Okay, I'll be the first to say it: I just don't see it. Once again, a band has emerged from New York City making a huge name for themselves in magazines, getting signed to Matador, getting compared to Joy Division and other classic bands, and I just don't see it. At all. This EP is horrible. This band is horrible. There's nothing redeeming about sounding like other bands, but these guys don't even sound like any of the bands they're compared to, so if they're throwing them out as influences that's a mistake on their part. This music is unoriginal, unimaginative, meandering, melancholy nonsense. When I saw the mention in Entertainment Weekly recently, I should have known the game was up. But no. I gave them a chance. I opened my mind and ears to Interpol. And I'm not impressed/amused/amazed/excited or otherwise enthused. It's just bad. And not in that "it's just bad enough to be good" way, either. 'PDA' opens with a hard drum beat, and vocals that are muted and washed out that sound like they're being sung by a German expatriate. The melody is tired but has promise, and then the chorus with its "sleep tight/sleep tonight" is trite. It reminded me of one of the songs Darryl Zero sings. Then it's time for 'NYC'. Side note: if one more band from NYC has a song with NYC in the title, I'm going to start taking pills. It's slow tempo, it has silly lyrics ("the subway she is a porno/and the pavements they are a mess"), and it's just shy of a Mogwai melody with nowhere to go. And just when that one's over, 'Specialist' starts and it seems, for a moment, like it might restore your faith. That bassline is catchy enough if the song would rock out and work hard for it's money. But then the vocals start. And they're off a little with the bassline because the guitars haven't come in yet. Then the song doesn't rock. It doesn't roll. It does nothing but stink. A lot. A word to journalists: stop comparing this band to Joy Division. It's a disgrace to that band, and a mischaracterization for this one. And a word to the listener: if you liked this release, I have three words for you - Shudder to Think. They did this so much better six years ago, and even then it was questionable. Avoid. Avoid, avoid, avoid this band. - Rob Devlin
EDWARD KA-SPEL, "TANITH AND THE LION TREE"
Flesh Eating Ants Records
With their debut release Flesh Eating Ants have thrown their hat into the Pink Dots and related re-issue ring. 'Tanith' was originally intended for vinyl but stopped short at CD. Now over a decade later it has arrived in a most admirable fashion: remastered on two 220 gram Direct Metal Mastered gray platters in a dazzlingly colorful sleeve, hand numbered up to 512. The first LP is 'Tanith' proper, slightly re-worked for the format, and the second the extras: the two CD bonus tracks and three new demos written and recorded in the wake of 9/11. As with much of Ka-Spel's solo work, the music is mostly comprised of keyboards and an almost found sound sort of miscellany (guitars, radio, percussion, melodica) and involves members of his extended musical family of the time. The album plays out like a patchwork of disparate lyrical novellas and instrumental passages. It flows rather well despite some fairly drastic changes: a pretty piano ballad here, a cantankerous synth fit there, a soothing sound loop here, a cutesy harpsichord ditty there, an overdriven vocal here, a not quite a capella lullaby there, etc. Ka-Spel's gift at imaginatively setting a scene or sweetly serenading a lover with a minimal amount of poetry is nothing short of genius, proven several more times over with some of these songs. But quoting bits is criminal as each in their entirety tells the stories. The finale "Hotel X" is one of the loveliest songs in the whole back catalog, a sort of hallucinogenic travelogue for Edward and his tired eyed partner. Sides C and D complement 'Tanith' well. "Phoney War" and "Old Man Trouble" were written during the Gulf War and are on the more frantic end of the spectrum while "Diary 11th", "Diary 12th" and "Diary 13th" begin at and progress further toward the opposite end. By the 13th it seems that Ka-Spel was at a loss for words as the overwhelming sadness had fully set in. About all that remains is ten somber minutes worth of slow moving sound cloud, reminding me of the unforgettable images of massive walls of dust and debris filling the streets of NYC. Well, it just doesn't get much better than this. Kudos to Ka-Spel and Flesh Eating Ants for the royal re-issue treatment: it looks great, it sounds great and it's greatly expanded. Exactly what pink dotted analogue enthusiasts are looking for. - Mark Weddle
The first strikingly clear quality of the debut full-lenther by Yann Tambour as Encre is the crispness of the production, as noises and loops of organic drums, piano, guitar and violin are maimed and severed and sutured together in a mosaic, stylistic of a drunken butcher, which never misses a beat. And then, there's the vocals, so strikingly close I can smell the coffee, cigarettes and croissants on Tambour's breath. Have you ever had somebody standing so close to you and talking in your face that the intimacy becomes feverishly uneasy? Combine that with the sullen, whispery voice of Tambour entirely in French and the entire experience becomes as bizarre and uncomfortable as it is intriguing. Hauntingly clever and never dull, this eight-track long player is confusing and unlocking with every listen, with dimensions of aural dementia, fuzz and noise integrated in with sparklingly clear sounds, and creepy loops at a slick pace. (I swear I hear the sounds of an iron lung in track three, "Or.") Be very careful with this album, as at extremely loud volumes, my very own heart begins to palpitate. I wish I spent more time paying attention in French class. - Jon Whitney
