This is atmospheric and compelling stuff. (James Smart)
Maryland Mansions (Jade Tree) 0000
Far removed from his early Tigerbeat6 IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) days. hunched behind a laptop emitting glitchy electronic beats. Baltimore's Rjyan Kidwell, aka Cex. continues his adventures in hip hop with Mary/and Mansions.
This intense and dark full-length release from Cex — his fifth — keeps the listener hooked. On ‘Stop Eating' he obnoxiously spits ‘Food is disgusting. it's what they make shit from'. Nice. The mellower and more entrancing ‘Take Pills' sounds just plain claustrophobic. To simply define Cex as white bOy rap w0uld be criminal. Rjyan combines hip hop with elements of indie and rock. while his rhyming is almost poetic.
Less IDM. just more satisfying IM from Cex. (Carolyn Rae)
BILL MCHENRY Featuring Paul Motian (Fresh SOunGS) O...
' BILL McHENRY
New York based tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry has been an occasional visitor to Henry's over the past year or so. and teamed up with David Milligan for the pianist's ambitious North Songs project in June. McHenry's own hard- hitting quartet is joined by the great Paul Motian on drums for this excellent disc. with guitarist Ben Monder and bassist Reid Anderson (of the Bad Plus fame. and another regular in these parts)
completing a strong line- up. Their Ornette Coleman-inspired melody-over-pulse approach is brOught to bear on a set of the saxophonist 's own compositions. delivered in powerful and creative fashion by all concerned.
ELECTRONICA POP LAMB
Between Darkness and Wonder (Mercury) 000.
A quick glance over the track listing of Lamb's new album will strike irrational fear into the heart of the casual listener. With titles such as ‘Clouds Clear' and ‘Hearts and Flowers‘. it's natural to imagine a (Irippy hippy setindscape that meanders along undemandingly ad nauseum until the temptation arises to crank up the Slipknot and wig Out. But Lamb have always defied expectations. and this album is a beautiful. eclectic collection that runs the gamut of moods. There are some wonderfully mellow tracks such as 'Wonder' and ‘Stronger'. But just as you're slipping into chill-out mode. in bursts the funky. catchy ‘Sun' to revive you.
The Art of Pushing Buuons
(Press Hat & Cigar) COO
Mysterious Glasgow duo Brian and Iain are Ives. a band who obviously spend way too much time glued to their PCs making music instead of dorng something healthy like surfing for porn.
It's paying off. though. because The Art of
Pushing Buttons is a relatively favourable attempt at making an album that marries ambient techno to an occasional trance vibe. It does go a bit Jean Michel Jarre in places. mind (the pseudo- oriental muzak of ‘Zero Peint'. for example). but there's also a satisfyingly old school vibe there which suggests a foetal version of BT or 808 State. A bit dated. for sure. but the likes of ‘Cape and Plumes' (live in Botswana. no less) are a pleasant listen. Whether they can make the leap of imagination to now come into their own is all up to them. (Davrd Pollock)
SKIN ON SKIN Small Part of a Big World
(Red Tiger) .00
Dunoon isn't where you'd suspect future Scottish stars to develop. but Skin on Skin look set to be the town's most promising export since. well. Dunoon produced anything notable.
This strong debut from the west coast five-piece features 1 1 tracks of the band's melody driven pop-rock setind. The effortless sounding vocals from front man. Patrick McDaid. perfectly complement the music. There's cheery. jangly, playful guitar pop with ‘Friday'. which celebrates the joy of getting down the pub. 'Falling Softly' and ‘World of Your Own' display a more mature sOund. Well worth checking out. if Travis- esque. poppy guitar sounds diddle yOur skittle. (Carolyn Rae)
INDIE FOLK MAHER SHALAL HASH BAZ
Blues Du Jour (Geographic) 0..
If you got through Tori Kudo’s last 83-song opus. Return Visit to Rock Mass. this record's 41 tracks will seem like mere child's play. Although to the uninitiated. listening to Blues Du Jour in its entirety may sound like terribly hard work. it's actually made a whole lot easier by Kudo's qurte enchanting ramshackle folk music.
