Other Music New Release Update
October 23, 2003


Elliott Smith's music and passion have touched many of us in the Other Music
community, from his two riveting in-store performances here, through his
surprising and thrilling Academy Award nomination and performance, and of
course his wonderful records that will continue to move us for years to
come. His latest single, and the promise of a new album, has been a subject
of much excitement here amongst staff and customers, and it is hard for
anyone to believe that we have heard the last of Elliott's singular talent.
He will be missed always, and not forgotten.


In This Week's Update:

The Books
Pluramon
The Shins
Alvin Lucier
Erase Errata
Plastikman
Yo La Tengo
Soul Position
The Stills
Digital Disco 2
Tyondai Braxton/Parts & Labor
The Rapture (Domestic release of "Echoes")
Clearlake
High & Mighty
The Occasion
Monolake
Eddie Gale (Two reissues)
Paul Westerberg
Brighter
Belle & Sebastian (Vinyl pressing of new album)



FEATURED NEW RELEASES:

THE BOOKS "The Lemon of Pink" (Tomlab) $14.99
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Somewhere between the folktronica of Fourtet and the sampling collage of DJ
Shadow lies the music of Nick Zammuto and Paul De Jong, collectively known
as the Books. Their follow-up to 2002's "Thought For Food" is a beautiful
and pastoral montage of cut-up vocals, found sounds, and acoustic
instruments (mostly guitars, fiddles, banjos, and the like). Zammuto spent
some time wandering around the Appalachians before this record came
together, and you can definitely hear the influence of his travels in the
album's ambient Americana sound. "The Lemon Of Pink" is peaceful, serene,
and ultra-melodic, really pleasant to listen to, and playful without ever
becoming cutesy or annoying. To my ears, it's far more consistent than their
debut, so if you liked "Thought For Food" at all you'll probably be crazy
about this one. It's simple, tasteful, and unpretentious, a great record for
your rest and relaxation time. [RH]
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PLURAMON "Dreams Top Rock" (Karaoke Kalk) CD $16.99
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It has been five years since Marcus Schmickler has released an album under
the Pluramon moniker, and that hiatus has turned Pluramon in a completely
different musical direction than before. Gone are the post-rock textures of
"Pick up Canyons" and "Render Bandits," Schmickler has embraced the textural
rock of late-Ď80s and early-Ď90s shoegaze bands such as Slowdive and Ride,
and come up with an incredible album. Pluramon is also no longer a
collaboration with legendary Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, this time out he
has enrolled a whole slew of collaborators most notably the vocals of Julee
Cruise (she of Twin Peaks soundtrack fame), while also bringing Kevin Drumm,
Felix Kubin, and Keith Rowe along for the ride. On "Dreams Top Rock,"
Schmickler takes layers of distorted feedback guitars, ambient electronic
textures, acoustic percussion, and the beautiful childlike vocals of Cruise
to craft an album so lush in production at times you would swear it was
Kevin Shields behind the mixing board. When I first heard that the next
Pluramon record would feature vocals by Cruise, I tell you that I had no
idea what to expect, and there is no way that I could have predicted an
album this great to come out of this. I was a fan of Schmickler's work
before but this album ups the ante, and propels him into the stratosphere.
