by Spencer Jenkins
Goodnight and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow
The Brobecks = Elvis Costello + The Islands + Grandaddy + Weezer – fuzzy distortion
From the opening song, "Bike Ride," Goodnight and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow is bound to send every indie kid in tight clothes and a cool haircuts bouncing up and down on the dance floor. To give credit where credit's due, the biggest influence on this band's awesome vocal harmonies in songs like "You or a Ghost?" and "March 1" should be attributed to The Beatles. It's my contention that The Beatles were responsible for the best of indie rock. Besides the solid songwriting and vocals, one of the most endearing aspects of the album are the signature indie keyboard parts played by Dave Chisholm (El Duderino) that are both straightforward and innovative, like a firm backbone to build the songs on. Although this is a good album, it's all the better because you sense that they don't take themselves too seriously. Throughout you can't help but think that these guys are laughing a little at themselves.
We Never Change
Clifton = Iron Monkey + Metallica + Pantera
Sounding like some forsaken Christian burning in the dark flames of purgatory, We Never Change varies slightly from one goal: to fuck you up on severe metal! Lead singer Bryan Edward's vocals come on with guttural barks against lightning quick metal riffs with a shot of Southern Comfort. These guys are hell bent on leaving bruises. One of my favorite songs on the album, "Walters" switches between quick thrash to sludgy doom metal that will give you a kink in your neck from throwing your head around. If you're an avid reader of SLUG like I am, you know that Clifton just landed a record deal and are about to embark on a national tour. In the end, you can't deny that these guys are having a hell of a lot of fun. Good luck on the tour!
Live at a Basketball Court
A. Star Recordings
Hew Mun = one guy + guitar + drum set + delay pedals + a basketball court
It isn't exactly a new idea but the result is always unique. Matthew J. Munn of The Paper Cranes set up an amp and drums with microphones that are hooked up to a bunch of delay pedals. Typically, he first lays down a loop on his guitar, pounds his drums to it then tweaks the resulting sound in a thick echoing fallout. The songs are followed by applause by the dozen people and few giggling girls in the auditorium. The brilliant absurdity somehow reminds me of a movie I saw of the artist Ray Johnson beating an empty cardboard box with his leather belt in front of a few amused spectators. The CD cover is a sketch of the performance individually etched by Munn, probably with an Xacto knife; not ideal for mass production, but I don't think that's the point.
Jealous = The Melvins + Big Black + Ministry
This four song EP is tough, stripped down metal with songs that extend up to seven minutes. Although Jealous follows a familiar structure, the songs are looser and build progressively to ruckus endings. The dissonant and sometimes atonal vocals fit in with the banging metal sounds and barbed wire distortion. The cool lyrics linger on the macabre and sexual, like on "Black Light," "If you want to fuck at all, I'll shoot the sun out!" All of the four songs are paced over several minutes and build until it hits incredibly fucking hard. The album resists neat comparisons to other bands but its originality makes it sound as relevant as anything that is currently coming out.
The Paper Cranes
Escape to Wicked Mountain
A. Star Recordings
The Paper Cranes = The Liars + The Rapture + The Je Ne Sais Quoi
Young and brash and filled with more awesomeness than a Cadbury Bunny Egg, The Paper Cranes' debut LP comes with as much dance craziness as Dada experimentalism. If you're looking for concise, consistent music, go somewhere else. The album vacillates between cockeyed craziness to dance numbers like "Stegosaurus" that will set you jumping around your apartment if you have any soul at all. Most of the songs are named after dinosaurs but the weird and scintillating lyrics range from witch lynching, a horse boy and a light bulb killing spree. I couldn't help but think that at several moments in the album the comparisons to the bands in the equation weren't exaggerated.
presents Deathsend—Shadow Psychology
Reaper = Wu-Tang Clan + Blackalicious + the angel of death
As the moniker implies, The Reaper writes hip-hop songs about nearly every way to get killed. Instead of talking about the million ways he's badder than every other MC, he gets into the heads of people who are about or have just murdered someone. Shadow Psychology's graceful rhymes get into first person accounts of suicide, murder, revenge and mentions the kind of lives that led to them, like in "Recession," that's a conversation between two thugs, one of whom just raped and murdered a family. Then Reaper shifts the car in reverse to D'Angelo R & B on "Signs of Love," that will soon have you seducing yourself. Some of the bounciest moments on the album are from Jed "Jebu" Keipp, the musician, producer and guest lyricist. Much of the album will make you shudder and get down at the same time.
Spork = Queens of the Stone Age + The Black Keys + Black Sabbath
Satan. The Prince of Darkness. The Deceiver. Beelzebub. Maybe it's the distorted guitars tuned down to Z, but something about Ocho Destructo reminds me that if I can't curb my masturbation habit I'm going to wind up spending time and all eternity burning in hell-fire, sucking The Archfiend's big red Johnson. Bill Spork's deep voice and occasional Jack White vibrato complements the gasoline soaked guitars and pickup truck blues, like "All Men Play on Ten," that's an ode to big muscles and bad attitudes. From scuzz metal to machine gun rounds, the album is always big, dark and heavy. Although I'm doomed to burn (and so are you), it's not so bad. For as a wise man once said about the Lord of Flies, "At least he fucking jams!"
Theta Naught/Alex Caldiero
Theta Naught = Godspeed You Black Emperor! + math + "mystical visions and cosmic vibrations"
What did the Buddhist say to the other Buddhist? The first song from these grad school kids and freak poet is all drony David Lynch weirdness like an opening hymn to a very cool sacrament meeting. Like Ginsberg's big nephew, Alex Caldiero walks you through spoken word like "The Invitation," that is a waking nightmare that repeats itself several times. There's also Taoist conundrums like, "It doesn't last because it's forever. It doesn't pass because it's never been." The words work varyingly between insight, alienating free associations and random made-up words. But I know that the words are supposed to work sonically as well as conceptually, signifier as well as signified (I should be shot). The album was recorded live in one night which lends the music vibrancy and the word explorations relevance.
Uzi and Ari
It is Freezing Out
Uzi and Ari = Efterklang + Mum + Sigur Ros + Boards of Canada
Straddling both IDM and post-rock, Uzi and Ari take a thoughtful approach to vast songs that begin gradually and end with a noticeable bang. The songs typically don't start above a whisper and slowly lead to a satisfying climax on slick electronica beats and the crooning voice of Ben Shephard. The modulated vocals and soft, tight rhythm on "Don't Back Out," begs resembles to "Kid A." The drums start inconspicuously, build and take the song to a natural close. The gentle electronica effects and child-like innocence to the album also conjure a few comparisons to Why? The rhythms are as well thought out as a Zen garden and take most of its influence from electronica bands from the cold northern countries of Europe. But overall, Uzi and Ari's approach most resembles the post-rock Efterklang with their male and female vocals and general comforting sentiment.
The Wolfs = The New York Dolls + The Stooges
More awesome ass-kicking from the Wolfs. They add foot-stomping soul with ingenious drug influenced twists that take an old style and modernizes it. Like a latter-day David Johansen, Eli Morrison's raspy and charismatic vocals and lyrics will hook you early and have you begging like a strung-out junky. Take Otis Reddings' Monterey Pop performance, crank it up on big guitars, keep the rhythm, add fuck-you punk vocals, some metal and you'll be somewhere in the vicinity of The Wolfs. Interchanging between soul and the psychotic, the result is nothing short of classic. One of my favorites, "You're All Heart" delves into metal with more sharp edges and screaming. And when I heard "Cum for Brains #2," I thought they'd been reading my journal. Rock n' roll is going to save the world!