), and Robbie Rist (Wonderboy, the Andersons, and more others than you can shake a stick at). Marsland's taste in music is highly diverse, as anyone who's seen one of his live performances can testify, and You Don't Know Me bears that out, with the gently loping steel guitar on "A Moment of Clarity" to the piano punk of the title track. Appropriately, it's the latter that opens the album; addressing those who would lump Marsland into any sort of so-called "power pop scene". "Take back your straight jacket / Take back your skinny tie", he roars, "You may have got the Knack / But, baby, I'm not that guy / I'll tell you why". Eleven songs later, as he offers his "Thanks For Everything", the tale has been told and the evidence is incontrovertible; the only category Adam Marsland safely falls into is that of "writer and singer of songs". Categorizing him under any other niche is only safe for the duration of a single song.
      — Will Harris

Pixeltan, Get Up/Say What (DFA)
Pixeltan started out with a distorted roar a few years ago on some early releases on the Troubleman Limited label, all polyrhythmic groove numbers, with a Yoko-esque singer chanting tribal incantations over the escalating beats and erratic bursts of noise. Returning with this EP, the band has a different lineup, but retains the same modus operandi-the primitive throb of repeated phrases with swirling percussion and staccato guitar slivers. Without excelling at great diversity, this new release features the group's ethos, mildly focused dance floor-friendly chaos; the DFA guys remix of "Get Up/Say What" stands out in its clarity. "That's The Way I Like It" navigates the same territory, but lacks any breaks to push it over the edge it needs to surpass as full-on engaging beat music. Look for more from these inventive folks.
      — Chris Toenes

Goldenboy, Right Kind of Wrong (Fastmusic/Cold Front)
Is Goldenboy's "(Not) Going Home Alone" the date-rape anthem for passive-aggressive hipster phonies? You decide: "It's Friday night / After a drink, then I just might / Hook up with you / But then it's all too late / I'll treat you like my bait". Maybe my hypothesizing is a bit of a reach, but listening to Right Kind of Wrong a tortuous 33 minutes that causes your mind to desperately seek out something resembling significance. More like Wrong Kind of Wrong. There's more tired self-searching ("Guide to Modern Life") and friendship tests ("In a Year or Two") here than in a Hillary Duff movie. Goldenboy is a polished apex of vapid, insidious "punk"-pop, created by and for kids with spiky hair, studded leather bracelets, and outfits from the nearest Hot Topic. At this very moment, they're coiffing their faux-bedhead doos for the big TRL debut, once its audience grows up and forgets about Blink 182 and New Found Glory. By that time, they'll be in a retirement community for whining pseudo-rawkers, claiming to be the best thing that never was. The world will be spared another batch of melodic swill. Phew. (Final note: this Goldenboy hails from Norway and should not be confused with the other -- far superior -- Goldenboy from Los Angeles. I made the mistake so you don't have to.)
      — Zeth Lundy

Amber Pacific, Fading Days (Hopeless)
Do we really need another band like this? I mean, I can see the marketing angle here. With only one band member over the age of 20, I'm sure the people down at Hopeless said "Here's a band high school kids can relate to. Amber Pacific could be their friends!" Unfortunately, the five-song debut from this earnest Federal Way, Washington based group is depressingly banal. From the tired emo posturing to the straight-from-the-diary lyrics, Amber Pacific struggle to rise to mediocre. This is mall punk at its most uninteresting. With bands like Modest Mouse positively blowing up, providing alternative radio with a refreshing blast of originality and personality, groups like Amber Pacific stand that much more pale in comparison. But much can be forgiven because of their age. At eighteen or 19, few musicians are blessed with truly unique vision, let alone the means to execute it. The members of Amber Pacific certainly have the chops, but it will take time and experience for this group to create something worth listening to.
      — Kevin Jagernauth

