June 9 , 2004  




Kerrier District
PJ Harvey
August Engkilde
Sonic Youth


Chicago Soul (Various)
So Young but So Cold (Various)
The Warmers
A.C. Newman
Black Eyes

JUN Sun 13 Mon 14 Tues 15 Wed 16 Thurs 17 Fri 18 Sat 19

Franz Ferdinand



Ulrich Schnauss (Live)
& DJ Sets from the members of Franz Ferdinand

APT: 419 W. 13th Street NY, NY
Thursday, June 17
11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Upstairs Lounge - No Cover







$19.99 LP


Kerrier District

"Let's Dance and Freak"

And the dirty disko revival keeps chuggin' along. The leftfield IDM label Rephlex blindsided us with the reissue of the wonderfully sleazy Black Devil Disco Club EP last March and now this -- electronic chameleon Luke Vibert serves up a solid full-length of glitterball floor fillers! If you bought or heard Vibert's last album, then this record shouldn't be that shocking to hear. What is surprising is how cohesive it all is, sounding a lot stronger than what you would expect from a one-off side project. Fans of Metro Area, Chicken Lips and even Benjamin Diamond take note. This is probably one of the strongest house music full-length releases of the year, and if you can sit still while this one is playing at a party, you might as well go home … it's obvious you're havin' a bad time and you're bummin' everybody out. This one will go well with that !!! record you're buying this week. [DH]







$14.99 2-LP


Louden Up Now
(Touch & Go)

"Pardon My Freedom"
"Dear Can"

The weight of sentimentality rests heavily on my shoulders as I write this now, not as a hindrance but actually of massive deliverance because now I have a chance to publicly exude my tremendous excitement for the band and their absurdly-too-good new album. Thought I'd put that on the proverbial table, also, because I'm not going to continue rambling in that oh-so-subtle-tell-me-a-f'n- boring-story-in-the-typical-record-critic-mannerisms.

I'm a geeked-out fan for !!! (pronounced however the hell you want, just three consecutive one syllable words. I say it "chk chk chk", some say it "pow pow pow" and so on…) so I'm going to keep it that way. Perhaps it's the only perception that really matters, a purer, more emotionally driven assessment and acuity as opposed to a view rooted heavily in analytic garbage. Anyway. This band (or collective?) aren't one of those New/Now/No New York newbies… please. !!! have and always will create a context of their own, simultaneously deconstructing genres and scenes altogether. !!! have been together since about 1996 (I was and am a fan of vocalist Nic Offer's previous band Yah Mohs and current shared-members outfit Out Hud) and I've been pretty much stalking this band out after learning about them from friends on the Left Coast (some say Cali was at this punk-dance-wave insurgence first, sorry NY), !!!'s original home. Ever since then I've been eagerly awaiting albums and tours, the latter especially.

Their live shows have always invoked an indescribable energy and adrenaline rush for me (and evidently many others) as I can recall several shows literally amounting to giant dance-party-orgies. The live experience stands singular to the album experience, and both stand uniquely on their own, for the live setup always allows for improv, the unexpected, and energy transferences between the crowd; while the production demonstrates sound and instrumentation mastery, a general dichotomy for almost all artists but somehow a more noticeable angle to !!!'s steez, if you will. Above any of that, though, what always attracted me the most was the rebellious attitude towards the "uptight" indie scene that !!!'s crowd unfortunately comprised mostly of.

The almost ten minute long anthem-single "Me and Giuliani by the Schoolyard" released last year was a complete tease for me, because it marked an evident maturation from their self-titled debut (not to discredit it by any means!) and I wanted to hear more… but the excruciating wait has been completely worth it. Louden Up Now doesn't F around, and starts off explosively, continuing consistently. My song highlights include "Pardon My Freedom" and "Hello Is This Thing On," but really all songs are amazingly diverse, representing a vast palette of influences, instruments and sounds.

Interestingly enough Arthur Russell comes to mind, for the experimentations on the album are akin to Russell's keen ability to weave a musical story of house inspired tracks, disco, noisy dissonance, and raw emotion- and this album (dare I say!) stands parallel. Other words and artists that come to mind are sex, sweat, Konk, energy, tribal, reverb, loud, vulgar, Chic, soul, dance, politics, ACR, phunk… and so on. Louden up now, either in your headphones or on the dancefloor. [MT]

For a limited time, on-line and in-store purchases will receive a bonus re-mix CD, while supplies last.







