i hate the sound of guitars

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Sep 2011

01 Oct 2011 · No Comments

Every new release I listened to in September (58)

  • Bangles – Sweetheart of the Sun
  • Bridge and Tunnel – “Bridge and Tunnel” (EP)
  • Bridge and Tunnel – Rebuilding Year
  • Brief Candles – Fractured Days
    Apparently they prefer “dream-pop” and “blissrock” to “shoegaze.” Poh-TAY-toe, Poh-TAH-toe . . .
  • Glen Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas
    I admit it. It was knowing Campbell tackled a Bob Pollard tune (”Hold on Hope”) that made me want to hear this, and — despite my enduring love for several of Campbell’s classics — I expected to hear it as a bit of a joke. It’s true that producer/arranger/co-writer Julian Raymond is a bit, um, florid for my taste (I guess “countrypolitan” might be the polite version?), but Campbell’s presence and the undeniable talents of a dizzying array of unlikely collaborators (Billy Corgan and Dick Dale on the same album? Strange but true.) carry the day. Liked it much more, and much less ironically, than I expected to.
  • Caves – Homeward Bound
  • Civit – Love & War
  • Kelly Clarkson – “Mr. Know It All” (single)
  • Cloud Seeding (featuring Marissa Nadler) – “Ink Jar/Unquestioning” (single)
    Two atmospheric, echo-laden tracks that may me curious about Cloud Seeding without the guest vocalist. The A-side is more propulsive, with a chorus that rises from hazy languor to be kinda catchy (it’s a Mazzy Star-ish, maybe). The wordless “Unquestioning” is more diaphanous. And Nadler’s chilly, multi-layered harmonies on both tracks are gorgeous.
  • Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien
    Ballsy wide-screen stuff. Makes me want to revisit their first, which didn’t live up to the hype for me. Needs (and will get) more listening time.
  • Deathspell Omega – “Diabolus Absconditus” (EP)
    I’m decidedly not down with the lyrical content of this French black metal outfit, and I’m not likely to cue up the single album-side long composition that constitutes this EP often … but about 11 minutes in there’s a 4 and a half minute quiet section that’s kind of amazing. Low volume, pretty, even pastoral . . . but still disquieting, not to say creepy. Bits like this are one of the reasons I still have an interest in modern metal.
  • Kris Delmhorst – Cars
    Americana-type Delmhorst records a set of tracks from the Cars’ career. I think early Cars > middle Cars (starting with Panorama) >> late Cars (starting with Heartbeat City). My opinion of the originals carries over to Delmhorst’s reworkings. She doesn’t joke her readings up too much and hearing a cello carry the chorus riff of “Just What I Needed” (perhaps the strongest track overall) is surprisingly fun.
  • Dobla Platina – “Marzo” (single)
  • The Drums – Portamento
    The Drums’ plundering of 80s sounds and textures seems pretty blatant (and, I have to think, knowing). But what makes it work for me is the juxtaposition of sources: “What You Were” is a bit like a Cocteau Twins tunes sung by Morrissey; “Money” evokes late Talking Heads, early Depeche Mode, adds a screechy falsetto that’s horrible in a good way, and for good measure throws in a dash of harmonica that’s pure genius. If Girl Talk was a band with instruments instead of a sampling/editing entity, it might be not totally unlike The Drums.
  • Andrea Echeverri – Dos
  • EMA – “The Grey Ship” (single)
  • EMA – Past Live Martyred Saints
  • Evangelista – In Animal Life
    Not only does Carla Bozulich, formerly of the Geraldine Fibbers, Scarnella, etc., have a new band, it’s not really that new anymore and there’s a backlog to explore! The Internets have failed me yet again. In Animal Tongue is clattery, spooky and generally awesome. RIYL late Swans, late Tom Waits, or Book of Knots.
  • Family Lumber – “Look to the Sidelines” (EP)
  • Fjorden Baby! – Se Deg Rundt i Rommet
  • Fungi Girls – Some Easy Magic
    I was surprised to learn that this lo-fi/garage/surf effort is from a trio of young guys, coz they sound like they could have been doing this for a while. Sometimes trashy drum sounds make me very happy, and they do here.
  • Jason Grier & Nite Jewel – “Heart Shaped” (EP)
    Cohesive this ain’t. Couple disco-ish numbers, well-enough-executed I guess, but without the irony or unusual arrangement details crucial to my enjoyment of such things, three songs that are much more to my taste (less groove oriented, moodier, more experimental), and one fairly challenging piece with a chopped-up tape aesthetic and most instruments processed to (or beyond) the brink of recognizability. I liked the whole thing better the second time through than the first.
  • High Castle – Spirit of the West
