Music Reviews: December 2007

…Last the Evening
Carrie Akre’s talent is ever-evident throughout …Last the Evening, her debut on Seattle’s Loveless Records. Akre has spent time in a hefty list of Seattle’s most respectable bands, but now it is time to start marketing her to the older crowds, apparently. The new solo material feels like the top of the A/C charts, which means both that it might have trouble finding the right crowd on the indie circuit (the twenty-somethings rarely find a voice in a female crooner on rejected love), but also that it is worthy of much more. Anybody at Loveless have a VH1 connection?

The Dethalbum
(Cartoon Network)
When is Death Metal, false Death Metal, or just plain old false Metal? When the Cartoon Network distributes it. Laugh all you want, but that’s Bugs Bunny with corpse paint that you’re staring at right now. Dethklok of course is a fictional death metal band that stars in the television show Metalocalypse filled with harebrained songs like Bloodrocuted and Hatredy. Bone-crunching fictitious Death Metal delivered with all the moxy of Lamb of God, Death Angel, or Killswitch Engage. Satire close to home sometimes really hurts, but satire done well is just flat out endearing. Count this as the first time you’ve heard Death Metal and endearing have been used in the same breath.

Bitter Blue
(self-released LOCAL)
One of Spokane’s most sure-fire sources of musical talent as of late is its singer/songwriters. And in particular, the females. Without an ounce of sexism at play, mere coincidence, it must be said that the ladies in this town are really excelling. Be it Kaylee Cole and her piano, Kori Henderson and her guitar, or Karli Fairbanks and her myriad instruments, a good thing is at play. “Whiskey Flowers” and “The Same Book” (available for preview on Fairbanks’ MySpace page) are great recorded representations of this trend. On Bitter Blue, Fairbanks is nearly perfect, and in turn produces one of Spokane’s most promising albums in quite some time.

A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer
(Tender Loving Empire)
An incredible amount of noise is coming from these 3 Idahoans. Caught ya! You got totally hung up on that last word, didn’t you? Fear not, Finn Riggins is just plain old good (minus plain… and old). Boise may have produced that one band, but let’s face it, Idaho isn’t known for its rockin’ tunes. Finn Riggins can change that. With a west coast tour on the horizon and this new disc of punchy, innovative and fun-loving folky rock (and a really questionable song about a “glove comprtmnt”) in tow, they can spread the word on all that Idaho may have to offer.

The Killers may very well have never produced something this exciting before. Which, above all, means it is worth your attention. You may have your guilty copy of Hot Fuss (I do). Maybe you listened to Sam’s Town, maybe you didn’t (I didn’t). With the first notes of “Tranquilize,” though, the Killers become unbelievably interesting. Lou Reed agrees. Reed’s legendary vocals add perfectly to the already haunting aesthetic of this music (the inescapable drums, the incessant build of the vocals–“I got this feeling that they’re gonna break down the door/ I got this feeling that they’re gonna come back for more”–those creepy kids!). The eerie duality of the roles Brandon Flowers and Reed play in the video adds to the mystery (and who knew B Flow could act?). Pick up the disc of b-sides if you wish, but make a point of listening to this song.

Rock And Roll
(Is Evil) (Nolita)
Bay area act Luxxury brings to mind the swirling, sex-craved, nonstop dance floors of cities in which you likely never lived, during decades in which you likely never partied. Relevance isn’t an issue, here, though, because Luxxury will have no problem mystifying to the masses. The group’s strongest asset, frontman Baron Von Luxxury, brings to mind the best of the ’80s revivalists (vocals are equal parts stellastarr*ian and ominously Smiths-y). This is an energetic attack on the senses from a variety of angles and origins, and a stunning entry into a much more exciting musical direction.

Even If It Kills Me
Motion City Soundtrack peaked at “The Future Freaks Me Out.” I love it and I think it is wonderful. Okay, it’s probably crap, but it’s catchy… And, oh man, it’s so relatable! I don’t really know how gracefully-aging men still make this kind of music (Plain White Ts dude, I’m looking your direction), but MCS probably does one of the best jobs. If you like it, like it away.

I’m On My Cell Phone
(Crunks Not Dead)
One-woman queer electro-pop circus Nicky Click is quite the gal. Over disco beats, Click’s hushed vocals speak of the injustices suffered by the queer community (“We know we gotta pay for the right to live/ And we know we gotta pay the rent/ And we know we gotta take the garbage out/ But we don’t gotta pay for our love”) and, then, like, you know, talking on her cell phone and her mad texting skills (“I can text so fast that it’s all a whirl”). It’s a fun ride through the mind of this unique performer. Sample on Nicky’s MySpace page, and then order a copy and support Oly’s own Crunks Not Dead.

The Shackeltons
Mark Redding is one of those frontmen that feels (on disc, and really on stage) like he’s about to come unhinged. His vocals are sharp, often muffled, on the edge of a scream that’s not able to quite emit itself from his red-hot neck. He is, in terms of ferocity and spontaneity, but also charisma, pretty much perfect. That which backs him on this debut from the Pennsylvania quintet is equal parts maddening and resoundingly agreeable. The band as a whole is representative of its parts; manic, crazed, great. Prepare for addiction.

(Friendship Never Ends)
Maybe it’s more of a UK thing, but the idea of middle-aged Spice Girls struttin’ it on a stage to the tunes that made ’em famous (which I can’t imagine have improved at all, at least not to the point of listenability), couldn’t really possibly do less for me. And here’s the thing, I was a fan. I was a 6th grader with Spice Girls posters on my wall (granted my cousin was diggin’ Hanson, so the Bop magazine investments were not my own). But that was over 10 years ago! Remember in that bad movie Fever Pitch when Jimmy Fallon asks Drew Barrymore if she still cares about anything that she did 23 years ago and she says “No, because 23 years ago I was 7 and if I still wanted to marry Scott Baio, I’d think my life had gone horribly wrong.” This is like that.

(I and Ear Records)
What the heck! This is fantastic! Doo-wop and soul that borrows heavily but manages, inexplicably, to feel fresh and crazy and new?! How does this work? Inexplicably! For the aforementioned qualities, this record is going to a) make you happy, b) become your new best friend and c) change your opinion of all those cheesy “retro” bands’ validity. Yeah! And, your mom/grandma will probably dig it too!



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