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mitch

Aberdeen – “Sink or Float ” – [Better Looking Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Nearly a decade after their debut (and a
long sabbatical in-between), ABERDEEN returns
as a full band (formerly they were a duo of John &
Beth, plus drum machine) with two great tracks from
‘Homesick and Happy to be Here? (2002). Denizens
of Palm Desert, CA – it seems J + B were in love once
upon a time, fell out of it and fell back into it five years
later, thereby resuscitating the musical concept of the
[not surprisingly] romance-based ABERDEEN. Beth
Arzy was heard vocalizing on TREMBLING BLUE STARS
‘Alive to Every Smile?, and both bands will tour the U.S.
this Fall. The approach is similar, a warm-breath-in-the-
ear kind of feeling with attendant delicacies, but the sound
is much fuller with drums/guitars/bass/keyboards/ supplying
an even more voluptuous & charming appeal. Excellent
writing meets great musical sense for this pair of keepers.
And they lived happily ever after?..

Aug 2002 MITCH

Newman, A. C. – “Slow Wonder, the ” – [Matador Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   12-inch, A Library

First solo outing from Carl Newman (ZUMPANO, NEW
PORNOGRAPHERS, SUPERCONDUCTOR) delivers the
goods in conclusive fashion. Soaring epics [‘Secretarial?],
gorgeous ballads [‘Cloud Prayer?], whistling/melodian
exercises [‘Drink to Me, Babe?- nice slide work], ragtime
piano/cello [‘On the Table? – justice as ‘the deal between
the thieves and exits?], and assorted relational discourses
and quirky storylines [‘Miracle Drug?’.’He was tied to the
bed with a miracle drug in one hand / In the other, a great
lost novel that, I understand, was returned with a stamp /
That said ‘thank you for your interest, young man?.’
Great songcraft, layered & pristine production by John
Collins, David Carswell, and Newman keep it organic and
focused on topicalities (small-town saviors, secret agents)
and philosophical dilemmas (guilt, innocence, and glorious
defeat) and textured, open arrangements. High quality.

MITCH Sept 2005

Celestine – “Between Bedtime and Sunrise ” – [Exergy Music]

mitch   5/16/2006   A Library, CD

Some nine months in the making, this debut LP
(following a half dozen EPs dating back to 2001)
culminates a long-running collaboration between
front man Mattias Eriksson (he of the low and dour
vocals) & Hugo Torntorp (Mellotron, Fender Rhodes
piano) in and around Stockholm. The catalyst that
vaunts this record to higher levels is the production
and percussion of Mattias Olssen (NANOOK OF THE
NORTH, AK-MOMO + duo project with Eriksson,
TWO TIMES THE TRAUMA). Check delayed Roland
CR-78 drum machine wedded to Moog ring modulator
(# 3), Moog Taurus bass synth = earthquake (# 8), vox
fed through internal Leslie organ speaker (# 2), the
classic strains of the Yamaha GX 1 organ (# 11), etc.
As haunted as it is hopeful, CELESTINE soldiers on
into the apocalypse, amongst the ghosts whose eyes
are red from weeping.
MITCH May 2006

Martin, Caroline – “I Had a Hundred More Reasons T ” – [Smalldog Records]

mitch   11/16/2005   A Library, CD

Bristol UK-based songwriter has the distinction of having recorded
a John Peel session prior to having ever played live in front of an
audience (and since has recorded four live sessions for Radio 1,
including one for Rob da Bank), based solely on her self-released
???Young Tender Rabbit??? EP from 1998. Darkness accompanies
this work, both in the melodies and stark lyricism of intimate,
insular loss and careless simplicity. CAROLINE MARTIN dwells
on unrequited love, dogs, guns, disillusionment, subliminal yet
ever present emotional violence, & inexorable desolation ??? all
with a Sahara-dry & self-deprecating wit informed by weariness
and a perverse sort of optimism that caresses even as it laments.
MARTIN???s second ever live gig was at Glastonbury, and she has
since toured solo and in support of NINA NASTASIA. Fine simple
material effective and affective.
MITCH November 2005

Calla – “Collisions ” – [Beggars Banquet]

mitch   11/16/2005   A Library, CD

September 2005 release finds core trio (front man
Aurelio Valle, Peter Gannon & drummer Wayne
Magruder) upgrading to major label for this fourth
LP, with Chris Zane again producing. Austerity and
Muted anger win the day (best on # 1, 5, 9), with a
host of Valle???s desolate images contrasting a more
upbeat sonic set design (bits of harmonica, organ &
tambourine glimpse through the foliage from time
to time) of stridency + hooks. Is this what they would
have recorded for ? Most likely, though
it might not have sounded so tenuous???.
CALLA may be leaving the indie ranks, but at least
it is on their own terms.
MITCH November 2005

Mccombs, Cass – “Prefection ” – [Monitor]

mitch   9/16/2005   12-inch, A Library

Juggling fact and fiction via the arching use of
slowcore-inspired organ/keyboard/guitar textures
of repetition, CASS is back ??? good news for fans
who favor rough-edged yet pretty pop???.???Equinox???
opens things with a ringing guitar pattern/swelling
keyboards/syncopated bass notes, each given a
turn at carrying the melody???

