Thursday, December 9, 2004
Nightbird | Mute
“Retro pre-techno” is what this collection smacks of, proudly breaking no new ground, other than time and wear and tear and having worn the beats down into elegant ambience. Because there is no reason to ever change from their tried and true, Bell and Clarke of Erasure haven’t.
Because Vince Clarke is a machine, he hasn’t run out of hooks. Clarke has penned some of the most memorable synth riffs in dance-pop history (“Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Situation” and “Don’t Go”) but this time, the hooks aren’t audacious; they’re familiar—the cyclical, carny licks that he’s famous for only appear once here on “All This Time Falling in Love.” Otherwise, it’s more grand, slower and not booming out á la “Chains of Love.” This is older folks making older music.Only on the modified shuffle, “Don’t Say You Love Me,” do they shake up the rhythms. Generally, this is relaxed post-New Wave/pre-electro clash stuff, better than the Faint in the same way who Carl Perkins was better than the Stray Cats. For people who stopped dancing at the dawn of the Rave, this is a pleasant diversion. (JA)
Live at CBGB/OMFUG 1977 | Music Video Distributors
According to Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, this whole music DVD shebang was supposed to be part of a 60 Minutes segment on punk that never aired; ergo, the sound and sight here is a little better than the grainy garbage that mostly documented that long-gone scene.
Messy and tough, equal parts Stooges, Dolls and their rival Sex Pistols, the Dead Boys were your standard Midwest gutter metal with better than average songs and a charismatic, if tone deaf, singer/frontman. Stiv Bators’ stage presence really is repulsive: he eats his snot, chews wads of gum off the floor, and contorts himself into agonizing positions while flagellating himself with a mic stand as the band rocks with limited dynamics and groove. In other words, they were terrific.Interviews with Mr. Chrome and the band’s ex-manager, Hilly Kristal, are included, plus an ancient Sire Records promo, too—this DVD is a great keepsake for the 50-year old punk in your family who wants to limp down memory lane. Get this! (JA)
JT DONALDSON & LANCE DESARDI
San Francisco Sessions | Om Records
The fifth volume of Om Records’ San Francisco Sessions series goes double-sized, featuring two DJs from the Bay Area underground: JT Donaldson and Lance DeSardi. The pairing is easy enough to figure out: Occasionally known collectively as the Undercover Agency, the two have shared the stage and remixed numerous projects together. And even given their own discs on the SF Sessions, it’s still hard to tell them apart.
Both DJs favor funky house production, with Donaldson playing it a little more smooth and DeSardi coming off as more experimental. But while their beats might be subtly different, their styles are surprisingly similar. The two have a tendency to flaunt their samples too much, almost to the point of sounding like amateurs. They’re most effective on songs with minimal mixing, like Donaldson’s layered “Night of Music” or DeSardi’s “Say Goodbye.” Otherwise, that cool little breathy coda in “Surprise Me,” or the quirky blip loop of “Cube Loop” sound nice for a minute, but get real old after five. Likewise, when the same ragga overlay gets played twenty times in twenty loops, you know it’s time to use a little more imagination. It’s hard to overrun something in house music, but a little variation certainly makes things a lotmore interesting. (BS)