El pasado mes de junio moría a los 53 años el que fuera baterista de los American Music Club, Tim Mooney. Este excelente tema es del último disco del grupo "The Golden Age"(2008). Tim no tocaba en este disco, pero si el anterior el magnífico "Love Songs for Patriots" ( gran título!). También había trabajado con Sun Kil Moon (Mark Kozelek) y coproducido el nuevo disco de John Murry un disco maravilloso publicado este año y que os lo recomiendo sino lo habéis escuchado.
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The video features Grace Zabriskie, better known as Laura Palmer's mother from David Lynch's iconic television show, Twin Peaks.
30 ago. 2012
The Flaming Lips: The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends By Evan Sawdey “I wouldn’t say we know a lot about music, but we know a lot about the way our audience listens to music, because they’re like us. So you know, when we want music to go on for an hour, we present it you as something you can handle for an hour. Because it’s hypnotic, and it’s not punishing, and it’s not disorienting, and it doesn’t require your full attention.” —Wayne Coyne to PopMatters, 20 January 2012 “‘Nowadays we don’t really need [the label] to give us money,’ Coyne says. ‘We just can say, ‘We know how this shit works, and we are going to move ahead on this.’ When we made that Neon Indian record that, I believe it was March  when that came out, we recorded it and in six days actually had a record in our hands. When I asked [Warner Brothers] how long it would take, they were like, ‘Well, if you can get the music to us, we can get you maybe a demo, a master that you can listen to in six weeks,’ and I can’t take six weeks. I just started to say, ‘Well, I’m going to find somebody who can help me do it quicker and better and not so much bureaucracy.’ And I didn’t know if it would be three weeks or if it would be four weeks. I tried to get it overnight. And so I found places that can do what we want them to do quicker. And they wanted that.” —Wayne Coyne to PopMatters, 27 January 2012 “‘cos I want my ass ... shit. One more time?” —Ke$ha, “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)” It’s kind of great to hear the Flaming Lips truly not give a damn anymore. Back in the late ‘90s, these Oklahoma-bred psych-rockers slowly built up an acid-drenched following with their absolutely oddball, out-there (yet-fully realized) psych-rock sound, releasing albums filled with in-joke weirdness and drug-addled insanity to a slowly swelling cult audience. Yet over time, Wayne Coyne’s cryptic tales began finding their heart, and by the time 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic came out, fans knew that something was changing deep inside the band: their songs were getting warmer and sweeter, all without having to sacrifice their love of the bizarre. Then, of course, we had that glorious one-two punch of The Soft Bulletin (1999) and the awe-inspiring Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002), and it was pretty much settled: the Flaming Lips had turned into one of the greatest bands working today. Thank goodness they fucked up after that. Had they not, we may never have had the ramshackle joys of The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. You see, after releasing two masterpieces in a row, even Coyne was wise enough to know that the impossibly high expectations couldn’t be topped again. The lackluster At War with the Mystics came out in 2006, and while it wasn’t an out-and-out failure by any means, it still traded in the band’s knack for honest emotional heft for wry (and dated) pop-culture references, which—while disappointing at its core—managed to free the band up to do whatever they wanted after the fact. Reveling in this newfound freedom, the band put out a double-disc effort in 2009 called Embryonic that complete abandoned what had become the “traditional” Flaming Lips sound, taking all of the scrappy details of their early days (in-the-red drum breaks, armies of budget-brand keyboards, vocals drenched in blown-speaker fuzz) and marrying it to their modern-day songwriting chops, resulting in an album that was darker, grittier, and weirder than anything they did in the past decade. Then came their star-packed Dark Side of the Moon remake. Then a six-hour song contained inside a Gummi skull. Then a 24-hour song contained in an actual human skull. Then a bunch of oddball collaboration EPs from the likes of Neon Indian and Prefuse 73. And now, we are treated to The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. Essentially a “best of” of the band’s recent gamut of collaborations, Heady Fwends retains the fantastically beat-up textures of that made Embryonic so sonically fascinating, but while that album sometimes bordered on the serious, Heady Fwends is off-the-cuff fun. The opening salvo “2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)” mixes Timbaland-like vocal swoons, a shuffling handclap beat, and a single clipped guitar strum played ad infinitum to create