Record Reviews
V 12 Recent Items
Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | More... Next>
Nelly Furtado
“Promiscuous Girl [ft. Timbaland]”

[2006]
starstarstarstarstar

 


Big jungle drums and a Timbaland flute loop! Guess the smoothed-over sanguinity of Folklore is a distant memory. Where that record saw the married and newly-pregnant Nelly Furtado recruit Bela Fleck to guest banjo on a song about priorities, this single has her tapping Timbo's rawhide boom for a jam about casual sex. "Pay attention to me, I don't talk for my health," she sneers, as if to acknowledge her default language of corny metaphysical poetry has no place among the jilted and horny. Meanwhile, as Jan Hammer synths go off like flares, Timbaland quietly delivers one of the best vocal performances of his career. Nelly's 50/50 vocal foil, his wet, sorta-Cameo affect conveys the sleaze an at-heart good-girl like Furtado could never muster. And when he jibes, "I don't see no ring on your hand," its just another confirmation of that thing we already know: When it comes to pop music, unrest trumps mere contentedness every single time.

dots!
Young People
“Stay Awake”

[2006]
starstarstarstarhalf star
Call it a rock'n'roll retake of Björk's "Joga". The fundamental trick here is pretty typical of Young People: Katie Eastburn sings a simple melody over hushed drums and scratchy guitars. What makes "Stay Awake" so haunting is the barely discernible disconnect between the melody and the instrumentation; this song is a hypnotically elusive listen. That is, of course, until Eastburn's voice slowly and unexpectedly ascends into a disarming, triumphant coda. The drums pound in perfect time, the guitars ring out, and suddenly you wonder where you've been for the last two minutes. It's unsettling, baffling, and totally brilliant. What did you expect from a lullaby called "Stay Awake?"
dots!
Twilight Singers
“Bonnie Brae”

[2006]
starstarstarstar
Greg Dulli's been singing this song for years: relatively subdued verse, stormy chorus, gradual build across the bridge to a big climax. There's nothing on "Bonnie Brae" we haven't heard before on songs like "John the Baptist" and "Teenage Wristband", but I'm not sure I've heard Dulli do it so well and so effortlessly. A simple guitar line battens down the intro, seemingly unspectacular, but it repeats throughout the song until it has grown insistent and insinuating. That guitar adds a stoic air to Dulli's conflicted lyrics and unreserved vocals, both of which are strong enough to make the word "indubitably" sound perfectly apt at the climax. Reportedly written in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and featuring backing vocals by Ani DiFranco, "Bonnie Brae" sounds like Dulli is weathering the storm and emerging stronger on the other side.
dots!
Tiga
“(Far From) Home (DFA Remix)”

[2006]
starstarstarstarhalf star
Dance's dynamic remix duo start this track by pulling one of their best but infrequently used tricks: the blissful Eno pastiche. The big surprise here is that instead of dropping out of it into their signature disco house sound, the DFA amp up the Eno imitation, pushing the hi-hat to the max yet leaving it open at the end of the bar to keep the flow. By the song's close, everything devolves into a somehow familiar, somehow comfortable chaos-- James and Tim finally challenging themselves again. "I cross over seas/ It's fine by me/ 'Cause I'll never be/ Far from home," the songs claims, but this is further from boilerplate DFA than they've been in a long time.
dots!
A-Side: Tiga
“Good as Gold (Morgan Geist Monophonic Remix)”
B-Side: Good as Gold (Zdar Dub)

[2006]
A-Side:starstarstarhalf star
B-Side:starstarhalf star
Philip Zdar pulls the "dub" card for his take on "Good as Gold", a rote Tiga vocal house track. Zdar converts the original into the heavy French house sound he's thrived on, and takes something that was for at-home use only and makes it more club friendly. It's a simple but effective edit.

Morgan Geist has earned his chops because of his Metro Area work, but he may be better known to indie rock kids for his fantastic remix of "House of Jealous Lovers" and his slick as hell Italo-disco, crate-digging mix Unclassics. Geist opens with a hot tweak of Tiga's sequence-- acid and congas working nicely together-- then does a nice job weaving in the vocals. Though not a banger, and perhaps a tad slow to get its point across, the remix further showcases Geist as one of our best producers of contemporary disco.

dots!
Tiga
“You Gonna Want Me (12" Extended Dance Mix)”

[2006]
starstarstarhalf star
I tend to favor edits as opposed to extensions, but this one's an exception. On its own, the album cut is nice enough: Tiga does a good job with vocals, and the bass and hi-hat hit hard. But things feel rushed at the end, as a nasty build is abruptly cut short. No worries, the extended version fixes this shortcoming. This time Tiga rides brings the bass up to the front of the mix. He also rides the breakdown a little longer and includes a split-second pause at its end, a trick that emphasizes rather than dismisses the build. Then at the exact point when the album version cuts out, the extended take recalls a conga loop, tiring us out with it until we are ready to turn in. Also, .
dots!
Amy Millan
“Skinny Boy”

