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01 June 2006

Elijah Wyman, Why We Never Go Swimming & Other Short Stories (Blue Duck)
An off kilter and frequently enthralling release, Why We Never Go Swimming... by Boston-based artist, Elijah Wyman is an album that could well be deserving of your attention. For the most part, shunning the usual strummed miserablism associated with acoustic guitar wielding sensitive singer-songwriter types, the songs here aim for something quirkier and ultimately a little more interesting. A track like "What I Save in Flowers, I Spend in Postage" combines swooning horns and flutes with Wyman's tumbling lyrics to real effect. Likewise, the Tom Waits-lite, "The Storm Outside Your Car", with its clunking and wailing, is strangely beguiling. Indeed much of this record is shot through with invention, as the songs remain constantly open to leftfield musical turns. Unfortunately it doesn't always work, and over the course of the nine tracks here, Wyman's sometimes-droning delivery and knowing, wordy songs do begin to grate. "My Blood Will Cry Out to You" in particular is too clumsily clever and strangely lacking in heart to really fall for, whilst "Doves Blood, Desert Sand" sounds like nothing more than a few minutes of unnecessary filler. Still, the homemade charm and understated beauty of a song like standout track, "Girls Should Drive Automatics", with its sparkling instrumentation and frankly lovely melody, showcase a promising talent. With a few more of these moments, this album, released by Blue Duck Records, would come highly recommended. As it is, if literate, skewed singer-songwriter charm is what you're looking for, Elijah Wyman may be worth sounding out. [Insound]
      — Michael Lomas
"Why We Never Go Swimming": [MP3]
"My Blood Will Cry Out to You": [MP3]
"Beautiful Like Words": [MP3]
"3rd Song of the Architect": [MP3]
"Music of the Slaves": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Indie / Folk  

Figurines, "Silver Ponds" b/w "The Wonder" [7-inch single] (The Control Group/Morningside)
Be forgiven if you were to mistake Christian Hjelm, the vocalist behind this Dutch group, for being either Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock or Built to Spill's Doug Martsch incognito. Be forgiven, too, if you thought the A-side teaser to their well-received sophomore album, Skeletons, swiped a few chord progressions from The Posies 1993 should've been a hit Solar Sister. Figurines, like their name implies, offer miniature replicas of things you've heard before in the indie world: jangy guitars, tinny indie-rock production and so on. But for all the pillaging from rock's arsenal that this band tunefully does, Figurines have the sense to steal all of the really good hooks from other sources. Which makes prying this one off the turntable all the more unpleasant, and which makes their shameless riffing from the past deeply forgivable. [Insound]
      — Zachary Houle
"The Wonder": [MP3]
"Rivalry": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Indie rock  

Laudanum, Your Place and Time Will Be Mine (Monopsone)
Laudanum appear to be a collaboration between Frenchman Matthieu Malon and anyone that happened to drop by the studio that day. Your Place and Time Will Be Mine is a varied selection of delirious '80s electro pop that stirs up the ghost of Fad Gadget and gives it a 21st century makeover. Music is often not sinister and fun at the same time any more like on this record. The vocal on "Sailor and Bruno" (probably unintentionally) sounds like Neil from the Young Ones (seminal 1980s UK sit-com). This is a quality record that may have limited appeal but gets my vote due to my affection for the works of Frank Tovey. Check out "Left-handed Right Mind" for an interesting piece of The Cure meets The Postal Service pop music. This record is dark and brooding in a cheerful sort of way. If that seems like a contradiction you should listen to the record and it will make sense. [Insound]
      — Marc A. Price
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Indie / Electro  

Mercy Fall, For the Taken (Atlantic)
Mercy Fall are from Arizona, but they could have been found perhaps somewhere in Chad Kroeger's back pocket. Despite the obvious Nickelback influences, the band also cites Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. That's much harder to find with the hard, polished, perfected and "heavy" rock of "Insurmountable" with Nate Stone's manly, guttural wailings. And from there "Hangman" and the slightly slower, melodic "Worth" rides the same hard nu rock flavor that Theory of a Deadman or Alter Bridge have taken to the coffers. The first ditty that turns one's head has to be the anthem-like "Not Broken Down" and the radio-friendly "Here I Am". Mercy Fall however falls into that trap so many bands of this ilk fall into, attempting to be mildly different by relying on a formula that's been done to death. Still, a quasi-power ballad like "Wake" still has its place... somewhere. [Insound]
      — Jason MacNeil
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Rock / Post-Grunge  

.: posted by Editor 7:12 AM

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