Other Music New Release Update
February 20, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Cat Power
Dirty Three
Anti-Pop Consortium vs. Matthew Shipp
Nicolai Dunger
Postal Service
Cass McCombs
Aislers Set
Data 80
The Sound (Reissue)
Mouse on Mars
Greg Weeks
Jackie-O Motherfucker
Liaisons Dangereuses (Reissue)
Nobukazu Takemura
James Chance (Box Set)

Just In:

The Finger (Limited Ryan Adams Punk CD)


Jay-Jay Johanson (Domestic Release)


CAT POWER "You Are Free" (Matador) CD/LP $13.99/$10.99
By virtue of how long it's been since her last release of original
material, Cat Power's latest, "You Are Free" is probably flying off the
shelves as you read this. A few covers still linger, however, like the
simple and sinister string-filled version of Michael Hurley's "Werewolf"
and an extra vocal effects-laden live show standard, "Keep on
Runnin'" (John Lee Hooker). The way Chan Marshall molds a song --
original or cover -- with her version of whiskey songbird vocals along
with heartache guitar picking and piano tinkling is undeniably golden.
Don't expect all melancholy, slow songs ala "Moon Pix" from this one,
though. At first, "Free" sounds like an acoustic Romantics song --
staccato rhythm, poppy structure (catchy as hell melody) then
sneaks in a little organ/keyboard, programmed drumbeats and a bit
of distorted guitar strumming for the chorus. "He War" as well, lets
the distortion in, almost more like a mellow PJ Harvey tune than
typical Cat Power ditty. Refreshingly, there's definitely more variety
on "You Are Free" than any previous album. Cat Power acolytes will
love it, and dissenters will listen with another ear. [LG]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486104272&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=74486104271&refer_url=email

DIRTY THREE "She Has No Strings Apollo" (Touch and Go) CD $13.99    
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/longwayt.rm
Melbourne, Australia's Dirty Three had been one of indie rock's most
impressionistic and experimental ensembles. During the mid-'90s, the
trio were probably at their most creative crafting epic instrumentals
that would sweep from fragile minimalism to swirling cacophony
packed with a heady punch of emotion from strains of feedback and
melancholic push-and-pull between Mick Turner's guitar and Warren
Ellis' violin. Then, in the latter half of the decade bands like
Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai gained popularity with
their forays in mostly instrumental rock. Though different enough
from Dirty Three's output, familiarity seemed to water down the
Aussie trio's recorded output, but their latest, "She Has No Strings
Apollo," proves to be their most expressive since 1996's "Horse
Stories." Dirty Three may continue to utilize some overdubs, most
notably to layer violin melodies, but the songs feel more spontaneous
and turn down less traveled paths than their past couple of albums.
Ellis' restrained pizzicato melody is gypsy-like during the beginning
of "Alice Wading" until the tempo accelerates and his violin bow
moves across in a frantic, repetitive drone. "Long Way To Go With No
Punch" is edged along by a loose, haunting piano melody and low
percussion rumbling underneath. Throughout "She Has No Strings
Apollo" Dirty Three shows that restraint is their best emotional asset
as frail melodies seem close to falling apart but never quite do so.
When a song does build into a flurry of sound, it's quite unexpected,
urgent and always beautiful. [GH]

ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM "Anti-pop Vs. Matthew Shipp" CD $15.99
The new buzzword for this week/month is "Jazztronica" i.e. the
melding of jazz musicians with electronic producers. Matthew Shipp's
Blue Series is a perfect blueprint for the movement. So far he's
welcomed Spring Heel Jack, DJ Spooky, and his drummer Guillermo
E. Brown to release albums that blur the lines between live and
programmed. The latest release has his band going into the ring with
the now defunct Anti-Pop Consortium. Drum machine beats sit
alongside live drumming, William Parker's bass sounds natural next
to synthetic synth tones, and Matthew's piano is used to great effect
while the voices of Beans and Priest (where's Sayid?) ride the
rhythms with ease as usual. This isn't Guru's Jazzmatazz, this is a
new chapter in fusion where strong and proficient members of two
avant-garde scenes come together with positive results. Not totally
out or free, each track and instrument work together to map out a
balance between these worlds, constantly orbiting one another.
Recommended for fans of any of the contributors or those looking for
the next step in either genre. Watch out for the upcoming release
that sees what El-P can do with jazz musicians!!! [DG]

NICOLAI DUNGER "Tranquil Isolation" (Overcoat) CD $13.99
Nicolai Dunger is probably not a name you already know. But give it
a little bit of time, because it should be impossible to ignore an album
as great as "Tranquil Isolation." Dunger is one of those songwriters
that just oozes immense talent, and though he hails from Sweden he
explores a sound that is distinctly American. Clearly influenced by
old-time blues and folk music, Dunger's sweet, soulful croon is the
centerpiece, but it is accompanied by finger-picked acoustic guitars,
touches of violin and piano and subtle percussion. Dunger's vocal
melodies are just plain stunning -- Van Morrison (who mined similar
American sounds) and Tim Buckley are the obvious touchstones --
but even with such unmistakable reference points, he manages an
album of grand originality. With song titles like "Last Night I Dreamt
of Mississippi," "Truth About the Blues" and "Tribute to Tim Hardin,"
Dunger more than hints that his music is rooted in the sounds of
another era. Helped by the Oldham brothers (Will and Paul
co-produced the album along with Dunger and they contribute vocals,
guitar, piano, bass, etc.), Dunger has clearly found his American
kindred spirits. But there is something far more classic sounding
about Dunger's music than anything ever recorded by Palace/Oldham
or Bonnie Prince. This is one of those albums where choosing
highlights is next to impossible; each and every song on here is a
keeper. Dunger's "Tranquil Isolation" is a masterpiece and it would be
a crying shame if more people do not tune in and hear this near-perfect
work. [PW]

POSTAL SERVICE "Give Up" (Sub Pop) CD $13.99
Postal Service is the long awaited project from Jimmy Tamborello
(a.k.a. Dntel) and Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie). The two
first collaborated on the brilliant "The Dream of Evan and Chan" from
Dntel's last album "Life is full of Possibilities". It was definitely the
high point of that LP and went on to become a big European hit with
remixes from Superpitcher and Lali Puna. Now this duo gives us a
whole album filled with 10 perfect electronic pop songs, and along
with a little help from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, they have created one
of the most memorable pop albums in recent years. "Nothing Better"
is probably one of the best boy-girl lovelorn pop songs that I have
heard in ages, it is a track that will definitely rival some of the Field
Mice's finest moments. "Clark Gable" could very well be that track
that never made it onto the Pet Shop Boys "Please" album. "Give Up"
has taken elements from some of the best electronic pop of the '80s
such as the Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Ultravox, (the list goes on), and
adds a twist for the new millennium by adding some of the crunchy
bedroom electronics of Morr Music artists like ISAN, Herrmann and
Kleine, and Styrofoam. A perfect pop album, and one that will have
you humming these tunes all day long. Brilliant. [JS]

CALEXICO "Feast of Wire" (Quarterstick) CD $13.99
Multi-instrumentalist Joey Burns and percussionist John Convertino's
fourth album under their Calexico moniker is this band's most
focused venture to date. Combining their trademark elements of
Morricone inspired spaghetti westerns, Latin rhythms, jazz shuffles
and dark cinematic soundscapes, the duo (who moonlight as
members in Giant Sand) have also produced a more diverse range of
songs and moods. Assisted by members of their backing live band,
the group steers clear of unnecessary experimentation; Burns'
carefully restrained arrangements allow the songs to be fully realized
taking precedence over atmosphere but not never losing the overall
Southwestern ambience that has been Calexico's signature since
day one. Beginning with "Sunken Waltz," a rustic, moody narrative
driven by finger strums on a guitar and the sustained chords of an
accordion, Calexico moves each song in a different direction. More
vocal heavy than their previous albums, Burn's longing voice
frequently adds a folky West Coast psychedelia quality to the
orchestrated arrangements. The aptly titled "Black Heart" is a
Southern gothic dirge filled with sweeping strings and pedal steel
guitar that continue to crescendo and push the song to a desperate
and eerie finish. With a Miles Davis inspired trumpet melody,
"Crumble" emphasizes Calexico's jazz leanings, while off kilter
moments like the electronic beats that pulse under the B-movie
themed instrumental "Attack El Robot! Attack!" and the Tex-Mex
"Across the Wire, complete with mariachi horns, bring the band
full-circle. [GH]

