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Random Stabbings 15a

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Sensations “Listen to My Shapes” (Camera Records)
The funny thing about these guys is how they advertise themselves as a 60s band – a Kinks, Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel when the mood hits – and it’s actually true. Certainly all the Spacemen 3 worshippers who survived the Brian Jonestown Massacre would find a few songs – “My Big Fame” leaps immediately to the fore – mortally relevant were they put forth as advance singles of a Big Something about to happen, and bands like the Lilys would most likely begin flogging their ProTools for more and weirder output in panicked response. But the Sensations aren’t just hoping their moniker gets the Bowery Ballroom bloggers all panties-abunched; it appears they may have actually come across a certified antique collection of records which now dictates their every move. Above all they’re into Abbey Road-era Beatles, if songs like “Incredible Man” and “Slow to Show” are even the blurriest windows into their marvelously naïve psyches, and “My Big Fame” is George Harrison-inspired any way it’s sliced. The Simon and Garfunkel shtick comes into play upon “Winds of Emotion,” but along with its unplugged obeisance come a few lines that channel the Chili Peppers when they were in their pre-oldness jackanapes phase. Order from

The Hacker “And Now…” (Uncivilized World Records)
You can’t accuse Michael Amato of being one of those lazy, opportunistic DJs who’s all about letting computers do all the work, as his second collection of mixes proves in all its straight-from-the-deck glory – no software was harmed in its making. Herein is all the trancy, cracked EBM you’d need for a party for the ages, including a redo of Front 242’s “No Shuffle” from the Alfa Matrix days (1985 to be exact) retrofitted with enough sampling that the deadpan vocals take on a completely new slant. Miss Yetti’s “Could I Kill You” receives a low-tech treatment, coming out of it with a lot of bleeping, fuzzy scratches and cat yowls for its time. It’s a constantly thrumming, organic experience, cheeseball A-Ha keyboards showing up when they’re needed, the depth of layering consistent and often breathtaking, Sleeparchive’s “Elephant Island” and a reverently constructed version of the rubbery “Pure” from 90s ravers GTO serving as better examples. Order from Uncivilized World

Time Requiem “Optical Illusions”
(Candlelight Records)
Get your Bic lighters out, a cross between Styx and Helloween in the house. Last year saw the release of keyboardist Richard Andersson’s brilliant Space Odyssey album, and for this new project the uncannily Dio-like singer’s been traded in for – this is where the Styx part comes in – a new fellow (unnamed in the bio) whose tidy, cigarette-free vocals sacrifice character for Dennis DeYoung standards of falsetto perfection. Andersson must be quite the taskmaster, judging by the single dimension to which the singer’s relegated, but the whiz-bang classical stuff’s what it’s about anyway, floating the type of hold-the-damn-phone riffology that would have paid for a mansion or three were this 1982. But it isn’t, and deep lines at Andersson’s tee-shirt kiosk may not ever come to be unless he loses the Blackmore-sized chip on his shoulder about human limitations and finds a smidge of humor, not that that ever stopped Brahms, but it isn’t the 1800s either. Nothing against artists rubbing their backs against the prog-metal ceiling, but this guy desperately needs a Lloyd Dobler to shake him hard and yell “You. Must. Chill.”  Order from

Wale Oyejide “AfricaHot! The Afrofuture Sessions” (Shaman Work Recordings)
Just a fact you may have lost in the shuffle here: not everything about the African continent is a maddening saga of militiaman battling militiaman between bursts of genocide. Wale Oyejide is living testimony to this, and these almost ad lib-sounding Afrofuture recordings look at urban life – not strictly in Nigeria either – through a stubbornly jubilant prism, celebrating an envious tribal environment colored with hypnotic rhythms and uncountable voices (in both English and traditional Yoruba) pressing for social change through peaceful means. Choirs are bolstered with both programmed and live drumming, bass, horns and the odd pipe-organ (“The Hunger pt 1”). “One Day Everything Changed” envisions a world free of Republican jingoism, and this is where Oyejide busts into a rap quanta more powerful and darkly terrible than any bling-blinger could muster no matter how many Benzes were at stake. Order from Wale Oyejide

The Format “Dog Problems” (Nettwerk Records)
This column must still be on Nettwerk’s probation list, being that the love it gets from the corridors of PR is currently limited to quirky guess-my-classification tests released the previous month or week, not that they should stop in case anyone’s looking. A couple of months ago we went over Anathallo, whose weirdness was Sufjan Stevens-level, and the oom-pah-pah waltzing that kicks off boot-up track “Matches” was met with similar excited squeals from our Altie Whacko Desk, but that was just a drill; the evocation here is Belle and Sebastian getting a royal beating from the Shins while ELO sneaks a few robot-glissando aaahhhahhs into the vocal tracks. It’s at once keep-on-truckin 70s and break-out-the-thesaurus inspiration for Pitchforkians, the hi-hat sizzling in 16th-notes while twee vocal lines implicitly urge the rich kids to make daddy’s 57 T-bird disappear to someplace grassy where it’s safe to make out and do wildly outrageous things like stick flowers in your hair. Title track is a synthesis of “Killer Queen” and the most recent opera-couplet-a-thon from the now-demented Sparks, setting the table for an experience that will have Belle fans who’d like to see their heroes get slightly edgy believing in Santa Claus. Order from

Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome.  Email

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