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15 June 2006

Be Your Own Pet, Summer Sensation EP (Ecstatic Peace!)
Before their self-titled debut album even hit American stores, the young and fresh-faced punks of Be Your Own Pet were already plagued with Strokes syndrome. While first single "Damn Damn Leash" was nearly universally lauded as an enthusiastic sugar rush of raw energy, the tide was beginning to shift as the general hipster consensus became "over-hyped, derivative, sounds too much like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs". Be Your Own Pet do sound like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but so do a lot of other guy-fronted groups, and this dismissal by comparison seems like both too easy of a knock and one rooted more in lead singer Jemina Pearl's gender than anything else. Be Your Own Pet are not, admittedly, genius messiahs of innovation heralding a new age for music, but the guy that invented the guitar only comes about once every 5,000 years, and BYOP bring a refreshing skill, energy, and excitement to what they do. At its worst moments, their new EP Summer Sensation is entirely enjoyable pop-post-punk, and at its best, it's undeniably, fuzzily, yelpingly catchy. Opener "Bicycle, Bicycle"'s thundering hook, "We're on two wheels, baby", is indelible, and "Fire Department" brings Jemina squealing out her words with infectiously angsty delight. The slower saunter of "Take That Walk" is a strong emotional climax as well, but the most memorable moments are those like this in "Bicycle, Bicycle": "Have fun / And be safe with it," Jemina sings, her voice immediately cracking with sheer exuberance into "Just kidding / Fuck shit up!". Earnestly: they mean it. As if it was the first time. [Insound]
      — Michael Frauenhofer
multiple songs: [MySpace]
"Bicycle Bicycle You Are My Bicycle" [video]: [quicktime]
Rock / Noise Pop  

Be Your Own Pet - Adventure

Micah P. Hinson, The Baby and the Satellite (Jade Tree)
Micah P. Hinson's debut, And the Gospel of Progress, gained about as much publicity for its backstory (growing out of homelessness, prescription drug addiction, heartbreak at the hands of an ex-Vogue cover girl) as its music, a whisky-sodden acoustic reverie on lost love. Hinson's debut EP, The Baby And The Satellite, was actually recorded before those songs, and is presented here both in original (as a 30-minute single track), and re-recorded form. An interesting choice, since Hinson's covered, Bill Callahan-like voice can be overwhelming after a while, but the songs generally hold up to the repeat treatment; of course, the re-recordings are cleaner and fuller, and you may find yourself switching off before track nine. "The Dreams You Left Behind" (which returns in reprise) hovers delicately over military drums, a fragile Civil War melody; "For Your Eyes", with the chord progression from Amandine's "Union Falls", is similarly gorgeous. But the drum machine explosion of "The Last Charge of Lt. Paul" are out of place, a starkly odd choice. Throughout, Hinson's voice communicates drunken indifference, a startling and alienating effect that is somehow hypnotic. [Insound]
      — Dan Raper
"The Leading Guy": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
"Caught In-Between (demo)": [MP3]
"Possibilities (demo)": [MP3]
Indie Pop  

Micah P. Hinson - Yard of Blonde Girls

Cue the Doves, Architectures of the Atmosphere (Dead Letter)
It had to happen. Emo has become fairly predictable, a genre now reliable enough in its constraints to be one of the more radio-friendly forms of "alternative" music around. Minnesota's Cue the Doves aims to buck all trends with its debut album, Architectures of the Atmosphere. A gorgeous title, don't for a second be misled into thinking you'll be in for some airy and expansive post-rock, or a long, cool expanse of ambient electronica. The pummeling assault of high-speed riffs coming your way will quickly obliterate any ethereal daydreams the album's name might have evoked (trust me on that). The lyrics, however, are astrally concerned, inspired by lead singer Ryan VonBergen's obsession with science fiction, extraterrestrial life, and alien abductions. No, these are not the typical heart-on-sleeve themes of emo. Nor is the music confined to that genre. While emo provides a leaping off point, the guitars are more screechy than buzzy. This shred-ready sound, combined with the band's breakneck tempos, veers too close to thrash metal terrain for its won good. Cue the Doves aims for post-hardcore, but it mostly just creates a mess, with its awful distortions making mud of its fast-paced, precision breaks. Perhaps a tighter and more tuneful attempt at this combination of approaches lies in Cue the Doves' future, but Architectures of the Atmosphere misses the mark. [Insound]
      — Michael Keefe
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Experimental / Rock / Hardcore  

The Exeter Popes, The Exeter Popes (White Shoe)
This three-song EP by The Exeter Popes would make fans of bands like Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths and Morrissey somewhat happy. Short and to the point, the group paints a pretty sonic picture with the lovely but simple "The Moon Is Red" with its subtle keyboards and other knickknacks thrown in. The New York band nails the song without any problems thanks to lead singer Stephen Lipuma's deft touches. Just as appealing, although not as grandiose is "Temporary Skin' that brings to mind Travis covering Radiohead. The only thing missing is a loud, bruising guitar solo that could fit well over the rhythm section. The closing tune is "King Waltzer" that takes on, you guessed it, a waltz-like pop hue. On the whole 'tis a very good introduction into what hopefully is an equally appealing debut album. [Insound]
      — Jason MacNeil
"Mr. Smith": [MP3]
"The Moon Is Red": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Indie / Progressive / Rock  

.: posted by Editor 8:52 AM

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In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
Abe Duque
be your own PET
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
The Bottle Rockets
The Brand New Heavies
Johnny Cash
Slaid Cleaves
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Cut Chemist
Miles Davis
Dinosaur Jr.
Dr. Octagon
Alejandro Escovedo
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
Grant-Lee Phillips
The Procussions
Corinne Bailey Rae
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
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
High Sierra Music Festival
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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