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  February 1, 2007 




In late-February, Other Music will step into the Digital Age with the launch of our new download store! We'll be sending out more details via e-mail; you can sign up to this list by going to digital.othermusic.com. Interested labels, distributors and bands should contact labels@othermusic.com.

Sir Richard Bishop
Os Novos Bahianos
Alceu Valenca
Jay Reatard
Can't Stop It Vol. 2 (Various)
Arvo Part
The Trees Community
Charlemagne Palestine
The Finches
Lily Allen
Magik Markers
James Yorkston
Clara Rockmore
Xiu Xiu vs. Grouper
Bloc Party


Beirut (Lon Gisland EP on CD)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Early Years
Love of Diagrams

Karen Dalton (In My Own Time)

Menomena (first two albums)
Lavender Diamond EP
JAN/FEBSun 29Mon 25Tues 30Wed 31Thurs 1Fri 2Sat 3
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FEB/MARSun 25Mon 26Tues 27Wed 28Thurs 1Fri 2Sat 3
MARSun 4Mon 5Tues 6Wed 7Thurs 8Fri 9Sat 10



Former Fridge member Adem Ilhan will be making a special stop at Other Music to perform a cozy set of his modern UK folk.

Arbouretum will be swinging by Other Music to play a special in-store in support of their terrific new album, Rites of Uncovering.

The sweetly soulful El Perro Del Mar is one of our favorite pop exports from Sweden!

An intimate setting for Marissa Nadler's beautiful, mysterious folk songs. Surely not to be missed.

OTHER MUSIC: 15 E. 4th Street NYC
Free Admission/Limited Capacity

JAN/FEBSun 29Mon 25Tues 30Wed 31Thurs 1Fri 2Sat 3
 Sun 4Mon 5Tues 6Wed 7Thurs 8Fri 9Sat 10


The man needs no introduction! This week, the legendary JONATHAN RICHMAN will be performing four nights at NYC's Knitting Factory. We have a pair of tickets to give away to each night! All you have to do to enter is to send an e-mail to tickets@othermusic.com. Make sure to leave a daytime phone number where you can be reached as well as day of the show(s) you'd like to see. The four winners will be chosen at Noon today, so send that e-mail in right now!

FEBRUARY 1st - 4th

JAN/FEBSun 29Mon 25Tues 30Wed 31Thurs 1Fri 2Sat 3


Win tickets to see the first ever NYC performance by the forefather of West Coast hip-hop and electro, the EGYPTIAN LOVER! Also, joining him on the mic will none other than JAMIE JUPITER! Also performing that night are: IN FLAGRANTI, MAX PASK, DUANE HARRIOT, COOL GYPSY BOGDAN, JUSTIN CARTER + PROBUS. Enter right away by sending an e-mail to contest@othermusic.com. Make sure to include a daytime phone number. The two winners (one pair each) will be chosen at Noon on Friday.

STUDIO B: 259 Banker Street Greenpoint, Brooklyn
10 P.M. to 6 A.M. / 21+
$5 adv. tickets at Other Music / $8 at the door
RSVP to: hellonurse@reupmag.com for more info and guaranteed entry

FEBSun 4Mon 5Tues 6Wed 7Thurs 8Fri 9Sat 1-


Denton, TX rockers MIDLAKE return to NYC next Friday, February 9th, to play at the Bowery Ballroom. The show is sold out but we've got a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky winner. To enter, e-mail giveaway@othermusic.com, and please include a daytime phone number where you can be reached. The winner will be chosen on Monday, February 5th.

