Cowbell Magazine, June 2011

Page 41

that, while not as dense or forceful as Fela’s afrobeat, display some palpable Western soul and funk influences—and, on “Astan Kelly,” the unmistakable rhythms of Cuban salsa. —K. Ross Hoffman

Mia Doi Todd

Cosmic Ocean Ships City Zen

Sailing far away On her early records, Mia Doi Todd was nothing but calm, a clear-voiced college folkie alone with her guitar. As she added to her repertoire—Nels Cline’s electric guitars and Mitchell Froom’s frippery on one album, remixes on another, a mini-orchestra on a third—she never lost her cool. So, it’s no surprise that Cosmic Ocean Ships, Todd’s ninth release, offers serenity even as she reaches for more exotic instruments and more worldly sounds. That approach works on “Under the Sun” and “Summer Lover,” a pair of languid tunes that bask in the brand of bliss you’ll find only in a warm climate or a warm heart, but it also creates fertile conditions for the album’s weak spots. At worst, she sounds too much like a lady of the canyon; echoes of Joni Mitchell’s fussiest phrasing mark Todd as the product of mid-’70s L.A. just when she most wants to be a citizen of the world. —M.J. Fine TV on the Radio

Nine Types of Light Interscope

Bon mot bonanza There’s never been anything easy or casual about this band. Like all of its predecessors, the fifth release by Tunde Adebimpe and Dave Sitek’s brainchild-turned-WilliamsburgRadiohead un-knots like a puzzle. That’s partly because Adebimpe, Sitek, Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton and Gerard Smith (who sadly died of cancer on April 20) are so casual about claiming so much sonic territory. But once you acclimate, there’s something diverting around every corner of Nine Types of Light, much of it purely sonic: the bleed of real horns into fake ones at the end of “Second Song,” for instance. But it’s the words that jump out of this album; Adebimpe and co-singer Malone’s dry deliveries sneak in great lines all over, nowhere better than the sly, frank “Will Do”: “It might be impractical to seek out a new romance/ We won’t know the actual if we never take the chance/ I’d like to collapse with you and ease you against this song/ I think we’re compatible, I see that you think I’m wrong.” —Michaelangelo Matos

homemade instruments, but did so as a third option behind illustration and animation (he’s done videos for J Mascis and Guster, among others). For a guy whose music is a hobby, he’s made plenty; VanGaalen’s latest, Diaper Island, makes nine releases over the past seven years—counting EPs and his 2009 Black Mold album—and his new disc may stand as his most linear effort to date. Recorded in VanGaalen’s new home studio (which he’s appropriately christened Yoko Eno), Diaper Island has the contemporary energy and soft edge of Jim James and James Mercer, while applying the claustrophobic expanse of Brian Eno’s earliest twisted pop explorations to the proceedings. Plus, it’s hard to resist any album with a space-rock-from-the-bottom-of-a-well anthem called “Blonde Hash,” and an indie-rock-music-box twiddler titled “Shave My Pussy.” —Brian Baker

Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970) Vanguard

Everywhere you go… In a market saturated with reissues, it seems like every week a new compilation comes along purporting to uncover the lost gems of an unjustly forgotten movement. But the songs on Follow Me Down sound, with few exceptions, as if they were forgotten for a reason, not so much lost as left behind. Keep your eyes off the liner notes and you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish one third-rate band from the next; imagine an entire album by the generic beat combo miming in the background of any ’60s teensploitation movie.

musicdvds The Beat Is the Law: Fanfare for the Common People Sheffield Vision

Now with more juicy bits This documentary arrives just in time for Pulp’s summer reunion tour (sorry: festival shows in Europe and Australia only, so far). However, don’t expect a straightforward recounting of the band’s story. Director Eve Wood covers the years 1983-1995 (Pulp’s career ran from 1978 to 2002), and lends running time to lesserknown Sheffield acts such as ’80s avant-funk outfit Chakk and ’90s Britpop would-bes the Longpigs. Referring to the city early on as “The Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire,” the film begins by adroitly weaving in the pressing issues facing the city. Sheffield was an industrial town and union stronghold facing government hostility courtesy of Margaret Thatcher, culminating in the city’s 1984 miner strike. So, musicians and artists, facing little hope of success in any field, joined the dole and displayed oft-cunning industriousness. In a particularly genius move, Chakk convinced their major label to bankroll their own recording facility in Sheffield, which became the prestigious FON Studios. As the film moves into the rave and Britpop eras, there’s additional illuminating information, but the sociopolitical angle is unfortunately

Chad VanGaalen

Diaper Island Sub Pop

Hey, where’s Alex and Eddie? Oh, wait... Indie doesn’t even begin to describe Chad VanGaalen. The Calgary native started with basement tapes of instrumental music composed with

Various Artists

Cocker at Glastonbury, 1995

diminished. Still, Pulp fans will find a treasure trove of rare footage and witty reminiscences from Jarvis Cocker and other key band members. And Cocker’s metamorphosis from badly coiffed ’80s miserabilist to the strutting, devastatingly witty icon of 1995, with an entire Glastonbury crowd eating out of his hand, remains awe-inspiring. —Michael Pelusi View the trailer at

Le Tigre

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour Oscilloscope

Still a hot topic Le Tigre is such a visual band, with their Motownesque dance moves, Technicolor outfits and engaging multimedia, that a DVD might be the best way to capture the electro-punk trio, currently on hiatus while Kathleen Hanna goes solo and JD Samson leads Men. Who Took the Bomp? is a solid beginner’s primer while still giving fans good performance footage and entertaining behind-the-scenes banter, insight and hijinks. Directed by Kerthy Fix (Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields), the DVD follows the band on their 2004 “This Island” tour, where they humorously struggle with their queer, feminist ideals: photos with Slipknot at Australia’s Big Day Out Festival, navigating condescending radio DJs and a homophobic fan (who mistakes butch lesbian Samson for a gay man), agonizing over a Jane magazine ad campaign, and watching the Donnas with Hatebreed and discussing ways to “rage.” Best part: the workout sequence in onstage costumes. More, please. —Sara Sherr


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