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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
02 August 2005
Silversun Pickups, Pikul (Dangerbird) Rating: 8
Dear Billy Corgan,
So happy to hear you've decided to reunite the Smashing Pumpkins! Unfortunately I'm afraid I won't be able to take part. I'm just too tied up working with another band in Los Angeles, California. Emerging from the same Silver Lake scene that's already spawned Earlimart and Irving, Silversun Pickups are poised to break big (even if only on the blogosphere). Seriously, Billy -- you should really hear these kids. I haven't heard anything like it since -- well -- when we were so heavily involved in the early '90s. The guitars roll out in syrupy waves seething with as much melody as malevolence and the vocalist coos like he's got a mouthful of cotton candy. He can spit it out in shards too but not in that piercing way you always did. It's more of Modest Mouse thing, unhinged but not harrowing. Honestly, it's just been refreshing to hear some rocking guitar pop that isn't all high hats and skinny ties. I'm telling you, Billy -- your Pumpkins reunion couldn't be more perfectly timed. Now that neo-new wave has had its day, shouldn't some kind of '90s revival be on the way? That's what I'm banking on with these kids. So, sorry I won't be able to join you for the reunion. I'm sure you'll be fine though. You never seemed to notice that I didn't show up for any of The Future Embrace anyhow. [Amazon] [iTunes]
Deaodato/Airto, In Concert (Sony/Legacy) Rating: 3
This disc presents a portion of a 20 April 1973 double-bill shared by keyboardist Eumir Deodato and the CTI All-Stars, featuring Airto Moreira. Sins of omission which dogged the original LP release are puzzlingly replicated here: the album's original release, in 1974, was criticized for including only three Deodato tracks in addition to two tracks by Moreira. This CD reissue includes two more tracks from Deodato's set but -- despite the total running time of well less than an hour -- still omits tracks from the performance such as "September 13" and Deodato's signiture piece, "Also Spake Zarathustra". Although these tracks were issued on a 1989 release of the entirety of Deodato's performance, the decision to restore the initial, confusing format of the original LP for this Legacy reissue (supposedly at CTI head Creed Taylor's insistance), is supremely odd. The mixture of Deodato's rock-based Latin jazz and Airto's extremely orthodox sound remains jarring, and the question of whether Deodato's sedate fusion has aged well is still open. The music is very much a product of the '70s, complete with shmaltzy string sections (on "Spirit of Summer") and Tower of Power horn fanfares. The cover of Steeley Dan's "Do It Again" is oddly and unsatisfyingly literal. In Concert is a jazz footnote done great disservice by puzzling compilation.
Bughummer, The Getaway With (Lovitt) Rating: 4
Before guitarist Keely Davis turned heads with Engine Down, he spent his college years in Savannah, Georgia with drummer Brian Lackey and guitarist Jon Proctor in the group Bughummer. Their first and only album, freshly re-released by Lovitt, is unfortunately hardly essential listening. The disc boasts an immediately more aggressive sound than that of Engine Down, and features the overbearing influence of "math rock" that briefly plagued the indie rock scene in the early '90s. These seven tracks rock out hard, making obvious and sometimes nonsensical starts and stops, while occasionally taking inconsequential detours. The influences (Fugazi, Maximillian Colby, Shotmaker) are somewhat obvious, but the album, instead of standing alongside those legends, is instead evidence of players still finding their own style. The Getaway With is a faded snapshot that is for Engine Down diehards or old Savannah scenesters only.
Jet by Day, The Vulture (Future Farmer) Rating: 6
This album begins in the desert as the sun's waves sending wave after wave of sweat cascading down your face. Then, with a ferocious buzz, the guitars swoop down from above to peck the flesh from your bones. Enjoy it. From here on in, it only gets louder, faster, darker. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, Jet by Day are Dave Matysiak (guitars and vocals), Mason Brown (guitar), Tom Naumann (drums) and Brett Griffin (bass). A visceral thrill ride, JBD thrash like Sabbath, emote like Death Cab for Cutie, and hit you with enough feedback to temporarily send your synapses into shock. "Paperweights" barrels along a loud, raucous excursion into the deep, murky waters of drunken excess. Nearly two-thirds of the way through, the blinders come up and there's a moment of clarity before you're pitched back into the psychological stew. The drumming throughout is boisterous, the riffs stolen from the heavy metal guide to power chords, and the vocals screamo -- an excellent third-release.
Jim Duffy, Side One (Three Dots) Rating: 5
I can imagine this album catching on with the hipsters. Chill-out's over, everybody does jazz, and the R&B grooves just aren't cutting it for the parties any more. Only problem is, there's nothing to play after this. Jim Duffy's debut album, Side One sounds unlike anything around today. It's roughly old AM radio, except that stuff like this music wasn't on then either; on this album nostalgia becomes incarnate in an aural reflection of a non-existent past. Forget Burt Bacharach, the closest (and probably most frequently made) comparison you'll find is to Vince Guaraldi (of "Linus and Lucy" fame). It's not jazz, it's not pop, but it's somewhere in that region. The 11 tracks Duffy presents are fun and mostly sunny; that's about it, and it's probably enough.
.: posted by Editor 7:18 AM