Other Music New Release Update
October 8, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Belle & Sebastian
Kid Koala
Luke Vibert
Ladybug Transistor
Medium Medium
Stereolab (New EP)
Death Cab For Cutie
Robert Wyatt
Ladytron (Compilation)
Jackie O Motherfucker
Ghislain Poirier
The Kingsbury Manx
High Llamas
Lyrics Born


Beth Gibbons/Rustin Man (Domestic)

Just In:

The Strokes (New single)
Isobel Campbell


BELLE & SEBASTIAN "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" (Rough Trade) CD $15.99
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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]

KID KOALA "Some of My Best Friends are DJs" (Ninja Tune) CD/LP $15.99/$14.99
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I've always loved Kid Koala's approach to deejaying, because he is so
technical, yet he has no ability to rock a crowd. He was never a party DJ,
nor aspired to be. Koala didn't start scratching because he wanted to rock
parties, or because of some inherent love for hip hop, but just because he
liked the sound of hands rubbing vinyl back and forth. This bedroom approach
has enabled him to explore the endless musical and tonal possibilities two
records and turntables could give you. This latest release is a lot more
musically coherent than his last record. It's a good record, but the
brilliance reveals itself on repeated listens. Like on tracks like "Basin
Street Blues" and "Stompin' At le Savoi", upon first listen you hear a
pretty competent trombone swing loop over heavy breakbeat drums, which
sounds competent and fun. Then after two or three listens you realize that
it isn't a brass sample at all and Koala is actually creating that sound
from scratching and pitch mixing it live over the drums... dope! The beauty
of this record is those little moments that keep revealing themselves upon
each new listen. This album is also a pretty valid aural argument for the
inclusion of the turntables as an instrument for our times. This could be a
landmark release. Just don't ask him to deejay your wedding. He'd suck at
that :) [DH]
CD //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=62597810822&refer_url=email
LP //perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=62597810821&refer_url=email

RACHEL'S "Systems/Layers" (Quarterstick) CD $13.99
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Despite their longtime label affiliation (Touch & Go's Quarterstick
division), and indie rock pedigree (Jason Noble was a founding member of
Rodan and the Shipping News, and the new album features many talented
scene-makers, including Shannon Wright, Jem Cohen, Curtis Harvey, and Jeff
Mueller), Rachel's is a group that does not easily fit into any accepted
alterna-sub-category. They make moody, ethereal music that owes more to film
score and avant-classical than it does to anything else, and although they
can appeal to fans of the Godspeed collective, Gastr Del Sol, or similar
mood-music-meisters, their sound is an original. The group fluctuates around
the core trio of Noble's bass and guitar, Christian Fredrickson's viola, and
Rachel Grime's piano, often including drumset, cello, and keyboards,
sometimes adding full orchestration, found-sound, or subtle electronics
thrown in the mix. "Systems/Layers" was written and developed with New
York's SITI experimental theater company for live performance with the
group, and also features many "field recordings" submitted by friends and
fans, with spoken word, rattling trains, birds, and much of the white noise
of everyday life around the world. A lot to digest, and the Rachel's is
nothing if not ambitious. This is dark, moody and cerebral music, but it is
also music with heart and soul, and it's the passion and melody that will
stick with you. A great new disc that makes me oh so curious about the
theater performances for which it was written, yet stands alone as a
beautiful listen. [JM]

LUKE VIBERT "YosepH" (Warp) CD $16.99
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The clown prince of electronica, Luke Vibert has always had this blasť,
slightly cynical attitude towards his talents. Be it deejaying his
blistering sets, sitting down, chin in hand and joint in lips, or by titling
his records and songs "Drum and Bass for Papa", "I Love Acid", etc. I always
get the feeling that he's takin' the piss out of all of the music he
creates, which could account for his versatility. It makes it a lot easier
to switch styles and move on to other things, and people don't take your
music too seriously I suppose... anyway, about the record: The tracks all
have this thick, squelchy head nod funk to them that I can only describe as
downtempo acid. It has all of the classic elements of that genre, but it's
slowed to half-the-speed, and the four-on-the-floor kicks are replaced with
drum breaks. The first few tracks are the closest thing to traditional hip
hop I've heard him do. "Liptones" swings so hard, Jay Dee would bite his
fists with jealously if he heard it. The centerpiece, the aforementioned "I
Love Acid" bubbles with 909 and inventive vocoder use, that could be the
most flexible club track I've heard in quite a while. I have the feeling
that this record is going to spawn more than a few less capable imitators,
so I hope that Vibert continues to build on this formula, 'cuz I'm hooked!

