Other Music New Release Update
August 20, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Express Rising
Papas Fritas (Best-of and Rarities)
New Town Compilation (Various Artists)
The Neptunes
Guided By Voices
New Deutsch Compilation (Various Artists)
Slum Village (Reissue of 1997 EP)
Neil Young (4 Reissues from '70s and '80s)
Modey Lemon
Basil Kirchin
Kings of Leon (Domestic)
Devendra Banhart ("Oh Me Oh My?" LP Pressing)


EXPRESS RISING "Express Rising" (Memphix) CD $13.99
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Express Rising is the debut long player by Chicago resident Dante Carfagna.
What started out as a handful of acclaimed, yet nearly impossible to find
7"s has blossomed into a startling accomplished collection of instrumental
hip-hop atmospherics. While this is his first record, he has been a
behind-the-scenes force at the margins of hip-hop for some time -- hanging
around Luther Campbell's studio, turning up on obscure Miami Bass
twelve-inches and receiving writing credits on Professor Griff albums while
still a teenager. Time spent in Ohio and Kansas City found him expanding
his knowledge of funk and folk arcana, and he has steadily come to be
considered one of the world's foremost experts on funk and soul. He
currently writes one of the better columns in the Wax Poetics journal, was
responsible for the inscrutable "Chains and Black Exhaust" compilation, and
is in the midst of compiling a comprehensive, annotated discography of
funky musics with none other than DJ Shadow. While having knowledge in and
of itself is certainly fine, knowing how to put it into effect is another
thing all together. Carfagna knows how to coax beautiful melodies out of
his record collection. Homegrown distended music boxes, echoed out keys,
freakily pitched down flanged bass riffs. Warm late nights and evocations
of Midwest basements and attics bubble under. Humid loops unwind amid
impossibly deep drums. Notably, what he leaves out is almost as important
as what he puts in. There's no sense of hurry or having something to prove.
A palpable sense of romanticism should certainly appeal to fans of Boards
of Canada, and the invention is on par, if not exceeds, that of the recent
work of RJD2 and Boom Bip. Very recommended. [MK]

MANUAL "Isares" (Static Caravan) CD $13.99
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After two amazing albums and numerous compilation appearances, Manual
brings us a mini-album filled with all that we have come to love from his
previous recordings. I have to say that Manual's "Until Tomorrow" is
definitely my most played album on the Morr Music label, and his newest
mini-album entitled "Isares" proves why. Jonas Munk (a/k/a Manual) has this
sense of melody that sticks in your head, and he seems to squeeze the most
gorgeous of sounds from his computer. "Isares" is four tracks of beautiful,
lulling, melodic, downtempo electronica, having as much in common with
Boards of Canada and My Bloody Valentine, as with Brian Eno and Durutti
Column. My one problem with this release is that it is only 25 minutes
long, but those 25 minutes are well worth the price of this superb disc.
Buy it, lay back, and hit the repeat button... you will not be
disappointed. By the way, it is limited to 1000 copies worldwide and when
it's gone, it's gone. [JS]

PAPAS FRITAS "Pop Has Freed Us" (Minty Fresh) CD $15.99
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Papas Fritas has not really been a working group for the last couple of
years; I think that they succumbed to the hardships of being a small
American pop band, and gave in to the allure of steady jobs and paychecks.
But in a twist of fate that has become the pre-eminent modern saga of this
business (and adding a new page to the story of "bubble-gum" pop), their
career has been re-launched by a "hit" chewing-gum commercial. And thus we
have this excellent career retrospective, featuring eight of their best,
most infectious tracks, plus nine non-album cuts that will satisfy their
old fans, and demonstrate that with songwriting this strong, even b-sides
are better than most singles on the radio. This is straight-ahead pop
music with hooks, choruses, joy, melancholy, and all that other good
stuff. Papas Fritas were (are?) one of the rare indie pop bands with all
the elements in place; songwriting, playing, production, and Tony Goddess'
rich and emotional voice to bring it all together. I have all the albums,
but I think this collection will be in my player for a while. Also includes
a bonus DVD with three music videos. (Note: Tony Goddess will perform a
rare solo acoustic set at Other Music Wednesday August 27 at 8pm.) [JM]

