Friday, October 31, 2008

Guitar players, punks and shoegazers

Lots and lots of reviews up today, starting with a live show review of the Imaginational Anthem crew, which is up today at Popmatters.

George Stavis + Cian Nugent + Ben Reynolds
9 October 2008: Montague Bookmill — Montague, MA

by Jennifer Kelly

Acoustic guitar blues has had a bit of a revival lately, in large part due to the Imaginational Anthem series, now three albums along. The series, which was launched in 2005 by Tompkins Square Records, takes as its starting point the Takoma-style finger-picking of John Fahey and his early 1960s contemporaries, seeking out the original artists in this genre, as well as younger players who are influenced by them.

Tonight’s performance showcases three artists from the most recent Imaginational Anthem 3 CD. The two younger artists—Cian Nugent and Ben Reynolds—have made the trip from the United Kingdom. Nugent is Irish and Reynolds, though English, is now living in Glasgow. Banjoist George Stavis, the old timer on the bill, comes from the neighborhood, apparently, somewhere in Western Massachusetts, though with his best known album, Labyrinths, released by Vanguard in 1969, he has traveled temporally further than anyone.


Here's Cian playing "When the Snow Melts and Floats Downstream"

Also an album review at Dusted, covering the pop/punk/new wave band from Boston known as Pretty & Nice.

Pretty & Nice
Get Young
(Hardly Art)

A volatile mix of muscle and flirt, Pretty & Nice careens from one measure to the next, from straight-up, jagged punk riffs to swoony falsetto croons. On this, their second full-length, the band has slimmed down from a foursome to a trio, shedding whatever bottom their sound got from bassist Andy Contoise. “Piranha,” the opening track, is all trebly mayhem, with founders Jeremy Mendocino and Holden Lewis splintering post-punk guitar into shards, and spinning harpsichord keyboards into chaos. Drummer Bobby Landry holds the cut down, barely, alternating between hard-on-the-fours pounding and more delicate, syncopated commentary.


"Tora, Tora, Tora"

and a quicky review of a new EP by LA's Monsters Are Waiting, a shoegaze-y pop band in the vein of Asobi Seksu...I asked for the record because it was on Kanine, which is the label that first put out Grizzly Bear.

Monsters Are Waiting
Ones and Zeroes
US release date: 14 October 2008
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

Sweet dreams are made of this

A little girl whispers in your ear and the universe explodes. That’s the subtext of about a million pop songs, maybe the very foundation of pop itself. Monsters Are Waiting, the LA-based band formed around singer Annalee Fery and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Clark, turns this concept into all-enveloping sound. Fery’s voice is delicate and childlike, full of blurry crescendos and naked sincerity, punctured with little catches of breath. She sounds like she’s murmuring right into you ear, but you can’t catch the words. That’s because the musical drama of distorted guitars, thudding bass and drums and cloudily reverbed keyboards swirls all around her, picking her tunes up and tossing them on waves of sound. This EP, following a self-titled EP and the full-length Fascination, makes its sunny case succinctly, in half an hour and just six songs, but there’s not a laggard in the bunch.

Favorites? Zoom in on the spiraling title track, its drums dry and tense but slathered over with extravagant textures of guitar and electric guitar. Fery stays cool, right in the center, cooing out dreamy layers of self-harmonized pop that will remind you a little bit of Juliana Hatfield, a little more of the Cocteau Twins. (There’s an oscillating guitar effect right at the end that’s straight off of Wings’ “Band on the Run”, but we’ll let that go as coincidence.) Later, Monsters Are Waiting tips the hat to the drone-pop atmospherics of the Stone Roses, with a moody, cool-toned cover of “I Wanna Be Adored”. These are tunes that you don’t so much listen to as dive right into, enveloped by a sound that is as warm and welcoming and fizzy with surf bubbles as a tropical ocean. You’ll float just fine on Ones and Zeroes, without a care in the world.

Here's a video of the Stone Roses Cover

And the title track, "Ones and Zeros"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Heavy Hands...the next great psych rock band

Here’s another record from Language of Stone, the Philly-based psych-folk label run by Greg Weeks from Espers. The band is called Heavy Hands. They’re from Brooklyn and, as the name implies, they are way, way heavier than the typical LOS hippie-flower-girl-danse-macabre-with-cellos outing. Think not so much Pentangle and Fairport Convention…and lots more Doors, Sabbath, Jimi, Comets on Fire.

As far as I know, I’m not reviewing Smoke Signals anywhere, but that’s because it’s covered at Dusted already and nobody else gives a shit. It has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the quality of the record, which is excellent.

Check out the free mp3 of “Can’t See Through”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Couple of really good ones...Woven Hand and Michael Chapman

I'm not sure if the reviews are any good, but the music is...My review of semi-legendary (and also little-known, if that makes sense) folksinger Michael Chapman runs today in Dusted. There'll be a live review of his show at the Bookmill sometime, as well. Also, the new Woven Hand, which on a first cut, fell at #3 on my best of list for 2008.

Artist: Michael Chapman
Album: Time Past Time Passing
Label: Electric Ragtime
Review date: Oct. 29, 2008

Like many of the songs on Michael Chapman’s Time Past and Time Passing, “Dewsbury Road/That Time of Night” can be divided into two pieces. The first, either a long introduction or a separate but related composition, is a delicate web of picked guitar, serene, sunny and unhurried. The second, starting at about three minutes, introduces Chapman’s voice, a dark-toned, rasp-edged instrument that immediately turns the mood darker. The song changes when he starts singing, like a country lane suddenly turning into a shadowy forest. “You know I don’t scare easy….but I do get scared,” Chapman intimates at regular intervals as the song proceeds, in the kind of voice that raises the hairs on your forearm. It is as if Chapman made Robert Johnson’s deal at the crossroads, but traded his voice, instead of his soul, to the devil.


Woven Hand
Ten Stones
(Sounds Familyre)
US release date: 9 September 2008
UK release date: 8 September 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

Fiery visions

David Eugene Edward’s Woven Hand has been on an increasingly rock trajectory lately. His Mosaic in 2006 was considerably more electrified than 2004’s Consider the Birds, built on pounding, Joy Division-esque rhythms and slashing guitars, and with only small islands of acoustic respite. Now with Ten Stones, the fifth since Edwards disbanded 16 Horsepower, the volume and intensity creeps up another notch, in some of the most viscerally powerful songs yet from the Woven Hand catalog.

