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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
30 May 2006
Animal Liberation Orchestra, Fly Between Falls (Brushfire)
Fur flying and critters set free. That's the image conjured by a band name like Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO). As demeanors go, though, this act is closer to ELO then the PLO -- gentle as a lamb. When on tour, ALO often moves in jam band circles. But keyboard driven exercises like "Pobrecito" bring to mind the fey jazz-pop of Michael Franks, rather than Phish, String Cheese Incident, or the almighty Grateful Dead. The lightly funky "Wasting Time" ought to appeal to the hemp clothing wearing and incense burning contingent, though. "Spectrum" is as hippie as a peace sign tattoo; it ponders the conversations that go on in our heads, and plays out like one long stoner run-on sentence. Then there's "Girl I Wanna Lay You Down", which is as overtly sexual as anything Barry White ever put to wax. Otherwise, this animal house is a relatively calm and quiet one.
"Possibly Drown": [MP3]
"Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song)": [MP3]
multiple songs and videos: [MP3]
Rock / Jam Band
Tungsten74, Binaurally Yours (Technical Echo)
Tungsten74 created this album by taking a collection of classical pieces and then burying them deeply under electrified cover versions. Their first try at Bach's "Well-Tempered Klavier" leans too self-consciously on its source, but the second moves through ringing, blossoming crescendos with a kind of grandeur. In between them we get "Waltz," which sounds as if it's being fed through a rock band and coming back to us via the Dr Who theme tune -- and "Come Sweet Death", Bach again; a nimble, pleasurable bit of guitar with a noise behind it like a host of frogs -- and "Fire Alarm", which sometimes sounds like a computer game -- and "Absolutely", which comes at you in a series of heavy waves, relaxed at first and then finally fast and urgent. Binaurally Yours is spacious and dramatic psyche-rock.
"Rusty Cavalier (alternate version)" [MP3]
The Nervous Return, "Bad Girl" b/w "Snow in Berlin" [7-inch single] (La Salle/Atlantic)
From the boutique record label run by former blink-182 drummer Travis Barker comes this one-two pseduo-punk band punch from some band probably only your 11-year-old nephew has heard. This advancer to The Nervous Return's debut LP, 144 Hours, only really delivers two things: 1) a kind of funky bass line played over the most discordant and obnoxious one-chord guitar riff you're likely to hear this year (please see exhibit A: Bad Girl); 2) a really catchy chorus on the B-side, Snow in Berlin. The Nervous Return demonstrate here how, oddly, they can't decide if they're a pure pop noise outfit like Pere Ubu or another blink-182: pure pop for tomorrow's teenagers. And that, my friends, can only mean one thing. They'll make a wonderful tax write-off for Mr. Barker.
multiple songs and videos: [MP3 and quicktime]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Rock / Indie
Modern Skirts, Catalogue of Generous Men (self-released)
If you are familiar with the Modern Skirts and aren't already a member of their loyal fan base, it is unlikely that this debut record is going to convert you. If you've never heard the Modern Skirts before and are looking for a band to fill the gaping hole left by Ben Folds when his solo career failed to move you, these could be your guys. The Athens based soft-rockers have some catchy hooks and are emotive enough to sting together some good tunes, like the semi-rocker "Seventeen Dirty Magazines" and the more touching, "City Lights". Unfortunately, most of the songs on this album are delivered with far more sentimentality than emotion, leaving these pop tunes a little dull, despite the polished-to-a-shine production.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Indie / Pop
.: posted by Editor 7:43 AM