Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nits - work (1981)

The Nits' existential synth-pop sounds magnificent on Work. Benefiting from baroque arrangements (verging on chamber) and indulging on suspenseful paranoid atmospheres ("Lodger", "Hobbyland", "Umbrella Army", "Hands Οn Τhe Watch"), extruding a charming playfulness ("Footprint", "S­­lip Οf Τhe Tongue", "Tables & Chairs", "Buildings"), or even an epic flair ("Empty Room", "Red Tape", "Man Friday").

This belongs more to theatre than music, their deformed pantomime being able to conjure a wide array of emotions.

Get it here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ui - answers (2003)

Ui remained in the post-rock atlas convincingly with Answers.

"Back Up" blended the neurotic funk practice with the convoluted structures of progressive-rock and the suave edge of post-rock, and while "Get Hot You Bum" was less abrasive, it was just as brainy and groovy, while "Mrs. Lady Lady" featured their most elastic basslines yet.

The contrasting micro-funk patterns and elegant jazz display of "Sunny Nights" showed how A Certain Ratio would have adapted to the post-rock age, while the minimal, feedback-ridden funk "Answers" used it's complex structure to emphasize a suspenseful mood (echoes of King Crimson circa Starless And Bible Black). Ditto for the Slint-ian mini-thriller "The Headache Boat", which was in contrast with the relatively lightweight "Boxer-Painter" (despite the ever present progressive structure).

The diversity just underlined Ui's capabilities.

The rest of the tracks, while not offering anything groundbreaking, were sleek presentations of their musical language (funk, jazz-rock, math-rock, electro), and "John Fitch Way" in particular was one of the most substantial progressive-rock workouts of recent years.

Get it here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Astronauts - peter pan hits the suburbs (1981)

The Astronauts, one of the more eclectic bands of the punk/ post-puk era, debuted with Peter Pan Hits the Suburbs in 1981.

The album's range is gigantic: from dissonant punk a la Fall ("Everything Stops for Baby"), to epic progressive folk ("Protest Song", "Baby Sings Folk Songs"), ditties ("Sod us"), hard-rock ("the Traveller"), pop ("How Green was my Valley"), garage/ surf ("Still Talking"), industrial ("How Long is a Piece of String"), and set to arrangements that employ synthesizers, flute, saxophone, and stray into progressive or even free-form/ psychedelic sections.

The icing on the cake is the mature statement of the lyrics, a cynical and bitter exploration of the lives of simple men, miles away from the generic horror/ punk overtones that permeated most of alternative albums at the time.

Get it here.