Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Junior Boys, When Saints Go Machine, and Mickey Newbury

Comments (1)
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Junior Boys
It's All True
(Domino)

The first two Junior Boys albums were so groundbreaking in their mix of chopped-up beats and hushed, soulful vocals that it's a disappointment that their innovations have settled into something of a recipe. What saves the duo is the high quality of their songwriting and the seductive emotional delivery of Jeremy Greenspan's voice. Their fourth CD, It's All True, slides between itchy uptempo numbers and introspective meditations. The increasingly slick production evokes the sleek synth-pop of the 1980s, though ultimately the Junior Boys seem to be working variations on their own back catalogue more than the past. The album ends with a surprising climax, the nine-minute "Banana Ripple," a sprawling, ecstatically uptempo, free-associative and shape-shifting composition that's a triumph, exploding the band's formula and hopefully pointing the way forward for their future. —Jeff Jackson

*

When Saints Go Machine
Konkylie
(!K7)

An odd album that sounds as if it was made circa 1980, Konkylie is a bouncy, rhythmic miasma of synth-powered beats and tones, slathered over with wet, creamy sustained keyboard parts and melodic vocals. More mellow than today's club electronica, it generally chills at around 80 bpm or so, and the melodies are interesting brush strokes of voice and analog synthesizer. There's a feeling of tribal-meets-Celtic here, something blending Peter Gabriel's aboriginal howls with King Crimson's repetitive loops of techno-graffiti, but also laced integrally with more mainstream generic MTV dance-pop (though neither of the aforementioned would ever write a song with the refrain "the first time Kelly kissed a boy"). The band appears to be out of Denmark, but includes Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis, which, frankly, explains a lot—in some ways it's sublime, in others, inane. —Tom Sturm

*

Mickey Newbury
An American Trilogy
(Drag City)

He's too weird for Nashville and too traditional for progressive music fans of the 1970s; time is finally catching up to Mickey Newbury. His ambitious and affecting trio of country albums have slowly become cult classics, influencing the likes of Will Oldham and Nick Cave. Renowned indie-rock label Drag City has now collected Looks Like Rain (1969), 'Frisco Mabel Joy (1971), Heaven Help the Child (1973), and a disc of demos as a box set. Newbury was a hit songwriter, but his own work was defiantly uncommercial, stitching together suites of tunes, emphasizing mood and texture, and alternating between lush production and spare pathos. His impeccably crafted music drew from folk, blues and jazz. While his masterpiece is the potently melancholy Looks Like Rain, the focused sprawl of the trilogy is greater than its parts. Beautifully remastered and packaged with an illuminating book of essays, this entire set is a revelation. —Jeff Jackson

Comments (1)
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Um, I don't believe Mark Hollis actually is part of Konkylie's "When Saints Go Machine." Instead, one of the press releases promoting the album describes the singer's voice as "a mix of Antony Heggarty’s tremulous falsetto and Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis".

Gotta be careful what you say, Tom. Word of Hollis appearing on a new album could start a digital stampede.

Posted by deanovt on 7.26.11 at 14:12
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