[V.A.] "New Town" (Ai) CD $16.99
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It seems like new electronic music labels come and go these days but there
are very few that maintain a quality of excellence throughout all of their
releases. Kompakt does it. Warp does it too, as does Perlon. Now add Ai
records to that list. It has been a long time that a record label so hyped
in the press and on the internet has actually lived up to all the praise,
Ai records does. After releasing numerous highly sought after and limited
twelve inches that seem to jump through genres, bouncing from classic IDM,
to straight-up dancefloor techno, to pumping Cologne influenced house, this
label releases their first CD entitled "New Town," a compilation of some of
Ai's best tracks to date. Every track is a stunner, from the amazing opener
by Andy Freer who with his "Super Galaxo" track is going to make everyone
on the Kompakt label jealous with envy, to Claro Intelecto's take on
classic electro (look out I-F), SWF comes correct with the dirty breaks on
"True," and ADJ can give the Autechre imitators a run for their money. All
in all, "New Town" is an essential compilation, 13 tracks, all new artists,
and a superb listen from beginning to end. Highly Recommended! [JS]

THE NEPTUNES "Clones" (Star Trak) CD $17.99
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Turn on any urban/pop radio station and within minutes you are guaranteed
to hear a track produced by the Neptunes. From Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Busta
Rhymes, to Britney Spears, No-Doubt, or Justin Timberlake, their clients
are many and talents abound. "Clones" is a showcase for their new label,
Star Trak. This first collection of productions by Pharrell Williams and
Chad Hugo is just what you'd expect -- freaky sparse drums, synth orchestra
hits, game boy/playstation beats, it's all here. Featuring an array of new
voices, Rosco P. Coldchain, Vanessa Marquez, Spymob (the band that provided
the live sound for the domestic version of the N.E.R.D album), as well as
ol' faves like Ludacris, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, ODB (rechristened Dirt McGirt),
Clipse, and Kelis (with fiance Nas). Tasty sounds are their forte', and
like Berry Gordy in his Motown heyday, the Neptunes have cashed in on their
ability to write a catchy-as-f*ck chorus and hook. Sugary sweet for the
streets, hot enough for the beach, enough bass to make your ride bounce
without shocks, guaranteed to rock your crib, and funnier than a Dave
Chappelle skit. Sometimes you forget that you're listening to a CD and not
the actual radio. It's mostly a hip-hop record, with a few exceptions, but
less of the rap-rock fusion they flirted with and perfected for their
N.E.R.D project. This is shiny enough to replace the rims of your Escalade
with and more fun than a blacked out night in Brooklyn. The best tracks
include vocals with Snoop, Busta, Vanessa Marquez and Ol' Dirty. If you
know the name Neptunes, buy the CD. If not, it's never too late to learn
about a success story continuing to unfold. (For a limited time, includes a
bonus DVD with studio footage, interviews and a video for "Frontin'".) [DG]

GUIDED BY VOICES "Earthquake Glue" (Matador) CD $13.99
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A less overwrought back-to-basics exercise than last year's "Universal
Truths And Cycles," the new Guided By Voices album attempts to marry Robert
Pollard's big ol' rock and roll songwriting ambitions with the homemade
aesthetic that made his band famous in the first place. Whereas the group's
previous effort was peppered with the intentionally obtuse mini-songs that
have often been saved for Pollard's innumerable side projects, this album
only has one, which transitions from brass band warm-up to acoustic
balladry to anthemic rock all in less than two minutes. The only real
surprises on the record are the occasional references to contemporary
issues ("the stock market tumbling," lots of sloganeering about soldiers
and warriors and veterans) sprinkled among the usual combinations of
seemingly unrelated words, and the sludgy wah-pedal guitars on "Dirty
Water" (did someone in the band snag a promo of the latest album by their
labelmates Dead Meadow?). "Earthquake Glue" isn't hugely different than
you'd expect, but as an album it's better than anything else they've
recently recorded, and the opening track "My Kind Of Soldier" is sure to
become an instant fan favorite. [RH]

