Albums of the Week: January 22-28

JamBase Albums of the Week | January 22-January 28, 2010

Dennis' Pick of the Week
The Society of Rockets: Future Factory (Underpop)

The future has of late not been so bright we need shades. Enter this under-known S.F. marvel to paint the sky with ROYGBIV colors as rhumba beats tickle our heels. An inscription on their site observes, "We've been thinking a lot about how buildings should be less like caves and more like trees…about how the future looked brighter in the past…Here's to new beginnings!" Sweet but not syrupy, Future Factory ladles Summer of Love vibes – bright strokes and beatific harmonies – over a thick, cerebral stew - a dish both homey in its immediate satisfaction yet modernly dense. There's the tomorrow clang of H.G. Wells and the rocket ship '50s wedded to batucada shimmy and a sonic inquisitiveness that's positively intoxicating. A 21-track opus (available for download now and in March on double vinyl) is a ballsy move by any band, but Future Factory holds up under repeated spins, and in fact grows by leaps and bounds as one picks up on the connective tissue and observant, restorative lyrics. While it may not jump out as an immediate modern classic like their previous release, Our Paths Related (JamBase review), this song cycle full of breakneck changes, head snap inducing guitars, fabulously swoon-y vocals, and hip shaking rhythms continues the evolution of a truly terrific band hell-bent on making some of the most interesting, satisfying rock today. They have succeeded with flying colors once again. (Dennis Cook)

Ron's Pick of the Week
Four Tet: There Is Love In You (Domino)

"I think a lot of Four Tets (sic) awesomeness roots in the contrast of slick/clean and random/dirty," recently gushed someone in the comments sections of the recent "official leak" of Four Tet's long-awaited new full-length on the Soundcloud website (the official release date is January 26). Given the complexity by which Kieran Hebden crafts his grooves, I was at first a little put off by reading this statement. How could someone deduce the agenda of this otherwise multifaceted artist to such black and white terms? But after giving some thought to this tidbit of wisdom left in the wake of the near 30,000 plays There Is Love In You has streamed on Soundcloud (posted by Hebden himself) over the course of this past week, especially when thinking in the context of the totality of the Four Tet catalog, it soon becomes clear that this kid's clean/dirty theory to his music is actually spot-on. And whether or not you will consider There Is Love In You, the former Fridge guitarist's fifth full-length under his longtime solo guise, to be a misstep or a masterpiece will likely depend on how you take your Tet. For those who like the chaotic cacophony of his recent work, particularly his brain-rattling collaborative LPs with legendary jazz drummer Steve Reid, as well as his last proper full- length, 2005's Everything Ecstatic, the strong club vibe this new album gives off with its unapologetic use of cooing female voices and dubstep-inspired rhythmic hops might certainly be met with cries of "sell-out" from the experimental end of the Four Tet fanbase. However, for those who give this remarkable work a deeper and more educated listen - preferably with headphones or within the confines of a soundproof automobile at high volume - and take in all of the intricacies interwoven within these songs' more dance-ready tendencies - the subtle use of Hebden's beloved ring modulator, atmospheric Slint-like guitar passages, throwback illbient vibes, elements of such exotic instruments as harp and kora - and you will appreciate There Is Love In You as Hebden's finest and yes, cleanest album since Rounds and most straightforward release since Pause. Amazing, amazing stuff right here. (Ron Hart)

Beach House: Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
Already shaping up to be this year's Grizzly Bear-esque anointed joint, Beach House's third long-player (arriving January 26) is decidedly more direct than Veckatimest, though there's a shared harmonic reach and woozy beauty that's pretty bloody charming. The duo of Victoria Legrand (niece of legendary composer Michel Legrand) and Alex Scally ooze '60s melancholy pop vibes, though their candy colored lens is suitably cracked and teeth pocked for modern times. This spins along like a light bedecked carousel filled with the smitten and those smited by amour – a romantic haze that's thick but not treacle-y and a fine update of what Dusty Springfield, Lesley Gore and Lee Hazelwood once wrought. (DC)

Emancipator: Safe In The Steep Cliffs (self-released)
Fresh out of Portland, Emancipator's sophomore effort (released January 19) offers a revitalizing glimpse into auditory canvas of one the electronic scene's budding new gems. Effortlessly meshing subtle melodies with delicious doses of downtempo and seductively silky songwriting, Emancipator builds around a beat to form a heavily layered, well-produced collection of 14 tracks. From opener "Greenland" and its sultry strings to the laid-back, dubby hand- clap "Kamakura" to the worldly mélange of textures and samples of the album-closing title cut, he has a way of transforming live instrumentation into a multihued portrait that looks towards the likes of Bonobo, Bluetech and Sigur Ros, performed with its own potion of delicate intricacy. (Chris Clark)

Kevin Barker: You and Me (Gnomonsong)
As one man John Fahey tribute band Currituck County, Kevin Barker was an instrumental staple of the East Coast "freak folk" movement. But on his first album under his own name (released January 19), the go-to guitarist for such acts as Vetiver, Espers, Antony and the Johnsons and Devendra Banhart showcases his talents as a songwriter with this lovely collection of rural country rock gems crafted with the help of such pals as Wilco's Pat Sansone, Shins sideman Eric Johnson and Drag City chanteuse Joanna Newsom among others. (RH)