Amp, "L'Amour Invisible"
Space Age Recordings
Following up last year's compilation of live recordings, Richard, Karine and Olivier return with a brand-new studio album, this time with Jan Zert in tow on a few tracks. 'L'Amour Invisible' kicks off with the impressive and promising "Crazyhead," laiden with heavy trip hop overtones and offset by drones, sparse male vocals (Richard perhaps?) and Amp's signature dreamy bass throbs. The title track, which follows, features Karine's incredibly sexy French whispers (to the non-French speaker's ears, she could be reading a grocery list and it would still sound sexy) in a framework of glitchy fragments. "Curious Smile" shows off the more electronic leanings that Gauthier brings to the group. Although slightly reminiscent of the subdued electro-pop of Donna Regina, such an approach is not always as conducive to Karine's voice and Richard's organic elements. It seems to work well with tracks such as "Crazyhead", and "It Ain't Easy", but not as well in other places such as this. "How Can We Be Sure" recalls Amp at their best: hypnotic and cavernous. Other tracks, on the other hand, like "Where Was When", are less interesting and rather forgettable. Or, like "Glasshouse Jam," are pretty, but don't really go anywhere (but, it's admittedly a jam, so perhaps it needn't do so). 'L'Amour Invisible' finishes with "Junkyard Blues" and "Go" which are more spacy jams, followed by a contrasting bonus track: noisy and raw, with lots of feedback. Allover the album is not nearly as strong or gutsy as the brilliant 'Stenorette', which Amp released in 1998. Gauthier's rhythm programming is not as effective as it was on tracks like "Sunflower" or "You Are Here." The band's latest work is diverse but somehow not attention-grabbingthey seem to meander between different styles with finding any cohesion. The more outstanding tracks from 'L'Amour Invisble' might have worked better as 7"s, such as the band released steadily while still in their fledgling stage nearly 10 years ago. - Jessica Tibbits
This frenetic one-sided 12" containing a single unlisted track showed up around the end of last year with a robo-processed Jenkinson proclaiming what sounds like "Squarepusher with all the difference on drum 'n bass." With this offering, it's quite true. After the mixed reviews of "Go Plastic," Jenkinson has nailed it with what comes across as all the high points of said disc to form a great five minutes of his own take on drum 'n bass. The clipping of shifting rhythms, thick bass lines (including a sneaky disco bit), flurries of squelching synths and cut 'n paste vocal textures groove along just nicely. Well worth checking out. - Gord Fynes
Ba Da Bing
Landing has finally emerged as a band with not only a lot of fantastic noise to be thrown around, but a great deal of melody to accompany it. Their last full-length, "Circuit" (yes, I know there was one after that, but it was recorded before "Circuit"), was a bit disappointing only in that many of the songs hit their mark and just stayed there, never striving for more, never trying. Then, they released a split tour EP with Windy + Carl, and there was promise. The drone was there, but their use of melody was just astonishing! Where did it come from all of a sudden? When I read the concept behind this album - songs and movements dedicated to each season - I couldn't wait to hear it. And the payoff is indescribable. The Snows' melodies improve with every release, and on "Seasons" they've reached a new height. They blend together with ease, and fit into the music just so, that there's little doubt that that's the way it was always supposed to sound. The drums are a little more pronounced this time around, and the guitars are less shrill. Most importantly: very often on this release the guitars aren't distorted or treated with effects, which makes for some lovely moments, like 'Can't Hide Forever (Into the Woods)' and 'Encircled (Through Fallen Leaves)'. The best part of the release has to be the promise heard in this music. Landing has returned, they're a little different and better for it, and they have quite a ways to go to achieve create a true masterpiece of modern music. And on "Seasons", Landing has gotten a little closer, and it seems all the more possible for them now. - Rob Devlin
Sote, "Electric Deaf"
