Archive for October 2011

Dreamers of the Ghetto “Enemy/Lover”

October 30, 2011

I don’t understand the band’s name, and I’ll try not to be offended by it, because I don’t have enough information about it to be objective. What I do know is that the lead singer sounds like Bruce Springsteen. “State of a Dream” has all kinds of music going on at the same time, and it all adds up to a pretty standard rock song for a pretty standard rock band.
Good male-male harmonies dominate “Regulator.” The synths during the chorus are a nice touch as well. “Phone Call” is more of the same, among the better tracks. It has an early ’90s feel.
The other track I like is “Night Hawks.” The chords provide a nice hook, and the chorus reminds me of Siouxsie and the Banshees, of all things.
Although not generally my cup of tea, I can get behind this act.

Gringo Star “Count Yer Lucky Stars”

October 30, 2011

Their record “All Yall” was one of the first I reviewed for KSCU. Now they continue with crazy variations on the second person, using one of my favorite grammatical crutches, “yer.”
“Shadow” gets the album off to a good start. This band continues to crank out the cheerful power pop that’s expected. And I get all Frampton when I listen to “Come Alive.” This track is well put together, right down to the bridge.
The classic love song about a special lady is “Jessica” in this case. It reminds me of the Monkees. “Make You Mine” also has a ’60s sound reverberating, but the backing vocals put this one over the top. It’s got it all.

Soft Cotton County “Looking for You Know Who”

October 30, 2011

It’s an EP. They’re good at those. The first track is “Look Out Ma, Papa’s Comin’ Home.” Soft Cotton County continue with their dreampop antics here. The title track is second and has pronounced guitar. It’s more of an indie rock approach than what we’ve seen from the band in the past. The synths, relegated to a backup role, do a fine job. The male vocals do surprisingly well. All in all, it reminds me of my favorite Bernard Sumner side project, Electronic, specifically “Getting Away With It.”
Next we are asked “Is This Your Kind of Country?” It also has more of a contemporary feel to it. The last track is “Here Comes the Stone & Steel.” It’s more reflective of the Soft Cotton County sound I’ve grown accustomed to.
This EP is clearly a coming out party for the title track and the sound associated with it, and I’m intrigued to see what happens next.

Sports “Sports”

October 30, 2011

This is the perfect record to review while watching sports. This band reminds me of Elvis Costello with a modern sound. I mean, when Costello was new he had a modern sound, at the time. Sports sounds like him but with a modern sound for today. OK.
“Started So Tall” starts the album, and it makes me think of Squeeze. The other good tracks are “Emily, Frankly” and the last one, “Disappear.” This last one has a bit of ’60s power pop in it. If I listen to it just right, I feel as if I’m watching the end of an episode of Murphy Brown. There’s just enough Motown going on.
Lots of fun, short songs on this one.

Gem Club “Breakers”

October 30, 2011

When I see “Breakers” I always think of this Mad Magazine sketch from the late ’70s during the CB radio craze, which shows people without vehicles using them while walking around. In it, this woman says, “Breaker! Breaker! This is No Car Carla.”
They’re from Massachusetts, so I hope they enjoyed the Nor’easter that arrived yesterday. But despite living in Red Sox country, the first track is called “Twins.” The song itself reminds me of Ida, what with the piano and all. And Ida is a good thing to sound like.
I also like “Lands,” which is best described as “effectively somber.” “I Heard the Party” is not about the radio station. This is a pretty useful reference, because a lot of markets have a dance station called “The Party.” It makes me sound local when I’m not! It’s like how Groupon is headquartered in Chicago.
“Tanager” is more dramatic and has the piano mixed a little louder. This one belongs in a movie when the lead discovers he’s been cheated on, and he confronts her about it. Then he goes for a walk to think about it, and it starts to snow.
The last track is “In Wavelengths.” It was fine, but the smoke alarm kept going off, so I wasn’t able to pay a lot of attention to it.

Anomie Belle “The Crush”

October 30, 2011

How am I not supposed to compare this to Bjork? Maybe I am. Beyond that, the urban beat of “Inky Drips” reminds me of Ruby as well. “Its a Crush” is fine, but the missing apostrophe is too distracting for me to actually enjoy the song.
There is this secret desire to go urban with this artist. Maybe she is secretly from Gresham instead of Portland. Or at least she lives east of 90th. “Bodies Offering” has bits of soul that complement her voice, which occasionally enters the Portishead zone here.
Anna-Lynne Williams offers what must be backing vocals on “Privilege.” Like First Republic Bank, it must have been one to serve Anomie Belle here. “Phantom” is the last track, and it’s not disguised nor is it horrifying, right before your eyes.
I enjoyed this album. The copycat nature doesn’t bother me because I always want more sources of rhythmic, downtempo, slightly crazy tunes.

