OUR RATING SYSTEM:
Great. Buy it.
Fuck this shit. Don’t buy it.
Return of the Mac
Everybody loves this project. After a humiliating G-Unit flop, Mobb Deep’s Nigga Pee Thugly goes the indie route and teams up with Beverly Hills jewboy Alchemist for this blaxploitation-themed album. And it’s fucking great. They set it up with three incredible low-budget street videos, including the Geto Boys pastiche “Mac 10 Handle,” and then what you get is a record packed with death threats over impeccably looped Stax horns. What else is there to life?
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
Buck the World
You like Buck, I like Buck, the first album was a slept-on classic, and this one, well, not so much. He kind of pulled a Jeezy to tell you the truth.
Will B-More club music be played-out by the time you read this? Well in case it isn’t, cop this collection of lo-fi gems from this Baltimore space cadet who also murked it on Young Leek’s “Jiggle It” beat.
This is a selection of film scores from the work of Matthew Herbert, who has produced music for Bjork, Yoko Ono, and Serge Gainsbourg. His own website describes him as a “sampling wizard.” (It also calls his albums “weapons of mass seduction”—barf.) The album includes music from
Le Défi, Vida Y Color
, which are all movies I haven’t seen (nor had anyone else I talked to). You might vibe this album if, over a period of 50 minutes, you feel complicated, silly, like an electric dance ninja, relieved, and then complicated again.
DJ SCOTCH EGG
Most people who make chipcore—that is, electronic music made using hacked eight-bit machinery—do it because they’re scared of adulthood and want to revert to a more innocent time before terrorists wanted to blow you up or you had to speak to girls. DJ Scotch Egg, aka Shige Ishihara, makes chipcore because Gameboys are really good at generating spastic gabba music for him to scream things over the top. Also he covers songs by Bach, Stockhausen, and blind, homeless outsider composer Moondog. I know it sounds bad, but take a chance for once in your life, why don’t you.
Turn the Lights Out
I could be all grumpy music guy and tell you that people only cared about these guys for five minutes right after their first album came out and then go, “Wow! genius! Why don’t you make a mostly midtempo grower of a third record for your fancy new label, fucking original,” but you know what? This record is solid as a rock and kind of a total burner actually. But you’ll probably be all, “I want cheap sarcasm and dismissive wit and they were better before they kicked that one dude out anyway.” But actually, fuck you.
BORIS WITH MICHIO KURIHARA
OK, so we’ve all spent the last year crowning Boris the new kings of, I dunno, like
, and fair enough—
was sweeter than a chocolate-covered tween. But let’s not forget THE greatest Japanese ax-rock band of the last 15 years (no, not Guitar Wolf): GHOST, motherfuckers. On this collaboration, oft-overlooked Ghost guitar-genius Kurihara interrupts some of the most boring bullshit Boris has ever laid to tape with the same mind-meltingness that even managed to make a Damon & Naomi record listenable a few years back. Worth checking out if only to remind yourself that Kurihara is the boss and you just work here and you’re fired.
THE DEMON’S CLAWS
Satan’s Little Pet Pig
In The Red
Despite the horrific band name and album title, not to mention the absolutely incomprehensible album cover art, this was, to my surprise: 1) Not heavy metal (it’s uninspired bar-room punk), and 2) not that awful. Then again, it could all be a matter of expectations. Like, maybe I don’t hate this because I was expecting overgrown loser teenagers screaming about demons, claws, and Satan, and I’m actually confusing pleasure with relief.
There is just no excuse for this. I know that New Zealand is on the other side of the world, but I also know that they have the internet there. They have CDs. How such an amazing country with progressive politics and a fascinating cultural makeup could export such bland, angsty punk rock is a mystery to me. These little shits would not win a battle of the bands. Anywhere.
City of Echoes
It’s too late for these guys to change their incredibly lame name (seriously, guys, why not Penguin? Or Auk?), but they more than make up for it with this, volume three in their impeccable LEGACY OF RIGHTEOUS AWESOMENESS. It’s kinda like the Platonic ideal of stoner metal: Completely instrumental, louder than hell, and more solid than an Amish barn. Perfect music for that rainy afternoon when all you want to do is get on the business end of a bong and read a stack of comics that feature a lot of dudes with swords slaying orcs and suchlike.
Ha ha ha, I think it’s funny to hear Iggy Pop sing a song called “Trollin’.” And then he says, “My dick is turning into a tree,” which is also pretty funny. What can I say, I’m easily amused. There’s another song where the chorus goes, “My idea of fun is killing everyone.” Again, I’m chuckling. Maybe I’m retarded, who knows, but I’d pretty much rather listen to shitty new Stooges songs than shitty new songs by some shitty new band who didn’t already write the greatest album of all time (Fun House). PS: Iggy Pop is 60 YEARS OLD! And he’s still hot!
Part Two: The Endless Not
Back when Throbbing Gristle coined the term “industrial music” it didn’t mean stupid mid-American sociopaths squeezing into tight fetish gear. It meant that they literally wanted to sound like the inside of a factory. That’s pretty cool, and so is their first album in over a quarter of a decade. Now they use laptops instead of tape loops and they write sort of decayed ballroom torch songs which Genesis P-Orridge sings like he’s Edith Piaf being eaten by maggots. He looks more like Cameron Diaz’s grandma of course, but it’s still a pretty dignified return.
Interpol sure do take ages to get a record together, eh? If you are really bored of waiting and want to listen to some of that glacial, detached post-punk stuff with chiming guitar bits and a singer who sounds like he’s bored but also kind of mad at you, I suppose you could do worse than check this out. Did you know that Interpol’s original drummer used to play in Saetia? True story.
Ode to Ochrasy
What is going on in Sweden? It’s a country of 10 million people, with almost no natural resources, situated in the North Pole, and yet it has a GDP competing with Turkey’s and larger than that of Saudi Arabia’s. Not only are the people productive, but they are pretty, educated, and insist on encouraging a massive culture industry that produces beautiful bands like Mando Diao, not to mention Peter Bjorn and John, Bedroom Eyes, and the Knife. When Mando Diao kicked off their tour in Stockholm last month, the kids were so into it the floor literally gave way. Of course, because it is Sweden, no one was seriously hurt. This follow-up should make the Hives bristle with shame inside their ridiculous matching suits, if they are still alive. Stuff like this makes me rethink Aryan supremacy.
Länge leve Sverige!
Despite the snotty posing, JC seems like a nonpretentious guy who would be down with just hanging out and checking out whatever is on TV. Probably if Pulp didn’t exist and
never came out, he would just be your average wiseass English dude tooling around in his kitchen and singing these same songs out loud to his cat. That’s pretty much what I do, except I’m from Long Island so it sounds kind of retarded.
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
You know when you bump into an old party-friend at a bar and you’re like, “Hey, let me get you something, what are you drinking?” and instead of just saying Coke or a water they go, “Um, I’m in AA,” all indignant? And then after the awkward pause they launch into a speech about how much better their life is now? It’s like being haunted by the Ghost of Assholes Past for having had fun with them. PS: Why’s Johnny Marr on here again?
The Magic Position
Patrick, somehow you found time while growing up as a sexually ambiguous street kid in London and Paris to teach yourself to play the harp, harpsichord, guitar, piano, autoharp, organ, theremin, ukulele, viola, and violin. It sort of makes sense, then, that while getting rolled by a john in a subway bathroom you would dream up music that sounds like an electronic musical-theater arrangement from the sewer.
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. When you’re a Midwestern singer-songwriter and your name is Bird, and you’ve avoided the obvious choice of incorporating the sounds of birds chirping into EVERY SONG—eventually you have to break the fuck down and just make the record people want you to make. Hell, why not put a bird on the album cover? Eh, go ahead. The songs are OK enough, but they lose their taste like every piece of gum that ever promised to not lose its taste.
KINGS OF LEON
Because of the Times
True story: I was listening to this on my headphones and then I got so involved in a heated iChat that I forgot I was even listening to music. But I started to feel all fidgety and annoyed and I couldn’t figure out why. It was like a nagging little throbbing in the back of my head. Then I realized it was the music. The music was reaching out from all the way in the back of my subconscious to tell me that it sucked. It sounds like how I think Crash Test Dummies used to sound, but I can’t really remember. Oh, who cares. Blech.
BUFFINS SAINT MARIE
PAULA FRAZER AND TARNATION
Now It’s Time
Sometimes I’ll just take off all my clothes, put on this album, and cover myself in the freshest wildflowers I can find. Then I toss the really good sheets on my bedroom floor and just writhe around in them in front of the mirror. I call it “me” time.
