Saves the Day
Vanguard’s take: The soundtrack to Mary-Kate and Ashley lives.
Dreamworks Records (Spielberg’s music production company) is behind this one. Saves the Day’s jump to the majors has them dropping the punk from the pop-punk, leaving 40 minutes of “la la” choir-boy vocals over a few power chords and comatose drumming. The dog just fled the room, understandably, because this sugar-sweet, bubble-yum-ilicious, suburban-megamall pop is a foot-long cold crap on white. Very white with extra cheese.
STD (hah) is simply a boy band for the Hot Topic sect. This, of course, means that In Reverie is going to be huge -huger than the last record (200,000 units sold on a semi-indie label?). Let’s just call them Diet Weezer, now with 25 percent less talent. So, girls, put on your “Boys Lie” and “Princess” rhinestoned halters and we’ll all meet at the food court. The Boom Boom Huck Jam will be over soon, and Skyler, Carter, and Matty are meeting us under the escalator at 3. Text me later. (BC)
The World of Lady A
Vanguard’s take: Provocative sounds induce pants-dropping.
Enter the world of Lady A. To put on this disc is to walk into an exotic party of late ’60s groove and soul, replete with lava lamps, amoebic light shows and sensuous rhythms to take your body and mind on a journey. Seriously, it plays like a psychedelic party scene from a James Bond flick but with postmodern beats 퀌� la Dan the Automator (with whom Anjali has previously collaborated). I put this CD on and I want to do things: I want to drive an E-type Jaguar on the wrong side of the road with Sofia Loren by my side. I want to pull off a bank heist. I want to sleep with sexy foreign agents who will undoubtedly have a post-coital change of allegiance. You should, too. (LF)
Vanguard’s take: What rhymes with down? Oh yeah, drown.
The mighty Revelation Records was once the pinnacle label for progressive hardcore music (think Quicksand or Gorilla Biscuits). Oddly, Louisville, KY was ground friggin’ zero for this brand of thoughtfully constructed chugga-chug teen metal, where 600 kids at an all-ages show every week was common in 1994. Where have all the goods time gone? College, I suppose, but more likely to clubs that serve beer. Just like sagging our pants and wearing gas station jackets littered with DIY patches, this music is something we grow out of. But not everyone does. Enter Christiansen, from where else but Louisville.
Stylish Nihilists (how cute) isn’t notably bad when compared to its predecessors. All the hardcore staples are in there: dueling chugga-chug guitars, over-singing lead vocalist, symbol-happy drummer. Branden Christiansen (clever stage name) is not afraid to rhyme “die” with “goodbye” on nearly every track. If this album was released a year later, you might call it vintage-retro metal. That could be the next new sound, though I believe we need to be a full decade removed before anything gets the throwback thumbs up. Christiansen and, sadly, Revelation are either first in line for some edge-cutting or they missed the bus about nine years ago. Also, the band probably has Stars Wars tattoos. Always be wary of that. (BC)
The Twilight Singers
Play Blackberry Belle
One Little Indian Records
Vanguard’s take: Texture: It’s not just for clothing anymore.
The Twilight Singers is the new project of Afghan Whigs’ frontman Greg Dulli. Carried over from that band are Dulli’s trademark honkey-sleaze vocals. Not included, however, are the usual guitar-heavy arrangements favored by the band. I liked those too, but this album doesn’t suffer by their loss. Instead, the result is a more textural album, complete with horns and R&B-style backing vocals. The abundance of slower tempo and understated tunes evidence Dulli’s songcrafting ability. With the guitar squall peeled back, an album that relies on the power of its substance rather than merely volume and enthusiasm of delivery is revealed. (LF)
Spoon and Rafter
Vanguard’s take: Sedatives on sale for $17.99.
Instead of the slow motion, wall-of-sound guitar and effect assault favored by their previous band Slowdive, Mojave 3 have been crafting delicate and desolate soundscapes since 1995. Spoon and Rafter, their fourth album, is easily one of their strongest. The music is so sedate, it runs the risk of putting the listener to sleep, but not from boredom. The songs are surreal lullabies that caress the ear and are best listened to late at night and alone. By paying attention, you can hear the subtle and beautiful interplay between the various instruments and vocals. Eno-esque guitars ride atop soft beds of string arrangements while gently sung melodies float above. If it all sounds a bit too mellow for your caffeine- and testosterone-filled life, then listen to it twice. (LF)
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Vanguard’s take: Six great vengeances out of 10 furious angers.
Imagine “Pulp Fiction” without Dick Dale’s crazed surf shredding or the “Reservoir Dogs” gasoline ear-chop scene sans “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel (that’s not Dylan). Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Kill Bill,” promises to be the most violent American film ever made (what about “Red Dawn”?). Judging from the trailer, it’s a cartoonish and light-hearted kung-fu flick. Uma Thurman in yellow rave gear brandishing a samurai? The film-friendly sounds of Nancy Sinatra open the disc. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” isn’t quite “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” but it’s relevent and sets the tone. Next is Charlie Feather’s rockabillying “That Certain Female.” So far it’s Tarantino to the bone. As usual, we get some snappy, ass-blastin’, trash talkin’ dialogue tracks from the movie. The rest of the tracks are a mix of Latin and Asian mood pieces, an 11-minute cover of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” (yawn), and a few bonus tracks of old kung-fu-film sound effects. DJs will eat those up if they find the limited-edition vinyl. If not, someone will use them as their voicemail announcement, so everything will work out. (BC)