Saxon Shore / Owen / Joan of Arc / Make Believe / Love of Everything / Stamen & Pistils / Greater Than One / Sybarite / Jessica Bailiff / Aranos / Mea
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.
Luck Will Not Save Us From a Jackpot of Nothing
[Burnt Toast, 2005]
Passersby think you look relaxed, but you know better. You catch a glimpse of shadow every now and then as you walk home, but each time the sun fades, you can't be sure if you're being followed. Your mind drifts momentarily, and then you remember you just dropped off flowers at the cemetery. Saxon Shore makes lovely melodies and smooth keyboard loops, but they never let it settle on their new EP. Despite the ominous moments, the group never gets too bleak. You are on your way home, after all.
Owen / Joan of Arc / Make Believe / Love of Everything
The Association of Utopian Hologram Swallowers double 7"
I don't know that it was a skill anyone necessarily wanted to learn, but Polyvinyl's done a good job demonstrating how to put together a double 7-inch release. Each of the four bands involved are connected through mutual members, but their sounds differ enough to warrant separate sides. The sequencing works perfectly, building from Love of Everything's guitar-pop to Joan of Arc's messy experiment before taking a breath across Owen's subdued melodic rock before closing with Make Believe's anti-rock. Make Believe gets the sportsmanship award for including two tracks at least as good as (and more accessible than) those on its self-titled EP on Flameshovel. Rather than throw off b-sides for a niche compilation, each band has provided a song that is at least close to single-worthy. At the same time the groups—seemingly independent of their members—revel in their connectedness and display their independence.
Stamen & Pistils
End of the Sweet Parade EP
When you hear about this band, there'll be a good chance that the talk will be of folkiness merged with electronic effects. Forget the folky side. Yes, there's a songwriter's heart here, but Stamen and Pistils show greater interest in the deconstructive side of contemporary pop (more aggressively so than, say, Wilco). With strong, half-spoken/half-sung lyrics, the songs almost take off, but the heavy-handed production at times grinds it down. On several tracks, particularly the opening "Handpainted Characters," the vocalist's voice is brought out too much, drawing focus to what should be only a part of a carefully crafted whole, rather than a focal point. For now, S&P go in the one-to-watch pile.
Greater Than One
Bloodstream / Airstream (003, Red Vinyl 7”)
This the third in the nicely packaged Brainwashed 7” series comes from makers of Tricky Disco’s “Tricky Disco” under the AKA of Greater Than One. If you’re feeling sinister there’s “Airstream” with its tumid circular drones (not dissimilar to Cyclobe’s better work) and glittering saturnine trails of noise amongst the breathing machinery. In a slightly similar vein is the cinematic suffused sound of the token techno of “Bloodstream” whose swelling strings rise over bloops and padding beats barely qualifying as IDM.
Dolorous Echo / The Mast (005, Blue Vinyl 7”)
When I think of Brooklyn I think of Hip-Hop, I don’t think of tracks reminiscent of the Richard D. James era which sound fresher than the real thing. Sybarite brings a giddy indolent leisurely melodic sense to the crickety kitchen utensil percussion of “Dolorous Echo” filling it with ideas. Even though “The Mast” is too brief and demands replays to place the dinging taps on glass sounds the song’s tune lingers long past the run out groove. Attention to detail and an uplifting sense of purposeful positive mood elevates these tracks above the rest of the field. Brooklyn has a new challenger, Mos Def watch your back.
Live at VPRO Radio (006, light Green Vinyl 7”)
The human physical presence of Kranky recording artist Ms. Bailiff is present in the acoustic guitar and her forlorn folk-ish vocals but despite the obvious pop structure the unfledged lo-fi sound (the songs come through a light fog of grainy atmosphere) gives this release a distant removed feel. They used to call music like this Dreampop, but Jessica isn’t obsessed with her shoes or the floor on these four live tracks, she lost in the songs. The final track, oddly enough a Flying Saucer Attack cover, “Come and Close My Eyes” sounds the most personal and human piece here.
No Religion / Spitting Revivalist Dreams of Everlasting Pain (007, light Green Vinyl 7”)
An angry Czech Irish growls out a folky singalong about the abuses forced on us by our organised religions with the chorus “I've got no religion and I'm glad, glad, glad, I'm so glad that I don't have to hate”. Accompanied only by a light Suicide tribal type beat the song grinds into your head only to be split in two by a startling unexpected gypsy fiddle. It ends as you might have guessed with an anarchic feast of sound and the sharpening of metal on metal over buried dog growls. The epically titled b-side is the sound of a Violin with an STD, repeated listens are unnecessary in order to get his point.
Meat Beat Manifesto
Lovefingers / Radio Free Republic (009, Gun Metal Grey Vinyl 7”)
Where in the past Jack Dangers was the man you seek out for some pre-Big Beat busy prehistoric electronics and bollock kicking breaks here we find him at his monitor a little more relaxed. Still peppering his tracks with samples, he moves further into a Hip-Hop Techno area on “Radio Free Republic” where aggression and pace are not the norm. More interestingly is the Silver Apples cover on the A side which is a short blast of harsh electronic pop ending prematurely in short wave radio abuse.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-07-07