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02 May 2006

Catfish Haven, Please Come Back (Secretly Canadian) Rating: 8
Though the legacy of popular music is that bands can (and will) hook you with one song, it seems rare that an EP can elicit rabid desire for full-length in the way Catfish Haven have done in me. Please Come Back is an album whose title track tightens its grip around you; its soulful exuberance and excited pace are so classic and simple it sounds easy. But it's not. You know it's not. In fact, sounding sparse and simple and undeniably good at the same time has to be one of the most difficult things to accomplish in this business. Basically, Catfish Haven pulls it off with a flick of a cigarette butt. There is such soul in George Hunter's gravely voice, such a raucous, spitting barrage in the unbridled performance of these songs. In this world where Springsteen meets the Stooges, all they can talk about is their Stax/Volt box sets. I do say, once Catfish Haven kicks out their full-length, we're all in trouble: we are, after all, at their mercy. This EP is just a taste of what's to come, and it tastes damn good. More, please. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Zack Adcock
"Too Hungover to Headbang": [MP3]
"Paper Thin": [MP3]
"Madaline"(new demo): [MP3]
"Please Come Back"(new demo): [MP3]
more songs: [MySpace]

The Age of Rockets, The Drive Home (Astronaut/Dinosaur) Rating: 6
If Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout hadn't forsaken the pop industry altogether but applied his sublime songwriting talent to a project that explored peculiar samples and mixed synth-based electropop with heartbreaking melodies then he might have come up with something like this. The Drive Home can sometimes be visceral and challenging record, it combines haunting melodies with a "staring out into the night sky looking at forever" mentality. At times it steers a little too close to the Postal Service but the journey is mostly along the by-roads and dirt tracks of the musical landscape. Not completely uncharted but sometimes unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. The Age of Rocket's driving force Andrew Frutal is intent on exploring pop's underbelly with an unblinking gaze. And by golly it works, mostly. This record will not set any charts alight but it will bring some warmth into some disaffected student dorm rooms in the years to come. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Marc A. Price
"Pétales Aiment La Saleté": [MP3]
"Insmileoutblood": [MP3]
"Once, We Were Monsters": [MP3]
"Once, We Were Monsters (Remix)": [MP3]
more songs: [MySpace]

Postal Blue, Road to Happiness (Humblebee Recordings) Rating: 4
If you're feeling sinister, sneak into your beloved's room and put Postal Blue's Road To Happiness EP on repeat while they're sleeping. Then fold your hands, and walk like a peasant out of the room. The songs from this belated 2004 document of the Brazilian pop quartet, I'm reckoning, will murmur into his/her subconscious like distant echoes of two titans of life's rich pageant of music. But their level of devotion, about a 9.3 on the Rickenbacker scale, leaves them sounding just a green on songs like "I Took the Love You Were Hiding" and "The World Doesn't Need You". Pleasant enough, and smooth as tiger milk, but without enough original character of their own to make it worthwhile. These are just modern rock songs. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Michael Metivier
"The World Doesn't Need You": [MP3]

Mill Race, Westerns (Mill Race Music) Rating: 6
I love the album packaging in rare cases. And this isn't one of them. While it has nothing to do with the music, why anyone would want to create something resembling a huge menu-like contraption Joe and Hoss might have a gander at during a Bonanza episode is beyond me. Shame on that person! Anyhow, Mill Race is intent on making the softer moments of Jeff Tweedy or The Gunshy seem like heavy metal by comparison. Interesting at times, the surf-meets-Americana feel is an acquired taste for "Official Statement" while "Sub-Ballad of the Chain Link Halo" has a Sadies-meets-Elliott Brood rambling, chugging vibe. But lead singer Julian Snow nails the somber, hushed hue of "Spring Loaded Winter" perfectly. The instrumentals, including the title track, aren't very special, wallowing in a sea of Ry Cooder-like guitar licks. However, "Asteroid" ekes out a decent, barren dirge as Snow refers to the end of the world. The pace-changing "Neoclassic" and the electro-rambling "Little Maggie" isn't bad either. Generally an oddly engaging release... now to get this #@!$*&! liner note back in its case. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Jason MacNeil
multiple songs: [MySpace]

.: posted by Editor 7:05 AM

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In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
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be your own PET
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The Brand New Heavies
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Dinosaur Jr.
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Fatboy Slim
Four Tet
The Handsome Family
Matthew Herbert
Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
Mission of Burma
Mr. Lif
Mojave 3
Allison Moorer
Paul Oakenfold
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The Procussions
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Julie Roberts
Diana Ross
7L & Esoteric
Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
Sonic Youth
Soul Asylum
Sound Team
Regina Spektor
Sufjan Stevens
Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

Baby Dayliner
The BellRays
Cat Power
The Clientele + Great Lakes
The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
Download Festival 2006
Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
The Handsome Family
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Billy Idol
Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

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