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V/A - This is Next Year (Arena Rock)
 

We missed the release party for this record a couple of weeks ago at North Sixth, but hear it was great. This Is Next Year is a wonderful Brooklyn-based compilation featuring 42 artists living and/or playing in Brooklyn. This extensive double CD is a huge volume of music and is a great introduction to what is going on in Williamsburg and Brooklyn in general.

Ever wonder what Reverend Vince, Stereobate, or any of those other bands you always see advertised locally sound like? Pick up this record as a resource because the bands worth seeing are probably included.

The work on this disk is fairly consistent (oddly some of the biggest duds come from more established bands Ida and the always terrible They Might Be Giants specifically) but this is a uniquely strong and cohesive compilation overall. Ranging from Emo, to indie, to alt country (lots of it), to pure and simple pop, this eclectic blend of music is surprisingly less disjointed than most compilations.

Highlights include The Boggs, Laura Cantrell, Mendoza Line, Grand Mal, Mink Lungs, Les Savvy Fav, Bee and Flower, and Cub Country but most songs are in the pleasant to the very pleasant to the damn that's pretty good range. As is to be expected on any compilation, there is some garbage to be found here as well. Is there a way to scratch my disk so it skips over the cheesy "It's All Made Up" by the Scouts?

Regardless, this is a wonderful introduction to the Brooklyn music scene and for the price of a single CD, you can't go wrong. All proceeds go to B.A.R.C. (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition).



HiM - New Features (Bubblecore)
Out Here

Originally the pet project of drummer Doug Scharin (Rex, June of '44), Him has become one the best kept secrets of post-rock and avante jazz. Seamlessly blending jazz, dub, and African Rhythm, Him has created a sound that is fully their own. On their latest record New Features, the band captures the feeling of a live concert better than any recording in recent memory.

Equally influenced by Miles Davis, Tortoise, and early pioneers of Dub, Him is melodic, unique, and um..... you can even shake your ass to the funky rhythms. It's like hearing Miles Davis remastered by Lee Scratch Perry! Their new record is not to be missed.

Him will be playing at North Sixth (66 N. 6th St. between Kent and Wythe) in Williamsburg August 5. And at the Knitting Factory August 4th.


Summer Hymns - A Celebratory Arm Gesture (Misra)
Something's Going On

This record wins my vote for best cover art so far this year. The lion roaming in a field with Manhattan as a backdrop really captures the dichotomous feeling of the record. It is at once a collection of simple pop songs and a complex production of melodic psychedelia. Listening to A Celebratory Arm Gesture by Summer Hymns is like listening to The Apples in Stereo on acid, with a touch of Neil Young thrown in to boot.

This Athens-based band has released a lovely sophomore record filled with psychedelia reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper's, and consistently strong songwriting delivered by a very Flaming Lips-sounding Zachary Gresham. But enough about who they sound like, already.

A Celebratory Arm Gesture has a very warm (summery?) feeling and the track "Six Something's Going On" is the strongest pop song I've heard all year. This record is worth the money for this track alone. Textured with bouncy organs and the lovely saxophone playing of Adrian Finch, Summer Hymns will please all fans of melodic and inventive indie music.

(Another plus... this record is on the wonderful, Brooklyn-based label Misra.)



Jetone - Ultramarin (Force Inc.)
 

Jetone is the Montreal-based techno master known as Tim Hecker. He has recorded with many labels in the past including FatCat and Pitchcadet, but on his recent release on the magnificent Force Inc record label, Jetone has truly created something unique.

Fusing his Cologne school techno influences with his own often broken tempo beats, Tim Hecker has crafted one of the more unusual techno records I have heard in a while. And originality is definitely something the genre needs of late. Anybody with a laptop can seemingly get signed these days by merely copying the sounds of Mouse on Mars or Pole.

Opening track "Aerial Red" has a 4/4 that seemingly tumbles over its own shoelaces time and time again before settling into a new beat. It is as disarming as it is lovely. The strongest track is "Static" with its tribal sounding beats and completely unpredictable (random?) interjections of glitch. Another highlight is "Thousand Oaks" whose high speed dub is nothing short of trance-inducing.

Jetone has impressively taken minimal techno to a entirely new place with Ultramarin by replacing the expected with the chaotic. Jetone creates melody by texturing his beats instead of writing "songs" per se and there is not a single track on this disk that sounds like another. Bravo to originality!


Windy and Carl - Consciousness (Kranky)
Resolution

I guess we can forgive Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren for waiting 2 years to release a record. Hey, they have been busy setting up their store, Stormy Records, in Michigan. And Consciousness is definitely worth the wait.

This record fits in nicely next to my Gas CD's, as a more organic sounding collection of melodic minimalism. Their seemingly simple, guitar-and-effects-fueled drone has been defined as "a wall of sound." All I know is their distinctive music somehow creeps into every crevice of my apartment, not leaving one square inch uncovered, whenever I put it on. The new record plays well as a whole, seemingly taking its listener on a journey from morning to dusk in mood.