This is perhaps partly due to Edwards’ partnership with Sereena Maneesh’s Emil Nikolaisen. Like Edwards, Nikolaisen has a fascination with rock rhythms and spiritual striving. He shares Edwards unusual combination of born again Christianity and love of Joy Division. He adds, perhaps, an understanding of the powers of guitar distortion and blur, an otherworldly sheen that encases “His Loyal Love” and other cuts in battings of tranquility or that launches “Not One Stone” from a My Bloody Valentine-esque howl of guitar.


“Beautiful Axe”

“Not One Stone” (Not actually a video…but a damned good song)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Perhaps I was too harsh?

Kinda went off on band-of-the-moment caUSE co-MOTION, but my problem is this: once you strip off all that comfy, sounds-like-the-clash-crossed-with-wire familiarity, what the hell is left?

Anyway, there are a couple MP3s, you can judge for yourself.

It’s Time
[Singles & EPs 2005-2008]

US release date: 28 October 2008

UK release date: 28 October 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

A singles comp with no single

Twenty-one minutes, 14 songs, four guys and maybe a couple hundred dollars in production expenses. Yup, it’s lo-fi, sounds-like-the-1980s time again at Slumberland Records, in this instance on the shoulders of Brooklyn-based, Wire-and-early-Clash referencing, oddly-capitalized caUSE co-MOTION.

It’s Time collects all the singles to date from this road-hardened pop-punk band, every one of them full of switchblade sharp guitars, pogo drum and bass and echo-cased, romantic vocals. It’s a fun sound, especially if you came of musical age during the Carter years. It carries all the angsty scramble of post-punk, all the ache and hurt of reverbed Britpop. And yet, listen to this album two, three, ten times, and you’re still where you started: enjoying the ride but unable to distinguish between songs. It’s a paradox. In an album constructed entirely of singles, there is no clear, catchy, ear-wormy category-killer.


"Who's Gonna Care"

"Which Way Is Up"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hush Arbors, Robbie Basho and Crystal Stilts

Three reviews up today, two at PopMatters, one at Blurt.

Hush Arbors
Hush Arbors
(Ecstatic Peace)
US release date: 21 October 2008
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

Like Sun Through Leaves

Hush Arbors’ Keith Wood has made any number of home-recorded albums, some under his current nom de plume, others with Sunburned Hand of the Man and Golden Oaks. Along with Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, he can sometimes be found playing guitar in David Tibet’s Current 93, yet he has little of Tibet’s visionary foreboding. In this self-titled album, the first on Ecstatic Peace, he explores an exceptionally sunny, calm, natural landscape with clear acoustic guitar and fuzzy electric one. Every track feels suffused with organic energy, the glow of natural light, the green haze of leafy vistas, the bright optimism of sunny days.


Couple of streams here

Crystal Stilts
Alight of Night

You'll get a good whiff of Creation Records off these reverb-heavy, bass-driven grooves, which clank and drone like Jesus & Mary Chain, but slip in a bit of Felt's pop iridescence. Singer Brad Hargett has got the deep, hollow-toned Brit-voice down, though he hails from Brooklyn, and JB Townsend manages to make jangly tangles of guitar both light-hearted and ominous. A tambourine clatters through the whole album, so that no matter how fun-house echoey things turn -- and they do seem to be recording in a concrete bunker -- you always know it's a party. And if you get lost in the clouds and fogs of sound, there is always the bass line (that's Andy Adler of the Ninjas) galloping forward to guide you.

The rest

"Crystal Stilts"

Robbie Basho
Bonn Ist Supreme

Robbie Basho, Bonn Ist Supreme (Bo’ Weavil)
Robbie Basho is now recognized as one of the great guitar players of the 20th century, ranking alongside acoustic innovators such as John Fahey and Leo Kottke for his expansive redefinition of how a steel string guitar might sound. This live recording, laid to tape in late 1980 just six years before Basho’s death, provides a very intimate glimpse into his genius. Here you can observe him in his natural element, not just coaxing an orchestra’s worth of sounds from his 12-string, but also retuning, venturing a few phrases in German and apologizing for the “fussiness” of a 115-year-old instrument.

Like many of his contemporaries, Basho refused to be pigeonholed into any single style. His music incorporated Appalachian folk, deep southern blues, raga and European classical influences. He took his name “Basho” from a Japanese poet and experimented with Asian scales and tonalities in his work as well. This disc gives a reasonably good overview of where Basho had traveled during his career. “California Raga” recorded on 1971’s Song of the Stallion shows how Basho first began splicing together American and Celtic folk melodies with the piercing tonalities of classical Indian raga. He sings on this piece, in addition to playing, in a high stirring voice that is, perhaps, not as accomplished as his fingers, but spiritually moving all the same.

You also get a taste of his classical side. Basho believed that the steel stringed guitar—both the 12 and the six-string models—deserved as important a role in classical music as the concert piano, and he wrote and played extensively in this tradition. In this show, he plays a smattering of pieces from his 1979 disc The Art of the Steel Stringed Guitar 6 and 12—a surpassingly delicate and evocative reimagination of Debussey’s “Claire De Lune,” a magnificent, symphonic rendition of “Cathedrals Et Fleur De Lis”, and beautifully melancholy “The Grail and the Lotus”, which slips American blues and Indian drones into themes from Wagner’s “Parsifal”.

The disc comes packaged with appreciative quotes from followers Jack Rose and James Blackshaw, as well as longer essays from guitarists Steffen Basho-Junghans (who altered his name in admiration of Basho), Richard Osborn and Glenn Jones (who produced the album, as well). Osborn, in particular, sheds light on Basho’s spiritual side, noting that he once performed Basho’s “The Falconer’s Arm” at a “metaphysical church.” “Later a member of the audience came up and asked ‘Where did you hear that music?’”, Osborn writes. “I replied that I had learned it from Robbie Basho. He then said, ‘Before tonight, I have only ever heard it in the spirit world.’” It’s a strange story, but perfectly in line with the ineffable beauty of Bonn Ist Supreme. [Amazon ]

“Redwood Ramble”

"Variations on Easter"

Basho's (posthumous) MySpace


My mother has been cleaning out closets and finding all kinds of embarrassing stuff, including this silly poem which I must have wrote at 13 or 14. (I’m sure someone told me the Phoo Bird joke. I just set it to rhyme.)

