Other Music New Release Update
April 2, 2003

In This Week's Update:

White Stripes
Campfire Songs
Asa Chang & Junray
Albert Ayler
The Kills
Wilco (DVD)
The Faint ("Danse Macabre Remixed")
Le Rok
Lifeguards (Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard)
The Numbers
And you Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead


Notwist ("Shrink")
William Basinski
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto


STYROFOAM "I'm What's There to Show That Something's Missing" (Morr) CD/LP $15.99/$13.99
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The long awaited new full-length from Styrofoam has finally arrived,
and it is truly beautiful. "I'm What's There to Show That Something's
Missing" has been well worth the wait and Arne Van Petegem's
approach this time out is slightly different than his two previous
full-lengths. Arne's songwriting has definitely matured with this
release leaving behind the crunchy electronics and distorted vocals of
the past for a new, cleaner and more melodic pop approach. Most
notably the vocals are up front in the mix, and who knew it but this
boy can sing! Morr Music have hinted at the melding of pop and
electronics (especially on the "Blue Skied an' Clear" compilation) but
this record takes it to a whole new level. Upon listening to this album
you can definitely tell that Arne Van Petegem has been hanging out
with the fabulous Acher brothers of Notwist/Lali Puna/Ms. John Soda
fame. Rumor has it the Notwist are the ones responsible for edging on
Arne to explore the more vocal driven pop side of electronic music,
and for this we all thank you! Absolutely stunning, and a shoe-in for
a spot on my top 10 for 2003. This is a must for anyone who has
purchased "Neon Golden". Truly essential. [JS]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999194962&refer_url=email
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WHITE STRIPES "Elephant" (V2) CD/LP $17.99/$15.99
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Does this record even need a review? Won't listeners buy it based on
the hype alone? Let's see... yes you've heard the White Stripes
before and know what they have to offer. Yes you've also heard the
new record is supposed to be great, but NO, it's not what you are
expecting, it's far better than that. The duo hopped the pond to
record "Elephant" in an English studio on gear that was made before
you were born, but the production is not lushly over done (i.e. look-
what-we-can-afford-now-that-we're-huge) nor is it the same old
formula. For instance, the first track "Seven Nation Army" (an
anthem of an opener -- hooky, sexy, destined to be a single) starts
with... a bass! Actually, it's Jack playing guitar through an octave
pedal. Then there is the multi-tracked chorus for the superb rock
opera "There's No Home for You Here, Girl". "Little Acorns" begins
with a retro voice sample (see, new surprises). For me though,
"Black Math" is the trumpet heralding "Elephant" as the best rock
record I have heard since, well in a long f'n time. I mean damn, if this
won't incite riots! Squealing distortion! A guttural non-word breakdown!
The percussion is huge; is she wearing weights? Where did he learn
to play guitar like that?? Does the devil live in Detroit? Oh, to be
young (to be sad!), to make noise, to kick ass. Sure, there are some
ballads (Meg gets one) and the super bluesy "Ball and Biscuit" recalls
earlier White Stripes fare, but watch out for the balls to the wall
mayhem on "Hardest Button to Button" and "Hypnotise". Not since
"In Utero" has there been such a bristling rock album. Really. This
album has restored my faith in contemporary American rock and roll.
Look how much it made me curse! Whoo-hoo!
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=63881271482&refer_url=email
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CAMPFIRE SONGS "Campfire Songs" (Catsup Plate) CD $11.99
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The Animal Collective moves over an alchemized suburban field in the
course of rendering their intensely honest, slightly doom-wracked
narrative on this new one. That it was recorded on a porch is evident
not just in the adventures-in-horizontal-hold of the production but also
in the diegetic (film school word) components of the subject matter.
"Two Corvettes." "Doggy." I half expected a serene meditation called
"Milk Duds" but alas it did not transpire. An album you can get lost
inside, which is very much becoming becoming of the Avey Tare and
Panda Bear-derived contingent. There are strident, chugging passages
and mutated, fuzzed flamenco excursions -- all best experienced as a
whole, as a world.  [DHo]

