The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
In building a band named after such a prominent figure, Louis XIV frontman Jason Hill surely had his own ego in mind. Despite having only released a handful of self-burned EPs from their own Pineapple record label, the San Diego based band's already toured with The Killers, Futureheads and Hot Hot Heat. Based on a story about a guy who's convinced he's the late king, and recorded in Paris, the locale of the king's death bed, the band's first full length The Best Little Secets are Kept is full of sex and murder; an album sure to fare well during the latest Brit rock craze.
This disc opens with "Louis XIV," where Hill boasts, I'm a weapon of mass destruction, channeling the egos of past and present tyrants. "God Killed the Queen" and "A Letter to Dominique" are some of the album's cheeriest tracks, despite the latter's murdering of the song's heroine. Hill boasts, We don't have to go the pool if you want me to make you wet on "Pledge of Allegiance," the album's most oversexed track. Cheesy one liners are excluded from the album's finest moment, the Beatles-inspired "All the Little Pieces." Concept album or not, The Best Little Secrets are Kept's one worth finding out about.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:28:00 AM
Th' Legendary Shack Shakers
Hide your children; Satan's right hand man, Col. Wilkes of Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, fronts a band known for playing sadistic carnival music for Southern Goth lovin' folks. Lately, the band's been terrorizing fans while opening for Robert Plant at this year's SXSW and last weekend's Bonaroo. Following the same derangements heard on 2003's Cockadoodledon't, the band's first full length Believe makes great music for a psychobilly hoedown.
The drunken boogie of "Piss and Vinegar" finds a foolish Wilkes boasting, I'm a jumpin' Jim Dandy doin' a hillbilly bugaloo. "The Pony to Bet On" is saloon music for Norman Bates bastards, with lyrics The points kept on spreadin'/Til you called off the wedding/And left me with one tired old gray mare. The lyricist rhymes his riddles over a CB on "Bible Cyst," and "Cussin' In Tongues" sounds like the King of the Hill theme, with Wilkes playing a toy piano and a See and Say. If it works, might as well use it. On Believe, everything just happens to work incredibly well.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:26:00 AM
While some musicians can rely on their own greatness to rise up, others must work slowly to the top. The latter was surely the case for Ringside, a duo consisting of Scott Thomas, a previous costume designer (best known for No Doubt), on vocals and Balthazar Getty, a small-time actor (best known for Lost Highway or Lord of the Flies) on beat machine. The two met back in the eighties through Tim Leary and eventually decided to become musicians. Through Kenna, the band got a deal through Fred Durst's Flawless Records. Well, sort of. Geffen gave the guys funds to build their own studio, rather than give them the real deal. Eventually, out came their self titled debut, a mediocre record at best, though a good cheap fix for U2 addicts.
All roads lead to Achtung Baby on "Strangerman" and "Miss You," despite missing a few turns. Thomas's cracking voice is cringe-inducing on "Cold on Me," where the lyricist unwittingly admits, Oh, I'm a stupid man/Always getting into trouble/Baby tell me what's your plan/'Cos I need you here on the double. Thomas hides the Bono impersonation on "Dreamboat 730," though relying too heavily on Getty's oversimplified beats. Near the end comes "Criminal," the album's only hit, if only for its improved piano work and lyrics. Despite the duo claiming to be "Tired of Being Sorry" on their first single, Ringside's debut lacks sincerity.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:24:00 AM
Maintaining tedious obsessions with Warhol, evolution, and a lot of Kraftwerk, New Wave and glam, bands coined electroclash like Fischerspooner are all the rage for rock's unusual hybrid. Consisting of Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer, the New York art pop duo initially gained popularity through their elaborate stage performances, a topic Gerald Marzorati wrote about in a discussion on Susan Sontag's theories on camp during his review for the band's debut, #1. In it, he makes the assertion that the duo's shows were Spooner's attempt to be Freddie Mercury and gain a victory for homosexuals across the globe. Luckily for the band, their motives are elsewhere, and Spooner gave up the Mercury charisma for his robotic drone, closer resembling Rocky Horror. There's no horror in that; and Odyssey is proof, taking the band away from the meticulous electroclash comparisons, creating more rock with help from many great collaborators.
