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20 March 2006

Erik de Vahl, Friendly Fire (Service) Rating: 7
With eight tracks clocking in at just over 20 minutes Friendly Fire, the second release for Swedish folk-pop prodigy Erik de Vahl sits uncomfortably between EP and LP. Nevertheless, there are some exquisite moments on this disc that bring to mind much more established balladeers. De Vahl's persona seems somewhat Lekman-esque, in that he's an awkward-looking, anti-cookie-cut Swede (just check out his Myspace pic); but his music is unique. Electronic effects and vast evocations of space swirl around the acoustic guitar-strums, sometimes going nowhere, but most often conjuring up a languorous, depressed atmosphere with some genuinely masterful melodic touches. He's not afraid to experiment with instrumentation, either; the sound is filled out with pan-flute, or bells, or the wail of an accordion. The highlights -- the title track, "Friendly Fire", and "My Bird"; both bring De Vahl's introspective folk leanings to the fore in closeted beauty that will haunt you for days. I wish he'd dropped some of the filler; buried within Friendly Fire is a brilliant EP's worth of haunting, beautiful music. But as a guy barely out of his teens we can cut De Vahl some slack -- promise, again, is the name of the game. Better than well worth checking out. [Insound]
      — Dan Raper
"She's Calling Me": [MP3] from Friendly Fire
"Elsia Pt. 2": [MP3] from The World Where No One Needs to Swim
"Take Some Care": [MP3] from Secrets Adrift

Wolfmother, Dimensions (Modular) Rating: 7
Already stars in their native Australia, Wolfmother certainly have the goods to bust out in a big way in America, thanks to their savvy blend of stoner riffs, swaggering Sabbath-style tempos, and bursts of '60s psychedelic rock, and as the word of mouth surrounding their debut, which has become very popular on bit torrent sites over the last five months, continues to grow, the trio are primed to make a rather sizable dent in mainstream rock in 2006. Interscope Records is well aware of how potentially big Wolfmother can be, and as a way to whet the appetites of those who have not heard the MP3s, we have this little teaser EP. The two album cuts are the main attractions, as "Dimension" takes the Down Under garage rock of The Datsuns and adds much more charisma and style, and "Mind's Eye" is a terrific ballad cut from the early 70s Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, a surefire stadium pleaser. As good as the songs are, there's little reason to buy this EP; "Love Train" and "The Earth's Rotation Around the Sun" are little more than toss-offs, and besides, the full-length will be in stores in early May. If you haven't already downloaded the album (don't worry, it'll be our little secret if you did), just sit tight, save your ten bucks, and wait for the album. It delivers on what this fun, yet ultimately unneccessary 15 minute CD only hints at. [Insound]
      — Adrien Begrand
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Matthew Shaw, Convenience (Burning Building Recordings) Rating: 7
The follow-up to his Ghosts in the Concrete sees Matthew Shaw being his old inventive self with the electro-rock of "The Drunk" that mixes bleeps and blips with a melody that isn't fully developed but still delivers the goods. The guitars are downplayed in the chorus somewhat yet it works quite well. Fans of similar one-man bands like Baby Dayliner would lap up "Deadlines & Days Off" that seems caught in an '80s time warp with its synthesizers and electronica. The great thing is that the songs are consistently good, even the acoustic leanings on "Quicksand". But if there is one that seems to stand out it has to be the danceable "These Lists Are Tombstones" that seems to fall somewhere between New Order and Depeche Mode. Despite being just five songs, the EP is quite fulfilling, concluding with a gentler "Late Nights" that seems to be the perfect tune to wind down to after a night of barhopping. — Jason MacNeil [Insound]
"Deadlines & Days Off": [MP3]
"These Lists Are Tombstones": [MP3]

.: posted by Editor 8:10 AM

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