Welcome to A&A. There are 14 full reviews in this issue. Click on an artist to jump to the review, or simply scroll through the list. If you want information on any particular release, check out the Label info page. All reviews are written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.|
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A&A #268 reviews
Between the Buried and Me
Exquisite extreme hardcore churned with proggy Euro-metal and strikingly thoughtful (if often unintelligible) lyrics. Reminds me of a more coherent At the Gates.
A more extreme At the Gates as well. This album is positively brutal--plenty of double bass drum licks, crashing riffage and throat-throttling howls. The impressive mix of styles and ideas reminds me of early Fear Factory, though almost completely different in content and tone.
Between the Buried and Me is a direct descendent of some of those fine Century Media and Nuclear Blast bands from the early 90s, European death metal types who couldn't quite give up on melody. Now, we're not talking about Tiamat--these boys are much, much meaner--but more like Asphyx, Grave, Meshuggah, that sort of thing. But again, much, much harsher on the back of the throat.
I've been preaching this gospel for almost 15 years, but it's still true: Smart people do play loud music. And some very smart people play some excellent loud music. This album is the perfect case study.
Where's My Love? CD5
Two songs, and a remix of the title track. That's it. And that's more than enough to fall for Caroline.
Rising from the world of homespun laptop pop, this professionally-produced short set artfully transposes the minimalist world of personal electronic music into one that somehow manages to sound sleek, efficient and otherworldly.
And yes, Caroline's voice has a lot to do with that last bit. Her take on ethereal vocals has steel underpinnings. There's no doubt about the strength that lies behind these songs. The future cannot come soon enough for my ears.
The Gifted Program
(Made in Mexico)
Somewhere between Icicle Works, the Cars and Joe Jackson lies the Divorce. That's one hell of a love triangle, don't you think?
And yes, despite the obvious Brit influences, these boys are fully 'merican. Kinda like the Wrens--and that's a reference I don't let fly idly. The depth of these songs can often be measured in fathoms. There's a lot going on in a really tight space.
'Cause we are talking about rockin' pop songs. Stuff that blisters, burns and then scrapes off the goo. Damn. I haven't heard cruelty that sounded this sweet in years. These boys aren't nice, but they're damned fine.
Kicks my ass so many ways I can't even begin to count. Albums that immediately impress me like this don't come along very often. Albums that have this sort of lasting appeal are even rarer. I'm a slave to my musical taste, of course, but I simply can't imagine anyone failing to respond to these guys. Quality of the highest order.
Some wide-ranging, vaguely abstract bands are almost impossible to write about. "They sound weird, but they sound cool," is what I end up writing. The Drift is not nearly so difficult.
In part because these boys simply refuse to play the same song (and sometimes, it seems, the same sound) twice, and in part because there's just so much here to mine. These are compositions, not stuff that is (or resembles) improvisations. There is a solid structure behind even the most loopy piece, and the Drift has obviously given these songs a solid workout.
And yes, I suppose this does lie in the world of Tortoise and the like, but to be honest, I don't hear a lot of that. There is a member of Tarantel (Danny Grody), but again, these songs are tight compositions. Some may sound languid, but they're never lost.
Damn. I guess I didn't get much past "they sound weird, but they sound cool." Except that the Drift is hardly weird and exceptionally cool. Instrumental rock can take all sorts of forms, and the Drift seems to have chiseled its own. For all the disparate ideas and sounds, each song here sounds like it was played by the Drift. And that may be the most impressive thing (of so many) about this album.
Subtitled "Bach Preludes on the steel string guitar," and that's exactly what's here. I sat listening for a minute and I'm like...I know that guitar. I've heard it somewhere. And then the liners tell me what I already knew (but couldn't remember): Lams is a member of the California Guitar Trio.
That meticulous, yet supple, fingerwork. The way these pieces sound so natural springing from a guitar. Of course.
The sound is incredible. None of that amateurish tin string sound that has become an unfortunate hallmark of acoustic guitar recordings. These strings ring richly true, and the sound is as full and lush as can be imagined. The sound fills the room without crowding, and there's never a false note.
Beautiful. Amazing. Precise, yet always expressive. Lams has some impressive technical ability, but his real talent is in making the material his own. Little touches mean so much. This is one of the the finest classical guitar albums I've heard. Absolutely first rate from beginning to end.