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The New Year, "Newness Ends"

THE NEW YEAR, "NEWNESS ENDS"
After much anticipation, the first release from the group formed from the ashes of Bedhead has finally materialized. While it quite clearly sounds like the Kadane brothers playing together, this indeed is a new group that almost follows a sort of progression built from the last full-length Bedhead album, 1998's 'Transaction De Novo'. The songwriting core of the Kadane brothers have become more experimental in both time and key signature, whilst surprisingly at the same time being more direct. Unlike the frequent Bedhead appearance of lengthy intros, the New Year takes little to no time getting right to the point, resulting in an album of ten solid songs totalling under 35 minutes. This is a great example on how important the mixture of musicians can change a sound despite the writing core remaining the same. Included in the group is former Come, Codeine and cuurent Pullman guitarist Chris Brokaw on the drums, who does a remarkably impressive job keeping up with weird time signatures and subtle changes which take place on the entire record. It starts off with a kick and ends with a bang as well, the quiet moments are kept in the middle — almost the exact opposite of Transaction. I must admit that at first listen I was rather caught off-guard as it wasn't that next Bedhead record I had been so longing for, but it changed for me. What began as catchy tunes became songs stuck in my head all day long, shortly after that I found myself singing along. Can't wait to finally see the show.

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3651 Hits

Papa M, "Sings"

PAPA M, "SINGS"
David Pajo is quite arguably the indie scene's most versatile musician and artist. His guitar work has been integral parts of Slint and Tortoise while guest appearance and accessory roles have been filled for Matmos, Stereolab, Royal Trux and Will Oldham's Palace. Those close to him can also attest to his brilliance as a visual artist as well, but we will just have to take their words for now. 'Papa M Sings' is quite an unexpected trip, but not completely foreign given his geographic location on the planet. David Pajo exercises his vocal chords for every song on this 20-minute six-tracker. For the first time I think I can actually hear the Kentuckian guy behind his music, as the style is heavily soaked in a midwestern country influence. Absent are the looping melodies, electronic processing, lengthy delays and electronic percussion. It's all been replaced by Dave's acoustic guitar, slide guitar, bass, drums and banjo. Vocally, he's got a heartfelt delivery of somewhat comical lyrics, dropping references to his record label and Bob Dylan in "Pissing in the Wind," and longing for his home, (probably written on one of his many trips through the UK) in "London Homesick Blues." The disc is amusing and should appeal to most Will Oldham and Molasses fans, but I doubt many Europeans would quite fully 'get it' having not grown up over here.

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4781 Hits

Pan Sonic, "Live 1995"

Here's another seemingly pointless review as the Pan Sonic fans will have already ordered this so as not to have missed out on the limited run while the others would have passed.

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3849 Hits

Mount Florida, "Arrived Phoenix

MOUNT FLORIDA, "ARRIVED PHOENIX"
So I've been staring at this disc for months despite its release being in late January. This Glaswegian duo has released three EPs over the past year, none of which I have mentioned, but I feel the urge to write about this, their debut full-lengther. I'm really enjoying their tackling of various genres and styles of instrumental rock and electronics, their style jumps around from spacey techno dub bits through abrasive rock chords, but it seems rather unfocused, bipolar and somewhat lacking. The group seems to rely on their production almost entirely as they're clearly 'building songs' (as opposed to 'creating artwork' or 'making a statement' or 'sending a message') which need more compelling hooks. They've got a clean sound and execute with a certain degree of professionalism, however it doesn't really have the bite of other genre-crossing instrumentalists like Tortoise nor the emotion of groups like Fridge or Mogwai. Not that the music sounds like any of those, but for an instrumental record within a generally accepted definition of electronic/rock, it comes up rather bland. Worth mentioning is the fact that I have found good uses for this on the radio and with guests over at the house. Songs like the guitar-punchy "Postal" and the tripped out blissful "Space, echoes" have drummed up some interest from curious listeners but I simply don't get what's so special about it. While this is nothing I would personally recommend dropping everything for and running out to get, Matador does have a track record of releasing music which similarly does not speak loud to me yet reaches many others in its path. Boards of Canada, Console and Wisdom of Harry immediately come to mind — while I generally think of these as fair, average, and vanilla-esque, they seem to have gained a lot of interest with others. Anyhow it's up to you, there should be some sound samples here soon! I really need to sleep now.