Very little can be found on Sote when scanning the Warp website (they don't even have sound samples for this one!), but that's pretty irrelevant once you pop this CD into your stereo. The best way to describe "Electric Deaf" is this: splattering chunks of acid noise held together by chaotic rhythms and disemboweling bass frequencies. Overdrivensquelches and electronic death rattles leave a grisly mess in their wake, to say nothing of the massive aneurysm it will induce in your speakers. The b-side, "Subconscious", takes a short step away from the bloodbath. Here, playful oldschool arpeggios dance around bludgeoning breaks and otherworldly vocal snippets. During the breakdown, there is a certain calm as airy pads and the aforementioned arpeggios fill the space as best they can. It's a welcome, albeit temporary, relief for hemorhaging ears. With Warp's increasingly shoddy output of late (Vincent Gallo... 'nuff said!), it's nice to see that they can still pump out some hardcore eviscerating shit. Let's hope there's more of this to come... like a Sote full-length! - Gary Suarez
Hakan Lidbo, "6/10/60"
Not actually a newcomer to the electronic world neither as producer, artist nor as remixer (Fatboy Slim, Ashley Beedle, Vladislav Delay f.e.) Hakan Lidbo presents here his own vision of artificial listening/electronic intelligence. 6 tracks, each 10 minutes long make 60 minutes (hence the bludgeoning original album title) - but actually there are no separate tracks, as the index points simply indicate concept. It's an hour of hi-tec equipment out of bounds, a carnage of sounds on the edge of commercial appeal thrown in a steady flow underlined by a minimal tech funk beat that never stays away for too long but could have been more savage and challenging for my tastes. The album is basically a producer's DJ mix with his own material but Hakan Lidbo plays it safely in the middle between dancefloor and home listening. The sound quality is perfect, cultivated through a technical expertise not splattered by the stench of leaving any gadgets rot in the corner. This has some of the clinical charm remeniscent of most Kraftwerk releases and will please fans of early Warp stuff too, though in comparison, it is a much updated, reinstalled and expanded version. - carsten s.
ARCHER PREWITT, "THREE"
Without trying to come across as schmaltzy, I find it interesting that, as music fans, there are those particular discs which have become the soundtrack to a time and place, be it a courtship, road trip, party, etc., in which fond memories are tied to. With a timely release, my nomination for the soundtrack for this summer is in. Although he appears on several records for Thrill Jockey (Sea and Cake, Sam Prekop), "Three" marks the solo debut on the label for Mr. Prewitt. In keeping with the well-crafted pop sensibility of 1999's "White Sky", there are some of the disc's fourteen tracks which could be said to hearken back to the 1970's (without making any direct comparisons) both in composition and full-sounding instrumental arrangements. Opening the disc with sparse crashes, "Over the Line" grabs the ear and leads it into a pleasant, mid-tempo pop song which is plump with strings, layers of guitars and vocals, keys and harmonica. The choppy guitar, weaving bass lines and solid drumming of "Second Time Trader" make for great music to be driving to. The distinct analog-sounding synth and backing vocals are the icing on this one. "Behind Your Sun" starts as a gloomy, odd-time signature shifting, acoustic guitar driven piece which gradually becomes very upbeat, complete with horns and a subtle triangle. "No Defense" is the rocker which shifts comfortably through several sections as if it were a prog-rock epic, but in the span of five minutes. The beautiful backing vocals of guests Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor make this tune melt in your ears. Some other notable guests augmenting the live band include Paul Mertens (arranger/woodwinds/saxes), Alison Chesley and Susan Voelz (strings) of Poi Dog Pondering and Brokeback/Chicago Underground bassist Noel Kupersmith. Pull up a deck chair, grab a cool beverage and press play. - Gord Fynes
Arlo, "Stab the Unstoppable Hero"
For some strange reason, several sites reported that the Beachwood Sparks EP I reviewed last week had Arlo members on it. Searching through the liner notes, I could see none of the names of Arlo bandmembers, and I have received no confirmation that they did. I also can't see how that's possible, given that the Beachwood Sparks EP was lackluster at best, and this new LP from Arlo is so fantastic. Yeah, they know how to rock, and they aren't afraid to use it. It's indie rock; it's catchy, hooky, with great harmonies; it's like Built to Spill but harder and a little more tongue-in-cheek. Yes, it's that good. Nate Greely, Ryan "Shmedly" Maynes, and Sean Spillane are all fantastic songwriters with their own quirky edges, and this CD shows their sides off well. It does have moments of hard rock largesse that almost bring to mind hair metal bands of the eighties, but in a good way. You can almost see these guys synchronizing their thrashing, with no hair, in a garage somewhere in Los Angeles, where Greely and Spillane are from. This music out-rocks Weezer, out-hooks Jimmy Eat World, and out-quirks Cake. Listener-friendly grunge pop in 2002? It exists beyond the scope MTV2 covers, and if you haven't heard it, give Arlo a try. They're working hard to make music better. - Rob Devlin
We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
WEEK OF JULY 7 - JULY 13
This is simply this week's highlights from the NEW RELEASES provided by Greg and Feedback Monitor.