Bugs Eat Books, Ghosts of Leaves (Happy Happy Birthday to Me)
"Destiny manifested itself to me/in the form of a dead art/when I was nineteen/or so I thought." As an opening salvo this could well have been penned by Built To Spill's frontman, I reckon. With a similar shambolic affection this Gainesville, Florida quartet (since uprooted and replanted in Athens, Georgia) wander through 12 lofi songs of comforting introspection that all manage to evoke the warm glow of an evening spent around a camp fire with friends; chatting, drinking and eventually dozing off in your sleeping bag to their wistful accompaniment. Like Marsch their singing voices aren't the world's best, but especially on the softer numbers their caring earnestness, offset by gently jangling guitars, do all that needs to be done. Neither the melodies nor the lyrics may be terribly memorable, but you'll forget about that for as long as they're playing.
      — Stefan Braidwood

Cyril Lance, Live from the Outskirts (Dog Talk Music)
Cyril Lance recorded this over three nights in three different cities, but the crisp Delta blues rock is still there over these six lengthy and interesting originals and covers. Opening with the shortest tune, "I Want the Real Thing", Lance sounds like an old bluesman backed by a contemporary blues-meets-jam fueled group. "I Went Down" is slower and far better over its duration, recalling Hendrix or Clapton's Cream heyday. With an organ behind him, lead singer Chris Carroll gives a great performance. It ventures into a jazz arrangement before returning full circle into the head-bobbing blues. After a melancholic and tender approach to "Remembering Jon", Lance and company raise some hell with "Blues Ain't Nothing" as Johnny Neel tickles the ivories for a rampant, swinging intro. Resembling Dr. John if tutored by the late Ray Charles, Neel sets the tone while Lance acts more of a strong sideman. The highlight comes during "Same Thing" as the sultry, slinky nature comes to the fore.
      — Jason MacNeil

The Magnificents, The Magnificents (KFM)
These guys rock pretty damn hard. Despite the fact that they have prominent electronic elements, they are nowhere near as frosty as that would imply. They've got the gonzo energy of the Hives, if the Hives decided to eat Add N to (X) for supper. I suppose I should mention that they sound a little bit like Joy Division -- but everyone sounds a little like Joy Division these days, so that is hardly anything new. They really shine on tracks like "Blueprint" and "The Apollo Creed", when they let their drummer loose and shed the cool. Basically, these guys sound like Devo if Devo had been real punks and not just art punks, and that is definitely a good thing.
      — Tim O'Neil

California Guitar Trio, Whitewater (Inside Out Music)
Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards are at it again with this reflective and melodic instrumental album. Beginning with "The Marsh", the trio veers from slower Mark Knopfler-like pacing into something far faster and far better for it. One often leads while the other two act as rhythm guitars, resulting in a lovely acoustic barrage that sways to and fro. Fans of Jeff Beck or Adrian Legg should find "Atlantis" very soothing, as the simple strumming is offset by some frantic, meticulous picking. The synergy between the trio is quite spectacular, feeding off each other during the rich "Skyline". Only on "Mee-Woo" does the group sound stale, despite producer Tony Levin adding harmony on guitar. This staleness is an anomaly, however, as "Cantharis" builds a lovely tension that bursts into, well, another round of tension. The summer breeze flowing through "Cosmo Calypso" goes all spacey, though, and is rather average. The title track's quasi-Parisian feeling is perhaps the album's sleeper pick, a real jewel. "Led Foot" recalls Jimmy Page's pre-epic instrumentals in certain respects, a rambling bit of fine blues and folk. A swampy "Red Iguana" shows the band's diversity that even includes a brief James Brown-ish howl. Ending with "Ghost Riders on the Storm", the galloping Spaghetti Western tune morphs into the Doors' "Riders of the Storm".
      — Jason MacNeil