LADYBUG TRANSISTOR "Ladybug Transistor" (Merge) CD $13.99
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Ladybug Transistor has delivered their baroque pop masterpiece. Their new,
self-titled album is a far more upbeat serving than their last full-length,
2001's "Argyle Heir," and in general a new vitality flows throughout this
richly textured release. Taking a recording holiday away from their
Marlborough Farms studio in Brooklyn, the group traveled west to Tucson and
enlisted Calexico/Giant Sand producer Craig Schumaker for the knob turning.
Gary Olson's baritone voice is honey-thick as ever, supported by the skilled
band plus several auxiliary players including Lambchop trumpeter Dennis
Cronin and Lambchop/Calexico contributor Paul Niehaus on the pedal steel.
During "In December," guitar, piano and trumpet trade countermelodies as
Olson documents a romantic travelogue winding from London to India, while
instrumentally, the music makes lilting twists and turns with soaring
strings and cinematic breaks. Sasha Bell steps to the center mic for a few
tracks, "The Places You Call Home" and "Hangin' On the Line," her voice
providing a sweet counterbalance to Olson's deeper croon. Most bands would
kill for the consistent quality of songs that Ladybug Transistor has offered
with their releases, but impressively, their fifth album is undoubtedly
their best and most varied collection to date. [GH]

JAYLIB "Champion Sound" (Stones Throw) CD $14.99
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Two beat heads are better than one. From L.A. to Detroit, the super combo of
Jay Dee (a/k/a J-Dilla) and man of the moment Madlib join teams to form
Jaylib. Released by Stones Throw, their debut "Champion Sound" is a
criss-crossed tapestry of flow and beats. They switch off from behind the
boards and behind the mic to give you that raw uncut funk, spitting lyrics
over one another's tracks. Though neither's strongest talent is Mcing, they
hold their own and create a smoky vibe that holds the project together, full
of freaky samples, straight and off the cuff verse, and tight grooves.
Madlib delivers some of his hardest tracks in a while and Jaydee offers that
thumping bass and jazz licks that made him a name to watch. Guests include
Talib Kweli, Percee P, Frank-n-Dank, and Quasimoto. "Champion Sound" falls
somewhere between Slum Village and Quasimoto. This is the sure shot, "heavy
on the beats." Includes two bonus tracks. [DG]

MEDIUM MEDIUM "Hungry, So Angry" (Cherry Red) CD $16.99
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Everyone keeps saying they sound like the Gang of Four but they don't. They
don't have the political anger or the metallic punch. Instead they have the
elastic funk of Blurt, the endless groove and chant of Liquid Liquid (but
sexier), a drop of the primal abandon of Malcolm Mooney-fronted Can coupled
with soaring moments that touch on the beauty of the Cure. Seeing that the
Liquid Liquid reissue is long out of print, and the Rapture album wasn't the
dance hit follow-up it was expected to be (though it IS a well crafted pop
album -- I'm not nay sayin'!) timing couldn't have been better for this
reissue to arrive. Believe it or not, Medium Medium formed in 1978 recording
the main body of this CD in 1981. And again, unlike Gang of Four and more
like Liquid Liquid, these guys do "free-blown dubbed-up white funk" (NME
quote) like no other. Sixteen tracks, including three singles, one full
album, and live tracks that embody qualities touched on by dance rock bands
new and old, but never quite this way, and never quite this good. If I could,
I would have given you eight tracks to preview just to see the range and
quality of this release! (See also track 1, 10!, 3, 6, 8 - a sick live
track, 11 etc.) Necessary and recommended. [SM]

