By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Also worth noting is Ode Music, a short record of soothing, chill-out Appalachia Oldham composed for a short film; it's certainly no Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid soundtrack, but Oldham's steel-string, synth and acoustic grooves are pleasingly repetitive. (Alec Hanley Bemis)
|Listen to Thomas Michael:
The rave community has gotten a lot of flack lately. Tragic tales of too-high kiddies dozing off at the wheel and crashing to their deaths after a night of love, happiness and X trips enhanced with booze, pot and boomin' bass have served as sure-fire ratings boosters for more than a couple of prime-time news programs. But face it, drug usage in the rave scene is no more dangerous than it is anywhere else. Last year, fewer than a dozen deaths related to drugs and rave events were reported in the U.S., as opposed to the 150-plus fatalities nationwide blamed on the use of Viagra. Not to dismiss concerns about raves and drug abuse, or the current lean on rave promoters to push their brethren to play safely, but all this hype has overshadowed the core of raving, which is the music.
Inspired by a trip down under, rave veteran DJ Thomas Michael saves us the effort of mysterious checkpoints, late-night drives out to the middle of nowhere and blinding laser shows with his recent release Soundscapes: Live From Melbourne. Recorded at Melbourne's annual "Every Picture Tells a Story" party, these 14 fast-paced house tracks start off with the somber organ pipes of "Baby She's a Lot Like Me," and the tempo swiftly rises to a trippy strobe-light pitch on "Believe." Highlights include "The Gimp," a mad peak-hour track with swirling, hallucinogenic synths, and the disco vibes of "Gouryella." Michael does a good job of layering tracks, creating solid builds to get the hands up 'n' wavin'.
As with most progressive music compilations, you'd have to read the track listings to know where one cut begins and another ends. But that's the objective here, folks, and Michael smoothes it all out in one continuous flowing groove. (Thomas Michael performs at Giant on Saturday, March 11, and at Unified later that same night with DJs Tony, Justin Hale, Nic Nax, Thee-O, Chelsea, Deacon, Uncut, DJ W, Alder, SDF-1 and Jason Angel. For Unified info and location, call 323-960-4469 or 818-325-2068.) (Derrick Mathis)
Say It Is So (Periscope/Sonny's Pop)
|Listen to Tim Finn:
Over the last decade, Nashville, by continually choosing image over substance, has been responsible for not only tainting country music but making a mockery of a number of related genres. Still, like Las Vegas, the lure of old Nashville lingers in the hearts of many -- apparently including New Zealander Tim Finn, ex of Split Enz and Crowded House, and, perhaps most important, composer of the title track to Cane Toads, the best documentary ever. Drawn to Nashville by a friend's "epiphany," Finn and Cleveland-based producer Jay Joyce not only fend off N-ville's oppressive mediocrity but create a travelogue sufficient to vindicate him from his abysmal ALTproject.
Beginning with "Underwater Mountain," which owes more to the atmospheric acousta-pop of the Church or Simon Bonney than Finn's usual bag of Beatlesque tricks, the disc -- his first solo outing in seven years -- grows more interesting by the cut. Back-to-back, "Shiver" and the Pettyesque "Good Together" are two of Finn's best-executed tunes to date, with Joyce's production beautifully accenting lyrics and skillfully showcasing choruses. On "Roadtrip" he tosses in a cache of pulsing effects, sounds and loops to create a warm quilt of Eno-Lanois textures, and even manages to make alt-country singer Julie Miller's warbly backups sound good.
If "Big Wave Rider" is a bit schizophrenic, "Some Dumb Reason" answers with the set's most straightforward rocker, which sounds like it came right out of the Kinks' Village Green songbook. Finally, there's "Rest," which pairs a Finn original with a traditional New Zealand tune to bid a gentle, spacey adieu to the 20th century (N.Z. was the first country to greet the 21st century). Now, if we could just send some of those country singers to New Zealand . . . (Michael Lipton)
APOLLO FOUR FORTY
Gettin' High on Your Own Supply (Sony/Epic)
Electronic-oriented musicians acting as one-person multi-instrumentalists/arrangers awoke a long time ago from their computerized mode of merely layering one dream beat after another. Where would Tricky be without his nightingale Martina, Massive Attack and their mini-orchestrations, or Prodigy without synth Svengali and drummer Liam Howlett? Apollo Four Forty's Gettin' High on Your Own Supply has one hand on the turntable and the other strumming a guitar, a neglected instrument in electronica but one these Liverpudlians incorporate cleverly amid their heavy beats lightly thrown.
It all goes back to the band's 1997 "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Dub," with its inspired sample of Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." This time, Apollo's Gray brothers are even more menacing, while refining a beats-and-bass bouillabaisse that can make the hairs in your nose tremble. Noko crunches his guitar strings through the theme to Lost in Space, "Cold Rock the Mic" and "Stop the Rock," a devil of a ditty that rides a swirling '60s surf beat and a "Smoke on the Water"worthy riff that'll surely permeate your brain. The horns on the Portisheadish "High on Your Own Supply" and the Teutonic piano on "For Forty Days" make for subdued, hallucinatory numbers more suitable for goatee stroking than head bobbing. "Heart Go Boom" is savage reggaemeetsdrum 'n' bass, and a schizophrenic standout. The album could, however, do without the lazy, short vocal punches from Mary Mary (apparently still reeling over the Thatcher years, he told New Musical Expresslast year that he'd like to "cut her so she bled to death alongside Pinochet").
Apollo's embrace of rock lacks the futurism of many of its peers', and the group's complicated rhythms and structures make for a mixology difficult to classify. So, purists of rave culture, this is notfor you. (Siran Babayan)
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