Tuesday, August 25, 2009


30 Second Reviews from 8/19

Record Reviews: Modest Mouse B-Sides

Felix Da Housecat
He Was King
SOUNDS LIKE: Chi-town DJ’s euro-dance record after years of techno, electroclash and house records; still requires binky and cargo pants.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Rave music is like porn: you know it when you hear/see it.
FOR FANS OF: Cut Copy, ecstasy

Mind Control
SOUNDS LIKE: Days of the New-founded
radio-friendly adult alternative rock with a husky-voiced, long-haired rings-wearing douchey lead singer.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Too soft for punk, it’s probably your God-loving that makes this record stink.
FOR FANS OF: Daughtry, Linkin Park, Nickelback

Tom Brosseau
Posthumous Success
SOUNDS LIKE: The North Dakota veteran’s newest is his biggest, most indie-rock sound filled out by organs, banjo and accordion.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Joins Lawrence Welk, Peggy Lee and Louis L’Amour in the N.D. Hall of Fame.
FOR FANS OF: Nick Drake, open mic nights

Modest Mouse
No One’s First, And You’re Next
SOUNDS LIKE: Some B-sides and unreleased tracks from previous two records, surprisingly acceptable and not re-packaged bullshit.
FREE ASSOCIATION: The old stuff is good, for sure, but Johnny Marr’s keepin’ ‘em relevant.
FOR FANS OF: Good News..., We Were Dead...

SOUNDS LIKE: Two brilliant Vancouver boys drumming/
wailing on guitar and shout-singing in unison about girls, drinking, the rain.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Two-person lo-fi fuzz rock has never sounded so friggin’ awesome.
FOR FANS OF: Thermals, No Age, rock

See Mystery Lights
Sounds like: The brains/beats behind the Blow, Portland arty-boy Jona Bechtolt’s second DFA LP is a delight of rhythm and electricity.
FREE ASSOCIATION: The perfect soundtrack for parties, sex, exercise, trips, studies and more.
FOR FANS OF: The Blow, LCD Soundsystem

Still Life Still
Girls Come Too
Sounds like: Debut LP from Toronto indie rockers—soaring guitars, healthy percussion, catchy hooks and swelling vocals.
FREE ASSOCIATION: MAN, Arts & Crafts keeps spewing out epic indie poppers. Broken Social Who?
FOR FANS OF: Grizzly Bear, Canada

Joe Henry
Blood From Stars
Sounds like: Indie songwriter mainstay who’s changed his style from jazzy blues to folksy country; his third thoughtfully sad LP for Anti-.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Boozy, rainy day breakup music that makes you write an epic love letter.
FOR FANS OF: Tom Waits, Nick Cave

30 Second Reviews from 8/12

Record Reviews: Amanda Blank, Simple Minds

Amanda Blank
I Love You
SOUNDS LIKE: The filthy Philly princess finally gives us what she’s got: a dank bag of club gems, hot collabs and sexy-time anthems.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Keep droppin’ these Diplo/Switch projects and we’ll keep listening.
FOR FANS OF: Parties, sex, dancing, fashion

Bobby Bare Jr.
The American Bread EP
SOUNDS LIKE: The gravelly-voiced Tennessean’s newest is a 22-minute mix of covers and originals, all of em’ hauntingly awesome sad-bastard Americana bliss.
FREE ASSOCIATION: His lungs are black and he’s full of wisdom.
FOR FANS OF: America, Dylan, Neil Young

Erika Jayne
Pretty Mess
SOUNDS LIKE: Tall, blond, busty Atlanta electro diva’s debut is set to be funneled to the nearest gay dance floor.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Primed to cat fight Lady Gaga off the charts.
FOR FANS OF: Britney à la Blackout

Simple Minds
Graffiti Soul
SOUNDS LIKE: The post-punk boys from Glasgow are still trying to live down the brilliance of that Molly Ringwald/Judd Nelson kiss.
FREE ASSOCIATION: This is the year of ‘80s bands giving it another go, it seems.
FOR FANS OF: Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears

Patrick Wolf
The Bachelor
SOUNDS LIKE: Dramatic chamber-, baroque-, indie-,folk-pop from the charmingly androgynous Brit using ukeleles, synths, pianos and strings.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Kind of Morrisseying with that emo, artsy ambiguous sexiness, aren’t you?
FOR FANS OF: Bowie, the United Kingdom

Where Were You When It Happened?
SOUNDS LIKE: Israeli maniacs; a trio of voice, guitar and drums capable of destroying venues, soundsystems, minds and perfectly good nights.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Tel Aviv will have nothing to do with these crazy bastards.
FOR FANS OF: Gritty, sweaty, smelly good times

Depart From Me
SOUNDS LIKE: Some deep, dark ish. A white rapper whose dad was a junkie. He was too, but now he’s working that Atmosphere, El-P, RJD2 tip.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Don’t get high to this. Trust, it will bug you the eff out.
FOR FANS OF: Psychology, prozac

The Subdudes
Flower Petals
SOUNDS LIKE: After 20 years these N’Orleans boys still got the blues, are still strummin’ on banjos, and still no drummer.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Really real gutter blues, forget those String Cheese Accident boys.
FOR FANS OF: Gumbo, fifths, breezes

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I took tons of photos at the GGD show, there are more at Philadelphia Weekly's Multimedia section.


Live Review: Gang Gang Dance live at Kungfu Necktie

Noise music. It's an acquired taste. Sometimes, it seems, it takes the most esoteric and cerebral of folks to enjoy it - those who can disassociate all their senses of what makes a song a good song because they're artists themselves, they relish in chaos or, perhaps unannoyingly, seek something totally weird. Tuesday night at Kungfu Necktie was a presentation of the whole range; from weirdo noise to totally crowd-pleasing groove-heavy dance jams, an audience was exposed to a night of arty music. A stinky, sweaty, hot August night of avant-guard music and the payoff was worth it.

I haven't acquired that taste. Mincemeat or Tenspeed stood in front of a folding table of knobs and played a rhythmic, electro set of four songs that couldn't be called anything other than noise. One curly-haired gentleman rocked his head so violently, barely slowing his cadence to the slower moments, that I was able to draw a conclusion; he must be REALLY into this shit, or, REALLY into noise. I understand a bit more about noise music because I spoke to a couple who enjoyed the set - he waxed esoteric on the meaning of making sounds be it from a traditional instrument or just pushing a button. I offered a distaste for a set of knob-tweaking, torso-bobbing machine-manipulation and that seemed to come off as narrow-minded. I was reminded of the LCD Soundsystem lyrics from "Losing My Edge." James Murphy sings "I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an apreggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real." Very tongue-in-cheek, he follows with "I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables."

The point is: modern music is a mind-fuck of sounds, a huge range and our post-modern world provides musicians innumerable ways of creating sounds from other sounds (samples, loops, laptops, synths, beats, etc.). But your creativity with these sounds would be what sets you apart from the two year old banging on baby's first Casio, right? Gang Gang Dance takes it all and molds it into one of the most body-moving, percussion-heavy multi-genre collection of sounds in recent memory. Animal Collective comes to mind - a band who brings grooves out of chaos and employs chanting, carnality and indigenous sounds with samples and synths.

Middle act Hex Message, GGD's tour partner from New York, was an appropriate middle man in this transition from hard noise to infectious dance music. With GGD there is a heavy emphasis on percussion and rhythms but not necessarily from a machine. The lead singer, Liz Bougatsos, put her mallot-style drumsticks down only for a few songs. She sang in front of a collection of bongos, a bass drum, cymbal and high-hat and filled in near-silences with drum and cymbal rolls. Brian Degraw, accepting keys, percussion and synth responsibilities, also held drumsticks in his hand most of the night and achieved some of the band's worldbeat reputation by playing a drum pad like steel drums. Guitarist Josh Diamond tweaked a stack full of black boxes which seemed responsible for the trumpet sounds on one song. But of course the stellar drumming of the full-on drummer drummer, Tim DeWitt, is what pulls the performance together. He is a mad man and his drums filled that little room like they needed to.