"Dreams Top Rock" is absolutely amazing, and a must for people who purchased
the most recent Guitar and Manitoba albums as well as fans of the Creation
and Morr Music labels. Highly recommended. [JS]
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THE SHINS "Chutes Too Narrow" (Sub Pop) CD/LP $14.99/$13.99
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The Shins sophomore release will pack few surprises for the many fans of
2001's "Oh, Inverted World", but then I doubt that many of you are clamoring
for change to the group's wonderful brand of power pop. Their sound has been
honed by two years on the road... the most noticeable change might be with
James Mercer's vocal delivery, just a bit more confident on the high notes,
a little stronger on the choruses. But his fragile melodies still carry
these simple strummed tunes, and his songwriting and production have been
fine-tuned as well. The record is a bit less Ď60s derivative, the recording
cleaner and crisper than on their debut, and although the band prefers to
keep things simple with drums, bass, strummed guitar and organ bounding in
unison through the hits, they are not afraid to flesh it out here with an
occasional pedal steel or harmonica cameo. A great record that should
satisfy the hungry fans, or be a welcome introduction to an excellent band
for any fans of GBV, New Pornographers, the Elephant 6 collective, or
melodic indie pop in general. [JM]
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ALVIN LUCIER ""Vespers" (New World) CD $15.99
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Alvin Lucier has been exploring the physical properties of sound and its
relationship to space for well over 40 years. While many of his compositions
are rooted in scientific experimentation, it is the almost poetic way in
which he brings out the reverberation of a space or resonation of a string
that makes his work transcend purely scientific phenomena and become
something uniquely beautiful. As the title suggests, "Vespers and Other
Early Works" collects several of Lucier's earlier hard to find recordings
onto one CD. A huge feat simply because this is the first time that many of
Lucier's classic works have been made available outside of the concert
space. The CD begins with "Vespers," a 1969 composition that uses the
acoustic reflections of dolphin echolocation devices to slowly illustrate
the contours of a space. Over the course of 15 minutes a series of sharp
high intensity clicks are layered as they reflect off of the various objects
and walls creating an image of the performance space where the piece was
recorded. It is followed by "Chambers," a composition from 1968 that focuses
on resonation of sounds in various small spaces, Lucier places the sounds,
which consist mostly of field recordings on this version, in various
chambers such as seashells and teapots effectively using the acoustic
properties of these spaces as extended filters on each of his sounds. The
listener hears not only the sound but also the actual physical
characteristics of the space in which it is contained. Also included on the
CD is the original recording of "North American Time Capsule" from 1967 as
well as a contemporary recording of "(Middletown) Memory Space" (1970).
While there are some fascinating moments in both of these compositions,
"North American Time Capsule" is a bit perplexing due to the simple fact
that unlike "Vespers" and "Chambers," as a purely electronic piece it is not
rooted in any sort of acoustic environment. A piece for shakahuchi, koto,
electric guitar and accordian, "(Middletown) Memory Space" is the most
straightforward composition of the collection. The CD closes with the subtle
sub-sonic bass tones of one of Luciers earliest compositions, "Elegy for
Albert Anastasia" (1961-63). Focusing mainly on sounds just above and below
the level of human audibility, "Elegy..." is a beautiful excercise in
restraint and active listening -- a truly fascinating study of sound and its
relationship to space. I can't hesitate to stress the significance of these
pieces and Lucier's work in general to contemporary experimental music or
sound art. If you are at all interested in the idea of sound as art then it
should be well worth checking out one of the pioneers! [KH]
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ERASE ERRATA "At Crystal Palace" (Troubleman) CD $10.99
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Erase Errata borrows heavily from the post-punk era, where music carried
politics on a platform of dissonance, cacophony and irony. And many bands,
in search of something other than three chords and the same recycled beat,
experimented with other music like funk, free jazz and early electronic
sounds. The groups that managed to stomp back into the foreground with
reissues, despite the sharp pointy shoe of synth-laboring new wave, enjoyed
a warm reception (see Liliput, Essential Logic). On their second release,
"At Crystal Palace," Erase Errata shows us they know how to learn from a
good thing. The jerky, danceable rhythms of what's now called disco punk
mingle with distinct, metallic guitar lines and warm, popping bass to make
