Au Revoir Simone, Jarvis Cocker, John Vanderslice, more: Really Quick Spins

Au Revoir Simone - "Still Night, Still Light"
After-party electro-pop. You keep waiting for things to get light and bouncy, but these Brooklyn girls keep it pretty dreary throughout their third album. Seriously, why so sad? You're young and attractive and live in Brooklyn. Wait, maybe that's it. Maybe we're finally at the point where people are starting to realize that equation actually is pretty depressing. Mopey works better than sugary, though, and when they moan "Only You Can Make Me Happy" and beg to "Take Me As I Am" over soothing keyboards that never bubble up into anything too perky it sounds pretty nice. Eventually you just want to bring them all in for a group hug and tell them the sun will come out tomorrow. Albeit, over your far-too-expensive Williamsburg loft.
Au Revoir Simone - "Shadows"

Jarvis Cocker - "Further Complications"
Pulp's flamboyant frontman teams with engineer extraordinaire Steve Albini. The Jarvis Lizard, I like to call it. Can't miss, right? Not quite, but pretty much. Cocker still has sass to spare but he's at his best when he doesn't lay it on so thick. "[Expletive]song" tries a little too hard to live up to its title with the jutting, jagged guitars that don't really fit his voice. That is, of course, part of the point of working with Albini, to get out of that Brit-glam comfort zone. It works much better on "Caucasian Blues," which is like the skinny, British version of Nick Cave's "No [Expletive] Blues" with Grinderman. The album reminds me of when Fred Schneider decided to do his muscular rock record with Steve Albini. And like that one, it's often ridiculous, sometimes a bit too over-the-top, but mostly a fun rocking time.
Jarvis Cocker - "Angela"

John Vanderslice - "Romanian Names"
Boring.
John Vanderslice - "Fetal Horses"

Jason Lytle - "Yours Truly, The Commuter"
See above.
Jason Lytle - "Brand New Sun"

Maximo Park - "Quicken the Heart"
See above the above.
Maximo Park - "Let's Get Clinical"

(Reviews of Liechtenstein, the Field and Shrag after the jump.)

Liechtenstein - "Survival Strategies in a Modern World"
Saw these Swedish ladies play a pleasing set of old-school indie pop at the Velvet Lounge Wednesday night. Like the record, it's nothing Earth-shattering but if you dig short, jangly songs with a few jagged edges and some nice harmonies, you will find plenty to enjoy. Vivian Girls comparisons are inevitable and the bands are pretty similar, with the main differences being Liechtenstein's lack of hype and tattoos. Liechtenstein takes a bit more from post-punk, with some stilted bass lines, but the best moments are when they go all ramshackle and sound like a Shop Assistans tribute band. Liechtenstein - "Roses in the Park"

The Field - "Yesterday and Today"
Do you like electronic music? Oh. Hmm. Well, even so, you might like this record from Swedish electro-mastermind Axel Willner. I think it's fair to call this trance, even though it won't make you think of sketchy, greasy dudes sipping $12 cocktails, hitting on some girls that probably deserve to be hit on by those dudes, at some plush nightclub that opened two months ago and will be closed in another two. But I've been listening to the album's title track and can't bring myself to do much except stare at the screen and occasionally blink my eyes. There's plenty going in these songs -- it's not "uhn-tst, uhn-tst, uhn-tst, uhn-tst" over and over -- and the addition of more live instrumentation to go along with Willner's master manipulations makes it something non-electronic fans can get down with.
The Field - "The More That I Do"

Shrag - "Shrag"
This singles collection makes a nice companion piece with that Liechtenstein album. The U.K. band takes its influences from the same era but prefers things sharper and shoutier. The chorus of every song usually involves some sort of group chant, probably something mean ("I went to a rubbish school but it would have been better without you!"). It's really the only trick the band has up its collective sleeve -- a detour into dark keyboard territory on "Talk to the Left" sounds like the worst of electro-clash. But it's spunky and funky and there's plenty of attitude and there's even a song called "Mark E. Smith." It's not actually about our favorite "Twins Peak"-midget-lookalike-curmudgeon, just another excuse to shout things at a person who didn't live up to some expectations.
Shrag - "Pregnancy Scene"

By David Malitz |  May 22, 2009; 1:14 PM ET Really Quick Spins
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Those are some pretty useless reviews of the new Jason Lytle, JV, and Maximo Park. Not that they're unfounded, as I've listened to two of the three (Jason Lytle and JV) and didn't find either of them particularly exciting. It seems that any semblance of reviewing has been sacrificed for cleverness. Okay, I get the opinion presented, but I get a lot more out of an actual review, even if it's just one paragraph. I might not agree with the review, such as the recent Grizzly Bear one, but it sure is a lot more useful to me as a listener.

Posted by: wafoli | May 26, 2009 12:32 PM

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