Copy Machine Repairmen
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviews or reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
Nine Inch Nails
Every Day Is Exactly the Same EP
This six-track you-say-maxi-single (remember those?) I-say-EP affair is a remix sampler from last spring’s NIN album With Teeth. Those missing the days of the Broken and Fixed EP’s may be let down by the mere pair of mixes each of “The Hand That Feeds” and “Only,” the album’s first two singles, along with “Every Day” in its album version and one mix, a largely desultory affair from Sam Fog vs. Carlos D. (this just in: Interpol still overrated). The DFA Mix of “Feeds” outshines anything on the new DFA Remixes comp, even if it doesn’t seem to get its source material, while Photek’s Straight Mix basically pumps up the Killers factor (a good thing). The real reason(s) to cop this are the “Only” mixes, done superbly by El-P, who gives the track a claustrophobic hip-hop makeover, and Richard X, who steals the intro from Tears for Fears’ “Change” before introducing Trent to Animotion. New wave’s dark side never sounded so inviting.
The Wings (Brokeback Mountain Theme Remixes)
[Verve Forecast, 2006]
I’ve never, I think, felt gayer in all my life than while listening to the remixes of Gustavo Santaolalla’s “The Wings,” essentially the Brokeback Mountain theme. In its original form, “Wings” is a gorgeous, sparely picked piece of high-west guitar that evokes everything about the longing and loss of Ang Lee’s film. Remixed for circuit parties worldwide, however, it becomes just another hands-in-the-air would-be anthem, stripped of its essence. Gabriel & Dresden’s Organized Nature Remix offends the most egregiously, but neither of Manny Lehman’s mixes acquits itself particularly well, either. An utter waste.
A Hiccup in Your Happiness EP
You can count on The Lucksmiths—they have a remarkable ability to write tight, unassuming guitar pop. A Hiccup in Your Happiness doesn't drop off much (just a little) and it should please fans, even if it won't win new ones. That unassuming quality takes up a little too much space on the three new tracks (the title cut is from Warmer Corners). The Lucksmiths ask listeners to pay literary attention. If you recognize this fact and go with it, contemplating the tunes from the band's hammock of music can be its own reward, but these numbers sag a bit too close the ground, and newcomers might not even see there's anything there.
Presents Princess EP
[On/On Switch, 2006]
Originally released as a 12" in 2004, this EP gives Battleship their first appearance on CD. The group hammers through seven hardcore-influenced tracks in 19 minutes and while they point to Black Flag as a touchstone, Battleship more often heads in an abrasive no-wave direction. Regardless of how you try to classify them, the group writes songs full of misdirection and vehemence that only fit comfortably under the broad "punk" rubric. That being said, these are also the kind of songs that make me feel stiff for writing "rubric" while someone is screaming "I'm a parasite!" in my ear.
Thee More Shallows
Monkey Vs. Shark EP
Who'd have thought the same band that would pit a monkey against a shark (unless it's a thumb-wrestling contest, Bonzo is doomed) would build their EP so artfully. Thee More Shallows' new 7-track disc circles threateningly around shoegaze and post-rock influences, but never attacks either, using fresh atmospherics to force you into their growing mania. Too many EPs are slapdash collections of random songs, Monkey Vs. Shark is a mini album. After four songs increasingly add tension, the group delivers a cover "I Can't Get Next to You." Both Al Green and The Temptations played this song as part disappointment and part seduction and all open emotion, but the Shallows turn it into the monologue of someone contemplating an overdose, letting claims like "I can fly" turn into psychotic hallucination.
The Little Ones
Sing Song EP
[Branches Recording Collective, 2006]
Getting discs from unknown labels can be a mixed bag, but getting one with catalogue number 001 is always a treat; it's a chance to see how a new label is going to introduce itself to the world. For Branches Recording Collective, The Little Ones' EP packaging sets the wrong tone—the band's not the cutesy group you might expect from their name or artwork. Instead, they've got a bit of an Arcade Fire feel, but without the personal tragedies (which doesn't mean The Little Ones' target lightweight ideas with their brighter performances). The six tracks here fit perfectly into whatever the phrase "indie pop" connotes for you. With that sound, maybe Branches has defined its future, but it hasn't defined its space.
Sing Song Sung EP
La Rocca's debut full-length is just around the corner, but no matter how much I like these songs, I can't get excited for it. Sing Song Sung contains four good rocks songs, but there's not much more to say than that. Bjorn Baillie has the voice that should be fronting a stadium band, and the backing guitars and keyboards are too classy to keep these guys in the pubs. It's easy enough to picture them on MTV; but it’s just as easy to picture them in a shirt and tie trying to fix the office copy machine.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-04-27