This is a return to form for the Brooklyn-based Radio 4 after a well received debut (Gotham, 2002) but then a lacklustre second Stealing Of A Nation two years later. Like those previous efforts they invest a political angle to many of the songs (the US Government’s abject failure to deal with the aftermath of hurricaine Katrina is considered on a couple) and maintain an urgent and dynamic groove throughout, but this is the first release on a major label – so the pressure’s on.
Prolific producer Venetian Snares, AKA Aaron Funk, unleashes his first bought of breakcore for 2006 and brings with him more delightful melodies to accompany his harsh beats. For a man accustommed to releasing numerous albums in a year, for Cavalcade he has drawn on the classical influences present for Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett (Planet Mu, 2005) to give a lush sound to the electronic layers that the strings offered on Csillag.
Thousand Natural Shocks describe their music as “essentially new wave with a bit of art-rock going on, played with the energy of punk. But there’s also a big emphasis on making it dance, big beat and fast funk.” Steady on lads! Leave some genres for your seventh album change of direction!
It is tempting sometimes to think that the British indie-pop market has become a ‘no-brainer’ for our US counterparts. They make it melody based with a steady rhythm section, they mention the weather and pine about distant girls (all Brits are prudish), they make sure it references an easy box of canonical rock nostalgia (Beatles, Smiths, Oasis etc) and they bring their own clothes over from New York (cos the British still don’t know anything about fashion). Oh, and they make sure that the NME know who the hell they are. I’m looking at you The Killers, Maroon 5, Panic at the Disco et al. Well, at least we Brits have still got sarcasm, hey Jeeves?!
This is the debut release by Triple Burner, aka Harris Newman and Bruce Cawdron, but is by no means the first fruits of their combined efforts as Cawdron has already appeared on Newman’s Non-Sequiturs (2003) and Accidents with Nature and Each Other (2005). The journey to full collaboration has taken a few years of live performance and like those previous releases Triple Burner has a very live-sounding feel.
The Drift is a masterful album, having the feel of being pieced together over a number of years. Scott Walker’s last album, apart from the film soundtrack to Pola X, was Tilt back in 1995 and it is quite conceiveable that The Drift has been taking painstaking form since then. Holding nothing back, it’s an oppressive, beautiful, stark album, sometimes dense, sometimes desolate, with the power to shock in its changes between the two and remaining forever impacting. The emotive pieces are often incredibly cathartic, sounding so both for the artist and for the listener.
Have You Seen Lucky? is described by the artist as “a cross between everything I’ve done over the past twenty years” and sure enough comes across as a familiar pop/punk/indie/rock hybrid, comparable to Dando’s The Lemonheads and bands like the Foo Fighters. It’s an album which is very easy to listen to, not challenging too much but with a strong focus on a melodic songwriting underpinned by a rock feel. The album is quite middle-of-the-road, perhaps testament to Kastner’s older years, but he’s not really that old and the album picks up speed and rocks a little harder intermittently, stopping the album from easily paling away into college rock obscurity.
So, Jack White’s flirtation with evil behemoth Coca Cola. What do you think? Is the stalwart purist of retro rock a corporate shill or is he right to use the advert as a platform to spread his message of love? If he is aiming for a more commercial side to his music then he could find one with this debut album by his new band, although ironically he still may not end up playing the same stadium venues with the Raconteurs as the White Stripes have in their weird rise to popularity.
Matmos are no strangers to concept albums. Its what they do. Since their self-titled 1998 debut, they’ve become domestic housewifes in creating a whole album, Quasi Objects (1998), out of domestic appliances, squatted hospitals to record an album of sounds obtained from medical procedures, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure (2001) and most recently for Civil War (2003) scoured the archives to administer an album documenting that very title, specifically the 17th Century British Civil War and the North and South American Civil Wars. It puts Matmos, made up of Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt in the ‘sound artist’ bracket and their latest offering The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast sees them move even closer to that sound artist context with an album made up if ten biographical portraits of different heroes within the Matmos spectrum.
Plume carries on from the live context of the previous album, whereby a loose electronic seed, that tends to be a quietly torn synth or lightly pummelled drip, is initially bled into the song only for other samples to flicker in and out — all while ebow guitar, rhodes and vibro/xylophone players take it in turns to improvise micro-melodies or riffs over the processed foreground. Primarily, the objective here is to inject human qualities into what essentially tends to be an android culture — we all prefer a dusty book to an electronic pacemaker. The live instrumentation also serves as method of breaking up the usual formula for ambient electronica and the consistent structures to each track create a recognisable flow to the album.
Some of us were lucky enought to get to the Koko last Autumn to see the awesome line-up of The Melvins, Deerhoof and Part Chimp performing in the first season of ATPs Dont Look Back gigs. With the second run steadily approaching it is fitting how we are offered example of how the whole DLB concept is a pure joy, not just bringing some near perfect moments in itself but it in sowing the seeds for things such as this — the matter in hand — the new live recording of (possibly) the best album by (possibly) the most influential band of the last two decades. But bearing in mind the fact that live albums are often none too exiting I shall build on those (uncertain) hyperbolic statements and try to point out what might make Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust a worthwhile addition to a record collection.
