Friday, September 30, 2011

Lafarge's effort disperses on Middle of Everywhere

Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three - Middle of Everywhere
Free Dirt Records
-out now
3 / 5

Style. These guys are all about style. And Lafarge + 3 certainly have it: they've got spit-shine shoes and some knee-slapping grooves. On Middle of Everywhere, you get the pure distillation of early ragtime blues, crystalline, unadulterated, and most definitely traditional, in every and any sense of the word. And, having met this outfit, they dress the part incredibly well; all that's missing is a whistlin' of Dixie. But enough of that, you want to know why we adore these guys but don't quite obsess over their music. As faithful as Lafarge and his South City Three are to the genre, they feel - again, that word - crystallized: they don't alter, they don't take other influences and make this music their own. Instead, one feels the presence of a time capsule: ancient and quaint, valuable as well, but we don't want a history lesson. That's what the Library of Congress archives are for. We want something new and dynamic and exciting, and although Lafarge plays the role - and very well - there isn't quite a sense that he plays from the heart. Look at it this way - the blues have endured, and will endure, as long as there is someone to interpret them, not archive them (Muddy Waters, Hendrix, et al.). Try it because you're traditional and still living in the early 1900s, but otherwise, take a pass.

Listen to some tracks on their site. Right... around... here!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Free EP by Running in the Fog!

Wow! Luck to you guys; here's another freebie out there by Running in the Fog. What to expect (should we spoil it...?) well, consider it space-pop with ethereal female vocals. Enough description and blabbing about, we know what you really want - other than lawyers, guns, and money - that link is right here.
Tell us what you think! And if you like it, be sure to pass it along! Laters,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Portugal. The Man reaches heights on In the Mountain, In the Cloud

Portugal. The Man - "In the Mountain, In the Cloud"
-out now
4 / 5

We're big fans of Portland, OR's P.TM. Remember the sweet hooks and 60's choruses of 2009's The Satanic Satanist? Thankfully, they're back for In the Mountain, In the Cloud. Their sixth album in as many years (yes, it's a crazy number of releases) returns the rock/pop band to what we feel is their true element: polished, straightforward psychedelia replete with harmonies, highs and lows, and strange-ass lyrics. While we feel lyrically this album is a shade off of par with Satanist, fans of Portugal will find them musically in high form, especially on that smashin' side B. Their greatest strength lies in their ability to craft songs that newcomers can get right into; there're no 'figure out what's going on' spins when it comes to the former Wasillans. This is the kind of music that makes you want to drive around and pretend it's still summer. Try out "Once was One," or just about anything on the second half of the album, as the first half gears up towards it. Now sit back and enjoy; recommended.

Stream the album from their site! Sweet!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

St. Vincent cuts strange, mercifully gorgeous album

St. Vincent - "Strange Mercy"
4ad Records
-out today
4.5 / 5

We're not going to say that "Strange Mercy" is a whole step up from 2009's "Actor." We're also not going to say St. Vincent is a modern female Brian Eno. But what we will say is, this album rocks, in the bizarre, angular-electronic way that Annie Clark is getting known for. Add to that a pop sensibility, and you get the knock-out single "Cruel," which, if you could comprehend the strange lyrics, would make you sing along soulfully. The heart of this album is that it doesn't rest after that second track, and that Miss Vincent rightfully explores a warmer, more accessible (relatively speaking) sound in "Cheerleader," "Dilettante," all the way through to the end. Yes, you'll still get explosions of feedback/electronica ("Northern Lights"), and it's refreshing to hear an artist exploring poppier tracks with such an eclectic ear; that said, if you're looking for the perfect 3-minute pop song, all bets are off here. But fans will be greatly rewarded, and those with an indie ear searching for new talent should be as well - that is, if you were running from the law for a few years and somehow avoided her previous two releases. Pick this one up. And get "Actor," too while you're at it.

Stream this great album at NPR. And then DL it at Amazon for four bucks!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Disco Biscuits make for soggy, stale dance

Disco Biscuits - "Otherwise Law Abiding Citizens"
Diamond Riggs
-out now
2 / 5

We appreciate dance music of all types, colors, beats, etc. But when it comes to this latest from the Philly, PA dance/trance group, we find these Biscuits need some sweeter jam. Their nine extended tracks here do fit the trance train, and certainly jam a bit, but these beats don't capture, they don't pound and soar like they should from an otherwise tight quartet. What's on this album is repetitive, not particularly engaging beyond the first couple plays, and not terribly dynamic enough to stick with you (or us, for that matter). The vocals are nice but don't inspire, and the songwriting is their Achilles' heel - it doesn't twist and turn, it doesn't bend about, but just stays in a particular groove and festers. As much as we'd like to enjoy the Biscuits' efforts here (and their playing really is tight, fairly dense) Law Abiding Citizens makes us want to throw bricks into windows. Take a pass on this one.

Still, try it for free in 128 kbs at their site!