Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best Coast / Wavves - Summer Is Forever (Mexican Summer, 2011)

Best Coast / Wavves
Summer Is Forever
Mexican Summer

Rating: 7 happy couples out of 10

Like most red-blooded Americans, you put a cartoon picture of a vomiting cat on the cover of your record and you've got my attention. It looks like the real-life couple of Nathan Williams (Wavves) and Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast) decided they would make record sex and put out a split EP, and here it is. It's a good release - all of the songs get a thumbs up, particularly the first track by each band - "King of the Beach" by Wavves and "Crazy for You" by Best Coast. Though both of those songs are not only featured on their latest albums they are also the title tracks, so I'm not sure why they got released again. Money is money, as the kids say. I think some kids say that at least.

Oh, and there's also a No Joy song at the end of the EP which I am completely indifferent about.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Iceage - New Brigade (Dais, 2011)

New Brigade

Rating: 6.5 cheese danishes out of 10

Let's hear it for hype, cause Iceage has been getting tons of it! Anytime a band gets a ton of hype, I have two reactions - one, I probably won't like it. Two, I've gotta hear it anyways just to be sure.

I've read in a few spots that this is "new punk", which I can only assume they mean in the same way that Refused were "new hardcore". It didn't make any sense then and it doesn't really make any sense now. I guess there are elements of punk here - the pace of the songs, their approach to writing and performing songs - but you're never going to confuse this for the Clash or the Ramones. The instrumentation is really discordant and all over the map and there are zero "hooks" to the music that I can hear...and this is a huge dis-qualifier to the "punk" moniker being attached, because most punk to me is just really aggressive/sloppy pop songs. I'd say these guys are a lot closer to Frog Eyes or the pre-industrial punk of Magazine.

Oh, by the way, this band is all a bunch of really young teenagers from Denmark. I'm not sure if that really matters, but there you go. They definitely get a thumbs up for being this musically advanced at that age, but they've still got a ways to go before they justify the hype for me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best Coast / Jeff the Brotherhood - Split 7" (Infinity Cat, 2011)

Best Coast / Jeff the Brotherhood
Split 7"
Infinity Cat

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 for Best Coast, 6.5 out of 10 for Jeff the Brotherhood

Another incredibly catchy pop song from Best Coast. They always make me want to sing along to their songs, even when I listen to them for the first time and don't know the lyrics and have to make shit up. Their fans will not be disappointed in their contribution here.

As for Jeff the Brotherhood - I'd never even head of them before checking out this platter. It's good though, very mid-nineties fuzzed out alterna-pop...I'd probably compare them to Pavement a little bit, though the vocals are set back in the mix a quite bit more than Stephen Malkmus ever was. Looks like they've released a ton of material (almost all of sold out), so I may have to let the internet find me some more of their music to see how this song measures up to the rest of their catalog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Robert Pollard - Space City Kicks (Guided By Voices Inc., 2011)

Robert Pollard
Space City Kicks
Guided By Voices Inc.

Rating: RobertPollard RobertPollards out of RobertPollard

Hey, Robert Pollard released a new record! I had literally been holding my breath since the last release, but luckily that was so recent there was no real danger of suffocation.

Shit, what's even the point of writing a review for Robert Pollard anymore? It's a good record if you like Robert Pollard, and probably disposable if you don' pretty much all his releases. It's not overly catchy like his early material, but still pretty damn enjoyable to this fan. And if somehow you've magically never heard this man, go but Guided by Voices "Alien Lanes" and thank me later. Pop perfection.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador, 2011)

Kurt Vile
Smoke Ring for My Halo

Rating: 6.5 Philly Fanatics out of 10

In the time it took me to write this first sentence, Kurt Vile released two records, three EPs, and a split 7 inch with a band that does not exist yet. Matador, accustomed to years and years of Robert Pollard releasing eighteen records a year, decided they needed another artist that could single-handedly double their output each season.

One thing is for sure, Vile really upped the production this time around. The songs still feel and sound lo-fi, but they clearly weren't recorded on shit equipment, and they might have even been mastered. Vile does his best indie-kid-loves-the-blues impression, reminding me a bit of Beck's first record "One Foot in the Grave", but wit ha slightly more high-pitched voice. This is excellent rainy day music, good for moping about the house in your slippers on a Sunday afternoon, avoiding house chores but looking for something to do.

Cloud Nothings - Cloud Nothings (Carpark, 2011)

Cloud Nothings
Cloud Nothings

Rating: 5.5 nasally voices out of 10

I was reading a few reviews of this Cloud Nothings record and I saw a few comparisons/references to power pop. For god's sake people, this isn't anything close to power pop...have you even heard 20/20 or The Nerves or Shoes? I mean, it's definitely poppy, but this is more lo-fi jangly punk pop than anything else. It reminds me a lot of Husker Du actually...a really really sloppy Husker Du. The songs are downright fuckin' frantic, like he was in a hurry to get the record recorded before his mom got home and discovered him fucking around with her four-track. It feels so hurried it actually makes me feel a little anxious...I'm not sure listening to this while driving in a car is advised.

This is not a great record, and not awful either...not sure I'll be listening to it very much, but you can hear some building blocks of potential great pop songs here, and I'll definitely check out the next offering to see how they've grown.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monotonix - Not Yet (Drag City, 2011)

Not Yet
Drag City

Rating: 6 tiny pairs of sweaty shorts out of 10

Last time I saw these Israeli nutbags the singer, Ami Shalev, was "singing" from inside of a trash can while crowd surfing. The actual music of Monotonix is kinda beside the point. Not that it's bad music - a sort of stompy garage sound that owes a lot to pre-punk Detroit - but it's nothing special. It doesn't get stuck in your head. You don't yearn to hear it. You do want to see the band live though, assuming they go back on the road as they are currently on a family "time out", aka somebody had a kid and the wife is probably tired of doing all the work herself. Listening to the record is no prerequisite to enjoying their live show either, as the music produced in that sweaty, beer soaked setting is an utter mess. A super fun, total and complete mess.