After producing yet another brilliantly eclectic, innovative and downright great album in Heroes to Zeros in 2004 the Beta Band decided to call it a day. Following the demise of the Betas, John and Robin hooked up with one of their old comrades — the song writing genius that is Gordon Anderson (aka Lone Pigeon) — and formed The Aliens.
The Paper Chase deal along the blurred lines of eccentric tragic-comedy and Now You Are One Of Us is a concept record of sorts based around the classic zombie films of George A. Romero. What proceeds is a kooky rock opera that combines tongue bleeding out of cheek Nihilism and an obvious love of trash to form a record that is at times entertaining and quirky, but ultimately ends up sounding laboured and kitsch.
Pink is Boris’s much talked about latest import offering album and is purportedly their most accessible yet. The talk suggests that Boris’s previous noise excursions into drone metal, doom and hardcore have been reined in; this is no longer the North Pole but from listening to Pink it’s only just a little closer to the South of France.
This debut album from Gnarls Barkley could very likely be about to explode onto the music scene in the same way The Love Below/Speakerboxx proved to be a landmark release in 2003 and the propulsion to superstardom for Outkast. Then it was the danceable vibes of Andre 3000’s half of the double album that ignited the fuse to set off an explosion of interest for the duo. This time the pair behind Gnarls Barkley will both be getting every respect for their combined effort, but perhaps the brains behind this operation is respected producer Danger Mouse.
Last year Aphex Twin released a series of 12”s under the title Analord, based around analogue sounds and styles. Making use of Richard D James’s legendary and possibly unequalled collection of analogue synths, drum machines, keys and other assorted kit, this release is a 10-track ‘best of’ that offers a diverse selection of music that probably could not have been crafted by anyone else.
You know when people have bad news and good news in equal measures to tell you, and they ask you which you want to hear first? Well, in the honourable tradition of rehashing cliches, that’s precisely what’s going to happen here. So if you’re a masochistic sort who likes to leave with a faintly bitter taste in your mouth, read paragraph 2 followed by paragraph 1. But if you’re a ‘spoonful of sugar with your medicine’, happy-go-lucky type then read it in the normal order and you should come away feeling none the worse. In any case, enjoy…
I’m not going to bring puerile innuendo into this. This will be a sober and even handed critique. The Organ’s members (sorry) are from British Columbia and follow the likes of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene in coming to these shores from our Commonwealth cousins clutching good albums and sheaves of critical acclaim in their sweaty palms. The Organ also come with the same indie ethos and despite different musical templates they could breakthrough into similar territories of critical and commercial acclaim.
Evangelista was recorded at the Hotel2Tango in Montreal, spawning point of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Silver Mount Zion, et al and is co-produced and played on by Efrim Manuck from the former band. The dischordant orchestrations, strings and found sounds of these groups run throughout this recording, but the apocolyptic, biblical tones have been replaced by a more insular, personal and suffocating experience.
“Hawnay Troof” implies in Southern (American) terms implies what it suggests, “you’re horny ain’t dat da truth”. Similarly, Retard Disco is a good indicator for the sound Vice Cooler a.k.a. Hawnay Troof puts out. Maybe throw in the fact that this music sounds as though its made by someone wired by some serious A.D.T. and hatred for the ignorant values/virtues that occupy Southern America and society in general and your beginning to get an impression of this Hawnay Troof.
Joining the Gotan project (who also have a new release this month) in modern reworkings of the traditional model, The Tango Saloon are an up-to-fifteen-strong troupe of Tango enthusiasts from Sydney, Australia and this Ipecac-released self-titled album is their first major statement to the World. Not only does it look typically Ipecac with its graphic title front cover courtesy of designer Martin Kvamme, who has also designed the sleeves for Tomahawk, General Patton Vs The Executioners, Fantomas and more, but it is just pure Ipecac in sound and idea with its genre busting, obscure, experimental nature and its strong jazz and Ennio Morricone influence.
George Evelyn’s latest record under the moniker of Nightmares on Wax continues much in the same way as his previous work. Balearic melodies, relaxed dub and reggae vibes abound for another warm and sunny slice of music that seems destined to become a soulful soundtrack for chilling out while soaking up some rays come summer.
The party is over — this cheap cheap CD and its accompanying DVD is the parting stab of the now deceased Test Icicles. It’s a collection of different material — unreleased edits, mixes, remixes, demos etc and it’s a worthwhile little package, both for those who had already jumped on their wagon, and for those who as yet haven’t had the chance.
I can safely say that indie is not quite ready for world domination. There are some new kids in town — Nathan, Jamie, Jonas and Pearl. They take the form of be your own PET and are quickly taking the UK by storm with their quirky style, and untamed youth. These kids are barely 18 and are already teaching all those thritysomething bands how its done. It’s all about blood, puke and guts with this band. They are punk and they are raw… This is be your own PET and they bite.
The Rogers Sisters are made up by Jennifer and Laura Rogers, which yes with a name like The Rogers Sisters is what you would expect. But they also have honorary member Miyuki Furtado who seems to do the bulk of the music making on this album… So the name seems a little misleading don’t you think?