STEREOLAB "Instant 0 In the Universe" (Elektra) CD $9.99
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Stereolab continue to explore the further reaches of production perfection,
precision percussion, and the delicate tension between pop and rock and
analog and electronic in this superb five song EP that could easily have
been recorded during the same session as their masterful previous album,
"Sound-Dust." As their sound delves further and further into the extremely
headphone friendly realm of polyphonic and structural investigation, it
would be easy to accuse them of being a one trick pony. Nothing could be
further from the truth, as careful attention to their purposeful evolution
will render more than obvious. The recognizable motorik rhythms return, this
time bejeweled with acoustic guitar twinklings, electric guitar jags,
pitch-shifted synths, picture perfect organ bursts and disco digressions.
Sadier's vocals continue their placid, detached earnest accompaniment,
although sadly minus the counterpoint of tragically deceased Mary Hansen.
Fans and un-indoctrinated alike will revel in this deliciously complex
psychedelic confection. Awesome. [MC]

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE "Transatlanticism" (Barsuk) CD $14.99
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Death Cab For Cutie isn't a band that you expect to change much from album
to album. Over the course of a few years, this Bellingham, WA, ensemble have
delivered three great albums -- not counting two EPs -- delivering catchy
yet sincerely emotive rock songs (without being yawningly "emo") that
utilize circular weaving guitar melodies and of course, the strength of Ben
Gibbard's languid vocals. Their fourth LP, "Transatlanticism" shows the band
staying steadfast on their music course, but take a deeper listen, and you
can hear the group trying on a couple of new hats. Band member Chris Walla's
production is fuller using a few studio tricks like subtle electronic hums
and drones, and bigger musical arrangements that add an epic dimension.
Opening track "The New Year" is a rocker and it's almost like Gibbard is
making up for all those sweet, poppy indie/electro songs he helped craft
this past year moonlighting in the Postal Service with Dntel's Jimmy
Tamborello. But by the second song, "The Lightness," the album quickly turns
quiet and melancholy. It doesn't really pick up until three songs later with
"The Sound of Settling," a catchy, fast paced tune that barely makes it past
two minutes. Beginning with lengthy piano led title track which ends with
choir sung chorus, the second half of the album seems to play like a concept
record. Gibbard's storytelling lyrics paint quite visual pictures of
wanderlust and longing recollections of younger and more innocent days. [GH]

ROBERT WYATT "Cuckooland" (Hannibal) CD $16.99
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The first new album by living legend Robert Wyatt since 1997's "Shleep"
sounds sort of like its cover looks: colorful, simple, a little messy. As
always, Wyatt's voice is almost unbearably beautiful, and the lyrics are
uniformly brilliant. He employs a host of cheap keyboard sounds that would
simply be unacceptable for virtually any other musician, but on his songs
they sound amazing. Many of the arrangements lean toward jazz (particularly
the ones that feature Karen Mantler, the daughter of Carlo Bley), and most
of the songs were co-written by Wyatt's wife. "Cuckooland" features guest
spots from big names like Brian Eno, David Gilmour, and Phil Manzanera, but
the best things happen when everyone else shuts up and lets Robert sing to
his own keyboard accompaniment. Even after so many years, he's a true
original. An absolute must-have for Robert Wyatt enthusiasts. [RH]

LADYTRON "Softcore Jukebox" (Emperor Norton) $15.99
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Ladytron have compiled a diverse collection of songs that will kick-start
any party with "Softcore Jukebox," but don't plan on your evening being
exclusively retro-electro-licious. The Liverpudlian synth punks pick tracks
that span several decades of genres with classic and obscure cuts of
shoe-gaze, post-punk, dance, '60s rock, new wave and electronica. Starting
with the lulling dream pop of My Bloody Valentine's "Soon," the compilation
weaves through favorites from the Fall ("Hit the North Part 1") and Wire
("The 15th"), forgotten early-'80s synth pop from Cristina ("What's a Girl
To Do") and an almost forgotten '90s club classic from New Fast Automatic
Daffodils. There are plenty of newer dance cuts that span from the
ridiculously crazy Fat Truckers ("Teenage Daughter") to the choppy electro
stomp of Codec and Flexor's "Crazy Girls," to Fanny Pack's booty-shaking
"Hey Mami." Ladytron throw in a couple of their own contributions, a
psyched-up re-make of their "Blue Jeans" as well as a punked out cover
Tweet's of "Oops (Oh My)." Eighteen cuts in all, other notables include
!!!'s "Feel Good Hit of the Fall," Seelenluft's "Manila" and older classics
from Shocking Blue ("Send Me a Postcard") and the Nancy Sinatra/Lee
Hazlewood signature, "Some Velvet Morning." [GH]