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3637 Hits

Freezepop, "Forever"

FREEZEPOP, "FOREVER"
This young, well-coiffed fashion savvy Boston trio reminds me why I prefer why Pizzicato Five sings in Japanese, as it's far easier to enjoy superficial lyrics when they're in an incomprehensible language. The music is simple, full of predictable progressions, pre-programmed sounds and beats, with a flat vocal delivery derived from overdosing on Laurie Anderson, Kraftwerk and Liz Phair. Melodies aren't complex and harmony isn't in their vocabulary. Don't be fooled by catch phrases like "80s Retro" or "Electro Lounge" however as the tunes closely resemble those of many a teenager's terrible demos sitting in the trash buckets at Mute Records. "Kinder-pop" might be more appropriate, however, as I've heard of 5 year olds with a better sense of composition. To their credit, there's a lot of local support for the group, and I personally feel they have the potential to become something of note. One song on this disc jumps out, their Japanese-titled song (which appeared on the Arch Enemy 'Know Your Enemy' comp) shines head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks, with an actual effort placed on writing a multi-part song. These trust fund babies obviously have access to the equipment and recording facilities, now it's time to work on those writing skills, fellas.

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3595 Hits

Hei√∞a, "Svari√∞"

As a North American it's tough to listen to an Icelandic female singer backed with an adventurous rock band without remeniscing over the Sugarcubes. This debut solo album from former Unun singer features a wide spectrum of styles over ten captivating songs, from the rock-based opener, "Hugsjór," a pleasant tune with a dark aggressive side which rears its head from time to time to the surf-epic hit single "Loftborg," winding down to the slow "Sé Þig Alla Leið," which could easily be interpreted as a tribute to the smooth jazz vocalists of the fifties. The disc may be filed under Heiða's name but props are in order for a backing group who have successfully pulled off the dynamic stylistic demands with a remarkable precision, skill and feel. If this girl continues on outside of her homeland with touring and the label can succesfully export, there's no doubt in my mind the dull roar of an industry buzz would be terribly far away. Unfortunately I have yet to see this for sale anywhere outside of the Bad Taste website, badtaste.dk (the people who brought you Sigur Rós).

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3551 Hits

Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire"

LOW, "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE"
The sixth full-length Low CD release comes after a year of releasing enough music for three CDs and one baby girl. Like the last one, this one both appears on Kranky in the US, Tugboat in the UK, two bonus songs on the vinyl edition, and production by Steve Albini. While Low's songwriting skills get amazingly stronger and stronger, I'm finding more problems with Albini's production. To their credit, songs like "Sunflowers," "Dinosaur Act," and "In Metal" carry on their own style of somewhat abstract lyrics matched with breathtaking vocalizations, unchallengable synergy with a fondness of dissonance. To experience Low in person as a collective entity, you'll find that each of the three members create a triangular symmetry. Albini however completely disregards this with songs as "Black Like a Forest" (as he did with "Will the Night") by retiring Mimi's vocals to the background, ignoring the vocalists' harmonic set up. I'm also confused with the album's opener where the hell the strings came from as the music's going, going, going, flowing nice, but then a harsh fade up of strings from out of nowhere almost makes no sense without setup. Perhaps I'm being entirely too picky but after a while these things become out of place threads in a carpet. Disregard these things and you've got a perfect slab of wax, suitable for framing. samples:

3805 Hits

Lesser, "Gearhound"

