The Weekly Jive

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Posted April 24, 2008 in Music

Tokyo Police Club—Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek)

Elephant Shell is a right little charmer. After all the fuss about Tokyo Police Club’s debut EP, A Lesson In Crime, a couple of years back, it seemed that the buzz would pass ’em by before they even completed an album. That may still be the case (though recent sold-out club shows augur otherwise), but whether ignored or applauded, these four young Canuck post-punkers have done themselves proud. Elephant Shell sounds oddly British and utterly of-its-time: kin to The Rakes, Kooks and Arctic Monkeys, yet more wistful, modest and nostalgic. Tempos are perky; statements concise (only one song here tops the three-minute mark); and the mildly confrontational fuzzy bass is offset by twinkly guitar and lonesome keys. Tokyo Police Club are danceable and head nod-able, introverted but trying to mingle, and cement their connection via David Monks’ unpretentious everyman’s timbre and identifiably insecure lyrics. The hype might be settling, but the music’s only just begun. (Paul Rogers)

 

Portishead—Third (Island)

Anyone expecting this album to be a re-release of Dummy or the band’s eponymous release are going to be sorely disappointed because Portishead has abandoned its sleepytime Chamomile tea feel from their previous releases for a much more unnerving one. Although the songcraft has evolved, it still treads heavily on gloomy, with Gibbon’s crooning vocals wafting sweet and dysphorically through all that melancholy—only this time her crooning isn’t merely about unrequited love and rejection . . . this time it screams toward mental and emotional collapse. Third does a lot more than just clank along to lethargic breaks, oscillating seamlessly between serene orchestral movements and dark stabs of synths and pounding drums—in fact, there are a lot of moments on the album that actually verge on heavy. All of this of course proves that Third is more than a depressing hipster Chinese Democracy, it’s a refined masterpiece. (Phil Fuller)   

 

Testament—The Formation of Damnation (Nuclear Blast Records)

While their brethren in thrash metal’s original “Big Four”—Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer—have thrived as major venue headliners, perennially unlucky Bay Area ’bangers Testament have, for over 20 years, had tribulations with record labels, illness, soap opera-worthy personnel dramas and the fickle finger of fashion confine them to chiefly club-level cult status. With this first proper album in nine years and something close to their “classic” line-up, Testament remind us what an influence they’ve exerted (albeit a few times removed) upon metalcore/screamo’s contemporary suburban soundtrack. The signature split singing/growling vocals are there (in Testament’s case both provided by the gargantuan Chuck Billy), as are the methed-up double-kicks and hardcore oom-pah beats (courtesy of ludicrously dexterous and disciplined ex-Slayer man Paul Bostoph). Only the Saturday-morning-in-Guitar-Center squealing riffs and crazily crescendoing six-string solos really date this effort. Testament are middle-aged blokes with some Middle Earth imagery, but close your eyes and you’re at the brutal edge of Warped Tour. (Paul Rogers)

 


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