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   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #213  (Vol. 5, No. 17)  This edition is for the week of April 19--25, 2004.
The Digital Divide by Terence Nuzum
LEDsCD REVIEWS    by Terence Nuzum
CDs are rated 1 to 5 LEDs

AirAir: Talkie Walkie

Four and a half LEDs

So as the tale goes the duo Air release a great jazzy cheese pop moog fest called Moon Safari, dissapear for a while and release the confusingly silly 10,000 Hz Legend two years later. Well now they are back and instead of trying to be funny or cool or whatever the hell that disater of an album there last offering was they are doing what they do best, 1960's-esque moog pop. Unlike Moon Safari, which they have not simply rehased by the way, Talkie Walkie sounds more modern and relevant, without losing the kitsch of course. The opener "Venus" sets the stage with its hazy soundscape and "rainwater" vocals. It's on tracks like "Run" , a great ode to Kraftwerk, and "Surfing On A Rocket" the best electronic ode to the Beach Boys ever and probably the only, that they shine best. A fine return to form and a classic in the making. 4 1/2 LEDS

WalkmenThe Walkmen: Bows & Arrows

Five LEDs

After their excellent debut which reminded one of creaky haunted houses and 1920's torch singers The Walkmen have obiviously decided to go the same route with their sophmore effort...well no thats just the first song put there to fool you. The second song "The Rat" is nothing what we would have expected. If jangle rock is a sub-sub-genre ( you know like the Byrds and U2) then "The Rat" is speed jangle. A indie rocker that at times sounds Strokes like yet all the better. "No Christmas While Im Talking" goes back to their old eery ballad formula and then comes the kicker "Little House of Savages" with its pounding organ hidden behind guitar fuzz and a great vocal. Basically the albumm goes back and forth like this ballad to rocker to ballad etc. but the greatest moment is the song "Thinking of the Dream I Had" part Electric Prunes with its garage rock opening and all "96 Tears" only weepier. Let's not forget that this was the promising band from NYC that caused all us indie rock fans to fall crushed to the floor in a heap when we heard their song being used in a sell-out commercial making this album proof positive that there is life after your song is used to promote a car. 5 LEDS

Xiu XiuXiu Xiu: Fabulous Muscles

Five LEDs

Want stark? Xiu Xiu has stark. On the ten tracks of Fabulous Muscles, the band takes us through some of the most depressing situations like drug abuse, family voilence, and incestual rape. Yet its not depressing even if the songs sound like it in all their minimalistic PIL/Joy Division glory because there is usually a light at the end of the tunnel on each tune. Whether its the character escaping the situation or the narrator offering a way out. The lyrics I warn you are shocking even to my jaded self. For example try to not be suprised by lines like " break my face in / it was the kindest touch you ever gave / wrap my dreams around your thighs / and drape my hope upon the chance to touch your arm / fabulous muscles / cremate me after you cum on my lips / honey boy place my ashes under your workout bench" all told by a aging female hooker yet sung by a guy! It concludes with " kneeling down before the now familiar flesh / of your deformed penis / wigging out before the unfamiliar flash / of my broken neck". The song "Support Our Troops" comes off a bit arrogant by assuming all troops are egotistical jocks that simply like killing people, while "Brian the Vampire" 's story of a boy molested by his brother is frank to say the least. Xiu Xiu have crafted a shocking , tender, and one of the most unforgettable albums in awhile. 5 LEDS

Von BondiesThe Von Bondies: Pawn Shoppe Heart

Two LEDs

So, 4 years later and the term "garage-rock revival" is nonexistant. Yet the bands still exist. So what are they called indie rock? Pop rock? Alt-rock? Does it matter? Well one thing is for sure they could do better than The Von Bondies follow-up. Coming out after a blistering debut that kicked Jack White's ass (even though he produced it) and after Jack White literally kicked lead singer Jason Stollsteimer's ass and right off the heals of Raw And Rare (one of the best live albums since the MC5's Kick Out The Jams) the last thing they needed to do was embrace glam-garage. So yeah now they sound less like the MC5 shooting up hits of Chicago blues and more like Iggy Pop boffing Bowie. Oh well. At least the song "C'mon C'mon" rocks it while others like the pathetic L7 wannabe tune "Not That Social" (now imagine how bad it would sound if Linda Perry produced it) and "The Fever" ( a third rate Sleater-Kinney knock off) fall flatter than Bob Dylan singing off-key. 2 LEDS



"The Digital Divide" is ©2004 by Terence Nuzum..  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.