As seen in issue 56 of Closer Magazine, published on 2009-03-27 in the "CDReviews" section.

Choice Cuts



1990s
Kicks
These Glasgow indie-poppers' sophomore effort is full of Dandy Warhols bounce, Hard-Fi upbeats and free-flowing ’80s grooves. Bright, stylish and danceable, the tunes address reckless physical attraction, hard drugs and the beauty of doing absolutely nothing. Sublime with carefree ease, “59” is a standout track, while singer Jackie McKeown delivers Mika-high notes. On “Everybody Please Relax,” McKeown demands: “Today’s no day to get things done/Stop what you’re doing/Let’s have the fun.” Not such a tough sell.
– Monica Cady

Asobi Seksu
Hush
Listening to the pristine vocals of singer Yuki Chikudate mingled with James Hanna's bombastic, angular guitars on the cut “Familiar Light,” one could easily conclude that Asobi Seksu’s third album is a muscular reinterpretation of the ethereal harmonies of the Cocteau Twins. Except for the full throttle “Me and Mary,” the band cuts down on the feedback and opts to spruce up the mood with gallivanting drum machines (“Sing Tomorrows Praise”) and spooky theremin (“Gliss”). Fans of AS’s last two sonically inclined releases will have to adjust to the more polished, mellow sound.
– Alex Rendon

Elvis Perkins
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Whether he’s crooning a lively Western tune or speaking his mind in heavy-hearted verses, Elvis Perkins exudes bold honesty and poetic purpose. It doesn’t get any better than the vintage lo-fi of “Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville,” a contemplation sprinkled with harmonica, tambourine, acoustic guitar and New Orleans-style brass. Another highlight is the chain-gang jangles and gospel-hymn darkness of “I’ll Be Arriving.” The son of actor Anthony Perkins and photographer Berry Berenson (who died during 9/11). Perkins kicks out doomsday depression by offering hopeful sentiments and simple truths.
– Monica Cady

Joris Voorn
Balance 014: Mixed
"The process of making these mixes has been like painting with sound rather than performing a traditional DJ mix," Voorn says. With more than 100 tracks on two discs, Voorn is killing it with as many as five tracks going at once. What's even more intriguing is the artists he uses: Radiohead, Goldie, Leftfield, Jimpster, Aphex Twin, Dubfire, System 7, Minilogue, Cobblestone Jazz, Emmanuel Top, Joakim, Âme, Ricardo Villalobos, Radio Slave, Carl Craig, Flying Lotus, Marc Romboy, Robert Babicz, Tiger Stripes just to name a few. Pure magic.
- Tuesday Gilliam

Junior Boys
Begone Dull Care
After the indie-electronica perfection of 2006’s So This Is Goodbye, this Canadian duo are back with their third full length. Although a bit glossier and more restrained than its predecessor, it’s still quite the synth splendor, another dose of expertly crafted techno pop. Jeremy Greenspan’s chilling croons--as on the breathy opener “Parallel Lines”--and the band's electro-prog rockin'--as on “Dull to Pause”--add a velvety twist to the mid-tempo beats. The dark italo-disco number “Work” and the prickly “Hazel” are exquisite listens for those who like their electro-pop served ice cold.
– Alex Rendon

Pomegranates
Everybody Come Outside
While New York’s MGMT celebrate fast-and-furious city life, these Cincinnati indie-experimentalists try their best to escape it—without compromising spirit or brilliance. “I’m so tired of living in the city!/And never being able to see the stars at night!” guitarist/vocalist Joey Cook barks on the brightly-layered “This Land Used To Be …” Mixing earthy sounds with jagged garage noise and swirling psychedelic effects, the quintet's woodwinds, chirps and acoustic strums add to the granola-effect, while insistent sing-alongs and exploding guitars offer a gritty edge.
– Monica Cady

The Jean Marie
Annie Jump Cannon
This shimmering catalog of R&B-infused prog-rockin’ post-punk—named for the famous American astronomer--provides a telescopic vision of the talent that has made the JeanMarie Miami’s ready-to-break band. A couple of favorites (“Vampires Pt. II” and “Delancy Street”) from the group’s stellar EPs are revived with more wallop and vigor. And the full-length debut reveals many more tricks up the band's sleeve: “(We Play) Pianos” revels in Elvis Costello-ish quirk; dub-hopping “Bonepickers” brings out their inner jam band
– Monica Cady

The Thermals
Now We Can See
Full of death and life, this new release braids together irony, sarcasm and ’90s grunge feistiness. On paper, lyrics about mental illness, drowning and fear are real downers, but the Portland alt-punkers use addictive choruses and raunchy reverb to amp up the good vibes. The title track is an urgent, rousing Obama-era celebration ("Now we can see/What do we need?/We should need nothing/Nothing at all"), but most outstanding cut is “At the Bottom of the Sea,” with its brooding promises and climatic conclusion. Peeling skin from bones has never sounded more easy and fun.
– Alex Rendon

Wavves
Wavvves
Mix two parts fuzz, one part melody, add a dash of teen angst and an extra “V,” and there you have the recipe for 22-year-old San Diegan Nathan William’s lo-fi magic. Some will be immediately put off by this debut’s severe treble wash, but they'll also be damning it for its instant catchiness. Tunes like “So Bored” and “No Hope Kids” sound like Pavement recorded on a mid-eighties boom box in somebody's bathroom. “Weed Demo” takes many cues from the Pixies, and the rollicking “Get in the Sun” has serious hooks and even more thump.
– Alex Rendon

Editor’s Pick



Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
The Jungle Band—The Brunswick Era, Vol. II (1929-31)
Nobody ever cooked up more swinging, insouciant music than this early Ellington line-up, the house orchestra at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club and the most popular African American jazz band of its day. Recording under the Jungle Band name because of contractual restraints, the “jungle” style--so-called for its resemblance to stereotypical ideas of traditional African music—was characterized by growling bass, slinky reeds and sexy, jaunty rhythms. The self-confidence and sheer happiness of these sounds fortified the soul through the first Great Depression. It will come in handy in this one, too.
– Steve Ellman


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