BOWERY BALLROOM: 6 Delancey Street NYC







Fingering the Devil

Fingering the Devil is a gem -- while not the first solo outing by Sun City Girl, Sir Richard Bishop, it might be the first to really capture what this protean guitar inventor really sounds like live. In the wake of the Fahey revival, the solo acoustic guitar album has once again become a familiar form to many, but I still think its safe to say that here, Sir Rick is in a class all his own. The songs on this record -- which you may recognize if you've seen him play recently -- exude a strange combination of contemplation and ecstasy, for even as deft classical runs careen into outbursts machine gun raga drone, Bishop somehow manages to make that ecstatic sense of catharsis feel at once liberating and firmly grounded. The influence of Indian raga is evident and should come as no surprise given the Sun City Girl's long standing relationship to the subcontinent. What is perhaps less well noted is the heavy respects Bishop pays to Gypsy-jazzman Django Reinhardt, with whom Bishop shares a sense of charmed ease and mystery. The tracks are perfectly arranged and flow together in a way that makes this record a joy to listen to side to side.

Printed in an edition of 700 and packaged in a sleeve designed by Stephen O'Malley of SunnO))), Fingering the Devil is also one of the coolest looking LPs ever -- the disc is clear vinyl with gray marbling, and looks more like the eye of some giant mythical creature than an LP. Part of Southern Record's Latitude series and highly recommended. [CC]







E Ferro Na Boneca
(Som Livre)

"Ferro na Boneca"
"Eu de Adjetivos"

Better known for their post-Tropicalia explorations of traditional Brazilian music, Os Novos Bahianos at times sound vaguely similar to Os Mutantes on their heretofore tough-to-find debut album. The fuzzy electric guitars on the record's opening and closing tracks are a hell of a lot closer to "A Minha Menina" than anything else in the Novos Bahianos discography. E Ferro Na Boneca was recorded in 1969 with the help of Os Leifs, who were accompanying Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil around the same time. Leifs guitarist Pepeu Gomes later married vocalist Baby do Brasil and became a full-time member of the band. In this early incarnation, Novos Bahianos seamlessly blended rock, pop, samba, jazz, soul, mambo and funk with samba and other indigenous styles. E Ferro Na Boneca is a terrific record from start to finish, an under-appreciated treasure and a welcome addition to any Brazilian music collection. [RH]






(Som Livre)

"Descida da Ladeira"
"Pontos Cardeais"

Last year we heaped praise on the Discos Mariposa reissue of Alceu Valenca's 1972 collaboration with Geraldo Azevedo and Os Mutantes producer Rogerio Duprat. Now we're happy to offer another one of his amazing recordings, the 1976 live album Vivo! In addition to being a singer, Valenca was a stage and screen actor -- and strangely enough a Harvard-educated lawyer -- and he was renowned for his acrobatic musical performances. One photograph in the booklet shows him leaping impossibly high into the air, his arms spread like wings and his shadow engulfing the back of the stage. His performances on this album are as astounding to listen to as they must have been to look at, especially on the infectious "Descida Da Ladeira" where he sings his own name with various rhythmic embellishments for what feels like half the song. Later, on "Emboladas" he really goes for it, screeching and belting some lines out like a Brazilian Robert Plant. Backed by Ze Ramalho and other musicians who'd played with Valenca on Lula Cortes' incredible Paebiru album, the band churns out some of the most searing rock music to ever come out of Brazil. I'm not usually a huge fan of live albums, but this one's just too great to pass up. [RH]






Blood Visions
(In the Red)

"My Shadow"

Jay Reatard started flooring it with the Reatards back in the mid-'90s, then electrocuted himself with the dark, synth-powered punk of the Lost Sounds. Right now he's bending the Buzzcocks into frigid forms with Angry Angles, and kicking off a solo career with 15 songs of delirious pop chaos. He's made so many records -- and produced many more, in and around the Memphian orbit of Goner Records -- in the past five years, that I've lost track. He's got all of the nervous, wavo delivery, and songs that upratchet and scuzz out the Futureheads and likeminded, modern competitors with Anglophilic, two-minute blasts of bright chords and sharp vocals grinding gears with garage-punk. Remember how glam rock warmed up the '50s? Don't you wish it could happen now? That there'd be a record you could fit comfortably between the Oblivians and Devo? Blood Visions it is, babe. Released quietly in the fall of 2006, it's finding a home right now, because it's a great record. Expect to hear more from this man. [DM]






Can't Stop It Vol. 2
(Chapter Music)

