Archive for October 2011

Pajama Club “Pajama Club”

October 16, 2011

Neil Finn is still around. You may remember him from Crowded House. Well, now only his wife can stand him, so they’ve made Pajama Club. If they sound upside-down, it’s because they’re in New Zealand.
Despite what you might think, this is a very modern-sounding act. They’ve got the indie club sound down, incorporating synths without sounding contrived on “Tell Me What You Want.”
“From a Friend to a Friend” has good backing vocals, although they don’t mix well when the guitar is going loudly at the same time. The components are all there, but they don’t add up right.
I enjoy “Daylight,” which despite plodding and deliberate beats has falsettos that would even make the Bee Gees blush. If you want to think of them as cool, you could make the same comparison with Fine Young Cannibals. Yes, that feels a little better.
“Dead Leg” has a little more noise, but it works well. This is what “From a Friend to a Friend” was trying to do. Another slower song that almost seems like a throwaway is “The Game We Love to Play.”
All in all, this may have been better as an EP to test the waters, but musicians sometimes want to share the world with their fans. Hopefully they’ll pick out the strong points and come out with a more balanced effort next time.


Kevin Devine “Between the Concrete & Clouds”

October 16, 2011

I’ve been a passive fan of Kevin Devine for eight years, when I was reviewing “Circle Gets the Square” for another website, and it was the only record that month that my ex-girlfriend liked.
The sound has kept up with the times, and Devine still knows how to bring it, even if he has to wear a back brace to do it effectively in his old age. “Off Screen” has all the melody you would expect.
Looking for a waltz? “Sleepwalking Through My Life” is as easy as 1-2-3. He sounds like Michael Penn’s “Someone to Dance With” on the title track. This one is a little slicker than the rest but good nonetheless.
“A Story, a Sneak,” is not about the quarterback going for it on 4th and 1. It has a Matthew Sweet feel to it. The last track is “I Used to Be Someone.” When you’ve been in the biz as long as this guy, you can’t sing stuff like this because people will believe it. The song itself is OK. The guitar makes you feel as if it is building toward something, and with it being nearly six minutes long, it seems plausible. However, the song stays stuck in neutral the whole time. What was it waiting for?
Devine fans will like the album, but it won’t attract any new followers.

Slow Club “Paradise”

October 16, 2011

What a surprise that this record is a little slow. It’s not too sleepy, though. “Two Cousins” makes me think of Sinead O’Connor vocally, only with a lot more accompaniment. There’s some synthy stuff, too, which reminds me of Warpaint. I think I’m finally starting to understand what “art rock” is.
Fans of Hope Sandoval will enjoy “Never Look Back.” It’s warm, and it’s inventing. I also like “Hackney Marsh” for the lush melodies, especially in the chorus, which reminds me of Tilly and the Wall.
“You, Earth or Ash” reminds me of Camera Obscura. It’s really easy to listen to, and the song just flies by. The last track has a hidden track at the end. First there’s “Horses Jumping,” which is slow, uninspiring and more than six minutes long. Without delay, “Paradise” comes on — it’s only a hidden track by definition because it’s not on the CD. It’s more experimental, but I can get behind it. If you’re the kind of person who only gets a mocha because it comes with whipped cream, then this is the track for you.

International Waters “1994”

October 16, 2011

It’s an EP. The title track is first. The drums are mixed very strangely, especially if you have misophonia. “I’m in Love With the Oni Gallery” is much more innocuous than being in love with the onani gallery. I like the strings.
“Do I Ever Get So Shy (Murphy)” has an organ and really brightens my day. I really like this one. Unfortunately, “Goodbye, Never Be” is a mixed up mess. The strings are shrill, the guitar is too high, and the vocals are off key. The only part in which the music works is during the bridge.
The last track is “Green Lights Forever,” a song title that really hits home with me. The song is also well-synchronized, a must for hitting several green lights in succession. It’s a little long, but it’s a good track.

Southerly “Youth”

October 16, 2011

Another indie band from Portland, not that there’s anything wrong with that. “Suffer” sets the tone with Krist Krueger singing and providing his own accompaniment. It’s a one-man band in many respects.
The title track is fine. More guitar but otherwise indistinguishable. Southerly’s sound doesn’t really vary much, but it’s fine because they’ve figured out what they’re good at.
Slightly slower is “Her Name Is Forward.” They might as well have pep, because the reduced tempo just causes the band to drone on. “Sacrifice” starts quietly and slowly builds.
“Going Down” is another slow one. I think it’s about going down to Voodoo Doughnut. No need to listen to “Without a Cause” if you’re a rebel. It’s a very straight-ahead rock song.
The drumming reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins. The guitar is all over the place, in a good way. Vocally it’s average at best. If you’re a fan of the Portland sound, give it a try, but there’s nothing overly exciting about this record.

