Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pick Your Foot Up Off the Brakes.

The Mountain Goats - Dialudid (Marrtronix Version) - So, The Sunset Tree has finally dropped, and now I need to say something about it, because it's probably the best album of the year so far. It's wierdly off-putting at first, in much the same way I think, that people expected Tallahassee and We Shall All Be Healed to be. The thing is, Darnielles been working with a full band for 3 albums now, but for the first 2 of those, he was still telling the same stories as always - it gave things a continuity that easily haded off the cries of "sellout!" But now, the stories John is telling are his own. And Dilaudid is the final buildup in an opening quintet that explodes into the riotous, raucous "Dance Music" as the albums first climax. On album, Dilaudid is tense tense tense, eschewing Johns guitar and bass in favor of a syrupy background of cellos while John D's proclamatory vocals lay down an ultimatum to a lover. The Marrtronix remix though, is something else. A B-side to the internet only Dilaudid Single (Availiable from 4AD records for just a few GB pounds - you can also get it from iTunes for 4 bucks.) The cello is replaced by a distinctly Smith's esque jangly guitar loop, which seems terribly out of place given Johns vocals. It desperately needs drums. But it's also compelling. The guitar has a hypnotic swirl after about 30 seconds or so, and I find it dangerous to listen to the song when driving - I end up doing what Darnielle tells me. And somebody, please, add drums to this. My own experiments with Garageband are distinctly lacking.

[Buy The Sunset Tree from!]

The Moaners - Too Many People - In setting up my music collection on my computer again, I got to go through a lot of albums I hadn't listened to in some time. Among those was The Moaners Dark Snack, and I had to check 2 or 3 times that I really, actually, NEVER got around to posting this gem. It's dirty southern bluespunk - think The Kills with less sex and more paranoia, or the Drive By Truckers with a bit of the rawness of X. Too Many People is almost claustrophobic - there's no space here, and the effect is to send shivers through a listener. Where most songs about urban sprawl take an outraged tack, going after the traditional punk rock tack of pluggin feelings of alienation and hostility to conformity, the Moaners instead create a song that makes it downright creepy. the idea of crowds, traffic, parking lots, it all becomes something to be terrified of rather than to hate.

[You can Stream 2 more tracks at Yep Roc Records website, and buy the album too!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Come on and Live.

The Computer is Repaired. The Music is Restored. It's time to boot this motherfucker back up and Push PLAY.

Spread the word: The Indie Kids, they are a Dancin' Again. And this time, there ain't no stoppin the music.

Sufjan Stevens - Come On, Feel the Illinoise - So, Sufjan Stevens has finished another state, moving south from Michigan and on to Illinois. And the tracklist should have been an indication that he's continued his long steady fall right off the deep end. And thank god. Because if he hadn't, we wouldn't have "Come On Feel The Illinoise," with it's surprisingly dancable horns and choirgirls and xylophones - Sufjan's gone vaudeville, like a whitebread David Byrne without the nervous stutter. Every time I try to listen to another track on Illinois, I end up struggling to suppress the urgge to skip back to this moment of magic. When the guitars and the string section take over and the song transitions into "Part II" we have something transcendant. I don't remember who it was that said Morrissey is trying to become the weird, gay, british indie Frank Sinatra, but it seems like Sufjan might be trying for crazy, christian, indie Sinatra title himself. And he's not falling too far from the mark on "Come On Feel the Illinois" - that whispering croon lacks the force of old Blue Eyes, but the backup singers are downright transformative - the MP3's genre tags may say folk, but thats hardly an appropriate label for this album. It's more vital, more kinetic, and perhaps most appropriately, more urban. Where Greetings from Michigan found it's urban moments in the joblessness of Flint and the desolation of Detroit, Illinois captures the hopeful vibrancy of the windy city on the lake, the constant transformation and rebuilding of a city thats probably been destroyed more times than any other city in America. There's a wierd optimism in that really.

[Illinois isn't availiable for Pre-order yet, but you can buy Michigan from Insound now to show Sufjan some love, and buy the new one when it drops in July.]

The Cloud Room - Devoured In Peace - Once upon a time, a Band sent me an Email. It had Two Songs in it. I posted one, and people seemed to love it very much. That band was The Cloud Room, and the song was entitled "Hey Now Now". Now, about 8 months later, suddenly The Cloud Room are Hot Shitâ„¢, and everyone seems to want a piece of them. So I'm going to post the other song they sent me. The recording is serious demo-quality here (it's why I posted "Hey Now Now" in October - this is a better song), but thats okay, because "Devoured in Peace" fucking rules. It's a schizophrenic song, at one point an empty, vocals and drums ballad, and at others a serious Bowie/Bolan rave up full of wordless singalong hooks and a keyboard part that, if thrown behind a debate about the relative merits of llamas and alpacas, would actually make said debate interesting. Thrown into this already incendiary song, and you have something magic. Ignore the tape hiss, ignore the hum, and hum along instead. Unlike other bands that have played the glam card recently, The Cloud Room aren't going for the straight up sleaze card, instead preferring to play on that slightly shady version of class evoked in their name - an old speakeasy in the Chrysler building - and in doing so, have hit on a serious winner.

[If you missed "Hey Now Now" in October, Insound has your back with an MP3, along with the bands fresh pressed full length record full of wondrous songs, and serious studio value. Grabitup!]

Also, The Residents are auctioning off an eyeball.

See ya tomorrow. F'realz.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Keith got the red card.

Hey folks, Chris from Uncritical here. Keith's having problems, as stated earlier. Thus, I arrive to fill in.

Midnight Movies - Blue Babies - Potentially my favorite track from Midnight Movies' self-titled debut album. People have remarked that its devoid of substance, but style rules the day in the 00s. Personally, I'm quite happy with a band who can so effectively echo the bands of the 80s who entranced me - and not in a sound-of-the-week, "We love Gang Of Four" dance rock reprise. Its the love for the artifacts and echoes of what Midnight Movies purvey that draw people to them, something I don't think Midnight Movies are necessarily against. This is the good side of the post-punk revival, style over substance without such drab style.

You can buy it from Insound.

We Are Wolves - La Nature - Bizarre floods and washes of sound emerge from We Are Wolves, striking down the non-believers and crushes naysayers. Jerky spasms that pass for vocals screech over a cunningly conceived mess of synthesizer and bass guitar, metronomic pace keeps the groove friendly, and the effects are never sparing. There's method to the mayhem and I expect some friendly attention to be paid to this trio as a carryover from the hype over fellow Montrealeans Les Georges Leningrad. They're already rocking Canadian radio charts and I'd love to see more people get on board with them. Can we have something this good as the Next Big Thing for once?

You can find more information at the Mintaka Conspiracy website, home to a whole pile of great acts.

Well wishes out to Keith's computer. Have it drink some ginger ale and go to bed early. That always works for me.