PopMatters home | short takes home | archives

PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases

e-mail print comment

07 February 2006

The Grates, The Ouch. The Touch. EP (Dew Process/Cherrytree) Rating: 9
Here's a prediction for 2006: the Grates will beat Be Your Own Pet for girl-led spaz-punk debut of the year. On stage in Sydney, Ben Lee (!) dubbed 2006 'the year of the Grates' -- but then, Ben Lee wrote "Awake is the New Sleep" -- so don't trust him, trust me. The Ouch. The Touch., the band's debut release, is a tantalizing promise of things to come: defiantly raucous freak-out "Message"; dragged-through-molasses guitar-strummed "Sukkafish"; robot-stomp sex-call "Trampoline". The whole time, drummer Alana Skyring pounds the living daylights out of her drum set, so you can't help but nod your head. Live, the Grates shine, too: singer Patience Hodgson bounces up and down the stage singing "wash me!", and she's so adorable you're coerced into having fun. I for one don't need any convincing: the Grates are definitely one of the bands to watch for in 2006. [Amazon]
      — Dan Raper

Stephen Clair, Under the Bed (Valley Entertainment) Rating: 6
Stephen Clair is a smart singer-songwriter who has opened for Vic Chesnutt, Richard Buckner and The Gourds among others. And for good reason since the songs generally gel from the onset of "Gone Ten Years", a weary track that, as Clair sings, proves he's in no hurry. "It's a Riddle" is a funky, Sheryl Crow-like pedestrian pop track that is a tad forced, not utilizing Clair's strong points. After a few listens it should grow on you. He finds the best of both worlds on "My Heart's Not Broken" that Lucinda Williams would consider covering. Clair comes undone in a few places unfortunately, making "Stupid Game" sound more like "Stupid Song", a clichéd backbeat and rather routine melody. "The Moon" fares slightly better as he eases himself into the sparse, earthy, campfire ditty and the jerky but jaunty "Following Orders" that sounds like it was done in one take. "You can't catch a raindrop in a moth-eaten hat" he sings during the latter tune. When Clair is front and centre, stripped of any mediocre production, he stars with "A Woman Like You" that comes from the Kevin Welch school of songwriting. Happy go lucky during the swaying, catchy "Tomorrow's Another Day", Clair hits his stride perfectly here. [Amazon]
      — Jason MacNeil

Menomena, "Posh Isolation / Tung Track" [7-inch single] (Polyvinyl) Rating: 6
Menomena's new 7-inch and first offering on Polyvinyl contains two tracks that were recorded during the sessions for their debut album, 2004's I Am the Fun Blame Monster. That album was a bizarre amalgamation of activity that resulted in one of the year's most fun releases. Given that background, it's no wonder that these songs were chopped. Both are moody electronic numbers that fit neither the emotion nor the playfulness of their compiled counterparts. Even so, neither one's a bust. B-side "Tung Track" actually wins out, with its snipped percussion and desolate vocals. "Posh Isolation" has the same gloom and loneliness, this time driven by a couple guitar strings and a bass and interrupted by the group's direct electronic mind before suffering slight fragmentation. Menomena maintains an aura of nerdy weirdness about them, and this release lacks that enough oddity to compensate for its missing joy. Even so, the pair of songs should keep anticipation up for this year's full-length, given that even the group's outtakes can entertain.
      — Justin Cober-Lake

Dave's True Story, Simple Twist of Fate (Bepop) Rating: 4
This album of Bob Dylan covers is hardly an album at all. Yes, it is a collection of Dylan covers, but it's packaged in the guise of an album when anyone can clearly see that it is merely an EP. Only seven Dylan songs are here. Bloating the disc to album length are three "radio edit" versions and one "alternative mix." Plus, DTS add a song written by their lead singer. These extras might work well if the CD were already album length, but instead they reek of padding. After all, the radio edits simply fade out a minute early. The songs here are classy Dylan interpretations, though rarely inventive or essential. Dylan completists will likely enjoy this collection, but it will appeal to very few others, especially with a list price of $11. [Amazon]
      — David Bernard

.: posted by Editor 7:59 AM

Comments: Post a Comment links to this post

Links to this post:



In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
Abe Duque
be your own PET
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
The Bottle Rockets
The Brand New Heavies
Johnny Cash
Slaid Cleaves
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Cut Chemist
Miles Davis
Dinosaur Jr.
Dr. Octagon
Alejandro Escovedo
Fatboy Slim
Four Tet
The Handsome Family
Matthew Herbert
Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
Mission of Burma
Mr. Lif
Mojave 3
Allison Moorer
Paul Oakenfold
Grant-Lee Phillips
The Procussions
Corinne Bailey Rae
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Julie Roberts
Diana Ross
7L & Esoteric
Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
Sonic Youth
Soul Asylum
Sound Team
Regina Spektor
Sufjan Stevens
Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

Baby Dayliner
The BellRays
Cat Power
The Clientele + Great Lakes
The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
Download Festival 2006
Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
The Handsome Family
High Sierra Music Festival
Billy Idol
Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

advertising | about | contributors | submissions
© 1999-2011 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks of PopMatters Media, Inc. and PopMatters Magazine.