Available at All That Jazz for $14.99
Sleater-Kinney has always been that girl band that I wanted to like but didn't. In interviews and on other paper, they were my kind of everything, but in my headset, I was disappointed.
And that is why this latest release that came out in May stayed in the bin for months. I clicked past it a thousand times seeing it as a last-resort negative review if I had to fill this page.
Which is to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I put on this CD and heard my favorite noise: loud, distorted guitars and a woman screaming into the microphone.
"The Woods" is a different Sleater-Kinney. This is a girl band that has been listening to Jimi Hendrix and taking notes. (Listen to Track 3: "What's mine is yours.")
After listening to this album, I'd be curious to hear the girls live and find out how much of this new sound is real and how much is driven by their new producer, David Fridmann -- best known for putting out bands such as The Flaming Lips and The Delgados. Through half of the album, he keeps them half hidden behind a gauze curtain of effects pedals and guitar fuzz. Or are they doing it to themselves?
He mixes loud, ripped stocking and mini-skirt songs with canopy-bed girl ballads to keep the rhythm of the record interesting. Or was that their idea?
Do I like this band? Or do I like this album?
Rated: Buy me a ticket next time they play Denver, and we'll find out.
Available at All That Jazz for $16.99
And now for the woman that all Sleater-Kinneys across all the recording studios across all the world owe their money to. Patti Smith. She is the sulking, smoking, punk-rock goddess that so many have patterned themselves after.
Strangely, a testimonial sticker on the album packaging compares "Trampin'," Smith's 2004 release, to "Horses" as if she were another Patti Smith wanna be.
This is no imitation or even a self-caricature.
This is Patti Smith bringing her early 1970s anti-war energy to a new generation. It's still Patti with her cigarette-stained fingers and her ratty long hair and her angry voice paired with longtime band mate Lenny Kaye on the guitar.
"Trampin'" is a continuation of a sound that started decades ago, though most of it seems to have more ties to the folk movement than punk rock.
That is, until you get almost to the end of the record to Smith's epic "Radio Baghdad." It starts with a nomad's cry in the desert and the sound of children playing in the background. Then Smith's voice begins reciting the landscape and history of Iraq. She sounds like Laurie Anderson. Her anger gains momentum during the 12 minutes and 17 seconds, until she's screaming.
Rated: The whole album is worth it if just for that song.
Super Furry Animals
Available at All That Jazz for $15.98
It's pretty incredible how prolific this band is. This is its seventh album to come out since the mid-1990s. These guys must live in some kind of speed freak music factory, where they stay up 24 hours a day, hooked up to machines that drain music from their brain cavities.
It's hard to believe that anyone could come up with that many ideas and execute them all well.
But here it is: another good (though not for everyone) album.
"Love Kraft" starts out sounding as if it's going to be a "Tommy" style rock opera. Then it gets weird. It beeps and na-na-nas through songs that generously and gratuitously mention chickens.
Although there are still the computer/electronic elements of the usual Furry albums, this one is more accessible, with actual songs to sing along to.
It's a melding of musical ideas that blend synthesizer with elements of The Who (see earlier reference), The Beatles and the Butthole Surfers.
Rated: Like I said, it's not for everyone.
-- Autumn Phillips