JACKIE O MOTHERFUCKER "Wow/The Magick Fire Music" (ATP) CD $16.99
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These two albums by critics' darlings Jackie O Motherfucker were released on
LP by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore back in 2000. The first band many people
compare them to is Godspeed You Black Emperor, but in all fairness, J.O.M.F.
is way more tasteful. They combine elements of rock, folk, jazz, minimalism,
and sound collage, and sometimes sound a little like a psychedelic
reinterpretation of Henry Flynt's "Hillbilly" recordings. Before they moved
from Oregon to New York, they were kind of like the west coast equivalent of
the No Neck Blues Band. "The Magick Fire Music" might be the group's best
effort to date, with thick, looping haunted melodies, droning acoustic
instruments, and subtle electronic noises. "Wow," comprised of two long
percussion-heavy improvisations, is also a pretty satisfying listen. Great
late night listening for fans of Town And Country, Dirty Three, Richard
Youngs, and the like. [RH]

GHISLAIN POIRIER "Beats As Politics" (Chocolate Ind.) CD $13.99
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The latest release from Chicago's Chocolate Industry, "Beats as Politics"
comes from a French Canadian (Montreal) Ghislain Poirier. Instantly
reminding me of Daedelus, Dabyre, Odd Nosdam, and Prefuse 73, this is cut up
samples, choppy beats and ethnic-jazzy loops at its core. Mostly
instrumental, except one track featuring Diverse and two with French rapping
by Seba, playful and sweet grooves are his forte. Kinda quirky and solid,
yet simple, and with repeated listens it begins to grow on you. If you liked
Prefuse's "One Word Extinguisher" or "Outakes," you should give this one a
spin. Similar in sound and technique yet not as spastic, more of a slow
burner. [DG]

THE KINGSBURY MANX "Aztec Discipline" (Overcoat) CD $13.99
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I've been a big fan of the Kingsbury Manx since first seeing them perform in
a small Chapel Hill club back in 2000. The group's use of simple,
simultaneous vocal melodies and harmonies over softly picked guitars was
brilliantly restrained and seemed to connect the dots between Barrett-era
Pink Floyd and the quieter moments of Yo La Tengo. Though quite different in
style, it was also the first time I'd been truly excited about a band from
North Carolina since, well, Polvo. Three years later, the Kingsbury Manx
have released "Aztec Discipline," their third full-length, and without
altering their gentle folk-psych formula too much, the band come closer to
letting go, playfully rocking a little allowing intricate passages from an
organ or piano to take a bigger roll in some of the arrangements alongside
acoustic and electric guitars and occasional banjo overdubs. But again,
restraint is always the key. Only slightly reminiscent of the contemporaries
like Beachwood Sparks, but match the affection for late-'60s West Coast
sounds with an equal dose of English psych-pop sensibility (imagine "3
EP"-era Beta Band but minus the groove), the Kingsbury Manx might let a song
or two end in a swoosh of keyboard static or a wash of reverb, but believe
me, nothing is overdone. Very recommended. [GH]

HIGH LLAMAS "Beet, Maize & Corn" (Drag City) CD $13.99
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Sean O'Hagan and the Llamas are back with the first proper new album in
years, but little has changed in the interim. They are still producing
impeccable, lovely Beach Boys meets Steely Dan meets Burt Bacharach pop,
with layers of orchestration and gently percolating rhythms. The new one
lays off the electronic textures they flirted with on previous albums, and
the album is almost entirely acoustic, even eschewing drum set on most
tracks. Brass, strings, singers, keys and gentle guitars conspire to lull
you to dreamland. Mission accomplished. [JM]