[V.A.] "New Deutsch" (Gigolo) CD $15.99
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The Robert Longo-esque cover beckons us. I'm hesitating to say how great
this compilation is without knowing how many of the good tracks made it
onto the vinyl version, but goddamn these DJs made my day. A full 24-tracks
of vintage, good-luck-finding-this-stuff-elsewhere, Krautpunk (t.m.), also
known as "New German Wave." This stuff has the advantage of being made
after the initial surge of punk. Made in the late-'70s through the '80s,
the tracks have the angst of punk injected through raw, cold synth
production. Totally ignored by the mainstream, the stuff had the time and
space to mature into a varied genre. Tracks range from the ironic
bleep-synth variety to full on synthpunk as well as variations in between.
Grauzone, Der Plan, No More, DAF, and Pyrolator are the familiar names on
this compilation, there are about 20 more... Totally great stuff that
trends may touch upon, but will never compare with. Highly Recommended.

SLUM VILLAGE "Fantastic Volume 1" (Longplayer) CD $18.99
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What's summer without some new Slum Village? A bummer baby, a bummer. Well
this release isn't exactly new but it's been nearly impossible to find for
years. This is the first SV EP that was locally released in Detroit about
seven years ago or so. Some of these tracks were released under the name
J-88 about three years ago, but there are also some amazing exclusives on
here, like the original version of "4th and Back" and alternate versions of
"Players" and "Look of Love." If you are a fan of Jay Dees' production or a
SV die-hard fan, you must get this. [DH]

KRAFTWERK "Tour de France Soundtracks" (Astralwerks) CD $17.99
Personally, I was nonplussed by these otherwise true legends' last outing,
a seeming demonstration, fittingly enough for an "expo," of keyboard
presets. Where shinola was made of this cash-in though was in the various
remixes, particularly by Underground Resistance, that notorious cabal of
Detroit interlopers. The Berlin-Detroit axis of techno has had much to do
with shaping the sonic vocabulary of the best of what electronic dance (and
just electronic) music has to offer, and on "Tour de France Soundtracks"
Kraftwerk return to the central tenets of this ongoing discourse, and the
divine patches of characteristic refined permanence which comprise its
highlights (like Basic Channel, Carl Craig, what/who have you). All of this
right on time for what was maybe the greatest Tour itself ever, and on its
100th anniversaire. Hearing these timbres percolate, however faintly, in
the background of the miraculously extensive domestic TV coverage of Lance
Armstrong's triumph was one of the few distinct pleasures in all of culture
for quite some time, if you ask me. Let's not forget the UK "bleep"
contribution though, as documented on those archival Warp compilations a
few years ago, LFO and the like were definitely informed by Kraftwerk (who
wasn't?), but it's remarkable that now they themselves, on tracks like
"Titanium," harken back to an era like that which they perhaps only
unwittingly fomented. [DHo]

COLLEEN "Everyone Alive Wants Answers" (Leaf) CD $14.99
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The label sticker compares Colleen to labelmate Susumu Yokota. It's true.
There is a definite line of consistency running through Yokota, Asa Chang,
Eardrum etc. -- that unmistakable organic, subtle-sample heavy sound. Lots
of dusty loops from noir soundtracks make her a likely candidate for
Broadcast remix duties, only she's not going for the orchestrated
psych-rock thing. Instead Colleen makes music for sublime moments, when the
sun is dancing through bedroom windows. Simple, hidden melodic bits from
old records (if they are hand-played, thats great too) are looped, the
subtlest textures are slowly woven in, the loop is broken down, maybe
played in reverse, then built up again. Very sweet results from a very
simple process. [SM]

