RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Random Stabbings 32

img  Tobias
Raveonettes, Lust Lust Lust (Vice Records)
It’s not enough simply to let off wall-of-sound grease-fires over pretty 1960s pop songs – anybody can do that. But after listening to Lust Lust Lust with an open – okay, reverent – mind, one could argue that Dutch coed duo Raveonettes have created something not just important but essential… wait, don’t get like that. The cherubic, low-pegged vocal lines of “Hallucinations” and “With My Eyes Closed” conjure clear images of a far-off surfer on the last day of summer vacation; songs like these could be woven into an Everly Brothers best-of without anyone being the wiser, save for the parts where a coked-out Tasmanian devil handles the lead guitar’s volume knob. With that alone, you could stop and get all Baboon Dooley indie-wonk about it: “Ah. The Raveonettes have provided incontrovertible proof that there’s a wondering pre-teen in all of us awaiting a merciful let-up in all the super-loud poli-social clamor and Corona ads.” But you haven’t heard “Dead Sound” yet, and this you must, must do.

Hanzel und Gretyl, Zwanzig Zwolf (Metropolis Records)
This jackboot-industrial twosome look and sound like they come from the wrong side of the German political tracks, but they’re in fact New Yorkers dressed in the fetish-club duds you’d kill to see at your local karaoke bar. Slowly but surely, more acts are partaking of the noxious Hitler-doom atmosphere first stolen and transmogrified from Skinny Puppy’s genius by Marilyn Manson, ie KMFDM, Combichrist, half of what Dancing Ferret Records is releasing, etc. For middle-class kids whose parents can’t make the mortgage anymore, it’s leisure-escapism from investigating political realities – anarchy has always been a big sell in crappy times like now, and when Hanzel adds the destructive coldwave sounds of machines assembling terminator robots to their angry, megaphoned German gibbering, it’s instant karma for the goth set. In specific, this crew, in fact, are harder and more resilient than KMFDM and could easily supplant them with a couple of melodic tunes here and there. Now, however, they’re content to bellow long and madly over their Pro Tools Panzer tanks, comfortable as they are in their noise-metal skin.

Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (XL Recordings)
There’s a segment of the accounting-undergrad listening class that can’t get enough Death Cabs and Belles & Sebastians, and, with tax time nearing, we owe it to these people to acknowledge the fact that they have ears.
The tuneage of Nantucket-preppy-imposters Vampire Weekend is sparse, separated by space even when their advanced playing abilities are being fully utilized. This quietude creates an early Police palette upon which the band studiously brushes a few Afro-pop tones, subatomic flutes (“A-Punk”), a fake Kansas string run (“M79”), and some reggaeton (“One”). For starters, that is. “Mansford Roof” was the drum n bass piece I’d alluded to in a previous Playlist, and on second listen it’s still that, busted up and sounding like a wheel’s coming off the bus somewhere, but such is the nature of their debatably adventurous, advanced rhythm methods – they know stuff about music, you see. One ringtone of the future, for sure, is the froggy-hopping kiddie guitar loop from “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”
Either way, there’s no escaping this. Whatever Vampire Weekend becomes – lei-draped fave of island tourists, twee-punk-genius royalty or the next Police – you or someone you’re stuck with will be assimilated.

Air Traffic, Fractured Life (Astralwerks Records)
You know what’s funny these days, you take a band like this, strip off one guitar layer and all the hooky stuff and it’s Instant Bowery Ballroom Indie-rock with no chance in hell of ever getting mainstream love. We begin with a run-around-the-city-holding-hands makeout-rock of “Come On,” which is half Libertines and half Rod stewart, as in nasal limey vocals and big, fat piano-pounding straight out of “Stay With Me.” “Charlotte” is the cross-pollinated result of Franz Ferdinand and Buzzcocks, punkily frenetic but (almost) ready for a shot at any one of the morning “news” shows that’s been retarding the synaptic abilities of US housewives for decades now. As you’d expect, a song titled “Just Abuse Me” is a turn toward pretty gravitas, reminiscent of Coldplay’s “Clocks.” Same for “Shooting Star,” although by that point the vocals have drifted away from purposeful Cure intonation toward a more jokey Dexy’s Midnight Runner sound.

Baumer, Were it Not For You (Eyeball Records)
Fresh off a one-song soundtrack appearance in the Winona Ryder vehicle "Sex And Death 101" come North Carolina’s Baumer bearing a drywall-bucket full of curveballs. Rolling out the proceedings is “In Your Stead” (all the song titles seem meant to evince Melville-like seriousness in case people mistook them for an all-growed-up emo band), a rainy wash of guitars, compressed drums and urgent singing common to most all-growed-up emo bands. But what the heck is this “Make Way for the King” song, with its We Love the 80s synth-cheese and ska-like drumming, other than a CYA move in case the 80s end up getting widely loved by everybody, which would, at most, last 20 or 30 minutes? On the heels of that comes “Hard Drug,” sounding like a Justin Timberlake demo, steeped in plaintive hound-dog crooning and primitive handclaps. Songwriting isn’t a problem for this crew, but focus is — rather than associating themselves with a specific genre or (God forbid) blowing everyone away with originality, Baumer wants to become a warehouse of soundtracking archive soundage waiting around for calls from movie-studio peons, which don’t come often, even to the big fish.

Tarja, My Winter Storm (Universal Records)
Europe has yielded a few glum-faced, overly metalized coveters of the Evanescence throne – Norway’s Octavia Sperati, Austria’s hapless, underrated Visions of Atlantis for two. A fetish for pure opera catapulted wizard-bearded Finnish band Nightwish to the front of the line, and there they waited, for just a little US love, for several years until their very public separation from singer Tarja Turunen, sealed through a pair of War and Peace-length open letters committed to the internet in 2005.
Turnen’s subsequent solo album did away with all the Armored Saint power-metal, leaving her with the kind of deal that happened when Dio left Sabbath – dirgey power chords over-decorated with Macys-Thanksgiving-balloon-sized quasi-opera vocals. Her second album, this guy here, shows that she’s worked on her writing some, one successful result of which is the instantly breathtaking track “Sing For Me.” Toward the appreciation of that song and pretty much everything else, a taste for Verdi goes a long way; Turunen’s soprano refuses to quit diva-mode, ie her jive can get unintentionally Rocky Horror-campy when the songwriting isn’t up to scratch. A cover of Alice Cooper’s “Poison” is the low point.

Willits + Sakamoto, Ocean Fire (12k Records)
In this, Grammy award-winning piano soloist Ryuichi Sakamoto hooked up with newcomer guitar experimentalist Christopher Willits in one-take improvisations bent on soundtracking the ocean world. A mainframe’s worth of processing later, it’s emerged as a man-made Songs of the Humpback Whale, gently menacing jaunts into unknown, alien environs, notes held forever whilst being modulated at unhurried leviathan paces. More than anything it’s a headphone experience and thus not unhesitatingly recommended for an intro meditation class, as it’s cumbered just a bit too often with nerve-rattling glitch-static from Willits’ guitar. Those sounds, however, can be gotten used to; I can’t say for certain, but the duo certainly must have stumbled upon a few theta-wave-inducing combinations as they tried to stare each other down. “Sentience” would appear to have been inspired by the alien-encounter scene in The Abyss, a downward-spiraling set of notes that eventually bursts into a slo-mo revelation both eerie and soothing.

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

Related articles

CD Feature/ Kevin Ayers: "The Unfairground"
Zen master to a new ...
Vital Weekly 621
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Vital Weekly 620
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Cd Feature/ Neptune: "Gong Lake"
Born as an experiment in ...
CD Feature/ Gram Rabbit: "RadioAngel of the RobotBeat"
Scarlett Johansson's favourite band: It ...
Random Stabbings 31
February's interesting records, subjectively compiled ...
CD Feature/ Tying Tiffany: "Brain for Breakfast"
Abrasive guitars & computergenerated Pop ...
CD Feature/ Nadja: "Corrasion"
Reaching for the stars with ...
Net Feature/ Protestant Work Ethic: "Turned, and Turning EP"
Cooper was wrong: Quietly blossoming ...
Net Feature/ Slon: "Jelenka EP"
Tightrope artists with an inutitive ...
CD Feature/ Blood Meridian: "Liquidate Paris!"
A silkily psychedelic album: All ...

Partner sites