something that gets the kids up and excited again. But the word
regurgitation cannot be used in this review thanks to songs like "Suprize,
It's Easter." Its looped ending takes on the experimental realm a bit more
than their last release. And "Owl" meanders over to the Lightning Bolt
territory with its drums and effects laden bass heavy punk (or maybe it's
just the guitar scrapes that sound like an owl screeching in time with the
beat). That wonderful trumpet that gave Erase Errata's songs a fleeting free
jazz vibe plays less of a role on this release, though, as Jenny can be
heard belting out the harmonies more. The trade-off makes for a more diverse
sophomore release; so if you don't have their first release already, get
this one. [LG]
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PLASTIKMAN "Closer" (Novamute) CD $15.99
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On "Closer," Richie Hawtin continues exploring the palette of sound he
displayed on the "Disconnect" EP. Deep, skeletal tracks that have an
updated version of the mental patterns found in his "Concept" series woven
through a "Consumed"-style deepness, but without the incessant droning. On
"Closer" every sound is kept small and concise without ever letting the
tempo pick up too much. The patterns seem to "stalk" in a way similar to the
new R.Villalobos LP rather than "pump" like most other tracks in the Hawtin
back catalogue. Another noticeable new influence is the goth-y new wave
atmosphere, not so much like Joy Division as the title implies -- more like
Bauhaus, early Cabaret Voltaire, or Chris and Cosey. I'd swear some of the
slow chanting Darth Vader vocals were inspired by Nitzer Ebb on the wrong
speed. Despite the long list of possible influences -- I also forgot to
mention Richie's short stay in New York -- the tracks still shine as pure
Richie Hawtin creations. The first few tracks (1-3) have an ominous, "here
comes the deep shit" intro feeling. Dark, misty synth washes set the tone
while the Brinkmann meets Villalobos beats crawl around like oversize
spiders. By track 5 ("Slow Poke"), Hawtin uses dynamic stereo effects on his
trademark pulse pattern beats to draw us on to the dancefloor. Here, the
effect is not unlike some of the deep, organic dub found on the
"Instrumentals" album by Mouse on Mars: deep, precise and alive. (Again,
these are slow-burners that build in subtle, well-crafted ways. See track 6,
"Headcase" on the "Disconnect" EP review from a few weeks ago.) Track 8
("Mind in Rewind") is another sick, pulsing slow-burner that constantly ebbs
and flows. The "false end" on this track is masterfully done. One of those
tracks that could go on forever. A standout album. Recommended. [SM]
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YO LA TENGO "Today Is the Day EP" (Matador) CD/LP $5.99/$5.99
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What's this? Yo La Tengo rockin' like it's 1993? The first 3 tracks on the
new "Today Is The Day" EP were recorded for their latest full-length but
were criminally excluded from the finished product. Why they didn't make the
cut is anyone's guess, but here they are for your listening pleasure. If you
were at all disappointed by the lack of blissfully fuzzed-out rockers on the
band's last two records, then this little nugget is for you. To put it
bluntly, the take of "Today Is The Day" on the EP effortlessly blows the
album version out of the stratosphere. The last half of this release gets
nice and mellow, but in a stripped-down acoustic way that has more in common
with the "Fakebook" album that with the lush whisperings of "And Then
Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out." This EP is absolutely essential listening
for fans, I can't even remember the last time I enjoyed listening to Yo La
Tengo this much. [RH]
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SOUL POSITION "8,000,000 Stories" (Rhymesayers) CD $16.99
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Following in line Eric B. and Rakim, Pete and CL, Guru and Primo arrive
Columbus natives Blueprint and RJD2. With Blueprint sharing the stage with
the Bukowski of hip hop, Slug (as Atmosphere) and RJD2 riding the
international fame wave as the next Timbaland/Premier/Shadow uber-producer,
the perfect marriage between the two was still able to come about. Dropping
their knowledge as Soul Position, "8,000,000 Stories" is the sophomore
release on champion indie, Rhymesayers, following up the "Unlimited" EP with
a more consistent album fully illustrating the duo's passionate chemistry
and remarkable synchronicity. Not to downplay the gem "Mic Control" on the
EP -- but the full length indubitably comes off as a cohesive piece as
opposed to the snippet-like tease the debut roused us with. One of my
personal favorite joints on the full-length is the hidden track, "Still
Listening" featuring Copywrite and Jakki -- the two dopest battle rhymers
around. They also both happen to be Bustowners, too, rolling with RJD2 since
the Mhz days. (Columbus indie supergroup who had singles and EP's on New
York's renowned Fondle 'Em Records.) The track provides great edge to the
record; but in all actuality the MC stylings Blueprint provides are far from
