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Super Deluxe, Lolita EP (Control Group/TCG) Rating: 4
Is it time for the '90s alt-rock revival? I know, it seems like we haven't even scratched the surface of the '80s, but the modern rock airwaves now look a lot like they did back in 1995. One alternative chart I saw featured Green Day, Garbage, Beck, Weezer, and Nine Inch Nails. Super Deluxe, years and years after their 1997 breakthrough Via Satellite, has decided this is a perfect time to return to the music industry. The band's new EP Lolita shows that the band hasn't changed its approach in its near decade long absence. Super Deluxe plays in that alt-rock middle ground, trying to play both sides by including both crunchy grunge riffs and catchy power pop choruses. As much as I would like to sentimentalize the music of my teenage years, and try to lift it above the modern rock music of the last few years, Lolita actually reminds me of a few of the embarrassing aspects of the alternative rock boom. Lolita features pointless guitar solos, Cobain-channeling moments of faux-angst, and that uniquely '90s inability to fully reconcile the catchy moments ("Knockout") with the angry moments ("Give It Up"). "Enough is Enough" has a little bit of garage band bluster, but there's nothing on Lolita that couldn't be found in any cut-out bin in North America. Heck, you could even find Super Deluxe's superior Warner Brothers albums in there! In any case, Lolita offers no proof that Super Deluxe needed to reunite. [Amazon]
Splendid, States of Awake EP (Popboomerang) Rating: 7
Splendid is an apt word for this group and its music. The deep accent of singer Angie Hart (formerly of Frente) makes it sound all the more alluring, but the retro sound and tempo yearns to be loved immediately. "Asleep" starts things off with a gorgeous rhythm section and tight percussion. Accompanied by band mate Jesse Tobias, the music and groove soars without any additional layering or arrangement. "I'm a little frail," she sings over a simple percussion before marginally opening up again. The deep breathing of "Disappointed" sets the tone for a simple acoustic-tinged whispery number. The real jewel though is the unnoticeable cover of the Pet Shop Boys' "Tomorrow We'll Wake" that rides on a basic bass line. It's a perfect adult contemporary nugget. "Sleeping" doesn't quite hit the mark in its minstrel-ish approach. The Smith-like title "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" is another stunning bit of work -- dreamy and melding indie with ambient touches. [Amazon]
Gitogito Hustler, Gitogito Galore (Gearhead) Rating: 6
Have you ever heard an all female, Japanese Ramones cover band? Me neither, but I suspect this will be as close as you or I will ever come. Gitogito Hustler have already released three albums on their own Candy Poison label in their Native Japan. However, Gitogito Galore marks their US debut. This six-song EP should be welcomed with open arms by punk fans and hipsters coast to coast. The opening track, "Muscle Body Ecstasy" rips open the album, with "one, two, three, GO" before muscling guitars explode and blister through the next two minutes and 32 seconds. Throughout the album, the guitar player, Mitsuko, consistently anchors the songs with stellar guitar tone -- whether she's searching for the muscling rhythms of the Ramones or Keith Richards' four-bar blues leads. The EP is sung entirely in Japanese (with the exception of the count offs), so that could be a draw back, though I suspect the seductive pop-punk tunes are sufficient to keep you interested. [Amazon]
Gorch Fock, Lying And Manipulating (Australian Catte God) Rating: 7
When you see the band's name, you might think it's taken from one of the deleted scenes of Deliverance. But this album is a stoner rock fan's manna. The opening "Prologue: Mexia Creek Crossover" is thick with riffs and an early Floydian-meets-QOTSA vibe. Not a cookie cutter album by any means, guitars and other instruments fade in and out to create the perfect trippy trek in your head with a metal underbelly. It's a tweaked out Primal Scream before coming to a stop nearly six minutes later. And the Austin-based septet continues this with horns during the funkier, almost Sly-tinged "Scott Jernigan". "Bono" is more formulaic and garage-ish but "Tap Is Crack" is pure bombast. Think Fred Durst meeting Frank Zappa and you should get the idea. "Brazilian Whack Job" and also "Jefferson Davis Pinkus" are other odd little nuggets evoking thoughts of Ian Curtis singing to Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive". "Penance/Giant Mast" is completely insane however, going from chant to sonic nuttiness in just over a minute. Perhaps the mainstream effort is "Tampa Pentagram" which is still spacey but the most coherent of the lot. A cover of Neil Young's "Ohio" ends this incredibly impressive but insane, joyful yet disconcerting sound.
Dave Miller, Mitchells Raccolta (Background) Rating: 5
Agreeable, slightly jazzy Intelligent Dance Music is what you get with this debut from Perth, Australia's Dave Miller. Bits of trumpet, skeletal percussion and sub-bass bounce around the speakers in a free jazz kind of way, all covered in a warm layer of fuzz. If you're not into this kind of thing, you may think something's wrong with your stereo connections. However, if you can handle the idea of an entire album's worth of music that sounds like it could've been made entirely with cut-up ringtones, then songs like "Bump Then Feel" and "Broken Fun, Now Fixed" will get your headphones bumpin', not least because of their titles alone.