Clock Strikes Thirteen
Ever Decreasing Circles
This debut album by Philadelphia’s Clock Strikes Thirteen should have been released years ago. While not as earth-shattering as the early singles, Ever Decreasing Circles reveals a slight shift in style and some great new songs.
“One Cold Day” and “I Blinked My Eyes and You Were Gone” are old singles that should not have been re-recorded for the album. Buy the singles, along with “Six Foot Drop,” for the superior versions.
On the other hand, “Living Easy”, “Night Must Fall” and “The Last Sad Song” are some of the best the band has produced. Ever Decreasing Circles is a good first album, but if recent shows are to be trusted, the band is aching to get out of bed and start rocking in the morning sun.
The Football Albums
This mammoth concept album is one of the rare albums that would appeal to both fans of sparse indie-rock and football. Spread over two CDs, one for the American Conference and one for the National Conference, Diskothi-Q reveal a humor only hinted at in earlier releases.
The Football Albums feels like it was written and recorded in a short amount of time. Many football fans would probably even say the band has no talent. Nevertheless, guitarist-vocalist Peter Hughes writes some of the most sincere lyrics around, even about football teams, and the trio is getting tighter with every release.
The album highlights are “Rams”, “Buccaneers,” “Packers” and “Jets.” If you are a rabid football fan or a fan of the Inland Empire scene that produced Franklin Bruno and The Mountain Goats, Diskothi-Q has a treat for you.
Judybats is somewhat of a cult band. I’ve never taken it upon myself to own an album, but I do remember the great early-’90s alternative-radio (i.e., college-radio) hits like “Being Simple.” Lead vocalist Jeff Heiskell has returned with an all-new lineup and a new album.
The sound of the Judybats is hard to pin down. “You’ve too much” takes cues from “Let It Be”-era Beatles balladry. “Always” has an alt-country backbone calling to mind early IRS bands like dB’s and Let’s Active.
Like so many bands trying to find their niche in a new decade, the Judybats, despite tight musicianship and good songs, is destined to stay a cult band. It could be worse: They could be dead.
(Le Grand Magistery)
6633 is the first domestic album from Momus’ partner in crime, Toog. Toog is a very good-looking French guy who sings synth-based songs about being swallowed by a whale and being clumsy. The songs range from peppy (“Le Jugement”) to sublime (“Mon Ideal”).
Toog has a hell of a sense of humor and could entertain even the most straight-faced music listener. Serge Gainsbourg and Momus have greatly influenced Toog’s unique music.
6633 is one of the more offbeat releases from the continually engaging Le Grand Magistery label out of Michigan.
Complaints from the Beauty Class
Winterbrief recently moved to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C. Perhaps the punk scene was too boy-oriented in that city or maybe they just really wanted late-night soft pretzels from South Philly.
The songs on this debut album are all “Casio-punk” and take a great deal of influence from all kinds of UK groups, from Pulp to Gang of Four to Comet Gain. “M and P St. Beach”, featuring word interplay of both Jan and Julian, is an album highlight.
Winterbrief is sassy. With song titles like “I Want to Be Sexy” and “Art-Loft Rebel”, the attitude meter is definitely working overtime. No doubt, the band’s manifesto comes off magnificently live. Check them out before they vanish to the next city in a trail of smoke.
Third World Cop Soundtrack
Just how much does hip-hop influence dub reggae? What is the historical relationship between the two? Are they continually converging or diverging?
I wasn’t sure of the answer to any of these questions before hearing Third World Cop. After hearing it, I’m even less sure. Gangster imagery and surprisingly harsh beats are the norm on the soundtrack to the highest grossing movie in Jamaican history. The only let-ups are highly entertaining video-game-esque vignettes from legendary producers Sly and Robbie, as well as Luciano’s cover of “Police and Thieves”. Sly and Robbie, by the way, prove themselves remarkably adaptable as always, incorporating drum and bass elements into their three instrumentals with versatility that belies their age.
Beenie Man, the biggest name on the album, weighs in with the familiar sample of “Dungle Boogie”, mercifully stealing “Jungle Boogie” back from Quentin Tarantino. Red Dragon and a few others fill out the lineup.
Dub is obviously the major factor on Third World Cop, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that is all that’s going on here. Hip-hop and reggae have a lot to say to each other. It’s a small world after all.
Due to the untimely death of one of hip-hop’s greatest MCs, Big Pun’s sophomore album Yeeeah Baby was one of the most awaited albums of the year. Pun’s preceding album Capital Punishment established Pun’s unique flow and dizzying lyrics as among the best in the rap game. His new album continues his legacy with help from a team of producers who put together off-the-wall beats to complement Pun’s uncanny style of rapping. Each track brings with it a unique sound, which keeps the album from sounding repetitious and ultimately keeps the listener refreshed at the start of each next song. Production credits go to DJ Shok of Ruff Ryder Productions and Younglord of Young World Industries, to name a few. With appearances from Brooklyn natives M.O.P. on “New York Giants” and various members of Pun’s esteemed Terror Squad the album provides a variety of MCs to accompany Pun. Up-and-coming Terror Squadian Tony Sunshine also adds a smooth R&B sound on such tracks as “Laughing at You” and “100%.” With 16 tracks all together Yeeeah Baby is a compilation of wicked lyrics matched with on-point production. This album will undoubtedly leave Big Pun’s fans wishing he was still around to bless the mic.