Welcome to A&A. There are 12 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 #292 reviews
Elliot Carlson Botero
Parasite: A Love Story
A wild stew of hypnotic, sleazy rock, electronic wackiness and almost overwhelming attitude.
Some of this is in Spanish and some in English. Doesn't matter that much, as the music pretty explains everything that's happening. Botero's feel for musical expression is astounding.
This is a real cut-and-paste effort (Botero refers to it as "frankenstein-ishly patched together), but it sounds like a real band playing music in real time. A lot of it is electronic, but Botero has worked hard to get a fairly organic feel to the songs. And, of course, the general feel is straight rock (or off-kilter rock, but you get what I mean), so the electronics are simply helping him get home.
The sort of album that sidles up and then sets its hooks. A slinky little beast that simply won't let go of the ears. Sweet.
This Is My Ship
Perky mathy stuff, with some nice dorky hooks to go along with the technical riffage. The playing is precise, but the spirit is loose.
I like that, myself. This is the sort of sound that appeals to folks who like to think of themselves as intellectual, but in real life would much rather pound some beers. That's me straight down the line.
There are lots of interesting things going on within the musical lines. Dartz! doesn't play anything straight, and there's plenty to discover within the layers. In the end, though, there's this joyful vibe that's hard to shake.
Don't know why you'd want to shake it, though. Joyous music is hard enough to come by as it is. And if there's some serious heft tagging along for the ride, well, that's pretty much irresistible to me. Fun for all centers of the brain.
Eddie the Rat
Insomnia Sound Bible
I've been listening to Pete Martin's Eddie the Rat project for years. He's always been able to find people who can translate his written (if sometimes loosely) music into enthusiastic moderately-improvised works.
Always less improvised than you might think (which is something I'm pretty sure I said about EtR in the past), but with all the anarchic spirit that sort of endeavor inspires.
On the whole, these pieces seem more like songs and less like compositions. A lot of this album feels steeped in the same sort of blues that entranced Captain Beefheart, though without the rigorous wigginess. Each song contains a surfeit of ideas, far too much for the ears to digest in a single listen. Even so, just a few seconds ought to be enough to attract plenty of attention.
In many ways, this is the most conventional EtR album I've heard. It's probably not a coincidence that it's probably my favorite as well. The sort of album I can curl up with next to the fire--or shoot straight into my veins for a pure rush. It's really cool when an album can do so much at once.
Guards of Metropolis
Flashy, crunchy music and trashy female vocals. Tight playing and even tighter hooks. Commercial as hell, but not exactly by today's standards.
Lawdy, lawdy, but this is a blast. I don't think there's a shred of subtlety anywhere on this album, but it doesn't require any. The thrills are cheap, but they hit almost impossibly hard.
A guilty pleasure, I suppose, except that I don't feel guilty. Highly-charged pop-rock has always been a staple of my diet, and I don't intend for that to change. I'll just add Guards of Metropolis to the rotation. I'm not sure how well this will stand the test of time. It does have a "burn-out" date stamped right on the cover.
Okay, that last bit was a joke, though it is true that I'm not sure how many spins it will take for this album to wear out its welcome. No matter. Right now it is a welcome guest for my ears, and that's all that matters.
The liners (as such) call this "collected works from 2006 and 2007." No kidding. Hardy flits about from sound to sound, just about anything as long as it's way, way out there. There are ear-bleed guitar licks, soft-as-snowfall atmospherics, lurching European folk dances and more.
Really. Lots more. This is one album that I like simply for the sheer diversity of sound that resides upon it. It's really amazing how many ideas Hardy has riffled through, not to mention how good she is at expressing those thoughts.
A virtuoso performance, both in the playing and the assembling. Because Hardy played everything herself (of course), she needed to work pretty hard to give this album the cohesive band sound that it has. Give a listen to "Spanish" and imagine one person playing all that in pieces.
I know it's possible. Back in the day, Ray Parker Jr. played all the instruments himself. But the wide range of ideas and the impeccable production on this album are simply amazing. Marina Hardy has a feel for the heart of music that very few people ever come close to experiencing. A mind-blowing disc.
The Jones Street Boys
The obligatory New York City country album. Seems like I've got one of those every couple of months or so. Guess there must be a decent scene, eh?
Jon Langford guests here, which is just the first tip-off that this might, indeed, be a pretty solid effort. And, indeed, solid is the word. These songs rollick and roll in a most workmanlike fashion. It's not hard to hear where they're going. But the playing and, particularly, the singing raise the songs to another level.
Produced with a strong--but not strict--hand, there are no audio pyrotechnics, just a full mix and plenty of organ in the deep holes. A bit more country than yer average americana effort (more Blue Earth than Tomorrow the Green Grass, if you'd like a Jayhawks reference), but good-naturedly so. There's no "we're so pure" moment. Just a hint of bluegrass and plenty of backroads flavor.
Lots of folks have taken very good care of this album. It's a finely-cut gem, alternately gentle and raucous. Just about everything an album should be.
King of Prussia
Save the Scene EP
Not sure what scene these guys are saving, as they sound most like a post-modern update of 60s psychedelia.
Yeah, yeah, I know. The update part is two parts slicked-up garage and one part layered indie pop. That second bit is a direct descendent of the whole 60s thing, though, so I don't know if that counts. Whatever. It is cool to hear heavy-reverb guitars, echo-laden vocals, a banjo and slide guitar in the same piece. That's something you wouldn't have heard way back when.
And in point of fact, these boys aren't stealing from anyone. These multi-faceted songs more than pay back any classic stylings borrowed. Exceptionally-crafted and bouyantly played.
The only band I can think of that has ever tried anything quite like this was the once-brilliant Brian Jonestown Massacre. As much as I love that band, if King of Prussia continues to improve and evolve, it might well blow those boys out of the water. If you want higher praise than that, you'll have to find another critic.
Last American Buffalo
Marquis for the Debutante
Imagine a rootsy, rockin' band that plays americana-style stuff with the clipped detachment of New Order. I mean that in a good way, though I'm not sure anyone will believe me.
What I'm trying to say is that Last American Buffalo moves with its lush, organ-laden sound rather than wallow in it. These tightly-crafted songs keep moving and never get lost in the fullness of things.
I think I'm making it worse. But the other connection to New Order is a certain rhythmic style that reminds me a lot of many songs from Get Ready--a modern, clean style of drumming and guitar work, I suppose. And the harmonies are often somewhat dissonant...the country roots do not extend to the ends of the sound.
But the sound is glorious, the songs are wonderful and the playing is top notch. One of those albums that is impressive from start to finish.