what is essentially the flip-side to Prince’s “1999”: the world is ending, so let’s get high. “So with the world ablaze / I’m in an acid haze” Ke$ha sings in her signature style (unabashed and wholly believable) before we’re treated to a glorious synth breakdown and an blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Biz Markie cameo. Is it nuts? Absolutely. Is it worthwhile? Even moreso. While the band’s list of collaborators is a virtual Who’s Who of people making important music today, the album’s strength comes not from the randomness of this hookups but instead just how uninhibited said partners in crime feel around Coyne, drummer Steven Drozd, and bassist Michael Ivins. Just listen to the wild Nick Cave joint “You, Man? Human???”, where Cave comes on to you like a sexy carnival barker over a fuzzed-out bassline that is occasionally punctuated by bright, sparkling harps. If you wind up having flashbacks to Tom Waits’ “Step Right Up” in both tone and spirit (Cave’s opening: “Hey everybody, I’m doin’ alright! / I’m drivin’ around in the middle of the night / On a silver cloud / You can touch me if you want / It’s obligatory! / It’s allowed!”), then don’t fret: you’re not alone. Heady Fwends ultimately works because unlike their recent full-lengths, there is no grand statement or deep meaning to be found underneath it all: each song works on its own beautifully twisted internal logic. While the absolutely gorgeous closer “I Don’t Want You to Die” blatantly quotes the first three lines of John Lennon’s “Imagine” within its first 60 seconds, the song slowly morphs from post-modern Beatles homage to a beautiful meditation on death that piles on wheezing robot voices, a Chris Martin swingby, and lonely piano chords to craft one of the most undeniably pretty songs the band has released since “Do You Realize??”. Same goes for the dark, surprisingly understated Neon Indian feature “Is David Bowie Dying?”, which very much sounds like the shadow inverse of Yoshimi, all echoed guitar chords and nighttime synths, accessible yet cryptic to the core (very much like its titular hero). Yet as the album goes on, it becomes clear that there are very much two types of collaborations that populate this disc: ones that are truly, honestly collaborative and one-offs that assuredly sound like one-offs. Of these misfires, perhaps the most egregious is “Do It!”, wherein Yoko Ono stops by to shout the phrase “Do it!” over an undercooked melody for over three minutes—and that’s it. Conversely, the hard psych of “The Supermoon Made Me Want to Pee [ft. Prefuse 73]” starts out at full throttle—sounding like a lost 60s psych-rock attack song that was shoved through a trash compactor and then fired straight up into the sky—but the track ultimately turns out to be all climax and no buildup, the key-drenched cool down proving to be just about the only redeemable aspect of such a fruited pairing. Edward Sharpe’s big number, meanwhile, is hindered by frontman Alex Ebert’s own barely-there, highly-disinterested vocal phrasing, turning what could have been an above-average cut into a relatively boring slog, the acoustic guitars slowly plugging away without much sense of purpose. Worst of all, there’s Erykah Badu’s epic 10-minute sci-fi riff on the Roberta Flack standard “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”, where her powerful voice is soaked in so many echo effects that the disjointed cool that everyone was going for instead comes off as distant and detached, proving once again that as much as the band wants to take things “out there”, there are still limits as to how far you can truly go out while still maintaining any sort of relatable gravitas. Fortunately, even these minor faults can’t sink the deliciously gonzo marvel that is Heady Fwends as a whole. The fantastic Lightning Bolt square-off “I’m Working at NASA on Acid” features one radically different surprise after another, just as how the Lips’ tune with up-and-comer New Fumes, “Girl, You’re So Weird”, slowly changes from minimal synth lament to mountainous siren-party—and then back just as quickly. Additionally, it’s hard not to love any album that features a haunting Bon Iver collaboration that contains the lyrics “We thought we were so smart / We thought we could outrun them / But they had robot dogs”. When you break it all down, the Flaming Lips seemed to have stopped giving a damn, and it’s a wonderful thing to behold. They aren’t interested in making hits, nor do they even seem to care much about recapturing the sound of their turn-of-the-millennium glory days. Instead, they just want to have fun, calling up their friends and their fascinations, collecting blood samples from them to pour into limited edition vinyl releases, and then going about making some weird-ass music together. It works more often then it doesn’t, but when digested as a whole, it’s hard to think of an album released this year that is as wall-to-wall memorable as The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, flaws and all.
