music reviews

Keren Ann Keren Ann [EMI]

Rating: 7.5

Sometimes ethereal blues and sometimes folk-pop, but almost always lovely, Keren Ann Zeidel has recently released her third album of songs performed in English. Her first two records were performed strictly with French vocals and her last release, 2004’s excellent Nolita had an ideal mixture of both languages. Whichever she chooses to perform in, Keren Ann’s voice is gorgeous and her new self-titled CD includes nine new songs that breezily float through realms of folk, jazz, and rock with wispy melancholy. Having lived in at least four countries in her life has proven to add nothing short of sophistication to her music.

music reviews

Lisa Germano Lullaby for Liquid Pig [Young God Records] 2003, 2xCD reissue, 2007


Rating: 9.5

Thank Jesus, Allah, the Easter Bunny or any other minor deity that Young God Records have just re-released Lisa Germano’s 2003 masterpiece, Lullaby for Liquid Pig as a 2xCD reissue with an extra disc of home recordings and live tracks. The original version went out of print quickly as the initial record label that put it out went bankrupt. This stunning piece of music was originally released after a five year hiatus in which Germano pondered the idea of ceasing to make music altogether. Luckily, she did eventually come around and in doing so recorded this album, which is a crimson cascade of wine, broken glass and sheer beauty. Lullaby for Liquid Pig was conceived as a record about alcohol dependency and the subsequent acceptance of both her addiction and depression. It is a gorgeous album that flows like a late night lullaby, which features some hazy production and gentle ripples of intoxicating psychedelia.

music reviews

Shannon Wright Let in the Light [Quarterstick Records]

Rating: 8.0

When one thinks about light or music that is brimming with it, Shannon Wright hardly comes to mind. A few adjectives that spring up when pondering her back catalog are: cathartic, desperate and intense. These words are even intensified that much more if you have seen her live. To paraphrase a press release statement of hers, with her new release she wanted to write some songs that were direct and simple. Bob Dylan’s devastating masterpiece “Sara,” a kind of forlorn afterthought written before he was actually separated from his wife, was the ultimate type of composition that she was aiming for when writing this material. Once again, Shannon Wright releases a fair amount of her emotional burden with Let in the Light, but this time around the piano is her main instrument, and that actually makes for a wonderful record.

St. Pete [mp3]
Everybodyís got their own Part to Play [mp3]

music reviews

Nick Drake Family Tree [Tsunami Label Group]


Rating:† 7.0

The inimitable British folk singer, Nick Drake, produced three stellar records almost forty years ago and then fell into an abyss of depression before he faded away in a suspected suicide in 1974. After his death, he was virtually unknown for at least one decade, maybe even two or three, before his popularity sharply began to rise. There have been at least three different bootlegs produced in the past that have included some rare, pre- Five Leaves Left home recordings. Family Tree sees the first official release of these tracks, most of which are covers and traditional tracks that have been floating around for years. Although it is a good collection, there is not much new material included, and some key tracks are missing along with some unnecessary additions thrown in there as well.

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The Clientele God Save the Clientele [Merge]


Rating: 6.0

There are plenty of things that God needs to save, that is, if there is a big, hairy old thing somewhere in the sky known as God. I would hope that he/she/it will begin by saving the crumbling US dollar and hopefully the future of the planet too by getting rid of the goddamn Bush administration. Incidentally, London’s The Clientele wants to be saved as well and they have titled their new album as such. This is their third proper album and it follows them downstream from where they last left off in 2005. God Save is a concise fourteen songs in forty four minutes of gentle, mildly psychedelic pop music.

Bookshop Cassanova [mp3]


Cake Interview


The Sacramento band Cake recently left a major label and have started their own, named Upbeat Records. They are just about to release their first new album in three years, B-Sides and Rarities, which includes some appealing renditions of old classics and a few new tracks, presented as a multi-sensory delight with special Scratch Ďn Sniff packaging. Last week, I had the chance to catch up with their trumpet player, Vince DiFiore, who assured me that CDs and wicker chairs are still available to the dwindling public who seek them.

usounds: So, you are currently on tour?

Vince: Weíre doing like three shows over a weekend, then coming home, and going out for another weekend and doing another three shows.

usounds: Your new album (B-Sides and Rarities) is coming out with a Scratchín Sniff CD package. What brought that on?

music reviews

Grinderman Grinderman [Mute Records]


Rating: 6.0

Everyone seems to adore the new Grinderman album. The band, if you are not familiar with them, is basically a stripped down version of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and features Nick Cave, who has decided that he should grow a ridiculous handlebar moustache, Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos, and Martyn Casey. Their new self-titled CD is getting great reviews as people are likening this project to the Birthday Party, Nick Caveís vitriolic first band. The truth, however, is that this group couldnít be further from the fury and intensity that defined the Birthday Party. It was destitution, youthful angst and copious amounts of drugs that drove them at their core. Grinderman is nothing of the kind. In many ways, they are the opposite of the Birthday Party, as Nick Cave is fairly uninspired, wealthy, drug free and pretty much has nothing to say these days, so he relies on mundane catch phrases and jokes in the place of the his first groupís glorious, often psychotic prose.