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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
30 March 2006
Free Diamonds, There Should Be More Dancing (Deep Elm) Rating: 7
British group Free Diamonds come across initially as some sort of version of The Living End if they were wind-up dolls. The whiny, high vocals take some getting used to on "International Gathering of Champions", but it's worth it for the old-style rock feeling mixed with some garage rock rave up. From there, they offer up a hi-hat, retro-pop vibe on "The List of Everyone" that brings to mind Franz Ferdinand on speed. And it gets you in the mood for shaking a leg if not two as does the sweet, bubbly "Blind Boys" and bass-fuelled "Lovers Die Young" that sounds like Arctic Monkeys on low-speed dubbing. Equally fun and enjoyable is the punchy "The Day We Conquered" and swinging, rockabilly-ish "M Is For Missing". The trio is strong at finding a quirky hook and riding it from start to finish, particularly on the punchy "Land of Giants" and the album highlight "What Part of Free Diamonds Don't You Understand", a rumbling rocker that gallops along perfectly. File somewhere between Violent Femmes and Dogs Die in Hot Cars.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
multiple songs: [purevolume]
Why?, Rubber Traits EP (Anticon) Rating: 6
By now, Why? (Yoni Wolf) should have his past associations behind him, no longer that old cLOUDDEAD guy after the strong Elephant Eyelash album, but he hasn't left his underground hip-hop sound behind him, mixing conversational rapping into his indie pop sound. Besides the title track (a single from the album), this disc's highlight is "Dumb Hummer", an attack on US cultural superficiality. "If you wear first-hand clothes / And get your haircut by somebody you don't know / I'm below you" closes the album with a memorable kiss off to various segments of society drivers (most notably Hummer-drivers). Through these four tracks Why? exposes frustration through odd, personal asides and witty bitterness, but makes it sound pleasant.
"Rubber Traits": [MP3]
Nick Cannon, "Dime Piece" f/ Izzy [12-inch single] (Motown) Rating: 5
Is the career trajectory of a purist pop star more of a gamble than that of an impure pop star? Consider this: once Lil' Jon drops a "Get Low" and breaks a phrase like "skeet, skeet, skeet" into the mainstream, there is nowhere to go (if there is anywhere to go) but up. On the other hand, both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera entered the field as comparable tartlets, yet only one maintains People-cover presence while the other struggles to hold a line in Page Six. While both sets of celebs win the instant gratification of commercial success, the lewder travels a wider road toward critical acclaim; going from titillation to T&A can be far more damning than starting with T&A. So, what do you expect from a Nick Cannon record called "Dime Piece"?
multiple songs: [MySpace]
.: posted by Editor 8:43 AM