September 20, 2006

Reviews: Some Singles

I've had a few CD-singles and EP's that have been awaiting review, so I took a little time last night and gave 'em some spins, and we think you'll like them, so check 'em out! (Apologies for no artwork; Blogger is being wanky this morning!)

Some Singles:

Sunrise is the second single from Caroline Lufkin's excellent debut album, Murmurs. It's a gorgeous, simple song that is accentuated by her delicate, childlike voice and gentle, unhurried, delicate beats. Indeed, it does create an atmosphere that reminds a lot of a sunrise; in fact, if you listen hard enough, you'll hear crickets in the faint distance. The album version is about as close to perfection as you can imagine; the Logreybeam Mix, well…It's an okay number, but I'm not sure how I feel about a beautiful, perfect song like this should be made into a glitchy instrumental. Okay, it feels like a coda to the original, and I can accept it in that regard. "Everylittlething" is another Murmurs song, and the beats of the original are honed down and manipulated, and it actually works to the song's benefit; the original version's beats sounded a bit generic, but the work of DJ Poignant has turned it into a much edgier song. Still, Sunrise is a lovely little record that serves Caroline quite well. (Temporary Residence)

Andy Werth is a fellow from Seattle, and he makes pleasant, 70s AM-radio pop, similar in nature to folks like Paul McCartney, Christopher Cross, and, um, Bobby Goldsboro. The three songs on Back To The Sun are extremely pleasant, a mixture of piano and brass that works quite well, and there are some excellent harmonies, too. Really, this sound might be called retro, but it'd be a shame to be so dismissive of such a great record. There are only three songs, but they're of such an impressive nature, you'll not want more. My favorite has to be Back To The Sun, but, really, the other two numbers are equally wonderful. Seriously, this guy's music doesn't sound at all retro; it sounds like the real thing, and I've really dug the transport back to simpler times and the era of more sophisticated pop music. Werth is a fresh young talent that's worthy of your attention.

Hella's new EP, Acoustics, is a rather fascinating thing. For the hardcore Hella fan, it's nothing new; apparently, these songs were out and about in Japan some time ago. But for those not quite down with Hella, this EP is an interesting diversion. The duo took a few of their songs and recorded acoustic versions of them. A simple concept that's actually quite entertaining. Hearing the band take on their loud, intricate material in a stripped down setting is fascinating, and it helps to highlight just how talented and complex their material is. Plus, the songs are even more insane sounding. Just check out the 'unplugged' version of "Cafeteria Bananas" and tell me that there's nothing insane and complex about what they do. My personal favorite would have to be "Woman of the 90's," but, really, I've enjoyed the entire EP—and I don't even like Hella! (5 Rue Christine)

Alias & Tarsier's Plane That Draws a White Line is a nine-song remix collection built upon songs from the duo's debut album, Brooklyn/Oaklyn. For those who might not have heard the album (or who were slightly disappointed by it), then this is "EP" almost serves as an alternate album in its own right. Though Alias might be known for experimental hip-hop, what he and Rona Rapidas (AKA Tarsier) have created is more akin to straight-up trip-hop, not unlike the better moments of Massive Attack or Portishead. While moments like the title track remix by Boom Bip, the new song "Sleepy," or the funky Odd Nosdam version of "Ligaya" might up the pulse just a tad, the overall sound of the collection is mellow. Very mellow. Rapidas's voice is extremely seductive, especially on "9:24 Cigarette" and "Dr. C," and Alias's acumen with creating erotic yet gentle beats creates a record that is one of the more impressive records released this year. For those who weren't necessarily won over by the duo's debut album, this collection will make you want to reevaluate their collaboration, for it is a fascinating record and an album in its own right. (Anticon)

I really don't know what to make of Xiu Xiu's latest EP, Tu Mi Piaci. It's a cover record, and though it's intriguing in some of its choices, some of the songs sound…tossed off. The covers of Nina Simone's "He Needs Me" and Nedelle's "Blueberry Mine Shaft" are quite beautiful, and the cover of Bauhaus' "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" isn't bad, but it's not Steward's best. The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha" should never have seen the light of day, and will people please stop covering "Kangaroo?" It's trite. Still, for Xiu Xiu's track record—one that isn't always consistent in quality--Tu Mi Piaci is a pleasant yet not particularly substantial diversion. (Acuarela Discos)

The Sharp Ease's latest record, Remain Instant is a collection of fine indie-rock, power pop, and just plain good songwriting. These ladies have been around for a while, but this is my first introduction to them, and wow, what a great band this is! Though there are comparisons to be made to other bands, their sound is one that is simply their own. I like the roots-vibe of their music; I mean, really, "Hands" rocks, but there's an earthiness to it that makes it even more pleasant. But when they want to be loud and raucous, they can; just dig the crunchy guitars of the title track or "Peoplewich," you'll be convinced that this is a powerful live band. This record is simply, utterly fun. (OlFactory)

5ive's latest EP, Versus, collects two songs, "Soma" and "Reso-1," from a split EP with Kid 606, coupled with two remixed versions of "Soma" by noise guru Justin Broadrick, aka Jesu. The songs—and their remixes—all follow the same formula: loud, heavy, dark, and long. (Well, not the first track; it's less than two minutes long.) Are the songs really that distinguishable? Not really. But try not to think of it like that, because taken together, the record flows almost seamlessly, the rising and falling guitars and noise sounding not unlike a day by the sea. Sure, the sound might tire some listeners, but maybe that's the point: loud music that seems violent can actually be quite beautiful, rewarding, and ultimately, relaxing. If that's the case, then they've proven themselves quite well. (Tortuga Recordings)

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