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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
24 January 2006
Honeybrowne, Something to Believe In (Compadre) Rating: 8
Texas band Honeybrowne like their country roots sound, but they like it without the gloss, spit and Pro Tools polish that is the norm these days. Led by singer Fran Andrews, Honeybrowne are somewhere in the mold of a cross between Slobberbone, BoDeans and Steve Earle on the roots pop of the title track. This is more country than alt. country however with a tender "March of Life" that never breaks the surface. It's three gems in a row that is highlighted by the mid-tempo swagger of "I'm Here" that could have fallen off Earle's Exit O or Guitar Town. Even when they step out of their comfort zone for a Southern rocker like "8 Roses" they come up smelling like roses. A mistake could have been "Never Forget You" but Honeybrowne perform this precious little nugget with a great deal of care. One possible filler is the light, galloping of "My Turn to Hear You Cry" but just ekes itself over the bar as does the waltz-y "This Time". "New Friends" is another sleeper pick, recalling the best days of The Connells.
Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes, The Witch's Dagger (Gold Standard Labs) Rating: 3
The Witch's Dagger sounds like a bad nightmare. Something about "Mars", for instance, can move you from the comfort of your living room/bed/car/back porch swing and make you feel surrounded by dolls without heads. It's all just so unsettling. Much as I could have done without the orgy photos and bad bestiality drawing inside the CD sleeve, Rhani Remedes has a nicely spooky vocal that doesn't appear to want anything more than to freak you out. It does, and well. There's not a whole lot here that rises above the "fuck the fascists" cry of so many of these sex-obsessed, punk-rot bands, but that doesn't mean it doesn't go down weirdly well on a rainy Sunday. Just don't listen too closely. And don't watch the accompanying video -- the masquerade-sex-party-dressed freaky guys eat the normal people at the end. There's an original sentiment.
Maquiladora, A House All on Fire (Darla) Rating: 3
The third full-length LP by San Diego's Maquiladora finds the band further refining its aesthetic, which is a progressive take on the "high lonesome" sound that owes as much to Neil Young as it does to the group's occasional collaborators Acid Mothers Temple and former labelmates My Morning Jacket. But where the band previously spiced up its mellow approach with concessions to more pop-oriented song structures, A House All on Fire offers little reprieve from the gloomy abyss it steps into from the very first track. Aside from the noisy guitar feedback that introduces the penultimate "White Sands", the record isn't much more than a long, dreary sedative -- a quality further complicated by the uneasy harmonies put forth by the group's three vocalists. A few instrumental jam interludes present momentary snatches of interest, but overall A House All on Fire suffers from a case of way too much high and not enough lonesome.
The Bosch, Buy One Get One (How's Annie Music) Rating: 5
A New York-based garage rock group. How original. Nonetheless The Bosch manage to eke out just enough oomph and party rock to make the nine-track affair an amusing and delightful antidote to those waiting for the next Mooney Suzuki or Hives release. "Come on Phillie" starts off quite slow but grows on the listener. "The Movie Director" meanwhile has a cheesy organ and retro '60s boogie flavor pouring out of it as the lyrics are uttered in a Violent Femmes minimal fashion. After a so-so "Metronome", The Bosch shines on "Matching Girlfriend" which resembles The Strokes being introduced to remedial ska. However, they hit rock bottom with "Teenage Symphony", a crappy downbeat track along the lines of Blink 182's "I Miss You". But they forget this miscue with the lo-fi rowdy rocking rave-up "Zombie Killer" that suited for trashing your nearly finished basement. A blazing instrumental "Napoleon Invades Russia" should be the closer, but on the whole 'tis not bad.
.: posted by Editor 7:45 AM