"The Crush" by Asphixiation
"Do the Job" by Use No Hooks

The first Can't Stop It compilation was universally loved here in the shop. It was chock full of quality, arty-farty, Gang of Four/Wire-influenced Australian post-punk-funk, with a bit of "something else" that set it apart nicely from its influences. I actually think this volume might just be a tad BETTER. The second installment has more of a rich, varied and underground post-punk gem vibe, peppered with tasteful bits of synth. It's influenced by British DIY, but it also breaks from the influence with a liberated, self-assured exploratory spirit. I can't even get into my typical blow-by-blow description; there's just too much going on. Of course you get songs that resemble DIY Birthday Party-pop with post-punk vocals, but these are still quality moments. You'll want to check out Wild Dog Rodeo, or how about a 19-year-old Lisa Gerrard (later of Dead Can Dance fame) fronting a very capable art-shamble DIY band called Microfilm?! (It's actually good!!) Then there's an early Severed Heads track featuring female vocals and a drum machine, which sounds like a minimal-synth Essential Logic! Have you heard of The Goat That Went "OM" or Use No Hooks…some great boppy DIY pop. There are lots of lo-fi Desperate Bicycles cum 53rd and 3rd pop sensibility meets Ludus/Family Fodder art girl stuff (BRRR Cold, Use No Hooks, Belle Du Soir). The Swell Guys sound like a cross between Faust and the Nightingales! This compilation just keeps on giving. It especially shines when it confounds expectations by slowly falling off the edge into the blissfully fun quirky/weird zone. BTW: The booklet is super informative with each of the 20 tracks getting a small chapter! Who knew Sydney and Melbourne had such fertile scenes? Excellent all the way through and completely recommended!!! [SM]






Da Pacem
(Harmonia Mundi)

"Da Pacem Domine"
"Psalm 131"

In the liner notes for this album, Paul Hillier, on whose label Da Pacem appears, poses some interesting questions. What, for instance, is the secular and "worldy" listener to do when confronted with the intense religiosity of this music? What happens to religious music when its context becomes the concert hall rather than the cathedral? How does the nonbeliever reconcile the unavoidable spiritual power of these perfectly set liturgical texts with his/her secular world view?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your persuasion, one needn't have the answers to these questions in order to appreciate the sublime beauty of these compositions, but it is something to think about -- though "appreciate" might be too light a word for music so overwhelming.

Da Pacem is the third in a series of recordings of sacred choral music by Estonian composer Arvo Part to appear on Hillier's Harmonia Mundi label, and here the imminent Part interpreter leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, with organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, through nine compositions that span the last thirty years. After an early career that explored most of the major trends of the European avant-garde, Part withdrew from composing in the late '60s to study plainsong and early music, and to rethink his relationship to composition (and everything else too, it would seem). When he reemerged, nearly a decade had passed and his compositions took a new direction heavily influenced by those traditions, but that also bore some relation to the minimalism of the day. As always, Part's material here is deceptively simple, with the choir usually arranged in two massed parallel voices that move in small intervals against or echoing one another, often doubled by pipe organ. This is a powerful record, and one that, like all great religious music, collapses the boundaries between the spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic experience of music. [CC]







The Christ Tree

"The Trees Chant"

Most people don't equate psychedelic music coming out of a Christian devotee group, not to mention a cantata of material influenced by anything but traditional Christian music. The Trees Community, which formed in 1970 with a shared commitment to Jesus Christ (and occupied a collective worship space called The Loft on 12th Street and 4th Avenue in Manhattan), used their passion to make some of the most incredible group music I have ever heard. Led by William Lebzelter (a/k/a Shipen), the band usually consisted of seven or more members playing a variety of instruments from all over the world to create their unique sound. The Trees Community cite their main influences as Balinese chant, American folk music, Indian raga, African rhythm, Tibetan ritual gong, Scottish bagpipe, and Mexican bell wheel sanctus -- all in coordination with deep Biblical lyrics and serious Christian praise. They definitely transcended all of these elements and created a sound that was truly all their own. This four-CD collection includes The Christ Tree (a 1975 release plus a live set from 1974), A Portrait of Jesus Christ in Music (from a cassette tape never released before), and two discs of live material from 1973 recorded at the Abbey of Gethsemani. [AC]






A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck
(Cold Blue)

"A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck"

Charlemagne Palestine's improbably titled record, A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck, begins with an endearing recording of Palestine addressing the audience at Maybeck Studios in Berkeley, California. Part audience repartee and part performance art, Palestine reminisces about the rituals that have seeped into his art as a result of his relationship to the "Eureka" state, all the while toning the rim of a large brandy snifter that, he assures the crowd, everyone will be invited to drink from at the end of the show. What follows is almost forty minutes of endlessly modulating, pulsating, piano drone.

Played simultaneously on two Yamaha pianos (maybe it's hard to find Bosendorfers in California), A Sweet Quasimoto… begins with a deceptively simple two finger pulse that quickly builds into a rich, hypnotic stream of superimposed chords, ghost notes, and beating tones -- the two pianos, with sustain pedals depressed, resonating sympathetically to one another. As always, Palestine builds and moves through complex frameworks of consonances and dissonances to admirable effect, creating a sensual, shape-shifting web of tension and relief that one doesn't so much listen to as give in to and immerse one's self in. Now, where's that brandy? [CC]







Human Like a House

"Human Like a House"
"June Carter Cash"

A natural progression from their 2005 self-released EP Six Songs, the Finches' first full-length, Human Like a House, presents the listener with something simple, a throwback to a rustic, pre-industrial age. Frankly, this album could easily be dubbed Frontier Songs or Nature's Music -- it's earthy, it's sincere, and it's homemade. Skilled storytellers, the tracks from the San Franciscan duo, Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs (primary vocals, guitar) and Aaron Morgan (vocals, guitar, bass), are sweetly rendered narratives, each gracefully bare with a central focus on Riggs' breezy, unprocessed vocals -- expect cutesy comparisons to Vashti Bunyan and Mirah. With a lower-toned Morgan occasionally chiming in to juxtapose Riggs' higher pitch, the album has a peak with the essential "The House Under the Hill" -- listen for the appearance of the Riggs family vocals -- although the album never really lags. As for the Finches, their cohesive package works as they carry on their effortless folk sound, charmingly aware that they are almost in pop territory. [PG]






Alright Still...

"Knock 'Em Out"
"Nan You're a Window Shopper"

I have an irrational obsession with Lovers Rock. For the uninitiated, lovers rock is a style of reggae which grew out of the '70's British scene with a soulful sound centered around apolitical (i.e. non-Rasta) lyrics about affairs of the heart and its breaking thereof, usually sung by pubescent females with voices falling between Minnie Riperton and Mouse. Less-than-professional chops, more than compensated by over-the-top emotions. You either love it or you don't.

Listening to Lily Allen's debut album, it's a rather safe bet that she's a fan as well; one of the mixtapes posted on her website even features perhaps the most well-known (and possibly THE quintessential) lovers rock tune -- Janet Kay's "Silly Games." When Alright, Still was first released in the UK and Japan last summer, it not only blew up thanks to disturbingly catchy tunes like "Smile" and "LDN," but also because of the oft-repeated "summer album of the year" tag thrown about in reviews and recommendations. Looking at the album now in some sort of context, it most easily files in next to lovers rock classics like Kay's Capricorn Woman or Louisa Marks's Breakout; the now-ubiquitous "Smile" slides up and sits nicely next to done-me-wrong-songs like Marks's "Caught You in a Lie" and "6 Six Street," while the Trinidadian carnival bounce of "LDN" offsets the lyrics about how much of a sh*thole her 'hood really is underneath the auspices of the pleasant summer sun. There are little sonic touches everywhere that add to the overall quality of the arrangements -- from the gameshow synths during the refrain of "Everything's Just Wonderful" to the barrelhouse piano rolls on "Knock 'Em Out" to the woodwind oompah bounce of "Alfie," there isn't a track on the record that relies simply on any sort of 'set-it-up and watch it go' technique.

Allen pulled off an impressive feat in not only recording what's possibly the most upbeat breakup album put to tape in years, but also in updating and slightly modernizing the lovers rock sound for a new generation of teenage pop fans and non-reggae heads to enjoy wholeheartedly -- the bass booms with more beef, the beats kick a bit harder, and most importantly, the lyrics more often than not bite back with more venom (however playful) than Janet or Louisa ever managed to spit. As a buyer's bonus (or bane, you decide), the US pressing includes two bonus tracks, neither of which appeared on either the UK or Japanese pressings -- the fantastic "Nan You're a Window Shopper," which rewrites one of 50 Cent's weakest tunes into a catty but witty tirade on the pitfalls of spending the weekend with your Granny, and Mark Ronson's remix of "Smile," which substitutes the ska bounce of the original with a chill '60s Watt/Stax soul arrangement. All in all, a quality record for both those who hate to love and those who love to hate. [IQ]







Myths of the Near Future
(Rinse/Polydor )

"Atlantis to Interzone"
"Golden Skans"

With all of this talk amongst the tastemaker elite about the "New Rave" taking Britain by storm, I must admit that I was intrigued as to what it could be. Bands like Justice, Rapture, Simian, and now the Klaxons, are supposed to be representative of this sound, but honestly I don't really hear too much of a common thread musically. So don't be embarrassed if you're a bit confused by this whole thing…you're not alone. But once you start thinking of this "movement" in terms of a shared attitude, it makes a lot more sense. These bands all share a flair for the melodrama and unbridled hedonistic optimism that shines through in their music. All of their fans are very young, rock-n-roll and are anything but apathetic. Throw in the day-glo clothing and the ecstasy-induced dancing at the shows and parties...okay, now that's a rave.

But I slightly digress…Myths of the Near Future is a solid listen all the way through, yet again, I gotta say I don't hear much "rave" sound so to speak. Any "rave" attitude is filtered through a Radiohead-like embrace of huge guitar-electronic melodrama I guess, so it sounds more like Broken Social Scene and Yeah Yeah Yeahs than Renegade Soundwave. Production wise, the record has that claustrophobic, echo-y Flaming Lips, Secret Machines, TV on the Radio vibe to it as well. Their best songs are catchy as hell, however, and their debut single "Golden Skams" is approaching Gnarlesque status on the UK download charts, and with good reason. It's probably the best single to come out of UK in a while. The album is still a bit patchy, but the good songs are great songs, and Klaxons are definitely one of the better new British "rock" bands that I've heard lately. The group has the potential to break big, but they certainly don't need a fly-by-night NME tag to distract them from that goal. Consider this recommended. [DH]







Voldoror Dance

"Pinkie Brown Goes to the Shore"
"Binary for Carey Loren"

Another fractal spun out of the Magik Markers' poison huff, only this one is a thick, heavy basher of a studio album, the type that for a while it wasn't certain they would produce. Girthy, hi-fi, barely legal coitus. Lotsa headroom. Hot, confident teenage zit spunk. Like if chunks of the Strokes came shooting out of a volcano. I can't tapdance much harder. This is the still point in the turning world of rock music. And there's some effort at structure for the first time in forever. The Voldoror Dance is a great answer record to a lot of stupid questions like "isn't 6:30 A.M. too late to stay up on a work night?" or "why does my roommate eat hot dogs every day?" or "do you have the R-rated version of Saving Silverman?" Should be given away for free with every Extra Value Meal, but alas, there's only 1000 numbered copies. Dust in the wind. [DM]







"Screaming Luotuvus"
"Amputation Crusade"

