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23 February 2006

Yoko Solo, The Beeps (Quake Trap) Rating: 8
Ambient electronic music with ideas in it is pretty damned rare, so when not-actually-Japanese-person Yoko Solo gets it going, The Beeps is pretty exciting. I mean, you'd expect that, what with song titles like "Don't Fall Asleep I'm Warning You Don't Fall Asleep" and "Covered in Feces... Stronger Than You, Rotten." Dude likes to inspire aural whiplash, like when the ticky-ticky beats on "Partial Collapse / Useless Control Systems (I've Got No Rights)" turn into metal monster drums, or when the freaky voices on "Nowave" melt into whatever the hell that boinging noise is. This record will give you a juicy headache and perhaps get your mind laid. — Matt Cibula [Insound]
MP3s from Weese EP:
"All The Worms Shall Rise from the Mud": [MP3]
"Party Røk / Disko Flux": [MP3]
"Disfigured Chicken Blues": [MP3]
"Enter the Weese": [MP3]
"KrakHopBaySludgeXciter": [MP3]

Armin van Buuren, Shivers (Ultra) Rating: 4
Armin van Buuren is one of the top trance DJs in the world, presumably because he knows what it takes to get people dancing. So why is it that whenever he puts his name on the 'artist' credit for an album, he seems to forget everything he knows? Shivers is van Buuren's second foray into composition, this time with a heavier focus on the songwriting than the beatmaking. Occasionally, he finds a nice melody -- Justine Suissa's vocals on "Wall of Sound" are engaging and well-written, and former post-Phil Collins Genesis vocalist Ray Wilson does a nice turn on "Gypsy", which actually has lyrics that can be described as better than banal -- of course, that's likely because it's a remake of a Ray Wilson solo track, a fact more or less ignored by the misleading liner notes. As for the purely instrumental tracks, "Zocalo" (in which van Buuren gets some help from fellow dance stalwarts Gabriel and Dresden) does a good job bumping up the energy with some inventive drum programming and twangy guitars, but most of the tracks fall into the typical trance clichés of constant gated synth work and BUMPchaBUMPcha drums. Shivers is trance for a crowd who's growing older and less interested in dancing -- undoubtedly, there is an established audience for this stuff, but nobody outside that audience has any reason to care it exists. — Mike Schiller [Insound]
"A State of Trance Radio Compilation": [MP3] not from this album

David Aaron, From Brooklyn (David Doobie Aaron Music) Rating: 6
David Aaron uses samples, loops and backbeats to get his meaty, funky tracks across. It also works well on the big kickstarter "The Mourning" that could be a mashup of Nickelback and Depeche Mode. "Mr. Sam" however falls back into a safety net -- a song that tries to be edgy but is too formulaic. Aaron fares better on the somber "Everyday" although his voice isn't what sells it, rather a good background of piano and electronica. Aaron often resembles Everlast or J.D. Fortune (you know, the new INXS singer) on some sort of mellow trip, especially on the soft-then-hard arrangement on "Wild Garden". Despite residing in Brooklyn, Aaron sounds like his from some Southern rock lineage on "Leave Today" with a thick swampy rock riff and some heady harmonies. Three out of the final four numbers are pale efforts as "Advancement" sounds like Aaron is stuck in some sand dune with the late Jim Morrison. After a brief but pretty instrumental entitled "Baby Bias", Aaron takes a page from Everlast and sings/speaks the lyrics for "The Jesus Orphan's". Starts off well then gets a tad tedious, despite some of Aaron's best vocals saved for the closing "Waiting". — Jason MacNeil [Insound]
"Leave Today": [MP3]
"The Mourning": [MP3]

Harvey Danger, "Cream and Bastards Rise" [7-inch single] (Kill Rock Stars) Rating: 6
Harvey Danger holds nothing back on their latest 7-inch, maintaining their edge as they move in a more pop direction. Sean Nelson delivers the vocals for "Cream and Bastards Rise" with acerbity, yet the guitar-based song could work as a car-windows-down, summer-singalong. It might not be the fun pop of picnics, but it will help the kids vent their anger at their summer-job boss (and the rest of us get out our frustrations at whatever bastards we're watching rise). The b-side "Picture, Picture" has more of a bar band feel with a touch of alt-rock, whatever that means these days. Less catchy than the lead track, it holds up as a b-side. This little disc isn't going to push Harvey Danger to the front of the public's mind, but it does serve as a reminder that they're still worth paying attention to. — Justin Cober-Lake [Insound]

.: posted by Editor 6:11 AM

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