Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New This Week 1/18/11

Shipla Ray and Her Happy Hookers _ Teenage and Torture
(very cool blues inspired Americana craziness, Gogol Bordello’s insane cousin?)
The Decemberists _ The King Is Dead
(Portland indie vets return with their best album since 2002's Castaways and Cutouts)
Smith Westerns _ Dye It Blonde (reviewed)
White Lies _ Ritual (run of the mill new-wave)
Tennis _ Cape Dory
(solid but gimmicky female indie-pop)
Mad Lib _ Medicine Show #11 Low Budget Hi-fi
(yet another posthostumous release from the legendary beatmaster)
Braids _ Native Speaker (reviewed)
Social Distortion _ Hard times and nursery rhymes
(the punk legends return, good if you’re missing the 90s)
Young Prisms _ Friends For Now
(over-reverbed/underinspired – Wild Nothing part II?)
The Script – Science and Faith (mainstream mod-rock slop)
Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues
(by some miracle he's still truckin’ with solid blues)
Lady Lazarus – Mantic
(shockingly good lo-fi female piano tunes, recommended!)

Featured Reviews
Smith Westerns _ Dye It Blonde (2.5/5.0)
The major label debut from this extremely young Chicago outfit released as the initial release for startup label HoZac records is a solid album, reliant on the heavily reverbed wailing vocals of Cullen Omori and fuzzed out guitar melodies of Max Kakacek. The opener “Weekend” is a remarkable piece of pop, but the momentum doesn’t last as the chugging “Still New” and “All Die Young” feel leisurely and seem to be lacking purpose.
The second half of the album picks up nicely with “Fallen In Love” and “End of the Night” but the inconsistencies continue with the mediocre “Smile” and Dance Away.” The Smith Westerns are at their best when they let their guitars do the talking, with classic peaks of fuzzed out extasticism reminiscent of the Kinks. While this album is not a start-to-finish success this debut leaves the reviewer looking forward to hearing what comes next. For fans of Deer Tick, the Kinks, Violent Femmes.
Key Tracks: Weekend, Fallen in Love, End of the Night, Dye the World

Braids _ Native Speaker (3.5/5)
This is a record that caught my ears from the first note and never let go. Haunting electronics flutter and shimmer while the high pitched and quirky vocals of Raphaelle Standell-Preston provide a much needed edge in this crowded genre of Animal Collective-inspired poptronica. The Montreal quartet has described a group creative process where songs were built around an initial sound, effect, or idea, and the results are breathtaking. Sparse keyboards and guitars combine and stab and multiply while managing to avoid clutter, and the vocals are simultaneously soothing and confrontational. The tracks manage to remain upbeat without being cheesey, pleasantly balancing some of the best elements of pop and experimental electronic music.
My only complaint about this record is that it is only seven songs (and two remixes), one of which is a Plath Heart remix that easily qualifies as the album’s worst track. With only seven songs ranging from four to eight minutes, this is far from a traditional pop record making its accessibility all the more remarkable. So give these Canadians a spin, or at least a preview on itunes or, it will be worth the five minutes.
For fans of Glasser, Memory Tapes, Animal Collective, the Knife

Key Tracks: Lemonade, Plath Heart, Lammicken, Glass Deers (Teen Daze remix)
thanks for reading, see you next week!

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