.: posted by Editor 7:33 AM

18 October 2004

Black Strobe, Chemical Sweet Girl EP (Output)
The best new electro music, layering detached vocal over a bass-heavy throb, is reverent to its forebears without completely going over the edge into pure rehash. Black Strobe is the Parisian duo DJ Ivan Smagghe and producer Arnaud Rebotini, and they bring a new vitality to this dance-centric form with their own dark, sinister overtones. This EP, collecting songs both recent and only recently remixed, shows Black Strobe's knack for adding a cold stare to the grinning face of dance culture, coining their own appropriate description in the process, "dark disco". On the title track, the progressive build of programmed beats takes off with pop effervescence like a revamped Depeche Mode cut. "Me and Madonna" is an f'ing brilliant sicko musing, working in New Order-esque guitar strums amid the rounded beats. "Innerstrings (No Shuffle Mix)" does a straight vocal take of Ian Curtis, while "Abwehr Disco" uses suspense and a fuzzy beat-box feel. Keep your ears open for more of these Frenchmen.
      — Chris Toenes

Gary Young's Hospital, The Grey Album (Omnibus)
I'm beginning to see a pattern: an influential early member of a seminal rock band exits the group (often under stressful circumstances) and releases a series of eccentric solo albums full of private musings. Certainly founding Pavement drummer Gary Young's solo career could be seen as roughly parallel to such visionaries as Syd Barrett and Alexander "Skip" Spence, except that his albums don't quite have the spark of genius that make albums like The Madcap Laughs and Oar remarkable despite their insular nature. Although he is now teamed with guitarist Terry Blank in a band called Gary Young's Hospital, The Grey Album finds Young still struggling to find even a cult audience. The Grey Album is as bleak as the album title suggests, and only "Fred Named Friend" and "Refrigerator Light" (both songs revisited from the previous Young effort) feature the amusing whimsy of Gary Young's delightful debut single "Plant Man". The rest of the album is dedicated to morose and uninspired noodlings like the aptly named "The Long Song". However, Pavement-like workouts like "Antagonist Aside" show that Gary Young has not lost his unique, and much missed, approach to the drum kit. Hopefully next time he will have some material that could do it justice.
      — Hunter Felt

The Soviettes, The Soviettes LPII (Adeline)
The Soviette's sophomore album gives them the opportunity to not only prove that they're a great sounding band with truly dynamic music, but that they are just hardcore enough to be true blue punks and smart enough to know what that means, an opportunity that, like their listeners, they seize by the balls. In the great punk tradition, these Minneapolis natives deliver raw and raucous tunes with firey hooks and barbed wit on a platform of DIY ingenuity and grassroots politics. Their unique coed lineup adds breadth and maturity to the ailing punk genre, finally reclaiming the rapid-fire beats, full-throttle guitars, bleeding throat harmonies, and distorted ambiance of Ramones-derived rock from their pre-teeny-post-emo-light-weight comrades with lots of heart and zero posturing. Every track is as loud, bare, brazen, and succinct as the next. These punk sirens are making the personal political again, and they're proving to be unstoppable.
      — Katie Zerwas

Wylie & The Wild West, Hooves of the Horses (Dualtone/Western Jubilee)
The tradition of cowboy poetry and music may seem bizarre to anyone who doesn't make their home on the range. Fiercely earnest and direct, albums like Wylie & The Wild West's Hooves of the Horses might read as kitsch to many people. After years of wading in a pop culture of irony and cynicism, it's hard to hear lyrics like "The horses of memory thundering through / With flashing white fetlocks all wet with dew" without a chuckle. But that's a city slicker's problem, not Wylie's. There's no doubt that he's for real, offering up solid originals ("Leather Lover", "Manolito"), adaptations of old and new cowboy poems ("Equus Caballus", "The Hooves of the Horses"), and even a cover of Buddy Holly's "Everyday". Included are notes on each song, family photos of life on the homestead, and a straight-and-true preface where Wylie hopes "it will be said that I was fair and kind to God's greatest beast".
      — Michael Metivier

