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More quick takes on albums worthy of being more than just units in a discard pile.
TOM DYER – Songs From Academia Vol. 1: Songs With Singing, 1981-2009 / Songs From Academia Vol. 2: Instrumental and Spoken Word, 1980-2008 (Green Monkey)
TOM DYER curated Seattle’s Green Monkey Records for years before becoming an educator. After reactivating the label with the sterling best-of It Crawled From the Basement, he’s culled his own musical archives. Vol. 1 is pretty sweet, full of quirky rock/pop songs from a variety of projects – the band BEAUTIMUS deserves its own anthology. Vol. 2 is wordless more often than not, with a jazzy/folky/psychedelic/experimental smorgasbord of shapes, scents and colors, including an electronic interpretation of a painting. Not as accessible as Vol. 1, perhaps, but just as entertaining if you give it a chance.
HOLLANDS – Mother (self-released)
The follow-up to the indie band’s previous EP Faces, Mother modifies the group’s postmodern postpunk approach, slowing down, reducing the volume and generally featuring the song over the sound. The melodic and sedate atmosphere, coupled with leader JOHN-PAUL NORPOTH‘s plainspoken croon, resembles no one so much as DAVID MEAD, especially on the last two songs. Not a bad thing, actually.
WILL KIMBROUGH – Wings (Daphne)
Nashville-based WILL KIMBROUGH makes his living as a guitar slinger for RODNEY CROWELL, TODD SNIDER, JIMMY BUFFET and others, but he’s disseminated his own songs for 20-odd years, since his days fronting WILL AND THE BUSHMEN. Wings is his fifth solo record, and largely abandons his electric pop leanings for quiet, amiable folk rock. While dull and uninspired to my ears, fans of rootsy singer/songwriters like SLAID CLEAVES might find Wings as sweet as orange blossom honey.
KITES WITH LIGHTS – The Weight of Your Heart (24 Hour Service Station)
JONAH CORDY, AKA KITES WITH LIGHTS, makes electropop the old fashioned way: by writing solid pop songs first and adding the digital sounds afterward. Thus while the relentless drum machine thump may become maddening, Cordy’s melancholy-tinged melodies save the day – cf. “A Mystery,” which would surely have been a hit when NEW ORDER ruled the charts. And at only five songs, The Weight of Your Heart never wears out its welcome.
TIJUANA HERCULES – The Almanack of Bad Luck (Black Pisces)
A psych-tinged, junkyard roots rock ensemble, Chicago’s TIJUANA HERCULES makes use of the proverbial kitchen sink on The Almanack of Bad Luck. The freewheeling noise conjures everything from TOM WAITS (especially with JOHN VERNON FORBE‘s raspy growl) to the POGUES to circus music, and the tight focus on the songs keeps the chaos from becoming cacophony.
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