Cat Power, "You Are Free"
Without the assistance of over-the-top production, Chan Marshall has managed to craft one of the best albums I've heard this year. Her fifth album (sixth counting The Covers Record) is an amazing adventure through the sounds of loneliness, resignation, memory, and empowerment. The power of her piano, guitar, and voice all resonate throughout the album as clearly as a solo bird's song echoing through the trees on a hot summer day. None of the instrumentation is overly-processed or produced, thankfully. The piano part on "I Don't Blame You" rings clear and true as Marshall's voice floats effortlessly over the top, winding down a dirt road filled with memories both painful and endearing. Energizing tunes like "Speak For Me," "He War," and "Shaking Paper" are going to feel great this summer on the road with the windows rolled down. Visions of the tall grass and green trees and a warm breeze rushing through hair, probably at about 60 or so miles per hour, are all possible on this cold winter day thanks to Chan. Tunes like "Werewolf," "Fool," and the cover of John Lee Hooker's "Keep On Runnin'," on the other hand, evoke images of dark and/or tense and lonely nights under the moon and stars. The best part about this album is that I've barely looked through the lyric sheet provided and yet I feel as if I understand exactly what Marshall is singing about. Her ideas and emotions bleed through the instruments and the sound of her voice with such grace and ease (and the music just sounds so damned good!). The one-two-three punch of "Babydoll," "Maybe Not," and "Names" is both uplifting and heart wrenching and is worth the price of admission alone. All the songs on this album have been stuck in my head for days now and I simply cannot reccomend it enough. It is refreshing to hear an album of this caliber that is both simple and stunning. - Lucas Schleicher
mirror, "eye of the storm"
There are a number of reasons I love vinyl and strongly advocate vinyl usage: it actually -does- sound better for louder recordings with the whole signal-to-noise ratio thing; it comes with pretty big pictures if you're lucky; DJs (and those who think they are) can match beats, scrach and mix; and idiot roommates/junkie friends/random thieves rarely steal it as it's too big and heavy and used stores hate to sell used vinyl. However, let me go on record as saying that for quieter, more meditative recordings, I would prefer the usage of vinyl be very limited (if not eliminated). Every time a record is pulled out of its protective sleeve, thousands of microscopic particles collectthis is inevitable. With the more quiet recordings, the buildup of particles in the grooves is audibly evident. Mirror recordings are all lengthy soundscapes, gently combining musical and non-musical sound sources over long periods of time, with startlingly hypnotic effects. The difference in hearing a vinyl recording of the very first Mirror album released on record and the CD which was issued last week is absolutely amazing. With the unpreventable crackles and pops gone, the original sounds are now completely all-encompassing, no longer taking a backseat to high pitched nuissances. Gongs play, highway sounds, rustling winds, chimes echo and sustain, and time is fleeting. Fourteen minutes pass in an instant. I can't tell if I'm hearing the tolls of a boat bell ringing, or chimes from before sped up or slowed down. Thirty minutes have elapsed and I'm even deeper in a trance with rustling water, low tones, trains perhaps? Forty minutes elapse and a low hum has taken over, like a bowed cello or a digeridoo, faded out into what could be a stream, distorted perhaps slighly enough to ambiguity, but intact enough not to sound like any effects are being used. At the end of forty-three minutes, all sounds cease and I'm honestly aching for more. Sure, I can pull out the records for the other albums but now that I've tasted the pure stuff, it's going to be hard to compete. There's a reason why some of this music fetches high prices on auctions, some of it is simply fantastic. The advantages of this CD is that it's about $140 cheaper than the vinyl right now, it doesn't have to be flipped over halfway through, and it won't jump if you're playing it while on a peaceful train ride (yes there were vinyl-playing boomboxes available at one time!). There aren't individual pieces of artwork included, however, but images of four of Christoph Heemann's favorite ones are. Furthermore, in the time to listen to this start to finish, I'm sure a nice painting can be drawn. - Jon Whitney