In places it is slightly self-indulgent: tracks take a while to get going. break down and start up again for no apparent reason and are followed by unnecessary instrumentals. but on the whole this record is a lovely, laid back affair and its many lo-fi pop gems make it well worth the perseverance. (Camilla Pia)
WILD STRAWBERRY The Crush of Summer (Luna) 0..
Next time you pop into Beanscene for a quick caffeine fix. treat yourself to Wild Strawberry's record instead of a snack. It's so much better for you: you can gorge as much as you desire without piling on the pounds. and pick it up months later to find it's just as good.
This Edinburgh-based quartet's debut oozes a wonderfully shadowy. ‘80s guitar pop feel. It's on the slower tracks on which Gordon MacDonald's deep and delicious Nick Cave- esque vocals lead melancholy melodies and come to the fore over snatches of gritty guitar. that they really shine.
Wild Strawberry: und0ubtedly iffy band name but top notch first effort all the same. (Camilla Pia)
BOJAN Z TRIO Transpacifik
(Label Bleu) 0000
Bojan Z(ulfikarpasic) made a very powerful impression when he played in Scotland. and this latest disc from the Paris-based pianist fully confirms that impression. He is as exciting a player on his instrument as anyone in
Word on insipid pop street is that those P/op Idol no-marks are planning a Christmas single. So. all you future chart puppets. take heed: if you will go in for the ritual humiliation exercise that is reality TV. then prepare to be ruthlessly exploited like Lemar is in his second single. 'Life Support' (Sony Music). 0 which is the perfect example of a raw talent dumbed down by sinister men in suits and turned into bland R88.
Yet this turns out to be the only real clanger in what is a surprisingly excellent fortnight for single releases. Two Edinburgh-based outfits come up trumps. Nixie Kye’s ‘Momentary’ (Molotov) 000. gives us soaring vocals over a hurricane of foxy rock trash. And 3 Style, a trio of 16-year-olds. present us with 'Booty Girl‘ (Black Sugar) 0.0 which. despite the usual mainstream hip hop fixation with girls' behinds is an impressive first effort that should see them battling it out with the big players any time soon. if they can get the time off school. that is.
Someone for whom such playground antics are a very distant memory is John Cale. and the ex-~ Velvet Underground legend is on fine form with ‘Things' (EMl) COCO . Despite being no 'Venus in Furs‘ it is a majestic and soulful slice of guitar pop. No doubt the next pair have been heavily influenced by his old band's scratchy guitar sound as The Rocks' ‘Celeste' (Scratchy/Cargo) .00. and The Cribs' “Baby Don’t Sweat“ (Wichita) O... are both perfect slices of sexualised punk rock.
It surely can't be all good. so imagine my glee on finding that Wyclef Jean has a new single. Unfortunately he seems to have morphed into Missy Elliot, who features on ‘Party to Damascus‘ (BMG) 0000 so this razor sharp slice of hip-hop is dirty and addictive and. as a result. rather superb. As is Eastern Lane‘s ‘Feed Your Addiction' (Rough Trade) 0... which features charmingly fidgety vocals and Pixies-esque guitar scruff. from four chaps. all under 18. from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. no less.
British rock is majorly boosted by Reuben’s ‘Stuck in My Throat' (Integrity) .00.
Hundred Reasons' ‘The Great Test' (Columbia) 0000 and Lost Prophets' ‘Burn Burn' (Visible Noise) .00. . each a slice of big and angular-riﬂed singalong with thundering drums. Belle and Sebastian quieten things down with ‘Step into My Office. Baby' (Rough Trade) 0... filled with blissful melodies. chugging guitars and enough innuendo-ridden lyrics to make the duffel coat contingent blush.
However. two tracks stand out as the best of a pretty damn brilliant bunch. Scissor Sisters may sound like they‘re straight out of art school with their piano-led. camp and wiry guitar-filled disco rock ‘Laura’ (Polydor) em. but when they say Jacko's ‘chamone’ it sounds even better than Avid Merrion so they win joint Single of the Fortnight with ESC. whose ‘Secrets of The SOuI EP’ (Seminal Emissions) om. is made up of breakbeats and falsetto vocals on loop and oozes that old 45 vinyl feel. (Camilla Pia)
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