Archive for February, 2007

Are you ready…for MAN MAN?

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Somewhere between a voodoo witch hunt and a Neanderthal mating ritual…Their entire set consists of one song woven into another, a humongous medley of quasi-nonsensical yelps and wails, with band leader Honus Honus pounding the keys on his organ as if they were on fire and only his fingers could put them out.
-‘Sup Magazine

Man Man are just so much fun to look at, with tons of toys for improv antics, animated faces, beards, glasses and their Tom Waits-meets-Zappa-meets-a-ship-of-drunken-pirates carnival of sounds.

Here are some more facts about Man Man: They’re from Philly. They dressed all in white, with white war-paint streaked under their eyes. They all sang big full-throated man chants; they all seemed to play several instruments at once, and “instruments” should be interpreted loosely– not only guitars, accordions, saxophones, and keys, but steel buckets, toys, spoons, and bowls of water. They sang about falling out of love in Brooklyn and falling out in general. They swooned mightily together or epileptically jittered in sundry directions at invisible psychic cues, imposing a pantomimed theatricality upon their very real transportation. There were no breaks in their set, so the music deeply respired like something large that was asleep, and that you hoped would not wake up…

Man Man’s power isn’t derived from the genres they stumble across, or the maniac light in their eyes, or the sweat pooling in their beards. It’s the unbearable sadness in their marrow and how they transform it, like the existentially distressed but heroically steadfast men men they are, into a terrible and lionhearted joy.


Oh wait, I’m supposed to be a student too….

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

I got a little bogged down this week, so I haven’t been able to review CDs, but more will be on the way. In the meantime, a Kings of Leon fact: two of the brothers in the band wanted to be country stars, and dropped out of school to pursue country before switching genres. This little factoid wasn’t prompted by their new album leaking…not at all…..

Albert Hammond, Jr. – Yours To Keep

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Yours to Keep, the solo debut from Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., will undoubtedly be placed in the context of the Strokes, and for good reason. According to the NME, part of the impetus for making this album was the motherband rejecting many of Hammond’s songs. And if Hammond was only the son of a famous songwriter, you could definitely hear a Strokes influence evident on the album. You would also hear a very solid CD. Owing a lot to the ’50’s pop of artists like Bobby Darin, it is a fun, simple, laid back album that doesn’t have the same aura of ‘cool’ that permeates throughout Strokes records. Hammond sounds like a guy who just wants to play his guitar and sing some songs, not much more.

The stand-out track on the album is certainly “101.” It is irresistibly catchy with good guitars and a big, sing-along chorus. The one downside to the song may be the female vocals that join Hammond, rising out of the background, and serve more as a distraction from the guitars at first, and when the two sing in unison, just feel too much like a top 40 pop song. Another stand-out is the first bonus track, “Postal Blowfish,” which is undeniably a rock song. It has big drums and big guitars, and is still catchy as hell. On “Scared,” Hammond sounds directly from the ’50’s bubblegum era until the chorus, which is dark and moody.

The one major knock against the album is that Hammond does not seem to know when to end songs. Often times, he will finish with the lyrics and the instrumentation of the song, then just play something totally different. This is especially evident on “Hard to Live in the City,” which ends with a brass section not heard anywhere else in the album, and almost sounds like a ska song, which is the last thing you want to hear on this record. All in all, it’s not hard to tell that Hammond came from the Strokes, but it’s even easier to enjoy Hammond, with or without the support of Julian Casablancas and co.

Overall: 7.5/10

Ela – Real Blood on Fake Trees

Monday, February 12th, 2007

There was a time when emo wasn’t such a bad thing. At The Drive-In has the e word listed as one of their styles on allmusic, and Jawbreaker’s Dear You is still a classic. So perhaps it isn’t a surprise that the first RIYL on the one-sheet for Ela’s new CD Real Blood on Fake Trees is Jawbreaker. Ela plays an angular style of emo that doesn’t share much in common with the brand of emo that is currently popular. Ela relies on dark melodies instead of comparing ex-lovers to arms dealers to create an intense disc that doesn’t quite reaches the heights of Jawbreaker, but doesn’t fall to the lows of what emo has come to represent either.

Overall: 6/10

SnowLeopards – Debut

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

The debut CD for the SnowLeopards, aptly titled Debut, is very close to being just a generic piece of power-pop. What separates it from the rest of the pack is a retro vibe that permeates throughout the album, especially on “I’m on Fire” and “Hipmatize Me” (which may be one of the worst names for a song I’ve heard all year). With female vocals also, Debut isn’t going to win the SnowLeopards the amount of fame that a debut such as that of the Arctic Monkeys garnered, but it could wind up being either a good guilty pleasure or a building block to successful second album – would that be named 2?