The Human League remastered reissues
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop's theme to the Doctor Who series first aired in 1963, and I'm willing to bet that some, if not all, of the future members of the Human League were watching and listening very closely. Those spine-tingling washes of synthesizers and alien metallic clangs must have seemed pretty mindblowing to a group of "blind youth" growing up in impoverished Sheffield. Lap dissolve to nearly 15 years later, and Phillip Oakey, Martyn Ware and Ian Marsh have formed The Future, soon to be rechristened the Human League. While fully reveling in the punk attitude and political urgency of their contemporaries, Human League's music always sounded a little different, their collective unconscious memory of that Doctor Who theme having pushed them towards the formation of an all electronic group. Not drums, bass and guitars augmented by synthesizers, mind you. Rather, The Human League were one of the first electronic purists; they used exclusively synthesizers and drum machines. What could be more standoffish and punk than that? From the beginning, Human League had a keen talent for uptempo songs and catchy melodies that set them apart from fellow Sheffield bands like Cabaret Voltaire and 23 Skidoo. The Human League were harboring a desire to make the world's greatest pop record. Electronic pop will never save the world, it's true, but listening to these Human League re-issues after 20 years of musical developments is an eye-opening experience. Pop music like the Human League's is resistant to musical modes and trends, and if you submit to its pleasures, it is timeless and perfect. - Jonathan Dean
1979's Reproduction is the first full-length LP by The Human League, following some 12" singles and EPs released the year before. The reissue treatment fully remasters and restores the sound, as well as adding loads of supplemental material, including the ultra-rare The Dignity of Labour EP and their first single Being Boiled. Reproduction finds the group in pristine form, matching dark, futuristic lyrics with mechanized beats, icy synth melodies and keyboard swooshes. Phil Oakey's lyrics elaborate on his childish, science-fiction obsession with an apocalyptic view of the future. The second track "Circus of Death" is a rambling, surreal narrative about a future holocaust perpetrated by narcotized clowns. Fans of early Gary Numan classics such as "Down in the Park" will appreciate this album. All of the elements of the latter day, chart-topping Human League are present, but the album maintains a consistently arch, clinical distance from the listener. This is only enhanced by Oakey's wry, detached wit and passionless delivery. One of Human League's best songs is here, the strangely upbeat "Empire State Human," a song about avarice and the desire to attain superhuman powers, set against a relentless proto-electro beat. By far the strangest track, "Morale," begins with some ambient synthesizer arpeggios, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream. Philip Oakey pipes in with some mournful lyrics, and the song slowly segues into an absurdly overproduced cover of The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." I'm not sure what the League were thinking here, but it somehow works. The Dignity of Labour functions as a four-part tribute to early electronic pioneers like Morton Subotnick, Raymond Scott and Bernard Parmegiani. It's completely instrumental, and consists of a series of musique concrete soundscapes. As such, it is the most avant-garde recording that The Human League ever released. Tacked onto the end of this re-release is The Human League's first single, "Being Boiled (Fast Version)." I won't go into a description of this song as it is has popped up on at least 20 compilations in just the past year. This version has the exact same tempo as every other version of the song I've heard, so I'm not sure what makes this a "fast" version, however. Reproduction is essential listening for anyone getting into The Human League or the Sheffield post-punk scene.