You can all see what a tragedy it was when I quit writing poetry.

The Phoo Bird
By Jennifer Kern (now Kelly)

Once there were three hungry girls
Went out to stalk the cold, hard world
When they stopped to take a rest
The Phoo bird rose from his Phoo nest
Smelling warm and human blood
The Phoo dove down and spewed his crud
The first girl ran off crying “Eck!”
The Phoo bird shit upon her neck
The second shouted out “Beware!”
The Phoo bird shit upon her hair
The third waited for the Phoo to pass
The Phoo bird shit upon her dress
When the Phoo had finished work
He settled down to wipe and smirk
All three girls were scattered far
From any local grill or bar
Where they tell their recent troubles
And wash them down with drink that bubbles
Instead they gathered by a stream
A tired group with spots of green
Dotting their neck and hair and dress
It annoyed them to some excess
The first on knelt beside the stream
To wash her neck and get it clean
As soon as water hit the spot
The Phoo-dew slid off in a clot
The girl stood up and clutched her head
And then fell over cold and dead
The second girl was none too bright
And so with the corpse in her sight
She washed away her own Phoo shit
But started back as if it bit
When she saw how the others died
The youngest for ten seconds cried
The Phoo bird’s gift to her remained
On her own dress (otherwise unstained)
The girl led a long, happy life
She met a slob, became his wife
She has advice if you can bear it
She says, “If the Phoo shits, wear it.”

Okay, that's it. Music stuff in a little bit.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I miss Sunday covers

Here's a temporary link to Volcano Suns (that's Peter Prescott's post-Burma outfit) covering Prince's 1999.

It's on a reissue of The Bright Orange Years, which will be out in January on Merge

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Warped trad and trippy-pop...

Couple more reviews up today, a long one from Dusted about Micah Blue Smaldone, who swims in the same pool as Death Vessel, Fire on Fire and Larkin Grimm, and a shorter one about a very nice, vinyl-only pop psych debut from Texan Matthew Gray of Matthew and the Arrogant Sea.

Micah Blue Smaldone
The Red River

Like his sometime tour mate, Joel Thibodeaux of Death Vessel, Micah Blue Smaldone has been moving towards music that is rooted, rather than confined, in 19th century folk. His first album, 2003’s Some Sweet Day, was defiantly old-time-ish, rooted in populist folk and protest music and played on a resonator guitar. Two years later, he offered Hither and Thither, a bit more modern in its references and scope. And now with The Red River, his best yet, richer, more fluid arrangements tip his songs from straight folk blues into gospel, soul and even hints of R&B.


His MySpace

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, Family Family Family Meets The Magical Christian (Nova Posta Vinyl)

Here’s a self-imposed challenge: how to write about Matthew and the Arrogant Sea’s psyche pop oeuvre without referring to LSD. Instead, let’s stick to lysergic landmark comparisons—Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Family Family Family Meets the Magical Christian is by no means in the same league with these classics, but it is an impressive debut. It shares these records’ lucid dreamlike quality, its songs filled with bright colors, luminous melodies and bizarre but friendly imagery. Consider casio-paced, acoustic guitar’d “Pretty Purple Top Hat” which spins into its own universe with the opening salvo, “I was sitting on an orbit floating off in space/when your pretty purple top hat/hit me in the face.” From there it’s all glowing electro-keyboard flourishes and sighing vocals, surreal “hippo-sized balloons” floating by in the distance. Or take the foot-stomp-and-clap rhythmed “Mock Origami” with its swooning, much harmonized chorus of “And we all wave our hands goodbye.” It is not so much strange as an alternate reality, bounded by its own set of rules and sciences and oddly inviting. A willing suspension of disbelief, of logic, of linearity is required to enter into this world, but once you’re in, the water’s wonderfully warm. Not many young songwriters are constructing their own universes, right off the bat, so substance-assisted or not, let’s give songwriter Matthew Gray his due. This is a fantastic and phantasmagoric outing into alternate reality, and well worth checking even if you’re stone cold sober. [Amazon ]

Check out the MySpace

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reptiles, girl-rockers and lawyers in love

Still struggling with internet/computer problems, sorry about yesterday’s AWOL…lots of stuff going up at PopMatters this week, though, a full-length review of NOLA funk-soul-country-Katrina survivors The Iguanas, a shorty on Friggs’ frontwomen Palmyra Delran’s solo EP and a long, overthought meditation on the fourth season of Boston Legal. (TV is one place where I seem to have fairly mainstream taste.)

Okay, so let’s get to it.

The Iguanas

If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times
(Yep Roc)
US release date: 30 September 2008
UK release date: 13 October 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I've Had My Share

In 2005, as Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast, busted through the levies, and stranded New Orleaneans on rooftops and highway underpasses, New Orleans’s Iguanas were in Massachusetts playing a show. That didn’t mean they escaped the damage, though. In fact, even after they had reconnected with family members (no easy thing), the band’s members faced a precarious existence in exile in towns like Houston, Austin, Memphis… anywhere but home. And for a band whose sound is so inextricably linked to the polyglot, multicultural heritage of New Orleans—a mix of funk, soul, jazz, Latin, and zydeco—anywhere else must have seemed particularly lonely.

As a result, you might expect If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times, the band’s first album since the Hurricane, to be kind of a downer. You would be wrong. This is an album that has its darker moments, certainly. Some of these darker moments—“Okemah” and “Morgan City”—are its clear highlights. But is ultimately irrepressibly, defiantly alive, a survivor who may be a little drunk and a little seedy, but is so very happy to be here.

Read more

You can listen to a stream of the title track here

Or visit the MySpace

Also hella fun, the new Palmyra Delran EP…

Palmyra Delran, She Digs the Ride (Apex East Recording)
Everything that’s old is new again. Case in point: the Friggs, one of Philly’s wildest 1990s girl bands was decidedly only old until earlier this year, when a reissue called Today Is Tomorrow’s Yesterday gave a new lease on life to songs like “Bad Word for a Good Thing”. Now, Friggs’ frontwoman Palymyra Delran is back for more, with the first batch of material she’s written since the 1990s, a septet of crunching, grinding, surf-rocking garage tunes will take you straight back to the girl-powered days of the Muffs, the Fastbacks and Kathleen Hanna. Backed by Scott Treude on guitar and keys, Frank Maglio on bass, Nancy Polstein on drums, and even canine Lulu on occasional vocals, Delran proves that you can mature without softening.

