La Sera - Break My Heart

Sic Alps - Glyphs

This is Pop Download-o-rama

Friday, May 9, 2008

On the Pop Radar – Three Quick New Music Reviews

Momofuku – Elvis Costello and the Imposters

Despite the fact that it sounds a little profane, Momofuku means "Lucky Peach" in Japanese. The perfect monicker then for either your favourite East Village Noodle Bar and or latest Elvis Costello release. The name suggests a certain languid familiarity in choosing the food and the music that we love. Not unlike a Japanese food menu, the music on Costello’s Momofuku covers a lot of stylistic ground (soul to garage) but remains grounded in the familiar. The album’s opener “No Hiding Place” is a good example of that. It is the sound of Costello making music and a lot of it. As a result it is unquestionably one of the most enjoyable discs he has ever produced. Inspired and very natural it lacks the unified sense of his 2004 release The Delivery Man but has more in common with his 1979 disc, Armed Forces.

By surrounding himself with capable musicians like Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, former Beachwood Sparks "Farmer" Dave Scher, Jonathan Rice and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, Costello succeeds in reconciling listener familiarity with the freshness in his musical execution. This is what drives his best music and Momofuku is right up there with that.

Recommended PPPP

Third – Portishead

Portishead will never be termed a particularly prolific band, relying instead on their sense of mystery and certain inconspicuousness to sate the needs of their ‘fandom’. In only their third studio outing since their mid nineties debut, the spaghetti western guitars and wailing organs are back, the ‘dated’ turntable scratches are out. On Third their almost trademark sound formidably replaced by squelchy electronic flourishes and squiggles. Perhaps the perfect counterpoint to Beth Gibbons desolate and sometimes fragile vocals. Be forewarned, this is a very, very dark record. It demands full immersion into its creative depths. A disc that works best when listened to from start to finish. This is the sound of raindrops on the window of the greyest day you can imagine. A harrowing travail to be certain but well worth the journey.

Recommended PPPP

The Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbit

At 14 songs, Midnight Organ Fight is a bit onerous to hear all in one sitting. Not that it is a particularly tedious release but rather its dour content becomes emotionally draining relatively quickly. This is not to say it is entirely devoid of humour either. Perhaps this is the essence of a distinctly Scottish musical experience. This phenomenon is not entirely different from the music produced by fellow countrymen the Arab Strap or even the ‘old schooly’ the Jesus and Mary Chain.

One of the best songs on Midnight Organ Fight is opener "Modern Leper". The song is a rhythmically and emotionally powerful piece, the band melding punk aggressions with folk storytelling traditions. These are songs composed in a dank industrial city and this record has that certain griminess at its core. The twinkling keyboards and bits of lyrical humour, the hopeful elements we look for when everything around us is dark.

Not for the unitiated but if you are a fan of the Arab Strap and the Twilight Sad this record will appeal to you.



Barbara Bruederlin said...

Third is on my list of cds to pick up. It's good to have Portishead back again and there's always room for one more dark and desolate album.

And I don't know Frightened Rabbit at all, but the comparisons to Arba Strap make me most curious to check them out.

Thanks for the reviews! I'm heading down to my favourite record store tomorrow.

sean said...

Boy oh boy Barbara it really is nice to have a kindred spirit in music curiosity. The Portishead cd really is quite good despite its bleak themes. And you are right that we all need that from time to time.

While you are at the record store look for the latest Forest City Lovers cd. It's been occupying a lot of my time lately and its a very solid release.

Good luck finding some great stuff. I might just have to head to my favourite shop as well.


Beth said...

All three of these are on this weekend's to-do list. I'm interested in hearing Jenny's next album, which Mr. C is producing.

Sean Wraight said...

Hello Beth,

Jenny Lewis certainly leaves her imprint on the Costello release. It'll be interesting to see what effect he has on her upcoming release. I'd love to see what he could do with Rilo Kiley too. Their last one was a bit of a stinker. Elvis coulda pumped that one up a bit wih something interesting.

Phronk said...

Wow, I'd been following Portishead waiting for a new album, but finally gave up. I had no idea it had finally come out. Thanks!

Sean Wraight said...

You are most welcome phronk! Be sure to pick it up. It's quite good.

Nice to see a fellow Londoner on here!