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LE CONCORDE
EP

Space Kitty

It is always a pleasant surprise when a CD bears a sticker telling of guest artists featured within and you ultimately realize the band sticker is underselling the talent and potential of the band. Sure, the appearance of the Psychedelic Fur’s guitarist, John Ashton, and their saxophone player, Mars Williams, tempting the uneducated Furs fan can’t hurt. All you really need to know is that Le Concorde write intelligent pop songs that recall the late 80s and early 90s when Stephen Duffy’s Lilac Time were less interested in alt-country and more in line with the musing of Aztec Camera or the strumming of the Lightning Seeds. Now if we could only get a full album out of them, I might be persuaded to crown them as the kings of Chicago.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, August 2004, Issue 188.

THE THRILLS LET’S BOTTLE BOHEMIA

THE THRILLS
LET’S BOTTLE BOHEMIA

Virgin

The Thrills debut So Much for the City was greeted with so many fantastic reviews, awards and a wallop of hype that you’d think they’d invented rock’n’roll. I was unimpressed. For Let’s Bottle Bohemia I wiped the slate clean, ignored the inevitable hype and the result? They’re a good band that will rest along side Gomez and the majority of Wilco’s catalogue as music I recognize talent in but simply can’t get into. Let’s Bottle Bohemia is a stronger album than their debut and should more than please and increase the loyal fan base. Touring with The Pixies will likewise garner the band a considerable amount of attention and this time around they have the punches to live up to the hype. Besides anyone who can write a song called “Whatever Happened to Corey Haim” without coming off with the integrity of Weird Al deserves a round of applause.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, October 2004, Issue 190. 

TRESSPASSERS WILLIAM_DIFFERENT STARS

TRESSPASSERS WILLIAM
DIFFERENT STARS

Nettwerk

You could dismiss Tresspassers William as a band filling the gap until the sleeping giants Mazzy Star get off their laurels. You could. You shouldn’t. No, you can’t deny the similarities of the slight country twang in the guitar, the understated female vocals and the mournful atmosphere, but you also can’t deny the haunting lyricism and beauty contained within. If “Lie in the Sound” and “Different Stars” don’t convince you, just wait for their cover of Ride’s classic “Vapour Trail.” It’s like the first time I heard This Mortal Coil’s version of “Song to Siren.” Yes, it might just be that good.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, January 2005, Issue 193.

Billy Idol Devil’s PlaygroundBilly Idol
Devil’s Playground

Sanctuary

 

Having placed himself in a self-imposed exile, the majority of the last decade was decidedly Idol-less. Billy was off losing himself in cyberpunk culture (rather prophetic, considering The Matrix was far from view) and the excesses that defined him as one of the 80s most reckless superstars. Then there was The Wedding Singer and a reunion with guitarist Steve Stevens—the world seemed primed for a revitalized Idol. Does Devil’s Playground deliver? Quite assuredly, yes. Sure, it sounds a bit like a redux of 1985, but it also pulses along flamboyantly like a Billy Idol release should. Even the occasional silly lyric, odd placement of “Yellin’ at the Xmas Tree” and slowing down with “Plastic Jesus” and “Cherie” doesn’t derail what essentially could be the best guilty pleasure of the year. Face it, you’ve always loved Billy Idol and he’s just given you another reason why.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, April 2005, Issue 196.

mercuryUniversal Hall Pass
Mercury

Sneaky
Street: 10.23.04
Universal Hall Pass = Bjork + Jem + Venus Hum + Sneaker Pimps

I don’t know how this album fell through the cracks and never garnered a lovely amount of hype, seeing as how the general public loves a witty woman with a fantastic voice and a sense of pop music combined with a passion for experimentation. You have all that in Melissa Kaplan and her Universal Hall Pass. Mercury liberally pulls from jazz, trip-hop, electronica and pop and ties them together seamlessly in songs that are both triumphant and vulnerable.
This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, August 2005, Issue 200.

