CD Reviews – 12/22/10
By Eric Saeger
ARP, The Soft Wave (Smalltown Supersound Records)
Avant krautrock ambience resulting from Alexis Georgopolis’s leaving San Francisco outfit Tussle and moving to New York, where, by the way, he’s found some measure of success in the mixed-art arena. These vocal-less, eerie, understated pieces are full of subtlety, created with older-sounding synth lines as bases of operation, from which sprout lightly dissonant noises, sub-hoover, hearing-test patterns and various species of glitch. With that out of the way, as a public service I’m going to assume you’re (and I wouldn’t blame you for) hoping to be spared further deconstructo-art-fart babbling and awaiting simple layman’s terms. Ahem. This stuff provides the same level of entertainment as watching saltwater taffy being pulled by one of those big stainless-steel gizmos – it does its thing while your brain does its own, accepting or rejecting the patterns and (I did mention subtlety, right?) shifts of the compositions, and make no mistake that this isn’t self-indulgent nonsense but a set of concise, intricate patterns. Open-mindedness helps here, as in life.
Grade: A- [Release Date: 9/28/10]
Combichrist, Making Monsters (Metropolis Records)
The promise of Andy LaPlegua’s second Combichrist full-length Everybody Hates You has still not come to full fruition, and if LaPlegua continues mass-producing hard-goth tunes from this same mold again and again, anyone with two brain cells to rub together is going to head for the exits soon. But that’s the bad news. The good news is he’s holding down the industrial-jackboot fort pretty much all on his own nowadays (okay, there’s Hanzel und Gretyl, and… okay, at least it can be said he’s made Rammstein, who abdicated the throne several years ago, totally irrelevant), stubbornly clinging to a formula of death-metal vocals and clangy Terminator grind fired through a laser of hate for anyone with a uterus. As I’ve said, though, the current problem stems from lack of variety; in much of EHY (we won’t even mention Jim Thirlwell’s devastatingly heavy serial-killer-techno project Wiseblood from, jeez, look at the time, 1987) hoover sounds and woofer-overload were only two components of the plan, unlike this, which feels like it was the result of LaPlegua feeding a few misogynistic sentiments into a randomizer.
Grade: B- [Release Date: 9/28/10]
Electric Six, Zodiac (Metropolis Records)
OK, I think I’ve finally got it this time. How about: Nick Cave taking over Scissor Sisters? Rocky Horror vs Bee Gees? Whatever – the revolving-door Detroit crew is pretty jacked on this album, with singer Dick Valentine going harder-faster at his Dr. Frankenfurter roar than ever before, rhyming “druids” with “Boston Bruins” and things like this during the act of wringing his now-familiar Weird Al-style wordplay for maximum yucks. The last time they did a cover tune was “Radio Ga Ga” in 2005, so lost time is made up for with a “Rubberband Man” that summons Power Station on black beauties.
Grade: B [Release Date: 9/28/10]
The Sleeping, The Big Deep (Victory Records)
By default and curse of fate, this Long Island power-pop is recently most famously identified as an opener for Taking Back Sunday, and they’ve recently been, or will soon be, on the road with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. But with a Pennywise-minded rawness bolted to an idea of Snow Patrol on bennies, this (albeit dweeby looking) quintet isn’t a bunch of nose-holding emo gimps at all. Some nice noise experimentation (the coda of “Beautiful Gloom”) underscores the almost Tool-ish open-mindedness of the band, and although they don’t have the well-oiled sonic overdrive of Linkin Park, they’re on that sort of track, if in a less presumptuous way. And blah blah blah – what we’re talking about here is next-gen power-pop stuff compatible with PM Today, an unpretentious young band that might perhaps someday be capable of surviving a few rounds with Minus the Bear.
Grade: A- [Release Date: 9/28/10]
Jed Davis, The Cutting Room Floor (Eschatone Records)
Rumpled New York session-fixture Jed Davis wrote “The Bowery Electric,” the heartfelt tribute song that brought Tommy, Marky and CJ Ramone together in the studio in memory of Joey Ramone in 2001. Being a session guy, his keyboards are naturally in constant flux; he’s dabbled in electroclash and punk and worked his own stuff with Steve Albini. Keeping all the above in mind, remember also that he’s a keyboard guy who’s done a little theater writing, so when I say his latest effort sounds like Andy Dick doing an impression of Elvis Costello doing an impression of Elton John, it shouldn’t be that much of an M. Night Shyamalan moment for you – punks, even relevant ones, get old too, and truth will out. There are grabby melodies, off-Broadway bombast, and shtick (much of it unintentional, most likely), all in a zone that might rope in fans of both Tom Waits and Nick Cave, ie one man finding his soul against the backdrop of lower Manhattan, nothing to see here, folks, keep moving.
Grade: B+ [Release Date: 9/21/10]
Reach DCP freelance writer Eric W. Saeger at HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com