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FFS, Dawes, Tyondai Braxton 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge FFS
  • FFS

FFS

FFS

Domino Recording

File next to: Django Django, Citizen, Big Data

In the annals of highly improbable summer collaboration albums, a mashup between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks has to claim high rank. Both bands have a certain flair for Gilbert & Sullivan mania, but Franz Ferdinand is a Scottish power-pop creation of recent vintage, while brothers Ron and Russell Mael formed Sparks in L.A. in the early '70s. Yet somehow this 16-track, self-deprecating bit of madness works, probably because vocalist Russ Mael plays overall conductor. One would expect smart and smart-ass tracks like "Johnny Delusional" and "Man Without a Tan," but it takes a certain droll frame of mind to include a song titled "Collaborations Don't Work." Actually this pasted-together band rocks out with precision and hilarity, and if some wonder if any song by FFS will be remembered in 10 years, remind them that very few people could name a song by Blind Faith. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge DAWES
  • Dawes

Dawes

All Your Favorite Bands

Hub Records

File next to: Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug

The common description of Dawes as a late-'70s Jackson Browne resurrected in the 2010s is enough to scare away some potential fans. That's unfortunate, because when Dawes fires on all cylinders ("Time Spent in Los Angeles"), no one can beat the band for faux-Eagles sounds. Vocalist and lyricist Taylor Goldsmith strives to synchronize all elements on this fourth album, All Your Favorite Bands. Not only does it offer the band's richest riffs, but its well-placed silences, as well as solitary bells and guitars, make tracks like "Things Happen" sparkle. Dawes is least effective when adding too much of a Bernie Leadon or David Lindley sound, and most memorable when sticking to its own voice. Some find the singer's rich tenor a bit too sincere and romantic, but Goldsmith jams with the likes of Deer Tick, an indication that Dawes aren't entirely over-serious. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge TYONDAI BRAXTON
  • Tyondai Braxton

Tyondai Braxton

HIVE1

Nonesuch

File next to: David Byrne & Brian Eno, TR-i

Son of legendary jazz improv master Anthony Braxton, Tyondai Braxton (formerly of Battles) has set out to make a name of his own. His experimental HIVE work was initially commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process initiative. With musicians manipulating content via laptop computers, amplified acoustic percussion, and other instruments, HIVE was a multimedia feast. HIVE1 features eight pieces conceived for the original installation. The man-meets-machine approach hybridizes bass-bombing synth lines and percussion into a sweeping, majestic, often heady mix. There's a three-dimensional feel; even without headphones, the listener is transported to the center of Braxton's sonic activities. The lines between synthetic and organic are constantly blurred, and — even stripped of its visual components — HIVE1 is never less than interesting. — Bill Kopp

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