    If you’re gonna put a saw blade on the cover of your LP, I say you better live up to it. High Castle do. Nasty, nasty guitar tone — think early Mission of Burma, or Blind Idiot God — with in-your-face up-front drums and willfully pitch indifferent vocals. Neat trick: the songs are mostly two-minutes and some-odd, but they feel even shorter. I bet this band clears a lotta rooms. That’s okay, leaves more space for the rest of us to windmill around in suitably deranged fashion. (If you need a RIYL, try Parts & Labor).
  • Hong Kong in the 60s – My Fantoms
  • HTRK – “Eat Yr Heart/Sweetheart” (single)
  • Johnny Foreigner – “(Don’t) Show Us Your Fangs/The Hand That Slaps You Back” (single)
    It’s like this band crawls into my head when I’m asleep and digs around until they figure out combinations of sounds that are going to completely delight me. And then they make records of them.
  • Tommy Keene – Behind the Parade
    By now you probably know what to expect: tasteful, melancholy jangle pop with some finely observed lyrics and worthy hooks. Yup, that’s what you get. There’s also a longish layered synth instrumental.
  • Key Losers – California Lite
  • The Kills – Blood Pressures
  • Kittie – I’ve Failed You
    Cookie monster vocals aside, this was more grunge-y, less metallic than I expected. I kept thinking of Alice in Chains.
  • Love Boat – Love is Gone
  • Night Birds – Fresh Kills Vol 1.
    Fresh Kills collects the Night Birds discography from the 2009 demo through the 2011 single “Midnight Movies.” Like another post-The Ergs! project, Psyched to Die, Night Birds does such dead-on early-eights West Coast hardcore that they could only exist on the East Coast, now. There are even some surf-y moments, like early Agent Orange (although the perfect bill for them woulda probably featured Fear and the Circle Jerks).
  • Night Birds – The Other Side of Darkness
  • Nurses – Dracula
  • Bill Orcutt – How the Thing Sings
    Man, this guy sounds like he hates his guitar. And maybe like he hates songs, too. The album cover is an array of plectra, but if someone told me he used coins to assault his strings, I’d believe it. That’s because I’m dumb enough to have tried it — it sounds nasty, clanky, and buzzy, and so does this record. There’s ample evidence that Orcutt has serious, for-real technical chops, but his fragmented lines and elastic timing also evoke the joyful primitivism of someone attacking the instrument for the first time. It’s an acoustic guitar record that’s more deserving of the adjective “brutal” than most of the metal I’ve heard this year. If this description whets your appetite, you really need to hear this.
  • Razika – “Vondt i hjertet” (single)
  • Razika and Real Ones – “Ingen kommer unna politikken” (single)
  • Razika – Program 91
  • Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip
    I don’t care for shamelessly derivative bands that come off like a pale imitation of the original, but I’m OK with shamelessly derivative bands that manage some tracks worthy of their templates. So, yeah, Ringo Deathstarr should probably be paying royalties to MBV and JAMC, and maybe The Primitives to boot, but “Do It Every Time,” with its Calvin Johnson creak offset by wispy female backing echos on the chorus and the word “cardigan,” is such a buzzsaw bubblegum delight that I can’t bring myself to care.
  • St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
  • Sleep ∞ Over – Forever
  • Something Fierce – Don’t Be So Cruel
  • Sons and Daughters – Mirror Mirror
  • Tommy Stinson – One Man Mutiny
  • Street Eaters – Rusty Eyes and Hydrocarbons
  • Matthew Sweet – Modern Art
  • Swimming Elephants – “Swimming Elephants” (single)
  • Torpedo Rodeo – “Nightmare” (EP)
  • Various Artists – Take It Or Leave It – A Tribute To the Queens of Noise: The Runaways
  • Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
    I liked the singles “Beachy Head” and “Found Love in a Graveyard” quite well, but the long-awaited LP is even better than I was hoping. Veronica Falls meld lo-fi scrappy ‘tude, C86/twee and 80’s college-rock jangle (there are a handful of overtly Marr-ish moments; Beat Happening also comes to mind know and then). Some really lovely work here, pretty without being dull. Ample variation in mood and sonic color makes for a thoroughly enjoyable end-to-end listen.
  • Twin Sister – In Heaven
  • Wartgore Hellsnicker – “Moderate Rock” (EP)
  • The Wax Museums – Eye Times
    Jittery lo-fi punk with awesome lyrics about oddball topics like a bad sunburn and the Tunguska event. Grating-on-purpose (I assume) vocals softened by some ace harmony work. “Breakfast for Dinner” has got to be the funniest dirty song of the year. It’s prolly just coz I’m old, but this reminds me weirdly of XTC when they were almost kinda punk (Go 2 and earlier).
  • The Wiggly Tendrils – Sad Songs for Cell Phones (Volume 1)
  • Wilco – The Whole Love
  • Wild Flag – Wild Flag
  • Chelsea Wolfe – Apokalypsis
  • Xray Eyeballs – “Crystal” (single)

Tags: 2011 · monthly

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