Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hex Dispensers - Parallel 7'' (Red Lounge, 2012)

Hex Dispensers
Parallel 7''
Red Lounge

Rating: 6 positive sides out of 10

Is it wrong that the best thing about this Hex Dispensers seven inch is the cover of the Misfits "Hybrid Moments"?  Like everyone else in the world with any goddamn sense, this is one of my all-time favorite songs, and it's always interesting (sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad) to hear another bands take on it.  I like this version, though it does make me want to hear the original.  Then again I'm always wanting to hear the original.  

Oh yeah, there are a couple of other songs on this release too...they're fine.  Nothing to shit your pants over, but worth checking out. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bowerbirds - The Clearing (Dead Oceans, 2012)

The Clearing
Dead Oceans

Rating: 8 water logs out of 10

On their third record, Bowerbirds have come damn close to releasing the perfect folk rock record.  Then again, I might have said the same thing about their first two releases, and at this rate I'm sure I'll be saying it again.  They have been recording and performing at such a high level for so long that their records almost feel as if they were all recorded in one giant session and then portioned out every few years so as not to overwhelm the public with awesome.  I'm not sure any flowery adjectives are really needed other than this album, and their others, is really, really, REALLY beautiful from start to finish.  Every song is a lullaby for your ears and your heart.  

On a side note, the actual bird this band is named after are really friggin' cool - look them up if you have a choice.  Hell, listen to this album while you're doing it, maybe you'll create a vortex or something.  That's how vortexes work right?

Asap Rocky - Goldie EP (Self-Released?, 2012)

Asap Rocky
Goldie EP
Self Released?

Rating: 7 braided hairs out of 10

I'm sure I'm not the target market for this Asap Rocky release, but fuck it sounds really awesome to me right now.  Note - this "EP" is fifteen tracks and over fifty minutes long, so someone involved in making this has no idea what an EP really is.  This cat seems to walk a fine line between the money/bitches/bragging version of rap that makes up what rules the airwaves, and the more intellectual/conscious side of things.  A lot of the songs remind me of that slowed down "syrup" rap that Houston was putting out a few years often feels like you're listening to a dragging record, but somehow it works.  Like on any hip hop record made these days, tons of well known guests - David Banner, Swizz Beats, Paul Wall, Bun B, Lloyd Banks, and more.  

As an added bonus, this appears to be a free, self-released mixtape - search by the name, plenty of links should pop up.  But this shit is good enough to pay for. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nobunny - Maximumrocknroll 7'' (Goner, 2012)

Maximumrocknroll 7''

Rating: 6.5 baseball schedules out of 10

Five songs under eight minutes, and the whole thing sounds like it was recorded on a boombox with a broken microphone...Nobunny might have really outdone himself on this one. Opener "Assholes" sounds like a tribute to the Circle Jerks, is my favorite song on the EP, and is ripe to be included in any and all mix tapes you make after you hear it.  The next three tracks are sloppy junker one-offs that I doubt he spent any more time thinking up than he did recording them.  Then the final track "Lizards Liars and Sluts for Hire" closes the album nicely, sounding the closest to a regular Nobunny song, although still recorded like shit.  I can deal with the lo-fi, it was how I was first introduced to the dude, but the quality doesn't beg you to re-listen to this often. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cheap Time - Wallpaper Music (In The Red, 2012)

Cheap Time
Wallpaper Music
In The Red

Rating: 6 wall safes out of 10

I didn't even realize Cheap Time was started by the front dude of the Rat Traps, Jeffrey Novak.  I saw the Rat Traps once years ago, they were pretty damn awesome live.  Never did hear any of their proper recordings though.  That has nothing to do with reviewing this record, I just felt like mentioning it.  

"Wallpaper Music" is the third record by this Tennessee trio, and I feel the same about it as I have about everything else I've heard by Cheap's pretty good.  Not good enough to go nuts over, and definitely not bad enough to make fun of, just...decent.  A lot garage punk with occasional moments of glam and psychedelic leanings, let's call them the combination of the Oblivians and some of Iggy Pop's early solo work and leave it at that.  

