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Archive for October, 2010

CD Review – Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s

Friday, October 29th, 2010


Mariel Recording Company

Top notch indie-pop. Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s (which ironically doesn’t include any females) have created what should be the front-runner for the Alternative Album of the Year Grammy award. Beginning with the instantly catchy “Birds” (and the chorus that morphs from “Let’s have a baby” to “Let’s make it evil”) and ending with the hauntingly acoustic “I Do,” the band has made their best album to date.

“Claws Off” has one of the best lines: If you want to go/ Get lost. It’s a nice little kiss off to a soon-to-be ex.

“Let’s Paint Our Teeth Green” and “New York City Hotel Blues” are tracks that would fit perfectly as the backdrop of a seedy strip joint. It makes sense because the album was recorded in an abandoned movie theater in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood, where they found a bunch of 8mm “nudie cutie” movies in the theater’s basement. That’s when the writing began.

The one thing that will forever endear me to this record however, is something that was more eerie coincidence than anything else. A good friend of mine sent a rough draft of a poem for me to look at and while I was reading, I happened to be listening to “Tiny Vampire Robot.” The words of the poem fit perfectly with the rhythm of the song and I started singing the words to the poem with the minor chord-laden music of the song. It was one of those truly surreal experiences that has only happened a couple other times in my life.

And it endeared me to my friend, her immense writing talent and the strange connection that music has in my life. I could listen to Buzzard over and over again without that incident because, frankly, the album is just that good. As it is, there will always be a spot on my CD rack for Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s.

CD Review – Filter

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

The Trouble with Angels

Rocket Science Ventures

Filter has been around for over 15 years, yet this is only their fifth album and it sounds like a conglomoration of their past four records. Starting off with the lead single “The Inevitable Relapse,” lead singer and Filter kingpin Richard Patrick essentially remakes the band’s first smash hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot” with a quiet verse and then a screaming chorus, this time about how you can “drink it, snort it, smoke it/ Every little thing I love about it.” The next track, “Drug Boy” is very much the same with crushing guitars and Patrick’s vocals grinding once again about going downtown for a “drug run.”

He gets more into the Title of Record-era with tracks “Absentee Father” and “No Love.” He gets a little more radio-friendly as the disc moves along with songs like the title track and “No Re-Entry,” a “Take a Picture” type of song where he laments “They’ll put the pages back in your bruised book/ They’ll put the pages back with rusty hooks/ Once you leave, there’s no re-entry.”

Patrick eventually ends up with a more electronically-based industrial rock sound that is not as intense as the beginning of the album, or the beginning of his career. Has Filter gone soft? Absolutely not. They’ve just evolved. And with their latest, they essentially chronicle how their sound has arrived at this point. Filter fans should definitely hop on for the ride. If you are not a fan, then this probably won’t convert you; to those people, I feel sorry for you.

CD Review – Hurricane Bells

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Down Comes the Rain EP

Invisible Brigade Records

Hurricane Bells has that light indie-pop quality that just makes you smile. “Make a Deal with the City” starts off this quick five-song EP with what sounds like a direct rip-off of Cornershop’s stateside smash “Brimful of Asha.”  They also take a page from 60’s pop radio on “The Waiting Song” and their mono cover of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” The best song on the EP, however, is their remake of (former tourmates) Blue October’s “Into the Ocean.” Where the original is quirkier, Hurricane Bells’ version strips it down to an acoustic folk number (complete with Scout’s Ashen Keilyn’s echoed vocals) focusing on the lyrics as opposed to Blue October’s frontman Justin Furstenfeld. It takes a song that I was on the fence about and makes it one that has endeared me. Clocking in just under 15 minutes, this new EP by Hurricane Bells is not very long, but it is certainly time well spent.

CD Review – Kathryn Williams (Covers album)

Thursday, October 21st, 2010


One Little Indian Records

Kathryn Williams has a voice that can make lyrics like “I wish I was like you/ Easily abused” (from Nirvana’s “All Apologies”) sound cute and adorable. On tracks like Jackson Browne’s “These Days” and Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke,” she has the airy quality of Regina Spektor while delivering much heavier lines like “I guess the joke is on me.” That’s what makes this collection of covers so special. Williams takes 14 tracks and makes each one a lullaby on the outside. Once you realize what song it is, or what she is actually singing about, that’s when the deceptive heaviness of the lyrics sets in. Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece “Hallelujah” and Neil Young’s “Birds” are covered with effervescence, while “Spit on a Stranger” by Pavement sounds an awful lot like Nickel Creek’s version with the plucky mandolin and vocal strains to reach the higher notes. Once you get through it all, however, Kathryn Williams has taken you through a musical journey led by her whisper-quiet vocals and even softer folk music. And it is a journey worth frequenting.

CD Review – Wooden Wand (Attn: Country rebel fans!)

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Death Seat

Young God Records

James Jackson Toth (performing under the monikor Wooden Wand) has been taking some lessons. His latest album is like a next generation rebel country record; something that Hank Williams III should have made. Songs like “Bobby” and “Sleepwalking After Midnight” are heartwrenching in that lonely acoustic vibe of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Toth’s voice may not have that weathered quality that Cash, Haggard and Waylon Jennings had/have, but his lyrics and his sound follow right in line with that “I’ve been there” crowd. He could easily fit in as the next Highwayman. The title track expands with layered vocals, slide guitar, mandolin and other assorted strings to make a sad alt-country anthem, especially with lines like “You’re no Jesus Christ.” But he follows that right up with the sparse “I Wanna Make a Difference” where he laments about how “I wanna make a difference in your life.” Toth’s talent is exponential compared to others in the genre. He is able to pull an emotional response by just plucking a guitar and barely whispering the lyrics. And that is what makes Death Seat is an amazing record.

CD Review – Keller Williams (Kids album!)

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010



Keller Williams is one of those artists who is truly unique. He just released a bluegrass covers album and plays some of the best D.I.Y. indie-folk the world has to offer. His latest, however, is strictly for the children…and parents. The album is filled with tracks that are fun for kids like how fun it was to play on “Grandma’s Feather Bed” and “Soakie Von Soakerman.” Adults can enjoy it as well, plus, if you’re a parent, hearing Williams sing with his daughter (which he does on several tracks) is not only heart-warming, but makes you feel good to be a parent. “Hula Hoop to Da Loop” is just like one of those songs that he finishes his concerts, where he plays dozens of instruments and loops them all together. Kids is an enjoyable care-free ride for parents and children alike. And with Keller Williams at the helm, it has to be good.