Do You Trust Your Friends?
Remix Mix Up
Quick, name a remix in the history of music that was better than the original? Didn’t think so. Outside of dance music -- which is basically a scam anyway -- remix albums are like watching yourself jerk off in the mirror. Interesting in theory, but keep the end product to yourself. On Friends… Stars have enlisted the likes of Metric, Junior Boys, The Stills and more to put the knife to their pretty little orchestra pop. And yet there’s almost nothing here that improves upon their beloved 2004 release Set Yourself On Fire, although The Dears, in particular, do great work on “What I’m Trying to Say,” an imaginative and propulsive blast. Ultimately, remixing works best with beat-heavy tracks, or songs draped with wide open chords like low-hanging fruit, not so for the intimate, bed-sit mess-about that Stars are known for. If it aint broke... (Arts and Crafts; www.artsandcraftsrecords.com)
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Minimal Instruments, Maximal Melodies
It’s easy to forget how exciting Spoon’s 2001 masterpiece Girls Can Tell was at the time. The subsequent regularity of songwriter Britt Daniel’s originality has spoiled us. But listen afresh to Spoon now hitting all their marks: the poignancy of such instrumental minimalism, the emotional weight of Daniel’s odd phrasings, the seeming nonchalance. Only the best can make it seem this easy. Opening track “Don’t Make Me A Target” is a case in point. Its incremental tension comes in its repetitiveness, the looping piano punches and the echoing refrain of the title. “The Ghost of You Lingers” continues apace with Daniel’s signature percussive keyboards and indie piano man rhyme spitting, but the reverb-heavy vocal places him at an uncomfortable remove. New and familiar at once. Evidence enough that Spoon is capable of evoking nostalgia in both the past and future tense.
Outside Are The Vultures
On their last album, Calico System took some flack for treading into cookie-cutter screamo waters. Vultures counters that aesthetic with a mostly indistinguishable batch of brutal, riff-focused metal-core. It’s too bad, because now Mark Owens’ singing voice is mostly absent. User friendly tracks like “Running With Scissors” from They Live or “Love Will Kill All” from The Duplicated Memory (both worthy purchases) are sorely missed. Still, fans of the heavy stuff will find something to like here. “Anorsexia”, goofy title aside, is one standout, with its murderous stabs of razor sharp guitar and drums that thud like falling gallows. The band works up another good, sweaty groove on “Lick The Sun,” but it’s a rare song like “Unlocking the Maverick” or “Deceiver” where they find their memorable hooks. Those two help shape a pleasing form from the album’s mostly punishing granite heft. (Eulogy Recordings; www.eulogyrecordings.com)
Originally published in Alternative Press.