For your iPod’s Consideration
December 2010 releases
By Eric Saeger
John Gillette, All Bad (Megastar Records)
Bearing the core sound of a 20-something Justin Bieber and the back-sideways-baseball-cap fashion of the truly detestable, Gillette panders to the lemmingest lemmings of this generation -people who don’t grasp the basics of trends and music, but whose hippocampuses know their church group wouldn’t be offended by this type of trendy music if random softcore platitudes are thrown in (not that that happens in this collection of Four-Loko-fueled epithets for tweets and Boo Ya applets). Gillette has made a name for himself as an Autotune-dependent choreographer, knocking together off-the-cuff snippets of nu-Vanilla Ice hatefulness that abuse crowd eardrums during NBA timeouts at Nuggets games. There need be no further mercy for this kind of stupidness, not when our broke-ass population desperately needs some inspiration and there are sampling programs that could make Beethoven out of chimp farts – here it’s rap-snap-croon, then Autotune fluff – you know, Justin Timberlake without the army of songwriters, ADD-afflicted genie-pants-80s for those who don’t care if Dr. Dre’s got nuance or not, because, you know, woot-woot dawg, we’re all up in it, that whole future-laughingstock tip.
Grade: D [Release Date: 11/30/10]
Molice, Catalystrock (Good Charamel Records)
Molice would appear to have designs on moving past their j-rock trappings, perhaps into some sort of advanced, post-j-punk position in the role of a Japanese version of Pavement or Versus or whatnot. For that they’d have to sidestep the anime-backgrounding bear traps of Tokyo, where Shonen Knife is the Ramones, Boris is Sabbath and Luna Sea is Adam Lambert. Toward all this they lead off the LP with “Monster,” a Blondie-feeling head-bobber with front-chick Rinko exclaiming the no-brain chorus like it’s a cheerleading tryout, then into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-like “Romancer,” fitted with no small degree of Gundam-soundtrack catchiness crammed into its crowded, too-busy B-52s refrain, but that’s j-punk for you, all the frenzied passion of texting without straining your thumbs. Plenty of full-bore no-wave (“Into You,” “The Haze”) on board, but the band isn’t non-technical enough to admit defeat, thus the bag can get really mixed: a complicated, none-too-bad Vampire Weekend-inspired rhythm powers “Android Said”; “Monday Runs” evokes Softies on an emo tip; “Let’s Merge” rips off the Police’s “Synchronicity I”; “Fine Wave” dabbles in prehistoric shoegaze.
Grade: B [Release Date: 11/9/10]
The Pipettes, Earth vs The Pipettes (Fortuna Pop Records)
In her (decreasingly effective) efforts to be clever, Lady Gaga has left the door open for any old chick band to walk right in and position themselves as a simple, real-deal ABBA bearing no Ting Tings terror and less Scissor Sisters Meatloaf-ness; something sugar-syrupy but with a visible-enough DJ-era stamp to avoid being written off as an ABBA wannabe. This two-girl-fronted six-piece could take it all, I’m serious, or, at the very least, spearhead another Brit invasion. It’s rare that outright theft is a sign of strength, but the wanton rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” in leadoff track “Call Me” is as clear a call-out as you could ever hear, and from there it’s a relentless series of Giorgio Moroder-tinged ABBA-pop, 60s-girl-group, and anything that could possibly slip into the narrow space between. The only obstacle I could foresee preventing this from world takeover is that there’s no unlistenable filler in it.
Grade: A+ [Release Date: 11/16/10]
The Suzan, Golden Week For The Poco Poco Beat (Downtown Records)
This all-chick Japanese five-some wants to be a couple of things at the same time. On one hand, they’re good at making things that sound like ESG body-snatched by Vampire Weekend (the shuffle-syncopated “Home”), which leads, logically enough, to surfy girl-group (“Ha Ha Ha”), all of which is simply fancy music-writer fill-up-space-speak for “twee-on-steroids stuff you’d expect to hear from an all-girl lounge-band in a re-make of War of the Gargantuas if Tarantino was in charge.” Now, the other drum they feel compelled to bang is that stereotypical Japanese “crazy-crazy-punk!!” thing, like a cutesy Ting Tings after killing a shipper’s case of pucker-mouth candy (“Uh Ah”), you know the shtick. There’s no reason for crazy-crazy spazz when they’re so close to being the godly embodiment of prime-time-ready twee – I mean, this isn’t a split LP between Slayer and Springsteen, and there’s already a Shonen Knife, see? Whatever, the buzz from this will focus on the quirky wimp-punk stuff, I’m merely providing a caveat emptor if that’s all you’re expecting out of the full-length.
Grade: B [street date: 10/25/10]
Martina Topley-Bird, Some Place Simple (Honest Jon’s/Ipecac Records)
Apparently feeling somehow artistically indebted to non-techie shy-chicks like Norah Jones (Topley-Bird’s voice, if you haven’t heard her work elsewhere, such as on this year’s Heligoland LP from Massive Attack, is a direct cross between Jones and Sia), this multi-instrumentalist and former weirdy-beardy squeeze of Tricky has teamed up with mystery percussionist Ninja to folk-up her back catalog of trip-hop chill. Previously released things (mainly pulled from her 2008 LP Blue God) are re-imagined here in the form of Zero 7-like afterthoughts, with “Dadada,” for example, being stripped down to dandelion-puffs of toy-piano whimsy, and “Lying” (from her debut LP) submerged in organ-blooping. That’s all nice and stuff, very Corinne Bailey Rae, but in the end she’s known for irresistibly dank urban stuff, thus her fans could be quite put off by all this. There are 4 new songs included on this US version, including the Zero-7-ish “Orchids,” but it’s tough to tell if that’s the best thing to result from these sessions – the story of this girl’s solo life thus far has been a rap that her import versions “far surpass” the U.S. versions, an annoyingly hip peccadillo in the eyes of fans who appreciate a little consistency when they pay money for audio products.
Grade: B- [street date: 10/19/10]
Reach DCP freelance writer Eric W. Saeger at email@example.com