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The Reindeer Section - Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear
(Select Cuts)
If Everything Fell Silent

The Reindeer SectionAfter hearing about the lineup on the newly released record Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear, I knew there was simply too much talent involved to let it pass me by. The Reindeer Section will most likely turn out to be a one-time side project for most involved, but on this debut record band members include Gary Lightbody & Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol, Richard Colburn & Mick Cooke of Belle & Sebastian, Aidin Moffat of Arab Strap, and John Cummings of Mogwai. The finished product is a wonderful blend of styles most strongly tasting of Belle and Sebastion and Arab Strap.

This Dublin supergroup is not always the sum of its parts because everyone involved has had stronger moments independently, but that's not to say that this isn't a pretty darn good record. While highlights such as the beautiful "If Everything Fell Silent" make it all worthwhile, the disk in general is pretty consistent. If you like the moody and folky sound coming out of Glasglow these days, you can't go wrong with Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear. Lets keep our fingers crossed for a tour!


We Came From Beyond (Razor & Tie)

Mike Nardone is one of the most influential people in hip-hop and chances are, you never heard of him. That is unless you are from or living in Cali. For the past 13 years he has been running a hip-hop show on LA's FM-KXLU and is credited for being the first to rock the airwaves with artists including Cypress Hill, Freestyle Fellowship, and Jurassic 5.

We Came from Beyond (also the name of his radio show) is a refreshingly funky record consisting of remixes by Nardone (including "Pass the Mic" by the Beasties), rarities by bands such as Jurassic 5, and new material by artists including Amsophere, Count Bass-D, and Eyedea. This is a great collection of "underground" hip-hop and I'm just pissed that we can't hear Nardone gracing the airwaves out here on the other coast.


Geoff White - Questions and Comments (Force Inc.)
Gigl

Geoff WhiteThere is definitely a backlash against electronic music these days. There is just too much homogenized shit out there and it seems like any geek with a laptop can put out a record. Fortunately, artists such as Vladislav Delay (AKA Luomo) and Sieg Uber Die Sonne are still putting out some pretty amazing minimal house.

And now I can add Geoff White to my list of favorites. On Questions and Comments, White seamlessly blends his German and Detroit house influences into one unique sound that is all his own. With an uncompromising momentum, White textures his very mechanical beats with a warmly subtle dub and very organic soundscapes. Best of all, White has the uncanny ability to anticipate the distinction between hypnotic and boring. He has a knack for bringing closure to each of his 10 tracks at just the right moment. If you are looking for great minimal house, sans cheesy vocals, check out Questions and Comments.


Select Cuts From Blood & Fire Chapter 2 (Select Cuts)
 

Select Cuts I missed Chapter 1, but will definitely be picking it up after immersing myself in the funky and tripped-out dub to be found on Chapter 2. Select Cuts has put together a great compilation of reworkings of classic dub greats such as King Tubby, Lee Perry, and Scientist by younger dub and electronic bands and musicians.

Though the glitchy, minimal dub style coming out of Germany is largely ignored on Select Cuts, the record showcases a mixture of sounds influenced equally by drum and bass, hip hop, and techno. Remix artists include Leftfield, Dubphonic, Kid Loco, Jah Wobble, and most notably Apollo 440 on the endlessly funky remix of Yabby You. Fifteen consistently strong tracks in length, Select Cuts From Blood & Fire Chapter 2 is not to be missed.


Vincent Gallo - When (Warp)
 

When - Vincent GalloVincent Gallo's problem has always been that he won't shut up. Best known for his directorial gem "Buffalo 66" the man is undeniably talented, but like the film he is also terribly self-absorbed. Any time Mr. Gallo is interviewed he chooses to masturbate his own ego with misplaced vanity and notions of grandeur.

When I heard that Warp was putting out a record by this eclectic ego of a man, I was very surprised. Warp usually makes better choices than this. I was even more surprised to find that I kinda like the disk.

