Antarctica|Congratulations Fruit|Corduroy|Crytopsy|Ednaswap|Excr

Antarctica

Antarctica EP

File 13

I’ve heard about this because it involves the ex-vocalist for Christie Front Drive, but the sound is more along the lines of shimmering indie-pop shoegazer bands like Pale Saints or early My Bloody Valentine. Dense, textural, soaring guitars and airy vocals make wonderful atmospheres. Spacious, beautiful, moody, but with a pulse. Three songs in twenty-three minutes. File 13, P.O. Box 2302, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Congratulations Fruit

The Brain Thief

Animal World

Existing halfway between Home’s attention-deficit experimentation and modern weirdo-pop bands like the High Llamas and the Apples In Stereo, Congratulation Fruit provide an album that’s fecund with musical ideas, sprouting guitar licks and organ wobble like weeds around a compost heap. “Some Kid’s Spectacles” has that Apples sound that makes me want to get up and shuffle excitedly about the room. Animal World, 1416 SW 13th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32609

Corduroy

Dead End Memory Lane

Broken Rekids

Corduroy is a band that I’ve heard good things about for years. A couple seven inches have shown the nice words to be well-deserved, so I was excited to hear this partial discography. Dirty, gritty, down to earth rockish songs that should appeal to certain factions of both the punk and indie rock scenes. Apparently they’ve broken up, so this is a goodbye of sorts. It looks like some of the tracks are unreleased and there are three live songs. Broken Rekids, P.O. Box 460402, San Francisco, CA 94146

Crytopsy

Whisper Supremacy

Century Media

Heavy, Heavy, Heavy, Heavy! That was my first thought as I listened to this rather heavy release from Century Media. Crytopsy has managed to thaw themselves out from their Canadian Tundra and record eight of the harshest songs that I have heard this year. They play around with a lot of time changes and try to keep their music as harsh as possible. This should be a welcome relief for those of you who think that music has been getting too soft lately. Century Media, 1453-A 14th St., Suite 324, Santa Monica, CA 90404; http://www.centurymedia.com

Ednaswap

Wonderland Park

Island

Ednaswap, led by the incredible Anne Preven, are a great live band. Her potent vocals and presence, mixed with amazing energy, totally captivate in person. Somehow it doesn’t transfer onto disc. There is not thing one wrong with Ednaswap’s records except they seem a bit too perfect and lack that primal energy and passion at work on stage. Wonderland Park boasts some really nice songs, and is a good listen. It’s too bad they polished it too much. It would have been much better with some sharp edges. Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., 24th Floor, New York, NY 10019

Excruciating Terror

Divided We Fall

Pessimiser

Fast as fuck grind violence with dual vocal attack via deep growls and higher screamed vocals. Thick, blistering guitars blast along triplespeed with good breakdowns. Catchy stuff to flail around to. Glad to see their full-length stands up to their comp tracks. Damn good all the way through. Twenty-one songs in just under thirty minutes. Pessimiser Records, P.O. Box 1070, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Alastair Galbraith

Mirrorwork

Emperor Jones/Trance Syndicate

Typically introspective New Zealand folk. If you’re familiar with Galbraith’s name, this won’t be much different — gentle melodies, strummed guitar, the occasional backward tape loop or effect. For moody days. Trance Syndicate, P.O. Box 49771, Austin, TX 78765

Guv’ner

Spectral Worship

Merge

Guv’ner is back, after what felt like a depressingly uncertain hiatus. Their angular guitar forms and gracefully lurching melodies remain, as does Pumpkin Wentzel’s bold, mostly-on-key voice. The band plays music that seems to dabble indecisively in new folk and experimental noise-making, but overall comes up with an album that’s catchy and more than a bit off-kilter. Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” is given a worthy treatment, while “Love The Lamp” is a slow, drawling nod-off whose simple chorus hook keeps you singing long after the piece is over. Merge Records, Box 1235, Chapel Hill, NC 27514; http://www.mrg2000.com

Junior Varsity KM

Taking Care of You

Darla

Like many other perfectly good albums, this has been awaiting a proper description for some time. It’s electronic in nature, not too beat-heavy, not really ambient either. Junior Varsity KM packs a lot into these eight tracks, and I can honestly say that Taking Care of You contains enough musical ideas for a whole crop of bands to emulate and expand on. Subtle and magnificent. Darla Records, 625 Scott #301, San Francisco, CA 94117; http://www.darla.com

Los Super Seven

Los Super Seven

RCA

An all-star effort featuring Joe Ely, Flaco Jimenez, and a couple members of Los Lobos, this septet pays tribute to several traditional and folk pieces, and performs more than a few originals of their own. If you’re familiar with (and greatly enjoy) the music of Los Lobos, you’d be well-served to check this out. Los Super Seven bring to the studio a rich heritage of music, Mexican, American and otherwise, and the results, though highly-polished, are full of heart and passion. RCA Records, 1540 Broadway, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10036

Mavis Piggot

In A Dark Suit

Flydaddy

Think of the Jesus Lizard fronted by Shirley Manson from Garbage. Sharp and tight — not your typical Flydaddy fare, but up to Flydaddy standards nonetheless.