[2006]
starstarstar
While a track from one half of Stars' ultra-cute vocal duo doesn't necessarily mean you'll only get 50% of the charm, incompleteness still looms over Amy Millan's first solo offering. The orchestral splendor of Millan exemplars "Ageless Beauty" and "The Calendar Girl" has evaporated, leaving bare acoustic strums, reverb, and a chord progression eerily similar to "The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1". In essence, Millan abandons the pop collective paradigm in lieu of earthy dream-pop with a southern gal flair-- think a slightly more world-wearied Maria Taylor. It's never a surprise when solo debuts go introspective though, and at least moss doesn't gather on this wistful melody. Like the plot to most Millan songs, there's little conflict here, just a dewy-eyed sigh and a brief curtsy to Jeff Mangum.
dots!
Ranaldo/Giffoni/Moore/Cline
“Four Guitars Live”

[2006]
starstarstarhalf star
Luxx, Brooklyn NY, 8/8/2001: Four dudes strap on guitars, a look mostly familiar (Ranaldo, Moore, Cline) and a little strange (Giffoni), but it's the odd guy out's blueprint they're following, dropping the guitar-as-avenging-dick for guitar-as-cerebral-violence. They play it straight, bowed, crooked, jammed, noisy, call-and-response, skronk and reskronk, rhythm, and lead.

Like every bit of accidental- or pseudo-intentional feedback pushed together, they pull quotes from abrasive leads, accidental zonks, finger noise on strings, and instrument-body taps, those little played bits between breakdown explosions; that last bit of delay off the Edge's guitar, if you don't make a habit of the avant-garde. Leave it at "rock show," just like those other rock shows.

dots!
Rihanna
“S.O.S. (Rescue Me)”

[2006]
starstarstar
We're no better than you when it comes to coldstare-melting pop music. Though she's jacking Lisa Lisa's bounce and quite obviously reappropriating Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" for Nike ad-hocking, Rihanna has got a crazy knack for melody. Irrefutable, almost embarrassingly so. It's hard to say how much this is Jay-Z power play and how much is pure songwriting joy. The cascading blips and drops scatter that epic hyper-bell toll that makes it feel so familiar and Rihanna's empty but impassioned vocals could be handled a lot worse, say by the likes of your regular run-of-the-Milians. Come to think of it, Rihanna can't really sing well at all; but she knows how to hit her spots. Hova knows this, too. That's why this song is playing on the radio at the bank right now.
dots!
El Perro del Mar
“God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)”

[2006]
starstarstarstarhalf star
This song's come along at the perfect time of year. An anthem for late winter, it's well-suited for these few weeks when you'd rather freeze in a light jacket than wear that heavy coat one more time. Sarah Assbring, who goes by the stage name El Perro del Mar, uses girl-group elements to try to reconnect with the world, but "God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)" is small instead of enormous, minimal instead of maximal, intensely personal instead of glowingly public. Her wall of sound is no towering monument, but a crumbling fieldstone property boundary: ancient (if the 1960s can be considered that), sturdy, picturesque, and built stone by stone using bells, ruminative bassline, barely-there piano, swooning guitar, shivering reeds, and gentle backing vocals-- all on a soft bed of strings nursing a sad, bouncy chorus that's as catchy as an early-spring cold.
dots!
SA-RA Creative Partners
“Big Fame”

[2006]
starhalf star
"I'm from Jupiter-- look at my Hammer pants!" That's the unfortunate vibe you get from Los Angeles-based scenesters SA-RA Creative Partners. When they first emerged, SA-RA (whose "Hollywood" demo was as fresh as it was well written) seemed impressive to a whole slew of listeners, including this reviewer. But, in the interim, the trio have favored style over substance, becoming to soul what Editors are to rock. Sadly, "Big Fame", their vacuous lead single, fosters none of the freshness that first captured fans.

Why are they rapping? Better to have stuck with the faux funky singing, which at least charmed the ladies. They'll have no such luck here-- the black, righteous, space shit's been all but replaced by good ol'-fashioned misogyny. What's worse is the beat is soulless and, in true SA-RA fashion, uselessly gaudy. At the group's first New York showcase, member Taz Arnold appeared on stage with a Versace pillow (for those "sleeping on my style," said he). Yo, Taz, save the receipt, 'cause once your fans see through you, it's, without question, gonna be a whole lotta witches jumpin' ship.

dots!
Figurines
“The Wonder”

[2006]
starstarstarstarhalf star
Seems every band today siphoning from the Built to Spill/Modest Mouse reservoir feels obliged to dress their sound up: Frog Eyes pours on the spastic, Wolf Parade play up the ivories-- even Modest Mouse themselves nodded to dance-rock with "Float On". Well, blame it on geographic isolation or a yen for indie purism, but Denmark's Figurines don't care to update 1998 to version 2.0. What "The Wonder" lacks in bells and whistles, it more than makes up for in pop charm and energy, and frontman Christian Hjelm's reedy, fidgety vocals capture the nice-guy-freaking-out vibe with charm and allure. Enjoying something so straightforward could violate some unwritten indie rule, but hey, if you got the hooks, flaunt 'em.
dots!
Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | More... Next>




or BROWSE

Month Year


dots! Track Reviews RSS Feed
Horizontal-dotbar-fw
Horizontal-dotbar-fw
Horizontal-dotbar-fw
Horizontal-dotbar-fw
Most-read-tracks