Guitarist Carl Hultgren, begins the disk with a lovely introduction on acoustic guitar called "The Sun," followed by the disk highlight "Balance (Trembling)," a song reminiscent of a helicopter deprived of all sonic unpleasantness rising melodically into the sky.

This is all really mellow stuff, so for best results defy your instincts and play it LOUD to hear all its subtleties.

This record has been out since January and I'm glad to have finally discovered it.



The Bionaut - Lubricate Your Living Room (Matador)
Title Track

The Bionaut (AKA The Modernist, Burger Industries, Geometric Farms, and officially Jörg Burger) is a respected member of the Cologne minimal techno crew that includes Pole, Wolfgang Voigt, and Thomas Brinkmann, all of whom are known for their unique styles of minimal techno. In my mind, the work of Jörg Burger is strong and consistent and perhaps more accessible than that of his German peers, but I have always seen him as the lowest rung on the Cologne ladder. But this is not to say that he is not immensely talented—he is. It's just that his competition is pretty stiff.

With Lubricate Your Living Room, Matador has released a collection of Burger's out of print European releases from 1993-1997 and the result is a very summery-sounding CD perfect for an open window and a cool breeze. For fans of the more traditional 4/4 techno sound found on The Modernist, be prepared for a much more mellow disk that is influenced more by minimal dub and ambient music than traditional techno. In fact, this collection has much more in common with Mouse on Mars than the Modernist.

Textured with funny vocal samples ("electric campfire"), a resonating xylophone sound ("p. bateman"), and a generally pleasant atmospheric quality, Lubricate Your Living Room is a refreshing disk that rivals his best work. Given the fact that some of the music on this record is from the early nineties, it is amazing how fresh it all sounds. Burger will never be as groundbreaking as Pole, but perhaps I'll move him up a bit on my Cologne list of talent.



Deltron 3030 (75 Ark)

People have been coming in their pants over this release and I must admit, I simply don't get it. I gave into the hype and finally picked up the disk and I have to say I am deeply disappointed. I am always looking for original hip-hop and usually dig anything the Automator produces (Dr. Octagon, Handsome Boy Modeling School), but this release is simply a bore.

Teaming with Del the Funky Homosapien (the dullest MC in business) and Kid Koala, Automator has some nice moments including the symphonic "3030," but overall he seems uninspired. Breaking with his trademark heavy-bass sound, Automator is at his most subdued, and do we really need another underground hip-hop project with a a Space Age theme attached to it.

In all fairness, perhaps the newly-released instrumental version would have been a better purchase. Del the Funky Homosapien could steal the momentum from a speeding train with his constipated rhyming style. To catch Automator at his best, skip this release and check out the brand new Gorillaz CD, reviewed here in this publication.



Neu!, Neu! 2, Neu! 75 (Astralwerks)
 

Finally an affordable domestic release by Astralwerks of this wonderful Kraut Rock band's canon of work from the Seventies. It's about time, is all I have to say!

If you haven't heard them, they have influenced everyone from Bowie to Stereolab and are responsible for the first remix song—a huge contribution to electronic music. The first 3 releases simply named Neu!, Neu! 2, and Neu! 75 are masterpieces of electronic minimalism. Think Stereolab without vocals. This duo consisting of Kraftwork bandmates Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger put out 3 albums between 1971-75 (and a couple of duds in the Eighties) and the list of people they have directly influenced is too long to mention.

Follow them chronologically, each release is a little weaker than the next, but all in all this is great music from one of the most groundbreaking bands to come out of the Seventies Kraut scene.



Belle and Sebastian - Jonathan David (Matador)
Jonathan David

It's only 11 minutes long. That's probably all I need to say about this EP to discourage you from buying it. And actually, that would be a shame because the music (though brief) is great.

If you like the band, you'll be pleased. If you are among the many who find B&S uninspired and hokey, then you won't like it because it is more of the same. I've always been a sucker for their music and think If You're Feeling Sinister is one of the best releases of the Nineties.

This 3-tracker derives it's name from the opening (and best) track "Jonathan David" that tells a sexy story about David (you know, the one who killed Goliath) and his friend Jonathan. It's super dorky, but super-lovely. Just what you expect from B&S.

Look for the full-length soundtrack to Todd Solondz's (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse) new film this fall.


Peaches - The Teaches of Peaches (EFA)
 

Old school techno and hip-hop beats and a super low-fi production make for one of the nicer surprises of late on Peaches debut The Teaches of Peaches. This is a party CD, plain and simple, with in-your-face sexuality that puts tamer notions of "girl power" to shame with intensely funny lines like

Sucking on my titties like you wanted it me, calling me all the time like Blondie, check out my Chrissi behind, it's fine all of the time.

Titles like "AA XXX," "Diddle My Skittle," and "Lovertit" bypass naughty in favor of nasty.

This Canadian rapper and sex-rocker also known as Merrill Nisker has thrown together a wonderful debut that has something for everyone. There is enough fun to be had on this disk to spin it at your next house party and it's original and complex enough to keep even music snobs smiling while everyone else is shaking their ass to the funky beats.


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