Uh Huh Her

"The Letter"
"You Come Through"

Looking through some newsgroup postings about PJ Harvey dating from her first release in 1992 (the year after the year punk broke?), I was struck by the number of people who referenced her as a "phenomenon." Reports from first hearings and first viewings more often than not referenced Harvey as a band rather than a person. The first record's maximized use of a minimal and brutal sonic palate of drums, guitar and feminist catharsis shone a light on the dearth of female rock presence and more importantly on a prodigious and unabashed new talent that shook up the music industry - over and underground. She was only 23.

Twelve years and almost as many musical digressions later, insouciantly gaining and losing fans along the way, Harvey returns with Uh Huh Her, which, as its title indicates, strips the music of any superfluities and leaves only the voice and the songs. Harvey plays everything but the drums on every track and this intimate return to minimalism makes for some incredibly compelling bedroom music. See-sawing guitars and rumbling, blown-amplifier-bass lines mesh thrillingly with spare vibes, pianos, accordions, shuffling drums, and Harvey's half bone dry, half achingly full, plaintive vocals. A suit of songs both slight and bold emerge out of this delicate construction to create some of Harvey's most introspective and memorable work, combining the best of her previous investigations, while simultaneously returning to the vital and unadorned strength of her beginnings. [MC]






$14.99 LP


Presents EPO - Electronic Panorama Orchestra

"Talk to Odua"
"Little Mary & Old George"

August Engkilde Presents EPO is the first release on Popscape (a new subsidiary of Pole's ~scape label) and it is the perfect introduction to this new imprint. The Electronic Panorama Orchestra is an open collective of musicians with musical structures that stem from jazz, hip hop, funk, and Latin, mixed with modern, dubbed-out electronics. The music itself is quite subdued, but the real standout is singer Frida Engkilde, who at times could vocally be a dead ringer for Portishead's Beth Gibbons. EPO is a subtle but gorgeous album that has its roots both in traditional and current electronic. It is the perfect soundtrack for these warm summer nights under the stars and a beautiful listen, a must for fans of Donna Regina, Herbert, Lamb, and the aforementioned Portishead. [JS]






Sonic Nurse

"Paper Cup Exit"

As many readers of this update already contend, Sonic Youth have been perhaps the prime movers in American underground rock music for nearly the past quarter of a century. What's even more remarkable is that they've managed to re-inform their aesthetic yet again, this time with such poise as to make the hairs on the back your neck stand on end. They also make you question just which of this band's prodigious output, if not Sonic Nurse, is your favorite. I suppose only time will tell, but for now suffice it to say that the latest dose is some very impressive material.

The mood of Sonic Nurse is similar to that of 2002's brilliant Murray Street -- tense, gentle, jubilant, fierce and sassy -- but the writing and delivery is even more confident and controlled. In addition to the patience that only years of playing together with the same people can bring, we seem to hear relative new-comer Jim O'Rourke stretching out a bit within the SY paradigm, unafraid of lending new arrangement ideas and newfound harmonic and textural elements to the already rich sound of the band. The majority of the album finds SY perfecting the art that they started to teach themselves 23 years ago, utilizing the considerable tools that they've picked up along the way.

The three vocalists of the band turn in some of their most inspired performances in years, all aptly supported by Shelly's sympathetic and metronomic drumming. Moore's "Unmade Bed" and epic "Dripping Dreams" both gradually build until they open wide and swallow the listener, the latter with one of the most beautifully oceanic passages found in the SY catalog. Kim Gordon makes a fantastic showing with the whispery "I Love You Golden Blue," maybe her most moving moment since Evol's "Shadow of a Doubt." She also shows she can still growl with the best of them on "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream," a funny and tragic exposition of pop superstar Mariah Carey's breakdown a while back. Renaldo's "Paper Cup Exit" is fantastically nervous punk rock paranoia, with its critique of the so-called Patriot Act. As catchy as it is uneasy, this may be the jewel of the record.

One hopes that the song's assertion that "new ears are listening" is true. It'd be a shame if a new generation didn't get to feel that chill of discovery that we experienced the first time we heard a new SY album. I think they will. [KC]







Water Mirror


Keiichi Sugimoto had two great records out in 2003 with his groups Minamo (on Apestaartje) and Fonica (on Tomlab). The majority of his fantastic new solo album as Fourcolor was created using only the guitar as source material. He processes his instrument as if it were going through the phase changes of water, making it virtually unrecognizable as a string instrument. You can practically hear the sounds freezing, slowly melting, then evaporating, and finally condensing back into a liquid state. The compositions develop gradually and take on a gentle, barely perceptible pulse. Like a lot of the best electronic music, it's deceptively simple.