???Of all the creatures in the wood /
one law is perfectly understood /
Deep in the heart of Fountainbleau /
The marriage of a whore and a Jew /
the bride???s true dowry black rocks??????

???Subtraction??? builds on a frenetic drum line & one-note
bass???.extra clean guitar work on ???Sacred Heart??? lights
dark lyrical corner with bright musical fa???ade???.???Cuckoo???
is a sulking slouch of perverse moodiness, grey with
foreboding?????????Tourist Woman??? finds MCCOMBS calling
the kettle black with ???.???Romantics are doomed / and
that???s a good thing???.??? Elusive, allusive, high concept
and obscurantist, CASS MCCOMBS (best on # 1, 2, 5,
6, + 9) continues to produce high-quality indie pop.
MITCH September 2005

Close, The/Rosebuds [coll] – [Goodnight]

mitch   8/16/2005   7-inch, A Library

Raleigh, NC core duo Ivan Howard (vocals, guitar) and
Kelly Crisp (keyboards, vocals) front THE ROSEBUDS
(fast & furious on ???We???ve Had Enough???), a act
currently on US tour with TEENAGE FANCLUB. It is
Howard???s touch-of-helium voice & Crisp???s frenetic use of
keyboard coloration that punch their all-original songs
through to Funland; fellow progenitors THE CLOSE (as
in proximity) began in Auburn AL ten years ago, since
relocating to Atlanta and recording several releases for
. Equally hard hitting but more tactile &
austere, front man Brooks Meeks embraces anthems,
analog keyboards (as played by Theresa Marie Fedor),
and lyrical sincerity. Two fine Southeast indie rock tracks
exclusive to new label run by Nathan Jones & Keith
Vogelsong (THE BLUE HOUR).
MITCH August 2005

Mccombs, Cass – “A ” – [Monitor]

mitch   6/16/2005   12-inch, A Library

Falling in between the ???Not the Way??? EP &
the ???I Cannot Lie??? 7??? single (both in the KFJC
library) is this debut full-length from Brooklyn
(by way of Baltimore) singer/songwriter CASS
MCCOMBS. The going here is slow and decidedly
innocent, though powerful & most endearing???
??????Aids in Africa, and cancer back home???.???
Acoustic guitar, piano, tambourine, + well-laid
melodies bestir this material, with best bets on
Side A ???What Isn???t Nature???, the deft details of
???A Comedian is Someone?????? ??????I spent my days,
shaking hands, forgetting names?????? sample also
Side B???s amiable ???Gee, it???s Good to be Back Home???,
the standout stanzas of ???When the Bible was Wrote???,
and an easygoing ???My Pilgrim Dear???. A former
PALACE player, MCCOMBS plays a swooning pop
of guitar and foreground emotion in oblique settings,
somewhere betwixt SIMON JOYNER + PEDRO THE
LION, and always, as noted by John Peel,
???Unobtrusively brilliant???.
MITCH June 2005

Crimea, the – “Lottery Winners on Acid ” – [Double Dragon]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Staggering from the ashes of the CROCKETTS, Davey MacManus
(vocals/lyrics/guitar) and drummer Owen Hopkin re-invented
their music selves as THE CRIMEA in late 2002, tempering a bit
of their own chaos in and around Plaistow (which might be old
London???s answer to Hamburger Hill) & enlisting keyboardist
Andrew Stafford (dig the Roland VK-8 + XV-88) , bassist Joseph
Udwin & lead guitarist Andrew Norton (ex-DENZEL). MacManus,
a native of Dublin, plays occasional solo sets as KERNEL KROK;
his biopictorial lyrics read vivid in either setting, shambling to
a place called truth in a style somewhere between MUNGO JERRY
and the DEPARTURE LOUNGE. First three tracks here were all UK
singles ??? and they are terrific ??? rustic in all the right places and
seemingly fueled by sufficient libations???.last two tracks equally
good as drunken anthems/internal commentary/emotional palmistry
??????..Most excellent****
MITCH October 2004