Flydaddy Records, P.O. Box 545, Newport, RI 02840; http://www.flydaddy.com

The Notwist

Shrink

Zero Hour

Admit it, when you hear the term “German Experimental Music,” you think of ear-bleeding bass and sense assaulting samples. The Notwist is out to shatter that image. Shrink is a fairly dense, very creative album that is as far removed from the stereotype of German music as it gets. It’s gentle as opposed to attacking, introspective instead of angry. Odd, haunting vocals cap the melange of keyboards, samples, and soft noise. Zero Hour Records, 14 West 23rd Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10010

Phonoroid

Two Many Frames

Clandestine

Spooky and rattling, this duo feels like a slide down a gravel pit, thrilling and grating at the same time. American vocalist Vanessa Vassar plays chanteuse to Axel Manrico Heilhecker’s continental sparseness in production. Unlike similar pairings, the whole thing has a slight Western feel, making for yet another twist on this plotline. “Time Flies” features some engaging vocal pirouettes on a musical bed that sounds like the Ramones slowed down to halftime.

Punk Uprisings

Volume 2

Go Kart

This has a great range and selection of current punk rock and hardcore bands. My favorites were re-affirmed and I learned about some new ones. Tops for me were tracks from 97a, Against All Authority, A.C., Ann Baretta, Atom & His Package, Discount, Disenchanted, I Farm, In/Humanity, In My Eyes, Lifetime, the Skabs… and those just suit my tastes. There are twenty-seven more where those came from. Good comp. Go Kart Records, P.O. Box 20, Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012

Rapoon

The Fires of the Borderlands

Release

Rich-toned, textural atmospheres unfold at a slow, natural pace, creating wide, spacious soundscapes that bring desert images to mind. Occasionally rhythmic, most of the time is spent with organic textures patiently evolving. Like the acoustics of a cathedral, the barely there seems magnified to audible, focusing our attention on what gets overlooked. More than the sound, there’s an energy, a presence here. Not surprising that this is the product of someone from Zoviet-France, although this is much more calm and uncluttered. Relapse, P.O. Box 251, Millersville, PA 17751; http://www.relapse.com

SC

Bat Life Plus

Shows perfectly what happens when straight-to-digital technology falls into the hands of on-first-take riffing retrospective retards. Also shows perfectly that this is a hell of a lot better than the glittered and polished efforts of that band whose first gig is also their CD release party. Fabled producer Rat Bastard pops in for some nachos, or something. SC, P.O. Box 398251, Miami Beach, FL 33239

Six Pence None the Richer

Six Pence None the Richer

Squint

Subdued yet powerful. Literate. Memorable choruses. Beautiful vocals from Leigh Nash. Perfect arrangements. Mature production and mix. Impeccable musicianship. Third in a series of wholly unique albums from a group that is gathering a sizable audience on its own terms. Bravo.

Sprocket Wheel

Single Comp!

Broken Rekids

This is a singles comp from the Japanese pop-punk band Sprocket Wheel. The vocals take a little adjusting to — their lyrics are in English, but the accent makes it a bit difficult at times. Regardless, these are rad pop-punk songs with lots of speed, energy, and vocal harmonies. They must be lots of fun live. This is definitely a CD to check out if you’re into fast, catchy pop-punk at all. Good stuff. Broken Rekids, P.O. Box 460402, San Francisco, CA 94146

Jen Wood

No More Wading

Radar Light/Tree

These songs were recorded about two years ago. I’m just glad they finally surfaced and that I got to hear them. Eleven songs of Jen Wood with her acoustic guitar and vocal tracks of self-harmonizing. The emotions are bared through wonderfully written songs. Spare, quiet, melancholy, acoustic, yet rich in tone and emotion. Very good. People who like Lois and such should hunt this down. Tree Records, P.O. Box 578582, Chicago, IL 60657

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