Have you seen Pan's Labyrinth? I just watched it last night and am still wandering around in a daze...it’s sort of like a Terry Gilliam movie, but instead of just being full of amazing images for their own sake, they all move the story. Incredible. Should have been best picture, not just for last year but the last ten years.
Anyway, the music. Here's my review of the surprisingly dull new record by Brazil's CSS. It ran today in Dusted:
Transgression was a big part of CSS's appeal back in 2006 when this band of bratty, potty-mouthed Brazilians bounced up and down in pigtails to a chant of "C-S-S Suxxx!" Whether you were a guy making the limbic connection between risqué language and risqué behavior, or a girl sick of being held to a double standard for lady-like-ness, CSS was a breath of fresh air. "Suck, suck, my art tit" indeed … it was fun stuff. Still, that was then, this is Warner-distributed now. There's hardly a trace of CSS's insouciant sailor swagger in the follow-up, Donkey. In fact, you could play it for a Montessori car pool, and no one would learn any new words.
It's not just the language that's been cleaned up, either. The band enlisted Mike Stent, who has worked with Madonna, MIA and Massive Attack, to work commercial grade emptiness into the mix. Where Cansei de Ser Sexy beckoned you to join a gritty, possibly dangerous street party, Donkey is all about the velvet rope. Last time, it seemed that anything might happen, cut to cut. This second record is as poised as a runway show: strut, saunter, smile, whirl, and flounce back to the dressing room.
You can listen to "Rat Is Dead" (which is one of two songs on the album that I kind of like) for yourself:
On the other hand, I truly enjoyed The Boy Bathing's A Fire to Make Preparations, a self-released, baroque pop endeavor along the lines of Loney, Dear. My review in today's PopMatters concludes, "Throughout, the arrangements lift these word-loving, intricate songs into baroque pop exuberance, undercutting anything overly sober with bubbly harmonies, strident rhythms and the sheer power of their hooks. There is, indeed, “a fire in the basement” of these songs, as Hurwitz insists in the album’s closing song ("The Fire"), its heat and light and pure joy spilling out of complicated musical constructs." The whole review is here:
There are a couple of giveaway MP3s:
"The Beaches Meet the Sea"
and "A Fire"