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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
30 June 2005
LCD Soundsystem, Yr City's a Sucker (DFA) Rating: 8
Originally intended as a UK B-side to LCD Soundsystem's "Movement" single, "Yr City's a Sucker" is so good, that not only was it included on the outstanding, double-disc extravaganza that is the debut LCD Soundsystem album, but it's also been given a U.S.-only release on 12" vinyl. Deservedly so, as this laid-back, lackadaisical, nine minute jam serves as a cool respite from the disco-meets-acid euphoria of the masterful 2004 single "Yeah". Centering around a simple bass vamp that totally smacks of the Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth, LCD impresario James Murphy and his cadre of cohorts have fun, tossing in doses of atmospheric synths and lots and lots of cowbells, as Murphy enigmatically drawls the cryptic refrain of "Your city's a sucker/ My city's a creep." What the hell the man means by that hardly matters, as anyone listening is going to be too busy dancing to the minimalist, yet sumptuous track. It's that irresistible. Accompanied by an instrumental version of the same track, which allows listeners to focus on the subtle musicianship at work, this little single is further proof that Murphy is well past dance punk, and already inhabits a kooky world all his own.
Uber Cool Kung Fu, 3 (Omega Point) Rating: 3
Form an acronym using the first letters of Uber Cool Kung Fu's name, and you get UCKF. Really, there's little else you need to know about the mentality that this four-piece out of Minneapolis brings to its craft. Words like "electropunk" and "industrial" get bandied about in descriptions of the band, but a listen through their new album 3 finds them having about as much in common with those genres as, say, recent Good Charlotte singles do. UCKF writes angry songs about girls, the price of fame, and more girls. There are typically plenty of angst-filled vocals, guitars, and techno-ish synth noises to go around. Promising moments like the fast and furious "Feel Nothing" and the peppy Information Society stomp of "Tonite" are brought down by a mess of poor production and hackneyed songwriting -- the sneer of "Hollywood Kills" would really benefit from an instrumental explosion in the chorus rather than the simple punch-in-the-head repetition of the title, and closing track "Down" is the worst kind of power-ballad, strings and all, with cloned Trent Reznor vocals getting all sensitive on our asses. This is the kind of disc that makes its listeners wistful for the glory days of Stabbing Westward; any album that accomplishes that dubious feat is doing something seriously wrong.
"Groovy" Joe Poovey, The Late Great Me (Little Darlin'/Koch) Rating: 6
"Groovy" Joe Poovey is little more than a footnote to rock and roll history. First coming to prominence when he appeared on the Big "D" Jamboree as one of Elvis Presley's opening acts, he recorded a handful of records, mostly rockabilly, never achieving the level of success of contemporaries like Carl Perkins or Gene Vincent. That doesn't mean Poovey lacked talent; on the contrary, as The Late Great Me, a 2004 release from Little Darlin' Records (a Kock subsidiary) shows, Poovey could rock as hard as anyone at the time. The 20 songs on the disc, recorded sporadically over a 40-year period represent Poovey's complete output and vary in quality. The earliest are thick with energy but are poorly recorded; the later songs, apparently recorded in the early 1990s before the singer's death, have a clean sound but feel dated, like curio pieces. Nonetheless, it is a disc that rock-a-billy fans should check out.
Clara Venus, Greatest Hurts (Programmed to Fail) Rating: 6
Clara Venus sound like a cross between early efforts by The National and John Mellencamp. The melodic and roots-tinged "Know When It's Over" has enough whiskey-soaked vocals to make the different twists and turns more than manageable and enjoyable. Fans of rowdier roots rock will lap up "Liar" with its guitars and great bass line. Another pleaser is the unnoticeable "Doesn't Work Right" which doesn't work right until they veer into a moody, Crowes-like Southern psychedelic jam. Then there is the pretty Petty-meets-Henley vibe on "Bastard" which takes a few moments to get into. The gist of this album is a mix of roots rock with catchy garage rock elements, especially on the sneering "Rolling in the Wrong Direction". The group nails "Secret" perfectly with an Americana-cum-The Sights vibe. Not all go over that well though as the languid "Dry Razor's Hand" proves. But they make up for it with a better, darker, haunting ballad in "Trigger".
.: posted by Editor 7:59 AM