LYRICS BORN "Later That Day" (Quannum) CD $14.99
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Straight outta San Fran comes "Later That Day..." the solo debut from Lyrics
Born. Having spent years alongside Lateef and DJ Shadow, this is his time to
show what he's got. Admittedly, there's something about indie hip-hop from
Cali that perplexes me; I don't always get it. Sure it's uplifting,
positive, fun, and energetic, but the vibe isn't always there. There's no
sense of gritty urban environments, no venom. This is the sound of cruising
down the Boulevard at sunset in your open-top convertible, partying on the
beach in front of a bonfire, a soundtrack for riding the half pipe.
Everything's damn bright and sunny. L.B. has a strong flow, changing styles
from song to song, from quick firing flow to a deep slower rap/speak, the
closest reference being maybe Cee-lo minus the gospel overtones. Mostly
self-produced with vocal help from Lateef, Joyo Velarde, and The Gift of
Gab, with cuts by Cut Chemist, and bass and guitar by Tommy Guerrero.
There's plenty of warped bass, horn punches, warm key chords, rhythmic
percussion, female chorus lead hooks, and lots of spoken interludes and
chatting. It's not a bad album, if you dig other Cali-hop artist like
Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Black Eye Peas, Lifesavas, or just want to hear
how the other coast interprets the science of beats and rhymes. [DG]


COLDER "Again" (Output) CD $15.99
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Back in stock!! Many of you are probably familiar with the name
Colder by now. Marc Nguyen Tan (a/k/a Colder) and his debut album
"Again" have received glowing reviews in just about every European
music magazine available. After numerous manufacturing delays (the first
pressings of the disc come with a bonus 5 video DVD), and tough European
export bans, "Again" is finally available in quantity. Colder clearly
regards the late-'70s to early-'80s as ground zero for his sound taking cues
from Joy Division, Can, Suicide, and various other post-punk legends, while
still retaining a stronghold on the future at times recalling moments of
Closer Musik, and Pole. If anyone could predict what a band like Joy
Division would sound like in 2003, Marc Nguyen Tan does just that. With his
musical inspiration taken from prime-era Factory records -- his deadpan
vocals could be mistaken for Ian Curtis -- Colder has created a kind of
tribute to that era that is both respectful to what has come before him
while also adding to that sound. There is not much more that I can say about
this album but that it is the best debut to arrive this year, and it is
definitely a shoe in for a spot on my year-end top ten. Believe the hype and
buy this album, it is truly one of the finest that you will purchase in a
long, long time! [JS]

BETH GIBBONS & RUSTIN' MAN "Out of Season" (Sanctuary) CD $17.99
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Finally available domestically! It's been much longer than most fans would
want to wait for, and technically they're still waiting, but in the meantime
Portishead vocalist Beth Gibbons has temporarily ventured off into solo
territory with the assistance of "Rustin' Man," a/k/a Paul Webb, the former
bassist in Talk Talk. A warning: Beth hasn't been sitting at home for the
past couple of years listening to cinematic instrumental hip hop. What she
has been listening to, and in turn created is a simultaneously skeletal and
lush album in the British folk tradition. At times accompanied only by
acoustic guitar, other times with full strings, grand piano and organ, "Out
of Season" maintains a sense of grandeur in space. The overall tone will be
familiar to Portishead fans -- sober and introspective. But the backdrop has
more to do with Nick Drake and even David Axelrod than early-'90s trip hop.
Intimate, desperate and hauntingly beautiful. [GA]


THE STROKES "12:51/CD Single" (Rough Trade) $9.99

ISOBEL CAMPBELL "Amorino" (Instinct) CD $13.99

This week's contributors: Geoff Albores [GA], Matt Connors [MC], Daniel Givens [DG],
Gerald Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Duane Harriott [DH], Josh Madell [JM],
Scott Mou [SM], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


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