Albums of the Week

May 31-June 6, 2010

2 Replies

In this edition: Dearly Beloved, Mike Patton, The Dead Weather, The Fall, Sam Quinn, Turzi, Thee Oh Sees, Rangda, Tobacco, and Gayngs

Dennis’ Pick of the Week Dearly Beloved: Make It Bleed (Anthem/Zoe)

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“Are you an angry, young dumb fuck, crying about his luck too much?” It’s a hell of a line to open an album with, but Dearly Beloved didn’t bring a knife to a gunfight. This is deadly great rock of the purest, nastiest kind with some amazing viscosity running through its veins – the sharp snap of early Pixies and Throwing Muses, the turn-on-a-dime burn of Television, the groin thrust of The Buzzcocks and X-Ray Spex, the artful discontent of Brand New, and even the dumbstick thump of Joan Jett and Cheap Trick. Tough and tuneful in equal measures, Make It Bleed (released in the US on March 30) is compulsively listenable, frightfully sexy and a clarion call that rock is anything but dead. Angst with genuine fury and intelligent bite can be extremely useful (and satisfying). It’s no bed of roses in 2010 and this is a phenomenal soundtrack for all the lingering discontent and disgusted bile we have to choke down. Make It Bleed captures the gleaming, agitated character of modern times , though thankfully it’s not all charge ‘n’ fury, which makes the moments where bandleader Rob Higgins drops to an effective whisper, underscored by bell tones and electric simmer, all the more effective. Dearly Beloved’s dynamics and sheer kinetic mojo can’t be beat. Of late, rock has gotten a bit inelegant. There’s edginess, aloofness, ginned up loft, cleverness and experimentation but not always much real passion. Canada’s Dearly Beloved dig in with a rusty shovel, building, destroying, and breaking new ground; putting their backs into it, dripping sweat, faces contorted, because that’s just how it’s gotta get done when it’s real. (Dennis Cook)

Ron’s Pick of the WeekMike Patton: Mondo Cane (Ipecac)

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Mike Patton is no stranger to the world of Italian crooning. Longtime fans will remember his stellar stab at bel canto on the track Violenza Domestica from Mr. Bungle’s 1995 classic Disco Volante, not to mention his penchant for breaking out an Adriano Celentano cover or two in concert. But with his new project, Mondo Cane, the frontman for the newly reformed Faith No More delivers a studio version of the performance he gave in June of 2008 at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, where he led a 65-piece orchestra through rousing renditions of Italian pop songs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Sung entirely in Italian, this is by far the most impressive display of Patton’s pure, unabridged range as a singer he has delivered in 20 years, as Patton tackles beloved tunes by such Mediterranean greats as Gina Paoli, Luigi Tenco and Ennio Morricone with straight-faced ease and unflinching grace. Fans of the quirkier moments of the Patton canon, such as Lovage and Peeping Tom, will certainly find much to love with Mondo Cane (released May 4). (Ron Hart)

The Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards (Third Man/Warner)

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Salacious ferocity fuels the second long-player from Jack White’s new combo, shaking their hips like battleships and extending moist tongues to lap up quality grime. This is the flat-out funkiest slab White’s ever produced, mean and lubricated and might like to take a good-sized bite out of you. As one of the premiere contemporary blues explorers, White has tapped into rich crossroad/juke joint soil with The Kills’ Alison Mosshart (vocals), Queens of the Stone Age-er Dean Fertita (guitar) and fellow Ranconteur Jack Lawrence (bass). White is already a better – though little less flailingly aggressive – drummer than Meg, and the whole enterprise shimmies like a teen dream with a cherry to pop strutting through a biker rally. Mosshart is sex on two legs and her intertwining with Jack’s voice is aphrodisiac. Fertita is just plain mean – an unpasteurized kinda serration – and Lawrence is like a frisky python exuding pheromones as he curls around your limbs. The songwriting is highly collaborative and their group vibe wrestles wonderfully. Grab some of that clear blue meth from Breaking Bad, slap on Sea of Cowards (released May 11) and all kinds of terrible-yet-terrific things might unfold. (DC)

The Fall: Your Future, Our Clutter (Domino)

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In the 34 years that Mark E. Smith has been fronting legendary UK post-punk outfit The Fall, he has doled out more pink slips than Donald Trump, Kat Von D and the CEO of Viacom combined. However, for his Domino debut, Smith manages to keep things rather copacetic by continuing to work with the same lineup of young visionaries who backed him on 2008’s Imperial Wax Solvent, and even uses a band shot for the album cover (a true rarity in The Fall). Whether or not this newfound sense of stability is a permanent thing or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this frantic, beat-heavy masterpiece stands as the best Fall album since 1985’s This Nation’s Saving Grace, not to mention the most personal collection of songs Smith has ever delivered, recording much of this new material while in a wheelchair following hip surgery. If this is the clutter-filled vision Mark E. has for our future, we might be in good shape after all. (RH)