There was a moment in nearly every song that you were waiting for, when seemingly disparate elements were brought together by a crash of drums or the introduction of a new rhythm. Each song picked up momentum and by the end, the crowded room was moving and swaying like a hippified festival set. They took it there. Eight to ten minute songs dominated by a tribal-flavored beat were reminiscent of house and trance songs, and yet, strangely, also of jam bands like moe. and, yes, our illustrious Disco Biscuits. A far, far cry from the opening band's set of "noise."

This is a slightly longer version of what appeared on Make Major Moves.

30 Second Reviews from 8/5

Ramona Falls
SOUNDS LIKE: Portland behemoth Menomena’s Brent Knopf’s solo project is a spacey, keys-heavy indie rock hike in the woods.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Everything these boys do is golden, wonky, artsy bliss.
FOR FANS OF: Beards, plain Ts, modesty

The Most Serene Republic
... And the Ever Expanding Universe
SOUNDS LIKE: Some whispery serenity on the Canadian collective’s fourth LP, but also loud, fast, dramatic crescendos.
FREE ASSOCIATION: What are they drinking in Toronto? It breeds deeply epic songs.
FOR FANS OF: Apostle of Hustle, Broken Social Scene

Talbot Tagora
Lessons in the Woods or a City
SOUNDS LIKE: Reverb-heavy rock from Seattle kids who yelp, shout nonstop and wail on their instruments.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Sweaty, ripped T-shirts and long black hair is in there somewhere.
FOR FANS OF: Oneida, Deerhunter, volume

La Coka Nostra
A Brand You Can Trust
SOUNDS LIKE: Basically House of Pain reincarnate, Everlast goes 50x harder with this rap supergroup shouting about guns.
FREE ASSOCIATION: HOP goes to L.A., gets blunted with Cypress Hill, goes gangsta.
FOR FANS OF: Long shorts, bandanas, strippers.

Baby Teeth
Hustle Beach
SOUNDS LIKE: Influenced by ’70s/’80s cheese rock/pop (Hall & Oates, ELO), and it rocks and grooves real good.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Heavy synth and cowbell; one of these Chi-town dudes must have a mullet or variation thereof.
FOR FANS OF: Chicago, Kansas, Boston

Sugar Ray
Music for Cougars
SOUNDS LIKE: The California tool brigade knows no one’s waiting for this record, but give it to you anyway.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Setting Mark McGrath’s firing from Extra to Auto-Tune.
FOR FANS OF: Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind

Portugal. The Man
The Satanic Satanist
SOUNDS LIKE: Wasilla, AK, redeems itself with a great weird rock band like this one; arty, psycho, rhythmic, curiously well-crafted.
FREE ASSOCIATION: The best album packaging you’ll ever see, though the music shines independently.
FOR FANS OF: Yeasayer, Jane’s Addiction, the Lips

SOUNDS LIKE: Strummy, sun-kissed Americana from New York boys in Western shirts with hints of Spoon, Jason Collett.
FREE ASSOCIATION: No one will accuse you of being offensive, ever.
FOR FANS OF: Wilco, Ryan Adams

30 Second Reviews from 7/21

The Dead Weather
SOUNDS LIKE: Jack White brings members of the Kills and Queens of the Stone Age together for a hazy, bad-ass record.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Glad his Whiteness got behind the kit and away from a mic.
FOR FANS OF: White Stripes, Raconteurs, the Kills

Nixon’s Head
Enemies List
SOUNDS LIKE: Philly’s stellar garage poppers resurface with a love for Nick Lowe but their own infectious, three-minute song recipe.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Like Elvis Costello, Kinks and Bangles wrapped in tie-dye.
FOR FANS OF: Tambourines, retro dance moves

Laurent Korcia
SOUNDS LIKE: Sexy Frenchman violinist performs classic movie songs (think Mission Impossible) on this snoozefest.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Looks cannot make classical music fun and current. It’s for old people.
FOR FANS OF: Vivaldi, diamond/Lexus commercials

