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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
29 June 2005
The Twigs, You Say Ah (Whirl-I-Gig) Rating: 6
The Twigs are twin sisters from Chicago who travel the world on various academic and musical pursuits, then send each other the music they've individually created and mix it on their computers. Laura and Linda Good both sing and play a variety of instruments as well as produce, write, and record all the tunes on their latest five song EP. If this sounds like some cold, cerebral project, the results show nothing could be further from the truth. Their sound resembles that other smart, white, sister, girl group band, The Roches. Both groups put their soft, feminine voices in the forefront of the mix to emphasize vocal harmonies and blend the sounds with that of instruments in lush and clever arrangements. The five songs here concern love and lust and capture the listener's attention largely through layering the vocals and increasing the sonic volume, as on the title tune. The Twigs also do the inverse on "Quiet", which features a Ruby Tuesday-like tune (intentionally so with lyrics like "you come and go") about a lover who needs to be free. The hushed tone reinforces the furtive quality of the relationship. The five tracks range from two to five minutes, and the EP lasts for a mere 20 minutes.
The Factory Incident, Redtape (Postfact) Rating: 6
Featuring former Government Issue lead singer John Schroeder, this band's six-song EP is a bouncy yet somewhat quirky rock package. Beginning with "Rail" which is part Coldplay and part Interpol, The Factory Incident make the most of the tune. Having more sway is the rumbling "Said And Won" which breaks out into a classic alt-rock mode. The longer the EP goes though, the more it becomes slightly Interpol-ish, with the minimal, almost monotone style of Schroeder on the mid-tempo then up-tempo "Argument" that has Aimee Soubier and Karl Hill trading nice licks. The Factory Incident will grow on you if you give them the benefit of what might be some initial doubt, with the glowing "In the Vile" conjuring up images of Ian Curtis and his mates. Less inspired is the run-of-the-mill "4AM", which winds itself around a very tight melody with the guitars kept rigidly in check. Thankfully the rhythm section is up to the task, propelling whatever strengths are found. Another great tune is "This Is Not a Swansong". Let's hope not.
Scott Hamilton, Back in New York (Concord) Rating: 7
Scott Hamilton matches his relaxed tenor saxophone to the exceptionally elastic Bill Charlap Trio on this first-class passage through ten standards. Though Scott made his name as a young turk who embraced swing style playing, this session proves (again) that he can play post-war jazz too, and the highlights are a pair of faster tunes by Dizzy and Bud Powell that force the band to play beyond its obvious comfort zone. These guys can play this stuff in their sleep, and that's the problem on the ballads -- they're gorgeous, and it you don't have a dozen tenor-plus-rhythm records already, these will suit you right up, but they're not distinguished by any excitement, innovation or drama. The faster tunes elevate everything, particularly when Charlap is soloing. He will always be compared to Bill Evans, but it's apt -- his playing bristles with invention and a rhythmic nimbleness that forces his Maserati band mates (Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums) to up-shift. On "Blue 'n' Boogie" Charlap plays lines that dodge every cliché of jazz improvising (no easy blues runs or cheap quotes) and seem to be inventing a new language. It's a thrill and shows why this trio is considered one of the best in New York today. Hamilton, back in town after moving to London, seems to understand that the stakes are suddenly higher, and his burnished tone takes just a hint of Getz-ian urgency. It's a nice pairing, but there a few too many ballads that make you feel that you've heard it all before.
Chris Moore, Figurines (Waterbug) Rating: 7
I didn't know what to expect when I dropped Figurines by Chris Moore into my CD player. The cardboard dust jacket with the primitive drawing of a man on a tree-swing offered no clue, but as the opening strains of "Volunteer", with its punchy acoustic rhythm, filtered out, a smile crept onto my face. Figurines is a quiet, relentless disc that walks the tightrope between indie rock and alt.country, with echoes of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and an edge of the blues stirred in. Lyrically, Moore shows a sharp eye and a broad touch, a sense of the larger universe that enlarges his music without allowing it to become pretentious. I still smile when I listen.
.: posted by Editor 7:08 AM