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Recent Faves from the WFMU Record Library
July 2002

Reviewed by Music/Program Director Brian Turner

FROG EYES / The Bloody Hand (Global Symphonic)
One recent review mentioned Frog Eyes' singer/songwriter Carey Mercer as having qualities of both Ian Curtis and Bette Midler, so that seems like a pretty great introductory sentence to THIS review. I wouldn't wholeheartedly agree, but Victoria, BC's Frog Eyes (a band born from the ashes of Blue Pine, who I think are not wholly defunct as of this writing) introduces a very unique slant on what is bubbling around the indie rock world these days. The music is majestic, sonic (I hear a lot of echoes of Eno's Warm Jets) with a very twisted sense of cabaret/carnival atmosphere. Mercer's sometimes-slobbery vocal attack reminds me more of Birthday Party-era Nick Cave than anything aforementioned, but there's a very delicate sensibility to the approach to songs that hits a most pleasing nail on the head despite the swirling density of all the music.

CONTROL MACHETE / Solo Para Fanaticos (Universal Mexico)
This Monterrey, Mexico hip-hop outfit toiled for the last few years in their native land pretty much ignored stateside despite their great sound: gritty beats, growled vocals in Espanol fit in perfectly as soundtrack accompaniment to last year's tres-violent Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu film Amores Perros. But American ears finally seem to have now caught a huge whiff of the south-of-the-border action thanks to the massive exposure of their hit "Si Senor" on recent Levis TV ads (you've seen it, featuring the wobbly legged Latino strutting around the streets), though you'll still have to look for an import version of this new full-length disc. It's well worth it, Control Machete whip out some hard and heavy beats & politics that should appeal to Cypress Hill & Rage Against the Machine kids, but slice and dice some wild experimentation and traditional Mexican flourishes that should have the WIRE crowd equally intrigued. It's only a matter of time before someone pushes them to do an album in English, but with CM's fierce nationalistic pride and badass demeanor I wouldn't count on them taking the offer.

WORLD STANDARD / Jump For Joy (Daisyworld)
World Standard is a project of Japanese musician Soichiro Suzuki with help from Yellow Magic Orchestra brainchild and famed producer Haruomi Hosono, and this is another disc in a series that has spanned a few years (one of which was out on Asphodel in the US back in 1997, but this third one is an import.) Basically, World Standard explored the world of music, taking cues from everything from Morricone, Rota, electronic/German/ambient music, and in particular here, American roots (this disc is even dedicated to John Fahey, a sound explorer in his own right.) Glacial drones move in and out of musical saw and banjos; fiddles perch disembodied over cool easy listening soundscapes, ghostly pedal steels abound, and there's even a take on Ayler's "Ghosts". It would be great if someone stateside would get on a major Hasono reissue campaign, it's so frustrating seeing all those $30-40 discs in the import bins, and there's so much great stuff (Cochin Moon was a big fave here at FMU when we landed a copy.)

WIRE / Read and Burn (Pink Flag)
What can be said, Wire are one of the all-time greatest bands on the planet. Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, 154, total cornerstones of modern music, influences on everyone from REM to Prolapse to Sonic Youth to the Minutemen. The music press hyperbole has repeatedly trumpeted comeback after comeback since 1985 or so, and rightfully so, as they repeatedly explored new terrain while maintaining a distinct identity all these years (see the Fall as well). "Confounding expectations" is an oft-used term, overused of course, but appropriate for Wire (who toured last year in a very minimal and high-energy set-up, doing lots of oldies, short and sweet sets). So, when their punkiest disc in a longtime slips quietly onto the band's website with not much hoopla, it makes perfect sense. It's not the classic some may want you to believe, but it is certainly a memo to the Touch & Go bands and young-un that the teachers still reside.

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