29 ago. 2012
Un par de preguntas de hoy a Manrique. Joder con el Lemmy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vi tu reportaje sobre las autobiografías de rockeros. ¿De quién te gustaría leer su vida, Diego? Una buena de Lemmy Motorhead. Ya hay un librito, "White line fever", pero es un amontonamiento de anécdotas transcritas sin gracia. No se saca la chicha a un personaje que contempló a los Beatles tocando en The Cavern, que fue ayudante de la Jimi Hendrix Experience, que intentó enseñar el bajo a Sid Vicious, que vio crecer a Metallica.... ¿Es verdad que Rick James le enseñó a tocar la guitarra a Neil Young? ¿Conoces más casos de colaboraciones poco sospechadas en los albores del pop? Habría que puntualizar. Coincidieron en los Mynah Birds, grabando para Motown, pero Neil ya llevaba tiempo tocando, con los Squires, que estaban marcados por los Shadows de Hank Marvin, asi que supongo que ya dominaba los fundamentos de la eléctrica. ¿Más leyendas urbanas? Siguiendo por el frío Norte, aquello de que Bob Dylan tocó piano en la banda de Bobby Vee (uno de los vocalistas guapos y blandos de principios de los sesenta). Parece cierta, aunque fue muy breve. Dylan se hacía llamar Elston Gunnn y ya inventaba sin miedo: les engatusó diciendo que venía de girar con el cantante Conway Twitty. ¡Grande!
28 ago. 2012
27 ago. 2012
Biography by Jon O'Brien Heavily influenced by Burt Bacharach and blessed with effortless velvet-smooth vocals, Anglo-Pakistani singer/songwriter Rumer harks back to the early-‘70s easy listening sounds of Karen Carpenter and Carole King. Born in 1979 to British parents living in Islamabad, Rumer, real name Sarah Joyce, is the youngest of seven children, and spent her early years living in an expat community. Encouraged to make their own entertainment, she began writing songs with her brothers and sisters, and after moving to the U.K., developed a huge passion for musicals and, in particular, Judy Garland. After a stint at art college, she formed the short-lived folk-indie band La Honda in 2000, but after the band split, was forced to take on several odd jobs including fixing iPods, teaching, and selling advertising space. Having moved to London to pursue her dreams of a solo career, she adopted a stage name inspired by the author Rumer Godden, and began performing in various clubs. At an open-mike night, she caught the eye of TV music composer Steve Brown, the house bandleader in Alan Partridge's Knowing Me, Knowing You, and the pair began work on her debut album. In 2010, she signed to Atlantic Records, supported Joshua Radin on his U.K. tour, and was personally invited by Burt Bacharach to sing for him at his California home. Her first single, "Slow," became one of the most requested tracks on Radio 2, and reached number 16 in the U.K. charts. The full-length album Seasons of My Soul gained release in November of that same year. During 2011, she was nominated for several Brit Awards, and won a U.K. Asian Music Award for Best Alternative Act. She also recorded a song for the soundtrack to the film Johnny English Reborn. In 2012, Rumer released her sophomore effort, the covers album Boy's Don't Cry. Much like the '60s soft rock vibe of Seasons of My Soul, Boy's Don't Cry features Rumer's unique take on tunes by such artists as Isaac Hayes, Clifford T. Ward, Todd Rundgren, Townes Van Zandt, and others.