I want to like this has the necessary ingredients.  And if they come to town I definitely want to see them live, as I bet that's a good show.  Maybe seeing them live will re-invigorate me into getting more excited over this record.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Black Mountain - Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack (Jagjaguwar, 2012)

Black Mountain
Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack

Rating: 6.5 soldier ants out of 10

I think the key question here is: Does this new Black Mountain album feel like a soundtrack because I already know that it is one, or would I think it was a regular Black Mountain album if I didn't know otherwise?  I'm not sure why it matters anyways, but it's one of those weird little things where I probably don't take the record as seriously since it's meant as a soundtrack to some surf movie.  

All that jibber jabber aside, I guess it ultimately comes down to whether or not the music is any good.  It sounds pretty much like what you'd expect out of a Black Mountain record, at least for most of the tracks.  Then again, half of these songs were on previous Black Mountain albums in one form or another.  The inclusion of edited versions of "Bright Lights" and "Tyrants" from their 2008 album "In the Future" was a smart move, two of their very best songs that would certainly fit well with big wave schralping.

Actually, just go buy/listen to "In the Future" if you're on the fence about this band.  The diehard fans are going to buy this soundtrack regardless of what any stupid review says. 

Animal Collective - Honeycomb 7'' (Domino, 2012)

Animal Collective
Honeycomb 7''

Rating: 6 sleeping dogs out of 10

This sounds exactly how I would expect a new Animal Collective seven inch to sound - swirly underwater pop music.  It sounds like the cover looks, kinda - bright, colorful, and trippy.  The second track "Gotham" sounds almost like the record is dragging.  Not bad.  Not overly exciting either, to be honest.  Does make me want to listen to "Strawberry Jam" again though.

Friday, May 18, 2012

El-P - Cancer4Cure (Fat Possum, 2012)

Fat Possum

Rating: 7.5 donut holes out of 10

I was fairly indifferent to this latest El-P album until I hit the fifth track, and there, subtly in the background, he had sample a line from the film "Top Secret" to open the track.  This discovery implored me to listen a little more closely, and of course it's a top album.  This is a man on top of his game people, let us all move out of the way and let him pass.  Aside from the sample the song is completely bad-ass, and from that track the next three songs are the key core of the record.  that run also features the likes of Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Danny Brown, and Killer Mike, so El-P and hauling this load alone.  I think I'm going to listen to this a whole lot this summer.  

On a side note, kinda surprised and pleased to see Fat Possum putting this out.  A label that started out releasing underground blues like T-Model Ford and RL Burnside has really spread their wings.  Probably that Black Keys money, with those guys blowing up those back catalog records must be selling well these days.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ed Schrader's Music Beat - Jazzmind (Load, 2012)

Ed Schrader's Music Beat

Rating: 8 gas chambers out of 10

I have long been a proponent of Ed Schrader's Music Beat live - they often tour and open for Future Islands, and when Future Islands aren't playing they tour on their own.  So I was both excited and apprehensive to finally hear an album by them - would I like it as much?  Would it change my live experience?  Do I worry too much about dumb pointless shit?

If you aren't familiar, ESMB is a two piece - Ed plays a single floor tom and sings, and Devlin plays bass while contributing the occasional backing vocal.  They have two tempos - fast and slow.  The fast songs are, considering the sparse instrumentation, pummeling numbers, barked at you by a man you would assume is psychotic if you didn't know better.  There is absolutely no one else close to similar to this band, so I'll compare the fast mode to PIL meets Karp.  Then there are the slow numbers, when Ed's voice sounds a little bit like he is channeling Ian Curtis, and the recordings were made inside of a cavernous abandoned cathedral.  These slow songs would almost be creepy if they weren't so damn enjoyable. 

