Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What the hell decade is it anyway?

Here are reviews of a couple of pop records, one bedroom-esque, early 1990s Britpop in tone, the other late 1960s retro, both quite enjoyable.

From today’s Dusted:

Kids Aflame

Arms, the lo-fi solo project from Harlem Shakes guitarist Todd Goldstein, asserts the primacy of melody over arrangement, and intelligence over expertise. The songs are constructed out of the simplest materials: a smattering of drums, a slash or two of guitars, a questing, vibrato-laced tenor that’s always a half-step from breaking. Still the tools in play mask the skill it takes to construct sly, winning songs like these, infused by sensibility that is as individual as DNA.

Instrumentally, Arms is all fuzz and clatter, splayed power chords and strung-out jangle. Goldstein, the guitarist, pursues the reckless good-enough aesthetic of mid-1990s lo-fi. Vocally, though, there’s a hint of Morrissey, tremulous ironies looped into manicured music hall flourishes, mordant slyness played for broad laughs. It’s a studied sort of singing, calculated, elegant, effete and well at odds with the offhand bedroom pop that hisses and fractures around it.



The MySpace

And, in what I hope is my most clumsily written review of the 2008 (though there are still four months to go, so don’t bank on it), the excellent Starling Electric is bludgeoned to death with misplaced adjectives and endless clauses. Still that’s my fault. The record is very, very good…Here’s the Blurt review, the kind of the thing makes you vow to proofread stuff for at least a week afterwards.

Starling Electric
Clouded Staircase
(Bar None)

“The good news is that Starling Electric, out of Ann Arbor, may have recorded the wistful-sweet album of the summer here, balancing drifty, hallucinogenic hooks with beefy surges of guitar. It's not hard to see why Jon Auer is such a fan -- just check the massive, fuzz-coated guitar that opens "St. Valentines Day Massacre" or the delicate, folk-modal melody that erupts from it, just like those Posies melodies used to drift out of amp-blitzed pop riffs. Or why it appeals to Robert Pollard, who invited the band on a whim to open for him in 2006. Surely he heard something of himself in Starling Electric's power-chorded whimsies like "Black Ghost/Black Girl." You can make other, older connections, too -- to the fey tunefulness of the Zombies, the elaborately instrumented pop of the Left Banke, the Gaudi-fanciful pop towers of Love.”


Kind of entertaining video of St. Valentine's Day Massacre


No comments: