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Loscil


Submers


[Kranky]

There is a fine line between the progressive and the blatantly pretentious; unfortunately, Loscil's sophomore instrumental release Submers falls into the latter category.

Unlike his innovative colleagues in ethereal, cross-genre listening (Sigur Ros, Radiohead), Loscil's lack of substance does very little in disguising a lame attempt to be artistically ground-breaking. Avant-garde? More like avant-retard.

With each directionless track there is a theme of incompleteness, of a "wait, that's it?," most notably on "Nautilus" with its crescendoing non-chords contracting in and out against an irritating, clicking (although steady!) background beat. It sounds as if Ioscil is more interested in the different "effects" buttons on his Casio keyboard than in actually creating substantial listening material that is both melodically abstract and conceptually solid.

Loscil is trying-really, he is. But in his attempt, the Vancouver-based one-man project (real name Scott Morgan) is like the middle-aged, balding guy at a punk rock show: trying so hard to be part of the in-crowd yet sticking out so much it's just downright embarrassing.

Whatever the case, in Loscil's fawning effort to convey aquatic spaciness, any sense of purpose or direction is drowned by the artistically suicidal territory of musical poseurism. And, to be fair, Sigur Ros could also be considered as such; but they're from Iceland-they can get away with it.

Audrey S. Yap

Floetry


Floetic


[Dreamworks]

Like a slowly melting island of obsidian, this music is dense, clean and takes its own time. Beginning with very nicely spread, composed raps, I thought this might be an upbeat rap albumn. Subtle surprises awaited me.

The only problem with this albumn, it wastes its very powerful emotional force on lost R&B meanderings, instead of pure rhythmic raps.

They have a cute accent, that sounds really good when rapped. The raps on this album or startlingsy sincere, and would have loved to hear more of it instead of the casual talking that takes place. The vocals are thick and heavy, reminiscent of and Angie Stone with an added husky flavor. Even with this quality sound, the background is pierced with breathy pantings and melodramatic background vocals, not to mention the cheesy of luvy duvy valentine's day monologues.

Unlike the melodies of these establiushed musicians, Floetry makes slower, solid background soul, that is perfect for smooth undulating lovemaking, or just looking out at the cool, sparsely-lit city at night from your balcony. This is because the sound is clean, crisp and very well recorded with twinkling insturmentation that includes a lot of classical piano, and all sorts of eclectic ambient groovemaking orchestration.

Floetry, although subduing the rap energy that has produced invigorating lines like "turn of the playstation... Floetry is like a monster of chemistry/turn your negativity into kinetic energy," it does provide a dreamy, if not sleepy, album great for a romantic candle light dinner or for whatever may follow that dinner.

Rishi Malla

Stavesacre


(stavz'a'ker)


[Nitro]

It was really kind of the members of this band to use their album title to make it clear how to pronounce their name, but honestly, the pronunciation is about as obvious as their music. Simply put, Stavesacre's fourth album is the dictionary definition of "boring."

I'll give one thing to this Los Angeles quintet – they certainly know how to start a song. The problem is that once the actual song starts, any interesting elements are crammed into the garbage disposal in favor of the same trite, mundane rock song structures that every other post-grunge outfit on the musical map has been milking for the last ten years.

There isn't anything inherently wrong with the band-their instrumental chops are more than competent, and they've obviously spent a number of years perfecting their precise craft. Plus, vocalist Mark Solomon sounds like a mature, emotive version of the much-emulated Barenaked Ladies' Steven Page, In the end, though, all of the band's good qualities don't end up adding up to much.

The album isn't a total bust-"Yes" is an atmospheric and thoroughly engaging ballad, and "If Not Now," while not exactly a triumph of original songwriting, is particularly appealing in its conciseness. Otherwise, it's not really anything worth buying in the face of so many more interesting bands in the contemporary music world that actually have distinctiveness on their sides.

Rich Bunnell

Curl Up and Die


Unfortunately We're Not Robots


[Revelation]

If vomit were considered an emotion, then this hardcore band would replace Dashboard Confessionals as leader of the emo revolution. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you're in the mood for emetic harmonies and vocal styling which makes screaming sound like operatic genius. Vocalist Mike Minnick seems to simply repeat the same angry vowel sound over and over and whle this may seem a boring job for a singer, it may be that he is actually exorcising demons out his throat.

Fans of other such hardcore bands, the closest cousin being Dillinger Escape Plan, will appreciate Curl Up And Die's complex arrangement of bizarre harmonic synthesizer. Although this album is the bands first at full length, it comes across more as a 36-minute song than anything else. The same chalk board-scratching chords ring throughout the whole CD; interrupted by occasional moments of musicianship.

When the vocals cut out and the depth of instrumentation shines through, emotions that transcend bodily functions can be heard; for instance, the four-minute journey at the end of the CD during which soft piano and atmospheric drums slowly morph into mechanistic noise.

With arbitrary song titles like "You'd Be Cuter If I Shot You In The Face" and "Ted Nugent Goes Awol" and lyrics reminiscent of high school poetry class assignments the band's intentions become unclear. Either CUAD have a very keen sense of humor or they are just very, very angry and confused as to how to make meaning out of it. Maybe the singer is just screaming gibberish, and the song titles were just chosen to confuse, in which case there is no meaning and the joke is on us.

David Somlo

Sing-Sing


The Joy of Sing-Sing


[Manifesto]

What's soft, easy to swallow, and reminds you of a piece of bubblegum? No, it's not chewable Pepto-Bismol, but the debut album from the U.K duo Sing-Sing.

The electro-pop band is fronted by guitarist Emma Andersen (formerly of the band Lush) and vocalist Lisa O'Neill, who met by chance at their boyfriends' London flat in 1997. Though those boyfriends are now long gone, Sing-Sing is still together, combining ethereal vocals, sweeping guitar sounds, and 80's synths to produce a sound reminiscent of the French pop duo, Air.

Although The Joy of Sing-Sing can have slightly soporific effects at times, the album has several songs that shine like gems. The hauntingly beautiful, "i'll be," reveals gradations of drum beats, piano, and guitar, while leaving the listener with snippets of chirping birds at the end of the track. With lyrics like "Bore me/ Adore me/ Slow me down/ Speed me up," "i'll be" harbors a childlike quality, reminiscent of a trip to the circus.

Other standout tracks include: "far away from my love," an 60's pop anthem laced with brass instruments and spacey, retro synthesizers; "panda eyes" a song with a decidedly 80's electronic flair about a lunar girl with a hangover; "feels like summer," an old-fashioned, upbeat, guitar-laden number; and the unusual, "émigré," which mingles waltz-like melodies, harps, and O'Neill's undulating, fairy-like harmonies.

While The Joy of Sing-Sing is plagued by several non-descript tracks that suffer from being overly delicate and mellow, the album is a soothing hybrid of indie rock and elctro-pop that makes feel like you've just had an hour-long conversation with a marshmallow.

Elisa Jacobs

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