26 ago. 2012
Legendary reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry has exerted an almost mystical pull on artists from across the musical spectrum ever since the halcyon days of his Black Ark studio, when he created some of the strangest and most compelling music ever to come from Jamaica; his work with foundational reggae artists like the Heptones, Max Romeo, and the Congos remains both sonically unique and deeply, weirdly compelling, and artists from the Clash to the Beastie Boys have sought him out ever since then. Some of the resulting collaborations have turned out to be deeply misbegotten; a few have been brilliant. This is one of the latter. The Orb are almost as legendary in electronic music circles as Perry is in the reggae world, but their signature style -- a soft and dreamy fusion of house and ambient music -- is obviously not a good fit with Perry's sonic adventurousness or his infamously manic (not to say crazy) verbosity. As it turns out, though, this is one of those situations in which a surface incompatibility masks deep harmony. The Orb do not try to provide faux-Black-Ark reggae grooves for Perry, nor do they make the mistake of treating his (apparently improvised) lyrics as sacred pronouncements. Instead, they create a rich tapestry of soft but dense rhythmic backing, some of it more house-derived, some of it more reggae-flavored, over which Perry raps, and then they treat his voice like one instrument among many to be woven in and out of that tapestry. The approach is dubwise, but the result is unique -- it simultaneously pushes familiar musical buttons and sounds like nothing else that has come before. Listening to this album is a bit like eating comfort food from an alien planet. Highlights include the stately and decorous skank of "Man in the Moon," the tectonically bassy "Go Down Evil," and the richly funky "Thirsty," which is built on a piece of vintage Perry wisdom: "If you're thirsty, drink some water."
24 ago. 2012
Hobart Brothers and Lil' Sis: At Least We Have Each Other By Steve Horowitz The Hobart Brothers and Lil’ Sis are in reality a trio consisting of the masterful Austin rocker Jon Dee Graham, singer songwriter Freddy Johnston, and former Cowsills and Continental Drifters founder Susan Cowsill. Reportedly, the two men took the name Hobart because that was the brand of dishwasher used in the commercial restaurants where they once worked. As for “Lil’ Sis”, I guess it just made sense for the imaginary brothers to call their distaff band member by that designation. The irreverence and working class implications of the band’s moniker cleverly suggest what the songs on the album are like. Graham, Johnston, and Cowsill might be known names, but their recordings have been hit and miss with the public. Graham in particular has written some of the best songs you may have never heard because they appeared on odd labels or unpromoted or life circumstances got in the way; however, his fame seems to stop at the Texas Border. Johnston and Cowsill might get some attention from the Americana or country rags and web sites. No one would consider them major stars. But the combination of the three create something much bigger and better than the sum of their parts. They have chemistry, that ephemeral and essential ingredient needed for a band to shine. At Least We Have Each Other contains ten songs, seven from the band’s last studio sessions and three from an early set without a drummer. A download of the rest of the demos comes free with an LP, CD, or digital purchase. This means there are two recordings of almost every song. The seven finished songs are the best. The music serves as evidence of the benefits of production, but all 19 tracks are exuberant and fun to hear. The three musicians wrote and took leads on the material. There are some excellent songs and performances by each of them. And when they work together, such as on “First Day on the Job”, the results rock the body and move the mind. They make you want to start your own band with the people with whom you work and just blow off the dreariness of everyday employment. The songs range from serious (“All Things Being Equal”) to silly (“Sodapoptree”), and frequently do both in the same song as the trio understand the absurdity of contemporary life. So when Johnston pleads for his ex-girlfriend to pick him up at the gas station, he’s well aware of the irony of the situation. He walked out, but has nowhere to go and no way to get there. He may say,”“I Am Sorry”, as the song’s title indicates, but that is more a self-admission of his sorry-ass state as it is an apology. Or when Graham explains, “Why I Don’t Hunt”, the need for small change and cheap thrills can be superseded by a conscious—even if it is only a half-dead blackbirds with which he’s concerned. He sees himself in a greasy carcass dying in the gutter. Graham takes the cliché of the hunter sickened by the death he has caused and turns it into a personal story through his power to deliver the experience. One feels what he felt. One hopes The Hobart Brothers and Lil’ Sis stick around and make more records. Their debut disc is a winner, even if the band sings mostly about life’s losers. The trio benefit from having each other.
