Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: My Bloody Valentine; Hatchet, and Niagara

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My Bloody Valentine
mbv
(MBV)

Rumored for decades, My Bloody Valentine’s follow-up to their classic Loveless has become nearly as mythical as The Beach Boys’ Smile. Twenty-two years later, it’s finally been completede_SEmDself-released by the band and sounding very much like an album out of time. The nine-song mbv plays like a series of EPs. The first third works variations on the blissfully woozy guitar textures of Loveless, offering gorgeous tunes, like “Only Tomorrow,” which feel somewhat dated. The next three songs are surprisingly stripped down, showcasing pop melodies on “New You” and Stereolab-like drones on “Is This And Yes.” The last section ventures into the unknown, combining phasing rhythms, flanging guitars, and shimmering melodies on songs like the visionary “Wonder 2.” Remarkably, the album never sounds overworked. Instead of trying to create another epoch-shifting statement, mastermind Kevin Shields has crafted a work of offhand beauty that takes many listens to properly unravel.—Jeff Jackson

*

Hatchet
Dawn of The End
(The End)

Offering a respectful speed-metal contribution, Hatchet’s Dawn of The End delivers crunchy guitar chuggings of tonal perfection, wheedly-wheedly leads that are tastefully conceived and impeccably executed, and a steady propulsion of rock energy that makes you want to guzzle a Red Bull and hit the gym. The drums are almost impossibly rapid, with double-bass gallops worthy of genre legends like Slayer or Megadeth, and the subject matter of the songs’ lyrics is suitably dedicated to requisite themes of death, disease, apocalypse and somewhat poetic elegies of despair or evil intent. The vocals on the record are competent for the style, though not terribly melodic and hence not so interesting beyond a song or two, unless perhaps you’re someone who breakfasts on human bones while enjoying a morning newscast in orcish and sipping a mugful of snake bile. —Tom Sturm

*

Niagara
Otto
(Monotreme)

Niagara is an Italian duo consisting of two singer/producers, Davide Tomat and Gabriele Ottino. Niagara’s music is largely electronic, but it’s also supremely strange, veering from noisemaking and hypnotic soundscapes to fluffy pop with a heavily ’80s vibe. “Arcade freakout pop,” perhaps. Somehow, this succeeds wildly as a document of pop as it might be in a more sophisticated world. The vocals are airy and repetitious, often serving as sound elements more than central melodies. The soundscapes are richly layered, and even when the sounds pile up into an overload, they create an air of calm and playfulness all at once. Their world may verge on an alien future, but it’s still a fun place to visit. —James Heflin

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