The latest installment in Southern's Latitudes series is a massive 3-track 45-minute CD by Finland's Circle. Recorded in a day and largely improvised, Tyrant sees Circle utilize the same effective and repetitive formula: Stick to the groove you know. The sounds on Tyrant are Circle at their most Krautrock and least metal. There are no high-pitched rebel yells and thunder riffs, instead it's three quarters of an hour of cyclical narcosis...and black metal vocals? It's a strange combination but it works. While this in reality might be an improv session, it certainly doesn't come across as one, as it definitely sounds like a fully realized album. Last track, "Amputation Crusade" is the band at their best; a sparse lock groove jam that eventually explodes into a psychedelic towering inferno. While Sweden keeps churning out the pop hits, there's something far more sinister lurking in the woods of the land of a thousand lakes (it's 187,888 according to Google). Limited to 1000 copies, you'd best do yourself a favor and pick this up...now! [AK]






The Year of the Leopard

"Steady As She Goes"
"I Awoke"

Following a debut alt-country record and a folkier sophomore effort, James Yorkston reinvents himself again with this third album. The Year of the Leopard is a slow-burner; it's initially almost too dainty, yet, with each listen, it leisurely wins the listener over. The mood of the record is a departure from past endeavors; Yorkston plays the part of the poet plagued with deep melancholy, quietly strumming his guitar, articulating his late night romantic confessionals in a vein similar to Nick Drake. And while Yorkston is obviously minimalistic, the addition of the occasional, gentle woodwind produces a fitting backdrop to his mild voice. The music itself is subtle and intimate with likeably self-deprecating lyrics -- in "Woozy with Cider," he ironically admits that "my album peaked at 172" is no pick-up line. In fact, Yorkston's strong point is his wry, witty lyrics, although it takes a little attention to note them.

Produced by Paul "Rustin Man" Webb, the former Talk Talk member responsible for Beth Gibbon's Out of Season, the direction of The Year of the Leopard is intended to lean toward the burgeoning "nu-folk" genre with proclaimed single "Steady as She Goes." In total, it's a soft, unobtrusive, and consistent record with the just the right amount of lyrical poignancy. [PG]







We Know About the Need

"Of Athroll Slains"
"Safe, Safe Safe"

The solo project from Hood's Chris Adams finds him working under a new moniker. Much like Thom Yorke's solo record, Adams wanders in a minimal landscape of pulsing and unashamedly digital-treated rock. But Bracken's take on this new style of soft rock is more rumbling and sonically darker; there are no clicks & cuts here. We Know About the Need is a hazy journey that references yet avoids imitating a wealth of contemporary electronic/acoustic bands -- from Books and Boards of Canada to the lo-fi soul of Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, White Flight and, of course, Hood. Washes of male vocals float atop deconstructed (but still head-nodding) beats, not to mention the tons of slight digital tricks which shake up the drone of the slow moving rhythms. It makes sense that Anticon would be drawn to this project, as his aesthetic is also similar to artists like Clouddead and Subtle, but thankfully, Adams refrains from any spitfire verses. Though Adams' solo outing isn't too dissimilar from his main band, it's still a breath of fresh air. [DG]






The Lost Theremin Album


Another week, another theremin album. A few weeks ago, we swooned for Lydia Kavina, this week it's the return of the queen herself, Clara Rockmore. Teary-eyed, inventor Leon Theremin proclaimed that Rockmore played like an angel. That or a robotic bumblebee. Joined by her sister on piano, the two render Chopin, Villa-Lobos, and Dvorak with otherworldly interpretations. At times they are also joined by cello ensemble. [AB]






(Slender Means Society)

"Waiting for the Flies"
"In the City"

Grouper definitely wins this battle of the solo artists here with her foreboding drone sound-scapes enveloping Xiu Xiu and friend's timid vocals. Conceived from the mutual trauma both artists experienced as children watching Stephen King's movie Creepshow, the five songs succeed in placing innocence in line with uncertainty, menace, even horror -- all with only minimal piano, guitars, and chimes to balance out Grouper's more harrowing affects. Don't be fooled by the 23-minute-and-48 second sixth track, it is only a shadow of the other five. All it plays is the silence left behind. [AC]






A Weekend in the City

The first 25 people to pre-order Bloc Party's new full-length, A Weekend in the City, on-line will receive a limited 7" featuring the single, "The Prayer," and "England," a non-album b-side. We'll also be giving away the single to the first 25 people who purchase the album in the shop on its day of release, next Tuesday, February 6th.






