Music News

Odds 'n' Sods: CocoRosie, Natalie Merchant, Disco Biscuits, The Sadies, Small Black, and more

It's been a pretty big past two weeks for indie rock: Hold Steady, New Pornographers, Flying Lotus, The National, The Dead Weather. That's a lot of heavy-hitters. Meanwhile, some lower-profile stuff has been piling up on my desk, so it's time to give you a rundown of the other stuff I've been listening to lately.

The Sadies: Darker Circles -- These Canadian kings of the spaghetti Western guitar sound are indie rock's finest backing band (Neko Case, Andre Williams). This record is for die-hards only. The songs are perfectly decent and the guitar-playing is top-notch, but after a couple of songs you'll be looking around for your The Tigers Have Spoken CD.

Small Black: Small Black EP -- These guys give their synths a proper workout while intoning some semi-melodic, reverb-drenched vocals. To its credit, this seven-song collection sets a melancholic mood for staying up by yourself until 2 a.m. on a Friday night. But in the end, the songs just aren't that memorable.

CocoRosie: Grey Oceans -- Sub Pop has put out some good stuff this year (Dum Dum Girls, Male Bonding), but this one's a stinker. This sister duo employs uses piano, synthesizer, harp, guitar and to create a mostly oddball mix of freak folk and electronica. They have pretty voices with which to sing unconventional melodies and harmonies. No doubt, it's unique and challenging, but that doesn't mean it's all that good. This is the kind of act whose small legion of fans will defend it to the death. I'm staying out of that argument.

Natalie Merchant: Selections from the Album 'Leave Your Sleep' -- If you love Natalie Merchant's singing and love concept albums based on Natalie's poetry that is based on nursery rhymes and have a little kid whom you intended to raise to have no sense of humor, you will absolutely flip out over this hour-long(!) record.

Dosh: Tommy -- Jazz-tinged, synth-based, experimental/prog music with some interesting drumming (if, indeed, an actual drummer performed on these 10 songs). This stuff is mostly instrumental and will appeal to fans who value technically proficient musicianship over any discernible songcraft (though "Airlift" has an oddly New Age/jazz brunch feel to it).

Truth & Salvage Co: Truth & Salvage Co. -- Bearded gentlemen (some of them in hats) play Southern rock filtered through whatever newfangled record-selling technology Nashville is using on its acts these days. Truth & Salvage Co. are likely hoping to wrangle a few Drive-By Truckers or Black Crowes fans. I predict they will wrangle none of said fans -- and make a million dollars anyway.

Shooter Jennings & Hierophant: Black Ribbons -- Hands down, the best packaging I've seen in a while (tarot card included!). Wish I could show it to you. Waylon's kid sings a lot about how The Man is trying to fuck us with his damn corporations and advertising and religion and wars and such. The industrial elements that color Shooter's hard country rock more or less suits the general paranoia that permeates the record. Really hoped it would be more interesting.

Disco Biscuits: Planet Anthem -- A catchy mix of electronica and rock and hip-hop with hooky choruses. The lyrics are bad ("Money is the root of all evil / Money make you feel unbelievable" is the opening couplet of the record), but I'm guessing when you're rocking out at a Disco Biscuits show, the words don't matter so much.

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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