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Air - 10000 Hz Legend

So it isn't Moon Safari, that pop-musac-French avante garde sensation of 1998. But is it the follow-up that fans have been waiting for? Well, yes and no. Unlike the moody (and underrated) Virgin Suicides EP, most will be pleased to find much lighter material on 10000 Hz Legend. There is more of an edge here than there was on the wonderfully hokey Moon Safari, but Air has returned to the breezy retro-kitsch that makes them so unique.

This time around, Beck is to be found on a couple of tunes including "The Vagabond" which sounds like an Odelay outtake and "Don't Be Light," a real dud. With its retro-futuristic feel, the record is pretty enjoyable overall. Unfortunately, there are far too few instrumentals and the songwriting is simply not as good on this record as we have come to expect from this pop-writing duo. Regardless, it is worth checking out and the music gets better with a few spins.

see Dan Kilian's full review

Mark Eitzel - The Invisible Man
Can You See?

This is a huge departure for Eitzel and fans of his original band, American Music Club, may be surprised to see how far this former frontman-gone-solo has come. Where Eitzel has often relied on collaborative efforts with other big-name musicians such as Peter Buck, he has finally created a disk that is fully his own.

On his sixth solo CD, The Invisible Man, Eitzel has thrown together a very uneven disk that is barely saved by the strength of 3 or 4 beautiful tracks. Unfortunately, there are also many hokey tracks you will have to wade you way through.

Overall, fans will enjoy his blending of acoustic guitar with subtle electronics. This is an average disk whose moments of splendor (like track 4) make it almost worthwhile.

Savvas Ysatis - Select
Bull Walk

Greek techno? Is there really such a thing?

You bet, and Savvas Ysatis is one of its bigger artists. Unfortunately, his work on Select is kind of average. In fact he sounds like Loumo and/or the Modernist, only duller. Think minimal techno and house beats, with touches of dub here and there. The disk ends up sounding repetitive and none of the artist's melodies really stick with you or ask to be revisited.

It's really not a bad CD at all, but nothing on Select moved me either and I doubt I will be giving it very much time in my CD player. Maybe the next record will be better because I can see glimpses of talent on a few tracks.

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information

Has anyone seen the packaging on this re-release? It reads like a promotional package. Reviews by David Byrne and Sean O'Hagan to name a couple are prominently splashed across the cover raving on and on about Inspiration Information. You would think they discovered the Ark of the Covenant. Basically, they all say that this undiscovered and forgotten artist is a genius. It's kind of like that dorky ad campaign for a Knight's Tale that played up one good review from Rolling Stone.

At least the ad campaign-generated hype is valid with Shuggie! This is a great CD. It originally was released in 1974 and is as slick and funky as anything put out by Marvin Gaye. Politically and musically, Shuggie is more subtle than most of his early Seventies Soul peers, so at first listen don't expect to have an orgasm (as the packaging suggests) but I can guarantee that most fans of this period will be pleased. I don't know what prompted the re-release (Shuggie didn't die recently--he's still alive and touring) but I am thankful that I found him.... even though the label did shove it in my face.

Bardo Pond - Dilate
Bardo Pond - Inside

Despite a very so-so show at that not-to-be spoken of Williamburg speak-easy recently, Bardo Pond's most recent Matador release Dilate is a nice surprise to all fans of stoner rock and drone. Long and trance-inducing melodies are really just the framework for the droning guitar work and feedback played by this quintet.

On this outing, lead singer Isobel Sollenberger has much more time to improvise on the mike bringing about a vocal styling similar to the improvisations found on many Can records. Only she is a woman and much cuter. Dilate is noticeably better than their last release Set and Setting and is the band's best album since Lapsed.

Couch - Profane
Couch - track 1
What a piece of crap this one is. This is easily the most boring release I have heard in a long time and it amazes me that this band actually has a following. This German minimalist/post rock quintet of talentless poseurs consists of keyboardist Stefanie Bohm, guitarist Jurgen Soder, bassist Michael Heilrath, and drummer Thomas Geltinger, but each member could easily be replaced by any teenager snatched from a local battle of the bands.

I suppose they are trying to sound like Tortoise with the repetitions of Stereolab thrown in, but the outcome is as soulless and dull as anything in recent memory. Simple melodies are repeated in a very formulaic way with no surprises and or variation.
Definitely skip this one.

For a second opinion, see what Eric Schneider has to say about this release. Click here.

Make-up - I Want Some

I Want Some may not qualify as a new release to some, but I just stumbled upon it for the first time last week. And what a pleasant surprise given the fact that this amazing DC band just recently split up. This compilation of 21 B-sides from the past several years is as consistent as it is long.

The usual blend of punk, funk, soul, and gospel is to be found here and Ian's over-sexed lyrics are as hilarious as ever. This release came out in 1999, but for those of you who missed it (like me) go and pick it up. It rivals Sound Verite in overall listenability.

Mogwai - Rock Action

I'm not one of those reviewers claiming omniscience. There is way too much music out there to keep up with everything. That said, I will attempt to say something intelligent about the latest Mogwai, despite the fact that I am largely unfamiliar with their last couple of releases. I hear the last two sucked anyway, but who knows... critics can be cruel and are not to be trusted.

Their latest, Rock Action, is actually pretty darn good. It is short and a little on the melancholy side, but it is definitely worth a listen. This Glasgow quintet has sculpted a consistently satisfying record, mixing in a vocal track or two on this largely instrumental excursion. Sounding at times like a more subtle and less eruptive Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai seems most at home performing the instrumental.

They also seamlessly texture their sounds with subtle looping and electronics that enhance the overall recording by adding a nuance not usually found in post-rock recordings.

On the tracks that do include vocals such as "Secret Pint" and "Take Me Somewhere Nice," Mogwai approach the beauty of Low with their sleepy vocals and pleasantly lulling melodies. This is a really nice disk. I'll have to give the last couple a spin.

Ltd. Noise - About 8 Minutes

I hate the term Acid Jazz. It's the kind of catch word guys with pony tails use to impress chicks. The term Trip Hop isn't a favorite of mine either. This one reminds me of white art schools kids choking on blunts as they try to be "down."

Ltd. Noise fits into both categories, but to their favor they are actually really good. This duo consists of Ped Gil and Paul Fishman (Ped is a former member of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and together they have put together a very funky first CD that is as equally influenced by jazz as it is by Hip Hop.

Mixing electronics, live instrumentation, jazz samples, and a taste of German-sounding glitches, About 8 Minutes is refreshingly unpretentious and original. We look forward to hearing more from this London-based band.

--Robert Lanham


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