Monday, May 22, 2006

Music Reviews: May 2006

Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics (Warner Brothers)

Holy shit. Heavenly bowels. Cosmic leftovers. The Flaming Lips have made a career out of twisting peoples knickers into a frenzied state of confused bewilderment. On “At War..” they twist a little harder, leaving skidmarks that must have been the divine work of Picasso himself. Ahhh, sweet Downy… Following up one of the most critically-acclaimed concept albums EVER, “Yoshimi…” here the Lips concentrate on the songs and let their signature style of tweaked production and flair for arrangement tie everything together. And the production… I would love to be a fly on the wall in their studio. I picture elves wrapped in 2-inch day-glo tape, fairies with moustaches and mermaids with hairy legs all presided over by the mad conductor, Tommy Coyne, holding a velvet wand that coaxes his technicolor whims to fruition. People seem to think that Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd is sprinkled all over this record. While I see the similarities (especially on “The Yeah Yeah Song”), the influences range from T-Rex pomp & Queen glam to Beach Boys sunshine pop and everything in-between. “Free Radicals” sounds like a Mooney Suzuki / Jack White tweakfest (no it doesn’t sound like Prince, as likes to think – what’s up with their Prince fascination, anyway??) while “The Sound Of Failure” tips its hat to Todd Rundgren. “It Overtakes Me” is an epic piece, harking back to “Yoshimi…” with its cinematic arrangement. My only question – what will they do next???

Get these: “Free Radicals,”The Yeah Yeah Song,” It Overtakes Me”
Wax it if you like: the air that you breathe, g

Check out "Free Radicals"

or download it:
Free Radicals

The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers (V2)

Jack White likes Coke. Yes, the man who penned a catchy little jingle for the syrup-and-corn wielding, tooth-rotting juggernaut is back with a new band. Just don’t call it a vanity project. Jack has ditched the face of Marc Jacobs and formed a sort-of all-star band with Brendan Benson and some guys from the Greenhornes. Given the lineup, I wasn’t surprised that the Raconteurs rely mostly on their retro-rock influences. The lead single, “Steady As She Goes” starts off like a Joe Jackson tune and…well, it kinda rocks. Unlike the Stripes, the groove is a lot slinkier (sorry, Meg, but white chicks aren’t funky) and the additional vocals of Benson are a welcome change. Simply put, these guys sound like a band. “Hands” is a cross between “The Bends” and Bad Company (what did I just say?); “Intimate Secretary” features some interesting retro-meets-modern production, sweet-as-coca-cola harmonies and the best arrangement on the record. And then there’s “Store Bought Bones.” Brendan and Jack’s voices are like a Reeses peanut butter cup. Not sure if Jack got his chocolate stuck in Brendan’s peanut butter, but I’m not gonna explore that one. I’ll let NME start the rumors. But it’s nice to see each of these artists stretch into new territory. Granted, it’s not far from the comfort zone, but I’ll take it.

Get these: “Steady As She Goes,” “Store Bought Bones,” “Intimate Secretary”
Wax it if you like: Cheap Trick, Joe Jackson, The Guess Who

Check out "Store Bought Bones"

or download it:
Store Bought Bones

Cibelle – The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves
(Six Degrees)

Cibelle is hot. Let’s get that out of the way, because I really fancy a shag. But unlike most misunderstood, arm-candy “vocalists” this Brazilian-born vixen can sing you into sweet submission. Cibelle was introduced by the late-Brazilian producer Suba and released a loungy, Bebel-ish record on Six Degrees a few years ago. This record is a complete 180 degree turn. The production is incredible - - clean, organic, yet experimental and tweaked enough to bug you out if you happen to smoke a binger and zone out with your new Bose noise canceling headphones while walking up First Avenue. Sacre Bleu!!! The brazilian-slanted cover of Tom Waits’ “Green Grass” is gorgeous. Devendra Bernhart shows up on the silky, yet twisted “London, London” and Seu Jorge compliments the hooky “Arrete La, Menina” with background textures that have an air of desperation. Yes, the cover looks straight outta Berlin, but this is definitely not a Miss Kitten record.

Get these: “Green Grass,” “London, London,” “Arrete La, Menina”
Wax it if you like: Suba, Bebel, Maria Rita

Check out "Green Grass"

or download it:
Green Grass

Dudley Perkins – Expressions (20. 12 A. U.) (Stones Throw)

Dudley is one of the most original artists in hip-hop. Period. His first record, A Lil Light, was dubbed-out, dissonant hip-hop on Thom Yorke-flavored peyote. And while Dudley’s eccentric-leanings are still intact on Expressions, he leans more toward the soulful side of the street with stellar results. His raps flow like a stream of conscience, anchored by Madlib’s crisp beats and minimal, old-school soul samples. Dudley’s delivery is smokey with a flair for the melodic; what I like most about his style is how he tosses in falsetto lines, which, almost random by design, make for a truly original style. Like most of the releases on Stones Throw, this is not some Puffy-babble. (Diamond-encrusted backpacks from Jacob – holla!) The first track, “Funky Dudley,” takes a riff from Ohio Players’ “Rollercoaster,” breaks it down and serves as a bed for Dudley’s profession for all things funky and sticky. “Get On Up” takes a similar turn, while “Dolla Bill” makes a mockery of hip hop’s obsession with the Benjis; however his rhymes would probably go over the heads of those he mocks. The last line of the song, “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being broke” serves the bling community with dose of reality before he flips it on “Inside,” which extols the virtues of what drives him: music. Oh, bittersweet irony, thou hast spoken. Merci, sweet Dudley.

Get these: “Funky Dudley,” “Dolla Bill,” ”Me”
Wax it if you like: J Dilla, Mad Lib, Stones Throw

Check out "Funky Dudley"

or download it:
Funky Dudley

Adam Green – Jacket Full Of Danger (Rough Trade)

With the release of his forth solo record, Adam Green (formerly of the Moldy Peaches) continues his journey down the road less-traveled, anchored by his own drumbeat that leads him towards an island of gleeful randomness. From the first note, I feel like I’m trapped in a dream conducted by Bill Murray riding a half-Eddie Rabbitt, half-Lawrence Welk centaur. Sounds strange, but when you hear Adam Green talking about smoking crack like Isaac Asimov while backed by a Burt Bacharach tribute orchestra you’ll know what I mean. There’s something perversely enjoyable about all of this, though. I have a thing for the bird that played the fiddle in Welk’s band, and “I Love A Rainy Night” is one of those songs that makes a trip to the dentist seem like a vacation. And Eddie’s hair is chic. Mr. Green is a quintessential musical humorist. But unlike Richard Cheese, who revisits modern-day chart toppers with a Holiday-Inn Velvet Lounge approach, his lyrics are clever and at times hilarious without being corny. “How many drugs does it take to find something to say? How many drugs does it take to find something to do?” Classic tortured pop-star etiquette. This may not be the record that you listen to over-and-over again as you get primp your cute little beehive and apply Enjoli to you nether-regions before you do the 27th Street shuffle on a Saturday night, but if you have a twisted musical sense of humor, you will definitely enjoy like Goulet.

Get these: “Pay The Toll,” Vultures,” “Drugs”
Wax it if you like: Burt Bacarach on Ectasy, Richard Cheese

Check out "Pay The Toll"

or download it:
Pay The Toll


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