May 8, 2007

CD Reviews

MarmaladePokey LaFarge(SELF-RELEASED)For the longest time now, I have experienced sheer and utter fascination with the genre(s) of music that consist(s) of folks who aren’t necessarily always clean. Of course, personal hygiene should have nothing to do with the quality or capability of a performer; interestingly, the majority of these types appear to all end up at the same shows and festivals, annually demonstrating their unwavering support. Fascinating.That said, it must be recognized that Pokey LaFarge is a talented and deft musical artist. His vocals, though unrefined on some tracks — “Home Away From Home,” for example — are silky and soft. Perhaps because he croons of our endeared city in this track, we hold him close. Or, maybe this is just homage to those who have held true and shown their loyalty and support for him and the acoustic folk/ragtime/bluesy category he represents.My hope is that his next release more clearly reveals his obvious aptitude within his chosen style of this art, as exemplified briefly on tracks such as “Sweet Seventeen,” “You Can’t Be Satisfied” and “Josephine” — a.k.a. Songs That Save the CD. —Michelle MankerThe Karaoke MeltdownsTrollyvox(TRANSIT OF VENUS)I really, really, really like collages. I get so much joy out of cutting up maps and coasters and brochures and newspapers and gluing them together.So I automatically knew I’d like The Karaoke Meltdowns because the cover art features violets, a cat, a stereo, some dragons, a train and goldfish galore.The collage theme goes farther than that, though. The songs are eclectic in sound, with strange lyrics (Turn the planets aside/That’s our hypocrite waltz). I really enjoyed “Whisper Down the Lane” and “I Am Annabelle,” both likeable folk-pop songs. Lead singer Beth Filla has a sort of Jenny Lewis vibe, making her feel familiar but not stale. Add this to your record collection; even if you listen to it twice, you’ll be glad you did. —Kirsten SchofieldSucking the ’70s: Back in the SaddleVarious Artists(SMALL STONE)The 1970s were a great time for rock music, and the masterminds at Small Stone Records know it. Their two-disc compilation Sucking the ’70s featured more than 30 covers of classic rock trax from that decade (and a few ringers) done up proper by the cream of American indie metal. Now, Back in the Saddle picks up where its forefather left off: more classic rock, done even better. This comp is docked a few points for the error-laden liner notes, but it’s the music that counts. The best of the best include Valis’ “Dream Weaver,” Puny Human’s “Crazy Horses” — who knew the Osmonds rocked that hard? — and Louisville’s own Glasspack doing AC/DC’s “Rock ’n’ Roll Singer.” Back in the Saddle is a classic of its kind. —Jay DitzerParaportDenzel & Huhn(CITY CENTRE OFFICES)I’m particularly fond of electronic music. I just don’t listen to enough of it to be able to reference particular subsets or artists. Basically, if a musician or group of musicians is able to present something that’s halfway listenable and intelligent while paying sufficient homage to the true pioneers of the field, I’m happy. Instrumentals are preferred and, since I don’t dance, ever, injunctions to move one’s booty put me right off. I don’t like it if my wife tells me what to do. How am I likely to react to a couple of German dudes with a really good computer?Fortunately, D&H don’t really concern themselves with the dance floor much. I mean, sure, you could dance to it if you were so inclined. Some people will dance to anything. Rather, Paraport is one of those futuristic soundtrack-type albums equally suited to action and atmosphere while surrounded by sexy, sophisticated technology.It sounds like the music you would hear while playing the world’s most sophisticated driving simulator as Eva Green sits on your lap in a silk kimono and feeds you sushi. —Michael SteigerMy Ion TrussMinus Story(JAGJAGUWAR)They say first impressions are everything. Who are “they,” I wonder? My first impression of Minus Story was that they were some metal band. (A CD cover with an Amethyst floating above the clouds? Suspicious, for sure.) The first listen assaulted my ears with a wall of cacophony while I sat here thinking, “What is this crap?”However, after a few listens, this John Congleton-produced purple gem held me in its clutches and refused to let me go. A mishmash of indie goodness eliciting references to The Sea and Cake, Explosions in the Sky and Built to Spill, Minus Story’s My Ion Truss delivers something captivating.The band’s history goes all the way back to 2001 (which today, let’s face it, is a rather long time). The Lawrence, Kan., quintet deserves some more exposure with this, their fifth full-length. I’m still trying to figure out whom the singer sounds like. Don’t you hate when that happens? I’ll just have to conclude that Jordan Geiger sounds like himself, and Minus Story tells its own. —L. Park