The Rose Phantom
Soulless Experiment

Self-Released
Street: 10.31.15
The Rose Phantom = Voltaire + Alan Wilder +  Prog rock

For over a decade, Ted Newsom has been releasing dark electronic music with liberal influences taken from a variety of genres including synthpop, industrial, gothic and prog rock. With Soulless Experiment, a four-track cassette release, Newsom takes the musical schizophrenia to new heights as each track purports to present a different genre. “True Love,” the release’s opening track, is a pulsating electronic epic with enough hooks to make an Eurythmics single blush. The lyrics are a bit naff, but as a whole it’s very appealing. “Land of the Free” introduces a more guitar-heavy arrangement with a lyrical assault on American hypocrisy. It almost works until the falsetto verse derails the track’s momentum. “Been Saved?” indulges Newsom’s prog influences as it drones its way into an atmospheric jam stretched too far. The closing number, “Soulless Experiment” is a fairly effective soundscape with layers of sampled dialogue over light synths and a screeching violin. As far as experiments go, this release is only partially successful. Newsom is a talented musician,  but his penchant for melodrama often pushes his songs into darkwave kitsch. Still, “True Love” is enough to justify a purchase for the curious. –ryan michael painter

RACHEL GOSWELL WAVES ARE UNIVERSAL

RACHEL GOSWELL
WAVES ARE UNIVERSAL

4AD

Rachel Goswell: You might not recognize the name, but I’d have a hard time believing that someone who has any interest in my column wouldn’t have heard her voice in either Slowdive or Mojave 3. Her solo debut is as stunning as Neil Halstead’s (also in both previously mentioned bands) was a year or two ago. By lifting elements from both shoegazer and alt-folk, Rachel Goswell has created a light pop album full of warmth and intimacy without compromising intelligence for sugar.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, August 2004, Issue 188.

HOPE OF THE STATES

HOPE OF THE STATES
THE LOST RIOTS

(Epic)AM

Musically you aren’t going to find a band out there that capture the epic dimensions that The Verve were perfecting more accurately than Hope of the States. The Lost Riots is a deeply moving political record that serves as a British view of the great American implosion (which if you hadn’t noticed is currently in full chaos). If there is a weak link in the band it is the underwhelming vocals. Music this big and cinematic deserves a charged vocal with the range to standout and above the layers around it. Sadly in this case they do not. Nonetheless The Lost Riots is an extremely powerful record that deserves the accolades that have been constant since its UK release earlier this year.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, November 2004, Issue 191.

SIGUR RÓS VON

SIGUR RÓS
VON

 One Little Indian

 

There’s this band from Iceland. No, not the Sugarcubes. The other band, Sigur Rós—perhaps you’ve heard of them? Well, this is their first album that up until this point hasn’t been officially available in America. It sounds like a nightmare, a rolling psychotic grind into the sparseness of darkness and then it sounds like warm water and a summer breeze. Von is beautiful and different from what you’re more accustomed to. Waves of distorted guitars, the pounding of drums and vocals that come from every angle; it’s far closer to a My Bloody Valentine record than anything they’ve done before. Von just might be their sharpest work thus far. If it weren’t so late, I’d turn it up until the walls shook. Brilliant.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, January 2005, Issue 193.

Ffa Coffi Pawb Am BythFfa Coffi Pawb
Am Byth

Empyrean

 

Before Gruff Rhys was mesmerizing the world with Super Furry Animals, he and a cast of characters who would go on to play in Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Mogwai and Cornelius were kicking around Wales as Ffa Coffi Pawb. Am Byth is a compilation pulled from their three albums and various 12″ releases and compilation appearances. All the vocals are in Welsh and delivered so off the cuff and casually that I can’t help but wonder how much alcohol was consumed in these recordings. It also seems that the band had somewhat of an identity crisis in that from time to time they sound like the diet version of the Jesus and Mary Chain and at others they’re clearly influenced by the Manchester sound that rolled about with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. It doesn’t make for a very coherent album, but despite that, it is an interesting, and for me preferable, look at the early roots of a celebrated musician. Essential for SFA fans; good listening for the rest of us.

 

This review originally appeared in Glitter Gutter Trash, April 2005, Issue 196.