Tuesday, April 8, 2008

08 April 2008

shout out louds- our ill wills
In a sense, after a slew of EPs, singles, and 2005's Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (the U.S. version of which was reorganized and augmented with various tracks from said EPs and singles), this is Shout Out Louds' first proper full-length, and the incessant touring seems to have aged their sound like a fine wine. While Howl Howl Gaff Gaff reaped much of its flavor from twee indie pop and sheer ebullience, Our Ill Wills dives headlong into the new wave influences that previously lay beneath the surface. The inspiration is immediately apparent--Brit classics like The Cure, The Modern Lovers, The Smiths (one song--not a cover--is even titled "Meat is Murder"), et al. OK, the accent's different, but the upbeat-but-melancholy hop is undeniable. The pop perfection here is due in no small part to the man behind the boards, Björn Yttling (he of the sandwich-acronymed Peter, Björn and John). Simple string arrangements and washes of texture are draped over each song. Percussion by Yttling's bandmate, John Eriksson, perfectly augments most songs (further solidifying those Head on the Door era Cure comparisons). Witness the woodpecker woodblocks on "Impossible," or the the samba-esque a gogo bells of the first single, "Tonight I Have to Leave It," cleverly decorating its dour sing-song. "You Are Dreaming" is a slinky, tom-driven, lost-love rocker. Later in the album, playful but gut-wrenching naïve pop songs recall Moe Tucker's vocal on the Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking with You," like "Blue Headlights," with keyboardist Bebban's cracking question, "We are good people, aren't we?," and "Meat is Murder," a simple tearjerker with acoustic guitar, bells, and Adam Olenius' wistful tale. "Hard Rain" closes the album, its Cars keyboard lead no indicator of the upcoming noise jam to complete the album. Say what you will about influences on sleeves, this is pop music at its best: nostalgic and angst-ridden, but ultimately life-affirming. Shout Out Louds have found a winning formula. --Jason Pace


asobi seksu- citrus
It's hard to not like a good-looking, female-fronted, Brooklyn-based band whose name translates loosely as "playful sex." The obvious vocal comparisons are to shoegazers and goths of twelve to thirty years ago—Siouxsie, Spirea X, Lush, Kate Bush, and the Cocteauu Twins. Singing in Japanese and English, vocalist Yuki's heavily reverbed voice is sensual and strong at the same time. But there's more of a manic, vaguely garage band energy evident on Citrus, the group's sophomore release (a vast improvement over their scattered debut). It's clear now that they're far closer to Blondie than My Bloody Valentine or Loop. The band has a woozy sound, but it's also tightly controlled and highly melodic, propelled by Interpol-ish bass lines. It's not "original" music, but it is very pleasant stuff, the ideal soundtrack to a hot affair in some futuristic hotel tucked away downtown, or out near the airport. --Mike McGonigal


asobi seksu- self titled
shoegazey, pop from NY. band name means "playful sex". makes sense, i guess.

stratford 4- love and distortion
If modern rock seems to have sacrificed much of its forward motion for navel-gazing reassessments of its recent past, there are occasions when that back-to-the-future tack pays off with focused, compelling power. The second album by the psych-pop San Francisco quartet may draw on clear antecedents like Ride and My Bloody Valentine, but its tense sonic haze and the hypnotic lethargy of vocalist Chris Streng also variously evoke the urgent drama of early Psychedelic Furs and detached resignation of the Velvet Underground. Drenched in droning guitars and a production ethic where even the echoes seem to have echoes, it takes a forceful voice to pull off a line like "Everyone's talking about rock & roll/ But I just want to stay at home." But the band's dense, evocative textures can't disguise its impressively evolved sense of songwriting discipline, and the brave, self-referential worldview that allows Streng to commiserate on "Telephone" with a mom that's not only wiser than he, but considerably cooler. --Jerry McCulley

heavenly- le jardin heavenly
K. Records twee pop. female vocals. cut, minimal indie pop album.

manhattan love suicides- self titled
For anyone who loves fuzzed-up guitar assaults, feedback, hit-and-run gigs, female vocals, melodic pop, ear-splitting minimalist noise--and hates a hell of a lot of other things--we give you The Manhattan Love Suicides! Features members of the much-buzzed-about Leeds band Pop Threat, a group that sparked comparisons to Sonic Youth and Velvet Underground. Not much is know about The Manhattan Love Suicides. They have only played five gigs, none of which lasted longer than ten minutes--yet already they've recorded a debut album. For influences think Jesus and Mary Chain, Galaxie 500, Velvet Underground, The Rosehips, The Golden Dawn, Meat Whiplash, that kind of stuff. Expect to hear highly fuzzed-up guitars, pounding drums, and female vocals. Should be twelve noisy, fuzzy pop hits scuzzily produced by our friend Matt at his Random HQ.

the concretes- self titled
swedish, indie-pop. similar to Camera Obscura. i like "you can't hurry love".

ikara colt- modern apprentice
When Ikara Colt arrived in 2002, they were lumped (quite unfairly) with the new batch of bands like The Von Bondies, The Hives, The Kills and other prefixed bands as they had a raw garage sound. Funnily enough, two years later the above bands, whose debuts made most critics salivate, have disappointed us with their second albums, (Von Bondies being a notable exception) and had to change their musical direction. The point is: have Ikara Colt made the same mistake?
The answer is no - 'Modern Apprentice' is a great album, in many ways it is similar to the debut, but so much better and yes it is (dare I say it?) catchier. The album is very similar to `Sister' era Sonic Youth, except without the pomp. From the opener `Wanna be that Way', which sets the standard, to the closer, 'Automatic', this album is a rollercoaster ride of power punk with electronic tinges. These guys aren't modern apprentices, they are masters of their craft.



Stephen said...

i was JUST talking about "you can't hurry love" with a friend of mine today. totally underrated band.

Mogwai said...

Ikara Colt is one hell of a band. Just hope this album is as good as Chat and Business.

Thanks for the share.