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Random Stabbings 21b

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Switchfoot “Oh Gravity" (Columbia Records)
Since they assuredly don’t suck, Switchfoot can be forgiven for riding Jesus’ coattails into major label semi-legend status, that show-biz dreamland where Keane is bigger than U2 and Muse gets to tour with Queen for two years straight. Still trying to shake off their born-again-virgin Xtian fankid minions (now more than ever their press soundbites are devoutly Unitarian, and you can literally feel them squirm), they’ve managed to scrape some very worthwhile (even lo-fi at times) AOR-post-punk together, not the easiest feat being they’ve only taken a year to mull it over. Unlike the antidepressant-popping Nothing Is Sound, Oh Gravity is more grounded in hard pop, relying on emo bludgeoning, Powerman 5000 cold-clocking and latter-day Ramones stomp to prove that, hey, they were just kidding about their generation being a bunch of wastes. Plenty to like here either way, from the Socialburn-esque “American Dream” to “Awakening,” which wants to be Beck, to the more-garagey-than-thou “Amateur Lovers.”
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Tristania “Illumination" (SPV Records)
One thing you learn in Music Critique 101 is never to trust press releases. If a press release promises a band sounding like “the second coming of David Bowie” – particularly if the blurbage came from the keyboard of a random-praise-generator guy/guyette from Spin or Rolling Stone – you can expect something that’s a lot like Babyshambles, or worse, if there is such a thing. This here “Evanescence-soundalike” dame, Tristania, a completely unachievable megahottie from Norway, doesn’t have a Marky Mark boytoy tossing asexual counterpoint lines at her, just some out-of-work kraut-rock vampire-baldy, and what this really sounds like is Elise, but since you’ve never heard of that band it’s a not-totally-laughable unreturned high-five to Sisters of Mercy, Nephilim and Lacuna Coil, swiping Sarah McLachlan’s “I Love You” along the way to prove that Tristania is aware that there is a device called a “radio” and that it plays music. Order from

Fujiya & Miyagi “Transparent Things" (Deaf Dumb & Blind Records)
NME darlings who’ve found themselves venturing beyond the tremendously challenging 4/4 of refried motorik grooves into condensed indie-soup for the angstful soul that sounds exactly like the Lilys trying to be serious about structure. In order to remind people that these 100% non-Japanese limeys are into Kraftwerk and motorik in general, “Ankle Injuries” boots the album up with an utterly disaffected stream of drone-alt best befitting MTV strobe-action brain-dada that screams for no particular reason I’m At The Wheel Driving And The World Is Changing Instantly and Completely Every Eighth-Of-A-Second. Most of the rest of this is Gil Mantera-style innocuousness, breezy like Donovan without the importance, drum patterns that don’t require fan-cooling of the 808s and whatever other common chintz they prefer, so unobtrusively catchy that you could picture Jessica Biel and five other Jessica Biel-things listening to it as they cruise along, oddly enough with no one holding any X, in an SUV toward certain doom at a makeout-getaway cabin on Alien Brain Parasite Lake. Order from

Clinic “Visitations" (Domino Records)
Very little gray area here: if you like the idea of Clinic in its base form you’ll sign right up, elsewise you’ll be holding out for whatever aspires to such greatness. Out of the gate (“Family”) you hear what amounts to Thom Yorke stammering angry gibberspeak while stumbling out the nuthouse exit in a Tornadoes tee shirt, convinced he’s the human embodiment of a 12-cylinder “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” – Ade Blackburn is serenading a god of something somewhere, but happily no one can understand a bloody thing he’s saying, so it’s definitely something positive. In “Animal/Human,” we find our blessed, surgical-masked limeys gathered around the campfire, banging tambourines and chanting outright now, and even when they shut down the autoharp and incidental skronk to go a capella the lyrics may as well be the phone book, although the word “tell” is clearly in there, which must mean something. It’s a record with the potential to create an army of boombox-carrying indie-goober Radio Raheems, each bopping around Greenwich Village replying to second-guessers with an impatient “But I don’t LIKE nuttin else.” Order from

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