Week of September 10, 2001

Circulatory System / Self-Titled / Cloud Recordings

An unofficial follow-up to 1999ís Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1, this self-titled album was brought to you by the same cast of ragamuffin characters (except for Bill Doss) you have come to know and love via such albums as On Avery Island and First Symphony for Nomad. Former OTC members William Cullen Hart, John Fernandez, Pete Erchick and Eric Harris form the core of this extended musical family; their carnival-styled musings are the foundation of Circulatory Systemís gingerbread house of capricious pop fancy...more»

Fugu / Fugu 1 / Minty Fresh

The album opens with an untitled instrumental in which pianos, strings, horns, and a sprightly bass kick out loungey melodies that sound like bridges from Pet Sounds. The clinking of glasses say that youíve made the correct choice in selecting this disc as the soundtrack to your fondue party. When the second song, "The Best of Us", kicks in, it becomes clear that youíre dealing with someone who approaches pop genius...more»

[new problems]
K. / New Problems / Tiger Style

This is Karla Schickele's first full-length release under the K. moniker. For it, she enlisted an all-star ensemble of family and friends to make certain that New Problems, which is devoted almost exclusively to her original compositions, never underachieves. Matthew, her brother and fellow Beekeeper, provides bass work and production assistance, while Tara Jane O'Neill, Rose Thomson and members of Ida add spicy xylophone, mysterious thumb piano, slithering guitar, blindfold baritone guitar and other peppery instrumentation...more»

[the ghost of each room]
ceVin Key / The Ghost of Each Room / Metropolis

Over the course of ten tracks, Key displays the genius responsible for his best and most classic work. From the opening theremin to the strangled gurgle that closes the album, the songs are filled with life and energy. True, Key's trademark darkness still suffuses the music, but the complexity and passion he puts into his compositions is worlds beyond the mechanical sound of the Download recordings. The opening track, "bOb's Shadow", layers synthesizers, drums, guitar and theremin to create a haunting scene...more»

[The Desperate Vibe of Emotional Devestation (sic)]
The Atlantic Manor / The Desperate Vibe of Emotional Devestation (sic) / Do Too

After a masterful beginning, the sequencing of the fourth and fifth tracks, "Emotional Cripple" and "Two Story House", appears initially to be a fatal flaw. The former is a stately, seven-minute march through the psyche of one unhappy individual ("I hear voices, grinding teeth/Ripping away at my broken heart"), augmented with mournful keyboards and a steady drumbeat. "Two Story House" follows with another stately seven-minute march beside a tormented character...more»

[the apology wars]
Blueline Medic / The Apology Wars / Fueled By Ramen

With a punk background (Blueline Medic features two former members of Caustic Soda) and an admitted affection for Jawbreaker, the band has an understated punk sensibility, but it's mixed rather perfectly with Jets To Brazil-styled emo. The result is a bastardized combination of joyous rocking out in your parents' basement, and its antithesis -- grabbing a guitar, retreating to your bedroom and brooding over who's done you wrong. Whatever it is and whoever the influences are, it works...more»

[Silence Gives the Odour of Wild Cherries]
Diafana Krina / Silence Gives the Odour of Wild Cherries / Hear My Voice

Diafana Krina may be Greek, but don't look for bouzoukis here. The band is composed of a standard five-piece lineup, with Thanos Anestopoulos, the singer, doubling on keyboards and guitarist Nick Bardis blowing a mean trumpet. The instrumentation is, however, the only thing about this album that is standard. Silence Gives The Odour of Cherries is the band's third full-length, and it finds the group at the height of their powers. Their sound is one part The Cure and two parts Bends-era Radiohead...more»

[when we were young]
Dusted / When We Were Young / Nettwerk

Rollo Armstrong and Mark Bates -- the guys from Faithless -- have created a surprisingly pleasant, occasionally disturbing and frequently vague meditation on childhood. Depending upon which source you choose to believe, When We Were Young is either a tale of "childhood demons, juvenile aspirations and adult failing" or a story of "love, hate, abuse and murder." Or perhaps just "a bunch of songs that occasionally mention childhood, or sometimes don't"...more»

[day of love]
Mel Graves / Day Of Love / Mutable

Recorded in 1996, the album is the culmination of thirty years' worth of Graves' musical exploration. Ostensibly a jazz album, the disc explores lyrical melodies and instrumental interludes for flute and bass, with rhythms influenced by Brazilian, African and Indian styles. However, perhaps the most notable influence is poet Pablo Neruda; each song is named after and constructed around a Neruda poem, with each stanza performed in a classic operatic croon...more»

