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 #318 reviews
The Living Breathing Organ Summer
(Joyful Noise/Forge Again Records)
Fusing many of the unconventional alternative sounds of the upper midwest (no wave, Chicago-style post rock, a penchant for using keyboards as rhythm instruments, Naked Raygun-esque gang harmonies, etc.), Child Bite sounds like the bastard offspring of my college days. And yet, it sounds like the music of tomorrow as well.
Many of these trends were so forward-thinking in their times that they, too, still sound futuristic. But a fair amount of credit must be given to Child Bite, which picks and chooses the finest morsels of its inspirations and then runs the entire mess through a finely-honed music grinder.
It's fair to say that no other band sounds remotely like these guys. And few are as good. The energy level is astounding, which simply ramps up the creative ferment to a boil. Child Bite seems to want to lay waste to the concept of modern music. Know something? It has.
These folks have been doing this for a while, and this album is the latest (and finest) example of what happens when talented people get into a groove. Discord and harmony, sax and synth...Child Bite tries out about every combination imaginable, and everything is exceedingly palatable. Thrilling.
Old Wolf Thoughts
Joe DeRosa and James Pinkstone know how to rock. In almost every way imaginable. There's a bit of laptop, some greasy JAMC and some eccentric pop a la TMBG. Most interesting to me, though, is that the guys don't try to combine their influences.
Which does leave Funeral intheMirror without much of a real sound of its own. These songs are finely crafted and assembled, and they have that tight "band" sound. The ideas are so diffuse, though, that I can't think of even one that epitomizes Funeral in the Mirror.
That's not a problem, musicwise. And these songs are amazing. The sound simply pops out of the speakers, and the melodies and hooks are instantly gratifying. I'm really impressed.
And maybe it isn't important that there be a Funeral intheMirror sound. Maybe DeRosa and Pinkstone can simply crank out awesome song after awesome song and all will be well. I won't complain, that's for sure.
The Honored Guests
Into Nostalgia EP
Dreamy, well-crafted songs that tend to float more than rock. The Honored Guests aren't so much trippy as simply ethereal. But boy, do they know how to put some songs together.
I suppose this falls somewhere in the pop universe, but the boys have a bit of the rootsy twang to their acoustic guitars. And the chords are straight rock and roll, even if they are generally strummed. It's just so damned pretty that sometimes I wonder if I can stand to keep listening.
I'm being facetious, of course. Pretty music that has an underlying depth is always an aphrodisiac for me. The Honored Guests are supposedly working on a new album. I'll be waiting. If you want a taste, go to the band's web site and they'll hook you up with a free copy of this most excellent EP.
The Lush, Romantic Weirdness
(Vampire Media Group)
Um, the title is astoundingly appropriate. The three guys in Italian Japanese play soft-spoken pop that is lush, romantic (depending on your definition) and definitely a bit weird.
And when you're going to whip out soaring hooks and mid-tempo beats, you'd better have something unconventional going on. Largely, the "weirdness" is in the construction, which owes as much to jazz as rock. Imagine New Order playing Steely Dan songs, and you'd be on the right path.
The sound is very rounded and full, and it tends to emphasize the unusual construction of many of these songs. Everything gets resolved by the time the chorus wanders by, but there's a lot to consider before that happens.
That's cool. This is a meditative album that has some truly transcendent moments. Just sit back and see where the journey takes you. You'll be most comfortable, I assure you.
(Media Roots Music)
Fitting in much better with the political hip-hop of twenty years ago, Junkyard Empire brings old school attitude and style up to date on this blistering set.
And, yes, this is a band. The music isn't just a backing track. It's its own animal, with ideas at least as complex as the rhymes. Yes, yes, I'm always more about the music. On this album, that's only appropriate.
This album sounds great. The mix between the rhymes and the music is almost perfect, weaving both together most wonderfully. Rather than subjugating one or another, the production here enhances all aspects of the songs.
The rhymes are perceptive, clever and delivered with exceptional grace. Nothing sounds forced. This is an album of uncommon poetry. Mindblowing fare.
The Kissing Party
The Hate Album
Reminds me a lot of the Primitives, though much more stripped down and more dedicated to what might best be called "pure" pop music. The Kissing Party doesn't mess around with anything extraneous: verse-chorus all the way, with hooks that kill.
There are a few studio tricks which occasionally lend a gauzy feel, but this stuff is simple, simple, simple. No need for anything complicated when your songs click like these.
A decidedly lo-fi effort, and I think the songs are served better that way. The melodies dress these songs up in brilliant finery. Nothing else is needed.
A generous helping (fourteen songs), too. Albums this sweet can often leave an upset stomach, but the Kissing Party has enough protein to keep everything down. Very nice.
Tears in My Beer
Frantic, raucous songs that barely make sense musically or lyrically. Despite all that, I fell in love almost instantly. Maybe it was more "because of" than "despite," to tell the truth.
Rock and roll is a simple enterprise. Three chords, tight rhythms and the occasional melody. Museum Mouth might be even less than occasional on the melody part (these songs are sort of talk-shouted, if that makes any sense), but the chords fit together well and the rhythm section is pure bliss.
Indeed, that is what kicks this into my happy zone. I suppose there's a bit of the Sleater-Kinney minimalist thing going on, but there's at least as much of a no wave sensibility, though these songs aren't deconstructive at all. On the contrary, they're almost perfectly-constructed pieces.
Just performed in a way that might be a bit off putting to those who like their music handed over on a platter. Museum Mouth insists on its own sound, and I like that sound. These songs churn by all too fast. Quite a glorious squall.
The Weinheim Experiment
A couple guys from Frankfurt who use the entire palette of electronic music to create songs that are absolutely impossible to turn off.
Really. These pieces are impossibly bright, impossibly catchy and impossibly virtuosic. I loved the first album, and this is one of two that will be released this summer. The eighteen tracks meander over all sorts of territory, from old school Krautrock techno to stuff that sounds like a campy Kurt Weill. With plenty of jazzy, lounge and booty-shakin' beats in between.
Yes. All that is true. This might be the most accessible art music you've ever heard. There's a lot of experimentation, but it is cached within some of the tastiest hooks and slinkiest grooves around.
Pick a track, any track. If you're not hooked, then it's more than possible that you're not human. This music creates something of an automatic response in everyone I've exposed to it. Folks get giddy, if not downright turned on. Good times are had by all.