Music Capsules

When Pigs Fly
Camobear Records

As the self-proclaimed Simon and Garfunkel of hip hop, the Chicharones are indeed a perfect marriage of style. Successful musicians independent of each other, Josh Martinez and Sleep offer acute songwriting over infectious melody, all delivered with effortless panache. “Little By Little” observes, “Guys Like Me” humbles and “Freeze Up” straight knocks. Clever, complex and stirring, the duo found a stride so fluid even they know it. This album is a moment-hard to recall what the landscape looked like before, and difficult to complete a record collection without it.—Emily Youssef

Bloodshot Records

Another bunch of leather pants-and-aviator-sunglasses-wearing bunch of sweethearts who, if given the chance to live in 1981 and not just dress like it's 1981, would come screaming back to the future to put on some Tommy Hilfiger and watch "Survivor" or "American Idol."

Most of you are probably kicking yourselves for buying Rough Trade’s release of “Baby” in January-and for good reason. Not only did you pay import prices, but you’re missing half an album! To get your attention, Bloodshot tagged on the 2004 release “Seven Easy Pieces” and threw in a video track of “Cha Cha Twist.” Unfortunately, the obscure R&B makeovers they’re known for aren’t as Cobra-fied as previous albums. Still, Rachel Nagy’s voice is as raw as ever, and the hip-shaking induced will be just as swanky.—Angela Larch

If You don't Already Have a Look
In the Red

Fifty-two non-LP tracks + two CDs (divided between originals and covers) = 138 minutes of Motor City madness. Funny liner notes, too, including plenty of pics. When drummer Ben writes, “My least favorite Dirtbombs song ever,” about “My Last Christmas,” it’s hard not to agree. (Not bad, just not one of their best.) As for the rest, there’s something for pretty much everyone: the Sonics-styled “Theme From The Dirtbombs,” hyper-speed tribal-funk “Maybe Your Baby” (Stevie Wonder) and instant grunge-camp classic “I’m Saving Myself for Nichelle Nichols (No. 3).”.—KCF

The Gifted Program
Made in Mexico

The Divorce

I’m torn. I like where the Divorce is going, I really do. I think musically and lyrically “The Gifted Program” is leaps and bounds better than “There Will Be Blood Tonight.” But what I just can’t get past is how the Seattle natives suddenly developed an all-so-tragic British sounding accent to go along with their all-so-trendy new-wave/punk/dance sound. I can’t get Franz Ferdinand out of my head, but at least Franz Ferdinand is actually from the UK. What’s the Divorce’s excuse.—Josh Davis

The Divorce play September 9 at Seattle’s the Crocodile CafÈ and September 10 at the Pacific Science Center’s Laser Dome.

Loose in the Air
Matador Records

The Double

Matador’s recent signing restores my faith that they still occasionally listen to new bands. Having fallen into the rut of putting out (albeit great) albums from bands they signed years ago, my ears perked up when the Double let loose its abstract keyboard pop into the air. Howling keyboards and nervous percussion swordfight with warm lyrics and intricate guitar lines; just when you think one will deliver the death knell, they harmoniously figure out a way to coexist.—Nathan Walker

Too Pure/Beggars Group

KEXP hypes the uninterrupted nature by which "Axes" was recorded and engineered by Steve Albini.  Done in one take or not, remove "Two for Joy" away from this album, and it sounds like little more than an attempt to sound like a cooler, artsier Stereolab.  Why try?  Another combo consisting of organ, jangly guitars, and french-sounding female vocals is cheap enough to come by without being showcased in a run-on sentence.  This album is at times unbearable.—John Lankford

Here's Your Ghost
Saved by Radio

There’s nothing particularly clever or artfully jaded about Falconhawk’s female-fronted power-pop, but the trio know how to capitalize on earnestness. Anchored by twinkling piano and shimmering synth, the rocking done on “Here’s Your Ghost” is solid and resilient, and with Kara Keith’s laconic vocals it recalls Sarge sans punk or Metric sans annoying idiosyncrasies. Keith’s repeated “Wait!” in “Calm Down” doesn’t quite live up to the power of the same injunction in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps,” but it’s not as far off as you might think.—Daniel Levin Becker

God's Money
The Social Registry

Gang Gang Dance

Wafting out of your speakers like a field recording from a country whose only natives are robots and aliens, “God’s Money” is oddly beautiful while remaining just a shimmer short of unsettling. If Orpheus’ Argonauts had listened to the Sirens, this would be the last few seconds before the boat gutted itself on the rocks.—Tyson Lynn

Red Hash
Drag City

A long forgotten soft-psych album that never got its deserved attention is reissued by Drag City. Swirling folk tunes like “I Pick Notes From The Sky” reflect images of a sonically-adorned Nick Drake while the dirtier ramblers (“Down On The Farm”) give you the sense Tom Waits wasn’t entirely original in his styling. A marvelous record that harkens back to a day when there were infinite unexplored musical roads.—NW

Presents Guitar Duets
Record Label

Joan of Arc

This album is exactly what its title suggests, but with a fantastic concept sure to appeal to die-hard fans of this band. With all the names of the rotating cast of JoA in a hat, each person pulled one and was paired up to record a guitar instrumental. The songs range from ambient and melodic to percussive and experimental. On a couple, the guitars were even re-strung with bass strings and overlapped, resulting in an eastern-influenced sound. Overall, it’s great for a solo listen while reading or replanting your hibiscus.—Jeremy Wayne

May 23rd 2007

A trio of gentlemen from Oregon, Illinois and Italy came together to produce this well-meaning, but ultimately uninteresting disc of ambient soundscapes, disinterested beats and plinking guitar. Each song on here has potential, but either stops right when things are getting good or meanders to the point of abstraction.—Robert Ham


