Long Blondes / The Snowdrops / ctrlaltdelete / Moondog and his Honking Geese / Sub-Division
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviews or reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
Separated by Motorways [7”]
[God and Evil, 2005]
“Separated by Motorways” finds The Long Blondes, the only new British guitar band worth caring about, in denser than normal form, spitting an indie Tatu tale of “two lonely girls on the run” with the type of cocky self-assurance that comes over as vigour rather than a sense of entitlement. Disco hi-hats attempt to hiss out from underneath strident imitation-sexy vox, choppy guitar and echo. Flip it for “Big Infatuation” which demonstrates their other side, mining 60s girl group pop signifiers for their brittle, confused emotional appeal.
The members of the Snowdrops might want to reconsider the band's status as a side project. Their subdued synth-pop moves like a less-kinetic Postal Service, prizing atmosphere over rhythm or groove. "Too Cold to Snow" gorgeously portrays winter's peak, and fails only by being too brief. Both the original and the 12" remix of the title track meld electronic and acoustic tones, making an otherwise polar number open up as a song to "my new best friend" while problematizing the whole concept by capping the experience with the word "again." The disc drops off with "Teddy Dragons," a track comprised of spaced chords and too-soft talking, but it remains strong enough to suggest that this group should release more than an EP every two years.
Ah, the new year, when we sort through the stacks of crap littering our desks and find stuff we had intended to listen to and review for the Rubber Room weeks ago. Which is our loss, really, especially if we happened to be really into Mogwai a few years back. Not that ctrlaltdelete sound too much like Come On Die Young, but they're from the same lineage of instrumental rock bands that do best over longer stretches of time (all four tracks here hover around the 6-7 minute mark) and convincingly but a bit predictably build from slight openings into what could be called “the good bits.” “All Our Greatest Memories Are In Sepia” and the extra-strong “Your Aggression, My Venture” in particular provide strong fodder for headbanging without ever bringing in some guy in an Iron Maiden shirt to sing about the devil.
Moondog and his Honking Geese
Moondog’s Music [10”]
[Honest Jons, 2005]
One of a pair of 10"s released by Honest Jons as a spin off from their recent, great CD compilation of blind street musician Louis Hardin, this is a beautifully presented facsimile of a 1955 EP originally issued by Moondog himself. The titular Honking Geese are figurative rather than literal (for real geese vs. sax attack you'll have to stick to Basil Kirchin's Quantum) but these jazz based recordings build up to a fair honk anyway, closer to Las Vegas Grind than Moondog’s usual Reich by way of Bird melodicism. Underneath the raw recording and splattered drum fills though, you can still hear Moondog working through his obsession with form and interlocking parts.
The Primos EP
[Hard Soul Records, 2005]
The first track, “Express,” sounds a bit like slowed down late-period Primal Scream with a gruffer Joanna Newsom singing through something that echoes her voice into a pleasing incomprehensibility. “Leave Me” follows it up by stomping, which is good, but our singer is now saying “Please don't leave me again / Or I'm going to kill, kill myself,” which makes me want to throw this EP out of the window. “Promise” and the attendant “Bad Mammal Mix” blend together into a lengthy blur of speak-and-spell vocals and hazy music occasionally broken by breakbeats. We're then treated to two lengthy remixes of “Leave Me” that only foreground the incredibly annoying lyrics. There's a bit of potential here, but not enough real content to tell whether “Express” is the fluke or “Leave Me” is.
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-01-12