THE MOLDY PEACHES
69 Love Songs, only some of them are about crack, and 50 have gone missing.
Comic relief: It's not something one gets a lot of in indie music. Which is too bad because we can all afford to lighten up a little, and if you can't laugh from time to time, you're a total asshole. New York City's acerbic and absurd Moldy Peaches can be easily delineated by invoking coy popsters like Apples in Stereo or any of those intellectual simpletons on K Records. You can also defer to N.Y.C.'s other "it" band, the Strokes, and decide that if Junior Casablancas and his boys are Velvet Underground for the prep-school set, the Moldy Peaches are better at subverting the seriousness of art-school pop than the Talking Heads ever wanted to be. The Peaches are all over the place. On "These Burgers," silly seriousness leads into psychedelic '70s rock, and they come off sounding like dope fiends fucked up on Doors records. "Downloading Porn with Davo" has founding members Adam Green and Kimya Dawson doing their best White-Stripes-meet-Stereo-Total mock-up, while the goofy keyboards and vocal rounds on "Lucky Charms" make like a couple of kids practicing for their grade-school recital. "Anyone Else but You" comes along with its extra-gooey love song lyrics like "Squished up your face and did a dance/Shook a little turd out of the bottom of your pants/I don't see what anyone could see in anyone else but you." Yes, songs like "Who's Got the Crack" get tedious after a while, but there's something almost brilliant about being this stupid. Laura Learmonth
CROWNS ON 45
Not on the Menu
Hip-whipping, heart-gripping turbo tunes from queer-punk up 'n' comers.
Crowns on 45 must be living on borrowed time. How else to explain the band's deliriously paced debut, Not on the Menu, on which the five New York punk upstarts play so fast and furious they sound like they're trying to outrun the clock itself? On the album's pogo-positive opener, vocalist-guitarist Heather Hellskiss hisses-hiccups, "Will you remember tomorrow? Who cares!? It's so far away!" as guitars, bass, drums, and keys zigzag like the Need on speed. It's not clear what she's referring to, but it doesn't matter: Crowns on 45 are nothing if not about the here and now. The album's 12 trailblazing tracks surge and swerve at such breakneck speed that there's no time to catch your breath or watch your back, and so it's easy to get caught up in the glorious momentum of the band's robo-ruckus (girl/boy vox! hand claps! hoots and hollers!). Sure, there are some lyrical clinkers, and the band occasionally can sound too much like its influences (Mocket, early Need, Excuse 17), but with this chaotic, hurried debut, Crowns on 45 have undeniably hit the ground running. Jimmy Draper
The Night Watch
(Les Temps Modernes)
British indie label performs Factory Records resurrection.
The U.K. label Les Temps Modernes has made its raison d'괲e the reissuing of late '70s releases from Manchester's seminal Factory label. In doing so, LTM swiftly inherited a roster of releases that effortlessly outstrips today's indie-rock upstarts. Pitting a rerelease of Crispy Ambulance against anything by, say, the Get-Up Kids is a fight so lopsided it's almost criminal. For proof, consider The Night Watch, a 17-track compilation of some of LTM's finer moments. A perfect balance of shadow and more shadow, The Night Watch offers "Nightshift" by the Names, a masterwork of cascading keyboards and staggering, junk-sick bass. There's the sly spy bossa nova of Paul Haig's "Somewhere in Between," Ultramarine's bubbly champagne pop, and the amorphous drone of Minny Pops. The compilation is rounded out by spoken-word selections by William Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, and Jacques Derrida. Most remarkable is the utter seamlessness of Watch. The songs sound like they truly belong together, a testament to LTM's canniness. Rather than blunting their impact, the passage of time has rendered these apocalyptic anthems more relevant than ever. J. Edward Keyes
The Best of Fad Gadget
Literally, the best of noise pop Fads and electronic Gadgets.
In case you haven't noticed, new/ no wave and art punk aren't just making comebacks, they're loudly and chaotically insisting that they never went away. So gather up the locals (the Epoxies, the Cripples) and out-of-towners (the Faint, Radio Berlin, Ladytron) and ask them to draw their family tree. Let's hope most of them will remember Fad Gadget to one of the old, sturdy branches. In the late '70s and early '80s, Frank Tovey, a.k.a. Fad Gadget, was recording the noise of an electric drill, programming drum machines, performing like a madman, and generally behaving like he had looped brain waves where his limbs should've been. To the uninitiated, tracks like the "classic" "Fireside Favorites" and its B-side, "Insecticide," might sound like lost Joy Division redone by Land of the Loops, a glow- stick groupie's ecstasy-addled dream, or some neurotic Einsturzende Neubauten nonsense. Other songs, like the elastic and playful "I Discover Love," would sound as good in their historical context—say next to a Siouxsie & the Banshees' track in an underground '80s club—as they would at your next basement dance party. Fans of Pere Ubu, Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Echo and the Bunnymen, Human League, and Wire would do well to check out this lesser-known contemporary, while fans of modern electronica and dance music might well uncover a love for their genre's forefathers. Laura Learmonth