Bright Little Field - Treatment Bound: A Ukelele Tribute to the Replacements (Bar None Records)
No, it’s not a collection of early Chinese punk rock played by armless midgets or anything weird, it actually is what it says, a bunch of old Replacements songs played on ukulele, in this case played by a Nashville duo, namely 80s local-punk-scenester Tom Littlefield and the much-younger Jonathan Bright, formerly of Swing, a band that opened for Westerberg’s crew toward the end of the Replacements. So there you are: it’s well-produced, nothing of ukulele-advancement value is here other than the material, which does lend itself nicely enough to the instrument. The main bullet point is probably that this version of “We’re Comin Out” once appeared on TV’s Nurse Jackie.Grade: B [Release Date: 9/18/2012]Peat Biby - On the Marc (Sun King Records)
Anyone who was paying attention to technological advancements in music over the last two decades knew there’d come a day when sampling would become symphonic and add a distinct new layer of sound to the pop discussion. Some folks have done it on the cheap, like this Baltimore laptop dude, whose horrible-awful 2 hour daily commute on the MARC trains is artfully miniaturized here. Conductor-overhead babblespeak and text-to-voice beat poetry (wherein, for one example, Biby enumerates all the things he’d like to do to his oafish fellow travelers) become part of the whole, mixing nicely enough with some not-hugely-advanced chill-techno, mostly of an Aphex Twin stripe. There’s a rather obligato but nicely executed blast of cyber-punkrock in “Ode to DC Hardcore” and some dubstep bits throughout, but again, mostly chill-tech. This attempt is Warhol-esque expressionism, as much a curio as a get-it-off-your-chest piece, its audience certainly limited if not fascinated.Grade: B [Release Date: 9/18/2012]De/Vision - Rockets & Swords (Metropolis Records)
This eurotrash-techno duo has been around for 20 years, remaining pretty much unknown owing to their similarity to Depeche Mode, making them prime fodder for Metropolis Records, of course. When they spend five seconds thinking about applying buildup and release to their stuff, it does work, like on this album's opener "Boy Toy," a song whose annoying cheese had my snark-finger twitching like crazy until the thing closed out in a sensible manner. From there, it's disposable goth-club. "Superhuman" has "Simple Minds" Sharpied on its forehead and really leads to nowhere, while "Beauty of Decay" gives off a whiff of Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon" not so deeply within its downtempo cyborg beat. The bummer vibes continue with "Brotherhood of Man," another slowbie with a Chris Isaak spaghetti-guitar thing going on, and at this point you're sort of looking for something that doesn't make you think about suicide, or at least something with a pulse, which "Stargazer" does provide after a fashion. After that, "Binary Soldier" waddles in with a mildly stompy beat and some inexplicable "Mr. Roboto" nonsense that eventually works within the structure before finally abandoning ship.Grade: C+ [Release Date: 9/11/2012]Roman Filiu - Musae (Dafnison Music)
Without a doubt, the album cover for (and press copy about) Cuban jazz-sax player Filiu’s new LP would have your basic jazz head expecting some sort of world-music foray. But in reality it’s nothing more or less than a very, very strong collection of straight-up jazz stuff with only a mild, barely perceptible Latin flavor. Most of the stuff has a slightly faster pulse than your basic dinner-jazz chill; when headed up by guitarist Adam Rogers it’s easily matched to mid-career John McLaughlin. As for the leader himself, Filiu has a terrific sense for modal adventurism, finding safe passage whatever the scale. A solid record for shutting your head down for that weekend drive.Grade: A [Release Date: 9/4/2012]Shingo Yuji - Introducing Shingo Yuji (Yujipan Music)
Self-taught Japanese jazz guitarist Yuji’s debut LP finds him as understated, humble and reserved as you’d expect from a similarly pedigreed man of that culture. Here, he quietly and studiously experiments with otherworldly syncopation that would have benefited greatly from some clever electronics – but then again what music wouldn’t, really? That’s just a suggestion, though; in the meantime he has a very distinct voice, doodling around with complicated scale work while simultaneously ringing out some highly accessible open chords. Walter Smith III helps out on the first two tracks with some nice sax work, but the listener soon finds that Yuji’s able to hold down the fort just fine for the balance forward, using style, out-of-nowhere technique, and a few obeisant Metheny-style runs for reality-checking. In future, if this kid can survive the question marks every artist runs into from critics, he will absolutely be on some best-of short lists. Grade: A [Release Date: 9/4/2012]Measure - The Air Inside Our Lungs (Snow Day Music)
Hooks count when a chick singer/songwriter puts out an LP in this post-PJ Harvey/Alanis/Ani world, and Brooklyn's Laura DiStasi is well aware of it. Her voice is a half-whispered cross between Beth Orton and Dolores O'Riordan, her music big and catchy enough to stand up to Sarah McLachlan but not quite so commercially obeisant, which is part of the rules these days, of course, not that DiStasi comes anywhere near joke-band territory if you need such a point of order. If anything, this is sort of like U2 rebuilt as one of those moonbat Zooey Deschanel chicks, the hooks important-sounding and in-your-face but simultaneously gentle. I know for sure I – and you too, I guarantee it – have heard some of these hymn-like alt-rock chilldowns on reality shows and commercials (such as Pretty Liars, Melrose Place and whatever MTV reality show), every bit of it ringtone-level attention-span, instant poignancy, think Teen Mom when Boyfriend takes off in a huff leaving the mom to stare off into the distance fror the camera, this sort of thing.Grade: A [Release Date: 8/7/2012]--
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