PopMatters home | short takes home | archives
PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
04 April 2006
Work Clothes, These Are the Shoes We Wear (Fractured Discs) Rating: 7
With a voice somewhere between Alex Chilton and Low's Alan Sparhawk, Lee Waters whispers a melody on "Fort Bragg Summers" that will stay with you long after the song's two minutes expire, a perfect fit for bittersweet nostalgic lyrics like "the slow sweet trail of sweat from cheek to chin" and "every fireworks display that's littered every soccer field". Waters, along with wife Jenny, deliver several such folk-pop quiet storms on These Are the Shoes We Wear, which is on my short-list for best surprise of 2006, first quarter. If you can resist a love song like "Over the Moon", where Waters croons direct yet disarming lines like "I'm a better man when seen through your eyes / ... And Jenny I love you honey / ... I just want to live till you die" with absolutely zero schmaltz, then it's time to schedule a check-up for your soul.
"Fort Bragg Summers": [MP3]
"Super 8": [MP3]
Dreamend, Maybe We're Making God Sad and Lonely (Graveface) Rating: 6
Dreamend's second album begins with an instrumental that lifts up with intensity and then drops into quietude, leaving in the air questions and expectations. It's the sort of build-and-release approach common with modern orchestral rock ("post-rock"), but it seem especially driven by feeling. It's melancholy and emotional, by no means an intellectual exercise. And the rest of the album defies expectations in much the same way. A dreamy moodpiece backs the sound of an elderly woman telling a Civil War-era ghost story. That leads into a straight-up pop-rock song, and then a tantalizing, stretched-out atmospheric track that's also an open-hearted ballad. All of the music Dreamend plays is possessed by that eerie ghost-story feeling, but also by a sense of longing, a yearning for something inexpressible.
"Can't Take You": [MP3]
The Fantastikol Hole, The Mathematikol Oil (Basement Apes Industries) Rating: 5
Equal parts Autechre and Pig Destroyer, France's The Fantastikol Hole incorporate man and machine impressively on their latest album, a disc that people will either find repellent or fascinating. Guitars reel off riffs that smack of Voivod and Converge, rapid fire electronic beats blast away like machine guns, acoustic drums hold the fort, and the vocals are screamed in the classic grindcore style, equal parts grating and indecipherable. For all the racket, though, this band's music remains surprisingly pedestrian, the riffs recycled, the drumming unspectacular, the vocals run-of-the-mill, leaving the sampling work of Yan Arexis to hold our interest. When the band does come together, as on "Rock and Die, Suffer and Roll" and on the furious grind of "Riot", the results are thrilling, but with 27 tracks in just under 40 minutes, the pace is so relentless that near the end, it all borders on overkill. For grindcore fans only.
.: posted by Editor 9:45 AM