Volume With Guest Reviewer Jason Dill

Trans Am
Sex Change
Thrill Jockey
**
First thing… the name of the record: Sex Change. I love this name, but that’s just one letter away from Beck Hansen’s album Sea Change that came out in 2003 I think, which is just so heartbreaking and incredible. I know Beck is a
Scientologist and all, but that album just f-ks me up.
My replacement name for the Trans Am record Sex Change is Transvestight. I mean, c’mon dudes from Trans Am, none of you ever thought of that? Well, it is a pretty hard sell, but yeah, if that was the name of your album, I could have written this review without listening to a single song. Five stars, done. But I have listened and, ummm, it’s an instrumental record mostly. Cool… I like the direction you’re taking. It’s ballsy.
It’s just… Yeah, I’m now on my second listen, and I ain’t into it right at this moment. I ain’t Iggy Pop either, but Iggy Pop once said, “What the hell record is this?” The person responded, “Oh, it’s that new band The Velvet Underground.” Iggy responded with, “Well, turn it off, I f-kin’ hate it.” Three weeks later, Iggy bought that Velvet Underground album.-Jason Dill

Peanut Butter Wolf Presents
Stones Throw Ten Years
Stones Throw
*****
Stones Throw Records, arguably the hottest independent hip-hop label in the U.S., has turned ten. In the past decade, they’ve introduced the world to inimitable MCs such as Madlib, Madvillain, MF Doom, Oh No, MED, Percee P, and the late J Dilla. This release has 25 tracks that span the entire Stones catalog. It’s not a greatest hits collection, but rather a sampling evidencing the quality of original material this label drops on the daily. It is apparent that these cats would rather work at Fashion Bug than release anything mediocre.
Stones Throw Ten Years also comes with a bonus disc of the same 25-song collection remixed by Beat Junkies’ turntablist J. Rocc. It may be a tad redundant, but it makes a worthy companion to the first disc, provided you want to mock DJ your next party. Here’s looking forward to the next ten years with the Stones.-Ryan Dupuis

Bloc Party
A Weekend In The City
Vice
*** (3.5 out of 5 stars)
Of all the retro-dance/punk bands of the last couple years (Radio 4, The Rapture, Hot Hot Heat, etc.), London’s Bloc Party is perhaps the only one to emerge with a semblance of soul and worthwhile careerist ambitions. From Day One, they seemed genuinely honest and, despite the retro nameplate, likely to have creative staying power. Even if you grew tired of seeing the band hyped in the pages of Vice, manifestly 2005’s Silent Alarm was a good album.
Their sophomore album is called A Weekend In The City and is apparently rooted in exploring “the living noise of a metropolis.” Fair enough. The production is crazy clear and smooth (a.k.a. neutered), and the first song sounds like some sketchy Evanescence bullsh-t, but otherwise it’s pretty aces. Not quite as bulletproof as Silent Alarm, but you can hear the fellas are reaching with intelligence and enthusiasm-and that is a rare thing indeed.-Arlie Carstens

Minus The Bear
Interpretations Del Oso
Suicide Squeeze
* (1.5 out of 5)
I’m no great fan of remix albums. They more or less reek of self-indulgence. Or, you know, they can also be symptomatic of a band that has just plain run out of material. The record label, perhaps, is trying to squeeze a little more life out of an album. Then you have these “producers” with names like Oktopus, and Alias, and Tyondai Braxton who are basically nothing but personified self-indulgence. The record company says to them, “Dudes! Can you make this song sound different from how it originally sounded? We’ll both make a quick couple bucks without really having to do anything.”
I mean, sure, there are good remix albums. Isis put out an awesome remix album a while back. But this Minus The Bear remix sounds exactly like a 311 album in places, which basically makes me throw up my mouth a little bit. It’s wildly uneven, though, because of the varied production. There’s seriously like one good song on this album. Which I guess still makes it better than that Kevin Federline album.-Andreas Trolf

Canon
Wide Awake
Mercy
****
I was sitting around the Gas-N-Sip parking lot the other night drinking out of a paper bag and going through twenty dollars’ worth of scratch-off tickets. I was thinking about how sweet it would be if I won a couple of grand on that Barrel-O-Monkeys scratcher and how I really wanted a burrito. All in all, it was a mildly successful evening despite not winning any money. My point is that we’re all just sitting around waiting to die.
Despite this admittedly grim realization, I’m still pretty impressed by life sometimes. There are those rare occasions when the sun falls delicately on a young girl’s face and her hair is blowing wildly about, or when you’re floating in the ocean and the water is so warm you feel all amniotic and content. Possibly you feel that way while watching a giant flock of birds all changing direction in unison midflight or eating a really good cheeseburger-whatever floats your boat.
Canon is this neat synthesis of Radiohead, The Velvet Teen, and Jethro Tull that will make killing all that time before you die a bit more pleasant.-Andreas Trolf

Baby Teeth
The Simp
Lujo
** (2.5/5)
Baby Teeth, oh Baby Teeth … let me count the ways I dislike thee. Actually, no. Rather than just say, “This isn’t my deal,” I must do better than that, because arguably, these folks can write songs. Hell, a lack of talent is plainly not their problem. These people know how to play their instruments and can craft outstanding, memorable hooks, but this thing seriously rubs me wrong in every way. Abraham Levitan’s vocal approach is a weird mash-up of over-the-top classic rock yarling and breathy Broadway bravado that makes me feel like I’m listening to the bastard son of, say, Randy Newman and Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. This is not a good thing. The whole pageant just feels like a sound collage of mid-70s show tunes and impenetrable inside jokes. It gives me the dumb-chills so bad I feel like I need to take a shower.-Arlie Carstens

