Other Music New Release Update
September 03, 2003

In This Week's Update:

Brett Smiley (Reissue)
Felix Da Housecat (Mix CD)
The Raveonettes
The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Okkervil River
23 Skidoo (Reissue)
Hot Hot Heat / The Red Light Sting (Reissue)
Radio 4 (Dance to the Underground/Remixes)


COLDER "Again" (Output) CD $15.99
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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]

BRETT SMILEY "Breathlessly Brett" (RPM) $17.99
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If you loved Brett Smiley's "Va Va Va Voom" from the "Velvet Tinmine"
compilation, don't miss this re-issue of his long lost album "Breathlessly
Brett." Brett got his start in the title role of "Oliver!" on Broadway and
had been taken under the wing of legendary British producer and Stones
manager Andrew Loog Oldham by the time he was 18 years old. These
recordings never saw the light of day after the lead-off single failed to
sell, leaving the would-be superstar to a life of booze, drugs, and
softcore porn. "Breathlessly Brett" is lush, pouting, vampy cabaret glam
with breathy androgynous vocals and string arrangements worthy of a classic
Hollywood musical. Many of the original songs are phenomenal, like "April
In Paris" and the Bowie-esque "Space Ace," and the covers of Neil Sedaka,
the Beatles, and "Over The Rainbow" are pretty incredible too.
Extraordinarily groundbreaking stuff it ain't, but Brett Smiley's album is
a really fun pop obscurity with a hell of a story behind it. [RH]

CENTRO-MATIC "Love You Just the Same" (Misra) CD $12.99
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Over the course of eight years, the Lone Star State's Centro-matic have
left behind a long, dusty trail of fantastic albums, EPs and singles thanks
to Will Johnson, their prolific songwriter. "Love You Just the Same,"
Centro-matic's debut album for the Misra imprint, is the band's strongest
collection yet, and that says a lot considering Johnson's track record.
Opening with "The Mighty Midshipman," the jangle-melancholy of two fuzzy
guitars build off each other in much the same way as a Built to Spill song,
complete with a searing guitar solo. Johnson's yearning voice is even
reminiscent of Doug Martsch, but more soulful, tender and ragged.
Centro-matic do more than nod at their classic rock affection -- notably
Neil Young -- but with a natural, instinctive knack of melody that so many
of today's bands lack, particularly those currently sprinkling Americana
seeds over their indie rock roots -- imagine Grandaddy throwing away their
Casio keyboards and replacing their technology fetish with good-ol'
fashioned desert heartache and a shot or two of whiskey-drenched bar room
rock. From the spare, restrained folk of "All the Lightning Rods" to the
anthemic hold-your-lighter-in-the-air slide guitar break at the end of
"Supercar," Johnson's scruffy vocals often give way to sweet falsetto
choruses and ba-ba-ba harmonies. Centro-matic's production and
arrangements are superb; the recording always sounds warm and live
even when a wall of guitars, piano and vibraphone accents back up a layer
of multi-tracked la's. But the key here is Johnson's songs, 13 tracks and
each one memorable and heartfelt as the one before. [GH]

TSURUBAMI "Gekkyukekkaichi" (Strange Attractors) CD $13.99
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Tsurubami features members of Kawabata Makoto's band before Acid Mothers
Temple. (What, you mean Acid Mothers Temple did not always exist,
regardless of time and space?) Actually the sounds on this recording don't
really belong to time or space. I have seen AMT play and though it is a
fond memory, I think I would enjoy seeing Tsurubami a bit more, at least
after hearing this album. Where as the AMT definitely are masters of the
extended, all encompassing, freak out (I believe after playing for two
hours they continued to play... indefinitely at that one show). Tsurubami
though are improvised, somehow more streamlined, less frantic, more
accepting of the music's path. Rather than the apparent exorcism of sound
through themselves via their instruments that AMT present, this guitar bass
and drum trio are oddly fused together, combining into one great noise
instead of a small army of varied psychedelic mayhem. There is mayhem,
however and that trademark ebb and flow of Makoto's riffing is evident on
this one -- he produced and engineered "Gekkyukekkaichi." The tone of the
album, (two tracks at just over an hour long) is warm like lava. It drifts
on desert plains searching, under a red blazing sun for the sea, and when
it finally reaches that sought after shore the waves crash hard and
envelope the land completely, recreating the landscape in its wake. This is
some prehistoric mood music. [NL]

