Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dot Hacker


ORG Records

A very mellow experimental rock band from Los Angeles, Dot Hacker is made up of Josh Klinghoffer, Clint Walsh, Eric Gardner and Jonathan Hischke. Klinghoffer plays guitar for the Red Hot Chilli peppers, and the rest of the band have played with people ranging from Beck to Gnarls Barkley.

But within the enjoyably mellow, somewhat danceable music are edgy lyrics about alienation, confusion, weariness, depression, and sadness, all sung with out any self-pity, whining, or anti-social content. These are great lyrics. Dark themes are dealt with smartly in the right ways.

This full-length debut is a follow up to an EP out earlier this year, and both are extremely good. May many more albums follow from this band. []

Andrea Weiss

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Portland Cello Project


Self Released

This is a really cute idea. Take classical music, a mini orchestra composed mainly of cellos, and have it cover hip-hop. While the idea does work, as this is good music that is fun to listen to, the joke can make one wince. Not because it’s a good joke on classical music, but because it covers up the non-stop homophobia and sexism of hip-hop.

While I am absolutely sure that the PCP is not homophobic and sexist, nor is its music, when so many suffer from the effects of homophobia and sexism, reducing the original hip-hop songs this orchestra covers to an ironic joke is bad irony and an unfunny joke. Why? Because it still is a cover up, and a cover up G/L/B/T/Q people and their straight allies don’t need. As a lesbian, I was not amused. In the end, caveat emptor. []

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Andre Williams and the Sadies

Night and Day

Yep Roc Records

All-star albums like this one aren’t supposed to work. Too many moving parts, and nothing meshes. Or it works for a song or two, and the rest is dross.

Night and Day is one of the rare albums of this type that does work from start to finish. The sessions for this album began in 2008, when Williams was 70 and still addicted to drugs and drink, but clean by the time the sessions were finished. The result is a great album, an album that Williams and producer Jon Spencer worked hard to get everything to mesh, and it’s to their credit that they formed a good team and synced everything up just right.

Williams does have a lot to say: everything from, “Jail ain’t no fun,” to, “stay out of Mississippi,” to his dark take on being poor in America, and thanking God that he’s still alive (Williams is Jewish.) His tender side is shown in his duet with Sally Timms on “That’s My Desire,” and his giving the woman he dated and took good care of back to her boyfriend after he gets out of jail on “Your Old Lady.” There is also the romance of “Hey Baby.”

Musically, punky blues and country. The Sadies are wonderful throughout. Timms and Kelly Hogan’s sublime backing vocals on “I Got to Get Shorty Out of Jail,” and choice cameos from the likes of Jon Langford, the Gories, Matt Verta-Ray of Heavy Trash, and Danny Kroha. Put them all together and this is an album that rolls adroitly and sprightly rocks hotly and nimbly. It will be out May 15th.!/thesadies

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery

Hot Charity/XL Recordings

Lo-Fi folk, blues and rap. Lo-Fi not by using vintage equipment, but because found instruments, a $20 microphone, and a cheap karaoke machine recorder was all he could afford, working as a night porter in a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

These songs are very compelling. He makes more music, more good sound from found objects and a roughly recorded guitar than a whole band could do in a million-dollar studio. And while the lyrics speak of bad times, down times, boredom and listlessness, the music, and his singing, is so strong that a cloudy day becomes a whole world, with all a world like that has to offer.

Tom Waits, a favorite of Beal, sometimes did music like this, although a bit more produced. So did Taj Mahal, and while there is a lot of Waits here, there is also a lot of Mahal’s warm, rounded sound, too. That Beal could be placed in their context says a lot about how good he is, how talented he is, and why this album is absolutely perfect for quiet and late nights. []

Andrea Weiss


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