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22 February 2006

Koenjihyakkei, Angherr Shisspa (Skin Graft) Rating: 8
For the better part of 20 years, Tatsuya Yoshida has been blowing minds as the leader of bass and drum duo Ruins. Though the template was fairly straightforward -- bass, drums and no rules -- Yoshida managed to not only gain a lot of mileage from the minimal set up but to also set the bar for likeminded acts to follow while continuing to raise it himself time and again. Koenjihyakkei, one of many Yoshida side projects, have been granted their first North American domestic release by the good folks at Skin Graft, and Andherr Shisspa as another mindbending look into Yoshida's ever-expanding creativity. The five-member band takes Yoshida's love of prog, strips its metallic and classical leanings, and injects it with a heavy dose of jazz fusion leanings and operatic weight. Some of the basic Ruins trademarks are here, particularly the non-linear song structures and the stop-on-a-dime tempo changes, but the songs themselves are fleshed out with a wider array of instrumentation including reeds and keyboards. The final result is an album that sounds like Pagliacci on speed. Yeah, I'm not quite sure what that means either but Angherr Shisspa is heady, precision-timed, explosively executed blast of prog-goodness that blows the dust off some of the highly revered and protected genres of jazz and opera, dismantles it and hands it over to the young folks in a package that is both mesmerizing and jaw-dropping. This is an essential addition to Yoshida's growing catalog of groundbreaking, avant-garde work. — Kevin Jagernauth [Insound]
"Rattims Friezz": [MP3]

Various Artists, We Reach: The Music of the Melvins (Fractured Transmitter) Rating: 7
Way back when, tribute albums were cool, novel ways for young artists to pay homage to their elders, such as the Leonard Cohen tribute I'm Your Fan and The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young, but today, the concept has been done to death so much, it's hard to get excited about the idea at all. Nowhere do we come across more tribute albums than in the world of metal. They might act all tough, but metal bands are a bunch of softies when it comes to praising their peers, and the latest veteran band to receive the "I love you, man!" treatment is The Melvins, and deservedly so. If there was one band who was tragically ahead of their time, it's the Aberdeen, Washington trio, as their sludgy variation on stoner/doom metal has been co-opted by everyone from the mighty Mastodon to indie buzz bands like Early Man and The Sword, and for the most part, Fractured Transmitter Records does a good job assembling a fun CD, featuring some of the best bands in the genre today. Sure, you get the usual note-for-note covers, but established bands like Mastodon ("The Bit"), The Dillinger Escape Plan ("Honey Bucket"), Strapping Young Lad ("Zodiac"), Pig Destroyer ("Claude"), and High on Fire ("Oven") all put their own stamp on the original tunes. Other standouts include a fantastic collaboration between Isis and Agoraphobic Nosebleed on "Easy As It Was", Mare's completely unrecognizable rendition of "Nightgoat", and Pincer 2's incredible a cappella rendition of "Echohead/Don't Piece Me". Most tribute albums are a complete waste of time, but We Reach holds our interest throughout. — Adrien Begrand [Insound]

The Friction Brothers, The Summer of Friction (SFR) Rating: 6
Four guys with guitars and a rapid garage rock sound. Sound familiar? Well, The Friction Brothers try to match the intensity of some of the genre's forefathers. At least that's the idea with the first tune. And while the intensity of "Everybody's Gotta Get Some" isn't on par with that of Mooney Suzuki, it still isn't bad for two minutes. The group then tries to give you a soppy roots ballad on "Don't Leave Me Alone Tonight" that putters along without much oomph. The same can be said for the lackluster "We Almost Lost the World" that again, seems to stall from the opening notes, then attempts to be arty and falls flat on its face. Just as mundane is "It's a Crazy World We're Livin' In" that could have been a lost b-side from an unsigned Black Crowes. Far from consistent, the band strikes a bit of gold with "I'm Sorry I Ever Felt That Way", a near nine-minute track that finds the band in a prog-rock, psychedelic sort of zone and jams the hell out of the song a la My Morning Jacket. A rocking version of Ike and Tina's "River Deep - Mountain High" is okay at best. — Jason MacNeil [Insound]
"Don't Leave Me Alone Tonight": [MP3]
"All Women Deserve the Best": [MP3]
"The Big Thing": [MP3]

Marcos Hernandez, C About Me (TVT) Rating: 6
There's not much to Marcos Hernandez other than a pretty face and a pretty voice and some more-or-less up-to-date teeny-bopper swoonbeats... hey, that actually sounds like a pretty good combination. He does melty love ballads with almost hip-hop beats with titles like "Call Me" (produced by the great Happy Perez!) and "C About Me" (produced by the undistinguished Bronze and Brainz), but probably not as well as Frankie J, whose last album fell off like it was a watermelon balanced on a soccerball. Marcos calls girls "Mami", tells them that their bodies are off the chain, and tries to entice them into "Latin Escapades", which should have guaranteed him big success. But somehow TVT failed to put him across, which I guess is a shame. — Matt Cibula [Insound]
C About Me: [stream album]

.: posted by Editor 5:59 AM

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