Saturday, December 30, 2006

Album Reviews 2006

So Many Dynamos - Flashlights

Ever since Jaosn posted these guys as one of the SHZine bands of the day I have been hooked on them. As Jaosn mentions, they have great mathy riffs and make good use of the synth.

I haven't heard their earlier stuff, but this album has a definite Dismemberment Plan feel, mixed in with a good measure of Faraquet-esque snappy math pop. My favourite song has to be the all-over-the-place "We Vibrate, We Do" that runs along from screeching chaos to disco dancing beats reminiscent of Need New Body.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

The Bicycles - The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly
Fuzzy Logic

Considering I used to work with the drummer of this band, I'm suprised to realize how long it took me to actually listen to them. This is a really fun album, and not in the dance-punk way some might assume by the word 'fun'.

The vintage feels of their sound takes you back to 60s and 70s pop rock, mostly resembling the genius of Mark Bolan. A lot of the musical goodness comes from the album's excellent production quality; many of the songs sound like they've been recorded and made the charts years and years ago.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Red-Eyed Soul
Chunksaah Records

Brooklyn's punk cabaret ensemble released this full length last July and recently finished touring with Subhumans (U.K.). If you've heard anything about this group it may have been about their legendary Hallowmas shows every Hallowe'en when they march down the streets at the end of their set.

This new album starts off with the same jump kick heard on their Just the Best Party release with a swinging rhythm, horns, xylophones, jangly punk guitars and Jack Terricloth's most recognizable and almost big band style singing. Much of the rest of the album kind of slumps for me, though, when the songs become less energetic (but still dance-able) and veer towards their own style of folk ballads. One of the better tracks is Annie the Imaginary Lawyer with its easily learned "Fuck you! Go shopping!" sing along chorus line. Then it goes into this "imaginary annie" part that reminds of of Michael Jackson's "Annie are you ok" line from Smooth Criminal.

Anyway, they're a very fun band that I've been wanting to see for a long time, so be sure to check them out if they ever come out your way.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

Damien Jurado - And Now That I'm In Your Shadow
Secretly Canadian

This is Damien Jurado's eighth full length album and it's as tried and true as his first that was released almost ten years ago. Back then, though, you'd come across a few more upbeat tracks while his latest is a more laidback voyage.

One of the great surprises about this album is the inclusion of Shannon Rhodes, an old song that he's only performed live until now (I always thought it was 'Shannon Rose'). I saw Damien perform most of these songs while he was in town a couple weeks ago and it was fantastic.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

Judith and Holofernes - Abraça a Tristeza
Vanguard Squad

Whiskey, sex, and death. You wouldn't think these things of Judith and Holofernes just by listening to their music (unless you have that sort of twisted mind), because they're not just another bar rock band trying to come off as bad ass. The third full length from this San Fansisco-based group shows a continuation of what they do best.

The music is soft and playful, but the lyrics are downright gloomy. There's less of female backup Tracy Hobbs' vocals on this record, which is something I found myself missing when I think back to the male-famale dynamic of the first record. However, singer Dos Da Rosa still manages to impress with his air of raw and dramatic emotion.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

Patrol - Destinations
Stiff Slack Records

The first release from singer Doug Lorig's (Roadside Monument, Raft of Dead Monkeys) new project is finally here. Put out by Japan's Stiff Slack Records, this Seattle four-piece is no comparison to Lorig's former bands, with the exception of Black Eagle which bears a striking resemblance. This record has a definite Seattle sound to it; Lorig's unique vocals echo distantly over the grunge-metal tinged style, and the fullness of the sound is polished nicely by Matt Bayles' (Botch, Isis, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) production.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

Sagan - Unseen Forces
Vague Five

Recommended for music and science nerds alike, this debut two disc release (one CD and one DVD) by Sagan (Lesser, Blevin Blectum, Wobbly and Ryan Junell) pays tribute to the revered popularizer of science, Dr. Carl Sagan. The audio CD takes an immediate turn towards the atmospheric ambience and electronic trips that are characteristic with the artists involved in this project. With little effort at all, the listener is transported to other worlds, times and dimensions through the concentrated analysis of that which is ordinarily mundane. If you've seen Carl Sagan's Cosmos series you would understand the emphesis on big ideas and imagination that this record attempts to emulate in its own way.