Sam Quinn: The Fake That Sunk 1,000 Ships (Ramseur)

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This solo debut from the former everybodyfields frontman (released May 11) vibrates with the unmistakable ache of real loss and subsequent bitterness and confusion that usually follows any serious blow to one’s life. “I know exactly where all the good times went,” Quinn intones, adding later, “I kill myself a little every night.” Quinn’s tenderness, in several regards, is balanced by rich, layered production that recalls the good old days of Mac Davis, Bobby Goldsboro and early Jackson Browne. In several spots, particularly Suite Motown, he draws from the Buddy Holly/Smokey Robinson stream, where universal melancholy sashays in a way that raises a crooked smile even as we taste salty tears trickle over our lips. (DC)

Turzi: B (Record Makers)

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A, the 2007 album from Paris-based synth maverick Romain Turzi, was resting atop a bagful of compact discs on deck to be traded during my annual trek to Princeton Record Exchange when I heard a track from it featured on a stellar mega-mix from the Amorphus Androgynous (the artists formerly known as Future Sound of London). And it was only a few seconds after hearing the A highlight Afghanistan on the second disc of A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble before Turzi’s album was quickly transplanted from my trade pile to my car stereo rotation, where it has remained ever since. So, no sooner than I just started to really get into the retro-futuristic sounds of Turzi does the Frenchman’s follow-up, B, emerge. Keeping with the alphabetical theme of A, this massive 10 track set completely lends itself to the second letter of the English language, right down to the choices of guest vocalists, which include Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and legendary avant-garde French singer Brigitte Fontaine. B also stands for bubble, and the one that Turzi blows here makes the decades separating Hawkwind’s In Search of Space and Kraftwerk’s Computer World never existed. B is by far Turzi’s most monstrous and psychedelic to date. (RH)

Thee Oh Sees: Warm Slime (In The Red)

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Such a delightful roar! The opening title cut is like a bucolic cousin to what The Troggs and Iron Butterfly once mustered, though flecked with more bright sparks and cooing energy than those touchstones. The numbers here slug and swirl, but there’s a smart mastery of their wilding that understands the brute force pleasure of garage rock but doesn’t surrender to its sometimes sloppiness. Warm Slime (released May 11) is one for Nuggets lovers with enough cobbles to dig the evolutionary bent inside this succulent SF Bay Area band. (DC)

Rangda: False Flag (Drag City)

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Whoever said shred is dead obviously needs to get that Ibanez Universe seven-string out of their ass. Six Organs of Admittance svengali/Comets On Fire guitarist Ben Chasny and legendary Sun City Girl Sir Richard Bishop might not be the first two guys who come to mind when you think of finger-tapping and arpeggios. But on False Flag (released May 18), the debut recording of their new instrumental power trio with drummer Chris Corsano, they deliver an epic guitar duel for the ages across this six-song set highlighted by the dense, psychedelic 15-minute epic Plain of Jars and the downright ravenous Fist Family. Any fan of Bishop’s 2007 album While My Guitar Violently Bleeds or Chasny’s fretwork on the Comets’ 2004 monolith Blue Cathedral will want to go out and cop this straightaway. (RH)

Tobacco: Maniac Meat (Anticon)

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Rough-edged, disorienting, sensual and gutbucket clever, Maniac Meat (released May 25) is a lysergic dance floor head charge. There’s something wonderfully off about this set, the sort of tilted POV one chases with chemicals, strong drink and Dr. Dre style keyboard squiggles. Played loud this has the heady potential to unleash your inner freak and reveal some cool moves you didn’t know your body contained. Tobacco, also part of Black Moth Super Rainbow, doesn’t wait for the listener to engage here; he’s on you like damp polyester in a hot box packed club. While everyone (present company included) swoons over the new LCD Soundsystem, you should carve out a little time for this kindred crackling affair, which includes two fab guest turns from Beck on Grape Aerosmith and Fresh Hex. (DC)

Gayngs: Relayted (Jagjagwuar)

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Early-90s R&B might seem like an odd point of inspiration for an indie rock album, but the ragtag team of acts that comprise the Minneapolis-based supergroup Gayngs – including members of Bon Iver, Solid Gold, Megafaun and P.O.S. – integrate the slow jam swerve of Guy, Shai and Jodeci into a gauzy, jazzy chillwave groove on Relayted (released May 11) quite swimmingly, especially on tracks like No Sweat and The Last Prom on Earth. It’s been said this album was made as a goof, but the quality factor of this album is serious as a heart attack. (RH)

2 thoughts on “Albums of the Week | May 31-June 6, 2010

  1. Wow, lots to check out here. I haven’t had the Dearly Beloved album stick yet, but it could be a creeper.
    Love the Dead Weather. DEFINITELY going to check out some Mike Patton.

    Long live CD reviews!

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