From first thumping of drums and the Dick Dale guitar storm that opens “Love Has Gone Away” through the last Ventures-esque riff and manic puppy arf of “Lulu’s Theme,” Delran pushes the line between classic garage riffs and estrogen-powered rock. A final hidden track, lyrics in pig latin, show her goofy side, but the whole record, even the love-doubting “Baby Should Have Known Better”, is 100% good times. Between chiming guitars, sweet harmonies and rock-raucous drum fills, Delran lets us know why she’s still in the game after all those years and all those grotty clubs. “She digs the ride,” and who wouldn’t?

Her MySpace

The Friggs reunion show in Philly this summer…”Bad Word for a Good Thing”

And, how about that Boston Legal review?

Boston Legal: Season Four
Cast: James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, John Laroquette, Christian Clemenson, Saffron Burrows, Tara Summers
(Fox, 2004)
US release date: 23 September 2008 (Fox)

by Jennifer Kelley

Dickens was right. The law is an ass.

Every episode of Boston Legal concludes with the same scene. Star attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) and past-his-prime partner Denny Crane (William Shatner) luxuriate in post-prandial comfort on a balcony overlooking Boston, drinking Scotch, smoking cigars and talking. In a show that spends much of its time in way-over-the-top-ville, these intimate scenes are strikingly real.

The two discuss their cases, their lives, their politics and their histories with wonderful sympathy and understatement. It is not unusual for Crane to come right out and say, “I love you” to Shore, nor for the romantically-inept Shore to observe that, even without love or family, at least the two of them have each other.

In every episode (even the opener where Shore performs this scene in full-drag as a Lennon sister), these scenes are essential, grounding and humane. Without them, Boston Legal could easily devolve into a sit com.

Gotta have more?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Very Roy Harper piece is up

I have not been doing a lot of interviews lately, but this is a good one. Some guy named Michael Duane gets quoted late in the piece, who the hell is that?

Hats Off: An Interview with Roy Harper

[20 October 2008]
Jimmy Page wrote a song about him. Paul and Linda McCartney sang back up for him. And now, after decades of languishing as "the longest running underground act in the world", Roy Harper is reissuing his entire catalogue to a world that may just finally be ready for him.
by Jennifer Kelly

Roy Harper never had any interest in traditional folk. Even in the mid-1960s, playing at the legendary London club Les Cousins, surrounded by earnest pickers and song catchers, he had something else in mind.

“I was never really a bone fide member of the folk scene,” says Harper, whose 1960s and 1970s albums, including Stormcock, Sophisticated Beggar and Flat Baroque and Berserk are now considered classics—and precursors to today’s alternative folk genre. “I was too much of a modernist, really. Just too modern for what was going on in the folk clubs. I wanted to modernize music, but more than that to completely modernize people’s attitudes towards life in general. I was involved in trying to bring meat to the folk music, which is a big mistake anyway.”

Yet though Harper never enjoyed the mass popularity and commercial success of his contemporaries in Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, his work has drawn fervent admirers. A self-taught guitarist, he is known for eccentric and sophisticated blues-into-folk accompaniment. And, as a poet inspired more by Shelley, Keats and Coleridge than Dylan et. al., his lyrics have always been striking—full of riveting images and confrontational salvos. This is an artist who can spend half an hour explicating the politics and philosophy behind Stormcock, and who still, nearly 40 years after the fact, remains passionate about the injustices that inspired its songs.


“Me and My Woman”

Sunday, October 19, 2008

If I'm not around as much...

...on etc. it's because I've had a fairly major disaster with my main desktop computer. All my music is safe, because I moved it to a portable hard drive a few weeks ago, but most of the programs, the audio drivers, the printer, etc. don't work and I'll probably have to buy a new one fairly soon.

I have a laptop, but it's got Vista, so is basically useless on dial-up. I'm expecting to spend a fair amount at the WIFI place and the library during the transition.

The worst thing I lost was a bunch of financial records...I'm going to have to hope that everyone sends out correct w-9s this year, or I'll have no idea how much I made.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm not going to CMJ but...

I just made my plane/hotel reservations for SXSW...and, here's the cool thing, I did the plane ticket with miles.

This plastic baby will kill us all, more later.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicago pics

Plastic babies and aging punks

This weekend, my 13-year-old son will undergo a bizarre form of anti-sex propaganda, in the form of a life size robotic baby doll, which will demand food, comfort, burping and diaper changes at irregular intervals throughout the day and night.

To me, this is maybe the stupidest stunt his school has ever pulled. I object for these reasons:

1. Money. the dolls cost $400 each. Is this why the schools can't afford to teach foreign languages?
2. Time. I would so, so, so prefer that Sean learn to find Zimbabwe on the map or how to solve quadratic equations or whether Russia was a member of the Axis powers rather than how to tend a plastic baby. But alas, so much to learn, so little time.
3. Weirdness. We essentially can't go anywhere this weekend, because Sean may be called upon, at any moment, to change the diaper on a plastic robot baby. Most people think this is kind of strange.
4. Message. What the program is trying to say is, "Don't have babies because they will ruin your life." And this is true for most eighth graders. However, a plastic baby is not anything like a real baby. It does not fall asleep beside you after it is finished nursing in the middle of the night. It does not grab your finger. It does not smile. It is not warm and beautiful. It will never become a person that you love more than anything else in the world. We do all these pain-in-the-ass things for babies because they are people, they are ours and we adore them. Are there no young mothers in Walpole who could use a few hours help with their babies from responsible eighth graders? Do we really need plastic dolls that have next to no resemblance to the actual deal?

Okay, done now. On to the music, a volatile collaboration between Jon Langford of the Mekons (and about ten other bands) and Kat, the drummer from the Ex.

Jon Langford and Kat Ex
(Carrot Top)
US release date: 23 September 2008
UK release date: 6 October 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

Hey, you got your Mekons in my Ex... No, you got your Ex in my Mekons!