The whole thing is eleven songs of blistering or morose glory, and barely over eleven songs long.  And listening to this debut album only has me more excited to see them play live again. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fossils - Meat Rush (Mastermind, 2010)

Meat Rush

Rating: 7 hauntingly beautiful recesses out of 10

From Denmark, I randomly saw this duo known as Fossils play a free gig here in town on tour with punkers Cola Freaks at least a year ago if not longer.  I bought their record and promptly forgot about it, only just now getting around to listening to it.  It's exactly as I remember them live - heavy, instrumental math-metal, most closely related to Big Business but not as fuzzy.  Like BB, this pair is just drums and bass, and each song pummels from start to finish.  You'd expect it to get old but I found myself enjoying it just as much during the final song of the record as I did with the first song.  This might be a tough find, so allow me to point you toward their bandcamp page where you can pick it up for only five foreign bucks. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Allo Darlin' - Europe (Slumberland, 2012)

Allo Darlin'

Rating: 8 blue skies out of 10

I would have given this sophomore Allo Darlin' release a high score based solely on the second song of the album, "Capricornia."  As it stands it's the runaway leader for my coveted "song of the year" category.  Luckily, this band is no one trick pony, and the rest of the record is damn near as good - "Northern Lights" is also stellar.  Catchy twee pop from start to finish - I described it to a friend as a more upbeat, less depressed Camera Obscura.  And by "friend" I probably wrote it somewhere, maybe here, on another release of theirs.  No matter, it's a fitting descriptor either way.  No sophomore jinx here at all. 

Fantastic live band too - had the privilege of seeing them play recently and Elizabeth Morris' voice is just as fantastic live as it is on record, maybe even more so.  In two records she's jumped very high on my list of favorite female vocalists.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shearwater - Animal Joy (Sub Pop, 2012)

Animal Joy
Sub Pop

Rating: out of 10

Shearwater have made another album of really pretty folk rock.  I've thought and thought about what else needs to be said about this record, but I'm kinda at a loss. I mean I could get all blabbery about Will Sheff, Okkervil River, and former relationships, but I'm not sure how much anyone really gives a shit about all that nonsense after this many albums released.  If you've not listened to Shearwater by now, this is as good a place to start as anywhere.  And I'll take them over Okkervil River, for the record. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Wrong Words - I Will Change Your Mind 7'' (Trouble In Mind, 2012)

The Wrong Words
I Will Change Your Mind 7''
Trouble In Mind

Rating: 7 pairs of driving gloves out of 10

The Wrong Words know pop songs.  If their full-length from last year didn't convince you, then this single should do the trick.  And if neither of those things work, you are a stupid stupidhead loser who hates all the good things in the world like puppies and pizza and laughing at fat people falling off of mechanical bulls.  The A-side "I will Change Your Mind" has actual hot guitar lixx (the x's mean it's extra awesome), and the B-side is a goddamn ear worm, stuck in my head from the first listen.  There are so very few power pop outfits these days, but at least the ones we do have, like the Wrong Words, are doing top work.  I was always told quality is better than quantity anyways. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Death Grips - The Money Store (Epic, 2012)

Death Grips
The Money Store

Rating: 5 football cleats out of 10

Not sure if it was a conscious decision, but apparently Death Grips decided that this generation needed their own version of Roni Size.  I was not supriprised at all to learn that Hella drummer and all-around weirdo Zach Hill is one of the players behind this.  To this day he remains one of the most amazing live performers I've ever's just too bad I don't enjoy his recorded material more. Like much of Zach's work, this is just interesting enough to catch my ear, but not enjoyable enough to make me come back for more. It does make me want to revisit my Dalek albums though, a band of similar ilk who I prefer.  Probably an awesome live band though, as that is the case with anything Zach Hill related. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jeff The Brotherhood - Live at Third Man (Third Man, 2011)

