May 18, 2010


Axes(Too Pure 2005)


Recorded in one take, Axes is one of those rare albums that sounds intricately crafted and obsessively planned, yet captures the wild-eyed abandon of a band willing to shred the map and forge new directions on the fly. Yes, it’s a contradictory statement, but Axes is a cooly composed, yet ragged recording that lets its frayed edges come to the forefront. It’s like a seamless, yet unlikely bridge between krautrock, prog, post-punk, Factory Records and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 musicians filtered through an accessible indie-rock aesthetic. Nothing else in Electrelane’s discography dips its toes into this territory and it is a bit of an anomaly when you step back and view their output as a whole. To their infinite credit, Axes is probably a fucking anomaly when compared to the last decade of music as a whole. Who else digested such overutilized ingredients and spit out a fresh recipe worthy of their idols? Electrelane did and I am reminded of their unheralded genius each time I place Axes on my turntable.

If you slapped me silly and demanded that I sum up Axes in a solitary word, I would have to choose “brooding” as its modifier since each instrument sounds like it’s being played in a bizarro version of the Cure’s “In a Forest” or New Order’s Movement minus the drummer who plays you like a snake charmer with repetitive, but deceptively complex percussion that suckers you into the abyss. Although its predecessor, The Power Out, played with many of the same themes explored here, there was a catharsis and release experienced during each triumphant chorus. Sentiments and feelings are bottled up tight on Axes as the band keeps emoting to a bare minimum as they explore what can be done with repetition, pop and punk when kept out of sun for days on end. I wouldn’t call Axes a depressing album, but it’s the first album I tend to reach for when dusk creeps over the horizon and you can smell the rain about to fall at any moment. It’s the aural equivalent of those moments before the shit hits the fan. It captures that jumbled rush of anticipation, regret and melancholy as you process those seconds before things are irrevocably changed forever, . Let’s cap this gusher and embrace the simple aesthetic of the album and say that it is an epic that never forgets the majesty to be found in simplicity.

Glass Candy-Beatbox

July 29, 2009

Glass Candy

Beatbox(Italians Do it Better 2007)


Man, it took awhile to swallow my pride and earnestly accept the fact that Glass Candy were no longer the pretentious art-punk mess that released a series of occasionally great, but mostly horrid series of singles and albums. There always was something intriguing about them in theory, but the reality was that you had a fetching vocalist and interesting guitarist who listened to a few too many no-wave albums and decided to meld them with Blondie’s Parallel Lines. It was a mess, albeit one which kind of made you wonder what could be if this unlikely synthesis could be pulled off. It’s probably for the best that they decided to soldier onwards in a different direction and aim for a surprisingly successful marriage of Italo disco, Kraftwerk, new wave, John Carpenter soundtracks and and the hypnotic, but elegant repetition of Cluster. Yeah, the Cluster comparison is a stretch, but I’ll be damned if Beatbox doesn’t put me near that same head nodding zone as their more energetic orbits. On one hand, it’s just as disposable as any number of early 80s one-hit wonders, but Johnny Jewel’s instrumentation is a subtle, but unsettling take on early 80s disco that provides a perfect stage for vocalist Ida No’s blank vocals.

It’s fitting that I first heard Beatbox after listening to their labelmates Chromatics via their Night Drive album. Night Drive is an even more narcoleptic take on Italo Disco and krautrock as it relies mostly on longer instrumental passages and even sleepier vocals. What crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s between the two bands was the involvement of Johnny Jewel who has a innate knack for repetitive, hypnotic foundations for a suitably unemotional vocalist. The result is two bands adept at perfecting the synthesis of “ice queen” and a subdued, yet sensual wash of synthesizers.

Despite its occasional bouts of exuberance, Beatbox is an album suited for late night drives after the party ended long after common sense should have ended it. It conjures images of 3am sojourns down lonely highways when you fixate on the road ahead and ponder your existence. It’s a siren song to inaction, not dancing even when Jewel picks up the pace. Even then, it’s a disco in the center of a K-hole where all tones are grey and drab no matter how hard the band tries to pick up the pace. Beatbox is a danceable intertia at its most lively; a soundtrack to a party on its last legs at its most mellow.


These Are Not Fall Colors (K 1994)

http://www54.zippyshare.com/v/55790500/file.html (NEW LINK)

There once was a time where you couldn’t simply click on a link and drag titles to a playlist and burn a mix in mere minutes. My formative years were spent with grubby and worn mixtapes that took hours to complete. It was a pain in the ass to fast-forward past songs and you tended to listen to entire mixes and albums since, for better or worse, you were along for the ride. The benefit of this format was that I tended to listen to the same things over and over until they grew on me.

Lync’s These Are Not Fall Colors was one of these albums. Initially, it seemed like a pedestrian K/Kill Rock Stars punk screamer in the vein of early Unwound and Drive Like Jehu. However, I loved me some Unwound, so I kept listening to it since the songs were raw, loud and poppy enough to inject some adrenaline into my weary form. Eventually, the duds transformed into diamonds in the rough and my likes turned into loves.

This album was released on K Records in 1994 and its members contributed to Beck’s One Foot in The Grave and went on to form the excellent 764-Hero as well as Love in Laughter and Satisfact. However, These Are Not Fall Colors stands as the pinnacle of these musicians’ careers. It’s noisy, brash and sloppy, but sad and weary at the same time. It predates emo and serves as a blueprint for the genre that was trampled and ruined by many lesser souls. Sam Jayne’s vocals are so hoarse and pleading that he’s able to make his sweet sentiments sound much tougher than they really are. One of the hidden punk or indie-pop gems of the 90s, Lync deserves your attention and hopefully your love.