ASA CHANG & JUNRAY "Tsu Gi Ne Pu" (Leaf) CD $12.99
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After capturing the ears and acclaim of most with last year's "Jun Ray
Song Chang", Asa Chang returns with "Tsu Gi Ne Pu", a mini-EP
designed to intrigue, confuse, and sedate its listener through its
tranquil oddity. The emphasis of this latest album is on the dichotomy
of modern technique, ancient tradition, and the space that lie
in-between. Babelogues of spoken word cut their way through tablas,
sitars and well-thought out percussion. Chang is obsessed with the
ideas of classical compositions and each track is essential a highly
detailed math equation. You will be surprised, agitated and when you
make it to the percussion-less hidden track, set free to debate what
the hell it was you just consumed. Recommended for those willing to
expand. [JD]

ALBERT AYLER "Copenhagen Tapes" (Ayler) CD $15.99
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For any aspiring jazz aficionado or avid record collector, the name
Albert Ayler is one of mystery, admiration and fanaticism. This
newest release of live material recorded in Denmark during
September of 1964 is a document to the power of human expression.
Leading a quartet featuring Don Cherry, Gary Peacock and Sunny
Murray, they all aspire to reach the outer limits. Many have accused
the tenor saxophonist of lacking "skills," "chops," and/or "talent,"
which is ridiculous when you take into the account the creative
energy and inspiration that is a part of all the musicians' lives. This is
not music to dance to, nor to passively listen; this music is simply
about being. It's all about expression in and of itself, nothing more,
nothing less. Pure freedom of sound. [DG]

SWIRLIES "Cats of the Wild Volume 2" (Bubblecore) CD $12.99
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After seven long years since their last proper LP, a new Swirlies
album seemed about as likely as a follow-up to "Loveless." But they're
back with a new record (actually a mini-album when you subtract the
15 or so minutes of what the band calls "end of the record nonsense")
full of warped and warbled guitars and EQ knobs tweaked every which
way -- certain to have you second guessing the decade while looking for
a Taang! imprint. The Swirlies still envelope their liquid pop melodies
with crashing waves of sonics that'll leave you both gazing and
drooling on your shoes, but they've also updated their fascination with
loops and electronics with some new sounds and technology. They
make the latter clear in the playful opener "One Light Flashing I Love
You," as gurgling and buzzing synthesizers fly around your ears.
But there's quite a contrast when the dream pop melodies and molten
hot tremolo guitars of "Give Us Moon Rocks!" come in and melt your
eardrums. Classic Swirlies indeed! During "Sleepy Time," shot gun
guitar blasts squash and crackle over lulling vocals; the dynamics
are intense, like listening to a lullaby on acid played through shredded
stereo speakers. Sadly, "Cats of the Wild" ends too quickly but with
seven proper songs, there's still more substance than their classic
"Brokedick Car" EP. Welcome back. [GH]

THE KILLS "Keep On Your Mean Side" (Rough Trade) CD $15.99
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VV and Hotel, aka, The Kills, follow up the "Black Rooster" EP with
more of their raw, raucous, tag team version of certain modern
rock 'n' roll duos. Well placed yelps, beats, growling guitar, samples
and distortion begin "Superstition," the slowly building first song on
this, their first full-length. The other seven or so new songs are still
soaked with the inevitable Royal Trux comparisons, but that ain't so
bad  -- it seems the climate is right for sexy male/female vocals and
dirty guitar lines. "Keep on Your Mean Side" nurtures a slight
Americana influence with a Hotel-led "Kissy Kissy" and a little
Stones-ish organ on "Monkey 23."  Amidst all the grit, the album
ends with an uncharacteristic bare-bones ballad courtesy VV's sultry
vocals and an acoustic guitar (what if Grace Slick sat in on a
Vaseline's song?). This band live is a must and you'll know from the
first chords and pounding kick drums that permeate "Mean Side."

WILCO "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" (Plexifilm) DVD $24.99
Thee storied band of 2002: report of their travails widely circulated
and records wildly bought -- mutual exclusivity of either a question
for the ages. In this film the unfolding of Wilco's fragile, humble saga
is presented at the lowest of keys, unabashedly for fans only. The
live footage of both Jeff Tweedy solo and the somewhat dwindling
band performing is the main selling point, but I do enjoy the
plain-speaking testaments to genuine corporate lunacy as
experienced by Wilco. If you don't know what I'm referring to off the
bat then that might prove to be even more incentive for you to see this
film. Replete with happy ending and nice looking (and appropriate)
black-and-white exurban Chicago landscapes. [DHo]

THE FAINT "Danse Macabre Remixed" (Astralwerks) CD $16.99
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Nebraska's favorite new wave sons get the remix treatment from some
dance music heavies. It seems that a lot of the producers used this
project to show off a new face and experiment a bit. Super DJ Paul
Oakenfold turns in a trance-free elektro shocker that just might be the
most interesting thing he's put his name on in over ten years. Ursula
1000, who is best known for his breakbeat lounge core sound,
contributes a DFA inspired slab of disko guitar punk that works
suprisingly well. Add contributions from Thin White Duke aka Jacques
Lu Cont (Les Rythmes Digitales), Tommie Sunshine and others, and
you have a  nice little punky dance piece to tide you over 'til the
Rapture full-length. [DH]

LE ROK "Hausarbeiten" (Karaoke Kalk) CD $15.99
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The brilliant Karaoke Kalk label unleashes their newest signing, Le
Rok. Le Rok is one Christoph Dohne and his debut entitled
"Hausarbeiten" is filled with all of the things that the label is famous
for, such as crunchy electronics, organic instrumentation, and
childlike melodies that seep deep into your subconscious. Melodies
so catchy that you will find them circling around in your head for
days, you will be humming them walking down the street, you will be
humming them on the subway, and you will be humming them while
sitting at your desk at work. Trust me, I can tell you from experience.
Twelve tracks of blissfully distorted downtempo beats. Karaoke Kalk
you have done it again. [JS]

LIFEGUARDS "Mist King Urth" (Fading Captain) CD $13.99
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In between proper Guided By Voices albums, the prolific Bob keeps
writing songs and putting them out via the Fading Captain Series,
often as a collaboration with a former bandmate or maybe even a
distant, distant indie rock cousin like Mac from Superchunk. Though
I'm a GbV fan from way back, frankly, most of these are geared to the
absolute diehard. The 27th Fading Captain installment is one of the
best, however, uniting ex-Cobra Verde guitarist (and also a latter-era
GbV member) Doug Gillard and Robert Pollard once again. (The two
also collaborated together with "Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire
Department," Fading Captain #4, another of the series' better
installments.) With Gillard at the instrumental helm, there's an emphasized
classic rock slant complete with some glam guitar riffs and occasional
plodding piano chords to add extra dramatics. The musical arrangement
of "First of an Early Go-Getter" sounds like an outtake lifted from "Who's
Next" until a fluttering guitar lead, ala "Fragile"-era Yes, floats by.
Meanwhile, Pollard shows off his craft of a perfect melody during the
acoustic guitar driven "Society Dome," one of the best moments on "Mist
King Urth." In contrast, the lo-fi power rocker "Shorter Virgins" is a clunker,
but Lifeguards quickly redeem themselves with "No Chain Breaking" a song
which could have been included on "Mag Earwhig!" A lot of the Fading
Captain Series has been under-whelming and for fans only but this isn't the
case here. Yeah, there's some filler but you'll also find some great songs that
are far from half-baked and very enjoyable. [GH]

NUMBERS "Ee-Uh!" (Troubleman) CD $10.99
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NUMBERS "Death!" (Tigerbeat6) CD $13.99
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Eep-op-ork: Melt Banana. Blip, beep, crash: OOIOO. Rock, dance,
scream: Lilliput. Numbers combine post-punk with samples,
keyboard (Moog), live drums, guitar and bass. These sounds and the
bands listed above only hint at what a live show is like. Short spastic,
Devo-esque songs rolled into a ball of energy and swallowed in a
time-release capsule (fast dissolving gelcap stylee). An attempt at
the result of digesting all this is on the last three songs of their "Ee-Uh!"
EP. To quote the sleeve notes "I remember it sounded like the scariest
house music ever that night." To lump them in with the current NY
disco-punk happenings wouldn't be fair (besides, they're from San
Francisco). But, coincidentally, right before "Death!" kicked in, I was
reading a post about the DFA mix CD that came with the latest issue
of Muzik magazine. A big smile came across my face when I saw
bands like Dymaxion, DAT Politics and Kit Clayton on the list of
artists who remixed the Numbers. Needless to say, this isn't your
normal put-more-of-a-beat-in-it-to-make-it-dancefloor-friendly remix
album. "Death!" goes from glitch to house to electro to electronic
noise to simple psychedelic keyboard washes while waltzing -- dare
I say moshing -- with the skeleton of the original punky songs. I'm
partial to Dymaxion's cut up radio edit garage soaked Speak 'n' Spell
version of "We Like Having These Things." Fun!  [LG]

