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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
19 October 2005
The Evil Queens, First It Boils, Then It Spills (Addison) Rating: 6
The Evil Queens reach a sort of rock and roll equilibrium on First It Boils, Then It Spills, combining equal parts pure fury and pop sensibility. This is a band that trakes the often bloated genre of heavy metal and treats it with a punk-like succinctness. The ten tracks of the album proper, combined with two each from the two previous Evil Queens efforts (this album is in effect an introduction to this relatively unknown act) add up into an album that is simply rock music, not requiring any sort of suffix or prefix to describe it. There are bits of '90s grunge and stoner metal floating around in the Evil Queens songs (and I swear I hear traces of Mission of Burma and Pere Ubu on some of the more brittle tracks), but there's no reason to shoehorn the group, they simply present the listener with a series of well-crafted, well-performed, and refreshingly raw rock songs. True, this makes it difficult to really get too worked up about the Evil Queens, they aren't trying to radically change the shape of music.
They're just here to start the party, but that's a little refreshing. The deepest flaw on First It Boils, Then It Spills might be the anemic production which really dulls the band's fantastic angular riffing. It kind of makes me wish I could see them live to hear how the songs really sound, I would kill to hear how the arena-ready "New Keys" or the punk rock "Grand Prix" play to the audience with its defiant choruses.
Blacklisted We're Unstoppable (Deathwish) Rating: 5
Repackaged and freshly delivered, Philadelphia's Blacklisted compile their early demo recordings and the tracks from now out of print album Our Youth Is Wasted. Blacklisted don't bring anything new to the table, and offer up a furiously brief dose of old-school punk and hardcore dissonance. All the requisite ingredients are here from the galloping chord progressions, thunderous breakdowns and glass eating vocals. The problem is that as well played as this is, it's ultimately fairly boring. The band's adherence to style that frankly, has been played into the ground, is still admirable but it comes at a loss of any genuine surprises. From the first song right to the last, the listener will know exactly where this recording is going and how it will end. The band's only strength is its brevity, and with ten songs that whip by in seventeen minutes, that power can't be denied.
French Teen Idol, French Teen Idol (Nishi) Rating: 5
French Teen Idol (a.k.a. Roman artist Andrea Di Carlo) puts quiet piano figures, electronica sequences, and movie dialog samples in a blender set for "prog-rock aesthetics purée" and the result is an eight song self-titled netlabel release. All the tracks in this collection seem designed to disturb. Sometimes this desire to unnerve is blatant, like the way Di Carlo lays Edward Norton's "Fuck You" monologue from Spike Lee's 25th Hour over the soft soundscape of "(Un)Told Prejudices". But usually the unsettling results are more the product of something less specific. On "Shouting Can Have Different Meanings", the seven-minute opener, the listener is pushed and pulled from the beautiful piano opening into an anxiety inducing vocal sample. The world Di Carlo creates is a place filled with immaculate building façades that hide a boarded-up reality. The dark alleys of the French Teen Idol landscape would be just as dangerous whether traveled by light of day or dark of night.
Small Towns Burn a Little Slower, Mortality As Home Entertainment (Triple Crown) Rating: 4
This band, featuring an appearance from Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack, delivers nicely polished, slightly pre-packaged, power pop-meets-emo punk on "Forget The Fashion" and the punchy ear candy that is "Answers" that is perfect Warped Tour material. Lead singer Danny Wolf fights for dominance over the guitar duo of Joel Trowbridge and Tommy Rehbein throughout the record for a decent sonic concoction. They often play it safe, especially with tunes like "Last Blast Off" and the Jimmy Eat World-ish "It's a Death Curse". The problem though is by the sixth song, these tunes, while good, tend to blend into one another too easily. Nonetheless, it's hard not to enjoy the beefy "Millstones and Milestones" and "Wait For Me, Abby Bernstein". This record falls alongside albums by Taking Back Sunday. So closely alongside they could be put in the wrong jewel case. But how can you not like a band who names a ditty "1970 Topps Burt Blyeven Rookie Card"?
.: posted by Editor 7:49 AM