Travelogue is truly a transitional effort, containing both the Kubrickian, technology-obsessed sound that dominated Reproduction, and a healthy dose of the clever, infectious pop that would characterize Dare. The album kicks off with its best song, "The Black Hit of Space," a truly funny/scary song about a 12" from the future that sucks all of its listeners into a black hole. The music on this track is remeniscent of a lot of the formulaic industrial-style electro and EBM that dominated the 80's and early 90's. The Human League were pretty much the first on the block with this sound, before it had become a hopeless clich?. "Only After Dark" comes on like an electrop Beach Boys song, with its bouncy rhythm and fun vocal harmonies. The rest of the album is a hit-or-miss affair. Most of the tracks are flawlessly arranged and produced, but the songwriting is not nearly as strong as the songs on Reproduction or Dare. "Being Boiled" also makes an appearance on this album, but it has been reinvisioned as a hyperactive disco-fied Georgio Moroder track. There are seven extra tracks on this re-issue, most of them fairly disposable, but fun nonetheless. Who could resist the wackiness of their roboticized glam-rock medley of Gary Glitter's "Rock n' Roll" and Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing"? The League also pay homage to their childhood science fiction obsession on "Tom Baker," a tribute to everyone's favorite actor in the role of Doctor Who.
In my humble opinion, Dare is one of the greatest pop albums of all time, and for me it represents the absolute zenith of the new wave electropop of the early 80's. It is essential listening for fans of the so-called "modern" pop of Magnetic Fields, The Aluminum Group or any of the new overabundant crop of "electroclash" groups like Ladytron or Soviet. The new digital pop music characterized by groups like Lali Puna, The Postal Service and Tarwater has also been informed by The Human League's unparalleled classic. Released in 1981, The Human League have by this time lost two of their founding members, Ian Marsh and Martyn Ware, who left to form the new wave duo Heaven 17. With Marsh and Ware's departure, Human League have put aside all of the cyber-punk posturing, to focus exclusively on making ten superbly realized, perfect pop songs. What resulted is the Human League's masterpiece, one of the rare albums where each and every track is a great song in its own right. Philip Oakey's lyrics contain decidedly more "human" themes this time around, with some very grown-up songs about lost love, the modern world, murder and "the law." The production is a true marvel, gleaming and seamless. "The Things That Dreams are Made Of" kicks off the record with a beautiful synth melody and flawless drum programming. Soon, Oakey is reading off an inspired list of the things that his dreams are made of: "New York, ice cream, TV, travel, good times, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, good times...". Witty, urbane lyrics and brilliant pop hooks abound on this record. Things take a rather disturbing turn with the somber, darkwave track "Seconds," which is as dead serious as The Human League get. The album ends with The Human League's biggest hit, and also one of their best songs, "Don't You Want Me," with its he said/she said lyrics and infectiously catchy chorus. If you thought this was just mindless 80's flashback music, listen again. As a bonus with Caroline's reissue, the entire Love and Dancing LP has been included. Originally credited to The League Unlimited Orchestra (in a tribute to Barry White's instrumental side-project), Love and Dancing is one of the first examples of a true remix album. Seven tracks from Dare and one extra track are specially remixed by producer Martin Rushent, whose liberal use of echo and a complement of wacky sound effects and intrumental fills is immediately reminiscent of the early dub approach to remixing. Love and Dancing is quite a sought-after rarity on LP, so to have these tracks available on this re-release is a real treat.
