Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Obits – I Blame You

Blistering, tuneful, often ridiculously catchy dark psychedelic garage rock from Brooklyn. Obits never met a good riff they didn’t want to steal – and they really know their rock history – yet their sound is totally original. Some of the stuff here reminds of the pounding neo-garage vibe of the British band Clinic; other songs have an eerie gleam evocative of Mark Sultan. The reverb on the guitars is always turned up, the energy is pretty much through the roof, and the melodies are refreshingly counterintuitive – it’s not just the same old 1-4-5 riff over and over. Their album I Blame You came out in March on Sub Pop; they also have an ep and singles out (also available as mp3s).

The opening cut, with its long Lucifer Sam intro, is Widow of My Dreams, a gritty LES style noir garage song that sets the tone with an insistent, echoey feel and an outro that nicks a classic Keith Levene hook. With its scratchy guitar and slinky bass riff, Pine On offers shades of the MC5 complete with some nice pounding Dennis Thompson-esque drums and a Twilight zone riff. Fake Kinkade evokes mid 80s Sonic Youth stomping through an early Alice Cooper demo, but better.  One of the catchier numbers here, Two-Headed Coin works a 60s bass riff and more reverb guitar for a pretty noir feel.

Catchy downstroke guitar gives Run a sound like Interpol doing the retro thing. The title track is a little instrumental, kind of Booker T on acid, with reverb guitars and a neat funky shuffle beat. The next cut, Talking to the Dog is a stomping Velvets pop song gone completely unhinged. Track eight, Light Sweet Crude is tense and suspenseful with screechy jazz chords and a long build with a sweet payoff. The most Stoogoid track here is Lilies in the Street, with its real cool 4-chord turnaround on the chorus and a big long guitar buildup that fades down gracefully into feedback at the end. Frontman Rick Froberg  rails that he’s “tired of playing Pollyanna, tired of being a ghost” on the angry, minor-key SUD. The next cut, Milk Cow Blues is classic 60s psych in the 13th Floor Elevators vein with a sweet macabre edge. The cd ends with Back and Forth, a Pretty Things-style, early 60s R&B tune.

Their earlier stuff alternates between an early 90s LES feel like the Chrome Cranks, more jaggedly riff-oriented and strung out, and an inoffensively generic post-Sonic Youth indie sound. It’s very auspicious to see to see how much the band has grown since then. If this new album is any indication they should be killer live. Obits play South St. Seaport on one of the year’s best doublebills, opening for the recently reunited and reinvigorated Polvo on 7/31 at 7 PM.

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July 26, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Insound Digital Mixtape July 2009

Quick, how many New Order wannabes can you name? This mixtape seeems to have all of ’em, many of them featured at this year’s Seaport Music Festival. If the original wasn’t enough for you, here are the sons and daughters of Bernard, Gillian and Steve (Peter deserves better than most of this because he’s a good musician whose personal taste in music runs far afield of this catchy but mostly derivative stuff). Let’s see what we have here:

 

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Tooth Decay. Vocoder vox, hypnotic 80s synth, New Order meets Midnight Starr – catchy and simple. They’re playing South St. Seaport on 7/24.

Blank Dogs – Waiting (mix 2). Uptight, untight drums, early New Order i.e. circa Movement, when they were a guitar band but with a late 80s shoegaze edge. Could be better, but it has some promise.

Casiokids – Verdens Storste Land demo. Closer to the synthy stuff New Order were doing on Brotherhood and afterward

Dan Friel – Ghost Town Pt. 1. New Order as played on a dollar-store imitation Casio through the bottom-of-the-line Guitar Center brand amp

Here We Go Magic – Fangela. Less New Order than 60s psychedelic pop done demo-style with a drum machine and barely demo-quality vocals. A good guitar band like the Motion Sick could have a field day with this.

Obits – Two-Headed Coin. Catchy 60s bass riff, reverb-drenched 60s garage guitar, kinda noir. Best track on the cd so far. Hmmm…ought to check this band out sometime. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31 opening for Polvo, supposedly sometime around 7.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Come Saturday. Total Teenage Fanclub ripoff, i.e. middle-period Jesus & Mary Chain without any balls. The first real dud here. How come of all these bands so far, only the Obits have ever heard of a minor key?

Polvo – Beggar’s Bowl. Now this kicks ass! Hypnotic swirling intro, evil growling leads, a stomping rhythm section and then some eerie slightly Middle Eastern flourishes. And how about that flameout at the end, damn! Were these guys the best guitar band of the 90s or what? Sounds nothing like New Order either. They’re at South St. Seaport on 7/31.

Ribbons – Inclusion. OK, back to the New Order wannabes, at least this has some passion and some percussive guitars. New Order play Television maybe.

School of Seven Bells – Face to Face on High Places. Arty, kinda 4AD, ornate synth giving way to trebly, minimal Bernard-style guitar, then the synth comes back. So unoriginal. At least they’re not ripping off Pearl Jam.

Slow Club – It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful. Rich white kids with a drum machine taking a pitiful stab at bluegrass. Barf.

Superchunk – Misfits and Mistakes. Yawn, booooring. Strictly for 35-and-overs who miss hearing this garbage at college parties in the 90s.

Versus – Eskimo. Not their best song (Fontaine wrote most of their real good ones) – this is just a simple poppy riff over and over again until suddenly the eeriness kicks in. But then it’s gone. Fast forward…

The Wave Pictures – Just Like a Drummer. Oh jeeeezus…a 30-year-old guy singing like he’s 13. And he uses the word “hipster” in a way that might not be a slur. Puke. Next…

Zaza – Sooner or Later. OK, back to the New Order…or maybe Clan of Xymox. This is nice – swoopy, minor-key synth, incisive electric piano and now a little rhythm guitar.      

 

So here’s what you get for free (download it here for the next week): three solid hits, a bunch of ok-to-good stuff and only three real duds. Plus you can dance to most of this. Burn the best of this for your kid sister to help wean her off the Jonas Bros.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment