Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Composed of two French lads, Jean-BenoÃ®t Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, Air became an underground favorite with its debut '98 release "Moon Safari." In 2000 the duo produced the score for the below the radar hit The Virgin Suicides. More recently in 2001 the pair released 10,000 Hz Legend -- a rocky, over-produced clash of avant garde and pop -- which was met with critical disappointment. "Talkie Walkie" revives what the group has always been seeking: a thoroughly breathtaking collection sweeping melodies, floating vocals and hundreds of mixed beats and samples situated in a middle ground between amateur rawness and pop/art over production.
"Focus," 7-9pm Wednesdays
"Bikini Style" (On/On Switch)
With a mixed salad of DC hardcore, post-punk, dance-punk, choppy art-rock, and basically anything from the underground in the late 70's, the Popular Shapes know how to control all of its influences and burst it out in a really fast 20 minutes, reminiscent of a much faster Single Frame Ashtray. A lot the music seems to be really disjointed -- more than most dance-punk -- but it just makes it all the more interesting to the experiment. It takes a cue from one of their influences the Fall, though, by making songs that sound really similar to each other causing the 9 songs to be simply chapters to a whole.
New music rotation 2-4am Fridays
"Lay of the Land" (Matador)
Seachange is something like a wedding gown: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue (but not too blue). And just like a wedding gown Lay of the Land is something that can factor into nearly everyone's life. The pub-like vocals introduce lyrics that do what Emo could have done had it not been so, well, Emo. The regular guitar thrashings are reminiscent of early '90s rock while the low-key rhythms and subtle blend of strings keep it from being too much of a recycled sound. The album is a straightforward attempt to keep rock front and center and right now I can't get Seachange out of my head.
"Courtney on the Cracklebox," 4-6am Saturdays
"On Air Library" (Arena Rock)
Many styles permeate the debut long-player, but basically it's experimental pop with a shoegazer bent. Within this, they run the gamut, from dissonant songs with glitchy drum tracks to majestic poppy numbers to a few very minimalist pieces. The album often attains greatness, but it's uneven to some extent. Here greatness however slights the not-as-greatness to put a check in the win column. Go team!
New music rotation 2-4pm Thursdays
"Take Me" b/w "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" 7" (r: Now Again, 2004)
That Kid Named Miles
"Ring of Fire" b/w "Funky in Jamaica Pt. 2" 7" (Alatac, 2004)
Still being a relative greenhorn to the vast, dusty and obscure world of 45 collecting, I look for help every chance I get. Reissue-oriented label Now Again is a great asset in this department, as is the leader of L.A.'s Breakestra, the venerable Miles Tackett, who once said that "hip-hop is the only music keeping funk alive," an explanation as to why he and others like myself are so attracted to it.
Indiana's own Fabulous Souls again see the light of day via reissue, and "Take Me" is one of those hidden gems that make hardcore collectors salivate. Mining a James Brown groove of fairly straightforward funk, this track elevates itself through the use of male and female vocals on the verses (kind of like that Meatloaf song, only not annoyingly crappy). The B-side takes it down a notch, basically serving as a vehicle for a mournful sax workout.
Miles' high-energy cover of the Man in Black's most recognizable tune manages not to sacrifice any of the passion of the original while injecting new life into it, paying respect and creating an excellent (if sometimes self-indulgent) version that could easily find a home on a Toots & the Maytals album. The b-side is an uneventful toaster that you cannot love nor hate.
Next time you throw a dance party, make sure you spin the a-sides of these 45's for maximum wild-out effect. Then, when you're tired of spinning, take your crate to bed and throw on the b-sides for your trip into slumber.
Breakfast for Beatlovers, 9-noon Tuesdays