LESSER, "GEARHOUND"
This week's mad scientist is a Californian named Jay. Starting off on this journey, the breaks are very disjunct and the transitions between tracks are so choppy, it's even confusing to me when new songs begin or if there are indeed different songs. It almost seems like he's making a conscious effort to avoid anything semi-conventional like establishing a rhythmic base or a bass foundation. But then SMACK! The track with Blectom from Blechdom and the "Gearhound Suite" provide that important plot twist, this guy is actually going somewhere with this! It's almost as if this disc is a physical journey up a mountain, hard steps and unclear paths on the way up, many choices and much on your mind, the sweat beads down and you fall short of breath and tell yourself how much you need to get out more. You reach the peak, have a nice look around, enjoy a refreshing bottle of water and begin your descent, looking down on the beautiful planet from high up, as you encounter various attractions on the way down. Keeping this analogy in mind, the remainder of the disc sort of heads down a rather soothing path, without giving up the digital choppery however. Three-dimensional visions burst into my head, giving the impression of lying on a soft waterbed that keeps shifting around, or running my finger on a densely-filled helium balloon, ready to burst. The end of the disc is the end of our journey, back on the earth with a sense of accomplishment behind us. Lookng back up the mountain we just climbed the whole picture seems clear but we're glad the heavy legwork is over. Lesser has successfully navigated a flight in the face of convention on many levels here. First off, he placed the peak in the center as opposed to most albums throwing a killer bang-up opener and a memorable fade for the closer. Then, consciously or unconsciously, he threaded a certain congruency between rather abstract and disjointed pieces. A disc which I originally thought would make more sense to me in the distant future has become much clearer with the proper attention. We, the listeners can be far more guilty of attention defecit than what many critics will accuse the musicians of.

3492 Hits

Him, "5 & 6 In Dub"

HIM, "5 & 6 IN DUB"
Mighty Doug Scharin has a new sound for Him once again for the latest release. Last year saw the release of two full-lengthers, one with a modern electro-jazz feel, the other with a pure force of improvisational mayhem. This 32-minute three-tracker dives into the deeper, cooler side, known simply as dub. The opener, "Five" clocks in at over 14 minutes with long delays, hypnotic bass loops, trickling guitar, latin percussion, warm organs, and an unobtrusive sax. Track two's the shortest of the three tracks and a nice stop-gap which explores sound almost through entirely synthesized by analogue electronics - a primitive drum machine, older keyboards and tons of delay. The last track, "Six" takes an approach completely void of the standard drum kit - electronic or organic, with the group taking a sort of plugged-in "unplugged" mentality, all members grooving together without anything clocking the beat. Sure, these are remixes, meaning the originals have been tampered with, but where are the originals? This release is wonderful but it's a tease, it's way too short and the remix aspect gives me the impression their next album didn't start out this far into dub. Who knows except for Him?

3639 Hits

Shadow of The Vampire

To use a word commonly used by my friend Jeremy, I would call this one "Crap-tacular!" While this film showed promise with a plot based on the mysterious filming of the classic "Nosferatu" and a cast including Eddie Izzard, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier, it started off bad and got worse. The accents were terrible and disgustingly mismatched, both American and English actors clumsily fumbled through the German tongue, John Malkovich being the biggest offender, slipping in and out of his accent faster than you can say "Robin Hood." The continuity problems were an eyesore, with different typings of "Orlock," a seeminly endless ladder walk and mismatched cigarette positions. Most important of all, the story was shit, leaving holes everywhere in the plot. The warning signs were all here however. First off: Executive Producer Nicolas Cage—they must have shopped this one around quite a bit before landing on somebody as rich and inexperienced as Cage. Next up was the single preview syndrome—if you only see one preview over and over again then even the promotions team couldn't find any better clips to show. (I did want to spank everybody who laughed at the "I'll eat her later" line, since everybody's heard it a million times by now.) And finally: director Edmund Elias Merhige. While he may have been praised for 1991's "Begotten" for his stylish imitation of classic black-and-white film, he hasn't directed anything else, automatically qualifying him for the "discount director" award. Stay far away or go rent Ed Wood.

6912 Hits

Snatch

If you liked "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and want to go see it all over again, then this film is for you. This time around, the pretentious cooler-than-thou wankery of Mr. Madonna has materialized into an even more MTV-generation-ready Brit flick obviously made for export. While the camera shots and editing tricks were slick and involved, it didn't put this film on par with something like a Mamet or Tarrantino gangster film with plot ironies. There were some fun and cheap laughs, like the dog who swallowed a chew toy and squeaks every time he barks (this kept Tom the Fish laughing in the row behind me throughout the flick). But it's too much to believe that everybody in England talks with the same cockney accent or can get simply get the guns they had. Brad Pitt was surprisingly entertaining, which lends evidence to my theory that Hollywood rubbish like him and Tom Cruise can be good in roles where they're not the lead. Benicio Del Toro, who can usually save a failing movie was disappointingly under-utilized however. My fear is that more films like this will appear, getting worse and worse and worse. Long-term effects may result, including English kids pretending they're all bad-ass and the ever-annoying stereotype of all Brits talking like cockneys being perpetuated from abroad. For the most part I disliked it but if you loved "Lock Stock" then you've already seen this film and will send hate email to me. Fuck off in advance.

7127 Hits

Boyd Rice, "The Way I Feel"

BOYD RICE, "THE WAY I FEEL"
Boyd Rice is no stranger to heated discourse, especially when it comes to much of his heavily spoken releases. This compilation is one of collaboratives, including songs with Tiffany Anders, Shaun Patridge, and Little Fyodor as well as Douglas P, Coil, David Tibet and many others. The irony here is that while Boyd's music as Non can be brutish and aggressive yet completely void of personal interjection, the music on 'The Way I Feel' is full of gentle and serene music as a backdrop for his vocalized feelings which frequently echo a dark side that most people won't admit to having. Songs have been hand-picked by Boyd himself and provide a nice variety with the inclusion of instrumental things like the Sickness of Snakes track "Many Hands" or the "Pearls Before Swine" theme. Music is included from 'Hatesville,' 'Music, Martinis & Misanthropy,' along with various cuts originally only available on 7" and compilation albums. Tactfully absent are diatribes which could be interpreted as Social Darwinistic or fascist. The disc includes all previously released songs, but features some rarities and things you'd never want to purchase in their original surroundings, like "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" from the 'Grace of My Heart' soundtrack. Boyd is a writer, noisemaker, prankster and poet, undoubtedly an entertainer. Unfortunately music listeners generally don't believe a song can be as fictitious as a book or film. This is where much of the problems of interpreting people like Boyd Rice, Douglas Pearce and even older Coil music comes into play. These music makers should be regarded like fiction writers or impressionistic painters, taking influence from uncountable sources and artfully spitting them out for our entertainment and introspection. Make them into something more and then you've become the entertainment, getting into angry fights over email lists is something these guys want you to do.

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5431 Hits

Dark Star, "Travelogue II"

DARK STAR, "TRAVELOGUE II"
Nearly seven years ago a CD resembling this one appeared, sharing seven tracks, four of which featured members Edward, Phil and Ryan of Legendary Pink Dots. The main core of Dark Star decided to record a sequel but it never surfaced. In the meantime, the original disc was difficult to obtain and most likely went out of print. This release basically serves a couple purposes. It reintroduces seven songs from the first release, keeping the music available and adds four newer ones, remnants from an uncomplete sequel. For LPD fans who don't already have the original release, this is a great chance to get all the songs as they originally were recorded, fans of the original release can get over a half hour of new music, while people who bought it and don't need to hear any more can easily pass on slapping the money down for it. As for the music itself, the four new songs fit rather well with the rest. The music is generally an eerie mid-paced electronic throb with either a distorted guitar or ballsy bass. Both old and new songs would appropriately score a chilling futuristic horror film. My only issues lie with the tacky lyrics from the non-Kaspel singer.

