Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's in the Bin? - November 10th, 2008

One of the sheer joys of being in an indie record store is browsing the bins. Just starting somewhere, flipping through things, pulling out items that catch your eye, giving a few of them a test spin. So in the fifth of a hypothetical series, I've browsed the "New Arrivals" bins here at Twist & Shout, picked out a few things, and gave them a listen. The nature of used record stores being what it is, I can't promise these items will still be in the bin by the time you get here. But hey, browse the bin anyway. You might find something else of worth.

CD - Delerium - Semantic Spaces

Here's a band I really didn't know much about, other than it seemed to be liked by the same folks who liked Enigma. And there are similarities, but they're certainly their own animal.

The CD got off to a slow start - almost too slow. The keyboard washes and wordless vocals went on long enough that I started to wonder if this was going to be a full-on ambient album. But finally, a beat kicked in, the vocals started, I was on my way. Delerium doesn't really have songs (the way Enigma does) so much as soundscapes - lengthy tunes with elements of 90s dance music (keyboards and strong beats) along with chanting, world music, and whatnot. I don't think I could use it for zoning out, but it might be an ideal soundtrack to a lengthy car trip.

LP - Nash the Slash - Children of the Night

There certainly weren't any shortage of odd ducks from the new wave era, and Nash probably wasn't even closest to the oddest. Like many new wavers, he had a couple gimmicks. He appeared wrapped completely in bandages, like a mummy, along with a white suit and hat. This album includes the Synergy-fronted 70s backlash claim "These are no guitars", but you're not going to miss them. Nash plays electric mandolins and violins with such ferocity at times that you'd just assume it's a guitar. Nash paints some great creepy soundscapes here, starting off with the excellent instrumental "Wolf". Sadly, this is followed by a cover of "Dead Man's Curve". Nash's voice is actually very pleasant, and despite the fact that the song is a "tragedy song", and Nash plays it totally straight, two decades of ironic cover versions have spoiled me. It sounds more like a giddy tune off the Silicon Teens album, and it spoiled the mood set by the opening. That mood is quickly recovered as the record continues, though. Originals like "In a Glass Eye" and "Metropolis" keep the creepy feeling going, and the second cover version ("19th Nervous Breakdown") does a much better job of fitting in, somehow. Another cover version ("Smoke on the Water", retitled "Dopes on the Water" - don't ask) wasn't quite as successful, but by then, I was enjoying the ride too much to really care. My main complaint is the backing bass-and-drum loops, as the "beep boop" started to wear on me by the end of the record. Still, as an off-the-wall early 80s artifact, it's a great listen.

7" - Man or Astroman? - "UFO's and the Men Who Fly Them" EP

One of three MOA 7" EPs that showed up in the new arrival bin recently. I know next to nothing about this band, so I picked this particular one for two reasons. One, having grown up voraciously reading books like "UFOs - Truth or Myth?", I had a soft spot for the title. And secondly, it comes with instructions on how to create your very own Man or Astroman UFO out of the outer sleeve! Gear!

The title ends up being just that - a title. The four songs on the EP - "9 Volt (recharged version)", "The Sound Waves, Reversing", "Italian Movie Theme" and a cover of "High Wire" - don't appear to have much to do either with UFOs or their operators. Mainly, they sound like lo-fi (and proud of it) versions of pre-Beatles instrumentals. At least one track had vocals, but they were buried pretty deep in the mix, rendering them just another instrument. As it ends up, the songs tended to run together and kind of sound the same. But honestly, I think that's the point. It ended up being a groovealicious ride from start to finish.

Caveat - the sleeve insists "Ages 3 and up". Two-year-olds, get your older sister to buy this for you.

- Mondo Gecko

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