The Jai-Alai Savant
Flight Of The Bass Delegate
Gold Standard Labs
***
Do you ever think it’s weird when ska/reggae bands make up weird noises during songs? Like, the reggae guys love spouting gibberish that sounds like “boh boh boh!” or “brrrrup-ba-ba!” or even the oft-ridiculed “boombaclot!” while the ska people shout things like, “chk-chka-chk-chk,” and “pickituppickituppickitup.” Although honestly, for my money, the reggae dudes shout possibly the dumbest proto-speech I’ve ever heard. It’s seriously funny as sh-t, especially when they sing it in that voice that sounds like a Jamaican robot. Maybe, though, just like my pal Billy Waldman, I simply hate reggae music. Man, when we were youngsters he would get teased something awful about saying that in the Rubbish Heap video.
Although they have maybe the worst band name ever, The Jai-Alai Savant makes occasionally catchy music that’s a miasma of reggae and punk and pop and ska. It’s like the early 90s all over again, and, despite having mostly bad musical memories from that era, I can’t bring myself to hate these guys. It’s like when you realized that no matter how annoying they sometimes were, The Selecter was a damned good band.-Andreas Trolf

Richard Swift
Dressed Up For The Let Down
Secretly Canadian
****
Richard Swift. I had never heard him until right now as I type this review, listening on headphones to his new album Dressed Up For The Let Down. A good friend with taste I often trust told me Swift was no good. She said the jams were trite and boring. She was wrong. On the contrary, this reminds me of M. Ward and Harry Nilsson. He does the I-remember-the-songs-but-have-no-idea-who-wrote-them thing really nicely. Refreshingly, Dressed Up For The Let Down comes with no ego, no handlers, and no prefabricated image designed to sell us the notion he’s the next “great singer-songwriter.” Rather, here we just have a guy writing several meticulously arranged and lovingly recorded tunes. Yes, tunes. Not hits, not hot air or hype. When he sings, “My name will go missing but the songs will be here,” I know what he means and appreciate it thoroughly.-Arlie Carstens

Cougar
Law
Layered Arts Collective
*** (3.5/5)
Aside from the Todd Hido-esque photos adorning the digi-pack (so boring I could drown in a puddle of my own drool looking at them), the new Cougar album Law is wicked awesome. What is up with this band? Madison, Wisconsin? Who knew? At points, Cougar comes across like some à…ber-braintrust, mathrock group à– la Hella, and just as you have them pegged, they go all avant-garde chamber-pop-meets-soft-core IDM.
From song to song, it’s as if they’re saying, “You thought we were that way, but nah, we’re like this-kablammo!” Law isn’t just instrumental music done well; it’s instrumental music done with passion, grace, and a depth rarely exhibited by other bands mining the same all-too-frequently tired genre. Hope y’all score an Oliver Stone film and make a zillion bucks.-Arlie Carstens

UPCOMING RELEASES
CUTS TO MAKE YOU SMILE, CUTS YOU WON’T BE LISTENING TO FOR A WHILE

MARCH 20
Adult., Why Bother?
Good Charlotte, Good Morning Revival
The Decemberists, A Practical Handbook (DVD)
The Willowz, Chautauqua
The Zincs, Black Pompadour
MARCH 27
Evidence, The Weatherman
Grant-Lee Phillips, Strangelet
APRIL 3
Stars Of The Lid, Stars Of The Lid And Their Refinement Of The Decline
APRIL 10
Bright Eyes, Cassadaga
Love Of Diagrams, Mosaic
. Refreshingly, Dressed Up For The Let Down comes with no ego, no handlers, and no prefabricated image designed to sell us the notion he’s the next “great singer-songwriter.” Rather, here we just have a guy writing several meticulously arranged and lovingly recorded tunes. Yes, tunes. Not hits, not hot air or hype. When he sings, “My name will go missing but the songs will be here,” I know what he means and appreciate it thoroughly.-Arlie Carstens

Cougar
Law
Layered Arts Collective
*** (3.5/5)
Aside from the Todd Hido-esque photos adorning the digi-pack (so boring I could drown in a puddle of my own drool looking at them), the new Cougar album Law is wicked awesome. What is up with this band? Madison, Wisconsin? Who knew? At points, Cougar comes across like some à…ber-braintrust, mathrock group à– la Hella, and just as you have them pegged, they go all avant-garde chamber-pop-meets-soft-core IDM.
From song to song, it’s as if they’re saying, “You thought we were that way, but nah, we’re like this-kablammo!” Law isn’t just instrumental music done well; it’s instrumental music done with passion, grace, and a depth rarely exhibited by other bands mining the same all-too-frequently tired genre. Hope y’all score an Oliver Stone film and make a zillion bucks.-Arlie Carstens

UPCOMING RELEASES
CUTS TO MAKE YOU SMILE, CUTS YOU WON’T BE LISTENING TO FOR A WHILE

MARCH 20
Adult., Why Bother?
Good Charlotte, Good Morning Revival
The Decemberists, A Practical Handbook (DVD)
The Willowz, Chautauqua
The Zincs, Black Pompadour
MARCH 27
Evidence, The Weatherman
Grant-Lee Phillips, Strangelet
APRIL 3
Stars Of The Lid, Stars Of The Lid And Their Refinement Of The Decline
APRIL 10
Bright Eyes, Cassadaga
Love Of Diagrams, Mosaic