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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
25 October 2005
Suffrajett, Suffajett EP (Giant Step) Rating: 6
On their eponymous 2003 LP, Suffrajett frontwoman Simi emerged as the love chile between the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O and the Dirtbombs' Mick Collins, fusing together the former's gender and art-rock leanings and the latter's race (both Simi and Collins are African-American) and fondness for garage riffs. That album was a batch of fantastic songs about sex, drugs and rock and roll that whipped up critical adoration, but little in the way of sales. Two years later, with their eponymous five-song EP -- memo to the band: it's okay to name your albums something other than your band name -- Suffrajett is sticking to their brand of rock and roll, unwilling to change a formula that doesn't need changing. At sub-17 minutes, Suffrajett EP amounts to little more than an amuse-bouche, getting eager listeners ready for their sophomore release, due early 2006. Still, all the right elements are in place -- Simi can growl ("Mr. Man") or coo ("Shake Your Heart") with the best of the girl-garage singers, while guitarist Jason Chasko gets NYC-angular on "Mr. Man" and Motown-stompy on "Getcha Good"; why larger success has eluded them in today's rock scene is anybody's guess. Go find this EP and their earlier LP; help right a musical injustice.
Amina, AnimaminA (The Worker's Institute) Rating: 7
The string quartet Amina is known primarily for its work with Icelandic group Sigur Ros, accenting and putting the finishing touches on several of the band's beautiful pieces of music. Now, they've decided to release this EP to break the monotony somewhat of being a part of such a meteoric group. The four songs on this effort are mysterious, eerie and a tad haunting beginning with a song featuring a creepy music box dancer style and the clinking of glasses. From there "Hemipode" comes off as a cross between Clannad and Radiohead as what sounds like a pipe or whistle is paired off with a lush string arrangement that grows with each passing moment. The highlight however is the tender, bittersweet "Fjarskanistan" that features great violins and a warm, ethereal introduction that evolves into a tear-jerker, cinematic number. Although the final song "Blaskjar" is also pretty, it seems to pale to its predecessor. This will keep you pleased until the next Sigur Ros concert, album or EP.
Isle of View, Gentle Firefly Radio (Undecided) Rating: 4
While confident and fun, Isle of View's Gentle Firefly Radio is all throwaway and instantly forgettable once the record is through. Like Blink 182, but with less memorable songwriting, the Baltimore band is cast from that same punky pop mold. This is particularly obvious on songs like "He Who Laughs Last" and "Private Island", which are amusing listens, but by the time you get to "Ransom" the swagger is wearing a bit thin. And once you hit what amounts to a five-minute opus to overindulgence as escapism, "One Too Many", the sophomoric posturing -- no matter how authentic -- has overstayed its welcome.
Steve Kimock Band, Eudemonic (Sci Fidelity) Rating: 4
Steve Kimock is a guru of the jam band scene and his talent is, indeed, immense, but he falters like many similarly talented artists by making lackluster records. Eudemonic reflects a wandering mind and the loose jazzy and/or funky structure of the songs consistently attempt to be forward- or free-thinking. This is all the more appropriate when considering the album's title means, "Of or relating to a theory of ethics whose primary goal is happiness and well-being through personal enlightenment and experience." Much of Eudemonic is contemplative mood music, all instrumental and full of solid playing. Rodney Holmes is a monster on the drums and paired with Alphonso Johnson's bass work, the rhythm section truly provides Kimock with a backbone to work with. Unfortunately, more than it is inspiring, much of this album comes off sounding like elevator music pawned off as music for relaxation and soul searching. The organic nature of SKB's music fights with the too-smooth production value but ultimately loses. Considering the definition of the album's title, it's hard to believe this will inspire anyone besides those brain-fried from a much more glorious era of wandering, experimental and spiritual music. Eudemonic, in the end, comes to exhibit little that is remarkable with the exception of some drastically misplaced talent.
.: posted by Editor 7:20 AM