Joel’s Hit Show, Episode 129, 12 October 2011 Playlist

October 12, 2011

Memoryhouse, Sleep Patterns
John & Jehn, Down Our Streets
Joanna Newsom & the YS Street Band, Cosmia
Dirty Mittens, Row
Kacey Johansing, Oh, Brother
The Juliana Hatfield Three, Put It Away
Beirut, Nantes
Tammar, Summer Fun
Julie Ocean, Ebb & Flow
The Joy Formidable, While the Flies
Emblems, Goosebumps
Julie Plug, Hello Goodbye
Julie Ruin, Stay Monkey
The Ascetic Junkies, (Don’t) Panic
Jolie Holland & Booker T. Jones, What a Wonderful World
Norah Jones, Chasing Pirates
Sentinel, Whaley
The Josephine Wiggs Experience, Downward Facing Dog
Kaia, My Voice
Release the Sunbird, Come Back to Us
The Kelley Deal 6000, Future Boy
Killola, Is This a Love Song
Feist, How Come You Never Go There
The Kirby Grips, Slambook
Kahimi Karie, Elastic Girl
Radiation City, Summer Is Not an Act I
Kenickie, In Your Car
Kepi, When I’m Gone
Aficionado, The Things You Like
Kitten, Kill the Light
Kitten Forever, Dragging Out the Pain
Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps, Tanktop
Korea Girl, Reunion
Komeda, Nonsense
Ohbijou, Obsidian
The Ladybug Transistor, Oh Cristina
Lady Lazarus, Nazarite Oath
Laura Marling, My Friends
Laika, If You Miss
Kung Fu USA, Yeah Yeah Yeah
Blasted Canyon, Death and a Half
La Chansons, You Put the Moves in Me
Ladyhawke, Magic
Exitmusic, The Sea

Neon Indian “Era Extrana”

October 9, 2011

More bleeps and bloops for the pioneers of the 16-bit era, Neon Indian. “Polish Girl” reminds me of Mega Man for the SNES. So nice to have a video game system in stereo. That was quite the accomplishment in those days.
If you like yelling into a dark hallway, “Hex Girlfriend” provides great inspiration. I think if Catherine Wheel ever got into the synths that they’d sound like this. I also like “Fallout.”
New Order fans will enjoy “Halogen (I Could Be a Shadow).” The other good track is “Suns Irrupt,” although really they’re all good. The last track is “Arcade Blues (Single).” I don’t know whether it’s the single, or if it means when you’re single you spend all your time depressed in arcades. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that we know one thing.

Grouplove “Never Trust a Happy Song”

October 9, 2011

So this is what the fuss is about. Grouplove are in fact pretty good. “Itchin’ on a Photograph” gets the album off to a good start, with what perfectly exemplifies today’s college rock sound.
This is music that makes you smile in its innocent goodness. “Lovely Cup” inspires hope that the girl across the hall will not only sleep you with but meet your parents at Thanksgiving. Let them worry about your brother being gay. Finally.
“Slow” has a frenetic percussive beat even if the song itself isn’t overly fast. It sounds like something Rihanna would sample when she had a special guest MC, or whatever it is they call MCs today.
Vocals that yell more than sing dominate “Spun.” This band reminds me of Sunnyvale (the city) because the song names, like Sunnyvale’s street names, are either really long or really short.
“Chloe” has a similar beat as “Rock This Town” by “Stray Cats,” and the melody vaguely hints at Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” If it’s a ballad you want, “Cruel and Beautiful World” delivers the goods.
These guys continue their rise to the top. Enjoy the ride.

Laura Marling “A Creature I Don’t Know”

October 9, 2011

I’ve played her stuff before. A little better singing than Ani DiFranco, and the writing is good enough for me. Laura Marling is truly a righteous babe. The only downside is that the songs all sound about the same. I liked “The Muse,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” “The Beast,” and “Sophia,” which has a similar melody as “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver, but again not much differentiates the songs.
Except for “My Friends.” This one stands out like a beacon above the rest. Like a lot of young singers, she’s still figuring it out. The sky continues to be the limit.

Sarah Jaffe “The Way Sound Leaves a Room”

October 9, 2011

I’ve played her other stuff before. Still can’t pronounce her last name. But that kind of gaffe I can get over in a jiffy.
So it’s a bunch of covers and demos, plus an “alternate” (should be “alternative”) version of “Clementine.” The Cold War Kids’ “Louder Than Ever” is done in a decidedly different way.
The demos are all really short. That’s just the way it is, I guess.