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The Pathways, Boat of Confidence (RIYL) Rating: 7
Brooklyn doesn't have the Dodgers anymore, but they do still have a lot of great bands under the radar. The newest one of these is The Pathways, who have seen the comparisons to Pavement in abundance with this release. And for good reason as "Kid Gloves on the Packet-Boat" is rather sparse but standard indie or alt. rock. There's no buffing here, just the sound of a band honing their catchy, eclectic form of quasi art rock a la latter day XTC. While some take a while to establish the hook, songs like "Stunning Capture" are worth patiently waiting for. The vocals of Evan Kindley and David Yourdon have that earnest feeling to them a la Yo La Tengo or Sloan circa Underwhelmed, particularly on "L'Enfant Plaza". Not to be outclassed is the hi-hat-fuelled "Miserable In Coat + Tie" and the bass line propelling "No Cops". Drawing you in with "The Carolers", The Pathways mix things up slightly for an inviting and appealing piece of ear candy with "You've Got to Look Inside Yourself" the album's apex.
The Time Flys, Fly (Birdman) Rating: 5
According to Groucho Marx, time flies like the wind, while fruit flies like bananas. Oakland, CA, foursome the Time Flys may like the wind as well -- the band's bio never discusses the members' stance on wind-appreciation -- but on their energetic debut, Fly, they prove a love for scuzzy garage punk. Even by the genre's lo-fi standards, the Time Flys sound like shit (the way the best garage punk bands do) -- Eric Johnson's yelled vocals are buried under Andy Jordan's mountainous guitar for 11 of the album's 12 tracks (they do manage to clean up nice on a fun doo-woppy cover of the Ly-Dells' long-forgotten "Teenage Tears"). The band covers all the thematic bases: anarchy ("Offin' the Chief"), sniffing glue and having illicit sex ("Jailbait") and their own awesomeness ("Cool! Is the rule," notes Johnson on "In My Skool"), and every tune sounds the same, but you already knew that. Fly breaks no ground that hadn't been dug up repeatedly by, say, mid-1978, but it's still DIY-basement rock churned out in two days at its finest.
Ebony Eyez, "In Ya Face" [single] (Capitol) Rating: 7
"Ladies..." Ebony says, "the next time a dude tells you to drop it like it's hot, or bend over and touch your toes, tell him that the only way he's gonna see that is if you can put your ass in his face." As degrading as some recent club hits have been for the fairer sex, there has not yet been a female MC (with the sole exception of spoken-word artist Sarah Jones) to call all the chauvinists on their horrible gender attitudes. Like an avenging angel of the club, Ebony Eyez is here to level the death-ray to any man intent on objectifying her or her posse. She knows she's hot and fine, and she doesn't need to put on a show for our benefit, thank you very much. Why don't one of you nice boys bend over for her? I do believe that's the idea. The beat wonderfully replicates the sensation of being stuck in the middle of the dancefloor in a jam-packed club -- the Trackboyz are on their way to becoming some of the most dependably funky hitmakers in the business.
Voxtrot, "Raised By Wolves" b/w "They Never Mean What They Say" [7" single] (Magic Marker) Rating: 6
Voxtrot take their most obvious influences '80s groups like the Cure and the Smith, but they pour it through a moddish filter. The group keeps "Raised By Wolves" upbeat, and it takes a while until you realize that the pride in being "young and stupid and raised by wolves" is a just a cover for the realization that the narrator "will never live like you do / [He] will never love like you do". The b-side offers a piano/acoustic guitar ballad that builds nicely. Vocalist Ramesh Srivastava mixes nostalgia and weariness into a melancholy that's half as dramatic and twice as effective as the typical pop song. The first song will get you moving, but it's partner will move you into a sway, hugging either your own partner, or your lonely self.