Music Reviews

Tin Hat Trio – “Memory Is An Elephant ” – [Angel/Emi Classics]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Local trio with an intriguing combination of
violin, accordian and acoustic guitar. Carla
Kihlstedt has a musical midas touch for me,
any project she is in is solid; often w/ her
solos as the highlight. Lightning heartbreak
and pizzicato pensiveness on violin…emotive
w/o ever being sappy. Rob Berger on accordion
provides dizzy doppler runs. Mark Orton rounds
out the Hat-trick, his slappy, bouncy guitar
took me a while to warm to…but effectively
he’s covering both melody and percussion.
There’s a hint of an art-cafe soundtrack vibe
here, but generally Kihlstedt’s darker edge
slices that up. Last piece has an interesting
denouement, a sort of music box melody reprise,
some silence and this overpowering operatic
vocal ominence. A unique release.

Big Breakfast – “Why Do You Touch Things That.. ” – [Shrimper]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Sassiness-on-a-stick pop out of the Inland
Empire. Smart-ass lyrics and big-ass hooks add
up for some brain-crackin’ mock ‘n’ roll. I
almost think this was written w/ the TV on, as
Ricki Lake, Cornholio, Little House on the
Prairie and the phrase “now you’re working
you’re working your quads…all right!” pop
up in various songs. Boy meets girl vox (like
High School Yearbook Editors mocking the Pep
Squad) over jangle-quirk guitars, happy drums
and some simple synth. Cut first period, so
you don’t skip your Big Breakfast.

Monaural – “Monitor Interference ” – [Ba Da Bing]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Electronic stony drifters, from wind-swept
loping-camel beats, through dubwise Chain
Reaction slo-mo rides, aroung the horns of
Scorn and winding up in an open hovering
space, at the gates of alt.heaven. Yet again
connections to post-rock Tortoise territory.
Ironically titled band (plenty of stereo
headphonery here) with not a lot of info
on them, I believe Scott Zacharias is a
Detroit DJ. Most cuts come with their own
built-in cross-fade tracking from one to
the next, so count on a slow pot-down. All
instro w/ some sampled voices at times. Nice
reply to their amazing “Harmonic”

Black Tape for a Blue Girl – “As 1 Aflame Laid Bare By Desir ” – [Projekt Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

The flagship band for the Projekt label, each
guided by Sam Rosenthal. Drippingly lush
production, like wax on an antique candleabra
Stately paced pieces featuring resonant male
and female voices. Some sweet stinging
strings on pieces, flute whispers here and
there as well. Gossamer use of synth helps
keep this pretty and pure, often it’s just a
deep dark rumble. Vocals (Sam, Oscar Herrera
and Julianna Towns of Skinner Box) are very
dramatic, lyrics inspired by Marcel Duchamp
range from opium-eyed romance to dead-eyed
desolation. The last track is a lengthy soul
abandoning the body drone.

Hooker, William – “Distance Between Us, the ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

An exercise in parallel construction, or a
reverse hurricane…the center of this album
is anything but calm. Track four is nearly
19 minutes of swirling frenzy: dizzy horn
harmonies at first dissolve into a pretty
dense free soup of solos, piano gusts and
Wiiliam’s kinetic aesthetics. A definite
E-ticket ride, moving out from there track
5 swings more, a piano pouncing romp. Still
pretty wild. Rock-or-rollers note #3 and #6
dueling versions of Patti Smith run through
a Sonic Youth accelerator and rebuilt here.
I prefer the latter, but look out for many
a false end there. Track 2 is a rhapsodic,
piano + drums spritzer. The book-end pieces
are William solo, the first a hum-and-drum
mantra; on the closer he let’s the drums
speak for themselves.

Drake, Nick – “Tanworth-In-Arden 1967/68 ” – [Anthology]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   12-inch, Blues

A bootleg album of home-cassette recordings
that probably should never have been made,
but then Nick Drake probably should never
have left this earth so abruptly, so young
and by his own hand. So we’re dourly blessed
with these 18 sparse solo selections. (Well
“All My Trials” actually features his sister
gently chiming in with him) The warble of
the tape (even bleeding through faintly at
times) add to the haunting quality here. I
remain amazed at the gentle quality of Nick’s
voice masking such a troubled soul.

Stru Tural – “Triumphant Return of Amsted… ” – [Ixchel]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

Living Kennedy’s (brothers Dan & Pat) are at
the center of this SF band w/ solid singing,
favoring harmonies over histrionics. Plenty
of rough riffage, and well-roasted production
Flavorful peppy poppy rock that’d make pappy
proud(& maybe make Helen Keller Plaid?) The
limelight could blanch these guys, here’s
hoping their idiosyncracies can mushroom in
the dark with KFJC for awhile longer, and
not get cleaved off by some suit w/ a degree
in Rock 101. I recall ’em as pretty scrappy
last year live on Beyond Room 222. Last
track stops at -3:00 minutes, then there’s
a bonus drifty ditty at -1:41

Rebound Volume I I I [coll] – [Secretly Canadian]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   7-inch, A Library

Six-shooter e.p. 5 parts pop, one part beats
1) swearing at motorists – sounding nearly as
good as the band they did sound for.
See track 3 below. NOTE : false ending.
2) Marmoset – geeky with a faint hint of dub?
3) Guided By Voices – from the vaults straight
to the top of the charts. Why isn’t GbV
bigger than the Who. Why? InstAnthem.
4) To Rococo Rot – For me this sounds like
the sound bed for a Devo cover of Gloria
5) Bill Ding – A lanky number with acoustic
guitar harmonics for the self-doubter in
us all. Too bad Bill Ding collapsed.
6) Hood – More rain-streaked bleak too-weak-
-to-speak sad pop. A gem, complete with
the sound of the singer’s girlfriend’s
train pulling away as she leaves him
All ready for plenty of plays

Air Traffic Controllers – “Assistant to the Assistant ” – [Parallelism]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   A Library, CD

New York duo’s 3rd self-issued release
starts off by hawking a loogie in the face of
corporate first-track loading, with a silent
first song. Shortly thereafter the silence
is shattered…again and again. Guitarist
Gerard Cosloy, from the no pain, no sustain,
no gain school crosses Major Stars with minor
riffs…that lock in and repeat like hornets’
nests. Lots of overdubbing about the head
and ears. New Zealand/Yorker Claire Pannell’s
random drumming seems over-matched much of
the time…perhaps if it were mic’d a little
better, it would seem more emotive and less,
uh, limp. But Cosloy’s the focus here, his
feedfreak-backout guitar and sonar-sweep
effects guarantee an unsafe flight.

Orishas Across the Ocean [coll] – [Rykodisc]

Thurston Hunger   9/4/2005   CD, International

There’s a history of death-bed Christians…
accepting Hay-Zeus…just in case. Well don’t
wait until your afterlife to get to know the
pantheon of orishas. Voodoo pops up in odd
places from William Gibson’s novels to David
Byrne’s “True Stories” to Strom Thurmond’s
recreational activities. The liner notes are
a class in themselves, check them out when
you have time (and loan me your copy of Maya
Deren’s “The Divine Horsemen”) This is mostly
chants, often sounding youthful and exuberant
and interesting backing syncopated percussion.
Evidently track 5, the Bori songs are somewhat
rare…it stood out for me.

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