Monday, September 13, 2004

Two Zoo New Reviews au gratin, and a FREE Rollo gig to boot this Thursday 9/16, 9pm sharp @ le Lounge de Luna

If you gander at my links (lancenotawholeheluvalotof), you'll notice near the bottom that I've started doing some cd reviews @ a lil' site called This is on account of my marvy writing here @ Snot, and I hope to parlay this little side-thang into a way to make a little extra cash, know what I'm sayin'. Besides that hidden desire, I really like doing it, throwin' my opinions out there (if you haven't noticed). Well, I know that I'm at least a blog behind, and the scraps of paper have been accumulating, waiting for me to throw up in the air to see where and how they land, but today, I'm going to give you a peak @ couple of the cds reviews I just did over there, as I can't trust your lazy trigger finger to bring up that site, esp. when there are so many other exciting, tantalizing web offerings to choose from... Talk soon, and do swing by Luna this thursday night, September 16th, at 9pm sharp, b/c Rollo is playin' for free, and we good (Luna is located @ 171 Ludlow Street, b/w Stanton and Houston in Manhattan's scenic Lower East Side. Don't take any wooden hickeys-AE... (er... RM)

Helio Sequence
"Love and Distance"
Sub Pop | 2004
Album (10 tracks)
5 out of 10 - Good and bad. Just OK.

I really dug the hypnotic way this disc began, even though I couldn’t quite place who or what they sounded like (with that oddly featured mouth harp, beat box and rock-steady drum mix goin’ on et all). The emergence of the first lead vocal pulled me away from my reverie though, as it just seemed too “groovy” or something for the rest of the music. This proved to be a major problem for these ears throughout “Love and Distance”, the new offering on Sub-Pop by The Helio Sequence. It’s a shame, as the band definitely has a way with interesting choruses despite their tendency towards trite verses, as many of them tended to pull me right back into the song at the precise point when I had almost completely lost focus. Nowhere is this trend better exemplified then on the second track of the cd, “Repeater”. The song begins, like so many on the disc, with a very cool instrumental groove, but one that only gets left behind by lyrics that are not up to the task. In this case, singer Brandon Summers croons “I’m on a roll and there’s nowhere to go, where we going now, out of control”… come to think of it, I couldn’t have said it better myself. The tune redeems itself, however, with a pretty amazing chorus, one that conjures up the likes of Franz Ferdinand and the Beatles. At other points on the disc, The Helio Sequence are at their best when they reminded me, however fleeting, of those bands, or XTC, Let’s Active, Stereolab and Mercury Rev for that matter. The band seems to be at their worst when the bombast of bad U2 sets in, a Prefab Sprout drippiness saturates the mood, or they force Sparklehorse without the sparkle. The lone songs where the exact opposite verse/chorus phenomenon (that I mentioned earlier) occurs are “Let it Fall Apart” and “Everyone Knows Everyone”, titles that seem to almost dare the listener to try and pidgeon-hole this band. The low point on the cd has got to be “Blood Bleeds”, a song that almost kept me from listening to the remaining three songs on the disc. I’m glad I didn’t give in to this impulse, however, as the following track, “S.O.S”, I found to be one of the most enjoyable songs on the entire album. This push and pull does make “Love and Distance” interesting to listen to, and demands that it get more than one turn in the cd carrier, but I’m still not quite sure who this band is and what this all leads to…

Sahara Hotnights
"Kiss & Tell"
RCA | 2004
Album (11 tracks)
9 out of 10 - Simply Amazing.

Ok, so this disc did instantly make me want to put the top down on the convertible Camaro in my mind and frolick in the hot summer sun with a bitchin’ blonde babe in a bikini. From it’s opening “Start Me Up”-era Stones meets Divinyls exuberance, Sahara Hotnights’ new disc “Kiss & Tell” (RCA) aint no mere cherry bomb though. Catchy hooks, riptide guitar riffs, rock-steady (albeit simplistic) drumming; these girls have got it going on. The temptation for many (I’m sure) has been to lump them in with all the “chick rock” bands that have ever broke, been bought, burnt and bit, but that’s just not fair. Yeah, they seem to be “hot”, and there are some Runaways in the Hot Sahara Night (I also wouldn’t scoff at any Susanna Hoffs and co. comparisons) but this bands’ strongest asset seems to be their ability to really pen a tune, and play it. Check out the cool guitar licks on “Walk on the Wire”, “Mind Over Matter” and “Stay/Stay Away”, or the bands’ knack for well-placed and executed backing vocals (no easy task… I know) throughout the disc. As to Maria Andersson’s lead vox, well, they may not win awards for their unique timbre, but she can transform her instrument to resemble the singer from Heart at one moment, Karen O at another, or a female version of that Strokes bloke at still another, and her words (for the most part) work, which is the most major of complements I can give to a rock band for their lyrics. For example, the “Sister Havana”-esque “Stay/Stay Away” features the line “I never shut, I never close”-hell, I wish I could drop a phrase that right-on and to-the-point. Along with Sahara's crafty songwriting, the interplay between the bands' two guitarists and drummer (Josephine Forsman) are the glue that keeps everything moving forward. It was apparent to me also that this band has done their homework, for there seem to be many disparate influences at work and at play here, from the Buzzcocks to the Cult, Imperial Teen and possibly even… Marshal Crenshaw. My only real complaint is that “Kiss & Tell”, at just under 35 minutes, runs kinda short.


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