Clapping along to songs FUCKING ROCKS. This album is as deep as a kiddie pool and, from all appearances, utterly proud of the fact. Modern bubblegum music along the lines of Supergrass (but not quite as smart) or the Bay City Rollers (but not quite as plaid) that’s totally inoffensive and built to be listened to while getting drunk with some underage kids. Nice feeling.
When Lilith Fair was around, this bartender I worked with, Matt, who was this rich asshole college kid, told me that certain female singers, like Sarah McLachlan, just “got” him. I think he even touched his chest when he said it. Later that summer, he tried to sell me on pyramid schemes. I feel like Matt would really enjoy this Swati lady, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt because her bio says she played trombone at Carnegie Hall, which is hilarious. There’s not a lot of consistency here, even within a given song. A lot of switching tempo, and not really enough structural integrity to be playing around the way she does. Nice strings at points, but also some annoying bongos. Good cover of “I’m on Fire,” but also a bunch of self-indulgent experimentation. Fuck it. I like her voice.
Wierd Compilation 2006
This is a compilation of dark-wave, cold-wave, minimal synth-wave, and oh who can keep track of all the sub-subgenres. It’s basically just really dark kill-yourself Joy Division type music. The 15 bands on here all performed at the legendary Wierd [sic] parties that went down (very down) in seedy bars in Brooklyn from 2003 to 2006. This comp is really beautiful and elaborate, with three records, a seven-inch, and a big booklet of photos of all the debaucherous shenanigans that are said to have occurred at these parties. Like a Joy Division wet-t-shirt contest and a deaf-mute Hasidic guy doling out blowjobs. Who said goths don’t know how to party!
More Songs About Balling and Food
Where the hell did these mysterious weirdos come from? They are doing song parodies à la the master, Weird Al, but the difference is that they’re doing a song about Jeffrey Lyons’s film reviews to the tune of Belle & Sebastian’s “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” (“Get me a rave from Jeffrey Lyons”) and a song about Mark McGwire to the tune of Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire.” “Love Will Tear Us Apart” becomes “I Love Will Ferrell So Hard,” and, oh yes, there is an ode to Garfield to the tune of a Nick Cave jam. What’s better is if you go to their even more mysterious website fetusfervor.info and click on “tunes,” you can either download this whole album for free or listen to the songs online while you watch a series of incredibly beautiful gif animations that make my heart sing.
Jam-band music for metalheads, which is both good and bad. Battles is a band that is to be appreciated for the obvious musical skill of its members rather than the actual music they play together, which only an obsessive Frank Zappa and Primus fan could love. Their fans probably describe them as “tight,” which is about as backhanded as a compliment can get.
PARTS & LABOR
The other day this guy I know was singing that asinine John Mayer song about waiting for the world to change or whatever. It got stuck in my head all night and I even caught myself whistling it later on while doing dishes. Skip ahead to ten minutes ago as I’m listening to this beep-bloop crap and trying to think of clever shit to say, when out of nowhere it pops into my brain to torture me again. My point is that if your record can’t trump some dude mumbling a fourth-rate soft-rock tune, you either need to rethink your approach or make yourself useful and help me with these goddamn dishes.
Room to Expand
Jesus, an album of fanciful prepared-piano pieces with gauzy strings and titles like “Watercolour Milk” might have been “out there” half a century ago, but in our post-Rammstein world this is basically a musical “punch me” sign. Just kidding, people in the 50s would have called this gay too.
Kraut Bastards in the Black Forest… or… It’s Uncle Frank!
A CD is handed to you by a ponytailed dude with stretched earlobes at an industrial-noise show in an art gallery. It’s got a goofy album title, a photoshopped scene from
on the CD cover, and the creepily gorilla-masked band members bathed in neon blacklight on the back. A typical song title is “Intergalactic Rape Scene.” What are the chances this CD will be anything other than terrible? Let me tell you, it is a slim chance, my friend. A sleeeeeem chance. Well, guess what, Magic Zorillo, you effing did it. You have officially handed out the first CD to a stranger in a public setting that a) is a rather pleasant listen (instrumental jam-outs, half Philip Glassy, half, I dunno, Butthole-Surfersy B-horror movie soundtrack), and b) even more unlikely, ends up actually getting reviewed in a real live publication! Let me reiterate that this is a one-in-a-bamillion occurrence and if people start trying to hand me shitty CDs all the time now I’m gonna get super-bummed.