First single "Just Let Go" is the closest thing to #1 on the album, but better assembled. The late Susan Sontag co-writes "We Need A War," as does David Byrne on "Get Confused," which features fellow NYer Mira Billotte (of indie's White Magic) on vocals. Among the juiciest tracks are "Never Win," co-produced by Mirwais Ahmadzai (Madonna's Music). Linda Perry lends her vocals to "Happy" and pen to "A Kick in the Teeth," with the latter bearing resemblance to the Postal Service in style and lyric (You may not realize/When it's done or why/But it may be the best thing). A cover of Boredom's "O" closes the album with what sounds like Nintendo systems shutting down, resembling something off of Beck's Hell Yes EP. In leaving behind their electroclash ways for the Odyssey, Fischerspooner have transcended.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:22:00 AM
Damon Albarn's become a magician of sorts, always with some musical scheme up his sleeve. On one dimension exists Blur, the real life band that's been around since the early nineties; on another lies Albarn's solo career, and then there are Gorillaz, Albarn's guilty pleasure band. With a little help from members 2D, Murdoc, Noodle , Russell, Albarn has earned incredible success with his gimmick, though the Gorillaz haven't been re-drawn much in the last four years. Albarn's been busy; the man released two solo efforts in 2002-03 alongside releasing Think Tank for Blur in the latter year. Now, in 2005 arrives Demon Days, the Danger Mouse produced sophomore album that is far better than its predecessor, with many guest appearances that guide Gorillaz's journey off of paper and into the real world.
An intro sampling Dawn of the Dead appropriately leads into "Last Living Souls," using what sounds like clanging bones for a bass line. Trip Hop's Neneh Cherry lends a whispering "push it" to "Kids With Guns," using the old Salt N Pepa lyric to gesture the song's theme--kids gone crazy. First single "Feel Good Inc.," featuring De La Soul, is the album's most upbeat, with lyrics, Love forever love is free/Let's turn forever you and me. Gorillaz seem to wing it without Albarn's obvious vocal stylings on the punk driven "White Light" and disco delicious "Dare," which features Madchester local Shaun Ryder on vocals. Dennis Hopper plays mad storyteller in "Fire Coming out of the Monkey's head," and oddly enough, a youth chorus and Pharcyde's Bootie Brown mesh on "Dirty Harry," adding a sequel piece to the mysterious Clint Eastwood obsession. The break was well spent; Demon Days is the ultimate comeback.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:20:00 AM
Shout Out Louds
Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
Four guys and a girl from Stockholm, also known as the Shout Out Louds, are the latest Swedish import turning heads in the United States. The band has toured with the Futureheads, performed at this year's Coachella and SXSW, and will tour this summer with the Dears. Shout Out Louds started out with Adam Olenius and Ted Malmros in 2001, with the other three members joining one by one, all old friends prior to joining musically. The band released several EPs between 2002-04 in Scandinavia on Bud Fox Recordings before getting noticed by Capitol, which jolted the re-release of the Very Loud EP and their full length, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. Produced by Ronald Bood (Niccokick, Adolphson-Falk), the re-mastered Howl Howl Gaff Gaff is an album that sticks to the indie pop equation for its blend of melancholic lyrics and vintage melodies.
The album starts off with the first song the band wrote, "The Comeback," a great song until the song's chorus consumes the track's finale. First single "Very Loud" is very much the opposite from its title, as is the rest of the album's remainder. The Jesus and Mary Chain are recalled on "A Track And A Train," also sounding very similar to fellow Swedes The Legends. The sunniest moment on the album is the tambourine-heavy "Hurry Up Let's Go," which features a EKG flat line mid-song before its reprise, illuminating the mixed sense of hope and regret commonly expressed throughout the disc. The album most somber is "Go Sadness," packed with beautifully sung lyrics and tear-shedding guitar riffs. As it was upon its original release, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff is a great album; the band should hurry up and go make another.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:18:00 AM
Even though it wasn't until recently that the U.S caught Kylie fever, ironically through the artist's Fever release, which featured the oh-so-infectious "Can’t Get You Out of My Head," Kylie herself had been around for years. The singer's been a regular in the E-biz since she debuted on Australian television shows Skyways and The Sullivans at age eleven. She debuted in 1988 with Kylie, an album succeeded by eight studio releases. Like fellow diva Madonna, Kylie's had her share of stints in bad movies (Streetfighter, Biodome), along with a quasi-Evita moment as the Green Fairy in Moulin Rouge. Throughout her success, Minogue has modeled the versatility of the Material Girl, by changing from girl next door to all out vamp, while earning comparable fame and success in the UK.