23 ago. 2012
15 ago. 2012
Bonita canción para este verano Biography by Steve "Spaz" Schnee When co-vocalist Brian Butler left pop quintet Quincy, the band changed both their name (to Lulu Temple) and their musical direction (from pop to white-new wave-funk). When Brian's brother, guitarist Stephen Butler, followed Brian's lead and left Lulu Temple; the two rejoined forces and formed Smash Palace, a crunchy guitar band heavily influenced by British pop, both old and new. With bassist Phil Barnett, rhythm guitarist Greg Persun, and drummer Harry Lewis, the band signed to CBS and released their self-titled debut album in 1985. Though the album was geared for a larger audience than both Quincy and Lulu Temple and their "Living on the Borderline" gained significant airplay, sales were dismal and the band was dropped. For most bands, this would be the end of the story, but not for Smash Palace. Strangely enough, in 1999, Imagine Records released Fast, Long, Loud, a brand-new Smash Palace CD. Though the Butlers were the sole remaining members, the musical vision remained the same: crunchy Brit-influenced guitar pop. With more intimate production, the new Smash Palace may not gain a larger audience than before, but they certainly deserve it. The darn thing rocks hard and better than bands half their age.
13 ago. 2012
By Matthew Fiander The story of Rodriguez – full name Sixto Diaz Rodriguez – is a fascinating, even heartwarming one, so it’s no wonder director Malik Bendjelloul decided to make a documentary about the obscure singer-songwriter from Detriot. Rodriguez, after getting discovered by Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore at a local bar, recorded two albums – 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming From Reality. Despite being critical favorites, neither record sold well, Rodriguez drifted into seclusion, and there were even rumors he had committed a very public suicide on stage. What’s remarkable about Rodriguez’s story is how his first record, Cold Fact, made its way to South Africa and became a huge sensation. His record became a soundtrack for the anti-Apartheid liberal African youth, and his influence and adoration there led people to look for him. Which is what the film Searching for Sugar Man is all about. The soundtrack to that album looks to give you insight into what exactly that South African youth heard in Rodriguez, what about him became vital kindling for the fire of revolution. If the fact of his music making its way to South Africa is remarkable, you can hear in his songs why his songs caught on once they were there. Rodriguez sings of the down and out, of those stuck in their situation by some outside force – not Apartheid, but race, poverty, drug addiction, class war, you name it. He’s a man taken by life on the Detroit streets, and despite the warm tones of his guitar, the lilting strings that melt over it and the spare percussion that holds it up, there is something distinctly urban about his music. Most of that quality probably comes from Rodriguez himself, his full voice, honeyed and full, but low and just barely rasping at the edges, something more assured than Mickey Newbury and more hopeful than Michael Chapman’s but with the same powerful timbre. And when you hear the tune “Sugar Man”, you both see him fall into a tradition and make his own individual space in it. It’s a drug tune, a plea to the title character for “jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane.” If the desperation here is plain, even something we’ve heard before, the heartfelt delivery is not. There’s nothing condemning or romantic about his down-and-out character, but there’s a sympathy in his voice that is heartbreaking, an understanding of that low place. Rodriguez’s skill in these songs – culled from his two albums – is his ability to relay the gritty without giving in fully to bitterness. He may grin a bit as he asks bed-hoppers in “I Wonder”, “How many times you’ve had sex” and “Do you know who’ll be next?” He is similarly critical on “Like Janis”, taking aim at a person who can “measure your wealth by the things you can hold”. Even when he criticizes though, you can hear an air of empathy, a hope that there’s a way to turn it all around. So while it’s hard not to hear Dylan’s influence on the terse listing lines of “This Is Not a Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues” or the jangly ramble of “Inner City Blues”, there’s a clear difference here. Dylan’s aims were poetic and often couched in as much cynicism as hope for change. Rodriguez’s observations and keen eye for detail comes out of the everyday. “Garbage ain’t collected, women ain’t protected,” he complains, or “Mafia’s getting bigger like pollution in the river.” He doesn’t turn away from the darkness, he documents the “coldness at every turn” on “Can’t Get Away”, but the sound of his music – with