Summer at Shatter Creek, Sink or Swim (Redder)
Craig Gurwich (who is Summer at Shatter Creek) explains that the five tracks on his new Sink or Swim EP are "stripped down versions from the full length out fall 2004". Gurwich performs each of these tracks alone on a piano, sometimes singing his own backing vocals. This disc's been produced solidly -- even the small instrumentation fills up the sound. Gurwich's playing stays pretty light, with room for the notes to breathe. His lead singing actually stays simpler than his back-up lines, but he possesses a well-developed delivery. These songs vary little from each other, but over the course of a five-track EP, that's not a problem. Sink or Swim provides great hope from the album to come, but, instead of sounding like a set of demos or alternate versions, it stands alone as a quality collection in its own right.
      — Justin Cober-Lake

Neurosis, The Eye of Every Storm (Neurot)
Neurosis have spent almost 20 years perfecting their style of atmospheric, dense, and emotional heavy metal. While many trends have come and gone, Neurosis gained the respect of the metal community by sticking to their vision and always creating under their own terms. After the breakthrough album Through Silver in Blood, the band began working with infamous engineer Steve Albini. The Albini-helmed albums Times of Grace and A Sun That Never Sets showed a band shedding heavy metal riffage for more melodic and textured surroundings. For the band's eighth full length, they once again brought in Albini to man the boards. The Eye of Every Storm is a deliberate and calculated effort that continues to find the group moving further and further away from the bludgeoning metal of their earlier releases. Each song on this disc is a slow burner, building methodically to a climatic peak before coming down again. Lead track "Burn" builds to an outro that is reminiscent of older Neurosis material, complete with lead singer Steve Von Till's aching screaming. However, these moments are fewer and farther between as Von Till for the most part, returns to his natural singing voice, which he first displayed on A Sun That Never Sets. While some fans might worry that Neurosis has gone soft, they have nothing to fear. The tidal wave like crescendos are still present and Neurosis, who have made anguish an art form, continue to write with undeniable power and potency. Tracks like "Left to Wander", "A Season in the Sky", and "Bridges" are among their best and most progressive work to date. With The Eye of Every Storm, Neurosis proves that metal can both be intelligent and moving, and longtime fans will not be disappointed.
      — Kevin Jagernauth

Pleasant Stitch, Capacitor (Tinderbox)
William "Carty" Fox, one of Pleasant Stitch's three founding members (along with Bob DeMaa and Will Pierce), died following a prolonged battle with cancer on January, 11 2004. Capacitor, the bands final release before Fox's death, finds Pleasant Stitch hewing closely to their stated aims of ignoring rigid genre delineation and creating music defined purely by the group's shared aesthetics. They find themselves travelling in the footsteps of other multi-generic groups such as My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus & Mary Chain, and Mazzy Star, without really demarcating a distinctive sound for their electronics-abetted songwriting. New member Sarah-Jane's vocals are an interesting element, however, that might stand them in good stead should they continue in the wake of Fox's untimely demise.
      — Tim O'Neil

Kofy Brown, Love Warrior (Simba Music)
Kofy Brown has been putting out music since the release of "She's Butta" on cassette in '92, her last album being "Area 32", which came out three years ago. On this, her sixth, she serves up a warm brew of jazz-funk, organic rock and soul that remains carefully distant from the anodyne, rigid "nu" breed ruling the pop charts, having lost all connection to its rough, fluid roots along the way. Rootsy is a good word for Kofy's self-produced, multi-instrumentalist approach, although she's not afraid to bring in the odd breakbeat and give her tight, enjoyable band a break. No throat-grabbing hooks or lyricism here, but if you're a fan of Meshell Ndegeocello's last album, or the way Prince used to do it, then you could do much, much worse than dig up a copy of this and hear Kofy spell out the old message with considerable talent, gusto and conviction.
      — Stefan Braidwood