In the midst of her Showgirl: The Greatest Hits tour, Ultimate Kylie is a 33- track double disc collection, all being previous hits except new single, the Scissor Sisters-penned "I Believe in You."
The first disc runs through a lot of the artist's earlier material, including the 1988 debut Kylie, as well as her hits up until 1991's Let's Get to It, along with a cover of "Celebration" from a greatest hits release in 1992. Many of these tracks are indigestible in current times, signaling how well Kylie's has managed to keep up with the hype, which isn't always too much of a good thing. "Shocked" features a rapper sounding like Technotronic named Jazzi P. A club mix of "Loco-Motion" is here, along with the cover of Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time."
The second disc covers 1994's Kylie Minogue up until the latest release, Body Language, featuring hits more popular among fans of current dance pop. The cooled down rhythm of "Slow" is the album's best, though highly addictive "Can't Get You Out of My Head" runs a close second. UK favorite Robbie Williams duets on "Kids," as does Nick Cave on "Where the Wild Roses Grow," ending the set with a song like none of the rest, given it's moreso Cave's release .
However minute it may appear in regards to Kylie's entire collection, the double disc works wonders at capsulizing the musician's entire career. For fans who have yet to build their own Minogue collection, Ultimate Kylie aims to please.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:13:00 AM
Sound of Urchin
At the Sound of Urchin's website, a clip of tour mate Jack Black tells viewers, "There's one thing on this earth that I fear; it's the Sound of Urchin." Much unlike the brainless sea creature, this band is highly addictive and can rock like no other. Besides touring with Tenacious D, the Sound of Urchin have supported the likes of Ween, Cracker, Twisted Sister and Dio since the band formed back in 1998. Brooklyn natives Tomato and Seahag met Doo Doo and B-ill in New Hope, PA and formed the Sound of Urchin, releasing three EPs since then, alongside 2002's full length You are the Best. Originally released in 2003 as a limited edition, the re-released The Diamond, produced by Adam Schlesinger, is an album filled with great rock anthems that incorporate the band's varying influences.
There are two basic forms of songs on the album, ones with more of a punk influence, the others more like Flaming lips or a cheery Satan. Tomato sounds like an evil clown singing a nursery rhyme on "There Are People in the Clouds;" with Monday's for school, crayons and cookies/mom says I got symptoms/so I'm not gonna go today. Ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha helps out on "Blown Away," with Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French on "Jack O Lantern." The band whips out their best Clash or Cheap Trick on "White Dove," which proves that versatility on an album doesn't have to be as bad as an eighties monster ballad. In case there's still any question on what is to be known of The Diamond, it is why other rock albums coming out today can't be as good.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:11:00 AM
Although Rivers Cuomo may not have been the first of his kind, geek rock wouldn't quite be the same without Weezer. Having released four albums in a ten year stretch, Weezer definitely feels the pressure to constantly cultivate Cuomo's repressed genius lyrics into an album fans can appreciate as much as the Blue album or Pinkerton. With Rick Rubin in as producer, Maladroit's long awaited successor Make Believe is a much poppier album than its predecessors, recalling more simplistic themes and lyrics traditional to Weezer's sound.