Back to Vincent's problem with opening his mouth... his new disk When seems to only misfire on the tracks where Gallo chooses to sing. His voice is that of a sentimental 15 year old boy contemplating suicide. After a few listens I eventually got used to Gallo's tenor (somewhat), but it never stops distracting me from the subtle beauty of the music that carries his voice. Had this been an all instrumental outing, I would have nothing but accolades to reap upon Gallo, but unfortunately about half of the songs feature him on the mic.

When has a very atmospheric, middle of the night production quality that is wonderfully melancholy and ranges from the somber to the jazzy. To his credit, it is one of the most restrained and subtle disks I have heard in a long time with many very nice moments that will definitely keep me coming back for a listen from time to time. The piano loop, for instance, on track opener "I Wrote This Song For The Girl Paris Hilton" is undeniably lovely. A restrained yet upbeat percussion on tracks such as "My Beautiful White Dog" are a nice counterpoint to the overall melancholy of the disk. When is a very formidable effort and hopefully Gallo will lend the mic next time to someone more capable. Albeit, with an ego like his this is pretty unlikely.



Pole - R (~Scape)
raum 1

Pole "R" is the first record by Pole (AKA Stefan Betke) on his own ~Scape label and it frankly is a disappointment. The album focuses on reworkings and remixes of two of his tracks from 1988 entitled "Raum 1" and "Raum 2." The wonderful crackle and pop dub that is Pole's signature is always welcome in my book, but the remixes by ~Scape label artists Burnt Friedman and Kit Clayton ultimately make this record a less than enjoyable experience.

Two all new tracks by Pole are included and they are noticeably more jazzy than his work on "3". Simply entitled "Raum 3" and "Raum 4," they will without doubt please all fans of Pole's music.

Now on to the bad... Burnt Friedman who puts out 2 remixes on "R" is seemingly without direction. Perhaps knowing that he could never outshine his source material, Friedman opts to be "arty" in his arrangements and ultimately creates a couple of very disjointed remixes. His beats are sloppy and sound like they are held together by scotch tape.

Kit Clayton fares somewhat better on his two remixes but in the end the tracks sound like glitch thrown on top of a recording of someone tap-dancing. Sound annoying? It is.

If you treat the record as an EP and disregard the non-Pole tracks you will be satisfied. If you value your dollars too much to buy a record that is only half-good, I'd have to recommend passing on this one. The original recording of "Raum 2" (Pole at his dubby best) is included and if you don't already have a recording of this track, then perhaps this record would be a good buy after all. I look forward to a formal release of all new work from Betke who is still the most original electronic musician to come along in years.



Stereolab - Sound-Dust (Elektra)
Sound-DustThe days when Stereolab produced wonderfully minimal and creative records like Mars Audio Quintet and Emperor Tomato Ketchup are gone. I keep hoping that they will return to their roots as a Neu!-inspired pop band, but they have given in to the temptation and laziness of slick production work. I would love to hear the band stripped of horns and strings, forced to rely upon the merit of their song-writing. Their last two records haven't made any new fans for them and finally with Sound-Dust there is some indication that the band has listened to the moans of their devoted fans and focused more on writing good songs. Sound-Dust is still undeniably overproduced, but at least the band sounds a bit more energized on this outing than they did on the formulaic "Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night."

The disk starts out with an electronic introduction that seems to be an ode to their pre-Elektra sound. Blending its way into the second track "Space Moth," the first four minutes of the disk are filled with minor key dissonance and campy harpsichords that sound like a creepy soundtrack to a kitschy horror movie. Given this and the haunted castle artwork on the cover, I was left hoping for a retro-sounding soundtrack theme, but halfway into "Space Moth," the tone of the record changes and enters into more familiar Stereolab territory.

If you have already heard the single "Captain Easychord," with its annoying steel guitar chorus, then don't fear because the record recovers from this misstep. I recommend starting at track four "Baby LuLu" and listening straight through. This is one of those records that seems to get into stride after the less subtle tracks are out of the way. All in all, Sound-Dust may not be a masterpiece but fans of the band will be relieved to hear some nicely written new tunes by the band.



