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Week of January 29, 2001

[please bear please]
Lock Up Your Daughters / Please Bear Please / Play Nice

Listening to Please Bear Please is like checking out original nursery rhymes put to loungy, soothing music. Remember Black Velvet Flag warmly covering Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized", as if it was a delightful love song? Lock Up Your Daughters sails through these six tracks, creating a lush collage of sound that's amazingly resourceful, applying a minimalist approach to an undercurrent of pop. Now that's the making of a nightmare factory if I ever heard one...more»
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[new orbit]
Matthew Shipp / Matthew Shipp's New Orbit / Thirsty Ear

It's tension-filled jazz; an ominous piano (Shipp) competes with a buzzing, scorching trumpet (Wadada Leo Smith), a spooky bass (William Parker) and stormy drums (Gerald Cleaver) to create claustrophobic atmosphere. It would seem to work well as the score to a documentary about shadows. If you've seen David Lynch's Lost Highway, you might remember Bill Pullman's character playing some ridiculously dark sax solos. That's the sort of music you'll find here...more»
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[stratosfear]
Unisex / Stratosfear / Double Agent

From the first track, "The Full Force of the Sun", with its soupy vocoder-thickened vox, to the last mellow strummed chords of guitar in "In Among the Breakers", Unisex spins you around in an imaginary Eames chair until you see stars. All of Stratosfear's tracks are laced with theremin melodies -- it's an instrumental fondness that Unisex seems to share with Pram. Unisexuals Jo Doran and Stephen Lawrie, formerly the Telescopes, create lush harmonies that swirl around each other like November fog...more»
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[17th Century Fuzzbox Blues]
Anton Barbeau / 17th Century Fuzzbox Blues / Frigidisk

Be it an assignment for a songwriting class ("Dig My Pig") or a retelling of Roman Polaksni's Repulsion ("Jane too Soon"), Barbeau can go-go-go. The ditties are slight, some little more than two chords bouncing back and forth. The lyrics, too, are sweet and odd and tasty -- just the right mix to leave you singing along after only a listen or two. By no means do I intend to cast aspersions on simplicity. I love simplicity. Some of my best friends are simple. And Barbeau knows that simple and pop are a potent mix...more»

[balkando]
Srdan Dalagija / Balkando / Self-Released

Folk melodies and time signatures have long been mooted as a way to invigorate classical music (see Smetana's Ma Vlast), but this doesn't make the results here any less exciting. In fact, in a time when the majority of music which one encounters reflects nothing more than a heavily commercialized American sensibility, these folk leanings quite possibly sound more foreign than they did when listeners were more connected to their own musical traditions...more»

[quicksand]
The Frank Gratkowski Trio / Quicksand / Meniscus

Quicksand was recorded live in Germany in January of 1999. The four tracks definitely feel like parts of a set, as they all share a certain skittery, slightly spooky ambiance. The jazz element here is stronger than on some of the other Meniscus discs I've heard, although that may just be a side effect of the instrumentation. This is very free-feeling music, with lots of quick turns and sudden shifts of mood and dynamics that make for exciting listening...more»

[over]
Jarboe & Telecognac / Over / Crouton

Could Jarboe, a member of incendiary weirdoes SWANS, be collaborating with the very talented, yet relatively obscure Telecognac? "No way, not in this lifetime!" you might say. But you’d be dead wrong. For those outside the loop, Telecognac is Chris Roseneau and Jon Mueller, whom the rest of the world know better as two thirds of post-rock stalwarts Pele. Exactly how the duo got together with the legendary Jarboe is a complete mystery -- but with results this good, who really wants or needs to know...more»

[little brother]
Beaver Nelson / Little Brother / Black Dog

That raspy voice, combined with the terrific guitar work of producer "Scrappy" Jud Newcomb, continues to accentuate all of Nelson's strong talents on this sophomore effort. Each of the eleven tracks boasts strong melodies, dirty guitar work and well-crafted lyrics that seem casual and off-the-cuff; these words are often as funny ("Hey you're a girl/Two legs and all") as they are beaten-down, sad and weary ("If I seem a little scattered/If I seem a little tossed")...more»

[love and war]
The Pets / Love and War / Endearing

Pick your favorite '60s-era musician and you're bound to find The Pets sounding like him/her at some point during this album. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? Try "Vika." Burt Bacharach? How about "A Lighthearted Lovesong?" Three Dog Night? The first 30 seconds of "Sunshine Shining" scream "Mama Told Me Not to Come." The Beach Boys? Give "Lately in the Shade" or "The Liar" a spin. The Beatles? "On to You", and the final track, "Welcome to the End of the World", bear an uncanny resemblance to the Fab Four's output...more»

[the peek-a-boo book of speels]
Various Artists / The Peek-A-Boo Book of Spells / Peek-A-Boo

This is more than just a creatively-themed excuse to show off the Peek-A-Boo roster, though said bands represent well. Trail of Dead make an obligatory appearance as perhaps the highest-profile act here, though critical darlings Knife in the Water make more of an impression with the spookily pleasurable "A Spell for Some Summer Day". Junior Varsity are predictably peppy on "Voodoo Voodoo", which sounds like it was pulled from the soundtrack of an obscure B-Movie -- The Zombie Letterman, perhaps...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance:
Translucent Songs, Greg Weeks, Namelessnumberheadman, Postal Blue, Santeros y Saleros, Brazen Hussies, Dry and Heavy, C. Jane Run, Jeff Dernlan, DJ Craze, The Living End, Rahul Sakyaputra, Planetarium, The Gift: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Velvet Acid Christ, Helms, Shai, Son of Eli, The Mentals, Kid With Man Head, JLIAT
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