CASS MCCOMBS "Not the Way" (Monitor) CD $9.99
After migrating to New York from San Francisco and finding a job
making sandwiches at an uptown deli, Cass McCombs set out to
record the tracks for this outstanding debut EP. He was once a
touring member of Palace (which makes Will Oldham comparisons
inevitable, but completely off-base) and his songs sound like they
were recorded in some rickety old abandoned honky-tonk, but to
dismiss him as just another alt-country act would be totally unfair.
"Not the Way" has a hell of a lot more in common with Galaxie 500
than it does with any band you would ever read about in No
Depression. Mr. McCombs has a slightly nasal but beautiful and
instantly recognizable voice that reminds me of Ira Kaplan, Dean
Wareham, and maybe a young Lou Reed. The instrumentation on his
record is pretty sparse, mostly just acoustic guitars, player piano,
bass, drums, and some opium-drenched organs, but he somehow
makes the music sound about as rich as anything Ride ever
recorded, and as hauntingly gorgeous as Mazzy Star. There's a
somber, lonely tone to most of the songs on here, but the melodies
are so perfectly constructed that the EP stays fun from the first note
to the last. You'll be humming along in no time. The only complaint I
have is that the six songs go by so quickly that I often find
myself listening to it three or four times in one sitting. Simply put,
this is the best indie rock release (if you can call it that) and the best
debut I've heard in a dog's age. If you do end up liking the EP as
much as I do, don't worry... there's a full-length due out later this
year. "Not the Way" is poised to bring a lot of attention to the
relatively young Monitor record label and to the phenomenal
songwriter that they've discovered. Well done, Cass McCombs. [RH]

PRAM "Dark Island" (Merge) CD $13.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/pennyarc.rm
I once read that Pram are more influenced by films than music. That
explains the extremely cinematic color of their sound. On "Track of
the Cat," the opening of "Dark Island," I could feel the tumbleweed
blowing across my feet while staring into the desert expanse. It opens
the gate to the musical museum of Pram, where influences like jazz,
exotica, dub, ethnic, pop, and funk slink their way into the cocktail
called Pram-Music. However, they don't create music using the
obvious traits of those genres, it's more of a use of the nuances and
gestures of them. The half-asleep dream-state atmosphere is present
like on previous Pram outings, and this album is a new curiosity in
their menagerie of recordings -- organs hum and whir along with
tinkering on toy instruments and cleverly arranged keyboards. The
use of guitar is sometimes understated and subliminal, at other times
a lush tremolo spraying plangent tones. A half-sleep trumpet shapes
and colors the air, and curious, obscured samples appear like
shadows you think you just saw out of the corner of your eye. Moods
hang like a mist and images are vivid. The band casts a gossamer
of woozy, hypnotic melodies that mesh with the sleepy vocals of
Rosie, who like a chanteuse in your dream-gala-danse, croons
amazing lyric/poems with lines like "Nail each moment down so that
it matches your heartbeat" and "In my dreams the grave robbers fill
their pockets up with goods." Each song is a vignette, a hidden strip
of film found in a dusty corner of an attic in a foreign world where the
dark waltz of "The Archivist" and the lazy paced gagaku-dub of
"Goodbye" could be heard on a distant static-y radio. As I listen to
this record numerous times and write this review, I realize how often I
refer to dreams/dream-states (or think about my own). "Dark Island"
is like a dream itself --simultaneously hazy, vivid, spooky, and
fantastic. [DD]

