Week of January 22, 2001

[how's your hand?]
Casper Fandango and His Tiny Sick Tears / How's Your Hand? / Lookit Mee

Casper Fandango, Mike NeSmith's brainchild/alter ego, is his Atlanta answer to indie rock avant-garde. Completely DIY, he has also served his time as a musical apprentice; NeSmith played with at least four other bands since the breakup of his last group. This gap must've given him some time to develop a stronger sense of style. If not, it certainly gave him time to practice. In either case, How's Your Hand? pointedly demonstrates a strong musical talent...more»

Hi-Posi / 4n5 / Tokyopop

While the first two tracks are pleasant, it isn't until the speeding breakbeat of "I'll Never Whistle" that the enchantments of Hi-Posi's driving force Miho Moribayashi (who both sings and does the programming) knock you off your feet. With its percolating beat, synthesized horn hits and wide-eyed charm, this is an absolutely perfect pop number. Undeniably Japanese, "I'll Never Whistle" captures the bustling exuberance of Tokyo - rushing crowds, gleaming surfaces and the unerring focus on a future brightened by technology...more»

Raccoons / Self-Titled / Crouton

Recorded over the course of two nights in one member's living room, the three-piece band played into mics scattered about the room...and what odd sounds these mics picked up. Leading the charge is Hal Rammel on a single-string electric guitar that he modeled after a Vietnamese instrument called the dan bau. In concept, it may sound similar to the late Mark Sandman's two-string guitar, but Rammel doesn't go for the Morphine melancholy funk with his stick. Rather, he aims to grow more weird-ass sounds, from oddball scratches to alien groans...more»

[a working title in green]
Blueline Medic / A Working Title in Green / Fueled By Ramen

The chief impression given is that Blueline Medic have a destination, and that getting there means translating all of their emotions into their songs. The name of the band couldn't be more appropriate. Songs like "Shopping with a Cartesian" seem to exist to convey rock energy. It's an accomplished energy that's consistent throughout the entire disc. Instruments weave into and around each other, with no annoying noise factor to distract you...more»

Death By Chocolate / Self-Titled / Jetset

Above and beyond the estimable input of Jeremy Butler and John Austin, and indeed the El Records pheremones all over the disc, Death by Chocolate is a showcase for one Angela Faye Tillett, purportedly a British teenager who works as a chambermaid when she's not making music. Angie doesn't do much singing. She mostly speaks her lyrics, spooling off her non-sequitur-laden words in an absolutely archetypal British girl voice...more»

[the sleepy strange]
Japancakes / The Sleepy Strange / Kindercore

It seems to me that the steel guitar has a far stronger voice here. It's certainly a distinctive sound. While it adds an undeniable (and thoroughly welcome) country-rock twang to the group's music, it also plays to our conceptions of the whole Athens, GA musician lifestyle. It is slow and lazy, but possessed of unmistakable charm and refreshing honesty. These lazy, loping riffs are the sound of music that gets up at noon. Music that eats half a left-over burrito for breakfast. Music that doesn't wear shoes...more»

[one hundred dollar room]
Kind of Like Spitting / One Hundred Dollar Room / Ohev

One Hundred Dollar Room gives us another thirty minutes of pure emotion that might not literally come from the gut, but appears as if it does. The lyrical concerns are similar to his recent effort on HUSH, with the focus on love/hate relationships that go beyond the bond between a man and a woman, and include that between man and his myth, and between an artist and his pen. Love in every form interests Ben, and it's striking how KOLS can break hearts during songs like "Scene", which would sound whiny in other hands...more»

[the ecstasy of the agony]
Various Artists / The Ecstasy of the Agony / Alternative Tentacles

This is a "super low-priced sampler" of mostly newish tracks (many of which are exclusive to this disc or otherwise unreleased) from thirty artists. In fine "stick it to the man" fashion, it comes with "Pay no more than $5.99" printed right on the cover. As you would expect from Alternative Tentacles, the artists tend towards the left-wing punk rock side of things, with old standbys like Jello Biafra and The Dicks sharing space with more recent acts like The Causey Way and Iowaska...more»

[the rough guide to the music of indonesia]
Various Artists / The Rough Guide to the Music of Indonesia / World Music Network

The journey begins with one of the most recognizable sounds of Indonesia, the gamelan. The Guide starts off on steady footing with CBMW's percussion-intensive "Sambasunda", which combines delicate zither playing and pulsing bamboo gamelan that takes a bow to the nation's conventional sounds, yet pushes forward, incorporating gambang kromong and Brazilian samba. One of the reigning Indonesian styles, dangdut, is adequately explored on this compilation...more»

[house of binary]
The Wisdom of Harry / House of Binary / Matador/Faux Lux

The Wisdom of Harry's intent is to create music that is "both lyrical and cinematic". Indeed, there is a certain understated cinematic quality to all the songs on House of Binary. Take "Palefinger" for example. It's highly evocative, with shimmering textures of floating electronics and exotic acoustic guitar riffing, markedly subdued by its calculated pace and cautious temperament. It comes across like an exquisitely detailed landscape painted entirely in pastels...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance:
Palace of Oranges, Lenola, Alice, Texas, Blacklight Braille, Strunken White/Sorry About Dresden, Paul & Lara, Jahmings Maccow, Slybersonic Tromosome, Whitford, Brokeback, Howling Wolf Orchestra, Suicide Commando, Gwenmars, Craig Bennett, V. Sirin, Fire in the Radio, The Get Up Kids/Rocket From the Crypt, Evidence, Emperor Penguin/Knodel, The Gabriel Mann Situation
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