Saturday, May 14, 2011



Water Colours (Tooth & Nail)
This synth-based project from Austin Tofte, formerly affiliated with Owl City, blends a million indie-pop moves in mostly entertaining, occasionally toothache-inducing ways. “Easy” could be a ’90s rave anthem, while “Diplomat” sounds like one of those unfunny nerdy-white-guy covers of hip-hop songs (it’s not). “Jacques Cousteau” is VH1-ready fluff, with piano, drum machine and ’80s keyboard arpeggios adding up to a big cotton-candy ball of nothing—until a buzzing, Discovery-era Daft Punk-style keyboard solo mid-song vaults it into the land of awesomeness. Various female duet partners (Sarah Beintker on “Holiday” and “Sleep To Dream”; Sunsun on “Happiness”) transform already upbeat songs into ideal summer singles. Some might be tempted to blow this album off, fearing that it’s half-assed “chillwave” crap or just disappointed that “Holiday” isn’t a Madonna cover, “Good Times” (which features a guest rap verse by Mod Sun) is neither a Chic cover nor a version of the theme from the ’70s sitcom, and “Sleep To Dream” isn’t a Fiona Apple cover. Those would all be bad reasons to skip this record, which at its best reaches near-Pet Shop Boys levels of synth-pop brilliance (minus Neil Tennant’s heartbreakingly acerbic lyrical genius, of course). (Buy it from Amazon)

Symphonies EP (Rise)
Following the drama surrounding the departure of screamer Cody Anderson last year, In Fear and Faith have been left with only one vocalist: Scott Barnes. Consequently, on this stopgap seven-track EP of orchestral reworkings of old songs, he’s calling in old friends for help. Four tracks feature guest vocalists—Nick Martin of Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows on “Bones,” Tyler “Telle” Smith of The Word Alive on “The Taste Of Regret,” Caleb Shlomo of Attack Attack! on “The Solitary Life” and D.R.U.G.S. frontman Craig Owens on “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions.” Smith, of course, was the band’s original clean singer, and recorded “The Taste Of Regret” on their debut EP, 2007’s Voyage, while Owens sang on “The Road To Hell…” in its original version, on 2009’s Your World On Fire.

The orchestral arrangements feature drums, keyboards and some subtle electronics, plus lots and lots of surging, swooping strings, and they reshape the songs pretty radically. “The Taste Of Regret” gets reworked most substantially; formerly four minutes and change, it’s now more than six minutes long. Whether this EP will appeal to anyone beyond In Fear And Faith’s most diehard fans is an open question; if these were the only versions of these songs to exist, it would be a downright bizarre stylistic choice. But if you like screamo/metalcore bands’ lyrics even if you think the music all sounds the same, this could help you make your case to skeptics. (Buy it from Amazon)


JD Allen Trio, Victory! (Buy it from Amazon)
Asking Alexandria, Reckless & Relentless (Buy it from Amazon)
Peter Brötzmann/Joe McPhee/Kent Kessler/Michael Zerang, Guts (Buy it from Amazon)
Gallhammer, The End (Buy it from Amazon)
Art Hirahara, Noble Path (Buy it from Amazon)
Indian, Guiltless (Buy it from Amazon)
Inzinzac, Inzinzac (Buy it from Amazon)
Memphis May Fire, The Hollow (Buy it from Amazon)
Primordial, Redemption at the Puritan's Hand (Buy it from Amazon)
Sylosis, Edge of the Earth (Buy it from Amazon)

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