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Random Stabbings 17a

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Autovaughn "Space" (Requinto Records)
Instantly addictive cross-generational mix drawing together Duran Duran, Filter and a sort of post-Squeeze ska, a description from which you might draw conclusions that it sounds Braid-ish, but it’s too upbeat – this one is seriously worth finding. The production is old-school astounding, with keyboard layers dimmed nice and low for maximum chill-down-your-spine subliminal effects, and there is no question that these guys can write circles around baloney like Gomez and whatever else the NMEs of the world are spazzing over right now. The punchline? They’re Indiana transplants making their way in Nashville, which is quietly beginning to grow a formidable altie scene around the likes of Ben Folds, and if this keeps up Nashville may as well tear down the Grand Ole Opry and erect a platform for weekly Lollapaloozas. Big thumbs up for this band; it’s not often that CD reviewers buried knee-deep in releases have something this exciting to talk about. Recommended download: “One More Time.” Order from Autovaughn

The Working Title “About-Face” (Universal Records)
Representing the sub-Radiohead school of easy listening grunge (mostly for the benefit of listeners who generally prefer your typical pasteurized bunch of emo Luddites over Radiohead in the first place) is Working Title’s full-length followup to their 2004 EP. It’s emo hooked up to a Sony-alt I.V., say Thursday being invaded by Guster, commercialist after a Maroon 5 fashion but messy enough to punk low-rung hipsters into thinking they’ve stumbled onto something enormous. While Joel Hamilton swiffs bagfuls of air Thom Yorke-like between vocal lines randomly clipped out of the undergrad-angst manual of style, his compatriots busy themselves decorating the dump with scattershot test-patterns, docile U2 jangle and rawk-god ringouts. Outro track “Turbulence,” albeit a break from Hamilton’s oafish lunging for anything vaguely resembling a hook, exhibits a latecomer’s case of Jonestown worship via a pomp-alt dirge stretched out to the federally mandated ten minutes. Order from

Run Run Run “Endless Winter” (Song and Dance Records)
Los Angeles alties demonstrating a genius-level grasp of diversity regardless of whether their Scotch tape is less invisible than they’d like when keeping their ham-handedly spliced influences in place. “Drizzle” begins as a feint in the direction of Raveonettes (“Skyscraper” is RRR’s more elaborate ode to them) that becomes instant Iggy when singer Xander Smith opens his yap, ending up on some glammy Dave Clark 5 planet from the midpoint on. “Wait Up For You” and “2 AM” expose the Smashing Pumpkins posters on Smith’s wall, but things get their heaviest at “Try,” a rich kid’s version of Alice n Chains doom-drone (Smith even pulls out a bullhorn here, praise Ministry). Somewhere in the grayest area of all this, Smith throws on a Lupine Howl costume and gets all Harley with “Last One.” A steep slope here, but the band mostly runs it like a champ. Order from

Modwheelmood “Enemies and Immigrants” (Buddyhead Records)
Pot-luck fricassee of Blind Melon, Zep and Radiohead, spanning generational divides as far as that goes, but targeting a somewhat narrow demographic of altie record buyers. “Things Will Change” has an easily digestible Radiohead shuffle-rhythm moving it along as the vocals shoot for a neo-Sixties thing perfect for modeling pencil dresses to, and then “Going Nowhere” waddles in with a Tricky-vs-Cowboy Junkies sub-bolero routine urged on by John Bonham-worthy pots-and-pans-sounding drums. The refrains are often stupendous, never more so than in “Delay Lama,” where the Shannon Hoon-isms elbow their way into Yes territory over George Harrison guitars and another slick beat. A few more layers and this EP could be major label bait in a big way.
Order from Buddyhead Records

Apoptygma Berzerk "You and Me Against the World" (Metropolis Records)
For October, Metropolis dug deep and picked up the rights to this 2005 Sony/BMG import, a tour-de-goth that crams Smashing Pumpkins and Depeche Mode into a Chevette and does a wheelie past all the She Wants Revenges. After an inconsequential intro (why is any band even doing that anymore?) “In This Together” summons up a stage-whomping piece of anthem-techno that’s emo-esque in it’s breadth and depth and thankfully whine-free, and all would be fine and well-mannered if singer Stephan Groth didn’t all of a sudden transform into Neil Young for a couple of songs, melting into the pulsating array of ProTools mock-ups to create something shakily original. Once he’s sweated the Neil Young out of his system, Groth falls back to a more commercial – let’s face it, ABBA – songwriting style with “Cambodia,” then sets loose some robotic nu-gaze as a changeup in “Faceless Fear.”
Order from Metropolis Records

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