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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
05 April 2006
Various Artists, And to the Disciples That Remain (Amish) Rating: 8
Thirteen beautiful songs from New York City's new folk incubator, Amish Records, showcase the works of a diverse and free-spirited crowd. There are two new cuts from Tower Recordings' PG Six, the flute-haunted traditional "Lily of the West" and the porch-picking blues of "Feelin' Low." Helen Rush, also a Tower Recordings alum, breathes a luminous folk mystery into "Silver Sun," while Samara Lubelski (Hall of Fame, Metabolismus) whispers darkly, gently over plinked glockenspiel in "The Ladybird and the Golden Boy." Oakley Hall forges on where Crazy Horse no longer ventures, countrified electric roar erupting from a soulful rendering of Buffy Sant-Marie's "Cod'ine." "Cinema Style" by Black Taj (an Idyll Swords offshoot) is another highlight, its trippy, drone-y, amplified groove standing out in this mostly tranquil collection. This is a wonderful collection, every track vibrating with eccentric, individual vision, yet coalescing into an intelligently connected whole.
PG Six: "Old Man on the Mountain": [MP3]
Oakley Hall: "Light of My Love": [MP3]
Majic Massey, "Devil's Advocate" [12-inch single] (Universal) Rating: 5
Up and coming Windy City crooner follows up the pop step of his major label debut single "Ooh Wee" with a predictably thoughtful counterpart "Devil's Advocate." Raindrops don't stop fallin' as the track leans and snaps to a Syreeta-sampled beat, all while Massey turns to God for salvation from the streets. The singer demonstrates greater skill with his colorful enunciation and sudden octave leaps, but his approach here feels forced and chortled in the tight and intimate space of a breezy ballad. Hardly a misstep though, Massey proves his performance potential. Perhaps third time will be a charm?
We Are the Fury, Infinite Jest EP (East West) Rating: 4
I was secretly hoping that this five song EP named after David Foster Wallace's mammoth 1996 novel (and a line knicked from a play by some Shakespeare guy) came with a thousand page, annotated liner note booked, but alas, no such luck. And that merely proved to be the first of my disappointments, as We Are the Fury sound like nothing more than Hot Hot Heat's kid brothers (circa major-label-neutered Elevator, not Make Up the Breakdown); that's hardly a crime, but it's hardly an endorsement, either. And while they do fire off a few good ideas - "Nation, Forgive Us"'s "If we're so hopeless then why'd you mold us to be nothing more than soldiers with impressionable minds?" nails the tenor of the times, as does that song's marriage of a lazy bass groove to a prickly lead guitar. They maintain a high energy throughout, as well, and if we're comparing albums named after doorstop novels, then Infinite Jest EP is no worse than Pat Benetar's Gravity's Rainbow. Now, had We Are the Fury done an actual album informed by Wallace's book, full of teen tennis prodigies and wheelchair-bound Quebecois terrorists, then we'd be getting somewhere....
multiple tracks: [MySpace]
Just a Fire, Spanish Time (Sickroom) Rating: 5
Featuring Fred Erskine (Hoover, June of '44) on bass and vocals, I'm hard pressed to find a reason otherwise that anyone might really care for Just a Fire. Built around the classic three piece setup (guitar, bass and drums) Spanish Time is the group's second album in three years. Unfortunately, the band doesn't tread any new ground, offering the same Fugazi-era, DC-sound that has been done to death. That said, they do it very well. With nine songs recorded in three days with none other than ex-Jawbox member J. Robbins, Just a Fire bring that urgency to tape. Built around guitarist Chris Daly's ferocious guitar playing, Spanish Time will certainly get your heart rate up. Erskine delivers the requisite howling on the microphone, but his voice and lyrics aren't particularly noteworthy. By the latter half of nine-song disc, the songs begin to blend into one another, while attempts at breaking away from the formula such as the dub-heavy "The Sun Is a Magnet" are entirely forgettable. If you need a new fix of post-hardcore fury, you could do worse than Just a Fire but you might be better served pulling out the CDs that influenced Spanish Time that are collecting dust on your shelf.
.: posted by Editor 8:33 AM