NEIL YOUNG "On the Beach" (Reprise) CD $11.99
For many, "On the Beach," which has been unavailable for many years, is THE
Neil Young record. Apparently, Young himself was (as usual) at the center
of the controversy surrounding its release. At the time of its recording,
his personal life was in turmoil (friends dying, sick children, a marriage
breaking up). Perhaps it is so personal a record that Young preferred it to
be unavailable. There is some deep, dark stuff on this. If you have never
heard "Revolution Blues" or "For the Turnstiles," brace yourself. It's a
far cry from the idealistic times of Buffalo Springfield and Young turns on
the bright sunny canyons that lured him from Canada. "Motion Pictures"
features a tempo and delivery that is slower than molasses in January; it
is apparent he is not happy. ("Deep inside myself / but I'll get out
somehow.") There is some serious contempt spewing forth. Young's ferocity
in lyric and sentiment is what makes his music that much better than
countless rock gods. One could go on forever about this record and not even
mention the music, so here goes: So soulful, bluesy, spooky, and deeply
involving these songs are. The other guys in the band, as legend has it,
kept up with Neil by consuming a concoction of marijuana and honey. His
playing will remind you of just how epic a musician he is. "On the Beach"
evokes a time and tells a tale, it leaves you with the feeling you
experienced something. I wish there were records like this being made
today. [NL]

NEIL YOUNG "American Stars 'N Bars" (Reprise) CD $11.99
I'm not going to argue with the rest of the world that of the four new Neil
Young reissues (none of which have ever been in print on CD), "On the
Beach" is the first one you should buy. It is an awesomely powerful record
and no Neil Young fan should be without it. But I would also like to make a
case for "American Stars 'N Bars". It is an under-rated gem. It is often
regarded as "Like a Hurricane" and a bunch of filler. This is most unfair,
and though the album is a bit all over the place (it is culled from four
different recording sessions), there is not a bad song in the bunch. There
is a good deal of fine feelin' country rock, mainly in the first four
songs. There are a couple of scorching rockers including the "Bite the
Bullet", which is basically Crazy Horse in all their ragged glory, but with
Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson on backing vocals. The heart of the
album lies in the seventh and eighth of the nine songs. The 7 minute plus
"Will to Love" is without a doubt one of Neil's most haunting songs, a
mostly solo acoustic number recorded with the sound of a crackling fire in
the background. "Will to Love" alone is worth the price of this album. It
is followed by the 8 minute and 20 second "Like a Hurricane". Most of us
know "Like a Hurricane" from the mega popular greatest hits collection
"Decade" where it is somewhat incongruously sandwiched between "Deep
Forbidden Lake" and "Love is a Rose". In its rightful place on "American
Stars 'N Bars" following "Will to Love", "Like a Hurricane" takes on even
more power and grace. In fact it seems to take off like a rocket at the end
of "Will to Love". And the icing on the cake is the last song on the album,
"Homegrown," a killer tribute to the Chronic, seventies style. This album
will get you through these last few weeks of the summer with a furrow in
your brow and a smile on your face. [CO]

NEIL YOUNG "Hawks and Doves" (Reprise) CD $11. 99

NEIL YOUNG "Re*ac*tor" (Reprise) CD $11.99

MODEY LEMON "Thunder + Lightning" (Birdman) CD $13.99
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Modey Lemon have a lot in common with the current breed of garage rockers
like Detroit's Von Bondies and New Zealand's Datsuns. These bands all blast
hi-energy fuzz rock that channels the reckless proto-punk abandon of MC5,
and often mimic Deep Purple's supercharged arena anthems like "Highway
Star" and "Space Truckin'." But this Pittsburgh duo has dibs on the raw,
primal power that the other two aforementioned groups (both quartets) of
this revival have no way of replicating. Stripped down to just a drummer
and a guitarist who likes to make a little extra noise with his Moog, here
necessity dictates sound. Sheer buzzing intensity, and I'm not talking the
Zeppelin-meets-punk slickness of everybody's favorite Detroit duo. Modey
Lemon's second full-length "Thunder + Lightning" is fast and dirty, like bad
speed. The duo unleashes trashy, bluesy riff driven rock where powerhouse
drums and fuzzed out guitar totally let loose, but with the piston precision
of an American built V8. The sludgy, overdriven production makes you grit
your teeth harder and harder, while  the scruffy-voiced axe grinder Philander
Boyd screeches and howls over non-stop rockin' ruckus. [GH]

