Music Reviews: August 2007

Bad Brains
Build a Nation
(Megaforce Records)
You moved on. You acquired a mortgage. You had a girlfriend/husband try to sell you on the merits of Norah Jones and John Maher. But all along this homogeneous path you longed to capture the lightning of the time you saw your first Angry Somoans/JFA show. Well I’ve got news for you. So did the Bad Brains. For the last couple of decades the Bad Brains have been mired in a swamp filled with so much suck there was no escape-I’m talking to you, Rick Okasek. Alas, they’ve been rescued from the doldrums of the 1990s and they officially recaptured their place in the pantheon of hardcore. If you’ve spent the last twenty years searching for the I and I outtakes, this is as close as you’re ever going to come.

Heart Geometry
Geez, I’m a sucker for fun packaging. When Fast Computers’ new disc landed in my mailbox weeks ago, it took me forever to peak inside. When I did? The delight, oh the delight. The band’s one sheet is printed (in “the ink’s running low, ma!” style) on nasty old perforated printer paper. I am already in love. What unfolds on the disc is even better. The Portland trio gets right what far more successful ’80s-flavored bands like stellastarr* and the like get so terribly wrong-this is understated, unrefined, and still fully capable of leaving an impact.

The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band
Is Merge Records not one of the most consistently-amazing record labels currently releasing? It’s hard not to be perpetually impressed by the caliber of acts this label hosts. They’ve got it all! Frickin’ Arcade Fire, frickin’ Spoon, frickin’ M. Ward and the Rosebuds. GEEEEZ. Aside from the major players are greats like this band, arisen from five years off with a new disc of fresh tracks and clever wit.

(The Control Group)
The Lonely H isn’t only the (second) best band of just-graduated teens heard in a long time, they’re also just one of the best heard of late, period (second only in the high school grad competition to the fabulous Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head). These boys, nay, these young men kick out the ’70s-flaired jams like nobody’s business, readying themselves for the big time whilst rackin’ up some serious musical credibility in the meantime. Surely the coolest thing to come from Port Angeles, WA in a very, very long time. A star on the rise.

It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
Maroon 5 has made their career on invoking weak-in-the-knee reactions from young girls and moms alike (including my rad mama). In that, they are extremely accomplished-the new record will keep them on VH1 for weeks to come, and their upcoming arena tour is sure to be a success. That’s given, what wasn’t is that the record is good. Maroon 5 is moving into new territory, and, though not gone, at least somewhat distant are the weak love ballads, replaced with, dare it be said, Michael Jackson-inspired ’80s club hits. It’s frickin’ rad, and that’s coming from a hardcore Jackson fan who at one point in life was going to marry the man. Few can pull it off (I lookin’ at you, Justin Timberlake), but somehow, somehow, Maroon 5 is workin’ toward that.

Professionals & Convicts
This is an oldie (reallllll oldie), but a goodie. Seattle’s Patient Patient will bring their perfect little indie-rockin’ machine to Spokane on August 11 at Caterina alongside the likes of Spokane’s heart-melting Smile Line Spark and newbies Isenheart. Patient’s made the rounds in Seattle and come out ahead. Frontman Neal Burton pushes them to the forefront-he’s one of those “too talented for his own good” types. You know the ones. Go to the show and purchase this ancient relic (released in ’05, even!).

Grand Animals
(New Line)
Oh, I walked into this so sillily detached (I made that word up). New Robbers? Psh, okay, we’ll see, I said. Sure, they were good when I saw them a couple months ago, but I think I’m pretty much done with them, I thought. That was a phase, when their ability to blend carefree melody with perfect charm garnered them comparisons to Spoon, and even the Beatles. But that was then. I’m so over it. Whoops. No I’m not. We’re halfway into their first song and I’m pretty much toe-tappin’ and seat-dancing like a madwoman. Robbers may have stashed themselves away recording for a little too long, but watch out for the careful re-entry. These New Yorkers are still some of the best to come from their ever-burgeoning scene.

New High & Ord
Okay, okay, so mention anything Mika Miko related and I’m likely to double over in excited. Silver Daggers, what with Mika Miko’s Jenna Thornhill manning the mic (she’s the one NOT singing into the red telephone but often with a sax), instantly has my attention. It makes me miss LA-those perfect nights at the Smell with all the kiddos crammed in with their tight jeans and trendy ‘dos, crawling the walls to get the best view and the best picture with their old-style camera. Lucky for me with an upcoming Mika Miko tour of the states and this disc, fond memories aren’t so far away.

Young Modern
It’s been a good seven or eight years since Silverchair mattered at all (that’d be Neon Ballroom era). Back then they were still kids, struggling with their own identity as musicians, and young men. It seems fitting, then, that their re-emergence as major players comes in the form of an effort as strong as Young Modern. Gone are the sheepish imitations. Gone are childhood insecurities. What presents itself instead is an album created by musicians who’ve grown together, coalesced and strengthened. History will show Silverchair has always been worthy of note, and nothing has changed.

The Scenery of Farewell
(Saddle Creek)
Is it possible to write unbiased reviews of one of your favorite bands? No. Cards on the table, I adore Two Gallants. The duo is absolutely incapable of not capturing my attention in any moment that I listen to or see them. There is chemistry, history, between Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel that keeps them tight like glue and anything (read: ANYTHING) they are putting out is worth listening to. To preview Scenery just listen to “Seems Like Home To Me” on the band’s MySpace. Listen to those two voices in unison at the track’s start and tell me you’re not moved. This carries my highest recommendation, as does any other piece of the 2GS catalog.

White Stripes
Icky Thump
(Third Man Records)
You know that relative who insists that all rap music sounds the same? Rob Base, DMX, Slick Rick, Missy Elliot? They all sound the same? Well that same relative likely insists that all White Stripes albums sound the same. In our heart of hearts we know full well White Blood Cells ain’t Get Behind Me Satan, and it definitely ain’t Icky Thump. There’s a hunk of gooey blues, and signature caterwalling, but this album also packs an exceptional sophistication. The kind of sophistication that comes from sampling the whole musical universe, and not just listening to DMX all the time.

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