aggressive braggadocio and street cynical jabs. His flow weaves hypnotically
throughout the record, metaphorically coming "into position like a cumulus
cloud" (as he expressed it best on "Deadringer", RJ's debut on Definitive Jux
in 2002) as he lays the lyrical knowledge on RJD2's canvas of beautifully
melded galaxy of soul and funk. Blueprint's ingenious and inspired verbal
imagery casts him as an urban storyteller; he masters the sought after
equilibrium between personal politics/social commentary and pure sarcasm
mixed with ridiculous entertainment, as perfectly exemplified by the stellar
cuts "Fuckajob" and "Jerry Springer Episode". [MT]
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THE STILLS "Logic Will Break Your Heart" (Vice) CD $13.99
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The Stills have been garnering a lot of praise touring with bands like the
Rapture, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol; and their EP from earlier this year
placed the group securely in this new post-punk pack. Like Interpol,
descriptions like dark romantic pop, chimey guitars as well as some similar
late-'70s and 'early-'80s influences ala' the Chameleons, Bunnymen and the
Smiths could all easily be applied; but stop there. On their first
full-length, the group add a lot more variety to the mix. Starting with a
healthy dose of dream pop guitar styling (ala' Ride, Swervedriver, and even
Doves), "Logic Will Break Your Heart" doesn't get mired in any particular
decade worship. Ultimately, it's what the Montreal quintet does with their
touchstones, simply crafting great pop hooks and melodies that are far more
apparent than the rest of the bands, old or new, that they may get lumped in
with. This is a strong debut album from a group that unashamedly wears a few
decades of British influences on their sleeves, but the Stills' pull it off so
naturally it's hard to dismiss their music as mere regurgitation. [GH]
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[V.A.] "Digital Disco 2" (Force Tracks) CD $14.99
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Approximately one year ago, Force Tracks brought us the amazing "Digital
Disco" compilation which combined elements of "Clicks and Cuts" electronica,
techno, house and disco to create an album that worked as well on the
dancefloor as it did for the headphones. Now Force Tracks releases the
second volume in the series, and without changing the formula of the first
has created a great compilation featuring vocal heavy tracks from Dub
Taylor, Luomo, D:EXTER, Adjuster, Dole and Kom, Steve Angello, Afro Angel,
Moonbootica, Science 2102, MRI, Unai, Akufen, and Ian Pooley. Most of these
tracks are party jams, made to make even the most cynical music lover get up
and shake some booty. "Digital Disco" is nothing but pure fun, and a
recommended purchase for fans of Metro Area, Daft Punk, Naked Music, and all
things related to modern French house music. Put this CD on, find a partner,
and get your groove on, because this album is sure to keep you warm on the
cold winter nights soon to come. [JS]
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TYONDAI BRAXTON/PARTS & LABOR "Rise, Rise, Rise" (Narnack) CD $11.99
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This new split full-length from Parts & Labor and Tyondai Braxton is a
mixed bag of noise, distorted and fuzzed guitar, electronic crescendos, and
the kitchen sink. P&L start things off with seven tracks (they both offer 27
minutes) of no-wave, prog, avant, math and post-rock. All tracks appear
instrumental although vocals are credited along with an eerie and odd
bagpipe player. They mesh sounds together and spit them at you in a mix of
Lightning Bolt and Black Dice -- no wave odd-kilter melody turns into math
rock angular tension. Tyondai  Braxton, son of living jazz legend Anthony,
continues the heavy driving attitude with "Stand There", combining distorted
vocals with stuttering synth atmosphere, effected guitar, and pounding
marching drums. Refreshing in its abrasive texture yet uplifting lyrics, he
experiments with various musicians, cello, piano, viola, flute, trumpet, and
two drummers -- more rocking no-wave repetitive melodies with great vocal
delivers loud singing/near shouting. He creates a twelve-minute piece that
begins innocently enough with light soft cries, sighs, and then moves into
guitar strumming. Then the vocals begin to stretch across the surface,
expanding and compressing, multiplying, time-stretched, combining singing,
beatboxing, and speaking to great effect like a haunted version of Animal
Collective, or a less lovelorn and deconstructed TV on the Radio. Ending
with a piano, vocal, and string lead, great neo-classical meets jazz meets
no-wave piece "Jackpot" is like the dark tunnels of The Pop Group or DNA.
For sure not for everyone, but if you like it dry and heavy, check this out.
[DG]
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THE RAPTURE "Echoes" (DFA) CD/LP $9.99/$13.99
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Available Domestically! Last year, the Rapture teased us with the "House of
Jealous Lovers" 12" which proved their alliance with DFA to be quite holy.
For all the hoopla in the press about the second coming of New York's music
scene, here was the song that finally lived up to the hype. Now why it took
another year-and-a-half to get their full-length readied is anyone's guess
but it's finally arrived. Opening with the Cure goes acid house "Olio," the
schizophrenic style-switching and pace that awaits us in "Echoes" is
established by track two, the hard hitting "Heaven," where guitars pound and
drums pummel amidst a squawking sax and an anthemic multi-tracked chorus of
voices. My favorite tracks are still what the Rapture is known for: heavy on
the hi-hat disco beats, funky melodic bass lines, scratchy guitar and the
melodic strained yelps of their two throaty voiced singers. And there are
plenty of these songs -- from "The Coming of Spring" which briefly revisits
their killer opening cut off their 2000 Sub Pop EP, to the title track
(which shamelessly borrows the vocal melody from P.I.L.'s "Careering") and
of course, "House of Jealous Lovers." The production skills of DFA's Tim
Goldsworthy and James Murphy are most apparent on the synth pulses of
"Sister Saviour" and "Killing," which begins with a faint Kraftwerk sample
trailing over a drum machine's rhythmic steam train propulsion. Believe me,
you'll dance. Aside from the anticipated post-punk, early house, electro and
disco influences, the Rapture tries on a few other music styles. The tender
and sparse Big Star sounding ballad "Open Your Heart" and "Love Is All,"
with a Ray Davies inspired chorus, both sound a little awkward in the
context of the album, but emphasize the band's determination not to be
pigeonholed. The biggest surprise though is the closing track "Infatuation,"
a slow, brooding song that turns quiet melancholy into something
unexpectedly haunting. [GH]
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CLEARLAKE "Cedars" (Domino) CD $11.99
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Having never been to Europe, specifically England, I'll have to imagine the
grey skies and rain spattered windows that set the scene of the birthplace
for such a melancholy record. Very English in its sentiment, with romantic
production (the work of Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde), Clearlake's second
effort, "Cedars" earns a comparison spot somewhere between "Modern Life is
Rubbish" and perhaps "Different Class". That may cover a lot of Brit-pop
ground, but Clearlake are clearly influenced by some of the great English
groups of the '90s (namely Blur, Ride, Pulp, Suede, Wedding Present) and for
a definitively shoegazey example of this check out the "Almost the Same"
single. Jason Pegg borrows his yearning and menace from Morrissey infusing
dark imagery and cynical sentiments (such as: When I think of you, I know I
have to warn you/I'm trying to tell you I'd really like to hurt you) to
lucid pop songs. Much of the record refers to the landscape and weather of
England and it creates a somber mood. Sometimes buzzing rock ("Come Into the
Darkness") cuts through the bleakness and there are some repetitive hooks,
but mostly I'd say this is a rainy day, broken heart kind of an album. [NL]
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THE HIGH & MIGHTY "The Highlite Zone" (Eastern Conference) CD $14.99
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On the Weathermen mix CD that came out on Eastern Conference earlier this
year, there was a shit-hot teaser loop (that lasted a mere twenty seconds)
that commenced the album. Those of you who weren't sleeping know what I am
talking about. The album features this blazing production by DJ Sebb, the
beat laced by Eon and one of the illest emcees around, Copywrite. "Cheese
Factory" is bananas, and I am easily filing it as contending rap single of
the year. Copy spits the sick battle rhymes, explosive with seething lyrical
genius and flawless cadence. ("Shit on the airwaves sound funny to me, a
hundred emcees all frontin' and they runnin' for G's... You ain't real
you're what your label wants you to be.") Eon and Mighty Mi tore away from
their transient association with Rawkus (in a similar fashion as El-P/Co'
Flow) to allow themselves to expand creatively. After all, combining Mi's
production resume with the duos' popping label, Eastern Conference -- it
only seems rational, given their personal DIY cred. The fruits of their
underground labor have given us the Highlite Zone, a shit-hot listen
involving social commentary on fast food, the rap industry, Nelly blasts
regarding the throwback jersey trend (on "Take It Off", featuring Vast Aire
of Cannibal Ox), amongst other street-smart sardonic and saucy raps. The
album also features Cage, RA the Rugged Man, Tame One, and production work
by RJD2 and Camu Tao. [MT]
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THE OCCASION "Seven Songs" CD $7.99
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What are nice if understandably dispossessed people really feeling like
these days? At a time when things really are divided but always trying to
seem they are the remaining the same, or things are essentially the same but
scarier, OR things might be changing completely at any time and you don't
know when? There's a longing for a sense of the plugging away of "history,"
one which was not arriving at all just a few years ago, but also this
borderline disconsolate fugue state at the howling endgame uncertainty of
virtually everything. The Occxx are young people, to be sure, but not that
young, and are one of the few NYC (or just American) groups I could point to
who generate any meditation at all on these vagaries of our infant
millennium. There is both the fed-up somnambulence of Neil Young's "On the
Beach" or the same time period's less wayward Tim Buckley in them, and as
well the erudite intensity of Australia/NZ '80s rock usurpers like Birthday
Party... with a hint of perhaps the less cool, but coolly apropos, Church.
