MAY MUSIC REVIEWS

 

BAND OF HORSES

Everything All the Time

(SubPop)

It may be premature to start dropping phrases like “best release of the year”-after all, we’re only a quarter of the way into 2006. That said, Band of Horses’ debut album is strong enough to incite such hyperbole. Channeling Neil Young by way of Built to Spill, Seattle’s Horses roam the range where classic and indie sensibilities meet. They serve up majestic, anthemic resignation in tracks like “The Funeral,” then hushed and haunting melodies like “St. Augustine.” While it doesn’t break new sonic ground, it has wooed at least one listener.

THE BLOWOUTS

self-titled

(self-released) LOCAL ARTIST

Best local CD I’ve heard so far this year. Big, fast, crunchy rock riffs in classic Spokane bar-punk style; will induce head-bobbing, but won’t spill your beer. The Blowouts feature ex-members of The Fumes and Velvet Pelvis. If those bands don’t ring a bell think of a sound akin to The Gits, or more recently, The Soviettes. Just when the songs start to sound the same the record ends abruptly-like all good punk records should.

BUILT TO SPILL

You In Reverse

(WBR)

Built To Spill claimed this would be their most collaborative effort to date-and they’re absolutely right. You In Reverse marks a shift from a Martschean autocracy of overdubs to a jammy, organic commune. The result is an album which is fresh and relaxed, yet surprisingly haunting. Various parts call for attention, yet blend tastefully. The BTS sound hasn’t been wildly altered, just thoroughly revitalized. And every time You In Reverse ends, I want only to listen to it again… easily making it the best BTS album of the past five years.

EAGLES OF DEATH METAL

Death By Sexy…

(Downtown)

For a band as gimmicky and sleazy as EoDM, everybody seems to be taking it really damn serious. Whether you’re watching them on stage, talking to the big guys pulling the strings, or sitting before the man behind the moustache himself, Jesse Hughes, it’s totally impossible to understand if this band is a big joke or just about the greatest thing you’ve ever heard. Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme is behind the drums (and in the producer seat), while Hughes is penning the inane lyrics and belting them out behind the aforementioned ‘stache and black-as-night aviator sunglasses. It’s a trip back to classic rock nonsense, with a healthy dose of Really Frickin’ Awesome to balance things out.

EUPHORIA

Precious Time

(Zoe)

Pop, electronica and techno come together with this aptly-named band led by Toronto’s Ken Ramm. Guest vocals pop up by the likes of Tracy Bonham and Tina Dico, but it is Ramm’s ability to craft ambient, melodic, powerful instrumentals which makes the music thrive. It can be a little too easy-listening in moments for these ears, but to its credit, Euphoria never falters in delivering complex and winning compositions.

THE FLAMING LIPS

At War With the Mystics

(Warner Bros.)

The Lips most recent soundtrack appearances were on Spongebob Squarepants and Wedding Crashers. This seemed like a bad omen, smacking of the hokey and mainstream. And while The Flaming Lips’ spectacularly offbeat muse protects them from anything too “mainstream,” At War With the Mystics is somehow underwhelming. It’s lavishly drenched in all the Lips’ aural hallmarks, yet both the lyrics and the songs feel underdeveloped. It’s a decent album, but Wayne Coyne and Co. have been blowing away “decent” records for fifteen years. The bar is set too high for AWWTM to clear.

PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES

Élan Vital

(Matador)

Oi! It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten a new set of tracks from Seattle’s coolest band (yeah, cooler than that one band on The OC). So, yes, it’s cause for celebration. So, too, is their re-emergence into live-show-land. Yippee! Zollo and crew offer up 12 tracks of classic Girls mixed with a few tweaks-both facets completely welcome because every track is fabulous. From the first squeals of Zollo’s whistle in “The Nocturnal House” they’ll have you, and regardless if this is your first or millionth experience with Girls, you’ll undoubtedly be in love.

THE RAKES

Capture/Release

(V2)

You weren’t tired of Gang of Four just yet, were you?

RAPIDER THAN HORSEPOWER/MAE SHI

Self-Titled

(SAF)

This disc calls out of the stereo like a battle cry for all of us who have ever listened to something our peers described as “just noise.” To the unknowing ear that might appear to be what it is, but with two fantastic bands on board, it’s actually anything but. As we’ve always known, and those dumb peers never did, there’s often something to the noise-and in this case it’s something really extraordinary. An appreciation for the awesome punk coming out of San Diego right now, or those fresh-faced Thermals in Portland will do you just fine for getting into this.

REV. SHINES

Today’s Good News Vol. 1

(self-released)

This is a slammin’ new mix-CD from the DJ behind Portland’s hip-hop heroes, Lifesavas. Today’s Good News satisfies all three of my criteria for a great mix CD; 1) Greats beats I’ve never heard and could never afford to own, 2) Tons of cool loops and grooves that could probably never be licensed for a legitimate release, and 3) lots of sonic curveballs revealed on multiple listenings.

ROCK KILLS KID

Are You Nervous?

(Reprise)

Rock Kills Kid is at times a little too trendy for its own good-pitfalling into Killers territory a few times too often-but when it’s good, it’s pretty damn good and shows signs of promise in the Smiths/Cure category, which hasn’t been touched lately with much success. Plus, these guys just look like rock stars.

STARLIGHT MINTS

Drowaton

(Barsuk)

Um, holy crap, could Barsuk Records get any cooler? With Rocky Votolato and Mates of States releases already in the bag for this year and Long Winters and Smoosh ones well on their way, it doesn’t seem to get much better. But wait! Here’s the latest release from Norman, Oklahoma’s Starlight Mints. Easy to dismiss at first glance, when the disc goes in the player it becomes completely inescapable. The first three tracks are about the best introduction to any band you could ever ask for-and the goods continue well beyond them, making Mints the best thing comin’ outta Barsuk right now. Meet your new favorite band… Seriously.

TAPES ‘N’ TAPES

The Loon

(Ibid)

Does this album title refer to a scavenging sea bird or deranged madman? The music-swooping and squawking, eccentric and unpredictable-seems to suggest both. Tapes ‘n’ Tapes have shortlisted Frank Black and Stephen Malkmus as influences, and their music displays both Pixiesque crazed cacauphony and Pavementian verve and catchiness. This album is noisy, schizoid, yet possesses an undeniable groove. The Loon is like that friend whose oddball behavior is deemed delightful rather than erratic. Tapes’ press-kit puts it neatly: “RIYDL-Black Eyed Peas, Nickelback, Sammy Hagar.”