The Go-Betweens, "Bright Yellow Bright Orange"
This is the second Go-Betweens album since their resuscitation three years ago, and the band's sound is still surprisingly consistent. During their twenty-year existence, the Go-Betweens have been the pedagogues of jangly pop, ably instructing in their art and edifying countless bands who have followed in their footsteps but never hoped ever to overtake the teacher as would be normal in the course of the mentor/apprentice relationship. The Go-Betweens maintain their mentorship not by any tyrannical stranglehold, but rather by a perfection of pop which other bands seem unable to master (or even sometimes muster). It usually takes me a few listens through to pick out my best Go-Betweens songs from any one album, and this record is no different. In the end, the differences between the songs which I like and the ones which I just listen to are subtle; they amount to a certain inflection here, a deeper crooning there. What I can sense from these post-reunification albums is that the inflections and croonings have become less intense and less intoned, for whatever reason (I don't think it is so much age as it is growth). As a result, fewer songs jump out at me. The first half of Bright Yellow Bright Orange best approaches the glory of older releases. "Poison in the Walls" will not only recall older songs like "Part Company," but can show what I mean when I talk about the minimized inflection: the elongated pronunciation of "sometimes" is the hallmark of great Go-Betweens songs, but in this case is slightly less energetic than I would have expected or than would have been recorded circa 1984. The surface of the next song, "Mrs. Morgan," screams to be compared to Lou Reed, but even his songs were never so pleasantly lackadaisical as this. Despite all of its good, this record simply seems too summery and relaxed for a proper appreciation presently. The anxiety of winter frustratingly dogs the songs on this perhaps prematurely released album. 'Bright Yellow Bright Orange' implies the setting in which it should ideally be listened to: in the bright sun-filled day of the early summer when the warmth makes its first cadenced march back into the air, or, if you are somewhat more headstrong and jumpy, maybe at the falling of the first spring rain. - Joshua David Mann
While grand flourishes and touches of color may capture your eye, a solid foundation is key to making everything work together. Subtle, almost unseen nuances set the scene for everything built upon it. The key is finding the right balance, to not be so subtle as to be unnoticed. On Helms' latest release, McCarthy, the band delves into those latent shades, at times almost getting lost, in order to describe themselves in a different way. McCarthy seems to evoke the moments between sleep and waking, when the conscious hasn't fully kicked in and the unconscious hasn't fully departed. Thoughts and images appear and at once evaporate, failing to make a distinct impression, only leaving a faint trace behind. Much of McCarthy evokes this ephemeral nature, each song almost blurring with the next." Singer and guitarist Sean McCarthy spills out his lyrics in a languid, sleepy manner never fully rising above the midtempo drone of bassist Tina Helms and drummer Dan McCarthy. McCarthy seems to aspire to twilight, the arrangements blinking like stars peaking through fading sunlight, establishing a melody or a riff and then shifting it up and down, back and forth, as on "It Takes Skin to Win." While this technique works for Helms as on the aforementioned track, it can at times become tedious. Helms is most successful when they lurch out of their grogginess as on the soaring opener track, "The Hypochondriac's Last Words," which allows vocalist Sean to show some dynamics in his voice. Deviations are welcome, and when "The Ten Thousand Things" arrives, it's not a moment too soon. The rhythm section chugging along solidly, punctuated by a thrusting crescendo of guitar that stands out against the albums shy demeanor. "Robots Are Great, But Are We Ready For Them to Dance on Their Own?" succeeds in building a compelling idea with only a simple repeated riff, imbued with urgency and energy. The album closes with the unfortunate "Cornish, New Hampshire," dragging on with a meandering recitation of items in a drawer, daring the listener to endure the song's seven minute duration. Despite their individual issues, the songs on McCarthy work well together to create a starry, midnight blue atmosphere that makes the album a pleasant listen. The concern is not on specifics, but on a broader, impressionistic expression of sense and feeling. While the thoughts may disappear as soon as we open our eyes, the feelings stay with us, the vague memories of sensation that merely hint and never tell. - Michael Patrick Brady
What initially piqued my interest in Wilco and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was learning of Jim O?Rourke?s collaboration with frontman Jeff Tweedy on the production side of the disc. That and the fact that group was now employing the choice talents of Glenn Kotche, who also just happens to be O?Rourke?s drummer. As Loose Fur, this trio have recently released a collection of five vocal tunes and one instrumental which highlight the varied, yet equally brilliant songwriting and musicianship of the two bandleaders and their sideman. "Laminated Cat" opens the disc with some laid back analog synths bubbling underneath driving percussion and a blend of acoustic and electric guitars that weave and mesh throughout, building into a wall of distortion and noise that ring the tune out. From there, it doesn?t take too long to hear a kind of formula that appears on some of the disc?s other songs: play through a great tune that?s well written, beautifully sung and nicely arranged, then jam out on some of the changes for the next three to four minutes with some improv/noise-type guitar embellishments and a plethora of percussion. Of course, this is also part of what makes this disc so appealing as the "we're here to play" attitude conveys an excitement that can't help but be contagious. More laid back tracks based around the acoustic guitar such as "You Were Wrong" showcase some strong songwriting that comes across with a nice, earthy feel and doesn't really require a whole lot of decorating thanks in part to Kotche's time feel. The wry and edgy lyrics of O?Rourke?s two vocal tunes are complimented by three from Tweedy, whose imagery is evocative and quite poetic. This strong collaboration is ripe with great songwriting, interesting arrangements and instrumentation (you will hear banjo) with a cohesion that shows just how much these guys are masters of their craft. - Gord Fynes
After several weeks of struggle trying to make any sense of this Lief Elggren / Kevin Drumm collaboration I reluctantly looked for clues in what promotional blurb I could locate. I was rewarded with "critics will find it shocking easy to find angles and write reviews for Triangles." But despite such discouraging irony it eventually hit me that this is a 70s concept album in the grand tradition things like "An Electric Storm," "200 Motels" and "Meddle." Endearingly, the only rock music on the album is reminiscent of "A Pillow of Winds" but that's were the stylistic similarities stop. The source material is modern and kaleidoscopic: electronic, clicky digital, noise, sine tones, drones, organ washes, short-wave radio excerpts and various samples. What makes this a psychedelic concept album is the two uninterrupted sides of mind-trip ? episodic and monumental with trance inducing static or developmental phases disconnected by bizarre, sometimes jarring transitions. With that model in mind Triangles is a very pleasing album and makes perfect sense, in the sense that a psychedelic concept album doesn't make sense except in a highly elliptical sense. As an intellectual sound-art object, on the other hand, it makes no sense. In fact, the more I listen to it now, the more nostalgic I become for those teenage, herbal enhanced headphone listening sessions of the 70s. And take care not to play Triangles on a cheesy stereo; until I played it in the living room, I thought half the album was clever Cagian silence while there is in fact nothing of the kind. - Tom Worster
NAW, "The Resound Of A Foggy Autumn Dawn"
Neil Wiernik's third full length album is playful with an overall calm atmosphere, despite what the murky title suggests. The mood of the early morning hours is perfectly captured, as different layers of sound in a steady flow match the various tones of shades. Silhouette-like structures appear hazy at first glance but slowly come into shape as the mind focuses on them. Besides the album's brilliant opener, "Brittle Sticks," which features a casual female vocal, all other pieces are purely electronic instrumentals. Tracks 2-5 run in a continuous flow, giving the impression of a live in-studio recording. Following that, "Post Shifting Ground" is a remix of the preceding "Shifting Ground Water." The early 80's beat box rim shot sound is pushed even more in the forefront but before it get's really disturbing it suddenly ends. In this abrupt silence, NAW places the straight forward "Two A.M. Overcast," which is undoubtedly another high point before "Foggy Autumn Dawn" closes the album in the tradition of classic Basic Channel 12" B-Sides. The double finale leaves me with a wish for more, and thus repeated plays are irresistable. While I usually prefer albums to be longer, 40 minutes of quality is always more desirable than an album with lots of filler. - carsten s.