Lon Gisland EP
(Ba Da Bing)

First released on vinyl late last year by Chouette, the Ba Da Bing imprint now issues the CD version of Beirut's Lon Gisland EP. It's a great addendum to a great record, featuring the song "Elephant Gun," probably some of Beirut's finest recorded moments. Everything we love about the band shows up here in spades, from Zach Condon's yearning melodies to the stereo-panned ukuleles and Gypsy brass and percussion. Recorded at Brooklyn's Seaside Lounge and mastered at Abbey Road, it's fuller-sounding than the album, but the sessions still captured the band's raw energy. There's a new version of fan favorite "Scenic World" which replaces the original's tinkling electronic rhythms with some hand drums and a few more layers of strings. We also get "Carousels," another instant classic which you'll probably recognize if you've caught any of the band's live shows, as well as a couple fun bits of filler. [GH]






Some Loud Thunder
(Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)

"Underwater (You and Me)"

Finally, here's the Dave Fridmann-produced follow-up to the mega successful Clap Your Hands debut. It's all here: the trademark vocal yelp, the huge melodies and...it doesn't matter, you're going to buy this anyway.






The Early Years

"All Ones and Zeros"

Up and coming British band Early Years' hypnotic drone rock explore the same sonic territories as early Verve records and Secret Machines, with swirling soundscapes and repetitive grooves. It's a mix of light psychedelia and Krautpop, and it's guaranteed to not let you down if you're into such things.






There's No 666 in Outer Space

"World Series"

Some serious reinvention going on here as Hella are now a proper rock band (three new members) and the chaos on There's No 666 in Outer Space is a lot more controlled and, dare I say, accessible. However, there's still enough spazzed-out madness and proggy freakouts to satisfy all you weirdos. Change is good. More like Miles Davis going electric than MC Hammer joining Death Row.







"Pace or the Patience"

If this EP is any indication, the full-length by this Australian trio is going to kill. We've had it up to here with post punk-revivalism but this is something else. Love of Diagrams' sound is urgent and catchy, yet there's still room for experimentation, and there's nothing on here that sounds rehashed. And instead of going the post-punk 101 route and covering Joy Division or Wire, they go straight for the extra credit with an awesome cover of Pylon's "Cool."






In My Own Time
(Light in the Attic)

"Katie Cruel"
"In My Own Dream"

I'm sitting here trying to figure out what I have to say about Karen Dalton that Lenny Kaye, Nick Cave, and Devendra Banhart don't say better in the liner notes to In My Own Time. The consensus amongst these three gentlemen, all known for their highly refined sense of taste, is that Karen Dalton is pretty much one of the greatest singers. As in, EVER. But of course, if you already own the only other record she ever recorded, her debut It's So Hard to Know Who's Going to Love You the Best, you're surely already well aware of that fact. I remember when I first fell in love with It's So Hard…, and just feeling nearly heartbroken that there was such little music to grab onto by Dalton. I asked around about what else was out there and was told that she had recorded a second record a couple of years after her first, but that apart from the song "Katie Cruel," not much else on it approached the brilliance of her debut. I tracked a copy down on LP, and after a cursory listen decided the folks I was talking to were probably right. "Katie Cruel" is indeed a devastating song that maintains all of the pathos present on her debut. But I think the official line about In My Own Time not being as solid as her debut has been changing. Nick Cave says it's actually better than It's So Hard…, and over the last couple of years I've found myself returning to it again and again, as it just seems to get richer with each listen. For one, it's the only studio album she ever cut, recorded at Bearsville studios in Woodstock where the Band spent a lot of their time. The vibe they patented shows up here in spades, with Dalton even doing a brilliant version of Band member Richard Manuel's song "In a Station." I could probably go on and on, but I think you really just want to know whether or not it's worth it, if you need it in your life. I think you do. [MK]







I am the Fun Monster

"Cough Coughing"
"The Late Great Libido"

What first drew me to Portland, Oregon's Menomena was their unique composition technique. The band essentially uses a computer program named Deeler -- built by vocalist/pianist/multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf -- to arrange and write their songs. After bits of music are recorded and mixed up on the computer, the group then recreates each part acoustically. This electronic element is very apparent in Menomena's sound, yet it's never too challenging, more electronic indie-glitch pop, if you will.