SOUNDS LIKE: Soul from a long-lost pop star whose first record in eight years has a gorgeous love song/hump song dynamic.
FREE ASSOCIATION: How did we make love without your music for so long, Maxwell?
FOR FANS OF: Erykah Badu, Marvin Gaye

The National Rifle
Man Full of Trouble EP
SOUNDS LIKE: Upbeat Philly indie rock with a heavy-handed bassist (we likey!), some horns, female backing vocals and all the fixins.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Two sick EPs, this is a local band’s LP to look forward to.
FOR FANS OF: The National, the NRA

The Least Bad of Humbleman: 1984-2009
SOUNDS LIKE: Die-hard Philly boys rehash their bar-filled past with 25 years of “hits”; and some “Oh, dear” moments.
FREE ASSOCIATION: From half-black to all white, motorcycles to Schwinns, boots to Chucks.
FOR FANS OF: The Boss meets Marley

Gather, Form & Fly
SOUNDS LIKE: Effortless, beautiful folk-rock with a healthy dose of plucking, harmonizing and steady drumming.
FREE ASSOCIATION: You guys blow that face-painted Devendra tool out of the water.
FOR FANS OF: Califone or Calexico

Levon Helm
Electric Dirt
SOUNDS LIKE: The Band drummer’s second comeback after cancer is a gumbo of blues, spirituals and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll!
FREE ASSOCIATION: Those Arkansas roots sho is showin’ with all this talk a dirt, Mista Helm.
FOR FANS OF: Dylan, the Band, moonshine

30 Second Reviews from 7/29

Bad Veins
Bad Veins
SOUNDS LIKE: Cincinatti duo’s debut LP is carefully crafted indie rock flavored with the Killers and the Walkmen.
FREE ASSOCIATION: How many times can you shun the phrase “buzz band” in a bio?
FOR FANS OF: Skinny white-boy rock

The Duke & The King
Nothing Gold Can Stay
SOUNDS LIKE: Slow, sad-bastard folk from a Felice Brother and drummer “Chicken” Burke that feels homey, warm and sunny.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Like Iron & Wine the way you want it, with percussion and not so whispery.
FOR FANS OF: Ray LaMontagne, Van Morrison

Maia Sharp
SOUNDS LIKE: Seasoned songwriter (Lisa Loeb, Cher, Dixie Chicks) works on her own stuff after touring and recording with Bonnie Raitt.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Lady music cocktail of Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow and Mrs. Etheridge.
FOR FANS OF: Lilith Fair

Sam & Ruby
The Here and the Now
SOUNDS LIKE: Wisconsin boy sounds like John Mayer/Mraz + Ghana-born girl who sounds like Norah Jones x Nashville = cheese.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Songs about love and relationships make it worse.
FOR FANS OF: Cheddar, Muenster, Gouda

Owl City
Ocean Eyes
SOUNDS LIKE: Minnesotan with a synth, worn-out Postal Service record, “Aw shucks” shyness and bad taste.
FREE ASSOCIATION: You should’ve tried harder to not sound like Give Up remixes.
FOR FANS OF: Ben Gibbard

Category F5
SOUNDS LIKE: The Chi-town speed-rapper drops his seventh LP with a dozen guest spots, slow jams and unintelligible lyrics.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Despite guest spots (Busta, Kells), it still ain’t bangin’.
FOR FANS OF: Do or Die, bling, bravado

Leave This Town
SOUNDS LIKE: The Idol loser’s sophomore effort with a carefully selected band to back his tired modern rock shtick.
FREE ASSOCIATION: 4.5 million Americans bought his debut. Welcome to the apocalypse.
FOR FANS OF: Fuel, Live, Puddle of Mudd

Rob Thomas
SOUNDS LIKE: The Matchbox Twenty tool infuses world beats, corny ’80s and ’90s pop cliches and seriousness to head further downhill.
FREE ASSOCIATION: Nothing here as good as the terrible “Lonely No More.”
FOR FANS OF: Robert Palmer, Sting at his most annoying