AISLERS SET "How I Learned to Write Backwards" (Suicide Squeeze) CD $12.99
OK, I was devastated when Amy Linton's previous group Henry's
Dress disbanded back in '97. I thought they just couldn't be topped.
The first Aislers Set album, "Terrible Things Happen" showed
promise, and the second LP, "The Last Match," was great. I didn't
think they could keep improving. But with the release of their third
album "How I Learned to Write Backwards", they've proven that they
are one of the most vital pop bands around today. The eleven songs
contained on the CD range from '60s baroque-styled pop to c86 and
back to buzzsaw punk -- all recorded in Amy's garage by the group --  
which is one of the CD's strong points. Its Phil Spector-esque "Wall
of Sound" reverbed-out recording quality might be a little lo-fi by
today's pro-tools standards, but it makes the songs shine in all the
right places, focusing on songwriting and smart arrangements rather
than studio gimmickry. Given a chance, this album will slowly sinks
its hooks into your mind and you'll be humming its songs all day.
Recommended for fans of Henry's Dress, the June Brides, the Left
Banke, Buzzcocks, Unrest, the Ronettes, etc.  [RS]

DATA 80 "Data 80" (Forcetracks) CD/LP $15.99/$15.99
Data 80 is the new project from Hakan Lidbo, and it is definitely the
most pop influenced album to have ever been released by the Mille
Plateaux/Force Inc. stable. Data 80 was the only artist with two
tracks featured on the amazing "Digital Disco" compilation and this
album is filled with 12-tracks of funked up vocoder-ed disco and
house that are catchy as hell. Think of the French house revival of a
few year's past with the likes of Daft Punk, Cassius, Benjamin
Diamond, Stardust, and you will have some idea of what this album
is like. "No More Lies" could be a long lost track from Basement
Jaxx's "Rooty" album, it is that good! And "You Were Always on My
Mind" sounds like it came straight off of Daft Punk's masterpiece,
"Homework." Well, while we are all waiting patiently for the next
French masterpiece or a Stardust reunion, pick this up, you will not
be disappointed! Recommended. [JS]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875627522&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=71875627521&refer_url=email

THE SOUND "Jeopardy" (Renascent) CD $21.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/heartlan.rm
Remember when you were in high school and your older friends turned
you on to the Gang of Four, Wire, The Only Ones, Pere Ubu, and all
that other awesome post-punk from the late-70s when you'd just been
listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers or something? Well, why the
shit didn't they mention The Sound?!? This record will certainly fulfill
your post-punk jones. The Sound's 1980 debut, "Jeopardy" was a
stunning album of propulsive rhythms, jagged guitars, catchy as hell
hooks, and frighteningly emotional. It just doesn't quit. If you've been
into all that Rapture and Radio 4 business, you gotta get it. As good
as it gets! [MK]

MOUSE ON MARS "Post Rocks/The EP Collection" (Too Pure) CD $13.99
The Too Pure label did us right by releasing this awesome Mouse on
Mars collection of out of print, import-only EPs from their 1994-1997
era. This is what they did before and in-between those amazing
albums "Vulvaland," "Autoditacker," and everyone's favorite, "Iaora
Tahiti." Those of you who already love those, you already love this.
Those of you who are curious about the brilliant duo from Cologne
and Dusseldorf, this is a great place to get an overview of what they
were up to a few years ago, besides getting the opportunity to own all
the now out of print EPs on one CD. Here is some truly amazing,
consistently invigorating electronic music -- a unique blend of brain
candy that can never be pigeonholed or labeled as any one category.
They are always keen on taking unpredictable routes of travel with
blossoming tendrils of sound that are always finding new ways of
defying expectations and tickling the ears. (Those nice gauzy swells
of tonal fuzzz in "Frosch," the pleasant ambient drift and hum of
"7000," and that neat jungly moment in "Twift".) The buoyant
"Schnick-Schnack" and "Saturday Night (DJ Crack Mix)" are total
techno gems, and the soft pulsed "Froschroom" and "Maus Mobil"
are perfect tunes for a drive to anywhere. Among the many highlights
on this disc, the sweetest moments are from the "Coche Coeur Naif"
EP, the collaboration with the honey-voiced ladies from Stereolab,
Laetitia Sadier and the late Mary Hansen. They sound amazing and
fit snug within M.O.M.'s sonic sculptures. Fans of labels like Warp,
Schematic, Kompakt, Rephlex, et al., this is well worth checking out.
Also, do yerself a favor and grab some of their full-length albums,
'cause they totally rule! [DD]

