Category Archives: CD reviews

Can: The Lost Tapes review

(9 out of 10)

Forget, for a moment, the circumstances that brought The Lost Tapes into existence. Forget the execrable history that most important bands have when it comes to archival releases. Forget, if it’s possible, that Can hasn’t released any new music since 1989’s middling Rite Time. Forget those things and ask yourself: If you could go out and buy a new Can album today, what would you want it to sound like?

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Intelligence: Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me review

(4 out of 5)

Lars Finberg is one of the brightest and funniest dudes in the rock underground right now. He also makes great music, not just with his “main” band, the Intelligence, but also with Thee Oh Sees and … well, a lot of others. The Intelligence’s sixth album shows off a more restrained version of incisive, post-punk-y noise-pop, with cuts like “The Entertainer” and “Sunny Backyard” locking into beefy garage-tinged grooves, while more sober numbers like “Techno Tuesday” and “Dim Limelights” split the difference between XTC and Ted Leo.

First appeared June 21, 2012 in Orlando Weekly.

Neneh Cherry & the Thing: The Cherry Thing review

(9 out of 10)

For many people – especially in the United States – Neneh Cherry’s career began and ended with “Buffalo Stance,” which is why The Cherry Thing is being greeted like some sort of unexpected comeback. The thing is, Cherry never really went anywhere, and, more importantly, has spent far more time toiling on the experimental and interesting fringes of contemporary music than she ever did on MTV. The stepdaughter of Don Cherry was a bona fide founding member of the British post-punk/dub scene, working with both Rip Rig and Panic and the Slits, she released two albums after Raw Like Sushi that were incredible works of soul-pop perfection, she was a spiritual midwife to the Bristol trip-hop scene, she’s been working with her husband in the prog-funk group known as Cirkus, and, now, she’s collaborating with baritone saxophonist Mats Gustaffson’s free-jazz group, the Thing … a group that was named after, yes, a Don Cherry song. So while The Cherry Thing is definitely a new chapter, it’s in a book that Neneh Cherry’s been diligently writing for three decades now.

Continue reading

Ultravox: Brilliant review

[Oh my god. The comments I got on this. Ultravox fans are … wow … they’re pretty dedicated. Still, this record is kinda crap, and yeah, I know what I’m talking about.]

(2 out of 5)

In a recent interview with the Spanish magazineMetropoli, former Ultravox singer John Foxx had this to say about nostalgia: “It’s an illness. It’s a kind of death. Why should anyone attempt to imitate themselves as a young man – often a foolish young man? You have to be blind, vain, and terribly insecure to do this. There is absolutely no point in looking backwards when there is still so much to investigate.” While he wasn’t being asked about the band he founded, it’s pretty clear that Foxx would think that the idea of Ultravox reuniting with his replacement (Midge Ure) is faintly ridiculous for a number of reasons – and it’s not hard to disagree with that assessment.

Continue reading

The Bombay Royale: You, Me, Bullets, Love review

Taking on vintage Bollywood the same way that Dengue Fever takes on Cambodian pop, the Bombay Royale manage to evoke the bold glamour and easy swagger of R.D. Burman’s ’60s and ’70s soundtracks while adding just the right amount of cheeky, surf-rockin’ groove to get modern Western audiences to pay attention. The 11-piece band hails from Melbourne, Australia, but their covers of filmi classics like “Jaan Pehechan Ho” and the danceable, hard-swinging originals like “Dacoit’s Choice” that make up most of the record are Bombay-legit and essential party music.

First appeared May 31, 2012 in Orlando Weekly.

Small Faces: Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake reissue review

Image

(9.5 out of 10)

Over the years, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake has been reissued on CD seven different times by the same label, so any skepticism regarding whether or not this most recent 3-CD “deluxe edition” by that same label is the ultimate/definitive/perfect/never-to-be-topped version is well-warranted.

Continue reading

Yuna: Yuna CD review

(2 out of 5 stars)

In a 2009 Q&A with Malaysian website Voize, singer-songwriter Yuna described her sound as “a cross between Coldplay and Mary Poppins.” This was apparently said with neither guile nor guilt, and, to be sure, it’s not an inaccurate assessment. The thing is, it’s impossible to imagine a world in which such an amalgamation is a good thing.

Since 2006, Yuna has been making pop music in Malaysia, attracting plenty of fans, including the US-based management team that signed her, landed her a record deal via Fader, and is now attempting to translate that into success stateside. Now, Malaysian pop stars — or, really, any Asian pop stars, for that matter — haven’t had a successful track record here, but that’s often been ascribed to language barriers or stylistic incompatibilities (and, no, the fact that K-Pop is a thing doesn’t negate any of this). Yuna, however, makes music that is not only sung in English, but also manages to embody the most anodyne and accessible aspects of Western adult contemporary pop.

With a lilting, childlike voice that resembles that of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler–but with less strength or personality–and a preference for simplistic musical arrangements that are pleasant in a shopping-at-the-Gap kind of way, Yuna attempts to evoke a gentle, adult-indie sensibility, but she wound up creating a wisp of an album that’s ultimately insubstantial.

A more forceful singer could have effectively balanced the muted swing-and-sway of “See You Go” or the jazzy, ukelele-backed swoon of “Bad Day” with a delivery that imparted some emotional strength on these somnambulant arrangements. Contrarily, when given a beefier, more complex backing–such as on the Massive Attack-quoting slow-burn of “Lullabies”–Yuna’s whisper of a voice doesn’t even help paint a sonic picture.

While her backstory may certainly be compelling, Yuna’s music is not. It’s far from awful, but it’s equally far from interesting, muddling about in that dull netherworld of music that sounds good while you’re waiting for your coffee, but is forgotten as soon as you walk out of the cafe.

Essential Tracks: “Lullabies”

First appeared May 9, 2012 at Consequence of Sound.