The Weekly Jive

Posted April 3, 2008 in Music

Constantines—Kensington Heights (Arts & Crafts) 

We hear a lot about rock & roll’s redemptive powers, most of it rote and rarely lived in. Not so Canada’s Constantines, one of the few acts with the talent and brass ones to make us believe that this shit really is life or death. The band’s fully matured arsenal is cocked and pointed at our heads here, from the nerve-wracking riffs of explosive opener “Hard Feelings” and the Mission of Burma-meets-The Clash “Credit River” to wide-screen epics “New King” and ”Life or Death.” Like Joe Strummer or Paul Westerberg at the peak of their power, singer Bryan Webb rasps simple truths into aphoristic gold while trying to wrestle his fury—at blind leaders, broken loves, and life’s “ruined architecture” (from the record’s finest moment, “Time Can Be Overcome”)—into better angels. On the cautionary “I Will Not Sing a Hateful Song,” Webb acknowledges that the last sound he makes “could be the last (he) hears,” suggesting conviction means nothing to us unless it means everything to the Constantines—which it clearly does. (John Schacht)


The Moog—Sold For Tomorrow (Musick Recordings)

Hungary’s The Moog shouldn’t be confused with yer average pre-Glasnost Eastern Bloc rockers—all leather pants, heeled boots and embroidered vests. This is a skinny-jeaned, dapper garage band who’d be utterly at home strolling Silver Lake’s self-conscious streets (though there are still some heeled boots and vests involved). The first Hungarian band to ink with an American label (Burbank-based MuSick Recordings), The Moog so want to be the Strokes circa 2002: Sold For Tomorrow is built upon an angular, relentless rhythm section; deliberately shabby guitars; and rather disinterested, quietly debauched vocals—much what you’d expect a Central European take on New York “The” bands to sound like, only with more overt doses of Weezer/Kinks-ish tunefulness. The Moog are above-average songsmiths, apparently sincere, and have the perennial plus of a photogenic frontman with great hair—but they’re dabbling dangerously with a sound that’s neither of-the-minute nor yet retro-cool. (Paul Rogers)


Ministry—Cover Up (Megaforce)

When Ministry gets to covering tunes like “Radar Love” and T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong”—what the fug does bang a gong mean, Al Jourgensen asks as the song peters out—it’s somewhat inevitable that the whole shithouse’ll go up in flames (recited from The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” five tracks later). On eleven completely Jourgensenized and Hypo Luxa-nized cover tracks, the Alien J revs the industrial Hemi through classics like “Black Betty,” “Mississippi Queen,” Lay Lady Lay” and “Under My Thumb” for everyone’s lunatic pleasure. But this is so much more than shower-stall karaoke or a set of dread-dude jollies; this is the demon inside the originals getting exorcised from their cults. Though “Supernaut” sounds more like Ministry spin-off 1,000 Homo DJs than 1,000 Homo DJs, most of the material on Cover Up carries more goddamn than what the authoring bands put into it. Thought “Space Truckin’” didn’t have the nads? It does now. Stick around through the eerie pulch of “What a Wonderful World” for a lounge version of one of Ministry’s own classics, “Stigmata,” which is either very funny or rape. (Braxton Leeds) 


The Young Punx—Your Music is Killing Me (Ultra Records)


If being a live electronic musician seems like an outdated concept, don’t tell that to UK electro/house/mash-ups duo The Young Punx, who’ve been doing the damn thing for a little over a year, and remixing and spinning records for years before that. Also, don’t tell them that electronic musicians are supposed to be pretentious and standoffish instead of fun and accessible. These boys lay down tracks that are good enough to make the most hardened electro-cynic loosen up a bit and it’s enough for the most devout electronic hipster to get down to. The album drags a bit in parts, but it comes with a second disc of reworks and remixes that breathe new life into even their most boring moments. (Phil Fuller)






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