The Ladybug Transistor – Clutching Stems
Label: Merge (2011)
Genres: Indie Pop
Sounds Like: The Apples in Stereo, The Olivia Tremor Contol
Review by TG Keas, KXUA Music Director
The Elephant Six Collective is, in my mind, the paragon example of indie rock. Everything is played in spades — well-crafted hooks, tight musicianship, and band names chosen from horrid bouts of thesaurus abuse. While many of the original projects have either drifted away or been thrown to the wolves of many a side project or hiatus, a few still chug along. The Ladybug Transistor is one such survivor. Not quite as given to the near free-association songwriting that stereotyped other Elephant Six bands, the newest album can be a lot more approachable to the non-aficionado. Aside from this, Clutching Stems is your basic better-than-average indie record. The guitars chime on time, the lyrics reverberate with easy emotion to be understandable, and the soundscapes are lush. While they were never really at the same tier as Olivia Tremor Control or Neutral Milk Hotel, the fine folks in Transistor are capable artists that allow me to keep my positive prejudices about the Collective.
Shipp, Parker, Beans, and HPrizm – Knives From Heaven
Label: Thirsty Ear (2011)
Genre: Trip-Hop, Jazz-Hop
Sounds Like: Antipop Consortium
Review by Harrison Grimwood
Matthew Shipp, William Parker and Anti-Pop Consortium’s Beans & High Priest (Hprizm) collaborate again on another album, Knives From Heaven, to bring us a an unmitigated glimpse into the imaginations of musical madmen. “Knives From Heaven” achieves incredible stylistic integration through the unprecedented assimilation of spontaneous jazz embellishments into the format of headnodding hip-hop cuts. Priest calls the record “a true symbiosis of jazz and hip-hop,” imbued with live playing in a way that uniquely enables the tracks to “breathe.”
Orchestre-Poly Rythmo/ ROB – Analog Africa: Limited Dance Edition
Label: Analog Africa (2011)
Genres: Afrobeat, Funk
Sound Like: Fela Kuti
Review by Stephanie Sullivan
Two choice releases are simultaneously showcased on “Analog Africa – Limited Dance Edition.” The first four tracks are classic Afrobeat from Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. They come from a rare LP from 1973 appropriately titled “The 1st Album” and are at the foundation of current Afrobeat. Prepare to be inundated with funk so old it’s fresh when you hit tracks 5-10 from Rob. Robs’s LP titled “Funky Rob Way” was recorded in 1977. At a minimum it will keep your head nodding till the last beat!
Autopsy – Macabre Eternal
Label: Peaceville (2011)
Genre: Death Metal, Grindcore
Sounds Like: Abcess, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, (early) Slayer
Review by Joel Bunch
Autopsy is a West Coast death band who came up in the Eighties. Widely recognized as being one of the first bands to do grind, not to mention gore-grind, this is the band’s 8th full-length album. This is an old-school death sound. Do not expect something ultra tight or clean sounding. Autopsy play raw, loose and unhinged. Think early Slayer with different vocals. Most of the tracks are mid or slow tempo songs aimed at maximum head-banging and air-guitar. If you enjoy this album, definitely check out some of the genre’s earlier releases (nothing after ’93).