by Kent Manthie
Secret Apollo: HOMEMADE TIME MACHINE (tall people records)
Secret Apollo have twiddled and fiddled with the knobs in the studio for a bit and wound up with this ultra-cool, way hip CD, which is not too long, either, only about 40 minutes altogether. There are just so many superlatives I could go on with here, but, so I don’t sound like a fawning, pawing sycophant I’ll just leave it at that. Suffice to say that I will keep HOMEMADE TIME MACHINE close by so I can listen to it often in the months to come. Secret Apollo have a mix of the aforementioned cleverness, especially in the lyrics, along with some good musicianship, wicked axe-wielding and such, it rocks, it swoons, it croons. S.A. remind me of the Heavy Vegetable/Thingy/Pinback axis and have that self-aware hipsterism of Weezer eleven or twelve years ago. “Planet Ape” and “The Museum of Making Music” are two of the songs that stood out; I mean the CD is an album you have to listen to all the way through, like NEW YORK or DIAMOND DOGS, but if you only have a few minutes to sample it, check those out. (http://www.secretapollo.com) –KM.
Divasonic: BIRTH (Divasonic Music)
A fresh breath of ether; a swooning, heavenly trip through innerspace; a soundtrack to an intrauterine life, suspended in a swirling wave of psychedelic dance pop, that is Divasonic in a nutshell, from which an LSD-laced nut was eaten. BIRTH is a mellow, dreamy work of cool and detached nuances. Lynda Arnold and Safar Bake are the two principals in Divasonic; they have produced this lovely work, with Miss Lynda and her beautiful voice that is lighter than air and hovers about, lingering far after the music has died away. Both Lynda and Safar play most of the instruments and do all the programming so the computer can play the rest; there are a couple of friends that show up here and there, but basically it’s their record. Mixed in with the cold, icy electronica are different types of flutes, guitar and piano. It is a well-crafted hybridization of oh-so-lush soundscapes. Check out their website, http://www.divasonic.com – KM.
Ours to Destroy (s/t) (self-released)
What a good time to be alive, especially if you love music. Thank gawd for independent, underground labels and for the new technologies that make it possible for bands and artists to produce and distribute their own stuff, via media like the internet, self-promotion, mail and indie record stores that help sell the stuff on the street. Ours to Destroy, a two-man band from Calgary Canada, is just such an underground duo that has much merit and has just put out this self-titled debut CD full of great stuff. OTD is a kind of neo-psychedelic rock band, with a certain quirkiness that recalls Guided by Voices, but they have gone their own way and followed their own muse and that is usually what brings out the best in people, this being no exception. A couple examples of bliss from this CD are: “Happy Now”, the opening track, “Checkmate” and one I really enjoyed a lot: “Exorcising Demons”. I hope they keep on enjoying what they’re doing and continue to make good records. Please do check out their website, you can go straight there: http://www.ourstodestroy.com – KM.
The Like Young: LAST SECRETS (Polyvinyl Record Co.)
For one thing, I’m in love with Polyvinyl, the Chicago-based indie label that turns out some of the coolest sounds I’ve heard in a long time on any record label, indie or evil (corporate). Every disc that I’ve received from PRC has been an original and unique group that is not the next so & so or this or that, but rather hip, cool tunes from the kind of people who look within for influence and inspiration, not try to copy what everyone else is playing and what all the kids are buying. In that same vein, The Like Young, two siblings, Jon & Amanda Zaremba, have suddenly appeared out of nowhere with “Last Secrets” and there is already one song from this musical treat that sticks in my head without any prompting even, “Dead Eyes”. That’s a good sign they’re doing something right because instead of just forgetting what I’ve heard after listening to LAST SECRETS, the hooks, the beat the riffs, the music, it stays with me; ergo, subconsciously, I keep on wishing to re-hear it and so I’ll find myself listening to it more and more often. To find out more about The Like Young, go to their website, right now, if you want, at http://www.thelikeyoung.com and check out the wonderful world of Polyvinyl Records at: http://www.polyvinylrecords.com – KM.
French Kicks: TWO THOUSAND (Vagrant Records)
These dudes rock; French Kicks have a totally LA sensibility about them, a nonchalant façade that masks a deeper set of emotional tones. Featuring two brothers and two other guys, French Kicks have this cool rock ethos, a stylish rock pathos, bathos, smashos. If you like The Strokes or Lou Reed at his best you’re sure to dig these guys. I recommend for starters you check out “Basement: DC” or “Cloche”. It makes a good dance record, good for parties, driving around or sitting around, doing nothing at all. (http://www.frenchkicks.com) for more information on the band and merchandising too and all the rest you can expect of a band’s website – KM.
Morello: TWELVE WAYS TO BREATHE (I Scream Records)
Another rocker from those pranksters over at I Scream Records, TWELVE WAYS TO BREATHE, is the latest from Morello, a band that sort of reminded me of Dokken at first listen, remember Dokken? But there are a couple of smallish nuances that bring it into our current century. I couldn’t help but kind of sway back and forth, tap my feet and mindlessly shake my head as I listened to this, however, which shows me that I do dig this record in some regressive sort of way, I’m not going to deny what my subconscious tells me. There are some slick guitar chompin’ and a lot of chug-a, chug-a riffs and swirling guitar solos throughout. So, you’ll have to judge for yourself: retrograde unhip cult or sly and clever trendsetters? (http://www.iscreamrecords.com) –KM.
The May Fire: RIGHT AND WRONG (self-released)
Yet another reason why this is the greatest era for music, especially indie and DIY underground music: The May Fire and their new CD, RIGHT AND WRONG. This is a fabulous album. I can’t believe there isn’t any label support behind it. The May Fire is a duo, Catty Tasso and a guy who calls himself El Pipe. Ms Tasso has a pretty voice and they’re both talented musical stylists. Recorded between L.A. & Berkeley, RIGHT AND WRONG has a distinctly California feel to it; an olio of influences can be heard here, both musical and otherwise: the sun going down behind the ocean horizon, lonely desert roads, driving up the coast, plus dirty streets and depraved alleys in downtown L.A. or Hollywood, the flash of Sunset Strip and beyond; or in San Francisco, empty, dark foggy streets at 4am or a chilly waterfront by the bay, et cetera, ad infinitum. The music is kind of low-fi, DIY, but it is nonetheless beautiful. To find out how to get this gem or to learn more about The May Fire, click on this website: http://www.themayfire.com –you’ll be glad you did. -KM.