CD Reviews

CREEPER LAGOON, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday (Dreamworks) It's not the band's fault. Repeat. Not the band's fault. Live, Creeper Lagoon are wry, spry, and fueled by Lik-M-Aid and Pixi Stix. Strangely, on their Dreamworks debut, much of the energy that started people scrambling from gig to gig seems hidden. Like gifted schoolkids who are told to channel their energy, the Creeper fellas display some bits of their pop-but-not-pop bread and butter on the first part of the album, but save the better bits for later, when the teacher's apparently not looking. In their weakest of moments—like in "Cellophane"—they seem to be plagued by bullies that speak only of matchbox twenty and Third Eye Blind. Thankfully, their spirit reigns and prevents them from even sharing the same nap mat with those galloots. "Hey Sister" hops around like jump rope for the advanced, athletic playground crew. Later on, the band play rock star David Bowie-style on "Lover's Leap," and hint at an arena rock collection with the beginning of "Keep From Moving." In a release that appears to be a case of a stifling classroom, Creeper Lagoon still manage to show that they can do the work and find ways to make themselves happy.—Gregory Parks

DESTROYER, Streethawk: A Seduction (Misra) If you've heard the New Pornographers' much-lauded Mass Romantic, you've heard Destroyer's ringleader, Daniel Bejar. And if you've seen the New Pornographers, you've seen his small, Wayne Coyne-esque figure pounding out keyboard flourishes and taking a lively turn on the mike. Like some of Neko's other boyfriends (see fellow Vancouverites Zumpano), Bejar culls the best stories from rock lore, nodding briefly at history before running off with the future. On Destroyer's fourth full-length, Bejar simultaneously exalts Bowie (or rather, Ziggy); puts Malkmus to shame; pisses all over "alternative rock"; and dreams deliberately with the likes of Syd Barrett, John Lennon, and Morrissey. In "The Sublimation Hour," he cries, "Hey isn't that what rock and roll is all about, princess?/Express your bloated self; willful and indignant, in the face of somebody's heart"—and then punctuates his answer with a heartbreaking guitar meltdown. In this reading, sublimation denotes the modification of one's expressions in accordance with social norms. Later, when Bejar asks, "Why did we spend the '90s cowering?" and "Why/do you work for the festival/when you're sick of lifting spirits?" it's evident that Bejar has been battling some pretty severe inconsistencies. If he suddenly became a spider on Mars, Streethawk would hold all the cautionary piano lines and absurd, beautiful poetry that we'd need to make sense of such a move. Perhaps I shouldn't be so distraught over the news that Bejar, willful and indignant, recently absconded to Montreal. But because that means we probably won't be seeing him around these parts any time soon, I'd just as soon have him on Mars. At least that way I could look forward to the movie.—Laura Learmonth

VARIOUS ARTISTS, The Braindance Coincidence (Rephlex) Founded in 1991 by Richard James (otherwise known as the Aphex Twin) and Grant Wilson-Claridge, Rephlex retroactively define themselves as promoters of "braindance"—clever, innovative dance music for the head. Over a hundred releases later, the label's output is hardly contained by such a pat description. Their lengthy back catalog, full of colored vinyl, deleted singles, and other juicy obscurities, reads less like a manifesto for a new style of music and more like a wish list for James' and Wilson-Claridge's fantasy label. Which is just fine—their bizarre tastes have launched the careers of folks like Mu-Ziq, Luke Vibert, and Squarepusher; introduced the world to the wacky post-electro of Mike Dred, Cylob, and Ed DMX; revived obscure material from acid house legends 808 State and Baby Ford; and dipped into everything from industrial noise to lounge music. Now, to the disappointment of collectors everywhere, they're celebrating their anniversary with a retrospective that brings together 10 years of truly bizarre music. Although the 16 tracks on The Braindance Coincidence fall into just about every genre, they all share the laid back, low-fidelity aesthetic of the geeky, reclusive personalities that made them and the bedroom studios in which they were recorded.—Matt Corwine

BOYCRAZY, Foreign Words (Magic Marker) Boycrazy's first full-length is a perfect herald for the arrival of spring: winsome boy/girl harmonies, snappy snare-heavy drumming, bouncing bass lines, and a squeaky-clean guitar sound. The invigorating recipe unveils itself immediately on the opening track, "Stark Street," as Rachel Blumberg's and Bryce Edwards' vocals compliment each other beautifully over the rollicking tune; the added touches of piano and melodica only make the package more appealing. On the next song Edwards begins, "I want to do/Bad things to you." And he sounds so darned nice saying it that I'm confident he got to do all those things, and more. From there, the prettiness just keeps washing over in wave after wave. Even on more melancholy songs like "Why Aren't You Free?" and "Plastic Bags," there is an essential buoyancy (those drums are just so perky!) to Boycrazy that is simply irrepressible. Every time I listen to Foreign Words, though, a strange thing occurs: I lose interest about halfway through. It's not that the second half of the album is any less charming than the first—latter tracks "Ophelia" and "Through the Walls" are as good as anything on the record—it's just that the unwavering formula doesn't offer enough surprise or variation to sustain itself for 40 minutes straight (at least for a short-attention-spanned monkey like myself). Boycrazy do what they do awfully well, but perhaps too well for their own good.—Paul Fontana

 
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