New Music From Junior Boys, Blonde Redhead, and Air

Junior Boys

The Dead Horse E.P.

(Domino)

The whisper-soft pop vocals and techno textures of 2004's Last Exit and the subsequent Sinatra tribute, So This is Goodbye, found Junior Boys admirers in many musical scenes; kicking the proverbial dead horse with remixes from the latter album makes it, and the band, significantly more interesting. Glasgow's Alex Smoke has made the best remix of "In the Morning," but including Hot Chip's elastic take on it instead is a more populist move. They add a verse of desperate romance ("I'll never love again, until you say I can") and isolate oohs and aahs for an irresistible Pet Sounds sheen. And techno still represents: Living legend Carl Craig expands "Like a Child" to 10-plus minutes of escalating, finger-snapped funk. "FM" is transformed by Get Physical Records producer Tensnake into a light-refracting nightclub jam, whereas ambient auteur Marsen Jules, whose touch is golden, edits it into a summer breeze. But the biggest, baddest surprise is Kode 9's remix of Goodbye sleeper "Double Shadow," where lead Boy Jeremy Greenspan's old infatuation with moody jungle carries into its current dubstep fever. His producer's trick of tapping each genre's of-the-moment man summarily turns "decent" into "daring." RACHEL SHIMP

Junior Boys play Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000, www.chopsuey.com. $10. 9 p.m. Sat., April 21.

Listen to a sample of Junior Boys' "Count Souveneirs."

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Blonde Redhead

23

(4AD Records)

"I'll await you, while you're cheating/lightning strikes you when you're moving," sings Blonde Redhead frontwoman Kazu Mikino, whose vocals float atop rhythmic, looping riffs in "The Dress," as she delves into loving-you-less and proves that early-'90s dreamy art-rock can still survive in today's power-pop-oriented world. The album's title track opens with bent piano chords, strikingly reminiscent of Neverending Story–like synths. Then the drums come in to whisk you off to a faraway place with their incessantly hypnotic and infectious beats. "Dr. Strangelove" follows, complete with rattlesnake-like percussion and, yes, even cowbells, showing a tighter niche band whose musicianship is more diverse than ever. DREA LEE RICE

Blonde Redhead play the Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, www.showboxonline.com. $16 adv./$18 DOS. 8 p.m. Sat., April 21.

Listen to a sample of Blonde Redhead's "23."

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Air

Pocket Symphony

(Astralwerks)

Predictably, Jarvis Cocker's appearance on Pocket Symphony's "One Hell of a Party" is causing a stir. But it really only suggests that Air made this album in the same mind-set as Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55, which Air essentially wrote with Cocker. This spells good news and bad for anyone who noticed that 2004's Talkie Walkie captured our favorite skeevy-looking Frenchmen at their peak—years after they had already achieved do-no-wrong darling status with critics. Here's the good: With Nigel Godrich on board, Air's rich atmospheres don't get pushed to the margins as they did on the Gainsbourg project. Now for the bad: The duo almost entirely avoids the catchiness that made Talkie Walkie such a treasure. To be fair, Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin are nothing if not risk-takers. To follow Talkie Walkie's snap-crackle-pop with a languid, melancholy program such as this is precisely what we should expect from a group who once declared that an artist's job is to try things they're not initially capable of pulling off. So whether it sucks you in, bores you completely, grows on you over time, or just strikes you as nice background music for your morning crossword, you won't be humming much. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Air play Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, 800-291-7593, www.broadwaycenter.org. $38.50. 8 p.m. Mon., April 23.

Listen to a sample of Air's "Once Upon a Time."

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