The Waking Eyes, Watch Your Money (Coalition)
The Waking Eyes are going to be huge. In Canada, at least. And they're going to be huge if it kills their record company, Warner Music Canada. The Winnipeg band's new single "Watch Your Money" is all over the place north of the border, hefty piles of the single clogging the shelves of every single record store (specially priced at a paltry 99 cents Canadian, which is barely four bits in US funds), and has instantly become the ubiquitous, unavoidable radio song of the summer, thanks to Warners' publicity juggernaut, garnering heavy airplay on both mainstream and campus radio. With just one song, The Waking Eyes are already perilously close to Tragically Hip-esque levels of overexposure. Those in Canada have no choice but to be inundated by this band's music, but should the rest of the world care? No, not really. The song is a fun, workmanlike bit of garage rock that fits comfortably between The Mooney Suzuki and The Datsuns, but this stuff has arrived four years too late for most of us to get very excited about, and besides, it's nothing that The Ponys, Tangiers, and The Hives can't do better. It's not a bad little single, and if Stateside success is a result, then good for them, but for Canadians, it's a shame that they have to be force-fed this kind of average rock 'n' roll while great young bands like controller.controller, Metric, and Arcade Fire receive no mainstream airplay whatsoever.
      — Adrien Begrand

Honeybunch, Honeybunch EP (The Bus Stop Label)
Honeybunch were a Rhode Island trio who released this EP last year, but the style is timeless over the roughly 20-minute project. Beginning with "Throwaway" lead singer Jeffrey Underhill matches Lisa Underhill's fragile vocals note for note. With a voice that is incredibly sweet like Jeremy, the group takes a sugar-coated pop song and slows it down into a lovely, country-tinted ballad. They up the ante somewhat on the synth-flavored "Fear of Dating" with its sweeping and lush vocals that sound a bit like a vocoder. "Light Enough to Fly" is quite lounge-like and extremely dreamy. The pretty and delicate vocals and distant "ba ba bahs" only add to its luster. This nuance is expanded on during the highlight "Postcard From Everett Ruess" which could be something either Dido or Yo La Tengo could do equally well. Ending with "Our Secret Life", Honeybunch is a perfect moniker for such sweet tasting music.
      — Jason MacNeil

Incubus, A Crow Left of the Murder (Epic)
It could have been the naiveté of my youth, but Incubus used to be a pretty awesome band. Right up through 2001 with the release of Morning View, that band created what sounded to my ears like innovative, passionate, and beautiful modern rock. Brandon Boyd's voice spiraled up with graceful emotion. Mike Einziger coaxed the most delicately exotic notes from his guitar one minute and the crunchiest, catchiest hooks the next. And that 'fro -- loved it.S.C.I.E.N.C.E., Make Yourself and Morning View rocked millions of fans' worlds. A Crow Left of the Murder, released in February from Epic Records doesn't hold a candle to the band's previous work. The immensely popular single, "Megalomaniac", the title track, "Zee Deveel", "Sick Sad Little World" and "Smile Lines" all work well as solid Incubus songs. Boyd proves his vocal range, and Einziger comes through with his signature caustic riffs, but on "Southern Girl", "Made for TV Movie, and "Here in My Room" the band slips into modern rock mediocrity. Boyd's voice takes on a whiny tone, and Einziger just sounds repressed and stuck in distressingly boring hooks. In the world of Modern Rock Radio, Incubus is the real article. The band has been together for years, toured relentlessly, and never strayed too far from the public eye. Let's just hope the five band members can get their act together enough to once again produce sounds on a par with "Stellar", "Pardon Me", "The Warmth", "Wish You Were Here" and "Aqueous Transmission". Let's hope the muse isn't gone for good.
      — Christine Klunk

