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New in the KUCI Music Library
April 11, 2011
Quintron — “Sucre du Sauvage”
If the novelty of shaking your tail to a goofy organ-driven boogie is what you seek, you’ve found your album of the year. If not, there is nothing here for you. Many other instruments are listed in the liners (notably absent: guitar), but even the loud vocals are overwhelmed by the all-powerful organ. Apparently part of an art installation, these would sure liven up a museum. The couple of more experimental tracks near the end resemble museum sound installations all too closely. — Julian Lee

The Curious Mystery — “We Creeling”
Mid-to-slow-tempo psychedelic folk rock whose songs — lead vocals alternate m/f in a pattern which becomes predictable over the course of the album, not a problem one or a few tracks at a time. Neither vocalist really stands out, but a cello, sitars and other unusual sounds amply service them (they apparently play a bowed “gourd with steel rods sticking out of it — and other self-created instruments at live shows). Hard to place some “cultural” tinges in their sound to South/SE Asia/Mexico, and it’s rarely dull despite never being fast. Unfortunately for radio, this is one that doesn’t leap out of the speakers but instead rewards repeated listening. — Julian Lee

The Cave Singers — “No Witch”
Folk rock with scratchy/scruffy rather than crooning vocals, and definitely more Dylan than Waits in the vein of vocalists who’ve swallowed scouring pads. Not as dramatic as other revivalists like MMJ or Fleet Foxes, as a few songs are backed by a chorus/not highlighting the lead vocalist nearly as much (he also doesn’t linger on any lyrics), and these have a faster beat. Straightforward but not simplistic, they’ve got a bright sound harking back to the vinyl era, yet not sounding completely like transplanted hippies, managing to do well both folksier tunes and rock songs (not to mention some which blur the line completely). This will please anyone lamenting they don’t make music like they used to; others might find it too familiar. —Julian Lee

The Luyas — “Too Beautiful to Work”
The playful first track and later ones with strings are wholeheartedly recommended, the rest puts the percussion back in “hit or miss”. Clanging, honking, banging, and droning are odd/repetitive accompaniments to the honey-voiced lady featured on all tracks, and it’s not clear if each of these songs is assembled this way b/c this is exactly the sound they were going for, if they aren’t exactly virtuosos on their instruments, or if they just wanted to make something different-sounding to sing over (and leave all the melody to her). Her high notes sound more than a little like Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson). This is different and deserves to be heard; just focus on her voice when the song structures and instrumentation go off the rails. —Julian Lee

Eksi Ekso — “Brown Shark, Red Lion”
Soulful vocals sometimes sung falsetto, dramatic piano octaves, looped synthetic orchestras with room for guitar’ sounds like a formula for critical acclaim, commercial success, and oh yeah, TVotR. Subtract a little of each ingredient, and this band is what’s left. Had they waited 20 years to tour as a tribute band, they might find more success and be relieved of obviously derivative imitation criticism, but as they’re contemporaries, this gets a little uncomfortable. It sounds fine (there are plenty of worse, less interesting/pleasant formulas to follow), but how close they try to sound like TVotR may offend, especially since some may find their model band too edgy & experimental. It’s as if they’ve done marketing research on TVotR’s sound, keeping what commercial audiences/focus groups like, removing or toning down what they don’t. —Julian Lee

Telekinesis — “12 Desperate Straight Lines”
This is a tuneful set of power pop with a sentimental piano ballad thrown in near the end (#11). It’s neither as loud or catchy as the big acts, but there’s a fair amount more craft in these songs than the average band can muster. If the Shins’ vocalist was less wistful and backed by more aggressively straightforward music, it might sound like this. #6 is an upbeat tune on sad topics and sticks in the head. —Julian Lee

Duchess Leo — “Golden Gray”
Googly ethereal synth dirges of some songs mixed with acoustic tracks make a maudlin mess, and the last duet is hopelessly romantic. Cover art is appropriate, as much of this sounds like being lost in the clouds. Similarly, nothing really stuck with me; songs just arrive and drift away like clouds over the horizon. Although the widely varying synths, strings, and acoustic to fuzzy guitar-driven songs are each ethereal and pretty in their own ways, this doesn’t congeal into an album. A very shifty mood piece, and not unpleasant. —Julian Lee

ensemble — “Excerpts”
More plucked and bowed strings than the average chamber poppers, the tracks w/ a female vocalist sound a whole lot like Stereolab w/ cellos & violins instead of synths (but who can tell synths from a real harpsichord anyhow?), and not just b/c they sometimes switch to French (the male vocalist only does French, and they include true Quebecers). Both instruments and vocals sometimes go off the rails of song structure, and it”s hard to pick out a single tune where all the elements are in harmony. Still, anyone who needs a break from guitar-driven indie sameyness can hardly do better.

Loch Lomond — “Little Me Will Start a Storm”
Folksy at times, generally mellow, and arrangements are often enchanting w/out being bombastic. High potential to be left humming the tunes after listening. Guitars share equal time w/ acoustic strings and even some well-placed reeds. Usually sung falsetto with the whimsical touch of the troubadour and traveling minstrels. Quite pleasant and well worth a listen.

Malachai — “Return to the Ugly Side”
Short, concentrated mood pieces with a dusty southwestern sound (despite being British) and vocal harmonies harking back to old time rock & roll. A standout m/f duet and their sometimes orchestral and electronic flourishes aside, these guys are short, dark, and ugly. And that’s a compliment.

Cerebellion "Inalienable" (Self-Released)
These guys are a more modern version of Alice in Chains with a slightly greater emphasis on involving acoustic/flamenco guitar and polyrhythmic beats in their compositions. I really like this album and think it is a solid release. — Chris Rigney

All Out War "Into the Killing Fields" (Victory)
This is a surprising band on Victory Records' roster. Victory usually tend to recycle the same cookie-cutter metalcore/hardcore style with their bands, but this new release by All Out War is a modern thrashfest with strong roots in old school 80s European thrash (think Destruction, Kreator, etc.). The vocal style is closer to punk than metal, which makes the influence to early 80s thrash even more prominent. I find it funny that this band is still labeled as "New York Hardcore," since their sound is much close to Bay Area Thrash. Regardless of any arguments about sub-genres, these guys rock the house and this album kicks some ass. — Chris Rigney

Devildriver "Beast" (Roadrunner)
I've really enjoyed the last few albums by this band, and their new album is a solid release. Although it's not as good as their last couple of releases, it's definitely not a bad album. Surprisingly for this effort, a lot of the tracks are more mid-tempo rockers than expected. They continue their modern thrash sound in the same vein as Lamb of God, Darkest Hour, and similar acts. It's clear that they changed their guitar tone this time around for a different sound, and it sounds like more emphasis was placed on composition for the guitars similar to some tracks off the previous release "Pray For Villains." I wouldn't necessarily say this is the most "Beast-ly" album by Devildriver, but it's definitely a solid release worth checking out. The copy we have in the studio is the clean version of the album, so there's no need to fear OPI with the exception of actually announcing the track titled Sh*tlist. — Chris Rigney

The Autumn Offering S/T (Victory)
It seems as though The Autumn Offering took stock of their prior musical outings and tried to release one of their heaviest albums this time around. Ultimately, I think they succeeded. These guys have seen a few line-up changes resulting in difficulties for the band, but they seem to have overcome those hurdles now. They still use a kind of modern metalcore songwriting formula with thrashy songwriting and breakdowns thrown in, although there is definitely a stronger death metal influence on this self-titled record. These guys are very similar to Lamb of God on this release, which may be a good thing. A couple songs feature some clean vocals that stand out as distinctly out of place in relation to the rest of the album, but overall its a strong release. A lot of the vocals are simply spoken with some filters added, but the screams are really cool when used. It needs to be screened for OPI pretty badly, but definitely give it a spin if you're interested in some good metal mayhem. — Chris Rigney

Sodom "In War and Pieces" (SPV/Steamhammer)
That's right. Thrash old schoolers can rejoice with yet another new release from one of the genre's mainstays - Sodom. They definitely get in touch with their Euro-thrash roots on this one, so fans of early Euro-thrashers like Kreator, Destruction, and Sodom's previous work will be pleased. It's hard to believe these guys are still around and making great music, but I certainly won't complain to getting good releases by genre classics like these guys. Although this album lacks some of the urgency and speed as compared to their earlier releases, tracks like Hellfire, Feigned Death Throes, and Knarrenheinz (check the guitar solo on this one!!) still provide plenty of breakneck action. Very highly recommended. — Chris Rigney



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