The DVD, featuring nine lives shows and six hours of mp3s, is a little more visually interactive as can obviously be expected. The first part features people running around in the dark with flashlights and then moves on to scenes with modernized fictional encounters with Empedocles, Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe (played by Ryan Junell), Dr. Marie Curie (played by Blevin Blectum) and Dr. Pierre Curie (played by Lesser). There are also imitational hazy shots of Carl Sagan, who is played by Wobbly, raising his hands towards the sunset on a beach; a very comforting scene for fans of the real Sagan.

Check it: [website] [myspace]

12Twelve - L'Univers

I put this on and a bit of jazz comes on, like the old improv style from the 50s, bass, drum, trumpet, and I think okay it's just some sample they're trying to sound hip with, but it doesn't stop, and I realize that this is them and that it's great. Of course, being on an indie label they're going to need to have some sort of indie edge, which they do, but it fits. I'd say it's a lot like Do Make Say Think, but just more jazzy, and not like 'oh yeah these guys are, like, jazz influenced', I mean they actually play it.

Chaos For Comfort - Moments Aligned in Symmetry

So check out the name of the band, and the name of the album. You know it either has to be really good or really band. It turns out to be some new millennium version of U2 as a studio indie rock band. I'll let you decide for yourself if that's good or bad. However, given that they're an independent Canadian band that has songs easily playable on the radio, they get partial props for sounding so polished.

Volumen - Science Faction
Wäntage USA

My first impression of this band was that they sound like Queens of the Stone Age, and I hate that band. My coworkers like them, but I hate them. It turns out that Volumen doesn't sound that much like Queens of the Stone Age though, but I still don't like them. Maybe it's the out of place keyboard sounds; I usually hate that. It's pretty much just sub-par bar rock with an 'edge'. I usually don't bother reviewing these albums, but I felt like saying how much I hate Queens of the Stone Age.

The Field Register - Tire & Caster
Ships at Night

The majority of this epic pop-emo disc is bareable. The twangy guitar picking and progressive transitions are reminiscent of good days. It's also not all straight pop; the song Seven Four is one that has a seven-four beat (imagine that!). Just watch out when the vocals come in. Unless you're the type to weather an aquired taste or to wait for something to grow on you, there's a good chance the shaky moaning style of the vocalist will put you off.

Dwayne Sodahberk - Cut Open

A tranquil sounding release from this usually harder techno artist. Wow, I haven't used the word 'techno' since 1996. Soft guitar ballads are sprinkled with blips and bleeps, apparently making it more acessible to anyone who can't go two minutes without hearing something generated by a computer. The songs are well written, but whispering vocals have never gotten to me. If you like that kind of thing, and you want to tell your friends that you're 'into' Tigerbeat6, then this will be perfect for you.

Itch - Well Well Well Three Holes In The Ground
Big Scary Monster

I'm giving this album five stars because it's been too long since finding a new band I can really enjoy; that and it actually does deserve five stars. The disc wouldn't play on my computer, so I put off reviewing it for a while, but what did play on my computer was one a music video included on the album. In black and white, it shows the band playing in monkey masks or something, another thing I thoroughly enjoyed. The style is much like DBS, that old summertime GOOD emo sound. A lot of the riffs are mathy too, reminding me of one of my favourite bands Faraquet. I was suprised to learn these guys are from the UK, with the sound being so DC and Chicago area indie rock, but I suppose anything goes as long as you can put together a nice sounding record. Check out some of the songs at their profile.

AM Syndicate - Empire
Sickroom Records

I'm having a hard time putting my finger down on these guys. They have the college-art, indie cello rock going for them and everything, but there lacks a great deal of palatability. It's probably the vocals as most of the more 'dreamy' number come across as annoying; it's sort of like listening to some dreary opening act before a really awesome band comes on and plays the style way better.

The Sheds - The Sheds
Hub City Records

For a band out of Nanaimo that has just debuted this self-titled EP last fall, The Sheds are eeringly amazing at what they do. The vocals are a strong and soulful reminder of Young People singer Katie Eastburn, while the four songs are well-composed and articulated indie-pop treats. Currently climbing the Nanaimo college radio charts, their spread across the country should be deservedly anticipated.

No comments:

Post a Comment