The final track is a twenty-three minute long soundtrack to Jun Miyazaki's award-winning short film Frontire, which screened in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The piece is more or less in the same vein as the music before it, but it also incorporates heavily-edited field recordings and found sounds to tremendous effect.

Water Mirror is subtle, gorgeous, and hypnotizing. Its warm and resonant tones will fill any room in which it's played. Those of you who are already familiar with Brooklyn's Apestaartje label know that their releases don't disappoint, and this is one of their finest yet. If you liked the latest albums from Fennesz or Mitchell Akiyama, you're going to love Fourcolor. Water Mirror is an absolute necessity for anyone who enjoys minimal electronic music. [RH]







$22.99 2-LP


Various Artists
(Soul Jazz)

"You Got It" Etta James
"Evil" Howlin' Wolf

Yes, they've done it again. Soul Jazz draws a great outline of soul, funk, blues, and jazz birthed out of the Windy City during the 1960s. Chicago Soul mainly focuses on the output of Chess Records, the city's equivalent to Motown or Stax. Started by two Polish immigrants, Leonard and Phil Chess, the brothers' first signing was the hard-edged electric blues of Muddy Waters. Each song selected here shows the varied artists at their creative best.

A stellar list of performers are featured here, all legends and trendsetters in their own right, including the electric blues of Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Buddy Guy, the orchestral soul of Rotary Connection, Soulful Strings, and vocalists Fontella Bass, Gene Chandler, Lorez Alexandria, Laura Lee, as well as the inventive arrangers/players Phil Upchurch (guitar), Ramsey Lewis (piano), and Dorothy Ashby (harp!).

This is a wonderful comp, no fillers in the bunch, and a great primer to the city that would go on to span the likes of Terry Callier, Curtis Mayfield, Kayne West, Common, Derrick Carter, R. Kelly, Tony Williams, the Art Ensemble and AACM. The list could go on. Buy this if you're a fan of either the Soul Jazz or Chess label, any of the featured artists, the roots of American soul and secular blues, or just simply looking for a good time (this is guaranteed to do the job). It's funky as hell with some of the hardest drums I've heard in a while. Raunchy, super soulful, and highly spirited. Soul Jazz continues to deliver the goods, making history ever-present and sounding great. This feels more like a celebration than another funk/soul compilation. Excellent and recommended. [DG]






Various / Underground French Music 1977 to 1983

"Mae" Artefact
"Disco Rough" Mathematiques Modernes

Considering the term new wave was first associated with the French film movement, it's ironic that France's contribution to early-'80s electronic music was hidden under the shadow of German and UK artists. Marc Collin and Ivan Smagghe, a/k/a Volga Select, are setting the record straight selecting the tracks for Tigersushi's new compilation. Perfectly titled, So Young But So Cold borrows its name from a track by electro-goths KaS Product, and explores a fertile yet mostly unheard six-year period of French underground music.

While the frozen sound of a drum machine and the robotic synthesizers are an obvious common theme, the collection features a diverse selection of styles. So Young But So Cold starts off with the icy, drum-less lullaby "Suis-Je Normale" by cult artist Nini Raviolette, and then transitions into the darker, Suicide sounding territory of "Euroman" from the Stranglers' French bassist J. J. Burnel. Produced by Thierry Muller (a/k/a Illitch) Roman Photo's "Ruth" is full of dark, new romantic detachment, (or what French journalist Yves Adrien coined as Novo), then followed by a Smagghe edit of Mathematiques Modernes' 1980 classic, "Disco Rough."

Other standouts include The (Hypothetical) Prophets "Wallenberg" which is downright eerie and apocalyptic, but contrasted by the catchy electro-pop of Moderne's "Switch on Bach," the cyber-dance-punk of Artefact's "Mae," the Metal Boys' "Carnival" as well as "The Force," a cheeky electronic disco homage to Star Wars from the Droids. There are also plenty of luminaries featured including Tim Blake, who recorded the spacey "Lighthouse" after leaving Gong and before joining Hawkwind, and "Welcome (To Deathrow)" by the revered Bernard Szajner. Sixteen tracks total, this is the New Wave of New Wave! [GH]







Wanted: more

"Romantic Conversation Dance"

The Warmers -- Alec MacKaye (formerly Faith and Ignition), Amy Farina (formerly Lois) and Juan Carrera (Slowdime records and hardest working man in touring live sound) -- embodied the best that D.C. post-hardcore music had to offer: an idiosyncratic sound from an economy of elements used to remarkably maximum effect. Neither over-intellectualized nor hyper-calculated, this was music that was just rough enough around the edges to remind the listener of the essentially human nature of artistic expression. No longer content with beating people over the head with a full-on sonic assault, these musicians gave the notes and the space between the notes equal value. Don't be fooled though -- this band rocked.

Wanted: more contains the final six recordings of the band prior to their break-up in 1997. Though referred to as "demos", these tracks are further evidence of Carrera's ability as a top-notch recording engineer, faithfully capturing the energy and urgency of a rock band's live performance on 8 track 1/2 inch tape at the top of its game. Musically, there are traces of the history of the American punk underground (Tom Verlaine, D Boon, and the D.C. scene that MacKaye and his brother Ian helped to create) but ultimately this is a rock band intent on forging its own path with the tools of the trade: guitar, bass, drums and vocals. What seems to set this group apart from others is its members' distinctive take on playing their instruments, particularly Farina's highly inventive, yet restrained, drumming.

Though only clocking in at 12:01, this CD is a prime example of two often neglected rules of music making: (1) quality is always more important than quantity and (2) as the title eludes -- always leave the audience wanting more. Well, this will have to do because apparently, there is no more to be had from this now defunct band… So why the inclusion on the back cover of the present-tensed "the warmers are", leaving the door wide open? Reunion maybe? My fingers are crossed. [KC]







$10.99 LP


The Slow Wonder

"Miracle Drug"
"On the Table"

The Slow Wonder is the first solo album by Carl Newman of the New Pornographers (or perhaps you know him from the Vancouver band Zumpano) -- here, performing as A.C. Newman. Immediately, New Pornographers fans will recognize the traits that they know and love: crisp vocals, pop melodies and rich harmonies…and those power chords (which all makes good sense, as Newman writes most of the New Pornographers' material and sings). Yet fans will also appreciate Newman's exploring of new territory: lyrics that offer more depth and a wider range of instruments -- he didn't leave out that tambourine though!

The Slow Wonder opens with one of the catchiest songs on the album, "Miracle Drug," which successfully pulls you into the album with its tap-able rhythm and sing-able melody. Other highlights on the album include the clashing cymbals on "Come Crash," the familiar falsetto voices on "The Town Halo," and the last track, "35 in the Shade" -- a band of rousing voices sing the chorus. (Sara Wheeler's voice could easily be mistaken for Neko Case's). The Slow Wonder is undoubtedly some of Newman's best work to date, offering pleasing indie power-pop songs you will be singing in your head all day. The perfect indie pop summer album, it will give your early June days just the right kick-start. [CP]







$10.99 LP



"False Positive"
"Holy of Holies"

These days, it's probably harder to find a rock group not jumping on some sort of post-punk bandwagon. So it's a shame when one comes along who actually seems to grasp the adventurism associated with New York's No Wave era without getting bogged down in regurgitation, and then breaks up on the eve of their second album's release. Black Eyes aren't even from NYC, but their instrumentation and musical arrangements might suggest so. This D.C. ensemble is often driven by dueling bassists and drummers, two vocalists trading intelligent lyrical jabs that quote scripture and even list Saul Williams as inspiration, and a skronking sax, but then toss in the distinctive Dischord sense of experimentation found in bands like Fugazi or Q & Not U. What results is an Ian MacKaye and Don Zientara produced album full of fractured punk and poly-rhythms, call and response shrieks with dark dubby interludes and free jazz inspired freak-outs. The discordant (no pun) "False Positive" opens in Mars-like cacophony before gelling to a more straight-line post-hardcore assault, and then it takes another abrasive turn. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, This Heat, DNA, James Chance, Rosa Yemen … it's easy to namedrop what I suspect are some probable early influences but the fact remains Black Eyes are, well, were ultimately forward thinking in their craft. [GH]




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[MC] Matt Connors
[KC] Kevin Coultas
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[DH] Duane Harriott
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[CP] Carrie Pierce
[JS] Jeremy Sponder
[MT] Mahssa Taghinia

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