Chair Kickers' Union
Sometimes you have to cut some of your own flesh away to make things better. Debridement, the word that serves as the title for Nathan Amundson's new album as Rivulets, is defined as "the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue." Since Amundson is the only permanent member of Rivulets, he must be cutting away another piece of himself to give us this new record, shedding his skin as it were, as there's no one else to sacrifice. With more sparse arrangements than on the debut full-length, Amundson concocts some chilling work that constantly had me checking under the bed for monsters. I needn't have looked any further than my speakers. Each song has its own spirits, its own ghosts or creatures, that Amundson breathes to life with his shy delivery and somber tones. As before, the album is recorded and mixed by Alan Sparhawk, who also makes appearances on a few songs. Also in the studio was Jessica Bailiff, whose voice breathes pure ice into the songs she caresses. Like last year's Alcohol EPs, the album has a bit of a theme going for it with the release of all things evil and dark, or just leaving it all behind. "An Evil" is just Amundson a capella, but that's all it really needs to penetrate your psyche; "Cutter" leaves nothing to the imagination with its vocal refrain of "I brought the blade to my skin;" "Bridges" could be about finding common ground, but it feels like finally building the device that aids in your escape; and "Conversation With a Half-empty Bottle" has an obvious implications all its own, as a person comes to terms with their only friend, and the one that they won't let destroy them. There's little to no percussion to be found on the entire record, which is part of what makes it so compelling. The snare on "Shakes" is spooky not only for the way it's played but for its mere appearance. By the time I heard "Get Out Alive," I was glad made it out, and I hoped the singer did, too. Amundson continues to open his own scars for all to see, and it gets better each time. I just hope it doesn't damage him too much to dredge it all up. - Rob Devlin
DJ Hell, "Electronicbody-Housemusic"
Having both inspired and surfed the murky wave of the electroclash movement (as well as breaking acts like Zombie Nation, Fischerspooner, and Tiga & Zyntherius along the way) International Deejay Gigolos label head DJ Hell claims to be looking towards the future. That being said, Electronicbody-Housemusic certainly seems to be mired down in the same old retro mold that made DJ Hell famous in the first place. Disc one of this two CD set offers selections that teeter between electropop and tech-house, opening with quality material from heroes Underground Resistance and Metro Area. From here, however, the boredom sets in. Though there are a few moments where you think things might very well pick up again (in particular, Playgroup's cover of the Depeche Mode classic "Behind The Wheel"), the bulk of this disc reeks of the monotone trash that has turned this retro trend from a nice idea to a gaping void of talentless snobs and posturing fashionistas. For every enjoyable and catchy electroclash track, there are at least a hundred pretentious and awful ones. Here, DJ Hell has opted to pick from the latter batch. While the first CD ultimately failed to move me, the second disc nearly sent me into a blind fury. Here is a playlist of popular EBM tracks from the 80's repackaged alongside a bizarre selection of techno and somewhat dark electroclash cuts. Now how is it that DJ Hell, who resides in a country where industrial music charts on the DAC, could be so completely ignorant of the music from this past decade of the genre? Is it that he's trying to be nostalgic of his younger years? Even the two Nitzer Ebb tracks here were remixed recently ("Control I'm Here" by The Hacker and "Join In The Chant" by Thomas Heckmann) and he chooses not to even give those a try here. Being an industrial DJ myself, it is my strong feeling that he has absolutely no excuse for throwing together this sloppy "greatest hits" type collection with mediocre mixing (Traktor, anyone?) and expect to receive any respect from those who have been moving with the genre and its many splinters over the years. In any case, retro-loving scenesters and trend vampires will adore hearing such tracks as Jay Harker's dismal cover of the gothic classic "Bela Lugosi's Dead" while probably skipping through the pioneering "Love Cuts" by the woefully underrated Chris And Cosey. Can't everyone just go back to listening to crappy rock bands and Austrian interpretations of soul? - Gary Suarez
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.
Virgil Shaw / The John Doe Trio
Monday, February 24, 3003, Omaha, NE
I drove six hours through ten inches of snow for this one and it was worth it.
It was an intimate show, probably about 50 people, what with it being below zero and a Monday night in Omaha. I almost didn't recognize Virgil as he's thinner and his hair is shaggier and blonder than I remember from the 2001 Angels of Light tour, which is how I first became aware of the San Francisco singer/songwriter and Dieselhed frontman. He played acoustic guitar miked through a small practice amp and was joined by Marc Capelle on piano, backing vocals and occasional flugelhorn. As expected the 45 minute set was primarily from the new album 'Still Falling' and included all of my favorites: "The Drawing", "Golden Sun", "Wilderness of This World", "Still Falling", "Water Color" and "Volvo" (both from the previous album, 'Quad Cities', Shaw's solo debut), plus two more I was particularly taken with, the Bee Gees' "Country Lanes" and a new one, "Logger's Daughter". His songs fall loosely into the alt-country vein and the quirky physicality of his guitar playing matches the closed-eyed intensity of his unique vocals.