BASIL KIRCHIN "Quantum: A Journey Through Sound" (Trunk) CD $13.99
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After over three decades of relative obscurity -- Kirchin released two
extremely hard to find records in the early '70s for Columbia/EMI and
Island -- England's Trunk records has released "Quantum: A Journey Through
Sound In Two Parts," a recent reworking of material from the same time
period. Namedropped as an influence by everyone from Brian Eno to Matmos,
Kirchen's individualistic blend of field recordings of birds and mammals,
free improvisation (including Evan Parker and Kenny Wheeler and what sounds
like Derek Bailey, although he is not credited in the liner notes), the
voice of his wife Esther (which fluctuates between whisper and scream) and
other concrete and synthesized sounds is even more mysterious than the lack
of specific information concerning his work. While at first the
juxtaposition of different elements could come across as disorienting or
haphazard, Kirchen achieves some truly magical moments when these often
disparate elements transform from mere bric-a-brac to create singular and
bizarre relationships quite unlike anything these ears have ever heard.
What I can only imagine is the low growl of some sort of feline (a tiger or
lion perhaps?) sits perfectly alongside a fractured guitar improvisation
while Evan Parker's circular breathing is nicely complimented by the
fluttering of tropical birds. A "journey through sound" in the purest
sense. Recommended for adventurous types. [KH]

KINGS OF LEON "Youth and Young Manhood" (RCA) CD $11.99
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So what's up with this band? They open for the Coral at Irving Plaza, then
jump on over to headlining Bowery Ballroom in the space of five months.
Pretty impressive for five unknowns from Tennessee, but when you've got
Noel Gallagher, it-band the Strokes, and all sorts of UK press all up in
your grill, others start to notice. Growing up in the South, around Lynyrd
Skynyrd's twangy due rock and the blues-heavy Creedence Clearwater Revival,
Kings of Leon aren't anything new to me. Without summers in Tennessee, I
probably wouldn't be able to pick out the possibly unintentional Black
Crowes influence, especially on the voice straining "Trani." The tried and
true formula of catchy riffs, toe tappin' rhythm, and solid songwriting
delivered by an attention grabbing vox (and don't forget the occasional
guitar solo) points KOL to the muddied rock 'n' roll revival path. Bits of
songs like the hint of psych at the end of "Dusty," and the simple piano
and guitar melody of the hidden track's country ballad though, pull them
through the muck. By no means groundbreaking, but good enough to get your
attention if you're ready to swagger away from city-slicked garage rock and
head for the hill country. [LG]

DEVENDRA BANHART "Oh Me Oh My?" (Mod Lang) LP $15.99
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(FINALLY AVAILABLE ON VINYL.) At the tender age of twenty-one, Devendra
Banhart has released an amazing collection of songs that seem to have
sprung from well beyond his short number of years. These twenty-two songs
were apparently recorded on various friend's four-track recorders over the
last couple of years. Astonishingly, he's managed to make a lo-fi record
that doesn't seem lo-fi. There is plenty of hiss, but somehow you don't
really notice it. It is almost as if it were part of the songs intrinsic
quality. While his influences are apparent (Tyrannosaurus Rex in
particular), and periodically you'll notice a quote here or there (for
instance a Karen Dalton line or some percussion I recognize from an
Incredible String Band record), you never get the feeling that the songs
aren't totally of him. The lyrics are particularly brilliant, vaguely
surrealistic and idiosyncratic with sinister moments, yet tender ones as
well that seem personal and affecting. It's nice to see a young person
perform what is ostensibly "folk" music and not use the Palace Brothers as
a reference whatsoever. In a way what makes the record so great is that its
charms are somewhat elusive and mystifying. I don't doubt that this record
could possibly herald the arrival of a major new talent. [MK]

This week's contributors: Lisa Garrett [LG], Daniel Givens [DG], Gerald
Hammill [GH], Duane Harriott [DH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Kean Holtkamp
[KH],  Dan Hougland [DHo], Michael Klausman [MK], Nicole Lang [NL], Josh
Madell [JM], Scott Mou [SM], Chris O'Rourke [CO], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


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