King Radio, Are You The Sick Passenger? (Spirit House)
When Joe Pernice and Frank Padellaro sat side by side in the Scud Mountain Boys, playing their modern interpretation of country music, no-one suspected that Pernice would go on to write a book based around Meat Is Murder and produce melancholy pop music equally inspired by Burt Bacharach and early '80s British indie pop (the Smiths, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen). With all Pernice's critical success, somehow, it's escaped a lot of folks that his former bandmate, Padellaro, has been traversing a similar path with King Radio. After the diverse debut, 1998's Mr. K Is Dead, Go Home, the band put out the power-poppy Mission Orange EP on Not Lame Records in 2002. In 2003, Padellaro and company completed Are You The Sick Passenger?, but, temporarily between labels, they made it informally available in a brown-bag edition for anxious fans. The disc now gets a formal release courtesy of Spirit House Records. Eschewing the power in favor of soft-pop stylings, King Radio have brought in Mitch Easter to mix the album; with string arrangements by bandmember David Trenholm, this is definitely the strongest item in the band's catalog to date. Padellaro's vocals are smooth throughout, particularly on a completely straight cover of "Am I The Same Girl?" Songs like "You Are The One" and "Famous Umbrellas" are the bachelor pad soundtrack, equal parts McCartney, Wilson, Webb, and Williams, hip without coming across as insincere or schmaltzy. Watch out, Joe; Frank's on your tail and, creatively speaking, he's gaining fast.
      — Will Harris

40 Below Summer, The Mourning After (Razor and Tie)
Feeling the need to break something, scream at an ever-increasing decibel level, or simply wring every negative emotion out of your miserable body? Well then, you've got the perfect soundtrack to your day's activities. 40 Below Summer, yet another installment in the post-hardcore scene, has just released the cleverly titled The Mourning After on Razor and Tie Records. The band has provided you with the perfect outlet for your pent-up aggression in the single, "Self Medicate", as well as in "Taxicab Confession" and "Better Life". After you've purged, maybe you'll want to lie down and rest and think about how wretched your life has been since your girlfriend left you. "Breathless" and "Monday Song" will both cover this need. Feel better? No? This could be because you are immune to 40 Below Summer's charms or it could be that violence begets violence, and screaming until your throat is raw doesn't actually do a bit of good.
      — Christine Klunk

The Spooky Kids, Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows (Empire/Universal)
Yes, these are the rare tracks by former Marilyn Manson alum Scott Putesky's (Daisy Berkowitz) group The Spooky Kids. It's nothing as plastic and silly as Manson's work, but then again it's nothing anyone needs to rush out and buy, either. Perhaps the biggest "shock" is that it isn't shocking, but instead just a mundane little group of songs sent out to make a small amount of cash. Actually, so many of these tracks sound like cheap demos that the album should have been issued at a cheap price. Anyway, who can take tripe like "Meat for a Queen" and "Insect Pins" seriously? OK, you're probably not really supposed to, but it's too difficult to get worked up about anything here that spending any long-term time on the disc is pointless. This stuff should have been kept in a dusty shoebox.
      — Jason Thompson

.: posted by Editor 8:21 AM


In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
Abe Duque
be your own PET
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
The Bottle Rockets
The Brand New Heavies
Johnny Cash
Slaid Cleaves
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Cut Chemist
Miles Davis
Dinosaur Jr.
Dr. Octagon
Alejandro Escovedo
Fatboy Slim
Four Tet
The Handsome Family
Matthew Herbert
Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
Mission of Burma
Mr. Lif
Mojave 3
Allison Moorer
Paul Oakenfold
Grant-Lee Phillips
The Procussions
Corinne Bailey Rae
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Julie Roberts
Diana Ross
7L & Esoteric
Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
Sonic Youth
Soul Asylum
Sound Team
Regina Spektor
Sufjan Stevens
Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

Baby Dayliner
The BellRays
Cat Power
The Clientele + Great Lakes
The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
Download Festival 2006
Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
The Handsome Family
High Sierra Music Festival
Billy Idol
Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

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