Posted February 21, 2008 in Music

Sian Alice Group—59:59 (The Social Registry)

Oh, to be young and over-hyped. By virtue of the company they keep on their debut—including members of Spiritualized, Spring Heel Jack, and Gang Gang Dance—this London quartet’s Brit buzz now spreads States-side. But to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there’s little there here. Errors of youthful enthusiasm abound—too many songs and songs too long—but worse are all the moments when the mere design of moods trumps actual songcraft. Too often SAG follows pleasing sounds or figures—a tribal beat, Sian Ahern’s gossamer voice, plangent piano chords, reverbed guitar lines—that lead nowhere, flaccid undulations passing for drama. The seven-minute-opus “When” is the worst offender, beginning in suspect improv and morphing into something vaguely Brit Folk—and with a minute-long appendage of delicate bird-twitters as subtle as a shotgun blast to the face. The band shows true promise when they generate heat beyond room temperature, and the best cut here is the most straightforward: “Sleep” is three-and-a-half minutes of minor-key rock buttressed by string pulses, gorgeous guitar patterns, a little synth weirdness and a fairly noisy crescendo. Imagine that. (John Schacht)



The Furious Seasons—Self-titled (Eskimo)

The Furious Seasons eponymous CD comes with minimally linear album art and sparse liner notes that might lead you to believe that the packaging houses some rare post-rock gem, and after you listen to the CD, your life will somehow be altered—as if someone manufactured some sort of higher consciousness and recorded it, and if you listen to the disc your mind will be blown. The disc is wholly disappointing. The Furious Seasons created the Reader’s Digest version of the folk/indie/post-rock progression, managing to suck out everything that feels good about the respective genres and replacing it with banal songs about the emotional/metaphysical meaning of airports and nostalgia and unrequited love. It’s the kind of “watered-down” that Ray Bradbury warned about in his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, and if the Furious Seasons succeed here at anything, it’s that they convince us that Bradbury was on to something. (Phil Fuller) 


British Sea Power—Do You Like Rock Music? (Rough Trade)

Though they’d get a kick out of it if you did, don’t automatically think Lord Nelson when you hear the words “British Sea Power,” think instead of a balladic instrumental under the proper song title of “The Great Skua” . . . a skua of course is an oversized seagull out in Jolly Ol’, known locally as a Bonxie, commonly seen near the roiling abyss of the North Sea hovering with an impossible wingspan . . . just as lonely as a flag cable knocking the post in the wind, searching for fish and in rare cases storm-petrels . . . quite a bird, quite a sea . . . the North Sea gets ornery, of course, and it’s easy to imagine antediluvian Canvey Island, with its bungalows and the large sea-split skies, but existentially speaking the sea’s very thoughtful to remind beachcombing islanders and generational passerthrus (such as these cheeky lads and all us human ephemera in tow) of our diminutive place in the world, with the dark echoes of 1953 when some 58 people died with their mouths gasping for air on the ceiling during the flood, and now waves of nausea . . . Megiddo? Crossing the Vistula in Poland? Nazis? Microbes? “Atom”? . . . yes, we like rock music but caveat emptor, for you to like British Sea Power’s bookish brand of rock music it’s better to get your mind off of riffage, hookers and blow, because this here’s concerned more with the elasticity of the form, not its definition, and the answer to BSP’s question is: “If you like it, let it go.” (Chuck Mindenhall)




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