Other Music New Release Update
May 28, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Devendra Banhart
Lali Puna
Cass McCombs
A Grape Dope
Daniel Givens (12")
Tape 10
Kuchen Meets Mapstation
Sonic Youth / Erase Errata (Split 7")

Just In:

Ekkehard Ehlers
Captain Comatose


DEVENDRA BANHART "The Black Babies" (Young God) CD $8.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/longsong.rm
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The new U.K. EP follow-up to last year's celebrated "Oh Me Oh My..."
features six great unreleased songs plus two from the previous album.
The production technique remains the same, as does the high level of
crafty songmanship. If you're afraid these are just crappy leftovers from
"Oh Me Oh My..." don't worry. Folk troubadour Devendra Banhart
continues to develop his song's cosmology with an ever-broadening
cast of characters and themes. "Surgery I Stole" and "Long Song" are
as pretty as anything he's recorded yet, and "Lagoon" may end up
rivaling that "Oh Michigan" track for his most requested song at live
shows. Since we reviewed his debut album last year, he's become one
of the most talked about singer-songwriters going, even showing up in
a long segment on NPR's Morning Edition this past weekend. All at
the fresh age of 22, an amazing accomplishment. [MK]

STARS "Heart" (Setanta) CD $17.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/romantic.rm
Canada's Stars carry on their "soft revolution" with their newest
long-player, "Heart." With production help from Ian Catt (Saint
Etienne, Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) and a large cast of
additional musicians, the group continues to move away from their
cosmopolitan brand of pop, but only so slightly while maintaining an
instinctive penchant for sweet pop melancholy. This one was actually
kept under wraps for almost a year while the band dealt with a
contractual dispute (which resulted in finding a new record label), and
while Evan Cranley moonlighted in the equally fantastic Broken Social
Scene (whose latest album will see domestic release in a matter of
days). But "Heart" proves to be worth its wait and is full of quiet,
delicate longings that are as dreamy as a warm, outdoor summer nap.
At times, there's a little more edge to the music with a few more guitars
added to the mix, but just as many keyboards shimmer alongside wistful
strains of violins and cello, and wrap around Torquil Campbell and Amy
Millan's lush vocal harmonies. It's wonderfully apparent that Stars have an
affinity for a few decades of Euro-pop -- from '60s baroque inspired
orchestral backing to musical nods to New Order and the Smiths -- but any
of these influences take a back seat to sophisticated, soulful melodies and
beautifully sad songs. [GH]

LALI PUNA "Left Handed" (Morr) CD $ 10.99
As of late, there has definitely been a trend in which many electronic
producers and bands have picked up guitars, switching their influences
from early melodic electronics such as Aphex Twin and Boards of
Canada, to the shoegazing acts of the late-'80s and early-'90s like Ride,
Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. Morr Music kick-started it all with
their Slowdive tribute compilation "Blue Skied an' Clear" and now, Lali
Puna's newest EP is a full-on guitar assault. "Left Handed" begins with
jangly guitars and bleepy electronics, with Valerie's whispered vocals;
and then the distortion kicks in along with layer upon layer of sweet
vocals. Truly Beautiful! Track two is a dub version of the first and would
fit in well with the most recent "Wild Dub" compilation in which classic
post-punk bands wore their dub influences on their sleeves. Track three
is a lovely cover of the Moroder/Oakey '80s hit "Together in Electric
Dreams". Lali Puna have slowed it way down, and with Valerie's
trademark whispered vocal delivery, they have made the song their own.
Three tracks that are a must for any fan, I can't wait for the full-length! [JS]

CASS MCCOMBS "A" (Monitor) CD $14.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/aidsinaf.rm
While not as immediately captivating as his debut EP "Not The Way,"
the new full-length from New York-by-way-of-San Francisco
singer-songwriter Cass McCombs is still far more interesting than your
average indie rock record. The new album sports the same homemade
(but by no means lo-fi) recording style and simple but solid songwriting
chops that made the EP such a refreshing surprise. The only real
problem here is that the new effort doesn't really go anywhere new
(with the exception of an occasional distorted guitar solo) and the
songs on "A" aren't all as outstanding as they were on the previous
record. Don't get me wrong, the best songs are just as good, which
makes me wish that he'd distilled the really great stuff onto another
EP and held off on the rest. The sad, sparse, reverb-drenched "Bedding
Down Post-Xmastime" and the jangly rocker "What Isn't Nature" in
particular are truly fantastic tunes. Long story short, Cass McCombs
is a really distinct new voice with a hell of a lot of promise, and his EP
was so good that it probably got my hopes up a little too high. For
such a young guy, this is a really solid effort and another good step in
what I hope will be a long and fruitful career. [RH]

DETALLES "Shapes of Summer" (Traum) CD $15.99
When it comes to quality control, Kompakt's younger sister label
Traum has just about as good of a track record as its older sibling.
Each Traum release is truly special and they have not released a
poor full-length yet. Detalles' "Shape of Summer" is aptly titled, it is
warm and melodic in the Pop Ambient way, with just enough clicks
and pops to satisfy the most diehard Mille Plateaux fan too. With
"Slowe", Detalles takes a playful stance to the typical Cologne
formula of tech-house adding warm lush keys that float through the
track, and a melody that would not feel out of place on a new Morr
Music compilation. "Hey Bobby" has a quirky organ driven carnival-like
feel to it, both jazzy and creepy at the same time. Track six, "Rhodes
Relejadas" is a beautiful Rhodes driven melody that flows like some
lost lounge song from the '60s. This record definitely lives up to the title
and hopefully if I play it enough it will thaw out this cold, rainy weather
that we have been having here in NY. Summer, here we come. [JS]

