This Week’s CD Reviews: Arab Strap, Garageland, Los Amigos Invisibles, The Standard, Mark Tabberner, ECW: Anarchy Rocks Arab Strap The Red Thread (Matador) Grade: A Aidan Moffat deserves a bitter-lyric-of-the-year trophy for penning the following:

This Week’s CD Reviews:
Arab Strap, Garageland, Los Amigos Invisibles, The Standard, Mark Tabberner, ECW: Anarchy Rocks

Arab Strap
The Red Thread
Grade: A

Aidan Moffat deserves a bitter-lyric-of-the-year trophy for penning the following: “She hardly said a word tonight / I threw a book and grabbed my keys / and on the way here I swore to myself / I’d fuck whoever I please.”

Like the recently defunct Afghan Whigs, Scotland’s Arab Strap explore the dark side of love, relationships, sex, and the human psyche. Unlike the Whigs, their music takes a very unconventional approach, favoring highly textured, arty soundscapes to a more structured rock sound. Drum loops and eerie samples set the background to soft guitar licks, somber bass lines, and a variety of other instrumentation, with Moffat’s Trainspotting-thick brogue working its way through lyrics so damn human that it’s unsettling. Songs range from intense (“Last Orders”) to achingly hollow (“The Devil Tips”) for an end result that is simultaneously gut wrenching and beautiful.

-John Vettese

Arab Strap will play The Khyber (56 S. 2nd St.) on Tuesday, April 10, at 9 p.m. Call 215-238-5888 for info.

Do What You Want
Grade: A-

If influences were sheep, New Zealand’s Garageland would have a flock even Babe couldn’t handle. But, rather than coming off as derivative, Garageland’s sophomore effort, Do What You Want, is an often refreshing ride through the power pop countryside.

Ray Manzarek-like keyboard licks betray their Sixties jones early on during the album opener, “Love Song,” only to be shattered by a chunky slab of post-rock guitar. Slap some 5-part harmonies on the jangle of “Good Morning” and you’ve got pre-acid Beach Boys. From there, Garageland moves on to the Seventies, dabbling in Cheap Trick-style radio rock, exemplified on “Kiss it All Goodbye.” “You Will Never Cry Again” has the wistful ring of Monster-era R.E.M., whereas “Get Even” revels in the exuberance of Nineties power-pop mainstays like the Grays and Superdrag. There’s even a resemblance to Aussie neighbors Ash on the blistering neo-grunge of “Jean.”

The only misstep comes on the album’s closing tracks, “Middle of the Evening” and “End of the Night” where melancholic mood pop takes the place of rock escapism. But, on the whole, Garageland is able to hold its mod rock tapestry together nicely, with strong songwriting and Jeremy Eade’s competent vocals.

-Christopher Fritz

Los Amigos Invisibles
Arepa 3000
(Luaka Bop)
Grade A+

Los Amigos Invisibles take disco, modern dance music and traditional Latin rhythms then infuses them into a new and interesting album, Arepa 3000.

Arepa almost sounds like a Spanish-speaking equivalent of a Jamiroqui album… although somehow much more interesting. Perhaps it’s the simple fact that Los Amigos are a Latin group that doesn’t sound like the same old Ricky Martin/Christina Aguilara pop-slop.

It does, however, get a little boring after a while. Disco died for a reason (IT SUCKED!), but it seems that it’s alive and well in wherever the hell Los Amigos Invisibles come from. Yet compared to most of the dance music that comes out these days, Arepa 3000 is a masterpiece.

-Jeremy Smith

The Standard
Grade: A+

There is one good thing about Geddy Lee’s (Rush) singing voice: he is the only person who has it. You have to at least give the guy points for originality.

Unfortunately, The Standard’s vocalist, Tim Putman, has different ideas. Apparently, he feels there aren’t enough people ripping off 70s prog-rock bands. However, there’s only one good thing about prog-rock: it doesn’t exist anymore.

You have to feel bad for the other members of the band; they’re not too bad. If they were an instrumental group, or even if they had a different singer, they could probably have a cool indie-garage-band sort of feel to them.

But Putman’s vocals and lyrics drive you to the point of wanting to attack him. Why, then, does The Standard get an A+? Really groovy packaging.

-Jeremy Smith

Mark Tabberner
Trance Atlantic Communication V. 01
(City of Angles)
Grade: A+

Trance Atlantic Communication V. 01 is trance techno with an original sound, resulting from continuous variations in beat speed and sound. A mix by the talented Mark Tabberner, this CD features well-selected samples from numerous red-letter DJs. Each track is increasingly enjoyable and interesting.

“Pistolwhip,” featuring Joshua Ryan, is an unstoppable track; it moves well through varied progressions at lightning speed.

Another track equipped with the sound of Ryan is “Thunderclap,” containing a speed nearly equivalent to that of “Pistolwhip,” but includes enjoyable slows in tempo that are reminiscent of a DJ Micro trance anthem.

If you are moved by original progressive trance, you will play the last track, “Opium of the Masses (Distant Voices Mix),” featuring The Light, over and over again.

This CD possesses a sound powerful enough to create an impulse in your cerebral cortex that will make you body move beyond your control. Buy it. Go with it. Dance!

-Caitlin Ryan

ECW: Anarchy Rocks
Grade: G for Greed

It’s hard to understand the sense of Extreme Championship Wrestling releasing this CD. With no events scheduled and their wrestlers appearing on WWF and WCW television, ECW is dead. The only thing left is for the tombstone to be set in place over the organization’s grave. With that in mind it takes a pretty big set of balls to try and turn a profit on something that’s dead.

The second and last in ECW’s line of pro-wrestling entrance tunes, Anarchy Rocks, is a 13-track compilation featuring hits from Linkin Park (“One Step Closer”), Rob Zombie (“Superbeast”), Powerman 5000 (“Neckbone”), Disturbed (“Welcome Burden”) and Cold (“Just Got Wicked”). The rest of the album contains guest wrestler vocals, covers from unknown artists and filler tracks.

Aside from the established hits and cool photography lining the booklet [see Francine in a revealing Concrete Records tee shirt], the album is a bigger let down than finding out pro-wrestling is fake. If you’ve already purchased Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Disturbed’s Sickness, then save your cash for the next WWF pay-per-view.

-Chris Powell

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