[flying out of solitude]
The Hermit / Flying Out of Solitude / Nutone

"Driving in Solitude"'s beat is happy but unchanging, the synth key high and echoey. It suggests the counting of tiles in a long underwater highway tunnel, or roadstops on a state turnpike. Percussion and synth dominate, but special effects are used throughout the album. "Ohio" features the recorded sound of running trains, and ends with a train whistling in the distance; the drumbeats mimic the noise of a locomotive engine. Anyone who has spent time in Ohio will become nostalgic listening to this sound...more»

[vine of souls]
Iowaska / Vine of Souls / Alternative Tentacles

Donít let the name Iowaska fool you. This band has absolutely nothing to do with either Iowa or ska. This is a very British, and very Black Sabbath/Hawkwind-esque "space rock" four-piece from Essex, England. On first listen, I found this album almost comical. The hollow, heavily accented vocals of lead singer Sam (female), and the lyrical references to pagans and Earth mothers and the like, lent the album a distinct Spinal Tap feel. Remember that scene where the band dances around the miniature model of Stonehenge...more»

[all is dream]
Mercury Rev / All Is Dream / V2

Mercury Rev's unique talent lies in their ability to take a page from nearly every book and mold it into their own nuanced brand of music. In a word: mercurial. Having learned from prog-rock excesses, the band adroitly blends untraditional rock instruments and classical flourishes to create an airy and open sound. The lead track is a perfect example; "The Dark is Rising" opens up with all of the bombast of a James Bond theme, and tumescently swells into a sort of Anne Murray plaintiveness...more»

[not now]
Brendan Murray / Not Now / create.transmit

You can say that a string quartet is in sonata form, that the cello plays a melody while the violins and viola play pizzicato accents, that it begins very quietly and ends with a rousing choral. Or you can say that a punk rock tune does the soft/loud thing with fierce girl vocals and a surf guitar solo in the middle. But what do you say about something like Not Now? I can't very well walk you through the four long, sparse tracks, describing every bleep and warble...more»

[past imperfect, present tense]
Erik Sanko / Past Imperfect, Present Tense / Jetset

Almost half of Erik Sanko's solo debut deals with his love life, post-some-nasty-breakup. While a bitter song about how love sucks is nice to hear every now and then, Sanko dives right into the world of singer-songwriter self-indulgence. The album's success, therefore, depends upon its music, because after a couple of songs it's clear that this born-again romantic won't talk about anything but how he feels about "you" -- a "you" who, as in Elliott Smith's romantic ballads, is a former lover...more»

Trespassers William / Anchor / Sonikwire

Yes, lead vocalist Anna-Lynne Williams' voice does have some similarities to that of Sarah McLachlan; it's strong and emotive, with a slight warble. But to dismiss Trespassers William so abruptly would be to ignore an extremely interesting band. Rather than overpowering the music, Williams' vocal stylings are blended seamlessly into guitarist Matt Brown's noodlings, creating soundscapes that have purpose and direction. More importantly, Brown does an excellent job of keeping listeners on their toes...more»

[comfort for the traveler]
Utah Carol / Comfort for the Traveler / Self-Released

While they've settled comfortably into the Americana niche, Utah Carol don't fit its stereotype; they're certainly not ashamed of their country twang, but they don't write painfully sincere songs about factory closings and windblown ghost towns either. Their approach is heavy on American nostalgia, but it's more of a governing aesthetic than a specific set of sonic cues. Song titles like "Silver Space Rocket", "Soda Fountain" and "Mr. Rogers" hint at a definite fondness for the tail end of Atomic Age America...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance:
Sleeping Off Stolen Dreams, Critical Bandwidth, Telefon Tel Aviv, Mike!, Cursive/Small Brown Bike, Loscil, Even as We Speak/In A Day, Recover, The Generators, Slang, Matthew Carlson, Ruby, Bound 4 Venus, Take Everything Very Seriously, Purple Gush Vol. 1: Compilation Printemps, Crush Kill Destroy, Coco B, This Changes Everything: A Second Nature Recordings Sampler, Lift To Experience, The Evaporators, Dishwater Psychics, RX Bandits, John Vanderslice/Sunset Valley, Across Woodward Volume 1, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Michael Rhoades, Roots Manuva, The Dorks, Hank Harris, The American Public, Plastic Mastery/King Sauce, Rock City Crimewave, Erase Errata, Puddle
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