Bubblegum Hip-hop and a Band With three Test Icicles
The Strokes spring a leak! The Strokes bear much responsibility for the aught-defining indie-rock vogue though theyve been signed to a major label the whole time. Four newly leaked tracks from their forthcoming First Impressions of Earth,though, sound like efforts to ditch that cred and jettison their good taste. Juicebox (now on iTunes, Indie 103 and KROQ) starts with a surf-rock bass hook, then segues into a slapdash assemblage of teen-rock clichés: an extended, whammy-riding guitar solo, then some Doors-style bathos by front man Julian Casablancas. Itd be the perfect soundtrack to a Law & Order spinoff subtitled Malibu Noir Detectives.
D4L, Laffy Taffy (link requires iTunes) (Asylum) If you found the oral-sex allusions in 50 Cents teenybopper anthem Candy Shop too subtle, and the haikulike perfection of Kelis Milkshake too complex, youll welcome D4L. This bound-for-obscurity pack of Atlantans delivers this seasons ultimate one-hit wonder, Laffy Taffy, a sharp banger with trebly electro keyboard stabs and a banging momentum that recalls Miami bass. Dig the subtlety: Im lookin for Mrs. Bubble Gum/Im Mr. Chik-o-Stick . . . You can suck me for a long time/Oh my god/This is not a dance floor, this is a candy store. I know that, in metaphorical terms, candy stores represent the home of sweet, sweet love but what is laffy taffy? Has the desire for fat booty evolved into a lust for cellulite?
The Clientele, Strange Geometry (Merge) This London trios autumnal guitar pop recalls breezy 60s AM radio staples like Burt Bacharach and the Association, then downshifts into a slightly druggy haze. Its designed for minimum impact, so its funny how their haunting songs linger. A cycle about simple romantic longing (with a recurring female character named K) turns into a more complex affair upon close inspection. Singer Alasdair Maclean describes how everything is so vivid, and so creepy and as it turns out, this album is less about his ex-love than the dreamy perceptions he has while wandering an imperfect city. A long-shot contender for album of the year. The Clientele play the Knitting Factory, Fri., Nov. 12. (See Calendar.)
Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (Sony) Last month Tokion sponsored the third installment of its Creativity Now conference, and during a live Q&A, artist Richard Prince said he made all of his artworks in editions of two not to double his money but to question the authenticity of the original. In this era of rampant remixes, mp3 blogs, p2p leaks, and hip-hop mix tapes, its an interesting idea for music fans to consider. Sure, you could consider the Sony-branded version of Fionas new album official. But you could just as easily refuse to recognize its legitimacy after enjoying the loopier, livelier version thats been pirated online since January. These Jon Brionproduced sessions simply have more Brechtian grandeur. Fiona Apple plays the Wiltern, Sat., Nov. 26.
Linda Perry, In Flight (Custard/Kill Rock Stars) As a member of 90s one-hit wonder 4 Non Blondes, Perry was responsible for one of the most distinctive choruses of the MTV era. (Whats going on? she wailed as a million viewers changed the channel.) Her voice doesnt sound much different on this 1996 solo debut, but her sensibility sure does more gothic, world-weary and driven by songs, not hooks. Its just been reissued by the iconoclastic Kill Rock Stars imprint which is ironic given Perrys recent career as one of L.A.s top songwriters-for-the-stars (Christina Aguilera, Pink, et al.). Still, its easy enough to hear the through line from Perry to the labels other discoveries pop formalists Elliott Smith and the Decemberists, and even riot grrrls Bikini Kill.
Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better (Domino) This sophomore effort sounds like a more strident, less memorable cache of outtakes from the bands debut, and they winkingly acknowledge that fact viz. the album title. But the twangy-acoustic moods of Walk Away, the Beatlesque melody of Eleanor Put Your Boots On and the piano-driven Fade Away reveal a band in the midst of a melancholy evolution. Ostensibly about lead singer Alex Kapranos affair with the Fiery Furnaces Eleanor Friedberger (now extinguished?), they provide hope that this Scottish quartet will make it past the dance-punk trend alive.
Dirty Three, Cinders (Touch & Go) After a decade together, Dirty Three appeared to be tapped out: Every song featured guitar, percussion and amplified violin; every one started slow, grew into a half-improvised firestorm, then collapsed into a smoldering heap. Dirty Three made the most emotionally raw music imaginable, but catharsis was becoming a shtick. Thankfully, this wonderful seventh album reconceives the trio as a more intimate chamber group. The 19 tracks are shorter, focus on interaction rather than melodrama, and feature new sounds such as mandolin, piano, bagpipes and Cat Power singer Chan Marshal on a sad, sad vocal.
Death Cab for Cutie, PlansDeath Cab were miscategorized as emo (a non-genre genre usually associated with post-hardcore). Case in point: During a co-bill with the Decemberists earlier this year at NYCs Central Park, the groups collaborated on a cover of Fleetwood Macs Go Your Own Way. Dude, thats yindie (yuppie indie) all the way. No surprise, Death Cabs major-label debut, Plans (Atlantic), finds them growing out of their emotional immaturity and instrumental amateurism. Its smooth, shiny, and a bit twee like R.E.M. in their sellout phase and thats a compliment, not a critique. Death Cab for Cutie play the Wiltern, Fri.-Sat., Nov. 11 and 12.
Video iPod & iPod Nano (Apple) At this rate, the 2006 iPods will also take out the trash, baby-sit your kids and brew a perfect cup of coffee. www.apple.com/ipod.
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