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click to enlarge - STS9  - Artifact  - System By blending electronica, jazz, hip-hop - and indie rock into one easy-rolling mellow stew, Sound - Tribe Sector 9, or STS9, might not be breaking the mold - in new millennial sound. But this live act from Santa Cruz - has done something that few neo-jam bands have - accomplished -- produced a consistantly engaging set of - jazzy songs that will appeal to fans of post-rock acts like - Mogwai as well as hip-hop heads. Artifact does - this by laying down a foundation of ambient electronica, - and then layering it with breakbeats and crafty samples, - creating music that's both poignant and refreshingly - relaxed. The album opens with ethereal Sigur Ros-style - vocals on a song called "Better Day," which starts as a - straight-ahead indie-rock tune that morphs into - lighthearted drum-and-bass electronica. This band may - be nowhere near as daring as other livetronica - experimenters like Tortoise or Fila Brazillia, but this - appealing blend of ear sex makes a case for itself by - being consistantly good. -- Dan Wilcock
  • STS9
    Artifact
    System

    By blending electronica, jazz, hip-hop and indie rock into one easy-rolling mellow stew, Sound Tribe Sector 9, or STS9, might not be breaking the mold in new millennial sound. But this live act from Santa Cruz has done something that few neo-jam bands have accomplished -- produced a consistantly engaging set of jazzy songs that will appeal to fans of post-rock acts like Mogwai as well as hip-hop heads. Artifact does this by laying down a foundation of ambient electronica, and then layering it with breakbeats and crafty samples, creating music that's both poignant and refreshingly relaxed. The album opens with ethereal Sigur Ros-style vocals on a song called "Better Day," which starts as a straight-ahead indie-rock tune that morphs into lighthearted drum-and-bass electronica. This band may be nowhere near as daring as other livetronica experimenters like Tortoise or Fila Brazillia, but this appealing blend of ear sex makes a case for itself by being consistantly good. -- Dan Wilcock

click to enlarge The Mars Volta  - Frances the Mute  - Universal The five songs on The Mars Volta's - brilliant and nightmarish new album clock in at just over - 75 minutes of virtuoso prog-rock and salsa-tinged - squalor. Frances the Mute is a tribute to - bandmember Jeremy Ward, who died after the 2003 - release of the band's first album De-loused in the - Comatorium. While De-loused introduced - the band as a ferociously creative blend of prog (think: - Yes, King Krimson) and heavy angular post-punk (think: - At the Drive-In -- the band from which The Mars Volta - sprouted), its overall feel was squelched. For - Frances, any sense of restraint is taken away - and the music is brighter and bolder than ever. Explosive - guitar solos mingle with awesome frenetic drumming, - trumpets and violins kicking into salsa and free jazz and - then into space-cadet droning. The mind-melt lyrics - adequately convey the danger and despair of the album's - theme: the disintegration of a child abandoned to the - streets. -- Dan Wilcock
  • The Mars Volta
    Frances the Mute
    Universal

    The five songs on The Mars Volta's brilliant and nightmarish new album clock in at just over 75 minutes of virtuoso prog-rock and salsa-tinged squalor. Frances the Mute is a tribute to bandmember Jeremy Ward, who died after the 2003 release of the band's first album De-loused in the Comatorium. While De-loused introduced the band as a ferociously creative blend of prog (think: Yes, King Krimson) and heavy angular post-punk (think: At the Drive-In -- the band from which The Mars Volta sprouted), its overall feel was squelched. For Frances, any sense of restraint is taken away and the music is brighter and bolder than ever. Explosive guitar solos mingle with awesome frenetic drumming, trumpets and violins kicking into salsa and free jazz and then into space-cadet droning. The mind-melt lyrics adequately convey the danger and despair of the album's theme: the disintegration of a child abandoned to the streets. -- Dan Wilcock

click to enlarge Regina Spektor -  - Soviet Kitsch  - Sire From the first few bars of "Ode to Divorce" - on Regina Spektor's latest album, Soviet Kitsch, - it's obvious that it's going to be a bumpy ride. Much has - been made of the fact that Spektor was born and raised a - Russian Jew in Moscow until age 9. Even more has been - made that her family picked up and moved to the Bronx, - where she quickly swallowed up Western culture. But it's - the final product that deserves attention: Spektor's - ablility to glean from both cultures, while making music - that is entirely her own. Still, comparisons can be found. - A piano-playing chanteuse, the natural references will be - to Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, but really she imbibes - heavily from the theatrical well that Rufus Wainwright - drinks from. Which isn't to say that it's all flair -- songs - like "Somedays" and "Flowers" are diary-reading bare, - while others are crazy and punkster. Soviet Kitsch isn't about immediate satisfaction, but Spektor's anti- - folk statement is one worth listening to. -- Kara - Luger
  • Regina Spektor

    Soviet Kitsch
    Sire

    From the first few bars of "Ode to Divorce" on Regina Spektor's latest album, Soviet Kitsch, it's obvious that it's going to be a bumpy ride. Much has been made of the fact that Spektor was born and raised a Russian Jew in Moscow until age 9. Even more has been made that her family picked up and moved to the Bronx, where she quickly swallowed up Western culture. But it's the final product that deserves attention: Spektor's ablility to glean from both cultures, while making music that is entirely her own. Still, comparisons can be found. A piano-playing chanteuse, the natural references will be to Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, but really she imbibes heavily from the theatrical well that Rufus Wainwright drinks from. Which isn't to say that it's all flair -- songs like "Somedays" and "Flowers" are diary-reading bare, while others are crazy and punkster. Soviet Kitsch isn't about immediate satisfaction, but Spektor's anti- folk statement is one worth listening to. -- Kara Luger

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