They can also at times resemble cloudy Midwest iconoclasts like Smog or Low.
This is just a seven-song introduction to what looks to be a fantastic
oeuvre in the making. [DHo]
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MONOLAKE "Momentum" (EFA) CD $15.99
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Back in 1998, Monolake blew many a lid off with the release of "Hong Kong",
an incredible opus released on the great Chain Reaction imprint. That
gorgeous record will remain as one of the high points in the history of minimal
techno. So, over the course of five years and a handful of albums, we saw
the trajectory change a bit, and Monolake, which was once a duo, became a
solo project for Robert Henke (former member Gerard Behles went on to create
the audio software Live, a favorite program among many laptoppers you know
and love). Henke's new album,  "Momentum", continues to work with the more
"in your face" robotic, funky techno shuffle that fully came to life in the
albums "Interstate", "Cinemascope", and especially, "Gravity". He wrings
many sounds from his limited palette of metallics and greys, crafting
silvery beams, chrome maschines, vapor-geists and steams from his computer.
These sounds are intricately and impeccably placed, and their movements
build complex skeletons for the rigid, robo-funk grooves to travel through.
The two tracks that stray from this method are "Reminiscence", a
Maurizio-like trip which revisits the days of Monolake's yore and thumps
along in its joy of the stripped, seductive, narcotic bliss, and "Credit",
which is a misty, dank, sub-drone in weightless stasis, sans beat. Henke's
Monolake project continues on its path, successfully melding insanely
detailed abstract sound design with the funkier side of the techno template.
[DD]
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EDDIE GALE "Ghetto Music" (Water) CD $15.99
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EDDIE GALE "Black Rhythm Happening" (Water) CD $15.99
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The reissue of the month award goes to Water Records for rescuing theses two
albums by trumpet player Eddie Gale. "Ghetto Music" and "Black Rhythm
Happening" are in the lineage of black power/free jazz/progressive soul
records created by Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, Sun Ra with June Tyson, Art
Ensemble of Chicago, Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas, and labels like Tribe,
Black Jazz, Impulse, and sometimes Blue Note (who originally released these
albums). Gale earned his merits playing on Cecil Taylor's "Unit Structures",
and various recordings with Sun Ra such as "Lanquidity".  Ra's influence
sparked Gale to create a group/collective of his own design. "Ghetto Music"
is a concept album that included costumes, dancers, actors, etc. to reflect
life in the g.h.e.t.t.o circa 1969. Featuring an 11-piece choir, the Noble
Gale Singers, two drummers, including Elvin Jones on B.R.H, two basses, sax,
flute, thumb piano, steel drum, African drums, and bird whistle, they create
a beautiful, darkly uplifting journey through the streets of the down
trodden yet hopeful. Powerful, heartfelt playing, full of spirit, energy and
imagination. "Black Rhythm Happening," is the second and final of Gale's
albums as a leader for Blue Note, and is a continuation of the form and style
he established the year before. However, the vocals are more intricately
arranged into the music. Whereas on "Ghetto Music", the singers seem to be
given space for the vocal sections, the music often becoming soft then
erupting into a duet between voice and instrument, on B.R.H the voices
emerge out of the music. From nowhere, soaring chorus blues and gospel
voices surround you. It's hard to describe all the dynamics, but whatever
you do buy one or both of these records, help a bro' out. Recommended! Ya
dig? [DG]
"Ghetto Music"
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"Black Rhythm Happening"
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PAUL WESTERBERG "Come Feel Me Tremble" (Vagrant) CD $16.99
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Paul Westerberg's latest album is an accompanying soundtrack of sorts to a
fan shot documentary of his 2002 tour. What is to be the first of a three
albums over the next half-a-year, "Come Feel Me Tremble" continues the
songwriter's back-to-basics approach which made last year's fabulous
"Stereo" such a comeback. Once again recorded in his basement, most of the
takes are raw and loose; many are electric with Westerberg playing a gritty,
backhanded Stones-y rhythm guitar in some mid-tempo rockers like "Dirty
Diesel" and "Hillbilly Junk." Tracks like the bar room shuffle of "Pine Box"
and "Making Me Go" sound like they could be outtakes from prime-era
Replacements, while the lone acoustic guitar accompanied "Meet Me Down the
Alley" is a classic Westerberg ballad. As a proper full-length, "Come Feel
Me Tremble" isn't a tight collection of songs, and though there aren't any duds
several of the tracks feel like B-sides. This doesn't mark the same return
to form that "Stereo/Mono" promised, but Westerberg's off-the cuff performances
are a hell of a lot better than his late-'90s offerings, with plenty of
stand-out songs that will make this a necessary album for fans. [GH]
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GRANDPA BOY "Dead Man Shake" (Fat Possum) CD $14.99
(Also available, a brand new Grandpa Boy album from Westerberg.)
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BRIGHTER "Singles 1989-1992" (Matinee) CD $14.99
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You can stop searching for those three over-priced Sarah singles and the
Disney EP that Brighter did because they're all collected here on one
convenient compact disc (excluding the Laurel 10"). The songs are arranged
in chronological order starting with several softly strummed introspective
tracks (including "Inside Out", "Tinsel Heart" and "Noah's Ark"), followed
with the jangly pop hits ("I Donít Think It Matters" and "Poppy Day"), and
into the more produced and orchestrated songs of the Disney 10". Definitely
a great autumn time CD for a walk in the cool air and warm sun. For fans of
the Field Mice, Razorcuts, or even Belle and Sebastian. [RS]
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BELLE & SEBASTIAN "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" (Rough Trade) LP $15.99
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(Belle & Sebastianís fifth proper album, is now available on vinyl.) Belle &
Sebastian are smart and funny and sensitive and complex and that's why we
like them. The fey stylings, exhibitionist intellects, and mournful folk
beauty of the music they make and the mysterious personas they project
filled a very particular niche that was glaringly vacant when they almost
clandestinely slid onto the scene with their second album "If You're feeling
Sinister" seven years ago. So embraced were they for their cerebral mixtures
of Donovan-esque lilts, Nick Drake drenched nostalgia, and Smiths caliber
double-entendres that it has been a constant battle for them ever since to:
A.) Live up to their rapturous initial reception; and B.) Transcend the FEY
pigeonhole and explore more extensively the bigger picture of their musical
and conceptual project. If the diehard fans (and most likely the record
execs) had their way, every Belle & Sebastian album would be chock-a-block
with small, quiet songs (sung exclusively by Stuart Murdoch of course) about
lying in the sun and wondering whether one liked boys or girls. Luckily the
collective have chosen the road less traveled and have consistently eluded
these expectations, giving us instead awkward vocals, obtuse lyrics,
uncomfortably earnest jams, incongruous confluences of clashing influences,
and overall INTERESTING music, for the most part beautiful and compelling in
nature. "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" is just such an animal, as its almost
dada-esque title might indicate. From the leading track, "Step Into My
Office, Baby," a romping guitar driven pop-rock paean to office/sexual
politics to the almost shockingly classic-rock guitar and synth noodling
jam-fests (Skynyrd, Grateful Dead, Badfinger all come to mind) "Stay Loose"
and  "I'm a Cuckoo" (featuring my current favorite rhyme "I'd rather be in
Tokeeyo/I'd rather listen to Thin Lizzie-Ohh"), the world is treated to the
heretofore unheralded sounds of Stuart Murdoch singing hard and loud and the
entire band rocking out in tight, subtle and sincere (versus "ironic") genre
exploring/exploding reinterpretations of rock, soul and folk. All this
executed with the intelligence, and overall emotional and aesthetic tenor
that fans have come to love and depend on. [MC]
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This week's contributors: Matt Connors [MC], Daniel DeRogatis [DD], Lisa
Garrett [LG], Daniel Givens [DG], Gerald Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller
[RH], Koen Holtcamp [KH], Dan Hougland [DHo], Nicole Lang [NL], Josh Madell
[JM], Scott Mou [SM], Jeremy Sponder [JS], Roy Styles [RS], and Mahssa
Taghina [MT].




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