Contrast, the – “Fade Back in ” – [Rainbow Quartz]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Peterborough UK (East Midlands) quartet lets a
third LP loose, featuring production by Andy
Hawkins & enhanced vocals from mainman
David Reid, whose mastery of the Rickenbacker
and various retro psychedelia steers a remarkably
consistent resonating sonic experience through a
swelling, driving journey of great highs ( # 1, 3, 4 +
12) and poignant lows ( # 8). Reid is a polished
storyteller in song, whether relating a post-alterca-
tion friendship ( # 2), warning of doom ( # 5),
belittling fickle fame ( # 6) or letting savvy harmony
convey self-depreciation ( # 10). Reid himself says of this
material that it is???.???the most focused & direct stuff
we have done. Sounds the most consistently like
the CONTRAST?????? Bass = Richard Mackman; rhythm
guitar/backing vox = Spencer Hart; drums = James
Crossley; keys = Hawkins ??? rock-solid powah pop.
MITCH October 2004

Coastal – “Halfway to You ” – [Words on Music]

mitch   10/16/2004   A Library, CD

Somber, sparse slowcore dreampop from Jason
& Luisa Gough that shimmers, beguiles and lays
claim to a particular signature serenity on this
2nd LP. Missing regular drummer Jim Harker on
this recording, Jason G. did the percussion honors
himself, laying close by the bass of Josh Callaway
and a host of buried samples. Melody, drone,
lyrics of longing, a pursuit perhaps of melancholy
in the service of stately dirge (Luisa G.???s keyboards
a vital sonic element), COASTAL is all dual-harmony
and mesmerizing alchemy; strings/bells/guitars/magic
???..Faraway vox + spoken word beauty plus Megan
Lloyd violin ( # 2) lone yet intriguing instro ( # 8)
heartrending cello bridges ( #1) epic haze via wistful
viola by Helen Maltby ( # 9) languid memories ( #4)
???.. Out of Provo, UT ??? most pleasing and sophisticated
masterwork
MITCH October 2004

Clearlake – “Cedars ” – [Domino Records]

mitch   1/16/2004   A Library, CD

Bleak and despairing sophomore release from Sussex coast
quartet articulately explores a personal inventory of
madness, death, loss, self-loathing and resilient honor
arrived at via lacerating wit. A document of heartbreak
and the sensibilities of vulnerability amid drizzle-filled
days of assumed and inevitable failure and self-depreciation
(aided greatly by producer Simon Raymonde of COCTEAU TWINS) as
confessed by frontman Jason Pegg, who elicits beauty in melan-
choly and melancholy behind beauty from stalwart members Sam
Hewitt (keyboards), David Woodward (bass), and James Butcher
(drums)???..???The last thing you???re expecting when you???re
looking for a window / is to see it look so grey??????
[???Wonder if the Snow???] Strings drive tracks like ???The Mind is
Evil??? with a harmonic tension, while a simplistic basic piano
line fuels ???Keep Smiling???, giving to maleficent desire ???I???d Like
to Hurt You??? and a soul-searching mitigation ???Trees in the City???.
The juxtaposition of uplifting and wonderful arrangement with the
coal-colored sentiment places Pegg???s alto to a reverent self-drama,
competing with murals of feedback, keyboards and chanting
(especially ???Come into the Darkness???) in a see-saw battle of
greenery vs. metropolis (sample the inverted Golden Rule of selfish
motivation inside ???Treat Yourself with Kindness???,,,,??????Do unto
yourself as you might wish thy will be done by someone else??????)
Melodic and majestic to the drenching limit (with superb use of
minor keys throughout)and conceived by the band in France and
Brighton, the edge here is lyrical atop a bed of raw and evocative
sonics ??? gorgeous melodics in support of forensic observations.
MITCH January 2004

Califone – “Heron King Blues ” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

mitch   12/16/2003   12-inch, A Library

Hot on the heels of 2003???s ???Quicksand / Cradlesnakes??? comes this concept LP
of recurring dream and Druid legend. A half-man, half-bird figure of legend
haunts these sprawling mirages of ancient battle and laconic, ethereal interim;
squalls of darkness patch themselves between melodic loam and numerological
tension alongside the mercy and revenge of elephant-horns, muted drums,
pump organ, slide guitar, treated piano, violin, fretless banjo and omnipresent
electronic looping. The vision belongs to vocalist Tim Rutili, along with bandmates
Ben Massarella (percussion), Jim Becker (guitars, keyboards) and Joe Adamik
(reeds, horns) and is brought to realization with producer Michael Krassner &
the usual Chicago all-star sessioneers : Wil Hendricks (bass), Fred Lonberg Holm
(cello), et. al. A product of extemporaneous creation in the studio and the
spectre of metaphysics outside of it, Rutili is a long long way from RED RED MEAT
days ??? though the riverbeds still swirl with enigma, it is the topography of semi-
coma that now presupposes symbolism, moving CALIFONE toward a more
compelling interpretation of an ancient future.
MITCH December 2003

