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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
27 September 2005
The Great Distance, The Great Distance (Swine Maid) Rating: 8
With a slight electronic underbelly placed below a naked acoustic format, the opening "How to Live" is a tender but very contemporary tune that evokes images of Jeff Tweedy or Ryan Adams trying out songs with a sampler or loop machine nearby. It's a very lovely effort that draws you in immediately. It's this ambient texture that gives a different angle to each effort as the tandem of Article Dan and Definitive Alex make some great magic together, especially on the heart-tugging, melancholic "Computer Moon" as the lyrics ingeniously question the song's lyrics. "Easy River" consists of a relaxing groove that glides sickeningly smooth while the singer sounds eerily like Embrace's front man on the improvisational, jazzy-tinged "Heartfelt Peace". Seamless in terms of consistency and quality, it's the type of album where different tunes jump out at you with different listens, especially the adorable "Savings to Dollars" and ensuing harmonies drenching "Kinda Guy". The lone oddities could be "Tom Waits for No Man" which has that bizarre, quirky style Mr. Waits is known for while "Wallowing in Your Footsteps" feels like a cross between Radiohead and Sigur Ros.
Paramore, All We Know is Falling (Fueled by Ramen)
Fueled by Ramen is pushing full speed ahead with its release of Paramore, All We Know is Falling. A refreshing blend of pleading guitars and melodic lyrics brings one back to the heydays of emo, complete with screaming and crying over broken hearts. But it's not your regular, whiney emo, plastered everywhere on the scene these days. The songs are beautifully executed and laced with the crooning, harmonic vocals of Hayley Williams. The Franklin, Tennessee five-piece provides an energy not always available in the haunts of screamo rock. This is truly an album in the greatest fashion -- diverse, varied songs, yet linked with consistent guitars and harmonies throughout. The simple rock songs focus on defiant heartache, with highlights from the get go including the first track "All We Know" as well as "Emergency", "Let this Go", and ending with the bleeding hate chorus, "My Heart". Fueled by Ramen's alumni include Jimmy Eat World as well as Yellowcard. This band is on the verge with a fall tour.
The Deadly, The Wolves are Here Again (Pluto) Rating: 3
Tempting as it might be to type 200 words in single-syllable sentence cro-magnon speak (y'know, to prove a point), that the thought even crossed my mind should be enough to explain how I feel about The Deadly's new disc, called The Wolves are Here Again. It's loud, for sure. It's only half an hour long, so that's good. Some of the songs have a vaguely catchy, almost poppy structure to them. And there's lots of screaming. Sometimes, the screaming of vocalist Rich Lippold relents a bit in favor of a slightly quieter (but no less pushy) speak-sing, but that's as varied as it gets. All the screaming gets more than a little tedious after a while, as the sound of it is ultimately numbing -- never a good thing for a band that's trying to make as much of an impact as these guys are. I must admit a fondness for "Planetarium", given that a) it does some interesting things with its musical structure in its short running time, and b) planetariums are cool. Unfortunately, "Planetarium" is as close to a highlight as I can find on The Wolves are Here Again, and it's not even much of a highlight at that. The album is really effin' loud -- nothing more.
Manual, Azure Vista (Darla) Rating: 6
There are as many particular qualities to sunrise as there are to music. It can be vast and sprawling, or it can be slow and demure. Context -- the environment, the weather, geography -- is certainly a key to how sunrise manifests itself on the horizon on any given morning in any give location. And like musical genres, sunrise in different locations and under different conditions evokes specific emotional responses. Sunrise on a beach on a mostly clear day is a unique and often transcendent experience. If you have the time to stand and look and appreciate the vastness of the ocean lit up in rolling golds and ambers, the clouds turned into fluffy blood oranges, and the sky's eruption of cool blues with a brilliant, overpowering light, then you will take in one of nature's purest spectacles. It dwarfs the senses, overwhelming them with sheer scope and extraordinary beauty.
The Holy Shroud, Ghost Repeaters (Level Plane) Rating: 4
Formed out of the ashes of the overlooked Canadian math rock band North of America, the Holy Shroud also use the post-punk D.C. scene as a launching pad for their sound. Unlike North Of America, whose compositions often stretched out into avant, serpentine forms, the Holy Shroud have cut the fat, delivering a leaner, more sharply focused vision. In trimming the excess however, the Holy Shroud fail to reinvent their influences, and Ghost Repeaters is indeed just that -- a replica. With its constantly shouted vocals, odd time signatures and stop / start guitar progressions, the comparisons to Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu are obvious and correct. However, the album fails to move beyond these touchstones, and by the midway point it runs out of steam. The disc is also hampered by muddy production values that obscure the interlocking guitar riffs into a nearly indecipherable mess. With their first album under their belts, and the acknowledgement of their influences out of the way, the Holy Shroud now have a chance to grow, expand and mature their sound. For the rest of us, Yank Crime and Steady Diet of Nothing will suffice in the meantime.
.: posted by Editor 5:54 AM