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Spring 2007 Review Roundup

The ice is starting to thaw, and with winter on its way out, a new crop of spring albums is on its way in. Jim and Greg will review new releases from LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse and Air, plus many more.

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reviewWe Were Dead Before the Ship Even SankWe Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank available on iTunes

Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

This show is an all-reviews blowout starting with the new release from Washington state indie rockers Modest Mouse. We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is one of the most highly anticipated records of the season. Modest Mouse's underground fan base has emerged into the mainstream in the past few years, despite lead singer and chief songwriter Isaac Brock's status as a rather polarizing figure. Jim recommends fans check out Alan Goldsher's profile of Brock, Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read. Now, the band is joined by former Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr. James Mercer, lead singer of The Shins, also provides backing vocals on a number of tracks. Greg thinks that Isaac Brock is doing what he does best on this album: combining quirky vocals and rhythms with a traditional pop sensibility. He describes it as a very well-crafted record that isn't over-thought or overproduced and gives We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank a Buy It. Jim was also impressed, describing the album as“brilliant.”He thinks Brock deals in gloom and doom better than his peers and urges everyone to Buy It.

JimGreg
reviewSecuritySecurity available on iTunes

Antibalas Security

Antibalas, formerly Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, also has a new album out entitled Security. The Brooklyn-based band, who often plays in the same musical circles as TV on the Radio, modeled itself after Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band. Greg describes them as a true musical collective, and really enjoyed the fiery, polyrhythmic first half of the record. He thinks the second half is a little too subdued, and too controlled however, and can only give Security a Burn It. Jim blames that level of control and“sterility”on producer John McEntire, of Tortoise. He calls Security the coolest album that McIntyre has produced to date, but wishes it was a little more accessible, and a little less“skronky.”He also gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
reviewLiving With the LivingLiving With the Living available on iTunes

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Living With the Living

Next up is a review of Living With the Living by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. This is the band's fifth album, but first to be released by Touch and Go Records. Greg thinks Leo is full of energy and enthusiasm, but explains that the singer/songwriter wears his musical influences on his sleeve. It's not difficult to hear the reference points of The Clash, The Kinks and The Jam. Jim agrees, and explains that where the music falls short is when it goes the reggae route. He doesn't think Leo and the band are very good at that style, but adds that The Clash weren't that great at it either. Neither Jim nor Greg can recommend Living With the Living as a whole, but both critics say that Leo and the band give a great live show. The album gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
reviewDrums and Guns (Bonus Track Version)Drums and Guns available on iTunes

Low Drums and Guns

Drums and Guns is the new album from Low, the Duluth, MN "slowcore" band comprised of married couple Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and Matt Livingston. The band recorded this album with producer Dave Fridmann, and the result is a bit of a departure. Jim notes that they've gone in a more electronic direction, but thinks that the traditional Low sound emerges after a few listens. He appreciates their experimentation, but because of a few misses, he must give the record a Burn It. Greg was also put-off by the electronic elements at first. But, like his fellow critic, he grew to appreciate and understand the album more after additional listens. Greg thinks the band did a great job of juxtaposing the noisy sound with the evocative lyrics. He gives Drums and Guns a Buy It, but warns listeners to proceed with caution.

JimGreg
reviewPocket SymphonyPocket Symphony available on iTunes

Air Pocket Symphony

The French electronic duo Air gets the next review. Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin got notice stateside with albums like Moon Safari and appearances on the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. Now they are back with their fourth album, Pocket Symphony, which was produced by Nigel Godrich. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp also makes an appearance. Greg thinks this release is more challenging than previous Air albums. He thinks the duo owes a great deal to Phillip Glass, but wishes they had introduced more of their light, pop touches. For Greg, the men of Air are better as producers than as frontmen. He gives it a Trash It. Jim calls Greg's analysis“cracked,”and thinks the combination of ambient and pop is just perfect. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
reviewSound of SilverSound of Silver available on iTunes

LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver

The final review of the show is of LCD Soundsystem's second release, Sound of Silver. LCD Soundsystem is helmed by James Murphy, the DFA producer many credit with defining the New York club sound. His merging of disco and rock with the debut LCD release was hugely successful among critics and music fans. Now Murphy and co. are back with a second release that veers more towards the disco than the rock. Fans of the first release might be disappointed initially; this album doesn't suck you in as fast. But, both Jim and Greg urge listeners to give it more than one try. Some of the songs are less accessible, but music fans (and frustrated critics) will appreciate the many inside jokes and reference points. Sound of Silver gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. Modest Mouse,“Dashboard,”We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, 2007
  2. Modest Mouse,“Florida,”We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, 2007
  3. Antibalas,“Beaten Metal,”Security, 2007
  4. Antibalas,“Filibuster XXX,”Security, 2007
  5. RZA,“Domestic Violence,”RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo, 1998
  6. Ted Leo,“Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.”Living with the Living, 2007
  7. Ted Leo,“Sons of Cain”Living with the Living, 2007
  8. Ted Leo,“Army Bound”Living with the Living, 2007
  9. Low,“Pretty People”Drums and Guns, 2007
  10. Low,“Belarus”Drums and Guns, 2007
  11. Rich Boy,“Boy Looka Here,”Rich Boy, 2007
  12. Air,“One Hell of a Party,”Pocket Symphony, 2007
  13. Air,“Photograph,”Pocket Symphony, 2007
  14. LCD Soundsystem, New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, Sound of Silver, 2007 LCD Soundsystem, "North American Scum, " Sound of Silver, 2007
  15. Cake,“No Phone,”Pressure Chief, 2004
  16. Violent Femmes,“Blister in the Sun,”Violent Femmes, 1983
  17. MC5,“Kick Out the Jams,”Kick Out the Jams, 1969