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September 23, 2008

Music Reviews

The Bubble Has Burst In Sky City

Lucky Pineapple

(NOISE POLLUTION)

<je ne sais quoi>

This sophomore release from Louisville favorites Lucky Pineapple follows the parameters of a classic prog-rock album, letting eight songs sprawl and luxuriate over 42 mostly instrumental minutes. The sometimes-epic track lengths are hardly the only thing progressive about Lucky Pineapple: Their freewheeling eclecticism, fearless genre-jumping and loose-limbed compositional approach invite comparisons with King Crimson and Eno-era Talking Heads, with a little Hot Rats thrown in for good measure.

Notables include the expansive “High Heels in the Sand,” whose carnival-esque atmosphere is punctured by peals of Frippian guitar, and the quiet, still beauty of “Undertown,” easily the most inspired showcase for the album’s copious brass work. But the album’s masterpiece is arguably the unhinged “Un Squelette et un Parapluie,” which juxtaposes exaggerated French spoken-word verses, sublime English-sung bridges and Latin-tinged instrumental freak-outs, all on the heels of an intro that manages to fall somewhere between The Pixies and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The fact that the song leads into the absurd but credible bossa nova of “Pineapples Unlimited” only underlines the unpredictability that helps make Bubble one of the year’s wildest, most rewarding albums. Lucky Pineapple celebrates their record release 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, on the Glassworks rooftop (815 W. Market St.). —Eric Condon


Courtesy of Self

T. McAfee

(SELF-RELEASED)

<illest>

This might be the best Louisville hip-hop CD I’ve ever heard.

Big words, surely, but one listen to Courtesy of Self will open your mind to the possibility of growth and potential of this city and its artists. This album and McAfee are just getting started, and Self is the jumping-off point for a career that, if handled correctly, could finally put this city on the hip-hop map on a large scale.

It’s not Southern rap, it’s not east-west-true-school-new-school or any of that. T. McAfee is the culmination of life in the Midwest (mid-South for you sticklers) and taking in the influence of all areas, combining it like the gumbo that is this part of the country and making it all work.

Songs like “All About Me” allow for the ego to shine, while introspective work like “See U Around” provides the balance needed to show a full portrait of the man. Production by Ren-A-Sance, Hines-57 and Ju-Ju Pap Pap is timeless, perfect for headphones, the club or burning up $4-a-gallon gas. The whole city should take notice. T. McAfee is here.

Can I coin a phrase? Louisv-illmatic. —Damien McPherson


Mansions EP

Mansions

(DOGHOUSE)

<junk drawer>

Fuck you and your goddamn scene.

That’s how Christopher Browder starts off this self-titled debut. From there, it’s a hefty helping of modern pop punk and alt rock bound to wind up in the same bargain bin as the new Saves The Day record. The EP starts off with “The Worst Part,” which opens strong with a heavy rock rhythm that blends into a chaotic breakdown, anchored by the line I don’t want to be you. 

I don’t want to be him either: ruining fat-ass bass grooves with equally tweenish lyrics (“Take It Back”): While we’re on the topic, you’re an asshole and you know it.

I don’t want to be him either: cribbing from the Bright Eyes playbook to chip out an anticlimactic bore (“I Told A Lie”) and killing a good chorus with sappy poetics (“Tangerine”). Browder’s vocals are decent, but his depth is nonexistent and his concepts hollow.

Mansions exhibit a familiar style of watered-down pop-punk that, aside from being totally uninspiring, makes me long for the days of bands like Jawbreaker, who helped create the kind of pop-punk sound that was actually fun to listen to. This EP will likely appeal to a younger crowd predisposed to Panic! At the Disco and Fallout Boy, but the general lack of creativity will leave others bored. —Aaron Frank


Folding Nothings into Everythings

Slackshop

(ALMOST HOME)

<safety first>

If I could grade this album, I would give it a B-, or maybe just a check mark. It is a decent rock album with all of the right ingredients, though little stands out.

The three members of Slackshop sound like talented musicians and singers, though they may have played it a little too safe on this one.

What is particularly unusual about this record is that the introductions to each song totally kick ass. Draw the hand to the volume knob to crank it. But then the tracks tend to hang out, shift into cruise control, and listeners may lose interest.

Some are more engaging than others, and they do offer variety. It’s not a bad album, and I’ll keep it in the mix for filler. Perhaps it’s the control experiment for something more promising yet to come. In the meantime, Slackshop might be slacking and folding nothings into just … somethings. —Jane Mattingly


Trophy Wives EP

Trophy Wives

(LOUISVILLE LIP)

<sapiens on fire>

Listening to this record over and over is like watching evolution in action. Initially, it feels like discovering some strange missing link in the tar pit sludge of history: a brutish man-ape, all primordial power and grunge-fueled aggression.

Each successive listen reveals more: Layers of subtle depth and nuanced intelligence find their way to the surface, like lower strata bursting through the Earth’s crust during a tectonic shift, screaming and spitting hot lava as they come.

Because the recorded sounds on this CD are obviously not going to change over time, maybe the listener is doing the evolving. Either way, this is a great little EP that bodes incredibly well for the future of Trophy Wives, whatever it may entail.

The record’s highlight is opening track “Black Hole in a Paper Heart,” which is much better than the title suggests. On a mostly unrelated note, if you put this disc on repeat and play “Encino Man” on mute, they may not necessarily synch up, but it’s bound to be entertaining. —Anthony Bowman


She EP

The Saturn IV

(SELF-RELEASED)

<pleasant lenses>

Y’know, life is full of pleasant surprises. When I picked up this disc from the LEO offices, I thought, “Cool. They’re called The Saturn IV. Maybe I can hack my way into a reference to ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’ or some shit.”

Then, as I perused the artwork on the way back to the office, I noticed they released this EP under a Creative Commons license. Bonus points! Then I got back to work and — HOLY CRAP! — this thing rocks. Vocals that call up early Counting Crows (not necessarily bad), the music riffs off everything from Pavement to Uncle Tupelo to Marcy Playground (all without sounding derivative). These guys are pretty good. I especially like “Sheep,” with its weirdo synth and off-time handclaps. Gotta love those handclaps.

This EP is perfect for reliving 1994 through the lens of your current life. From the looks of ’em, these guys weren’t far past diapers in ’94. Can’t wait to see how this band evolves. —J. Brian Hall