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Reviews: Rock / Indie


Review: 39 Clocks Pain It Dark

Label: Bureau B

The Bureau B imprint mines deep into the murk and strikes gold with this reissue of the 1981 debut from Germany’s self-crowned “Psycho Beat” combo, 39 Clocks. Oozing out shock waves of bad acid trips, decayed guitar, and the dull stomp of a tiny beatbox, the 39s honed in on the ragged, garage-y stumble of Loaded-era Velvets with some crusted synths à la Suicide thrown in for sturdy backbone. Read more » 

Review: The Phenomenal Handclap Band The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Label: Friendly Fire

“All that money/Still ridin’ the bus.” With a little bit of contemporary panache and a whole lot of mid-‘70s throwback neologism, NYC hipsters The Phenomenal Handclap Band have solved the soundtrack riddle for today’s juxtaposition of economic terrorism and unfounded optimism. Bolan-esque glittering guitars (“Dim the Lights”), proto-rap à la Missy Dee (“15 to 20”), and the cult-like sounds of psychedelic Aquarian-age rare groove (complete, at times, with flutes) combine to create a new sound birthed of ‘70s cultural disarray. Read more » 

Review: Oneida Rated O

Label: Jagjaguwar-Brah

It’s been a more than a decade since Oneida dropped its debut, but this Brooklyn collective’s unshackled, invigorating psychedelic rock has only become more vital, splitting into sections both refined and carefree. Rated O—a triple album, the second in a planned triptych—seemingly begs for quality control. Oneida’s jams and circuit-bending riffs aren’t always revelatory, but the trip proves worthwhile. Read more » 

Review: Yppah They Know What Ghost Know

Label: Ninja Tune

Turntablist shoegaze, theoretically, sounds like absolute crap. In practice, though, Joe Corrales, Jr. makes it work, as evidenced by his sophomore album, They Know What Ghost Know, a more rock (and post-rock) affair than his 2006 debut. There's a collage-like aesthetic here, with carefully constructed instrumental layers altering slightly on each iteration as new elements come and go. When the album works, as on “City Glow,” with its creepily manipulated vocal snippets, and the beautifully pensive “Shutter Speed,” it's as emotional as any pop song. Read more » 

Review: Lullatone Songs That Spin In Circles

Label: Audio Dregs

While an increasing number of aging indie musicians have made the dubious decision to enter the "music for kids" game in recent years, Japanese duo Lullatone has been assembling precious lullabies since 2002. Songs That Spin in Circles is the couple's sixth album, albeit the first since the recent birth of their son. As always, the music is a sleepy collection of bells, chimes, and pleasantly plucked notes. Read more » 

Review: Minitel Rose The French Machine

Label: Futur

With the '80s revival basically reaching "permanent" status over the past few years, bands like Minitel Rose face a pretty daunting uphill climb. While the retro-futurist Tron-meets-Dire Straits artwork for The French Machine certainly raises a giant red flag, this French trio's debut album is a surprisingly solid and promising listen. Read more » 

Review: Tortoise Beacons of Ancestorship

Label: Thrill Jockey

It’s All Around You represented a nadir for Tortoise, as the veteran Chicago avant-rockers gave in to their blandest proclivities and forged a Muzak™ tribute to themselves. Nearly five years later, however, Tortoise has regained the inventiveness and excitement of its best work. Beacons of Ancestorship begins with perhaps Tortoise’s greatest moment—“High Class Slim Came Floatin' In,” where Terry Riley-esque organ ostinatos cycle above a badass prog riff and, later, a powerful, Can-like motorik chug. Read more » 

Review: Liechtenstein Survival Strategies in a Modern World

Label: Slumberland

Did Slumberland make some kind of pact with the devil? How do they keep unearthing one amazing indie-pop band after another? Read more » 

Review: WhoMadeWho The Plot

Label: Gomma

Does the world really need another nth-generation dance-punk album? Danish trio WhoMadeWho apparently thinks so. The Plot is the band's sophomore record, and all the familiar post-post-punk elements are in place. Angular Gang of Four basslines? Check. Deadpan '80s vocal melodies? Yup. Synth flourishes, pounding electro workouts, and the occasional vocoder? Read more » 

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