John Doe did a couple songs solo then the rest of the trio joined him, Dave Carpenter on stand-up bass and backing vocals and Nick Luca on piano and occasional guitar. They played nearly all of last year's new album, 'Dim Stars, Bright Sky', which was exactly what I wanted. There were several older songs I didn't really recognize and three classic X songs: "White Girl", "Burning House of Love" and another that I've since forgotten, other than they did a "country" version of it. John joked that if he ever ended up in Branson to "please shoot me". He was very congenial and funny all night, having a conversation with us between every song, which made for the same sort of vibe Mark Eitzel can conjure up on a good night. "Highway 5" became "Highway 80" since they had broken down on it earlier in the day and several people stopped to ask if they needed help. There were two encores and the last song was a request for "Take 52" from Doe's solo debut 'Meet John Doe'. John said "I don't think they're going to like that one" pointing to the three late arriving punk rock kids (everyone else was "normal" looking, most easily in their 30s and up) at the table down front and played it anyways. Their whole set was about one hour and 20 minutes. Don't worry John, you won't end up in Branson anytime soon. But you will end up on the East coast and in the South, with and without Virgil, through the rest of March. Check virgilshaw.com or thejohndoe.com for all the dates. - Mark Weddle
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ikara Colt
Wednesday, February 26, 2003, Manchester, UK
Go back, go back: its just like punk rock happened, and then happened again and again. Ikara Colt are a bunch of former art student poseurs who act like they spent hours watching '77 punk footage and striking poses in front of the mirror. If they haven't assimilated, regurgitated, and morphed the shtick of The Fall, then I'm a valium kiche kiche. The bassist wears a school unifom a size too small and acts the poxy epileptic whilst the singer is a southern Mark Smith, spitting a-caustic. The guitarist moves like Karren Ablaze's little sister as she keeps her fretfire burnin'. What do you mean, "Who's Karren Ablaze?" The beers kicks in and I'm possessed by the rancid spectre of Mark E Smith. Two people in a room turn into the most hideous replicas: whilst the singer pulls the young vicious Smith moves I can't stop the joke the joke (after five years in my own PC camp): a heckler spray of Smithisms. The band have finely paced their set, ratcheting up the energy with every consecutive anti-hit. In the end the singer dedicates the last and best number, a new one, to the Rowche Rumbler who's been pointing out the obvious. In the bar members of Manchester garage punkers Jackie O and the Strap Ons are milling through the grinder. "It's showtime," shouts the friendly doorman and Yeahs Yeahs Yeahs seize their time, tour sold out before an album even dropped. First up is the almost genius love-envy song "Maps" extended to extrude salivating anticipation. Many lesser bands would've shot their bolt blasting out the total genius guitar noise pop feast "Why Control?" next. An as yet unreleased gem premiered on their Peel session, its the bastard lovechild of "Drunken Butterfly" and "Passing Complexion" but catchier. The lyrics are simple brilliance and simply brilliant. Are they a nod to Burroughs? How novel for a New York group, the detractors sneer, but its their loss. Karen O sings like a punked up Dolly Parton with a vibrator up her and moves like a trash poseur who doesn't have to look in a cracked mirror. None of the three Yeahs are replaceable parts, and guitarist Nick Zinner has such a great chimecrush crescendo onslaught there's no missing the bass. Predictable that the single "Machine" gets the kids bouncing perhaps, but another new number is an instant foot hit. Yeah Yeahs Yeahs are going to be the biggest rock band since Nirvana, easy. I was there then and I know what I'm talking about, kid. Is it their time to be hated? No, Libertines are the fuckin' enemy. Useless diluters can go piss up a rope. They look like shit! - Graeme Rowland