light flutes, strings, etc, the rising lilt of his voice – is transcendent. Even when he turns to heartache, on the excellent “I Remember You”, he admits the hurt but finds a kernel of sweetness in it, in the first feeling you get in remembering love before you also remember it’s gone. With a clear eye towards problems but a heart tuned to positivity and action, you can see why Rodriguez appealed to the youth of South Africa. The soundtrack to Searching for Sugar Man makes the case for the basic power of his music, and does so convincingly. But rather than play like a greatest hits, it seems to also want to show all the different turns Rodriguez could make. And while he is a singular songwriter and charming performer, they don’t all fit perfectly. The impressionistic poetry of “Cause” is an interesting turn, but its gloomy mood feels too heavy handed for such a subtle performer. “Sandrevan Lullaby - Lifestyles” has the same overcast problem. Rodriguez’s work is best when it’s bright and punchy, when tension is converted to unbridled energy. These darker tunes, full of “judges with meter-maid hearts” feel like forced experiments next the more effortless power of a song like “Sugar Man”. But make no mistake, Rodriguez has the spotlight on his now for a reason. This stuff is right in the 1970 singer-songwriter wheelhouse, but it’s got a distinctive voice, one powerful enough to make it across the ocean to another continent, to inspire people to action. The movie tells the story, but this soundtrack gives us the raw material, the stuff that got people talking. And it’s no wonder the conversation got so loud.
12 ago. 2012
By Andrew Gilstrap About four or five songs into Slowburner, you realize that you’ve yet to hear a bad song. In fact, you’ve heard nothing but very good songs. What’s more, in that short span, no two songs have really sounded the same. Despite Slowburner being the District Attorneys’ full-length debut (two earlier EPs are available for free from Bandcamp, and a few of those tracks are tweaked for release here), there’s no sense that the Atlanta-based band feels any sense of panic about presenting itself to the world. They just say, “Here’s what we’re all about,” and lay it out, so in the first half of the record, you get needle-y guitar, Beach Boys-style harmonies, modernized doo wop, washes of mean Drive-By Truckers-style electric guitar and drum rumble, and a gentle acoustic ballad. Then there’s the second half of the record, on which the District Attorneys reveal even more wrinkles to their strong blend of indie rock, pop, Southern rock, and Americana. The whole thing makes you look a little askance at the fact these guys are all in their twenties, since their music isn’t just the sound of a band making smash-and-grab runs at this or that cool sound from the past. The layered harmonies and outright joyful choruses offer proof that at least one District Attorney has spent plenty of time soaking up not only the Beach Boys but any other rock band that created swelling vocal waves. The vocal cadence of “Here’s Your Star”, amidst its pretty guitar melodies and saxophone, attains a fluidity that speaks of more than a few years singing church hymns. Parts of “The End”, in a blind listening test, could pass for something from a Gerry Rafferty record. Album closer “Marmalade” teases you with a quick piano flutter reminiscent of the opening of the Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man”, but it quickly goes in the other direction, establishing itself as a nice ballad full of acoustic guitar and harmonica. But before this starts sounding like the District Attorneys are some kind of retro act, let me clarify that all of influences come across they way they should: as flavoring for the District Attorneys’ own sound. There’s an energy here that’s purely modern, as evidenced by the breakneck pace, stinging guitar solo, and runaway “da da da” choruses of “Madison Row”. Despite the fact that “Confusion of Trust” glides in like an homage to the doo wop hits of the ‘50s, the lyrics and chorus bear a ragged and angry pain that never would have made it onto tape back in the day. “California Fire” takes jangly, chiming rhythm guitar with a quicksilvery slide lead that makes it sound like the song’s mashing genres together. So by the time the District Attorneys are threading dissonant guitar notes through the vintage, sax-driven rock groove of “Boomtown” near album’s end, it all make sense. If it sounds good, it has every right to make it into a District Attorneys song, and with an enthusiasm that you don’t hear from enough bands these days. Songwriters Drew Beskin and T.J. Mimbs bring different perspectives to their band’s unified sound, which helps to make things sound even fresher. This is a confident record, and deservedly so. The District Attorneys have put together something pretty special here.
