Music Reviews

14 Year Old Girls – “Strategy Guide” [Retard Disco]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Imagine that Devo were a bunch of nerds. OK, fine, Devo are a bunch of nerds, but imagine that they were obsessed with video games and gamer culture rather than, umm, whatever it is they were obsessed with. Songs about Megaman, Pac Man, Wario, Tomb Raider, et al. The music is catchy, sometimes punky electro-pop with male and female vocals. It’s well produced and fun, and the lyrics are often quite brilliant. All the songs are very short (none over 2 minutes), but the breaks between the tracks are very short, so you can let it track through and play a couple of them. If you have time, the liner notes are quite hilarious.
Favorites: 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 18, 21, 22, 24, 25
Language: 3 (‘fucking?), 5 (‘fucking?), 14 (‘shit?), 26 (‘fucking?)

Aroah – “The Last Laugh” [Acuarela]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Aroah is lead by Irene Rodriguez a Spanish female singer/songwriter. This album predominantly features her clear, simple voice and acoustic guitar work with occasional appearances by drums, flute, and electric guitar, but always sublimated to the voice and acoustic guitar. She is clearly strongly influenced by John Fahey (and says as much on her website). All songs are in English (including the one with the Spanish name) and she has no discernable accent).
Language: 12 (‘fuck’, though she says it so gently I had to listen a couple times to make sure that’s what she was really saying)

99 Hooker?s – “Generica”

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Sexually charged beat poetry rants over a bed of bass, guitar, samples, and occasional reeds singing over the top. The words aren’t sung so much as spoken in time. The rants are directed variously at Hollywood (7), religion (3,8), redneck America (4), and, umm, miscellaneous. I really like the last track, but it is quite long. From the label’s copy: ’99 Hooker’s Generica is to pop music as crank is to Michelob?.
Members of Note: M2 (of Chemical Brothers), Donald Miller, Ray Sage.
Language: 3 (‘shit?), 4 (‘fuck’), 6 (‘motherfuckers?), 8 (‘shit?)
Oh yeah, the punctuation is correct. ?99 Hooker? is the name of the band leader.

Slow Poisoners, The – “Melodrama” [Rocktopus!]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

The Slow Poisoners are Andrew Poisoner and Rick ‘Foxx? Trott. These guys have a 4-track and they are not afraid to use it. Well, probably they have some digital recording equipment that sounds like a 4-track. Point being, the songs definitely do not suffer from overproduction. Andrew and Foxx play all instruments with the exception of some trumpet on track 4. The songs are simple, mostly uptempo, clean sounding pop with clever, easily understood lyrics. This is not art. This is entertainment (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Note – Tracks 2, 6, and 13 comprise a 3-act melodrama of the handle-bar-mustachioed-villain-ties-the-girl-to-the-train-tracks variety.
Favorites – 4 (Todo Es Mal!), 7, 8, 11 (a piano rag, instrumental), 14
16 is a cover of This Little Light of Mine.

Einst?rzende Neubauten – “9-15-2000, Brussels” [Caroline]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

A live, 2 disk recording from Einst’zende Neubaten. The music ranges from seductive (in a German sort of way) to aggressive and noisy. The instrumentation is heavy, driving bass, captivating vocals that recall a more German Peter Gabriel, and some excellent use of auxiliary percussion, noisemakers, and electronics. The bass and the intense vocals (even when I don’t understand them) are in every track really hold the whole thing together. Lyrics vacillate between German and English. All clean as far as I know (since I don’t speak German). It expertly toes the line between being catchy/hooky and edgy/noisy). Not a bad track on here.
CD1 – 2 (seductive), 3, 5 (includes a funny ‘introducing the band? bit), 9 (electronica/dance sound)
CD2 – 2 (a long, slow build of intensity), 4, 6 (fantastic intense percussion, ends with ~1:40 of applause), 8, 9 (seductive)
CD1 – 8 (1:00 spoken intro, funny)
CD2 – 1 (1:20 spoken intro in German), 3 (entire track is applause),

John Berberian and the Rock East Ensemble – “Middle Eastern Rock” [Acid Symposium]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD, International

Middle-eastern acid rock led by oud player John Berberian (an oud is kind of a fat mandolin). The music incorporates Middle Eastern and Armenian instrumentation and rhythms with western jazz, soul, and funk. Track 3 has some Armenian vocals; other tracks are entirely instrumental. Very groovy, laid back stuff. Break out the hookah, pick any track, and enjoy!

Big City Orchestra – “Just Where is That Sound Coming From?” [Big City Orchestra]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library

Subtitled Exclusive Tracks for Radio Friends, and with the name of the group misspelled on the cover(!), Big City Orchestra has been so kind as to provide us with 14 tracks of experimental ambience. Imagine some old piece of Sci-fi where the heroes were adventuring through the body of some kind of giant organic robot-being; here are the sounds, including the heart (1), the blood stream (2), the cerebellum (3), the language center of the brain (6), the bladder (9), and the bowels (12). Subdued enough to be used as beds, but interesting enough to stand on their own. If you were looking for some good haunted house music, you need look no further.
The cover only shows 9 track titles, but I think they are just suggested titles for any of the tracks, rather than being linked to specific ones. I’ve made some decisions for Zookeeper purposes, but feel free to mix it up.

The Faint – “Wet From Birth” [Saddle Creek]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

It turns out that catchy, hooky, 80’s-style electronic dance-pop didn’t die, it just moved to Omaha! Wet From Birth joins the 2 excellent The Faint CDs already in the library and provides 10 more tracks of music to listen to while wearing black lipstick, black fingernail polish, black boots, and black shirts with black designs. What Depeche Mode could have been if they weren’t so insufferable. My favorites are tracks 1, 2, 6, and 9, but you really can’t go wrong with any track. Play this!
There is ostensibly a video on here in MP4 format, but I couldn’t get it to play.

Tracy and the Hindenburg Ground Crew – “Great Day” [Action Box Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

This is presumably the same band as Ace T and the Hindenburg Ground Crew (for whom we have a 7″ 33), but while that disc is pretty much a novelty, this album is a bit more substantial.
Quirky pop that’s not really hi-fi or lo-fi, but somewhere in between (medium-fi?). Some elements of The Residents, but probably a little more of They Might Be Giants. Songs are by turns thoughtful (2, 8, 10, 13), funny (3, 6, 9, 12), or just kind of strange (1, 4, 7, 8). If there is a space for pop on your show, you should find something to like here.
Language: 12

Adams, John – “Road Movies” [Nonesuch Records]

stingray   1/14/2005   A Library, CD

Neo-classical post-minimalism from composer, San Francisco Conservatory of Music mainstay, and 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner John Adams. This CD contains new recordings of several Adams works. Road Movies uses piano and violin, while the others have only piano (2 pianos on Halleluiah Junction).
The music is consonant, beautiful, and warm. It is simple without crossing the line into banality that would classify it as ‘new age.’ My favorites tracks are the slightly more strident ones (1, 3, 6, 8).

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