First single and catchiest track is "Beverly Hills," playing homage to a Joan Jett beat ("I Love Rock and Roll") and the geek party romp of "Buddy Holly" all at once. The band recalls the eighties on "This Is Such a Pity," which shows off Cuomo's finest Ric Ocasek impersonation, providing the album's best find. "Peace" deals with a non-political battle going on inside Cuomo's head (There is no way I can stop/My poor brain is gonna pop/And I don't have a purpose/Scattered on the surface/I need to find some peace). Tracks annoying at first listen become palatable through consumption, from the over-apologetic sappiness on "Pardon Me" to the hyper-punchy "We Are All on Drugs." The singer's voice turns to a romantic whisper on "Freak Me Out" clashing with the album's closing track, "Haunt You Everyday," with dark lyrics: I don't feel the joy/I don't feel the pain/You were just a toy/I am just insane, crushing any hope Cuomo crooned about in preceding songs, reassuring fans let down by the album the singer still has a dark side. Despite opposition from the album's foes, Make Believe is proof that Weezer can still rock.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:08:00 AM
Great Lakes Myth Society
Great Lakes Myth Society
Hailing Ann Arbor as both their hometown and inspiration for music, the Great Lakes Myth Society are here to provide a soundtrack for enchanted tales of the Great Lakes region, capturing nostalgia reminiscent of a Bradbury novel. The band consists of brothers Timothy and James Christopher Monger, Gregory Dean McIntosh, J. Scott McClintock, and Fido Kennington, originally assembled as the Original Brothers and Sisters of Love. On their self-titled debut, the Great Lakes Myth Society plays on themes of the region in which their name hails, sounding something like Flogging Molly and Camper Van Beethoven over the course of fifteen tall tales.
A brawl between legends Paul Bunyan and Treasure Island's "Big Jim Hawkins" is the re-telling of how the lakes of the region were once created. Jimmy Stewart is the talk on the short but sweet "Marquette County,1959," when the classic star made his way to the area to shoot Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. The album closes appropriately with "Lake Effect," insisting the listener, don't cry in the river/It will carry you away/our gifts are the fables of the Lakes, ending a great album for friends to the region and genre alike.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:06:00 AM
Robbers on High Street
Due to Rock's diverse span since its very creation, bands like Robbers on High Street hailing homage to the legends are a welcome arrival.
Ben Trokan and Steve Mercado founded the band, both hailing from Poughskeepsie, New York. Shortly after teaming up in Manhattan 2001, Robbers on High Street were discovered by Scratchie Records' owners, ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Fountain of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger. The band released their Fine Lines EP in 2004, which critics widely hailed as similar to the Strokes' material, where the band hears more current comparisons to Spoon.
Joined by producer Peter Katis (Interpol), the Robbers on High Street have released their first full length, Tree City, an album filled with finely executed 1-2 lyric setups and swooping guitar solos, resulting in one of the year's best albums.
Several tracks hint at Ben Trokan's ex-lovers, from the upbeat "Amanda Green" to the somber pining of "Beneath the Trees." "Dig the Lightning" is the album's standout track, providing Trokan on keyboards and lyrics.
Comparisons to the Beatles or Rolling Stones are well-deserved; Tree City definitely puts Robbers on High Street within their caliber.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:04:00 AM
In the hearts of both Southern gothic and Delta blues, Mississippi natives the Moaners are channeling their native lands to create country rock with an edge. Previously Trailer Bride's singer, Melissa Swingle plays guitar, and ex-Grand National member Laura King is on drums, comparable to the White Stripes, if only for their two piece lineup and genre of music. Produced by Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids, the Moaners present Dark Snack, the band's debut, sounding like the rock version of Swingle's previous set.
Though the record moves at a steady gallop, there are a few honorable mentions. "Paradise Club" is the Moaners' take on the often covered "House of the Rising Sun," where songs "Flannery Said" and "Elizabeth Cotten's Song" are odes to the band's influences. When Swingle proclaims, It's hard to be proud to be American/When our country's being run by rich greedy men on "Hard Times," it's heard as just another problem with America, rather than just another politically-charged election year release. While the Moaners don't seem too enchanted by their surroundings, Dark Snack serves up solace for the sorrow-filled and nostalgic.
Crystal at 6/14/2005 09:02:00 AM