Friday, June 03, 2005

More reviews: Spoon, The Frames, Thylacine & Sleater Kinney

Gimme Fiction – Spoon [Matador/Remote Control]

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the duo known as Spoon created deft but unremarkable indie albums for several years. Their breakthrough came with the sparse yet rich Kill The Moonlight in 2002, and now on their fifth studio album the band has created a real masterpiece. Gimme Fiction combines solid, beefy guitar rock and choppy, eclectic creativity. Rhythms slide to the edge of chaos before darting back to their original tempo; obscure samples and musical fragments weave in and out of warmly produced songs; tunes zigzag unexpectedly. From the minimal, Jagger-esque swagger of ‘I Turn My Camera On’, to the darker, driving ‘The Infinite Pet’, Gimme Fiction has a breathtaking diversity that doesn’t so much hang together, as squeeze together in a rib-crushing embrace that leaves you breathless.

Burn The Maps – The Frames [Little Big Music/MRA]

The first studio album from Irish quartet The Frames in four years is a slow-burning, evocative collection of beautifully tortured songs which begin by being understated and slowly swell into luscious, menacing melodrama. Strings add tension and power to the opening track ‘Happy’ while ‘Finally’ starts out bruised and ends up spitting and snarling. On ‘The Ship In The Bay’ subdued electronica underscores the band’s melodic pop-rock while vocalist Glen Hansard whispers that "We’ll make the fuckers pay," and the fragile, thunderous ‘Keepsake’ is enriched by a yearning, evocative fiddle. There’s an undercurrent of restrained venom running through this album which suggests that The Frames almost regret being named the best Irish band of 2004, but judging by Burn The Maps they indubitably deserve the acclaim.

The Woods – Sleater Kinney [Sub Pop]

Sleater Kinney achieve a fusion of passion, fury and brilliance on their new CD which suggests that the feisty female trio have reached their apogee. The Woods is not a comfortable album, but its bass-heavy sound, sonic shocks and caustic lyrics truly make for rewarding listening. At a time when ‘alternative’ has become a soulless marketing phrase, Sleater Kinney have a sound and a spirit to gladden your heart. As they sing on one of the stand out tracks on this album: "If you’re here cause you want to be entertained/Please go away." The Woods is an album that proves some bands still possess the ability to make you think even as they make you feel desperately, gloriously, feverishly alive.

pep-sic-oke – Thylacine [independent]

pep-sic-oke, the debut release from Melbourne band Thylacine, is a mesmerising blend of seriously stylish ambient electronica, jazz, dub and static-fuelled trip-hop. This album reveals a love for the spirit of improvisation coupled with bullshit detectors turned up to 11, for there is no meandering self-indulgence here, only passionate, intricate and innovative tunes that are truly deserving of a wider audience. I suspect you’ll only find this album in independent music outlets such as Raoul Records or Polyester; alternately you can e-mail the band directly at to get your hands on a copy.

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