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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
17 April 2006
Boysetsfire, Before the Eulogy (Equal Vision) Rating: 6
Screamo isn't exactly a genre (or, I suppose if we're being precise, a subgenre) that's garnered a lot of positive press over the last few years, but as with any fad genre of note, it did spawn a few decent bands. Boysetsfire is one of those bands, perhaps thanks to the fact that it wasn't so much a reaction to the movement as it helped to instigate it. Before the Eulogy is an odds 'n sods compilation that pulls together a few out of print EPs from the era before the breakthrough album After the Eulogy (hence the title), tosses a few rarities into the tracklisting and makes an album out of the result. Before the Eulogy is actually a pretty good look at the evolution of Boysetsfire, as the demos that comprise the beginning of the album are uncompromising and rough around the edges, while the later tracks are much more songs than tantrums, eventually turning into something like pop-punk on "Loser of the Year Award" from the In Chrysalis EP. "Bucket of Rain" is one of the prettier songs the band has ever recorded, and takes its place as the best of the rarities, while "Consider the Numbers" and "Feudal", both from the Consider 7-inch, are probably the best compromise for those looking for the sheer intensity of the band's early work, but can't bear the awful production on the demos. Obviously, After the Eulogy is for the fans and only for the fans, but I can't see how those fans could possibly be disappointed with these 20 tunes.
"Turn the Key": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
multiple songs: [PureVolume]
The Apparitions, As This Is Futuristic (Machine) Rating: 4
There's nothing wrong with the Apparitions, it's just -- hold up. There's plenty wrong with the Apparitions. Their accessible popsmithery is bland and derivative, they're self-satisfied and ultimately, forgettable. I've got more... their over designed album art is plug-ugly, their melodies echo like a textbook of the last decade in alternative rock, and one of their two vocalists is -- hold on. It's all forgivable. Enter the irrepressible "God Monkey Robot". Room on Fire refuse that won't easily be erased from memory. It's second-rate pop genius, but genius nonetheless. With its repetitive chorus and saccharine guitars, it's almost enough to prop up this entire exercise in mediocrity. "Again there was god, then came the monkey, then came the robot, and on and on..." The Apparitions are the Wrens annoying cousin who opines political at the dinner table (but you too watched last night's episode of the Daily Show). Inevitably, you get annoyed, the food gets cold and the cheap red wine starts to taste cheap. Sadly, there are a few things wrong with the Apparitions.
"God Monkey Robot": [MP3]
"Electricity and Drums": [MP3]
Nathan Fake, Drowning in a Sea of Love (Border Community) Rating: 7
Start with the album title: a descriptor of fuzzy bliss, it suits Fake's debut album, even if I suspect drowning would be more frantic than any of the tracks on theis disc. Fake starts as a house producer but leaves the danceable beats behind in favor of ones that he can build electronic atmospheres around, matching a knowledge of IDM with a desire to utterly shut down your mind. These tracks could easily have cut a few laptop drumkits and been ambient stretchings; they could just as easily have added a few guitars and fit somewhere on the electrogaze continuum. Fake wisely stays in between, where he can wander his own way.
"Long Sunny": [MP3]
Don Omar, "Dale Don Dale" feat. Fabolous [12-inch single] (Universal) Rating: 5
Don Omar, one of the leading figures in reggaeton, further explores his crossover potential with this remix to a previous hit, "Dale Don Dale." Employing a subtle beat makeover courtesy of Swizz Beatz and a verse from young'n Fabolous, Omar revisits the formula that made his "Reggaeton Latino" (which featured spots from the States' highest profile Borinquen thug rappers N.O.R.E. and Fat Joe) with the hopes of making deeper inroads. However, where the previous song achieved anthemic status by openly draping itself in the genre's signature rhythms and sounds (from its drum hits to its native tongue), this latest single strays dangerously toward novelty. Swizz Beatz' intense Moroder-workout summons a menacing Scarface aura that matches the Last Don's ego trips, but also conjures a clichéd Scarface stereotype that shrouds Don Omar's identity. Ironically, only reggaeton fans can pull the subtlety from a confused work like this -- hardly an invalidation of the work, but hardly a compliment.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
.: posted by Editor 7:36 AM