After ten years languishing in the underground, a slew of self-promoted releases and performances across the country, Kanser is as accessible as hip hop gets. They’ve held it down long enough to be more valued than fashionable, and their newest album doesn’t stray. With tight horns and a feel-good vibe, “Amor Arrows” is designed for the stage while “Travlin” explores how to most effectively deliver those flows on the road: “Twenty kids coming/At least six are chicks/three of us dogg/do the arithmetic.” As long as they stay honest and hardworking, Kanser is worth a listen.—EY

Songs of Misfortune
Appleseed Records

Finally, an album that will properly gauge if there is a market for a capella Victorian folk songs. I’m guessing there isn’t, but I’ve been wrong before-like the time I accused the Pope of stealing my wallet.—Brian Graham

Para Que Las Paredes No Se Aburran
Lengua Marron

Maneja Beto

This Latin pop group from Austin, Texas has a crisp sound that unfortunately and unnecessarily leans a little too heavily on the influence of latter-day Los Lobos. Although there are some gorgeous ballads on here, they are leavened with tracks that don’t take themselves too seriously.—RH

Twin Cinema
Matador Records

I’ve always thought the New Pornographers have a larger-than-life sound. “Twin Cinema” is definitely the largest so far. This band of nine, including five vocalists, has presented to the world its soundtrack. The diversity and grandness of song compilation follow rock opera cues-a modern day "Jesus Christ Superstar." Songs to watch for: “Use It”-an amalgam of Iron Maiden, Kiss and Zeppelin drum beats, “These Are the Fables”-lustful Neko Case sings this one, and “Falling Through Your Clothes”-deemed too weird for “Electric Version.”.—AL

The New Pornographers play Seattle’s Showbox September 24 and in Portland on September 25.

K Records

Old time relijun

Skittering, nervous music at times is unlistenable and, believe me, “2012” is as nervous as a claustrophobic liberal locked in a closet with Dick Cheney. Rhythm is the great equalizer though, and the eccentric shuffle and throb on this record gets your foot tapping and your head nodding. Arrington De Dionyso’s madness, ranting and spitting spills out of your speakers and instead of cowering in fear, you jump to the funk.—Lola Ringenbaum

Old Time Relijun plays Seattle's Sunset Tavern on September 3.

The Fire in our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Hydra Head Records

Walking around the city, I put the new Pelican CD on pause, suddenly realizing that I had passed my destination by a block. Short-term memory aside, it’s easy to find yourself lost in the ebb and flow of this headphone hero. Similar in sound to ISIS, this Chicago-based band interweaves the heavy power drone with melodic, sometimes acoustic intermissions. Stand out tracks like “March into the Sea” and “Red Ran Amber,” both at 11 minutes plus, create musical landscapes so organic you’ll find yourself asking the question, “How’d I get here.—cB

The Dreams our Stuff is Made Of
PRS Records

The Purrs debut with a nice, strong dose of psych-pop. Long, languid numbers spiral and unfurl into the air like smoke. “The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of” follows last year’s “No Particular Bar, No Particular Town” EP, which elicited comparisons to Echo and the Bunnymen, Galaxie 500 and the Verve. On their full-length, they sound more like Love fronted by Steve Wynn from the Dream Syndicate. Promising stuff indeed, although Stima’s uneven vocals do sometimes threaten to break the mood the band is so adept at setting.—KCF

The Purrs play in Portland at Musicfest NW September 9-11 and in Seattle at the Mars Bar on the 23rd.

First There Was the Emptiness
Secretly Canadian

Listening to this album left me feeling something akin to a long game of Mumbly Peg quickly followed by a long, nasty French kiss-shuddering and strangely stimulated. This reissue of their debut full length catapults the listener into a pastiche of spastic punk rock, noisecore jams and trip inducing samples. Towards the end, songs like “The Red Shift” become dreamy and more sample-based, rounding out the chaos and making for a needed comedown. Recorded back when Racebannon had two singers, “First There Was the Emptiness” is a good introduction to these Indiana noise ruffians.—cB


Voyager One makes no effort to hide their interest in interstellar space when, in fact, the widely ethereal echoes of their music sends me deep into inner space. Repetition of bass, drums and electro-beats form the framework for the guitar and synthesizer melodies to bounce between. From there they build pop hooks with effects pedals and studio wizardry to drive the eight songs steadily further into the infinite expanse. The heavily disguised voice of Peter Marchese emerges from the celestial swirl once in a while to croon mysteries to your subconscious. Don’t listen for the message, just listen for the experience.—Shawn Telford

Giving Up the Ghost
Secretly Canadian

Overall, the latest full-length from the cross-continental duo of Dan Matz and Jason McNeely is a bit like traveling into the Doors’ “The End” and never reemerging. It’s a lonely electro-folk foray into uncomfortable sorrow without the excitement of their previous “We Fight Till Death,” which made epic journeys from layers of simple repetition sewn with slight hooks to layers of melodic evolution. Windsor didn’t advance from these lessons. Rather, this follow-up wallows in muddy emotional mire where it stays distant and isolated, unable to reach out or bring in.—Shawn Telford

Skeleton Jar
Epitaph Records

ADipping liberally into the Death Cab playbook, Youth Group brings forth a collection of songs soft and warm, wanting desperately to be loved. The only problem is, unlike the band they seem to admire so, Youth Group has successfully crafted an entire album without a memorable moment on it. Mediocre without being bad, the band has created a blueprint from which something worthwhile could be built, but it seems that their hearts aren’t into it.—BG

Worst CD of the Month

That These Things Could Be Ours
Yep Roc

Another singer-songwriter whom I want to take aside and tell, “I’ll give you 50 bucks if you will promise not to listen to any Neil Young, Wilco or Bob Dylan for a month and then try writing some new songs.”