A whole slew of record reviews

Nathanial Merriweather
Nathaniel Merriweather presents … Lovage, Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By
75 Ark Records

That suave, sickly handsome silly mofo, Nathaniel Merriweather, co-founder of the Handsome Boy Modeling school, returns with another album to help us connoisseurs of cognac and sweet lovin’ succeed in our sultry endeavors. Named after an herb that reduces flatulence, Lovage is a collection of sexy soul, trip hop beats, piano loops, sentimental strings, flamenco guitar and cheesy samples. Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles provide he said/she said laments of lovely lust and solid advice to “Use me like Listerine.” On “Everyone has a summer” Kid Koala blends a whole grip of schmaltzy samples from old films and TV. Afrika Bambaataa, one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, reminds us lovers to wash our asses on “Herbs, Good Hygiene & Socks.” Lovage was of course produced by none other than Dan the Automator, the busy man behind Gorrilaz, Deltron 3030, and Handsome Boy Modeling School. He views albums as package deals, with themes and concepts. His projects, Lovage being no exception, are well crafted, clever, fun albums. It is good, but is it music to make love by? I’m gonna find out real soon, but I’m a little worried I’ll laugh too hard and shoot Hennessey out my nose. Aaron Miles

Mathew Day

What a drag. Pretty boy Brit singer/songwriter plays contemplative, boring pop. Day has a very nice voice and solid songwriting skills, but he needs to put down the textbook, or maybe pick it back up and realize it’s all been done before; he brings nothing new to it. The highlight on this album is a two-minute song on which he doesn’t sing. If could hear more of that – sound effects, strings, siren-esque Dionysian wailing – rather than earnest nice-guy songs, this might be more interesting. Perfect background music for an overpriced restaurant.

Gavin Adair

Mates of State
Our Constant Concern
Polyvinyl Record Co.
Release date: Jan. 22

“Everyone Settle down, settle down, settle down,” the Mates of State sing on the opening track, “Hoarding it for Home.” The lyric doesn’t fit though, because their singing is so unrestrained and joyous. This kind of incongruity is a large component of the Mates of State sound, and it works. The fact that these two are married is apparent in their songs – they abound with love. A drums/keyboard duo not unlike Quasi but with the gender roles reversed – he on drums and she on keyboards – the love still intact, and the organ sound smooth, bright and bouyant. The melodies are subtle and restrained and I just can’t get over the sound of the Kori Gardner’s organ sound, not to mention the unbridled joy of Jason Hammel’s drumming.


3rd Strike
Lost Angel

OK, I must be honest, Hollywood Records only sent us a four-track sampler of songs from the upcoming 3rd Strike album Lost Angel.That’s all fine and good, though, because I couldn’t sit through a whole CD of this stuff. Rap-rock, rock rap – the long and short of it is that some soul-less white dude yell-raps over chunky metal chords. These guys have catchy-though-melodic interludes a la a white Warren G, letting us know that tough guys have emotions other than simple, base anger. What kind of world are we living in?


Provisions, Fiction, and Gear

Moth is one of those thoughtful major label alternative acts. Part ska, part punk, part power chord, it’s hard to tell if this album is supposed to be taken seriously. This is one of those damn bands that is obviously full of talented people, but their creativity is wasted on mixing a gazillion boring genres rather than trying anything new or nailing down anything solid. Moth makes discerning listeners wince.


Ulrich Schnauss
Far Away Trains Passing By
City Centre Offices

This record from a Berlin musician who is purportedly very well known in his hometown sounds like the soundtrack to a movie. Synth pop that seems to cry for vocals, Herr Schnauss lays down one downtempo beat after another, dropping keyboard sounds over the top. The sound is full, warm and rich, but doesn’t stand on its own. This would be great background music to an Imax film – it doesn’t go anywhere, and needs to accompany something that does.