FELIX DA HOUSECAT "A Bugged Out Mix" (Emperor Norton) CD $15.99
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With "A Bugged Out Mix," Felix Da Housecat sheds his electroclash persona
and reverts back to his love of house and techno to create a superb mix of
'80s influenced dance music. It starts off with Metro Area's superb "Caught
Up," and features amazing tracks from Frankie Knuckles, Legowelt, Ladytron,
Charles Manier, Justus Kohncke, Anne Clark, Covenant, Andrea Doria (with
his amazing dance hit, "Bucci Bag"), Electronicat, Whirlpool Productions,
Carl Taylor, and even Felix himself. Most of the tracks feature vocals, so
Felix definitely gives this mix a pop appeal making it not just for the
dancefloor but a superb home listen as well. A very pleasant surprise from
this house legend, and a highly recommended mix CD. [JS]

THE RAVEONETTES "Chain Gang of Love" (Columbia) CD $12.99
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I don't understand why this album didn't come out a few months earlier; the
Raveonettes latest is the perfect beach album. For this outing, the 13
tracks in "Chain Gang of Love" are all penned in B flat major, unlike their
2002 debut's key of B flat minor. With production help from Richard
Gottehrer, who co-authored classics like "I Want Candy" and "My Boyfriend's
Back" and also produced Blondie, the Danish duo's affection for the
innocent '60s sounds of the Shangri-Las and Jan & Dean is offset by
chainsaw guitars that buzz underneath drenches of heavy reverb.
Guitarist/vocalist/producer Sune Rose Wagner and bassist/vocalist Sharin
Foo may be recycling many of the same tricks that Jesus and Mary Chain used
for their early classic LPs "Psychocandy" and "Darklands," but unlike the Reid
brothers' mopey existential melodies, the Raveonettes' breathy boy-girl
harmonies are immediate and sugarcoated, oozing with the sex and sass of an
R rated "Beach Blanket Bingo." Rock 'n' roll doesn't get any catchier. [GH]

THE BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB "Take Them On, On Your Own" (Virgin) CD $9.99
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The B.R.M.C. sonic palette is not one that is terribly cognizant of recent
advances in technology, nor of the alleged charms of the
newly-resuscitated, archaic gear of the past. Though whichever effort that
could have been directed into formulating a novelty in the sound has
instead been rerouted into the real pleasures of some serious
'hooksmithery' though, so it all works out despite the looming BIG
QUESTION. Which is what about the J.A.M.C. issue? I think myself they ought
to own up to it to a certain extent, tip of the cap-style, but it seems
like my job here, as someone who likes the album, to point out that that
band, while genuinely seminal, has not been any sort of extant entity for
some time now. And anyway certainly haven't channeled anything on the order
of the best songs on now both of B.R.M.C.'s albums in any of their
endeavors since. This seems to be somehow just the truth. A solid record is
this, and somehow it impresses more the shittier the stereo... got a
boombox? [DHo]

OKKERVIL RIVER "Down With the River of Dreams" (Jagjaguwar) CD $12.99
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When singer/songwriter Will Sheff's voice first intones on Okkervil River's
"Down the River of Golden Dreams" you realize he's come a long, long way
from 2002's "Don't Fall in Love With Everyone You See." The Austin, TX,
foursome's previous full-length was an engaging effort, peppered with
Neutral Milk Hotel-esque indie-folk surrealism and Americana touches like
mandolin and banjo. But on "Down the River of Golden Dreams" Okkervil River
has cleaned up, grown up, and embraced a lusher, sweeter sound, moving away
from a scrappy indie past into a perilous seafaring world where world where
Scott Walker's vocal swoon would not sound out of place on a Bright Eyes
recording. "Down With the River..." is bolstered by an assortment of keys
(Rhodes, Wurlitzer, piano), walls of acoustic guitars, and an arsenal of
horns and strings on top of solid drums and bass. And where Sheff's vocals
last time out carried the raw emotion of a Connor Oberst, "Down the River"
takes us closer to an impassioned Leonard Cohen. Perhaps most impressive is
that lyrically, Sheff hasn't missed a step -- these songs are his most
urgent and literate, driven by an emotive croon made for belting out
cinematic tales of loss and love. [GH]