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4276 Hits

Mahogany, "The Dream of a Modern Day"

MAHOGANY, "THE DREAM OF A MODERN DAY"
Call it what you will, electro femme vox twee dreampop, this debut album from Mahogany fills emptiness left in your heart when The Sundays stopped recording albums. Indie geeks have been known to sport rods hearing the super-high pitched airy vocals of bands like this or Pram, I find it rather irritating, dull and get damn sick of it before long. Personal preference aside, the vocals are truly poorly mixed, without much depth or clarity. The duets between the female and male vocalist are even more unnecessary. Unfortunately some of the music on this disc is absolutely incredible sounding, an almost perfect match of delayed atmospheric guitars with electronic percussion and effects. In all honesty at the end of the disc, I'm rather fond of it and have a couple tracks stuck in my head. Damn you, damn you, I can't really hate anything from Dearborn, Michigan.

3764 Hits

Pan(a)sonic, "Aaltopiiri"

PAN(A)SONIC, "AALTOPIIRI"
Ilpo and Mika have come a long way from their beginnings as Panasonic. The music which at one point utilized a minimal amount of effects and sources, creating an aggressive and direct mixture has become a more resourceful blend with a deeper understanding of variety and reflection, sonority and permanence. Their fourth full-lengther together is once again rather chunky to swallow all at once. With 17 new tracks totalling over an hour's worth of music, I must admit I wasn't a big fan at first. Further listenings have unearthed what appears to be both organic and synthetic sounds, a production approach which is very matured in comparison to 1997's 'Kalma,' and a distinct identity between songs. Minimalism, this isn't. It's not all subtle and introspective, however. Unlike 'A,' this album does indeed reach a climax. Towards the end of the disc, the energy builds up to a monsterous roar, good for some wall-shaking needs, which leads me to believe they might be storing an arsenal of more beefy 808-kick tracks for another 12" release as stellar as 'B' was.

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3706 Hits

Shipping News, "Very Soon, And in Pleasant Company"

Jason Noble and Jeff Mueller's musical collaborations first manifested on the only release from Rodan back in 1994. Following the split, Jason went to the Rachel's and Jeff to June of '44 but the two came together along in 1996 to record with for the PBS program "This American Life." Kyle Crabtree (from Eleven Eleven) joined in 1997 and a debut album, "Save Everything" was released. Four years later, a second album has arrived with help from Christina Files (Mary Timony, Victory at Sea) twiddling knobs.

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3836 Hits

Sybarite, "Music For a Film"

SYBARITE, "MUSIC FOR A FILM"
Synthetics and organics coexist in harmony on this full-length release from multi-instrumentalist Xian Hawkins. Some might recognize his name from the Silver Apples reunion assembly as the "other guy" than Simeon, but this New Yorker has an identity all his own. This music originally served as the score for a 1999 independent suspense/thriller film by Patrick McGuinn, "Killing Me Tomorrow," and is composed of 14 tracks which total about 41 minutes-worth. The songs are short, sweet and waste no time, with shimmering guitar melodies, subtle string sounds and low-tempo electronic beats in parts. The unobtrusive mix makes it perfect for a film score, with fade-outs it has obviously been slightly tailored for the commercial release. I'm now looking forward to finding out where Hawkins' career is headed next.

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4173 Hits

In The Nursery, "Hindle Wakes"


There are certain thingsyou can always count on when purchasing a release from In the Nursery.The melodies are always emotionally charged, the production shines witha signature decadent brilliance and the sounds do an excellent job ofimitating a full orchestra.

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4189 Hits

Antony & The Johnsons, "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy"


Three days in mypossession and I can't stop playing this three tracker over and overagain. For those who have been fortunate enough to witness Antony &the Johnsons live, this provides an excellent souvenir of favorites noton the debut album.

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4153 Hits

!!!


Slammin' mutherfuckingballsy-ass shit. This debut CD release is probably the most excitedI've been about a new rock-genred band in as long as I can remember.The energy is fierce, the music is fast, funky and full of wakka wakkaguitars, crazy effects, beefy bass chops, electronic and organic drums,wild cheering, hoards of percussion and a splash of horns.

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4074 Hits