Overmountain Men: Glorious Day (Ramseur)
Rebel pluck, flamenco echoes and "Curtis Lowe" Skynyrd-isms – Overmountain has it all. From the "Death To Tyrants" and May 20, 1775 inscriptions and band photos that paint them as musical soldiers, this project – which includes unsung Avett Brothers bassist Bob Crawford - is actually more wide-angled and swinging than these signposts suggest. Underground mainstay David Childers' perfectly Haggard voice provides grit and a classic country feel (with a broader world view), and this debut (arriving January 26) exudes the boisterous bonhomie of its creation. Joe Strummer would've loved this. (DC)

The Silent League: …But You've Always Been The Caretaker (Something in Construction)
Named after the enigmatic line at the end of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, the latest title from sometime Mercury Rev keyboardist Justin Russo's chamber pop group looks to gap an unlikely bridge separating Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle and Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreak on this strange, beautiful album about the future. Make sure you check out the bonus disc, however, which contains a bevy of worthwhile Silent League odds and ends, including great covers of ELO's "Can't Get It Out of My Head" and Alicia Keys' "No One." (RH)

Collin Herring: Ocho (self-released)
Herring arrives with a strange angled honesty, a dustbowl true voice whispering about doubts and the hard things he's seen, yet also capable of gently hooky rockin' and moody drift. Ocho, beautifully produced by Centro-matic's Will Johnson, is a dense half hour whose melancholy tendrils grip one long after it's over. Kindred spirits include Clem Snide's Eef Barzelay, Vic Chesnutt and Jim James, but Herring, particularly in these well carved settings, has a thoroughly compelling voice of his own that's perfect for crawling inside and shutting out the day. (DC)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Live at Hollywood High (Hip-O/UMe)
Originally recorded for a promotional 7-inch that was given away with copies of Armed Forces in 1979, this explosive concert that went down on June 4, 1978 at the Hollywood High School auditorium finds a then 23-year-old Elvis and the original Attractions blasting their way through favorites from Costello's first two albums, 1977's My Aim Is True and 1978's This Year's Model, while previewing cuts from Forces, including a beautiful piano-only version of "Accidents Will Happen." Produced by Nick Lowe, Universal's Costello Show series continues to impress with this monumental showcase for the savage young Elvis at the peak of his punk powers. (RH)

The Len Price 3: Pictures (Wicked Cool)
Mods arise! Shamelessly lifting from the usual '60s sources and more modern templates like Teenage Fanclub and Holly Golightly, the LP3 succeed in making exceedingly well-tread ground seem freshly furrowed. The songs are pure dynamite – from the '60s Pete Townshend-esque title cut to the Help! era Beatles style of "After You've Gone" to the Jam-y growl of "If You Live Round Here" – and they spit 'em out with apostolic gusto over a tight instrumental snap. No new ground broken but who gives a damn when the music's this bloody fun? This could bring back the Frug and Hully Gully in a big way! (DC)

The Hotrats: Turn-Ons (Fat Possum)
As The Hotrats, Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey of England's venerable modern rock underdogs Supergrass unleash a fun, excellently executed collection of quality cover tunes that includes inventive remakes of the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right (To Party)," the Sex Pistols' "EMI," and The Doors' "Crystal Ships" interspersed with faithful renditions of such AOR snob faves as Pink Floyd's "Bike," The Kinks' "Big Sky," David Bowie's "Queen Bitch," and a great take on Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug." Produced by the great Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead), Turn-Ons sounds like the Grass boys secretly dubbed 40 minutes of my old radio show in college and decided to make it an album. Good show, lads! (RH)

Jason Boesel: Hustler's Son (Team Love)
After more than a decade drumming for the likes of Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes, Boesel drops his first solo album, and it's every bit as well crafted and appealing as any of his associations. Hustler's Son (released January 12) has the warmly caressed feel of '70s FM, slipping between countryish chooglers ("Black Waves"), what could be prime Lindsey Buckingham ("French Kissing") and Yacht Rock gold ("Miracles"). Aided by pals Jonathon Wilson, Benmont Tench, David Rawlings and Blake Sennett, this is a creeper likely to become a repeat spin favorite, its bittersweet, worldly-wise optimism finding a ready home in one's breast. (DC)

Harvey Milk: Harvey Milk (Hydrahead)
The first recordings of the recently reunited Athens, GA, stoner/noise heavyweights Harvey Milk, produced by Shellac's Bob Weston sometime in the early '90s, have been floating around the Internet via various Mediafire and Megaupload links on more educated Blogger sites for years. But thanks to the band's new label, Hydrahead, the barely audible, lo-fi hiss and sonic corrosion that made this ultra-rare debut album such a challenge to listen to has been cleaned up thanks to a beautiful remastering job worthy of the Maxell XL II 90 minute tape that graces the cover of this long-overdue reissue (arriving January 26). (RH)

Editors: In This Light And On This Evening (Fader)
This proffers a glass and chrome futurism that's besmirched with the oils and complications of human fingerprints. Finally seeing a U.S. release on January 19, this set has already garnered serious European love, and if one is a fan of early Depeche Mode and other bastions of New Romanticism it's easy to see why. Tom Smith's keening pipes suggest a (un)happy meeting point of Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and Muse, and the music's grimy click 'n' thump proves fairly stirring, if one's open to such baroque silicon constructions. (DC)

Fucked Up: Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009 (Matador)
One of the most inventive, original hardcore bands to ever set fire to North America gathers up all of the previously uncollected, one-off 7- and 12-inchers the Canadian sextet recorded for various labels over the course of the '00s on this jam-packed two-disc set. For anyone who likes screaming vocals and throat-stomping riffs offset by jazz flute and a melodic style as influenced by Unrest as it is the Cro-Mags, this incidental anthology is a great beginner's guide to the most exciting, innovative band on the hardcore circuit. (RH)

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[Published on: 1/22/10]

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