PopMatters home | short takes home | archivesPopMatters Music Short Takes
Touriste, What We Are (Touriste...Sh..sh..sh) Rating: 7
This British outfit starts off this EP with an arrangement that sounds like it came from the cliff notes to Coldplay's "Yellow" minus the loudness. The song, entited "What We Are", is a large, grandiose sort of rock tune that has its lead singer crossed between Starsailor's James Walsh and Travis' Fran Healy. Fans of Stereophonics will reap the rewards of the sullen, piano-centered "Shocks" that drags its arse around but in a lovely little way. It is in the same field as Keane's "She Has No Time" in some respects. The only problem here is you don't know if an album would be as consistent as these four gems, especially "Too Far" that glides along like a contemporary U2 ballad with the thick, juicy chorus. And "Easier" makes you want to cuddle up to your better (or worse) half after a hard day's work. Worth seeking out!
patientZero, Seemingly So... (self-released) Rating: 5
"The current state of entertainment breeds its next brood," croons Chris Sarvak, and he could be talking about his own little band, one patientZero. Seemingly So... is the first album from patientZero, and it's an intriguing little ball of intensity that wears its ancestry on its sleeve. If Seemingly So... is any indication, patientZero is a strange hybrid of nü-metal, prog, and jam-band tendencies with a dash of tongue-in-cheek hip-hop added, apparently to drive home the point that the band has a sense of humor. Indeed, for an album that contains 28 minutes or so of diatribes on materialism, fakery, and shameful ideals, closing out with a hidden track cover of Young MC's "Bust a Move" is...interesting, to say the least. At best, it allows us to like a band that's scolded our basest tendencies for the entirety of the album -- at worst, it overshadows everything else. It's too bad that the hidden track absorbs so much focus, given that on the rest of the album, the instruments sound solid in an underproduced sort of way, and Sarvak is a serviceable, if not exactly stellar vocalist. Still, there's an awful lot here that reeks of filler (multiple "transition" tracks, an instrumental version of a track that appears elsewhere). patientZero would likely do best to wait until they can fill a whole album with non-repeated, original music before releasing their next.
Dr. Frankenstein, Chapter III: The Dragon Lounge Connection, Crime Scenes and Murder Songs from... Dr. Frankenstein's Laboratory (Double Crown) Rating: 5
Surf and instrumental rock and roll collide in a reverb-heavy Molotov cocktail of Morphine's bass line mixed with Rob Zombie's aesthetic and Brian Setzer's rockabilly sensibility. The Portuguese quartet Dr. Frankenstein brings an obvious love of b-movies and trashy American culture to their music with song titles like "I was a Teenage Astro-Monster", "V-8 Death Race", "She-Devils' Stroll", and "Music to Murder Girls By". While nothing here is terribly remarkable (although the full album title is something to behold), Chapter III: The Dragon Lounge Connection, Crime Scenes and Murder Songs from... Dr. Frankenstein's Laboratory does have some nice moments, particularly in the last two of the 14 tracks on the disc: their original "Dance of the Mating Mermaids" and their cover of "Goldfinger". "Dance of the Mating Mermaids" is a dreamy, tropical adventure, complete with slide guitar and castaway percussion. John Barry's "Goldfinger" gets a lazy, lounge-y reading that would make it right at home in any swinger's bachelor pad. What the boys in the band call "InstruMental" music is interesting enough to pique curiosity, if not necessarily sustain interest over an extended period.
Erik Hinds, Reign in Blood (Solponticello) Rating: 4
The ambition of this project is more impressive than its execution. Erik Hinds, persuaded by his love for Slayer and the advice of friends, transposed Slayer's entire album Reign of Blood for solo h'arpeggione. The instrument is stringed with 12 droning sympathy strings (like the droning notes on a bagpipe). The playing is accomplished, as is the effort put forth, but do we need to hear an entire heavy metal album recast for a solo instrument? Especially one that most people have never heard of and have no clue how to pronounce. Without words, drums, etc., differentiating tracks becomes a chore instead of a joy. This will appeal only to diehard Slayer fans, and the novelty will wear off very quickly.