Talkdemonic “Ruins”

October 30, 2011

It’s like Mogwai without singing. “Slumber Verses” is a clever name because there aren’t any verses, or perhaps they’re just asleep. “Revival” also doesn’t revive any lyrics.
It’s not really clever anymore to talk about song titles such as “City Sleep.” I’ve blown all those jokes. This is one of faves, though. And again here’s the deal: They sound like Mogwai. There are no lyrics. They’re from Portland. They’re not particularly psychedelic. Talkdemonic provide relatively square, thought-provoking music with enough synths and strings to keep you hooked.
“Midnight Pass” has semi-metal guitar wafting in and out, although I would hardly call it symphonic metal. Maybe Sega Genesis music is a little closer. The last track is “Palace Walk.” It is slow and meandering yet still easy to listen to.

Joel’s Hit Show, Episode 130, 19 October 2011 Playlist

October 19, 2011

Memoryhouse, To the Lighthouse
Leerone, Bring It On
Laura Gibson + Ethan Rose, Introduction
Asobi Seksu, Vicious Bears
Lederhosen Lucil, Best Dishwasher I Ever Had
Cate le Bon, Burn Until the End
Karmacoda, If You Give It to Me (Our Summer of Love)
Cyndi Lauper, Rollin’ and Tumblin’
Jenny Lewis, Black Sand
Jared Mees & the Grown Children, Juicy Fruit
Liam Finn & Eliza Jane, On Your Side
Le Tigre, I’m So Excited
Caitlin Rose, Sinful Wishing Well
The Living Sisters, How Are You Doing
The Like, Wishing He Was Dead
Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps, Calliope
Lissie, Here Before
Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy, Sailing to Byzantium
Radiation City, Phantom Lady
Lil Pocket Knife, Red Hott
Liesl’s Wet Dress, Intoxicating Brew
Emblems, Morning Breath
Lois, A Summer Long
The Lightfighters, Mirrorball
Maria Taylor, Like It Does
Little Teeth, Sideways
Mary Lou Lord, Aim Low
Shenandoah Davis, Throne
Los Campesinos!, 200-102
Luscious Jackson, Under Your Skin
Big Harp, Out in the Field
The Lovemakers, Whine & Dine
Lush, Hypocrite
Primus, Extinction Burst
Dream Theater, On the Backs of Angels
Luckie Strike, Can’t Afford It
Sara Lov, Why Can’t I Be?
O Bruxo, De Colores
Lower Dens, Rosie
Luna, Tiger Lily
The Big Scary, Summer
Lykke Li, Youth Knows No Pain
Lunachicks, Spork
Kirsty MacColl, Last Day of Summer

Katie Johnson “When Signs Say Go”

October 16, 2011

When I put this in, I immediately thought of Lenka. Katie Johnson is a woman with her guitar. The songwriting needs a little work, but everything else is fantastic. She just needs to get older, I bet. “A Perfect World” seems to use her skills optimally, with a generally flatter melody that works well with her voice.
I appreciate “Pocket Full of Posies” and am slightly in awe that it goes on for nearly six minutes. That makes it a good makeout song, though, because you can go at it for a long time.
I had a little snicker when I heard “The Promise of Storm” because the guitar was similar to the intro of Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me,” and “Pieces of You” had some of the worst songwriting ever. Johnson is at least better than that.
“Parachute” is far and away the winner. The mix quality is better, the guitar is sharper, the singing is on key, and even the songwriting works. This might be one of the best individual songs I’ve heard this year.
The other track that stood out to me was “How Could She Know Anything.” I find myself coming back to this one, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the harmonica.
This record reminds me of Kacey Johansing, which namewise is a very similar name. That could be it, really. But at any rate, this CD really grows on me, like when you see a rookie show occasional flashes of brilliance. You may wonder how I can tell this is an initial effort. I just know.

Firehorse “And So They Ran Faster …”

October 16, 2011

Musically it reminds me of Ruby, but the vocals are less crazy. So we’re on the road to Portishead, but it’s more mainstream sounding than that. “She’s a River” focuses on singer Leah Siegel, and she holds up her end of the bargain.
Just in time for Halloween, “Only the Birds” is slightly haunting. The backing vocals during the chorus of “Machete Gang Holiday” is captivating. This is the best song on the record.
“Puppet” is more of the same. There is a desire here to rock a little bit. The downtempo style is hard to ignore, apparently. The last track is “Baby Bird.” It’s slightly psychedelic. They sound like Twigs here. The album as a whole is OK, but the tracks are needlessly long so even when there’s only nine of them it’s easy to get bored.