Quartermass Versus Rather Interesting - V/A (Quartermass)
being enveloped by Pentatonic Surprise
QuartermassThis new release by the Quatermass label does something interesting, in fact rather interesting. They have combined the talents of several well-known artists with the work of lesser-known artists on the Rather Interesting label to generate an eclectic blend of remixes and original material. Artists Pram, Pole, Plaid, and Fibla among others are clearly having a good time remixing the strong work by artists including the Naturalist and the disk is made cohesive with its distinctive Latin flavor.

More of a reimagining than a remix CD (sound like the new Planet of the Apes?) the record boasts nine eclectic and melodic songs and just one dud ("Fonosandwich") which is an unusual level of consistency for a compilation disk. Highlights include the bird-chirping opener by Pram whose overall breeziness is wonderfully interrupted by moments of Autechre-sounding electronics. "Being Enveloped" by Pentatonic Surprise and later reworked to dubby splendor by Pole are additional highlights.

Quartermass Versus Rather Interesting
may be a light side-project for most involved, but it is also a record that is very easy to like.




The Funky Precedent Volume 2 (Matador)
 

Though not as fresh as Volume 1, which showcased the talent of Los Angeles hip-hop acts such as Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5, The Funky Precedent Volume 2 is a refreshingly original compilation. This time around Matador and No Mayo Records have assembled up-and-coming acts from the Bay area including Planet Asia, Rasco, Zion I, Foreign Legion, Live Human, Encore, Protest, Fanatik, DJ Vinroc, DJ Quest and Pep Love.

The disk is a breath of fresh air considering the embarrassing lack of inspiration in hip-hop music these days and the turntablism of Live Human on the track "Lagoona's Bliss" is worth the price of the record. Most of the best tracks are on the first half of the disk, but hopefully most will be more forgiving of the duds (Stymie and the Pimp Jones Love Orchestra come immediately to mind) given the fact that proceeds will benefit music education in various California schools. If you are too jaded to care, then just enjoy the music.



The Clean - The Getaway (Merge)
Stars

The CleanI thought this record had an uncanny Yo La Tengo feel to it the first time I listened to it and wasn't too surprised to find that Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La fame actually play on a couple of tracks. The Clean is a band from New Zealand that has been around since the early Eighties, though I frankly had never heard them until this release.

The Getaway is the band's first release since 1996 and my only frustration is that I now must go check out what I've been missing. Brothers David and Hamish Kilgour share the vocals with Robert Scott and the blend of voices from track to track keep the record from ever becoming monotonous. If you are a fan of great pop-sounding Indie with plenty of subtle guitar feedback, then be sure to pick up this very strong recording. The Clean will be playing The Bowery Ballroom, Saturday Sept. 15, at 11:00 pm as part of the CMJ festival.



Roy Campbell Quartet - It's Crunch Time (Thirsty Ear)
Bemsha Swing

Roy Campbell QuartetThirsty Ear has been releasing some amazing jazz on their new Blue Series and It's Crunch Time by The Roy Campbell Quartet is a nice addition to this group of recordings. If you missed the beautifully melancholy New Orbits by pianist Matthew Shipp earlier this year, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately. Matthew Shipp is the director of the Blue Series which is ever-expanding the face of contemporary jazz.

It's Crunch Time features Mr. Campbell on trumpet, Khan Jamal on vibes, Wilber Morris on bass, and Guillermo E. Brown on drums. The music is at once melodic and avant gard and Jamal's work on the vibes will blow you away.

The craftsmanship of the band is marvelously cloaked by a lazy and muted emphasis on melody. Campell repeatedly introduces his motifs and themes in such understated ways that his horn playing almost seems like a mumble. It is a trick that could seem sloppy in the hands of a less accomplished player, but Campell is clearly a master and is able to create beauty in understated ways. The only misstep is the quartet's version of "The Star Spangled Banner," but this is thankfully the last number on the record and thus easy to avoid.

We look forward to more Thirsty Ear recordings in the future as this label helps to promote jazz that is as rooted in tradition as it is experimental.


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

We missed the release party for this record a few 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) 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).





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