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Album Reviews

Music Worth  Hearing


Sound Of Animals Fighting: The Ocean and the Sun (Epitaph) - Just in… the Epitaph crew have experienced the effecters of a mind altering chemical known as LSD in signing Sound Of Animals Fighting.  Their third LP (and Epitaph debut) has the shadowed quartet creating a tangled web of experimental stoner metal for those with ADD.  The Ocean and The Sea can be calming, chaotic, cataclysmic – as poetic lyrics are mostly delivered in female voice seek buoyancy in the careening sonic waves.    Like The Residents, Sound Of Animals Fighting pride themselves on anonymity.  Known only by their respective animal names (Nightingale, Walrus, Lynx and Skunk), members of Circa Survive, Saosin and RX Bandits are likely involved.

Fujiya & Miyagi: Lightbulbs (Deaf Dumb + Blind) - Brighton, England-based electro group Fujiya & Miyagi began as a duo of Steve Lewis (synths, programming) and David Best (guitar, vocals).  According to Best, "Miyagi was taken from the film The Karate Kid and Fujiya was the name of a record player".  Now with live bass and drums, Lightbulbs transforms the skeletal elements of vintage '70s Krautrock and '90s British electro (like Stereolab and Broadcast ) into their modernistic post-disco where sexual vintage synthesizers and funky live rhythms rule the roost.  Recommended. 

Okkervil River: The Stand In (Jagjaguwar) - The embroidered cover artwork by leader Will Schaff reveals there was something below the surface of amazing 2007 LP The Stage Names.  [Look at both cover, you’ll get it.]  In fact, the Austin ensemble had these songs at the time, yet felt they would make a stronger statement as a second offering.  Right they were.  Musically The Stand In is somewhat more ebullient, while lyrically the seafaring themes and metaphors remain awash in turbulent waters.  Highly Recommended. 

Jennifer O’Connor: Here With Me (Matador) - Jennifer O’Connor is an honest, literate songwriter that straddling the lines of folk-pop & indie rock.  Weather the arrangements are sparse or more robust, her crystalline voice always shines in delivering those emotional blows.  As Time Out New York said, "You have to love an artist who reminds you of everyone but defies comparison".  Comfort music quiet times and rainy days.  Recommended. 

Rafter: Sweaty Magic [ep] (Asthmatic Kitty) - San Diego's Rafter presents his version of a late summer dance party.  Fueled on pop radio and passion, Sweaty Magic slices and dices sultry sounds of summer into his own kaleidoscopic electro dance pop.  Recommended. 

The Stills: Oceans Will Rise (Arts & Crafts) - Three albums in, the Stills are still searching for that something special.  For Oceans Will Rise  they take the brooding and atmospheric elements of Interpol and add some modern-rock polish.  Lyrically things are darker, dwelling on heartache, regret and panic. Withstanding their Montreal birthplace, it’s a mystery to me why Arts and Crafts would pick them up.  Good. 

Kasai All-Stars: In the 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish and ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic (Crammed) – The third installment in Crammed Disc's exceptional Congotronics series features a cast about 25 musicians from five different bands and ethnic groups from the Kasai region of Congo.  The stylistic convergence welcomes a broader array of instruments and more complex polyrhythms.  The urban setting enables a more precise production, however allows the updated ritual music to maintain its trance inducing qualities.  Recommended. 

Alias: Resurgam (Anticon) - After an extended stay on Oakland CA, Alias’ journey has led him back home to Maine.  Resurgam is a Latin word meaning "I shall rise again", and he does so with this graceful instrumental LP (his first since 2003).  The intricacies of his cut-n-paste beatscapes command focused headphone listening.  An engaging set of twilight, melancholy left-field hip-hop that’s full of atmospheric touches.  Highly Recommended. 

Pop Levi:  Never Never Love (Counter Records) - British glam-pop artist Pop Levi likes to keep you confused.  Though the focus in on glossy vocals and synthesizer / beat box based instrumentation, the curve-balls of folky acoustic guitar strums and organic rhythmic loops keep things from melting down.  Fire on your feet, indeed.  Recommended. 

Don Caballero: Punkgasm (Relapse) – Pittsburgh based math rock trio Don Caballero are now led by the last remaining original member, drum virtuoso Damon Che.  The cover art indicates new life has led to brighter skies.  Truth is, few bands closely associated with a particular sound or movement are able to blaze into new territory with much success.  Unfortunately, this too is the case with Don Cab’s 6th LP, Punkgasm.  In their case, learning to speak isn’t a good thing, and neither is mimicry.  Though scattered, a few inspired sparks remain.  Decent.