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Music Reviews

Volumen/No-Fi Soul Rebellion – “Lady Cop/Ch*rch” – [W?ntage Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, A Library

Two bands from Missoula, Montana release a split 7″ on a label based in Missoula, Montana. Coincidence? You decide.

Volumen take the A side with the song Lady Cop. It’s 3:42 of funky fun with fuzz guitar and synthesizer. For some reason I was reminded of Urge Overkill circa The Kids Are Insane. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear from Volumen for a while – according to their website one member just got married and another is expecting a baby. Let’s all hope for a long winter with lots of studio time.

No-Fi Soul Rebellion is essentially one guy, Mark Heimer, who wanted to perform in a band but didn’t want the hassle with bandmates. His solution? He invented the “Soul System,” a bass guitar with the strings removed and a mini-disc player embedded inside. On stage, his wife dances around wearing the Soul System while the husband karaokes to his own songs. They’re like a post-modern Partridge Family.

Anyway the B side, Ch*rch, is a more mechanical, synthesized funk than the A side. It’s the kind of music that Morris Day and Devo could have made if only they had put their petty jealousies aside. Oh, and NFSR lose points for rhyming “lurch” and “jerks” with “church.”

–Hunter Gatherer

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” – [Daptone Records] — 45 rpm

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   7-inch, Soul

Ms. Jones is not happy with the foreign and domestic policies of the current administration. So she rounded up the Dap Kings, house band for the Daptone label, and put her feelings into what she describes as an “anthem of discontent.”

The first song asks the musical question “What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?” It’s the sort of blistering retro-soul that we’ve come to expect from Ms. Jones & co. Sharon’s pissed, and as the song goes on you can feel the band absorbing her anger and reflecting it back to us as heat. Bush and Iraq aren’t mentioned explicitly, so this song will work just as well for the next country we invade.

The B side is a slow but impossibly funky version of the public domain song “This Land Is Your Land.” Woodie Guthrie is dancing in his grave somewhere. The song is great from the horn section’s sour Yankee Doodle opening to the fade out, but the highlight for me is the way the trumpet solo enters.

If you can listen to either song without shaking your ass you are probably Ralph Nader.

–Hunter Gatherer

Jolie Holland – “Catalpa” – [Anti- Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/20/2004   A Library, CD

This is San Francisco-based Jolie Holland’s first solo release since co-founding and then leaving Be Good Tanyas, though it wasn’t originally intended to be. The tracks are mostly demo tapes that weren’t supposed to go “any further than my neighborhood” as she says. There is an unfinished feeling to many of the songs, and she coughs and laughs on some tracks. In another, you can hear an engineer dropping something (and he even gets a percussion credit). One song was recorded before it was finished, and Ms. Holland helpfully includes the extra lyrics of the finished version in her liner notes.

The result is that listening to this CD feels like crouching outside her window and eavesdropping as she sings her mysterious songs of loneliness and restlessness. She’s accompanied by her guitar and little else. At times it sounds a little like a field recording of old Appalachian folk (due to the way she sings and her picking style, I think) until you listen to the lyrics, consider the whole thing, and feel the influence of Woody Guthrie and Syd Barrett. The latter even gets a co-writing credit on The Littlest Birds.

There is something deeply American about the rootless feel of this release.

–Hunter Gatherer

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

PacificUV s/t [WARM]

Thurston Hunger   10/15/2004   A Library, CD, Format

Five-piece out of Georgia, aided and abetted
by various folks (including Heather McIntosh
from the Instruments!!). Adding female vox
on some tracks helps to underscore that always
crucial Slowdive connection. Fine floatation,
nothing earth-shattering, nor earth-smothering.
Pillowy layers of guitar, songs buried in
feather beds can still breathe and walk among
us as tunes. Upon headphone inspection you
realize how much went into realizing these
fluffy drifts of shoegaze. The pedal steel,
the vibes, the electroprocessing, a touch
of God Speed swirled/massed guitar, the
cello-enforced roots, the noisette party
favors…and undoubtedly the pharmaceuticals.
Cuts #3 and #7 bubbled to the top of the pop
for me…while #8 seems to fog a different
window altogether.

subtle – “A new white.” – [lex records]

Funkminsta Fulla   10/13/2004   Hip Hop

subtle – “A new white.” – [lex records] (US release Oct 12, 2004)

Oakland sextet subtle are Doseone, Jel, Dax Pierson (those three perform as Themselves), Alex Kort, Jordan Dalyrmple and Marty Dowers

and they invite you “to euthanize the yolk slicked white horse you rode in on”

lucious loops and synthetic silicon samples meet watery dirge of probing lyric delivered in doseone’s at times androgynous monotone

recurring images of blood & morgue accompany motif of losing one’s arm / hand which is explored literally and symbolically throughout lyrics, song titles and album art

stethoscope reveals hidden gems of fat beats, tasty teases of textures and opulent on occasion vocal phrasing

slight lang. scattered throughout, mostly of the suggestive imagery variety, marked on liner notes where audible / possible; if there’s one complaint to be made about this album it is the difficulty in discerning the highly substantive lyrics from the vox. fortunately, extensive lyrics have been provided in the line art laden pseudo-copied liner notes which have a quasi-DIY feel

subtle – reminding us that “[there’s] more to life than manicured vaginas and a saline solution”

mad hatter

Born Heller – “S/T” – [Locust Music]

lombard   10/5/2004   A Library, CD

A very cool release with female vocals from Josephine Foster–similar in sound to Mia Doi Todd..which at times are nearly operatic. The instrumentation (harp, mandolin, bass) gives it an extra experimental kick, especially on the early tracks. You’ll notice that one of the Oldham’s (Paul) recorded a number of tracks..and the final song has more of a Palace/folk feel to it and also features male vocals (Jason Ajemian-who also provides bass throughout). (added 10-5-2004)
-Cynthia Lombard

Little Wings- “Magic Wand” – [K Records] (CD)

lombard   10/5/2004   A Library, CD

Spare, folky acoustic music with male vocals by Kyle Field. This is their 6th release and on it they work with Calvin Johnson along with a bunch of other guests. Kyle Field is also working on visual arts, with the cover art his handiwork. (added 10-5-2004)

-Cynthia Lombard