* Aphrodite - Aftershock CD (V2, US)
Anti-Pop Consortium - Ghostlawns 12"/CDEP (Warp, UK/US)
Asa-Chang & Junray - Jun Ray Song Chang CD/LP (Leaf, UK)
Basement Jaxx - Get Me Off 12"/CDEP [mixes by Peaches, Superchumbo, Los Amigos Invisibles] (Astralwerks, US)
Bauri/Erik Levander - split 7" (Jonothan Whiskey, UK)
Bis - Plastique Nouveau 12"/CDEP [mixes by Adult., Ectomorph and Tommie Sunshine] (spinART, US)
Bovine Life and/or/vs. Komet - [reciprocess : +/vs.] vol. 1 CD (Bip-Hop, France - Fällt, UK)
Dennis Brown - The Promised Land 1977-79 CD (Blood & Fire, UK)
* Cath Carroll - England Made Me CD [reissue] (LTM, UK)
Charlottefield - Picture Diary 7" (Fat Cat, UK)
Christ - Pylonesque CDEP (Benbecula, Scotland)
Collections of Colonies of Bees - fa.ce (a CD (Crouton, US)
DJ Vadim - Combustible 12"/CDEP (Ninja Tune, UK/Canada/US)
DJ Spooky - Optometry CD/2xLP (Thirsty Ear, US)
DSP - In The Red CD/2xLP (Ninja Tune, UK/Canada/US)
Andrew Duke - Sprung CD (Bip-Hop, France)
* Fischerspooner - Emerge 12"/CDEP (Ministry of Sound, UK)
Fotomoto/The Workhouse - split 7" (Jonothan Whiskey, UK)
I Am The World Trade Center - The Tight Connection CD (Kindercore, US)
Imperative Reaction - Ruined CD (Metropolis, US)
ISAN/Phonophani - Postcards Vol. 2 split 7" (Audiodregs, US)
Jello [Bola] - Voile CD/2xLP (Peacefrog, UK)
* Koop - Waltz For Koop CD [initial copies include bonus DVD] (Palm Pictures, US)
LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge 12" (Output, UK)
Liars - Magical 10"/CDEP (Mute, US)
Lycia - tripping back into the broken days CD (Projekt, US)
Multiplex - Iroquois CDR [limited to 311 copies] (Piehead, Canada)
Nautilis - Sketches CD (Planet µ, UK)
New Flesh - Lie Low 12"/CDEP (Big Dada/Ninja Tune, UK)
Numbers - Numbers Life CD (Tigerbeat6, US)
Omenya - The Esoteric Perversions CD (Klanggalerie, Austria)
The Orb - Bless You CD [compilation of rare & vinyl-only tacks] (Shadow, US)
Roots Manuva - Dub Come Save Me CD/2xLP (Big Dada/Ninja Tune, UK)
Luke Slater - Stars And Heroes two 12"s/CDEP (Mute, UK)
Luke Slater - Stars And Heroes 12" (Mute, US)
Spaceheads - Low Pressure CD (Bip-Hop, France)
Stars As Eyes - Important Youth Movement 7" (Tigerbeat6, US)
Starving Cell - Starving Cell CD (Fleshmadeword, UK)
* Ultramarine - Every Man & Woman Is a Star CD [reissue] (LTM, UK)
Underwolves - Under Your Sky Remixes CD (JCR, Germany)
Various - Music Volumes One & Two CD (Benbecula, Scotland)
Various - Select Cuts From Nation CD (Select Cuts, Germany)
Christian Vogel - Dungeon Master 2xLP (Tresor, Germany)
Wang Inc. - Risotto in 4/4 CD (Bip-Hop, France)
Tim Wright - Going Down/The Lunge 12" (Novamute, UK)
Yuppie Flu/Giardini Di Miro - split 7" (Jonothan Whiskey, UK)
For a more detailed schedule stretching into the future, please check out the site,
since release dates can and will often change.