Strange waves

New releases worth a listen

By Benjamin Smith

2012 has ushered in many new things, including this column about new (or relatively new) music. Critics might say that Dayton needs another music column like it needs another economic downturn or weird bar, and perhaps they would be right. But I’ll try to provide at least some value by showcasing notable bands, singers, and albums from beyond the Gem City and these United States. It’s good — even healthy — to gaze past our immediate scenery, and the world is ever-expanding with innovative recordings. But enough of this intro; let the sonic safari begin.

Album: Katerushki
Artist: Doktor Schnitt
Label: Eigen Beheer
Release Date: December 2011
Country: The Netherlands
Possible Soundtrack To: A Film Noir Remake of Communion

If you were to go back to the 1950s and ask the average person on the street to guess what “alien jazz” sounded like, he or she would probably attempt to describe Doktor Schnitt’s second album. The three members of this Rotterdam band all play “electronics,” creating blips and blasts of cosmonaut oddness over their bass, drum, and percussion parts. “8,5” appears to include snippets of a droid busting rhymes at open mic night, and “Verschieber” (rough translation: “to move”) could be the vibration of a metal migraine machine. This is definitely not easy listening. Yet while Katerushki is close to unlistenable at times, it does radiate a whimsical, human spirit. The album’s title is Bulgarian for “playground,” one track is 15 seconds of either hand-clapping or tap-dancing, and about half of its post-rock explorations ultimately lead to hip-shaking. An uneven but unforgettable work.

Album: Ridiculous Wrists
Artist: Boutros Bubba
Label: Narrominded
Release Date: November 2011
Country: The Netherlands
Best Enjoyed While Reading: The Book of Revelation

An additional Low Country trio is Boutros Bubba. According to their website, the band’s “fundament of heavy drumming and tight guitar riffs gives way to swaggering drinking music and suspenseful improvisations.” Actually, this claim hits the nail right on the head. Ridiculous Wrists is a jarring, Shellac-ish mess quite catchy in its own peculiar way. The bassist’s name may be Freddie Mercury, but the true star of this album is guitarist/frontman Spoelstra. He can’t sing but he can certainly play in a haphazard fashion: peruse “Fun With Powertools” and  “Green Green Bread of Home” in particular. Then there’s closer “Mid Air,” which brings to mind the epic 1974 battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla. Somewhere in Dayton exists a guy with a beard who would do almost anything to see Boutros Bubba perform Ridiculous Wrists at South Park Tavern. This guy has the right priorities. People, we need to make this gig happen.

Album: Renditions
Artist: Slow Moving Millie
Label: Island Records, Universal Records
Release Date: December 2011
Country: United Kingdom
Perfect Gift For: Fans of Natalie Merchant, Your Mom

Let’s cross the North Sea now to London, home of actress Amelia Warner—a.k.a. Slow Moving Millie—who recently released her debut album of (mostly) covers of “classics” from the 1980s. Renditions opens with a stark piano-based version of The Smiths’s “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” and from here the music may lull you to sleep. Slow Moving Millie is gifted with a pleasant voice, and there are some novel selections, including “Hold Me Now” by the Thompson Twins and Bananarama’s “Love In The First Degree,” but there’s no real substance here. The whole enterprise is a bit puzzling, causing one to wonder: why the hell was this produced? To what purpose? Even more puzzling is that this covers album ends with two original songs. Neither one astonishes. 2012 just started, but Renditions could end up the most pointless record of the year.

Album: Singles (2006–2011)
Artist: The Feeling
Label: UMG, Island Records
Release Date: December 2011
Country: United Kingdom
Lyric That Sums It Up: “Hey, show some love, you ain’t so tough; come fill my little world right up, right up.”

Also in London we find The Feeling. To be honest, there is nothing remotely “strange” about this five-piece, except for the fact that they’re not huge here in the States. Many Americans love piano-driven pop music, and that is The Feeling’s forte. After three studio albums, the band came out with Singles (2006–2011) this past December. Though they may not be as hungry or calculated as, say, Coldplay—which may explain their lack of Stateside success—singer Dan Gillespie Sells has a great voice, and their compositions retain a degree of Hallmark charm. It beggars belief, but the real standouts on this “best of” are two versions of “Rosé,” a slow and beautiful tune about, uh, rosé wine. Maybe these guys are strange. All in all, ‘tis a quaint collection of silly love songs. Sir Paul McCartney has surely given Singles two big thumbs up; perchance you should too.

Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Smith at

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