"Secret of Elena's Tomb" (Interscope) CD $6.99

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And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have graced us with a
five track EP and a teaser of what is to come on their forthcoming
full-length. After last year's amazing album "Source Tags and Codes",
it is nice to see them expanding on a sound that they have practically
perfected. The first track "Mach Schau" is a beautiful epic rock
buildup in traditional ...Trail of Dead fashion. Track two, entitled "All
St. Day," is a beautiful bass rumbling masterpiece recalling the
Afghan Whigs in their prime. While the third track, "Crowning of a
Heart," reminds me of the quirky melodic songwriting of Jeff Tweedy
and Wilco with its alt-country textures and melodies. And "Counting
Off the Days" is an acoustic ballad of sorts (yes, that is ACOUSTIC
BALLAD from one of rock's most explosive live acts). It is definitely
the farthest departure from the ...Trail of Dead sound adding strings
and heart wrenching vocals. The final track, "Intelligence" is a new
wave influenced stormer that is not much different from the Faint's
most recent output. Five tracks and each one much different from the
last, ...Trail of Dead are definitely experimenting with new sounds and
textures and here's to them blowing my mind once again with their
forthcoming full-length. "The Secret of Elena's Tomb" is a must for
any fan of rock music today. [JS]


NOTWIST "Shrink" (Virgin/Community) CD $22.99
Finally back in stock in time for their upcoming sold out shows in
NYC at the Knitting Factory, Notwist's 1998 released "Shrink"
marked an important transition. Here the band fully utilizes bubbling
digital textures with their mix of post-rock and indie pop, and creates
a wonderful record in itself, while hinting at the majestic things to
come a few years later with "Neon Golden."     .

WILLIAM BASINSKI "River" (Raster Noton) CD $14.99
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Another beautiful and mysterious release from Mr. Basinski, this
recording, from the early-'80s, is made up of his experiments with
shortwave radio. Selecting fragments of bits of muzak, beginnings
and endings, etc., which he slowed down and looped, and then
mixed to cassette from an old reel to reel, the addition of shortwave
static echoes throughout. These methods, when described here, may
seem random and (in explanation) lose the organic quality of the
music. So let me say this; I feel like we have heard these sounds
subliminally, all our lives, traveling out in the everyday, while we slept.
Basinski has arranged them, in this order which is now recognizable
to us. Hypnotic, yes, but also awakening in its direct connection to
emotion. This music is both overwhelming and comforting. Those
who missed out on the tremendously moving "Melancholia," make it
up to themselves with "The River." If by 'ambient' we are referring to
an atmosphere, an unconsciousness, but an awareness of sound,
something we can identify if not name, then I believe Basinski to be
the current master of ambient musics. [NL]

ALVA NOTO / RYUICHI SAKAMOTO "Vrioon" (Raster Noton) CD $14.99
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Equal parts Noto's cold and dry minimalism and the simple yet lyrical
romanticism of Sakamoto's piano work, "Vrioon" is a carefully crafted
series of miniatures. Though each track consists of a different
combination of the same basic ingredients the duo let each idea
unwind so gradually that it never feels confining. Sakamoto's piano
slowly phrases its way through brittle framework of Noto's static and
pulse letting each note linger just long enough to let us anticipate the
next one. While Noto and Sakamoto compliment each other well on
these six tracks it's when the rhythms subside and the piano is left to
flutter alone that the album's true beauty shines through. An elegant
release, this is Noto's most rewarding collaborative project yet. [KH]

This week's contributors: J Dennis [JD], Lisa Garrett [LG], Daniel
Givens [DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Duane Harriott [DH], Kean
Holtkamp [KH], Dan Hougland [DHo], Nicole Lang [NL] and Jeremy
Sponder [JS].


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