GREG WEEKS "Slightly West" (Acuarela) CD $8.99
If you got a chance to hear the last LP by Greg Weeks (2001's
"Awake Like Sleep"), then you probably have a good idea of what to
expect on this EP, his first for Spain's Acuarela label. On "Slightly
West," the Rochester, NY songwriter takes another trip back in time
to the England of the late-'60s for a highly-successful exercise in
Nick Drake-isms. Greg Weeks sets himself apart from the pack by
layering his sad, pretty acoustic guitar and vocal tunes behind an
intense wall of sound created by his mellotron, Moog, and
harmonium. His arrangements are rooted in the psychedelic prog-folk
of someone like Tim Buckley without ever sounding derivative or
blatantly retro. After hearing the reissues of Duncan Browne's
excellent first two albums in 2002, I can't help but make a
comparison between the two artists. The combination of finger-picked
guitar and way-out-there hallucinatory keyboard sounds on Browne's
song "Last Time Around" might be a little more over-the-top than
anything on this EP, but it's awfully close in spirit. The five dreamlike
songs on "Slightly West" are all pretty spectacular, it's a great
introduction to Greg Weeks, and the artwork is my favorite that I've
seen so far this year (the back cover is an illustration of a naked
woman literally choking an ostrich with a leather belt). You'd be
extremely hard-pressed to find anyone else making this kind of
music today and doing a better job. [RH]

JACKIE-O MOTHERFUCKER "Change" (Textile) CD $16.99
The prolific music collective Jackie-O Motherfucker's latest proper
release shows the band continuing to experiment with their curious
cross-pollination of free jazz, roots, psychedelia, blues and folk.
More direct than No Neck Blues Band's ethnic forays, "Change"
pulls from a wealth of past American music but presents it in an
almost post-rock manner. Improvisational in nature, the ensemble
led by Tom Greenwood and Jeff Brown are more conscious in their
instinctive grafting of these various elements and each song's final
outcome. What results is a very engaging album with slow builds
that revolve around drones of acoustic and electric guitar, and
washes of cello, saxophone and tape loops as the longing influence
of Michael Hurley and the ghosts of Harry Smith and Harry Partch
resonate just below the surface. During some moments, I imagine
that this is what Dirty Three could sound like if they enlisted a few
more members and sought to recreate Appalachian folk music. And
while an audible line can also be drawn connecting the psychedelic
drones of Trad, Gras och Stenar to Jackie-O, here the climax isn't
as transcendental. Instead the waves of sound pull from more
disparate sources instead of one singular pulse, and the resulting
climax is slower in its build -- softer but still more focused. [GH]

LIAISONS DANGEREUSES "Liaisons Dangereuses" (Hit Thing) CD $14.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/losninos.rm
Beate Bartel (Einsturzende Neubauten percussionist, Malaria!) and
Chrislo Hass (DAF) began Liaisons Dangereuses in 1981 along with
Kristine Goineau. Coinciding with not only the first Neubauten single
but also the birth of female noise band Malaria!, this self-titled album
unsurprisingly sounds like a artful hybrid of the co-founders' bands.
From the multilingual, hard beat-laced "Los Ninos Del Parque," to the
saxophone-skronked "Etre Assis de Dancer," Malaria!'s spastic
female vocals, Neubauten's ambient noises and metallic scrapes
and DAF's minimalist stomp find their way into most songs. Like all
things good and from the '80s, LD likes to boast its irony and
sarcasm. Unstructured keyboard blurts, leftover analog burps and
laughing and delay FX add to the churning electronica. Without all
this, LD might have been lumped into the same category of
early-'90s industrial bands, Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb. But for now,
they have an honored space in the cold concrete halls of
pre-techno/industrial music. If there were a missing link between no
wave and techno, this album is it. [LG]

NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA "10th" (Thrill Jockey) CD/LP $14.99/$12.99
Thrill Jockey brings us another album of melodic electronica from
Nobukazu Takemura. Fans of Tortoise and Stereolab who want to
dabble in some more electronic stuff will probably dig this. Takemura
constructs mid to slow tempo music with computerized robotic
voices permeating throughout the album. There's lots o' synth and
electric piano melodies, most of the time playful and child-like. The
beats are crisp and simple, with an occasional tendency to jitter.
There are plenty of organic sounding bits, and some drawn out
squiggly freeform passages that compliment the more structured
songs. [DD]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=79037701182&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999192371&refer_url=email

JAMES CHANCE "Irresistible Impulse" (Tiger Style) CD Box Set $39.99
Tiger Style has released a fantastic four-CD retrospective from
James Chance, one of the key figures in New York's late-70s No
Wave movement. "Irresistible Impulse" includes his three classic
albums on Ze plus 1982's "Sax Maniac" originally released on Chris
Stein's Animal imprint. Of course there are additional bonus tracks
of live and rare recordings which include an unreleased rendition of
Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity," his 1979 cover of Elvis Presley's
"That's When Your Heartaches Begin," and three songs from the
Japanese release "Melt Yourself Down." A 32-page booklet features
liner notes by Glenn O'Brian and many rare photographs. A great
collection for completists as well as those unfamiliar with Chance's
cool abrasive style, whose saxophone skills mixed free jazz
influences like Ornette Coleman with the flash and funk of James
Brown and the city's avant-garde and punk aesthetics of the day.
He is truly a groundbreaker. [GH]


THE FINGER "We Are F*** You" (One Little Indian) CD $22.99
The Finger is the punk rock supergroup of Ryan Adams, Jesse Malin
and friends. Their first album "We are F*** You" released on their
Broadway Jungle imprint and limited to 1000 vinyl only copies is a
highly sought after item fetching a pretty penny on eBay. The
second album "Punk's Dead Let's F***" was recorded two months
later and has not even been released yet! This CD contains both
Finger albums, a full 20-tracks of trashy punk rock. It was released
by One Little Indian in the UK and it is a one time pressing only! So,
all of you Ryan Adams fans, pick this up now for it is sure to be gone very,
very soon! [JS]

MOMUS "Oskar Tennis Champion" (American Patchwork) CD $13.99
Pop music's favorite eccentric Momus (aka Nicholas Currie) is back
with a new album that could only come from none other. Now living
in Tokyo, playful traces of Shibuya-Kei are more prevalent but his
signature fusion of electronica, baroque, vaudeville and techno pop as
well as his quirky articulations go through some mild, gurgly laptop
processing, thanks to a young Michigan "reproducer" named John

GO-BETWEENS "Bright Yellow Bright Orange" (Jet Set) CD $15.99
The second release following the reuinon of Australia's Go-Betweens
is another vital piece in their lengthy history. Their latest is a stunning
collection of warm, jangly pop songs from Grant McLennan and Robert


JAY-JAY JOHANSON "Antenna" (Emagine) CD $16.99
The sad, silky voice of Swedish singer Jay-Jay Johanson has been a
favorite in Italy and France for several years, his name frequently
being mentioned alongside artists like Portishead. His newest album
"Antenna" takes a few upbeat turns with some electro-funk and
synthpop styling featuring collaborations with German sound-crafters
Funkstorung. Finally available domestically, this is an unexpectedly
beautiful record. Imagine the perfect male counterpoint to Bjork's
"Vespertine," an absolute stunner!

This week's contributors: Daniel Derogatis [DD], Lisa Garrett [LG],
Daniel Givens [DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH],
Michael Klausman [MK], Jeremy Sponder [JS], Roy Styles [RS],
and Phil Waldorf [PW].  


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