10 ago. 2012
Review by Tim Sendra Anyone hoping for more ukulele on Allo Darlin's second album Europe might be a little disappointed but it should only be a mild let-down because anyone who has already fallen under the tender spell of Elizabeth Morris' songwriting and the band's gentle music will be pleased as punch. The album is just as sweet, melodic, and memorable as their self-titled debut but also a little more together and focused sounding. A majority of the songs have a vastly increased amount of bounce and kick, and many, like the super hooky "Capricornia," the almost hard rocking "The Letter," and "Northern Lights," sound like would-be favorites at an indie disco. The band's sound is built around steadily strumming guitars, the occasional uke, and a happily swinging rhythm section that sounds great on the uptempo tracks and quite sensitive on the rest. On top are Paul Rains' jangling guitar lines that occasionally drift into nicely distorted territory and Morris' distinctive vocals. She's able to transmit all kinds of emotion and nuance through her voice without getting all showy or overblown as she mostly just sticks to the melodies and her confessional lyrics, letting them do the heavy lifting. And despite the sweet and peppy sound the band delivers throughout, the words are a heartbroken and melancholy mess that read like tear-stained letters to a recently lost lover. While the first record felt like it was lived, written, and recorded in the same tiny apartment, Europe sounds like it was written all over the world. There are references to Sweden, New York, the Caribbean, and the moon, and it feels much wider in scope and deeper in emotion overall. That Morris manages to up the stakes without losing any homespun charm is impressive; that she buries the uke (except on "Tallulah" an affecting uke and vocal duet) in the mix is even better. Its use threatened to become a gimmick and the songs and performances on Europe are way too strong for people to write them off as novelties. As it stands, Allo Darlin' are as serious as it gets, and despite the lightness and sweetness, they are sophisticated pop music at its finest.
5 ago. 2012
Review by Heather Phares The Dandy Warhols' searching, contemplative songs have always been a tantalizing yin to the band's brash, sarcastic yang, but it wasn't until This Machine that they devoted most of an album to their thoughtful side. Judging from how well these songs work, it was long overdue; like Earth to the Dandy Warhols, this is one of the band's most consistent sets yet. While This Machine isn't as ballad-heavy or acoustic as its still-life cover -- which nods to Bob Dylan's famous "This Machine Kills Fascists"-emblazoned guitar -- suggests, it certainly is ruminative. Failure and loss loom in nearly every corner, even (perhaps especially) on the most upbeat moments. "I used to be a little snot," Courtney Taylor snarls on the Iggy Pop-esque "Enjoy Yourself," which is extra-snide even by the Dandies' standards, but the target of all its vitriol and past glories is in the mirror. "SETI vs. the Wow! Signal" catalogs humanity's shortcomings over driving rock, and the unexpected and unexpectedly successful cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "16 Tons," complete with mordant saxophone and jingling coins, adds another dimension to the sadder-but-wiser feel here. When the band does dive deep into melancholia, the results are even more powerful, particularly on "The Autumn Carnival"'s gorgeous whispers, "Well They're Gone"'s ghostly dub (which restates the case that Taylor may very well be America's answer to Damon Albarn), and the closing lament "Slide." However, the band also makes room for redemption and acceptance, most strikingly on "I Am Free," where Taylor sings, "And when they say payback's a bitch/It's a bitch you've got to make your peace with." It's the closest the band has come yet to something genuinely uplifting and irony-free -- no small feat for these tongue-in-cheek provocateurs, but This Machine suggests that the Dandy Warhols are actually improving with age, which is an even bigger accomplishment.
