Impeach My Bush
This third LP is a big step forward for Canadian counter-culturist Merrill Nisker, aka “Peaches”. After six years of non-stop local bar and club touring, Peaches parallels this fresh musical twist with a headlining tour, her first stab at XL Records, and a record collaboration with Mickey Petralia (producer of Ladytron’s “Witching Hour”). Having legendary rocker Joan Jett play lead on the track “You Love It” also compliments Peaches’ reputation as a proud feminist.
The most obvious change these variations produce is the overall sound. It’s not as if Impeach My Bush is any less groovy. This is a clear Peaches release, as evidenced by the initial glittering keytar of J.D. Samson (Le Tigre) in “Tent in Your Pants,” and brought full-circle by Peaches’ own intricate beatbox patterns on “Stick It To The Pimp,” an anti-chauvinism anthem with lyrics protesting male objectification of women. Yet, even though her interest in feminism and sex have not changed, Peaches still tackles a plethora of new topics: erections (“Tent In Your Pants”), subconscious fantasies (“Two Guys (For Every Girl)”) and DYI geniuses (“Give ‘Er”). Mirroring the diversity of her songs, Peaches is highly accessible to both electro-techno nerds for her pulsating jams and to those disillusioned of politics for her anti-Bush escapades. Sure, she is a little unconventional, but … we love it.
So This is Goodbye
Sinatra’s When No One Cares is an album as stark as its famous cover – a lonely barstool drunk in a crowded room. The Junior Boys take Sinatra up north. Instead of predictably turning the mood of Sinatra’s album around, they push it farther, leaving it in the snow and ice of a deserted Canadian street. So This is Goodbye imagines a moment after Last Exit (their debut album), where one has turned to face the music, only to see the need to change. The Junior Boys’ cover of the title track of Sinatra’s “When No One Cares” says it all for the album, with its lyrics and images showing up throughout the production.
Musically, So This is Goodbye is a more moody and dense production than Last Exit, featuring more intricate melodies at times and more subdued reflections at others. “When No One Cares” is almost entirely vocal and doesn’t even have a drumbeat, whereas “In The Morning” is among the most unique songs of the year, featuring gorgeous melodies, Michael Jackson vocal techniques and variations on Lil’ Jon synths. It’s the type of music that speaks to the future and the past, a comment on where we are headed as much as where we were. All together, the album exacts the feeling of progress in bittersweetness.
Oh no! Oh my!
Oh no! Oh my!
Exclamatory phrases as band names =totally posh. “The” bands? Forget it; if you don’t have to shout their name, it’s not worth listening to. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! started the phenomena and now the “!” cannot be contained. Oh No! Oh My! is the next to raise to internet stardom with the ferocity of a YouTube lip syncing video. Totally self-promoted, the Austin based band is label-less and has been able to sell thousands of records regardless.
“Skip the Foreplay” opens the album with a twee meets psychedelic feel. Sensitive as Belle and Sebastian, while vocal layering conjures Beatlesque thoughts, it’s a fitting first track for a band that wears its influences like an Easter bonnet. Though its obvious the trio really likes The Robot Ate Me and Modest Mouse (see “Reeks and Seeks”) or The Magnetic Fields (see every song), it in no way detracts from the quality of the record.
Though completely recorded and edited in a bedroom, this is the best produced album of 2006. Lush instrumentation which includes flutes, wurlitzers, and bells wrap around the speakers like a happy python. All sides of your ear buds reveal new nuances. Even stray hand claps and guitar picking sound full and create an atmosphere much bigger than seemingly possible.
Sure Oh No! Oh My! could be called a caricature of the indie pop scene, with it’s crazy name, its crazy instruments (casios and the obligatory banjo), and crazy catchy hooks, but that doesn’t do them justice. ONOM has written songs that will make you hum for days at a time. Check out “Jane Is Fat” and you’ll know exactly why they need those exclamation points.
With his debut album Exile, Canadian native Steve Reynolds has crafted a thoroughly endearing and enjoyable record. It is both parts folk earnestness and drawling honky-tonk, with great melodies threading themselves throughout. Reynolds conveys a very clear point of view of the search for home, and his concise, meaningful lyrics envelop the listener. He possesses a soothing, yet extremely expressive voice (think an Americanized, or rather, Canadianized, David Gray), and he truly shines on tracks such as “Miner’s Lamp” and “Painter’s Son.” Reynolds, a simple, crisp and direct vocalist, showcases a variety of different styles on Exile, underlined by a folk predominance. On the whole, Exile is a great album with heartfelt melodies, soaring choruses, and most importantly, heart.
Soft Wet Fish
If pushed to place Soft Wet Fish in a genre, your best bet might be “Experimental Electronic Ambient.” To its credit, the record challenges the listener and their boundaries. But, you’d be hard-pressed to associate a track title on this album to its respective track. The whole album sounds exactly the same. The only way to listen to the album is in its entirety, and you probably won’t find yourself doing it again. Finding any structure, such as a rhythm, or even considering the album music, is a challenge. However, it’s not hard to listen to if you simply think of it as a musical experience, instead of actual music. Don’t expect to show off your favorite track to your friends, but do expect to hear something “different”. Honestly, unless you want to expand your musical experience, or chalk this record up to pseudo-intellectual fodder, you can pretty much judge the quality of Soft Wet Fish by its title.