Mus /Coti Split Single [coll] – [Pop Art Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

COTI is famed producer/sound engineer on the Greek electronic
indie scene; he has 2 LPs out on of mostly ambient
electro melodics, and one more recent on that veers
toward a deep listening, gentle Moor Music / harmonious landscape.
???Crab Promenade??? is an outtake for those sessions, using a seaside
melody as backdrop, it skips along over ascetic rocks & sensual
whirlpools in an unflagging example of clean + sedate parallel melo-
harmonics/percussive electronica. Much the left-brain at the beach
to this, the left side, that is. The MUS track previously appeared on
???Little Darla Has a Treat For You V. 18???, and strolls the fashion
runway with a definite andalusian couture; subtle, stylish & serene ???
small jacket, flared skirt over layers of lace and tulle, detailed perhaps
with beaded frills and a bliss-out of pristine dimensions. Delectable,
of elaborate embroidery, as if finding a slow moment in this messy
world, ???Dexase Apagar??? is a pause of serenity in a swelter of frivolity.
Sanguine sounds from Greece and Spain.
MITCH July 2002

Carissa’s Wierd – “You Should Be at Home Here ” – [Brown Records]

mitch   7/16/2002   A Library, CD

Improving on debut, ???Ugly But Honest???, producer Chris Walla
delivers a recording of immediate/emotional power within a
carefully balanced parameter of acoustic string instruments,
resonant lo-fi percussion and songs that are like secrets,
veiled in violin & whispered in sleeping beauteous emulsion.
CARISSA???S WEIRD founders Mat Brooke + Jean Ghetto
front this 5-piece, which also includes accordionist Jeff Hellis,
Sarah Standard on violin & drummer Ben Bridwell; having
emigrated from Tucson AZ to Seattle with dreams of wistful
contemplation (note somber tones + musical shades of grey)
and a not-to-be-outdone riffing that adds a nice low-end punch
to the material. Picks???.???Brooke Daniel???s Tiny Broken Fingers???
???I did not think those screams were for real???.??? Opening with a
woeful violin line, it arrives finally with a medical solution???.the
haunted ???The Color That Your Eyes Changed??? is a sad, blurred
waltz of elegant harmony & displacement???..???Blessed Arms That
Hold You Tight??? is Ghetto???s finest moment???.??????it???s all long good-
byes???..??? sung with such an ephemeral nondeliberation of beauty
that it becomes clear why the band scribbled out their lyrics in the
accompanying booklet???.no point in overstating the obvious.
MITCH July 2002

Cul De Sac – “Immortality Lessons ” – [Strange Attractors]

mitch   6/16/2002   A Library, CD

First release in 3 years is an on-air WBRS live recording
rom???3 years ago. Apparently under the influence of
a bong-fed Middle Eastern mood of trance throughout
this set, Boston???s CUL DE SAC contemplate a barbiturate
Buddhism in cramped quarters, extending most of these
tracks with a sort of water-from-the-moon indolence and
improv/hypno groove purely their own. Leader Glenn
Jones raises a lantern of color, texture whilst pondering
some kind of spiritual unknown washed in hues of pre-
monition so inward as to barely register as fretwork.
Heady with percussive pulse, iridescent like the night
bloom of flowers, liquid with grace and shrouded in a
dark mystery of implied electronics & obtuse trajectory.
Unerringly strange, most of these tracks are otherwise
unavailable as studio/alternate versions and add to the
canon of this unique instrumental outfit, afloat on the
most uncharted of waters. Fine form in spades.
MITCH June 2002

Compomicro-Dexall – “Schism Portions ” – [Chitah! Chitah! Soundcrac]

mitch   5/16/2002   A Library, CD

Mike Guarino (drums/guitar) and Jake Rodriguez (bass/
synth/vocals) have been playing together since 1995
(TOPPLE, LIVESTOCK, etc.) but it is as COMPOMICRO
DEXALL that grindcore/free jazz/punk/noise/experimental
converge in earsplitting dislocation for this free-mad duo.
Help from Jeremy Stone (synth) and Moe! Staiano (guitar)
supplements a thick, driving assault where prearranged
riffs burst with precision, flurries are predetermined and
blasts of noise occur with a megaton random & rumble.
Rodriguez (who also records as processed voice/electronics
DSP warrior THE BRAN as a solo project) has designed
sounds for Bay Area theater & was impressario for the
Clit Stop in SF; says of Guarino, ???We???ve been playing
together so long, it???s really all improv???. At times a trio in
the past (with Chris Broderick adding voice & clarinet),
CD is collage/avant/loud/chaos/meteor shower whence
pleasure is sired through pain. Sound familiar?
MITCH May 2002

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