by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Earl didn’t get me. In fact, it didn’t get anywhere close to New York. Other than a momentary sprinkle during one afternoon match at the U.S. Open, there was no impact (though you wouldn’t have known it listening to The Weather Channel, where there’s always a catastrophe going on somewhere). The only music experienced over the long weekend of Yankees and tennis was seeing “Next to Normal” on Broadway (highly recommended). See you next year, Gotham City.
There is no better place to write CD reviews than strapped into a window seat in a plane for four to five hours. And flying to and from NYC was just such an occasion. Tomorrow’s column features reviews of four new Saddle Creek Records releases, while today’s blog entry is a look at three new electronic pop albums.
Glasser, Ring (True Panther Sounds) — Glasser is the one-woman orchestra of Cameron Mesirow, who’s opened for bands like The xx and Delorean. Could her voice be any more icily beautiful in its layered glory? Augmented with an array of glowing cushiony synths and click-pound polyrhythms, Glasser might be the music you’ll hear on the escalator headed to heaven. In fact, its dense layers can get overwhelming and tonally predictable in a New Agey, Enya sort of way that allows your mind to casually wander away from the lyrics, which seem obviously secondary. I bet it’s quite a spectacle on stage (preferably in a sit-down theater), but not something you’ll ever find yourself casually singing along to in your car. Rating: No.
Blonde Redhead, Penny Sparkle (4AD) — More multilayered synth pop with breathy female vocals. The advantage over Glasser is its slightly better melodies, and when Amedeo Pace pulls out a between-the-eyes counter melody (like on the pouty “Oslo”) the music pushes to the next level (as in it’s catchy.), while “Everything Is Wrong,” and “Spain” would make smashing James Bond movie themes. I’m not sure what the point is to synths if they’re not urging you to dance. Even Sade knows that. I’d love to hear what these songs would sound like performed with just a piano, drums and Kazu Makino’s heavenly voice instead of with all those ambient clouds. Rating: No.
Autolux, Transit Transit (TBD Records) — On “Census” there’s a drama that only could come with a steady diet of Sonic Youth. It’s common to hear people slap an SY comparison on anything that’s noisy, and rarely does the tag fit. Here, and on the ultra-dense “Supertoys,” it makes sense in their obvious tone and structure. You’ll recognize the influence, but you won’t accuse them of aping. It’s too sophisticated for that. That said, this is a strange album in how it runs the gamut between noise and lush ambient beauty (“Spots” warm tonal drama; “Highchair” aggressive DM dance vibe, “The Bouncing Wall” off-kilter coo-coo-ca-choo strut). It comes together with a classic epic closer that doesn’t get out of hand. Controlled right until the bitter end. Rating: Yes.
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Cincinnati adult alternative combo Over the Rhine plays at The Waiting Room tonight. Around since ’89, their laidback vibe, led by vocalist Karin Bargquist, comes close to Lilith Fair fodder (re: Sarah McLachlan, Beth Orton, Sam Phillips). No opener is listed, and the start time is 8 p.m., so expect this to be an early night. $15.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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