Jeff The Brotherhood
Live at Third Man
Third Man

Rating: 9 cheap jacuzzis out of 10

My love of Jeff the Brotherhood is probably getting to the point where I can't really objectively review anything they release, because everything they touch is gold as near as I can tell.  This record is exactly as the title says - the band performing live at Jack White's Third Man Records.  The date on the record itself is 10-01-2010, so I'll assume that is when they recorded it, then it got released last year.  I mean, you're probably only going to buy a live record of a band you already love right?  So let's work under the assumption that you're already a fan.  So then the most important question is the same as it is for any live album - how is the recording?  In this case, stellar.  A+.  I honestly don't think you could ask for it to sound better.  Hell, for my money it sounds better than most studio albums.  I want to make love to this record.  Uh, I think I went to far. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (Fat Possum, 2012)

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Fat Possum

Rating: 8 presidential hockey sticks out of 10

Why does it feel like forever since Spiritualized put out a record, even though "Songs in A & E" came out in 2008?  Is it some statement on the timelessness of their albums, or maybe I'm just full of shit?  Likely both.  What I do know is it's four years later, and they've released another orchestral noise pop gem in "Sweet Heart, Sweet Light."  At this point I'm guessing most folks interested in Spiritualized already know what they are getting into - huge, cinematic movements backed by string sections and choruses and...listen, they're "big" goddamn songs.  This album is honestly more of the same, but who is going to argue with that?  It's an complete joy from the first listen, and certainly one of the best records so far this first half of 2012. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Mary Onettes - Love Forever EP (Labrador, 2012)

The Mary Onettes
Love Forever EP

Rating: 7 fever dreams out of 10

The Mary Onettes are from Sweden.  Not surprisingly, they play some really nice pop music.  I always wonder if it's the legacy of Abba that has led to so many good Swedish pop bands, or it is something about Sweden itself that produced Abba and all of the subsequent pop bands?  

This particular band is more from the Radio. Dept brand of dark, Factory Records-inspired pop, as opposed to the shimmery upbeat output of someone like Acid House Kings.  The vocals may not match the Cure, but musically there are more than a few moments that could easily be confused with that band (we'll leave the vocal comparisons to the Cure to fellow Swedes the Shout Out Louds).  It's a very enjoyable 15 minutes of music, certainly output befitting the reputation of their label.  I'd always sorta put off listening to this band because of their silly fake girl group I'm greatly looking forward to their upcoming full-length. 

Beach House - Lazuli 7'' (Sub Pop, 2012)

Beach House
Lazuli 7''
Sub Pop

Rating: 6.5 even lines out of 10

Released for Record Store Day 2012, this new Beach House single is limited to 2400 copies.  2400?  Can you still use the world "limited"?  Anyways, the A side is "Lazuli" and can also be found on the upcoming record.  Nice song, feels like most of the rest of the breezy, shimmery slightly depressed pop the band has been making for a while.  The B side, "Equal Mind," appears to be exclusive to this release.  It's actually the better of the two tracks, though I couldn't explain why.  Would make a nice addition to a rainy day mixtape. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gross Ghost - Brer Rabbit (Grip Tapes, 2012)

Gross Ghost
Brer Rabbit
Grip Tapes

Rating: 7 reprocessed actions out of 10

After having seen Gross Ghost play live so many times and only now listening to their new record "Brer Rabbit," I'm trying to reconcile the two different faces of the band.  Live, while I wouldn't call them a snarling beast, they do have some growl and snap to them.  They have an almost pop-punk sound ala local heroes Superchunk, playing songs you wouldn't be surprised to hear in a skate video.  But this recording is an entirely different beast - still enjoyable, just in a different way.  It's much more of a jangly indie-pop affair, many of the songs downright mellow, subdued, or dare I say it dreamy.  The only track that really seems to capture their live energy is the best song, "Devious," which has always been one of my favorites at their live shows. 

With this first full-length now released, I can only imagine there will be folks going to see Gross Ghost live for the first time, wondering why all the songs from the album are so amped up.  Hopefully they enjoy both sides of the band like I do, because they've put out one of my favorite local records of the year so far, and are always fun to see live.