Jon Langford and Kat Ex, veterans of two of the longest-running punk bands in existence, team up for this scorching collaboration. KatJonBand is not as great as either the Mekons or the Ex at their peak, but it is fiercer, rawer, and more jittery than almost anything else passing for punk these days.

The rest.

"Bad Apples"

"Do You"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

While you read this blog, Jay Reatard is writing three new songs

My review of the immensely prolific Jay Reatard's second set of singles for 2008 ran today in Dusted. What do you think? Did I gush?

Now I'll have to have another look at my top-ten.

Artist: Jay Reatard
Album: Matador Singles ‘08
Label: Matador
Review date: Oct. 16, 2008

Four and a half months ago, Dusted’s Ben Donnelly called Jay Reatard’s furious spate of 2006 into 2008 releases an avalanche "similar to the 30 months that produced The Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin, or the seven LPs of music the Clash did between 1977 and 1980 and Husker Du did between 1984 and 1987." He added, "Twenty years from now, I bet it will still sound as great as those do now. There’s still nothing like the sound of an avalanche as it’s plowing you under."

Reatard was, even as Donnelly wrote this, cranking out the singles for Matador at a rate of two a month, and that was just the stuff that made vinyl. (In interviews, he says that if he goes home for a week, he will typically write 14 or more songs.) He is apparently not one of those people who sits around wondering what they should do next.

And yet, even if he’s not consciously thinking about how his work will evolve, Reatard seems to have found a new direction. In this second collection of singles for 2008, you can see him move gradually away from the distorted, garage punk blowouts of Blood Visions towards a rough sort of classic pop. You can’t listen to "See Saw" without remembering the short, sharp assaults of Reatard’s earlier solo work (that is, if you’ve heard it). You can’t hear "An Ugly Death," just three songs and a couple of months later, without thinking of Phil Spector.

Read the rest.


Always Wanting More

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What the hell is Hagerty up to now?

I almost forgot that I still wrote for Blurt, but yesterday, two vintage reviews saw the light of day at the online site. (In fairness, I think they went into the digital magazine a few weeks ago.) One is a characteristically odd, expectation-confounding new album from Neil Michael bass, no drums, mostly circus organ...and another is an also non-conventional but quite lovely duet between Miss Murgatroid and Petra Haden.

Neither one of them is giving away any mp3s, and Murgatroid/Hayden don't even have a Myspace...sorry.

Howling Hex
Earth Junk
(Drag City)

And now for something completely different.

Neil Michael Hagerty has never been content staying in any sort of niche, jettisoning band members, musical styles and even his incendiary guitar with hardly a shrug. With Earth Junk, his tenth album under the Howling Hex name, Hagerty starts over again, with an entirely new band. He's also got an unrecognizable sound that is grounded more in 1960s psych than blues rock.

Royal Trux die-hards beware: there are no drums at all on this album, very little bass and less than usual guitar. Mostly, in fact, the songs are built around keyboards, a Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes manned by new recruit Sweney Tidball. That gives early-album forays like "Big Chief with Big Wheel" a damaged carnival vibe, its calliope run amok among brightly colored nightmares. The mojo works best when it's shot through with guitar-splintered darkness, as on "Sundays Are Ruined Again," "Contraband & Betrayal" and particularly, "Annie Get Redzy." Singer Eleanor Whitmore tips the balance too far into Teletubby-land, her too-sweet alto like a kindergarten teacher strung out but trying to stay positive.

Think of Earth Junk as Hagerty's Satanic Majesties, a day-glo journey away from the twisted blues guitar hooks we all expect from him. Hagerty could never be less than fascinating, but this feels like a detour... even for such a trickster.

Standout Tracks: "Annie Get Redzy," "Contraband & Betrayal" JENNIFER KELLY

Miss Murgatroid & Petra Haden
Hearts & Daggers
File Under

Accordion, violin and voice, all pitched at their most unearthly, twine and curl together in nine extraordinary compositions here. In this second record together, accordionist/singer Miss Murgatroid (Alicia J. Rose) and violin-and-vocalist Petra Haden build mirage-like musical landscapes that flit from torch jazz to periwigged minuet to gypsy campfire songs. The vocals take center stage, building perhaps on Petra Haden's experiments with a capella arrangements (she last recorded The Who Sell Out entirely by herself and without instruments). They sound, for the most part, like anything but voices, billowing in wordless clouds, punching staccato blots of rhythm, sliding and scatting and executing the most arcane harmonies and counterparts.

The main instruments share timbre with the two women's voices, the accordion as rich and tremulous as an alto singer, the violin as keening and high as a clear soprano. There are no sharp edges, then, in these collaborations. You listen to the accordion sometimes, thinking it is a voice, the voices wondering how they morphed from strings. It helps, perhaps, that there very few words. In "Fade Away", a shard of oblique poetry emerges in slouchy jazz singer phrases, and in Middle Eastern "We Formulate" you can just discern the title phrase among arabesques of non-verbal tone.

But the best cuts, perhaps, are nonlinear and abstract. "Sleeper" is a lucid dream in sound, serene, motionless and full of slow blossoming notes. You can picture Rose compressing her accordion with infinite patience, Haden, likewise, drawing her bow in slow motion across the strings. A bit of Jerome Kern's "Summertime" in the violin nudges us into alertness at the end of the song, but up to that point, it's been like a trance: odd, lovely and unforgettable.

Standout Tracks: "Fade Away", "Sleeper", "We Formulate" JENNIFER KELLY

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm baaaaaack

Returned from Chicago yesterday evening. That was two, count them two airplane rides with no problems at all. (though i did have to pay $15 each way to check a bag) I can't remember the last time I went somewhere without getting stuck in an airport at least once. Clearly the recession, if that's what it is, is good for something.

The trip was okay...a family thing. My family is a bit aesthetically tone-deaf, so they are always discovering things that are half, a third or 90% cheaper but "just as good." Our hotel was a cinderblock just outside O'Hare. We ate at IHOP twice. That kind of thing.

But it was good to see everyone, and with my parents now well past their mid-70s, we should enjoy what we have.

Anyway, just before leaving, I had a fairly amazing musical experience that I will write about in detail later. It was two guitarists and a banjo player from the Imaginational Anthem series, which is an ongoing compendium of current and historical Fahey-style American primitive guitar picking (with the occasional banjo player, I guess). The show was at the Montague Bookmill, a somewhat remote (and probably in daylight quite lovely) converted mill where occasional freak-folk-ish performances are held. I had never been there before, but I may go again on Sunday for Michael Chapman and Jack Rose.

On the 9th, which was when I went, they had Cian Nugent (really obsessive readers may recall that I wrote his bio for a Dusted "Listed" feature a couple of months ago), Ben Reynolds and George Stavis. They're all three on Imaginational Anthem 3...more information and a full-album stream can be found here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spooky Palms, giddy Chandeliers

Two reviews have gone up in PopMatters over the last couple of days, both synthetically driven, but that's about all they have in common.

I'll be in Chicago over the weekend and probably mostly offline until Tuesday, so have a good one...

About those reviews.

It's Midnight in Honolulu
(Rare Book Room)
US release date: 9 September 2008
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

Electro cool and naked primitivism

Palms is one of those bands that exists in theory more than actuality. Its two songwriters live thousands of miles apart. Nadja Korinth resides mostly in Berlin, but is often, as an employee of BBC news, elsewhere. Ryan Schaefer, a native of the Midwest, now calls New York City home. For this, their first collaboration, the two developed songs separately (very separately), meeting only in the studio to align their separate visions.

It’s Midnight in Honolulu is therefore, and perhaps necessarily, a diverse and heterogeneous album, with lo-fi pop songs sitting alongside electro-rants, primitive ululations atop machine-age sampled beats. Songs are sung in three different languages, predominantly English and German, but also French, and yet sound not so much like pretentious displays of abilities, but rather, dispatches from far-flung locations. It is possible, maybe even necessary, to enjoy this album without ever really getting a handle on it. Is it electrified freak folk? Experimental pop? Particularly melodic drone? Primitive-obsessed IDM? Yes and no. Sometimes. Maybe.

The rest


The Thrush
(Obey Your Brain)
US release date: 14 October 2008
UK release date: 15 April 2008

by Jennifer Kelly

In at least one way, synthetic music is never wholly live, since its most basic building blocks are tones and sounds that have been recorded and stored, not blown or strummed or pounded. Yet, as Chicago’s Chandeliers demonstrate, what you do with those stored bits of sound can be as live as you want it, the foundation of an aesthetic that is as improvisatory and communicative as any traditional-instrument jazz band. Their first full-length is built on improvised jams—one guy taking off from another guy’s idea, two people talking with notes and rhythms—that visibly move and adapt while you listen. Recorded partly with Icy Demons’ Blue Hawaii and partly at Mahjongg’s home studio, The Thrush melds the popcorn beats and synth flourishes of disco with the scratchier funkiness of world-rhythms.

“Mr. Electric”, right off the bat, calls out 70s porn funk with its buzzy synth bass, syncopated, stop-short drums, washes of plasticine synthesizer tones. “Mango Tree”, the only cut with vocals, is slithery with falsetto soul trills, lush with multiple keyboards. It sounds very much like those late 70s soul-into-disco crossover hits, all bass and mock insinuation.

They’re interesting cuts, but feel a bit overthought and overcrowded, at least compared to the two clear winners near the end. “Bamboo” is far scruffier and more ominous, adding the sub-bass threat to its syncopated sheen. It’s followed by even dirtier “Graffiti” whose clattering drone (and melodica) evokes dub-steppers like Appleblim, while its bass funk underpinnings remind you of Mahjonng. These tracks strip off some of the sheen inherent in those cold, perfect electronic sounds, and pare down the number of ideas working simultaneously...for a clear album highlight.

"Mr. Electric"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

JOMF...the band with the unmentionable name

Being a middle aged football/skiing/track mom who writes about underground music is kind of a balancing act. As a writer, you're allowed -- almost required -- to swear and be cynical and allude to all kinds of contraband ideas. As a mom, you are supposed to behave yourself and not make too much embarrassing trouble. You are not allowed to have CDs on in the car with too much bad language. You should probably not have CD covers in places your kid's friends can see that have naked women on them or words like "motherfucker."'s review is of a really excellent band called Jackie O Motherfucker. (Some of you may know that my friend Michael has been playing with them lately and mastering their CDs and so forth, but he is not on this particular record.)
Sorry, Sean, I'll try to be more conventional next week.

Artist: Jackie O Motherfucker
Album: Freedomland
Label: Very Friendly
Review date: Oct. 9, 2008
Freedomland documents a series of live performances by the summer 2006 incarnation of Jackie O Motherfucker, an outfit centered around guitarist and turntablist Tom Greenwood, but with a rotating cast of supporting members. This version of JOMF is a particularly incendiary one, jettisoning the gentler folkier experiments of the Theo Angell/Samara Lubielski years, and focusing instead on a noisy, freely improvised clatter and storm.

The impetus for the shift is likely Inca Ore’s Eve Salens, who also sang with JOMF on 2006’s Valley of Fire. She is an extraordinarily volatile presence here, caterwauling and moaning and free-associating through a minefield of explosive sounds. Utterly unconstrained, she has a speaking-in-tongues quality that encourages everyone else in the band to greater levels of cacophony. Consider for instance, the relatively accessible opening track "Devotion" where she chants "You know devotion," over and over at escalating volumes. As she approaches catharsis, the drummer, Danny Sasaki, follows right along with her, his pounding coalescing into an almost continuous barrage. The guitars, too, erupt into jagged masses of discord, underlining the chaotic crescendo. The lyrics seem almost random. They are delivered in a flat sing-song with odd syllables emphasized. And yet, the excitement is palpable.

The whole review

The MySpace

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another day, another zine goes under

I got word a couple of months ago that PureMusic was going on hiatus. I had, I guess, four reviews in the can for the site at the time, unfortunately. What I hear now is that they can run three more of them in the last-ever issue, and Dusted was nice enough to pick up this last one, maybe the best of them, of Matt Bauer's The Island Moved in the Storm.

Here's the review, which appeared in Dusted today:

Matt Bauer
The Island Moved in the Stream
(Societe Expeditionnaire)
Matt Bauer’s third release is loosely based on a murder story, a young woman found dead in rural Kentucky and not identified for 30 more years. The Brooklyn songwriter spent his childhood in Kentucky and perhaps because of this, he is unusually comfortable with natural imagery and natural sounds. His music sounds transparently simple at first, but later reveals delicately limned metaphors and artfully minimal arrangements.
The “concept” to this album is never overbearing. It may be the murdered girl at the center of “As She Came Out of the Water,” a restrained song whose only hint of sorrow comes in aching forays of pedal steel. Or it may not. In any case, Bauer keeps his voice calm, seldom much over a whisper. There’s no melodrama, just an observer sharp enough to note the shells stirring under his boots in the stream.
The natural world flows around Bauer and his characters, surrounding them, shaping them, spiting them. It is acutely, almost lovingly described, and yet so clearly a cruel place. In “Blacksnake in the Carport,” for instance, a cello throbs under minor lilt and gambol of banjo, muted solace in an indifferent landscape. “Blacksnake in the carport, making for the shadows,” Bauer whispers. “Cut his head off with a hoe, slowly still he travels.”


"As She Came Out of the Water"

Matt on WNYC

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A premature and hasty best-of

This is the first year in a while I haven't had a print magazine bugging me for my top ten in September, so I just started thinking about it this afternoon. Here's a very provisional stab at my favorites from 2008.

Feel free to throw things.

Here’s my back-of-the-envelope first stab at this.

BTW, I thought TVOTR was fine, but nothing earth-shaking, but I’ve felt that way about everything after the first EP.

I’ve got one reissue in the top ten, which will get shunted aside in some lists to its own category, so I’m allowing myself 11.

1. Alejandro Escovedo, Real Animal...rockin’ Al at his career best
2. Big Dipper, Supercluster...fantastic survey of a band I missed the first time around, this one comes out if we’re excluding the old stuff*
3. Wovenhand, Ten Stones...why is this guy not at the top of the heap? this is the best of the wovenhand lot, which was already pretty good
4. Experimental Aircraft, Third Transmission...fantastic shoe-gaze-y kind of thing, totally took me by surprise and I fully expect to be the only one to vote for this anywhere.
5. the Dirtbombs, We have you Surrounded...almost a career-best as well, except for some sub-par stuff near the end it would have beat Ultraglide..."Leopardman at C&A” is my #1 played song for this year and probably my favorite.
6. Thalia Zedek Band, Liars and Prayers...wonderful full-band outing from one of my favorite, underrated artists
7. Man Man, Rabbit Habits...just about missed this, since they’ve graduated from the labels and press people who send me stuff, but I bought it and it’s about five times better than Six Demon Bag and 2-3 times better than Blue Turban...what a great, weird-ass band, long may they run.
8. Calexico, Carried to Dust...Not as good as Feast of Wire, to my ears, but pretty great nonetheless. What great musicians these guys are, what beautiful tone they get out of their instruments
9. Mt. Eerie and Julie Doiron, Lost Wisdom...hauntingly beautiful, absolutely simple and pure
10. Human Bell, Human Bell...dual acoustic guitars from Dave Heumann of Arbouretum and Nathan Bell of Lungfish, wonderful stuff, hardly anybody wrote about it
11. Lights, Lights...totally cracked, electrified take on freak folk with extraordinarily beautiful female voices and trippy psychedelic guitar effects...i said it sounded like the Roches in front of Piper-era Floyd, and I stand by that, I guess.

Some that didn’t make it but were also very fine

King Khan and the Shrines, the Supreme Genius Of
Retribution Gospel Choir, S-T
Mogwai, The Hawk Is Howling
Bardo Pond, Batholith
Jay Reatard, Singles (both actually, the In the Red set and the ones from Matador)
Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago
Kelley Stoltz, Circular Sounds
Chicha Libra, Sonidas Amazonicas
Giant Sand, proVISIONS
Erykah Badu, New Amerika
Oneida, Preteen Weaponry

I don’t even want to think about songs yet.

The Gist of it, Glenn Mercer is famous again...but what about Roy Harper?

I bought a really interesting reissue over the weekend, mostly because it was on the Cherry Red Label and knowing zero about the band except that they were mostly likely part of that weird underground post-punk early 1980s UK scene that I like so much. Open the packaging to find that The Gist is Stuart Moxham's post-Young Marble Giants band...significantly poppier and way more influenced by soul and disco (I'm guessing Scritti Politti was on his turntable at some point). Super fun stuff.

One of those "not really a videos" of "Love at First Sight"

In other news, PopMatters, which held onto to my Glenn Mercer interview for months and months because it wasn't important enough, today has posted another Glenn Mercer interview...because now that the Feelies have reformed and played with Sonic Youth, the pooh-bahs know he's significant. It's a thankless job being right, y'know?

Anyway, here's the interview:

"Crazy Rhythms" live

And at Dusted, they are all over the Roy Harperreissues today. Wonder how long it'll take PM to run my Roy Harper interview? (Hey, Sonic Youth, could you guys play a show with him, too, so they'll get that he's a genius? Just asking.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great band, icky name…Puffy Areolas

Saturday morning I went to the library for a little internet piracy and ended up listening to a freaking amazing looong track by a band from Ohio called Puffy Areolas. It’s hard, fuzzy guitars, stretched out to infinity, and I can’t think why, but it reminds me a lot of Michael Yonkers.

Anyway, I was listening on WFMU, but here’s the cool thing The whole live album is downloadable from, and here’s the link.

Enjoy, and if you google them, make sure you add the word "band" to your search...otherwise lots of photos that you really don't want to see.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

New mix

I made a mix of stuff that I’ve been listening to lately, mostly for reviews and interviews. Here’s a track listing:

Katjon Band “Red Flag” This Jon Langford and Kat from the Ex in a sort of one-off collaborion.

Wilderness “Strand the Test of Time” I'm interviewing these guys for Copper Press by email sometime idea what to ask them.

Fabulous Diamonds, “Untitled” Fantastic no waver duo from Australia, check out the detuned sax at the end.

Palms, “Monte Alban” Really hard-to-classify, trans-continental duo with a new-ish album out on Rare Book Room, which used to be mostly a studio but somehow turned into a label.

Starlite Desperation, “We Don’t Do Time” Fuck yeah, rock and roll.

Jay Reatard, “Painted Shut” See above.

Boston Spaceships, “Two Girl Area” Pollard with a pretty damn good band sounding exactly like himself...a good thing in my book.

Mogwai, “Batcat” The loud one on their new album.

All the Saints, “Fire on Corridor X” New psych-grunge-heavy band from Atlanta that got signed to Touch & Go while I wasn't looking.

XX Teens, “Round” Hmmm...already fading on this one, but I do like the drums. Anybody else thinking "Keep them Separated" by the Offspring?

Giant Sand, “Muck Machine” My fave track off proVISIONS with that loopy, bloopy bass line.

Hush Arbors, “The Light” This is one of the louder, more rock-oriented tracks off a really beautiful new freak folkish outing from Sun Burned Hand of the Man's Keith Wood.

Woven Hand, “The Beautiful Axe” My favorite Old Testament prophet/Joy Division fan, Dave Eugene his new album Ten Stones.

Boduf Songs, “Spirit Harness” So quiet, so devastating.

Larkin Grimm, “Ride that Cyclone” Omigod, just interviewed this woman, Michael Gira's latest find, here backed by his other new band, Fire on Fire...crazy, dark bluegrass sort of.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, “Back Burner” Also talked to Isobel finally, who said that the guitar lick at the end of this piece (Dave MacGowan BTW) is her very favorite sound on the excellent Sunday at Devil Dirt.

Here's the link:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thurston Moore, Little Claw and the tiniest bit of Eat Skull

Hey, look it's my 100th post! So in the spirit of having written so fucking many things that no one reads, here's a concert review of Thurston Moore performing his Psychic Hearts in total with a couple of kicking baby bands in tow.

Thurston Moore + Little Claw + Eat Skull17 September 2008: Pearl Street — Northampton, MA

Thurston Moore revisits his 1995 solo album Psychic Hearts with Steve Shelley, Chris Brokaw, and a bass player called Mutilator along for the ride.

by Jennifer Kelly

"Where were you in 1995?” Thurston Moore asks the crowd, about halfway through his set. The guy he points to first is flummoxed. He was seven, as it turns out, and probably doesn’t want to admit spending the whole year playing with Transformers. Another, further to the back, says he learned to masturbate that year. “I’d say give this guy a hand, but… “ Moore cracks, then adds: “In 1995, I was living in New York and deeply in love with my wife, and we had a one-year-old baby… that was about it.”

Actually, that’s not quite it. In 1995, Moore also released Psychic Hearts, a one-off collaboration with Steve Shelley and Tim Foljahn that explored connections between mainstream rock and art, angular noise, and liquid lyricism. Like many proper Sonic Youth albums, it was rife with cultural allusions, name-checking Patti Smith and Yoko Ono, Stephen Tyler and Madonna, while slipping in some Nirvana-style whisper to a scream dynamics alongside a long quotation from the Rolling Stone’s “Moonlight Mile”. It was built on innovative, oddly tuned guitar riffs, feedback, and angular rhythms… and yet it was oddly accessible to rock ‘n’ roll ears.

Tonight, Moore, Shelley, and new recruits Chris Brokaw and Mutilator, are to play all of Psychic Hearts, mostly, but not quite in the order of the record.

Read the rest

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron

Another really gorgeous record to somehow shoe-horn into the top-ten...this one from Microphones/Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum and ex-Eric's Trip bassist Julie Doiron. Here's a bit from my Dusted review, up today:

Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron & Fred Squire
Lost Wisdom
P.W. Elverum & Sun

Elverum and Doiron both have a knack for absolute simplicity. Lost Wisdom is not a long album – clocking in at just under 25 minutes – nor is it especially elaborate. Most of the songs rely on voice and guitar alone to make their case. And yet, how splendid they are, layered and looped in madrigals rounds and descants ("Voice in Headphones") or nakedly unadorned ("Flaming Home").

Still, no matter how lush or spare the vocal arrangements become, the voices themselves remain clear and simple. Elverum and Doiron often join in very tight, mildly dissonant, minor harmonies, the timbres of their two voices melding into one flickering tone. There is no vibrato, no growls or shrieks, almost no dynamic variation. If you had to pick an instrument to approximate their singing, it would have to be the recorder, blown softly and melancholically, without trills or flourishes. By shunning all vocal tricks, Elverum and Doiron arrive at a purity that is in no way dumbed down.

The rest is here.

"Flaming Home"

My show got cancelled last night, unfortunately, so I won't have much to say about the glories of the Dodos or Au.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm going to see Dodos tonight

Well, really, I'm going to see Au, but I'm kind of excited about Dodos as well.

Check out their Daytrotter sessions.

And a video, "Fools"

And here's Au's "All My Friends are Animals"...very much in the Animal Collective-type family.

Oh, and the opening band is The Dig, whose first EP I reviewed a few months ago and liked a lot.

Here's the review:

The Dig
Good Luck and Games
US release date: 18 December 2007
UK release date: Available as import

by Jennifer Kelly

This is the catchiest, most intriguing power pop band to emerge out of the no-name pile in some time. Brooklyn’s The Dig has one self-released full-length prior to this EP and a growing live following. Even so, they’ll most likely be news to you, the way they were news to me. That’s good news, though, The Dig is fairly crackling with potential.

The record starts with a riotous drum-beat, crunchy, palm-muted guitars and sweet pop-leaning vocals (by bandleader David Baldwin) that might easily remind you of Squeeze. There’s a certain new wave-y bounce to this particular track, but follow-on “Lovesick Woman” leans more into shoe-gazey murk. Here a churning, distorted, slow-circling guitar riff grounds the piece, tempering the hookiness of the chorus and giving way to a little bit of shredding in the middle. “Marianne” has a Beatles-esque pop moment, adding a string quartet opening to its slinky-tempo’d electro beat.

The closer “The Last Thing” has an even mellower vibe at its start, all tight Pernice-esque harmonies and airy jangle—but it picks things up considerable toward the end with a faster, full-on rock coda. And “Any Day Now” sounds like Calla’s little brother, all whispery insinuations and bass-inflected beats. All of which is to say there’s plenty of diversity, especially for an abbreviated outing, and no real stylistic missteps. Clocking in at 17 minutes, Good Luck and Games will probably leave you wanting more, but that was surely the plan all along.