Welcome to another edition of Sound Bites, our economy-sized album
reviews, wherein we give you the lowdown in 75 words or less. Today,
Nick Hall weighs in on recent releases from Grooms (pictured above), Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Converge, Spiral Stairs, Naam and Flight of the Conchords after the jump.
Grooms, Rejoicer (Death By Audio). Off-kilter indie classicism from the "college rock" days, channeled through detuned guitars, concussive drumming, and a disorienting noise wash. The band does you the favor of peeling apart all the layers, deconstructing songs as you listen, then tossing everything back on the pile. Like sonic archaeology, Rejoicer tells us as much about where we're going as where we've been.
Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Doomsday EP (XL). Kicking off with the defiantly joyful version of "Doomsday" from Perkins' latest album, this brief effort stomps and sweeps through tent revivals, a Last Waltz stand-in, echo-drenched '50s rock with a swinging blues base, and a simmering southern vocal spiritual. Capping the record is "Slow Doomsday," which transforms the title track from a lark to a lament.
Converge, Axe to Fall (Epitaph). With drums that would pummel if they stayed in place long enough instead of skittering over the kit like ADHD on a sugar rush, guitars that keep frenetic pace and add their own melodic mayhem and Jacob Bannon's incomprehensible throat shredding, Axe to Fall is like mainlining adrenaline. Except, of course, for the bluesy doom tracks, which offer just enough breath catching pause to allow the band to punch it out of you at the next turn.
Spiral Stairs, The Real Feel (Matador). Releasing The Real Feel at right around the same time as the Pavement reunion announcement was either genius or folly. Either the excitement will be a catalyst for attention the album otherwise wouldn't have received, or else Pavement fervor will overshadow this pleasant, but ultimately ignorable slice of affably ambling country rock.
Naam, Naam (Tee Pee). Spacey, spacious, garage-bluesy kraut-psych with epic scope and enough presence of mind to keep things moving. If you've ever wondered what might happen if a bunch of Sabbath obsessed stoners had a peyote induced vision quest guided by Iggy Pop and Holger Czukay, which played out a bit like the plot line from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, this is it.
Flight of the Conchords, I Told You I Was Freaky (Sub Pop). Comedy music works best when you can listen to it as music and as comedy independently, and don't lose anything from either when you listen holistically. Flight of the Conchords succeeds wildly here. Dance numbers like "Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor)" and the Dr. Seuss-meets-Midnight Vultures, electro-wackiness of the title track are highlights, doing double duty as side-splitting booty shakers.