Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat [2005]

Critics will tell you that Jenny Lewis has a voice that is too sweet for an alt-country chanteuse.  They’re not wrong – Lewis does have a sweet voice, but don’t get that confused with weak.  I like the pack-a-day drawl of some of country’s underground matriarchs, but the intimate atmosphere of this record is engendered in no small part by keeping the drama in the lyrics, not in her voice.  For all of the darkness in the libretto – autobiographical tales of broken families, grappling with apostasy – it is never grim.  That’s a  tough trick to pull off.

 01 - Run Devil Run
02 - The Big Guns
03 - Rise Up With Fists
04 - Happy
05 - The Charging Sky
06 - Melt Your Heart
07 - You Are What You Love
08 - Rabbit Fur Coat
09 - Handle With Care
10 - Born Secular
11 - It Wasn't Me
12 - Happy (Reprise)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Error [2004]

Error is a studio project helmed by Atticus Ross of 12 Rounds and NIN, his brother Leo, and Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion and founder of Epitaph records.  What’s more, they managed to entice Greg Puciato from Dillinger Escape Plan to undertake vocal duties.  What I love about this EP is that each artist adds what I like best about him to each track.  Each song contains a memorable hook thanks to Mr. Brett’s songwriting, which is then sliced and diced into a digital cacophony of cutup guitar riffs and urgent jungle-influenced beats by the Ross brothers.  The vocals are wisely left unprocessed, giving a sense of cohesiveness and melodic contour to songs that might have been too hard to decipher for the punks who don’t typically listen to digital hardcore flavored aggro.  Not to mention, it’s Greg Puciato!  Why would you fuck with his voice?
It’s a damn shame that Error left us with only this five track EP and little hope for future releases.  Still, considering NIN’s imminent hiatus, there is a slim possibility that there may be some life left in this project yet.  Yeah, right after the third 12 Rounds album drops.

[YouTube] Burn in Hell and Jack the Ripper
01 - Nothing's Working
02 – Homicide (999 cover)
03 - Burn In Hell
04 - Jack The Ripper
05 - Brains Out

Trollfest – Villanden [2009]

As you can see from the album cover above, Trollfest is not a band that takes itself too seriously.  The lyrics, which are a combination of two languages I don’t know and one that’s made up, are purportedly about drinking, trolls, and drinking too much.  I like all three of those things, so I can’t help but dig this album.  Unlike Finntroll, to whom Trollfest is often compared, there are no synthesized sounds (at least that I can discern) on this album.  Instead, the horns, accordion, and acoustic strings are all the real deal.  For some reason, this goes down easier than Finntroll’s arguably more catchy tunes.  The only drawback in my mind is the unrelenting death metal vocals which can dampen much of the melodic content of the songs, as they are always foremost in the mix and rarely silent.
01 - Wo Bin Ich Jetz Aufgewacht
02 - Der Jegermeister
03 - Uraltes Elemente
04 - Villanden
05 - Per, Pål Og Brakebeins Abenteuer
06 - Das Uhr Ist Skandaløst Schändlich
07 - God Fart
08 - Festival
09 - En Ny Erfaring
10 - Trinkenvisen
11 - Die Kirche Undt Der Mache

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Mutations EP [2009]

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s first self-titled LP on Ad Noiseam sounds like what you would expect from a jazz band on a dark electro label – plaintive horns atop subterranean drones and subdued violins, underpinned with percussion that weaves between quiet brush strokes and clicky IDM.  It’s good stuff, but I wasn’t terribly excited by the band until I heard this year’s Mutations EP.  
Mutations sheds much of the jazz trappings from the first album favor of languorous tones, acoustic and electric, draped over minimal electronic percussion.  I can’t disagree with anyone who would call this a collection of ambient music – on paper it certainly sounds like it - but ambient to me has always equated to “low impact” and this is anything but.  Lush sweeps of sound slide slowly atop each other like cirrus clouds, evoking candlelight and shadow and humid summer nights.  Each song is impelled by the largely unobtrusive percussion that nevertheless manages to help build the tracks to a climax that is subtle and so long in coming that when the harmonic or melodic tension is resolved, it comes as a surprise to the listener just how invested he or she had become in the buildup.
TKDE have a new album, Here be Dragons, coming out in October, for which this EP is intended to be a bridge.  Download this, and then preorder that when you find out how great this is.

01 - Caos Calmo
02 - München
03 - Serpents
04 - Twisted Horizons
05 - Shadows
06 - Symmetry of 6's
07 - Horns of King David
08 - Avian Lung