Monday, January 31, 2005

Xiu Xiu - La Forêt (5RC, 2005)

Xiu Xiu
La Forêt


Rating: 4 old drugs out of 10
Every time I try to listen to Xiu Xiu, and oh how I’ve tried, I never seem to “get it”. It’s like everyone else is in on the joke, and it’s very frustrating. I’ll give Jamie Stewart one thing for sure – he’s a very original singer and songwriter with his own distinct voice, something not many can claim these days. And while that is certainly admirable, it doesn’t necessarily make me want to listen to his music. I don’t even know how to describe the band’s sound – sometimes it’s hauntingly folky and mellow, then the next track will be a glitchy electronica-rock song, and then he kinda rocks out…there are even a couple of numbers on here that remind me of Joy Division, and not in that Interpol “gets compared to them but doesn’t actually sound like it” way, but the songs honest-to-god sound like Joy Division. That, or my ears are broken, which is certainly possible. Anyways, I can’t really say to buy or not to buy this, but Xiu Xiu is a band worth checking out just to see how you react to it. You may hate it, but at least you’ll know you haven’t missed out on anything.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Why? - Elephant Eyelash (Anticon, 2005)

Elephant Eyelash


Rating: 8 hitchhikers out of 10
This is one of the more confounding, genre-bending, and intriguing albums I’ve head in quite some time. I have this natural tendency to compartmentalize things – this is “classic rock”, that is “hip-hop”, etc. But no matter what group you might have Why? pegged to belong in, chances are there are just as many valid arguments for why they shouldn’t be stuck with that group. They’re on the Anticon label, the stalwart of non-commercial hip-hop, and frontman for the group Yoni can often deliver his lyrics in a staccato fashion – but this is not rap music as most of us know it (Yoni was also a member of cLOUDEAD, yet another group that was hip-hop but maybe not really). The music is almost all electro-indie rock, not sounding like but possibly from the same family as some of that great german work from the Notwist, Barbara Morgenstern, Ms. John Soda, etc. Regardless of how you try to wrap your brain around this album, Elephant Eyelash is one of the catchiest releases I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy recently.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Wedding Present - Take Fountain (Manifesto, 2005)

The Wedding Present
Take Fountain


Rating: 7 buffet spreads out of 10
Like so many bands these last few years, David Gedge & company have decided to make the proverbial “comeback” with the legendary Wedding Present; but unlike most of the reunions of late, this one has actually produced a pretty worthwhile album. “Take Fountain” will probably never make any hardcore Weddoe’s top album list, but by all accounts even those purists are really enjoying it.  The opening track alone, “Interstate 5”, is possibly one of the best songs of the year – it takes the typical swirly indie-rock sounds you’ve come to expect from these cats for the last 20 years, and slowly merges it into a Calexico/spaghetti western song a smoothly as a baby’s rumpus. It doesn’t take a strong musical ear to realize that the legacy of The Weddoes is an integral part of the sound of bands such as The Wrens and Earlimart. You can write these guys off as “has-beens” if you’d like, but it would make you a damn fool because they are still producing great music.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Various Artists - Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbraugh (Fat Possum, 2005)

Various Artists
Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbraugh
Fat Possum


Rating: 7 terrible hawks out of 10
Pretty much any compilation is a tricky affair, and tribute albums even more so – you’re not only including many different artists into the mix, but you’re having them cover a song by an already established and well loved musician (unless it is a really stupid tribute album celebrating crappy performers, of which there are a few). I’ve reviewed a lot of these things, and most of them never got it right; but this tribute to Junior Kimbraugh has got to be the closest I’ve ever seen to a perfect tribute album. There are no bad tracks on here – even the Pete Yorn song is pretty good! Also contributing to the release is Iggy and the Stooges, Spiritualized, Mark Lanegan, The Fiery Furnaces, Entrance feat. Cat Power, The Ponys, Jack Oblivian, Jim White, The Black Keys, and more.  I highly recommend this release as not only a great tribute album but a great album altogether.