A GRAPE DOPE "Missing Dragons" (Galaxia) $9.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/illsprea.rm
Chicago mastermind John Herndon, who's been behind the drumkit for
Tortoise, Isotope 217, The For Carnation, and countless others, put out
his first solo release as A Grape Dope (a 12" on Hefty) back in 2000.
Now three years later, he's back with "Missing Dragons," an
outstanding EP of dub and hip-hop influenced electronica. The six
songs are stylistically pretty varied... "I'll Spread It" is mellow
vocoder-ized electro-pop that would have been at home on the most
recent Pulseprogramming album, "Red Hat Attack" is in the Anticon
hip-hop vein with vocals from Dose One of Clouddead, the opening
track "Action: Showered Us" is propulsive and driving with lots of
sampled hand-percussion, and the skittery cut-up closer "Hellz Bellz"
has a bit of a Prefuse 73 thing going on. Sally Timms of the Mekons
does a bit of singing on the spacey, relaxing "When You Crash Burn."
There's a little bit of something for everyone on here, and it's all very
well done. I hope there's a full-length in the works. Highly
recommended. [RH]

DANIEL GIVENS "Freedom's Myth" (Aesthetics) 12" $8.99
Following "The Ideas of Space", "Freedom's Myth" is the second in a
series of two EPs by poet, visual artist, and musician (and Other
Music staff member) Daniel Givens. Recorded in Chicago and New
York, his latest 12" features Jeff Parker (Tortoise) on guitar, bassist
Josh Abrams (Sticks and Stones/Town and Country), Nicole Mitchell
(Black Earth Ensemble) on flute, vocalist Glenda Baker (David Boykin
Outet), and Fred Lonberg-Holmes (Terminal 4) on cello. "Concrete
Migration" opens with chunky, buzzing, organically programmed
drums, circular shifting guitar lines and a chugging bass over waves of
reverbed metallic tones and dub efx. Glenda slowly comes in with a
percussive scat -- the result is hypnotic and harmoniously balanced.
"Middle Passage" starts with a poem by Glenda over a slow, heavy
soundscape of space and time. Vocals call out in chants and cries
while bleepy keyboard circles and rattles and shakers create an
ever-changing horizon. "Bird/Flight" opens with claps and heavy, dry
drums breaks that are pulled down further by bass skips. Nicole soon
adds beautiful flights of ascending and descending flutes lines that
create an intricate tapestry of sound and color, ending in tidal waves
of scattered drums. The EP closes with "Bridges," an expansive, free
improv of guitar, flute, bass drum programming and cello that pushes,
pulls and stretches out slowly in multiple changing directions.
"Freedom's Myth" draws on improv, hip hop, electronica, and jazz to
create meditations of dimensional sound and movement in soul.
Recommended. [GA]

[V.A.] "Tape 10" (Ware) CD $15.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/bangkok.rm
This release is much more about concept and relationship than just
the music. Yes the music plays a pivotal role, but the focus is on the
whole rather than the individual parts. You realize this when you have
to crank the volume to really hear the music. What am I talking about?
The newest release for Ware, "Tape 10," an art installation transferred
to book and CD that brings 10 musicians and 10 contemporary
photographers to the table for a meeting or blending of the minds.
Each photographer's large-formatted vision, limited to 10 prints, has
been interpreted through sound by the musicians who were left to
express, dictate, or indicate the mood of the piece. Musicians include
Markus Guntner, Laub, Losoul, Mathias Schaffhauser, Decomposed
Subsonic, Geoff White, and Jeremy P. Caulfield. I don't want to
attempt to tell you what I feel these pieces are saying. That would ruin
the entire idea of the project. It is up to you to decide for yourself what
you are feeling, in a true art experience. The gallery can be found at
http://www.tape-10.com and should be used in conjunction with the
sound files to get a true sense of the collaboration. The CD is
accompanied by scaled-down version of the photographs. [JD]

KUCHEN MEETS MAPSTATION "Kuchen Meets Mapstation" (Karaoke Kalk) CD $15.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/yourbonj.rm
Kuchen Meets Mapstation is a new collaboration between German
Stefan Schneider (To Rococo Rot, Mapstation) and English woman
Muriel Burham (Kuchen). Their first release sees them heavily rooted
in the post-rock grooves that have made Stefan's other band To
Rococo Rot a household name. As a personal dialogue between two
individuals, the 10 tracks contained on the album are of a less refined
and altogether more playful in nature than any of either artists' previous
work. While many of the songs on "Kuchen Meets Mapstation" are
somewhat direction-less, the album is filled with enough warm
melodies, hypnotic rhythms and catchy cut-up vocals to make for an
extremely pleasant listen. Perfect for a nice summer day. [KH]

SONIC YOUTH / ERASE ERRATA "1 Buddy Series" (Narnack) 45 $6.99
Narnack Records introduces their bi-monthly split single Buddy Series
with a fantastic East Coast meets West Coast pairing. Sonic Youth
picked San Francisco's Erase Errata to share the 7" and both songs
have a common theme about a certain diva. Kim Gordon sings lead
on "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" while Erase
Errata herk and jerk to "Glitter." Limited pressing. [GH]


EKKEHARD EHLERS "Politik..." (Staubgold) CD $14.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/maanderI.rm
(Full review in next week's update.)

CAPTAIN COMATOSE "Going Out" (Playhouse) CD $15.99
RealAudio: /ramgen/othermusic/pricegun.rm
(Full review in next week's update.)

This week's contributors: Geoff Albores [GA], J Dennis [JD], Gerald
Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Kean Holtkamp [KH], Michael
Klausman [MK], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].  


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