Two Brits Do Justice to the Mid-'70s New York Rock Sound By Jordan Blum Taking a page from deceptively simple ‘70s rock artists like Television and Talking Heads, as well as lavishly produced British pioneers like the Rolling Stones, Brooklyn’s Alberta Cross announces itself with force on its newest LP, Songs of Patience. Although the album is relatively brief, its consistent quality and knack for intrigue and sentiment grants it a lot of staying power. Few bands make such a grand impression this easily. Formed several years ago by two Englishmen, Petter Ericson Stakee (vocals/guitar) and Terry Wolfers (vocals/bass), Alberta Cross sort of mixes British elegance with Southern rock energy. Their debut full-length, Broken Side of Time, came out in 2009, and they’ve since expanded the official line-up to a quintet that includes Sam Kearney, Austin Beede and Alec Higgins. Finally, their influences include the Band, Neil Young and the Raconteurs. As the title implies, Songs of Patience is all about allowing time to take its toll; the past is gone, the present is palpable, and the future holds untold possibilities. “Magnolia” starts things off with invigorating percussion, pleasant harmonies, and vocal timbres that express both rebellion and peace. The closing chorus is especially likeable. “Crate of Gold”, on the other hand, is a much more raucous track, as the guitars are more distorted and the vocals are slightly more distant (as if they’re being filtered through a megaphone). Still, it’s quite engaging. One of the best tracks on Songs of Patience is “Lay Down”. A subtle somberness permeates through the chord progressions, and the restrained usage of piano is a nice touch. Really, the track has a lot in common with some of Tom Petty’s more impassioned pieces. The psychedelic strings and guitar work of “Come on Maker” help it stand out, as does the sheer emotional gravity of “Ophelia on My Mind”. A ballad at heart, the song is made exceptional due to the way its orchestration complements its sorrowful melody, and its implied connection to Hamlet (and thus, broken hearts and suicide) makes it even more powerful. It’s probably the best track on the record. Similarly, “I Believe in Everything” is easily the catchiest track (its production is fantastic, too), and “Life Without Warning” would be perfect to close out a dramatic television show aimed at teenagers. The album concludes with “Bonfires”, which is the most sparse and organic track here. Organized around acoustic guitar, piano and vocals, it conveys bittersweet longing and closure with ease; in fact, it feels very much like a lost track from the Dear Hunter’s most recent masterpiece, The Color Spectrum, albeit with an inferior singer. Songs of Patience is a very good record. Although some may wish for more diversity within the set (these songs contain a lot of the same techniques and styles), as well as more layers to flesh out the core songwriting, there’s still plenty to like. The group managers to capture the excitement of live performance within the well-produced tracks, which makes the album feel simultaneously raw and refined, and it’s clear that some serious issues and feelings pervade the bluesy rock music. It’ll be interesting to hear where Alberta Cross goes from here.
3 ago. 2012
2 ago. 2012
Review by Heather Phares When White Rabbits wanted to move away from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound of their debut Fortnightly, they recruited Spoon's Britt Daniel to streamline their music, and the results, It's Frightening, sometimes followed a little too closely in Daniel's footsteps. This time, the band ventures out a bit farther, working with frequent Spoon producer Mike McCarthy on Milk Famous, which does a more convincing job of putting the band's own stamp on these songs. Unsurprisingly, some of Spoon and McCarthy's favorite touches -- driving pianos, double-tracked vocals, and rockabilly-tinged reverb -- are present and accounted for here, but the overall sound is slicker and somehow subtler than before, with a new wave sheen to songs like the sleek "Temporary" that leans more toward the likes of the French Kicks, Phoenix, or Two Door Cinema Club than the unexpected curves and raw edges that Daniel and company throw at their listeners. Thanks to McCarthy's collaboration, Milk Famous' songs boast interesting flourishes everywhere, especially on the deceptively named opening track "Heavy Metal," which guides the ear from a swirling keyboard loop to manicured feedback to the busy bassline and back again. At times, the sonic details threaten to overwhelm the actual songs; it takes a few listens for the band's clever songwriting to stake an equal place in listeners' memories, but once it's in there, White Rabbits' moody, paranoid pop is hard to shake. "I'm Not Me," "Everyone Can't Be Confused," and "I Had It Coming" are particularly pithy highlights, while "It's Frightening," an abstract ballad adrift on oceans of rippling pianos, is moving because of what it doesn't say. Though It's Frightening might have had a few more immediately accessible moments than Milk Famous, the sonic growth and confidence White Rabbits display here prove they're moving in the right direction.