The Black Dahlia Murder Nocturnal [Metal Blade]

Rating: 5.0

Hey indie rock nerd, I’m a metal guy. I expect music to thrash, shred, and disembowel while you enjoy bands that sing about discos and crying in front of women. Do you even know the difference between grind and grindcore? That’s what I thought. So, Usounds has asked me to be your guide through the pitchblack caverns of pure metal brutality while you listen to Arcade Fire and drink some sort of ironic beer. The only problem is that today I’m reviewing The Black Dahlia Murder.

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Patti Smith Live at the Showbox August 11, 2007

Photo by Angelo Cricchi

Beginning her set with two songs from the legendary Horses album, “Kimberly” and “Redondo Beach,” it was clear that sixty-one year old Patti Smith had not lost a thing along the way, least of all her voice. It’s incredible in fact how much her voice has not aged or altered over the course of her thirty plus year career. From the moment that she commandingly took the stage, she had the audience dancing along, singing along, and most of all, completely spellbound by her unique form of rock music that boils down to nothing short of poetry backed by some of the most apt and talented musicians of the past several decades. Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty and others have, over the years, unearthed a truly sensational ability to soundtrack the brilliance of Patti Smith’s written words.

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The Chemical Brothers We Are The Night [Astralwerks]


Rating: 6.9

We Are The Night, the sixth studio album from English electronica giants, The Chemical Brothers, begins with a one-minute track that sounds like a terrestrial whale sniffing for a buried bone. The disc shows the duo loosening up, painting wide brushstrokes of sound over a soundscape that has plenty of room for bizarre creatures and wild tributaries. Electronica music is built on layering. Essentially, architects Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are trying to build something living and breathing out of hundreds of individual sampling components. The question becomes, will the product be a beautiful butterfly out of the chrysalis, or something with nineteen legs, no eyes, and genitals for wings?

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Angels of Light We are Him [Young God Records]


Rating: 7.8

After Swans disbanded in 1997 and it’s two primary members, Michael Gira and Jarboe, separated both personally and professionally, Gira’s Angels of Light took off and made two great albums, New Mother (1998) and How I Loved You (2001). They were both wonderful recordings in their own right, but they were also just enough of a departure that the results were inevitably less immediate than Swans, even if this departure seemed minor at the time. The Angels of Light then seemed to stagnate a little bit when they released a pretty good album entitled Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home in 2003. At this point something ineffable seemed to be slightly lacking until disappointingly in 2005, Gira managed to release both the worst and most boring record of his career, the inessential Sing Other People with Akron/Faimly as his backing group. The good news is that after two lackluster if not entirely perfunctory releases, the second of which being a split CD with his current backing band, The Angels of Light have finally returned with an album that restores vitality and confidence in their music.

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Maps We Can Create [Mute]


Rating: 5.5

Maps is the pet project of Northampton electro-head James Chapman and We Can Create is his full-length debut. The disc is a mix of shoegaze and New Order, a digital aquarium in which synthetic swims with organic. The synthesizer roadways mix with Chapman’s breathy vocals and his continental drift of beats and rhythms create a distinctive world. Although Chapman’s sound is alluring, his execution is faulty and meandering. All too often, We Can Create lulls itself to sleep under the weight of its own production and an absence of true substance.

It Will Find You [stream]

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Virgin Fest Review – Part Two


We arrived at Pimlico around 2:00 in the afternoon; a couple of songs into Matisyahu’s set on the South Stage. The bearded Hasidic reggae artist extraordinaire had already drawn a sizeable crowd by the time I arrived. Matisyahu has gained fame for being a novelty act for sure, but the man can certainly dish out rhyme and groove. His beatboxing on “Late Night In Zion” was the highlight of his set, dropping several jaws in the audience.

During the instrumental bridge on one of his songs, the lithe Matisyahu scampered up a stack of speakers to the right of the stage and clung to the scaffolding, waving out to the crowd. This was probably the most prominent stage antic I witnessed on stage prior to seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform on the North Stage later that day. For the most part, the artists were complacent and weren’t keen on leaping into the crowd, spitting blood, or busting their instruments. After hearing a few songs, my next destination was the North Stage to catch Spoon.

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Virgin Fest Review – Part One


Three months after purchasing the tickets, the Virgin Fest date had pulled up to the driveway. My colleague and I had all we needed and departed somewhat late, inevitably causing us to miss Fountains of Wayne (something I wasn’t too concerned about). We were about fifteen minutes down the stretch of 95 between DC and Baltimore when Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise” came on the radio. My colleague suddenly says “oh shit, the tickets!” I suppose Eddie Money finally did some good in the world by prompting a spark of memory and preventing two concert-goers from embarrassed idiocy at the gates.

Our arrival at Pimlico was greeted by instant sweat and a lot of people on the sidewalk selling a lot of shit at ridiculous prices. Pimlico Race Track is best known as the home of the Preakness Stakes, the shortest leg of the Triple Crown. That’s all I ever care to know about the venue. I reveled in the idea that this lightning rod for yuppie starched collars and people who give a shit about horseracing was destined to become a haven for freaks, bad beer, loud music, and a lot of weed during the weekend of August 4th.

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