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Reviews: Rock / Indie


Review: Datarock Red

Label: Nettwerk

You'd expect Norwegian disco-rock revivalists to warm up the vintage synths and Nu-Romantic croon and deliver a loosely conceptual album about a future where music technology stopped in 1983, right? Read more » 

Review: Esser Braveface

U.K. bedroom-pop wiz Ben Esser is only 23, but he attacks his work with the quality and layered diligence of a much more seasoned musician. Braveface, his debut record, sees the troubadour exploring elements of pop structures, hip-hop playfulness, and Brit-pop attitude with varied results that are more often than not reminiscent of weirdo alt-star Beck. Opener “Leaving Town” is all sassy rock n’ roll, while the title track recalls the Stone Roses' Ian Brown. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists ZE 30 – ZE Records 1979-2009

Label: Strut

When punk, disco, and no wave were considered bankrupt and exiled to the underground, the ZE label was there to pick up the pieces. In the process, they captured an enviable amount of schizophrenic diversity, from rides on George Clinton’s mothership like Was (Not Was)’s infectious “Tell Me That I’m Dreaming” to art-damaged affairs like Suicide’s classic L.E.S. Read more » 

Review: Sian Alice Group Troubled, Shaken, Etc.

The rock aesthetes in Sian Alice Group have a fetish for tones and textures, from electronic pulses and Velvets-like riffs to scratched guitar strings, which they tweak, layer, and slowly fade throughout their songs. Much of the London group’s sparse music floats by effortlessly without much rhythmic variation, yet it still leaves a strong sonic imprint. On Troubled, the band’s hip eclecticism results in more hybrids, like the spy-thriller techno pulse of “Vanishing,” the slow-burning minimalism of “Love That Moves the Sun,” and the cold, expansive title track. Read more » 

Review: Reichmann Wunderbar

Label: Bureau B

Back in 1978, one of Krautrock's more electronically minded artists, Wolfgang Riechmann, was tragically killed in a random knife attack a mere three weeks before the release of what would sadly be his first and only album. Wunderbar, now being reissued by German label Bureau B, is a hauntingly beautiful snapshot of the early days of electronic music that sits perfectly between Kraftwerk's Autobahn and Brian Eno's Ambient series. Read more » 

Review: Yacht See Mystery Lights

Label: DFA

DFA's willingness to take the road less traveled is a big part of what has made the label so beloved. As such, even when an ostensibly 'pop' act like Yacht is added to the stable, it's a safe bet that the music won't be a paint-by-numbers affair. See Mystery Lights is the fourth Yacht album, but the first since Jona Bechtolt officially expanded the band to a duo with the addition of new member Claire L. Evans. Read more » 

Review: Rainbow Arabia Kabukimono

Label: Manimal Vinyl

Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife duo Rainbow Arabia made some waves with last year's debut EP The Basta, and Kabukimono finds the band effectively building upon its unique brew of exotic synths, south-of-the-equator dance beats, and post-punk songwriting sensibilities. Read more » 

Review: Ganglians Monster Head Room

Label: Woodsist

The Woodsist banner has put out one psych nugget after the next in '09, and this stunner from Ganglians is the brightest hunk of gold to land in my lap thus far. Read more » 

Review: Ty Segall Lemons

Label: Goner

There's not much to "get" about Ty Segall, but that doesn't mean the young San Francisco troubadour isn't a whole lot of fun. Lemons is his second album, and it's stuffed with the same brand of noisy garage stomp that previously garnered favorable comparisons to artists like Jay Reatard and fellow S.F. weirdo-savant John Dwyer. Those parallels still hold up, yet Lemons is no simple retread, as Segall deftly mixes in elements of soul ("It #1") and psych ("Lovely One," "Rusted Dust") beneath all the distortion. Read more » 

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