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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
15 November 2005
Blindfold, Blindfold (Resonant) Rating: 7
Blindfold's eponymous LP can be a tough one to nail down until you read one word about its origin: "Iceland". Indeed, sole member Birgir Hilmarrson is from the small island with the cold-sounding name, and knowledge of said fact is enough to tell you most of what you need to know about the album -- it's a slow-tempo, spacey workout heavy on odd, high-pitched guitar melodies and airy electronics with the occasional bout of plaintive vocalizing to add variety to the proceedings. The title track is one of the more beautiful bits of thoughtful existentialist instrumentalism via heavily delayed guitars and skittery IDM-style beats you'll ever hear, and the thoughtful vocal track "Daze" is the aural equivalent of a lonely, silent November night after one too many drinks. You also get the saddest accordion you may ever have heard, on the ironically titled "Lucky Beach Riviera Song". Blindfold is a lovely 47 minutes of atmosphere and introspection, and will please nearly anyone looking for another "Icelandic-sounding" CD to put next to their Múm, Sigur Rós, and Björk collections.
Valencia, This Could Be a Possibility (I Surrender) Rating: 4
Haling from Philadelphia, the boys in Valencia have been out the music game for longer than you would expect. Their name may not be familiar except to those who follow the hybridized realm of pop/punk/emo but they've been fortunate enough to have shared the stage with bands like Brand New, The Starting Line, Me Without You, Senses Fail, and Hidden In Plain View. It's this kind of cred by association that's Valencia's best shot at the big time. If they can get their pop punk sound into the right ears they'll inevitably find an enthusiastic audience since the band's songwriting formula strays not one iota from those of their previously mentioned peers. The band is tight and loud, writing songs full of sing-a-long choruses with the occasional nod towards a faster harder underbelly they seem unwilling to completely unleash. Understandable, the name of the game is fame and riches after all and straying to far from the formula might alienate their marketing demographic. Valencia writes strong confident songs that you've heard a thousand times before. If you're looking for more of the same Valencia does an excellent job of providing it.
O-Solo feat. Rockwilder, "6 Minutes" [12" single] (TVT) Rating: 7
I must admit to being completely unfamiliar with O-Solo before I pulled this single out of the envelope. I don't think I'll never forget the name now, if for nothing else than the fact that this is one of the ballsiest debut singles I've ever heard. It takes a lot of confidence to lead off the first two verses of your first big song with straight extrapolations of two of the most famous rhymes in the history of the game: "Hi kids, / You like violence?" and "It was all a dream, / I used to read Word Up magazine", respectively. It takes a lot of guts to simultaneously step into the shoes of Eminem and Biggie, and based simply on the cleverness with which he takes these familiar verses and flips the script on the original writers, I'd say he's definitely an MC worth watching. Rockwilder's beat is a tour-de-force in and of itself -- a strange, shuffling bit of space-alien noise that sounds like DJ Screw let loose on the Kompakt catalog. For all I know O-Solo may never record another song worth hearing, but this is definitely one for the crate.
Jasy Andrews, Little Girl (Versailles) Rating: 6
Oh, the perils of a debut album. And what's that? A double album to boot? Oh boy... But don't let that fool you, Jasy Andrews is able to make this a thoughtful, laidback and quite cozy, folksy two-disc collection. While citing influences like Tori and Sarah (McLachlan), Andrews comes off more in line with people like John Denver and Emmylou Harris in terms of how easy it seems each line, each note just rolls off the tongue or acoustic guitar as it does with "Keep It Up" and the piano ballads "I'll Do That Much" and the gorgeous "Free". She can carry a note in a blackberry let alone a bucket -- clear, crisp and oh so pretty. She even makes Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You" bearable. But a strength can sometimes be a burden if taken to the well once too often, and this is the case with another pensive adult contemporary ballad "I Should Have". Disc Two is much of a departure from Disc One as "Slide Show" and "Little Girl" and a cover of Guns N' Roses "Patience" keeps this precious lullaby feel going. Andrews didn't stop while she was ahead, but nonetheless it's a pleasing, promising cornerstone.
.: posted by Editor 6:18 AM