An anagram for "The First Menomena Album," I am the Fun Blame Monster opens with "Cough Coughing" as Knopf's "Chopsticks"-ish piano weaves around Danny Seim's choppy drumming, and then with the addition of organ and multi-vocals, expands into something reminiscent of a Thom Yorke creation. The second track, "The Late Great Libido," demonstrates Menomena's ability to create an incredible sound of atmospheric depth with a vast array of instruments. Knopf interlaces the multiple stages of the song with gentle piano arpeggios that are interrupted by an almost chthonic-sounding saxophone and guitar.

Encroached by deep saxophone and piano sounds, the album is moody, dark and melancholic, yet hip-hop influenced drums also lend a groovy feel. Just when you think Menomena are about to build their volume and sound, they will pause or jump to a startling low tone, and then finally explode into multi-instrument chaos crystallized by the crescendo of piano. The melodies are light and Knopf's vocal range is impressive. Sure, the lyrics on I Am the Fun Blame Monster can be a bit on the stranger side, but Menomena is guaranteed to be a wonderful, if not inspiring, listen. Plus, the CD case/flip-book can't be beat! [CP]







Under an Hour
(Film Guerrero)


This may be Menomena's second full-length, but Under an Hour is by no means a follow-up to their much-hyped I Am the Fun Blame Monster. For this one, the Portland, Oregon trio continues to confound listeners, completely abandoning any of their clever pop sensibilities, and instead bring us a couple of instrumental pieces that total a little over 54-minutes. (You can ignore that parental advisory sticker on the cover; there aren't any offending lyrics.) Written to accompany a performance by Portland dance troupe Monster Squad, Menomena's musicianship really shines through on these three sprawling tracks, titled "Water," "Flour" and "Light." Like their previous record, the piano is a key instrument, but here the tinkling ivory passages are often classically based, with layers of droning electronics and organic sounds from saxophone, slide-guitar and drums, creating a similar kind of push-pull tension that can be felt on a Godspeed You! Black Emperor record. [GH]







Cavalry of Light EP

"You Broke My Heart"

We were singing the praise of this EP about a year ago when we got a hold of some copies of the self-released version. Since then, Matador Records has taken the band under their wing and re-released the record, with surely enough to go around for everyone this time! Here's what we wrote when we first featured the Lavender Diamond EP in our update:

The brilliant debut EP by Los Angeles-based folk-pop ensemble Lavender Diamond has finally reached New York. They've been steadily garnering attention on the West Coast for a little while now, having reportedly stolen the show at last year's Arthur Fest. The opening song on this EP is so good, I'm not surprised; Cavalry of Light is easily the most infectious concoction these ears have heard in a good long while. The premise is simple: just have the lovely voice of singer Rebecca Starck repeat the mantra "you broke my heart" for a full two-thirds of the song over a steadily rising battery of bells, piano, and acoustic guitars, which then breaks into a glorious crescendo followed by emotionally engaging text about things like light and love. It's about 10 times better than I could hope to possibly make it sound here and it has practically restored my faith in the power of the single. The remaining three tunes are quite lovely and will make you feel very glad to be living in a Vashti Bunyan-influenced era. [MK]

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[AB] Adrian Burkholder
[CC] Che Chen
[AC] Amanda Colbenson
[PG] Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh
[DG] Daniel Givens
[GH] Gerald Hammill
[DH] Duane Harriott
[RH] Rob Hatch-Miller
[IQ] Mikey IQ Jones
[MK] Michael Klausman
[AK] Andreas Knutsen
[DM] Doug Mosurock
[SM] Scott Mou
[CP] Carrie Pierce

- all of us at Other Music
  Copyright 2007 Other Music
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