23 SKIDOO "The Culling is Coming" (LTM) $15.99
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"The Culling is Coming" is a re-release of two live pieces originally
released together in 1983 with an extra 26 minute tape-loop performance
tacked on. (Recorded live in Belgium in 1982.) The contents of the CD does
a good job of connecting the 23 Skidoo sound to their influences and peers:
William Burroughs, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and early hip hop,
by way of tape loops and samples, and "world music" (not yet overused in
electronic music at that time), by way of their traditional and all-out
primal use of Gamelan instruments. The CD begins with what was originally
side two of the album, "A Winter Ritual" (tracks 1-5), which can be most
easily described as minimal Balinese Gamelan music. As inviting as that
sounds, the mood is decidedly subterranean. Foreboding drones, bass clangs
and shimmering gongs dance forward slowly, remaining ominous, and never
reaching the festive fever-pitch of traditional Gamelan music. Solemn
ritual music. Part 2, "A Summer Rite," is a more antagonistic performance
from the 1982 W.O.M.A.D. festival. The Gamelan instruments reappear, with
trumpet blasts similar to those found on Skidoo's dancier tracks, but the
tape loop/manipulations, with their screeching distorted sound, looped text
etc. are the meat of this performance. Things begin with distorted
eruptions that are later accompanied by heralding trumpet bleats, a vocal
loop enters and waves of distorted drone float in and out. (I have to point
out that this is not a collection of "songs" and requires a complete listen
for full comprehension since the ritualistic nature of the recording pans
out within the course of 5 track stretches.) As enjoyable as Throbbing
Gristle's first LP, "A Summer Rite" establishes 23 Skidoo as a group within
the tradition of artists ranging from T.G. and Cabaret Voltaire, to more
recent psych/and/or industrial artists like Muzlimgauze, Sun City Girls,
Black Dice and Animal Collective. Finally, the 26 minute, unreleased "Move
Back - Bite Harder" comes across as an industrial version of Sun City
Girls' experiments with voice-only tracks (Jack's Creek) 10 years ahead of
schedule. Recorded on a Les Disque des Crepuscule tour with Cabaret
Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, Antena and Pale Fountains, the track contains various
commands to "move back" that assault the listener among declarations that
"I want it, and I want it NOW!" Live spoken parts trade off with
filmspeech, building in rhythmic intensity. What must have sounded ugly
then surely sounds beautiful now. Essential listening for anyone interested
in any of the artists mentioned in this review. [SM]

HOT HOT HEAT / RED LIGHT STING "Split" (Ache) CD $12.99
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Originally released as a 12" in 2000, this split on Ache Records featuring
Hot Hot Heat and fellow Canadians the Red Light Sting has just been
remastered and pressed as a CD. In their earliest form, HHH is a
guitarless, buzzy synthesizer driven punk band; pop sensibilities are
buried beneath spazzy changes and vocal yelps from then-vocalist Matthew
Marnik who left the band after this release. Here, there's more in common
with Braniac (how about a young, teenage Braniac after drinking a case of
Mountain Dew) than the catchy hit making Cars/XTC hybrid that Hot Hot Heat
would soon become. It's quite good, but the bratty "Haircut Economics" or
disjointed "Tokyo Vogue" will be quite a shock to fans only familiar with
their recent and more subdued "Make Up the Breakdown" LP. (These five HHH
tracks are also found on their "Scenes One Through Thirteen" compilation.) The
Red Light Sting (who run the Ache label) is another synth driven punk band,
but of the hardcore variety with schizophrenic changes reminiscent of the Blood
Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves. The CD is enhanced with a home movie
quality video of live performances from both bands filmed in late-2000 in
Edmonton, Alberta, and a must see for fans. [GH]

RADIO 4 "Electrify" (Astralwerks) CD $6.99
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Long before the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers," Radio 4's "Dance to
the Underground" was packing the dance floors at Brooklyn loft parties and
inspiring mass disregard for NYC's stupid "Footloose"-style cabaret laws.
With its elastic funk bassline, scratchy guitar, disco beat, and catchy as
hell chorus, the song is Gang of Four's "To Hell With Poverty" and the
Clash's "Rock the Casbah" all rolled into one. Radio 4 have since left
indie label Gern Blandsten for the greener pastures of Astralwerks, and
their signature track has been re-recorded for this new EP. This seven song
CD includes the new version and its radio edit plus re-mixes of "Dance to
the Underground" by the DFA crew, Playgroup, and the Faint. Also included
are two re-worked tracks taken from their 2002 full-length "Gotham" -- a
Justin Robertson re-mix for "Start a Fire" and a spaced out Adrian
Sherwood/Mark Stewart mix for "Struggle." [GH]

This week's contributors: Gerald Hammill [GH], Rob Hatch-Miller [RH], Dan
Hougland [DHo], Nicole Lang [NL], Scott Mou [SM], and Jeremy Sponder [JS].


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