New Music From Artanker Convoy, My Sister Klaus, and Jennifer Gentle

Artanker Convoy

Cozy Endings

(The Social Registry)

The references to '70s Miles Davis will abound; Artanker Convoy's Cozy Endings is a slab of jazzy grooving that simmers like Brooklyn pavement in mid-August. While Davis is an apt comparison for this mix of jazz, psychedelia, bossa nova, and soul (not to mention the album's Lost in Translation–inspired cover of a firm female ass clad in pink panties), it's more a descendant of trumpeter Don Cherry's Brown Rice in its attempt to make jazz into something more accessible, trippy, and danceable. Every number on here is a laid-back (note: laid-back, not slow) burner that swings, shakes, and sometimes struts. Though the percussion work is light overall, the leader of the band is drummer Artanker (hence the band moniker). He and bassist Joe Florentino lay down extremely minimal beats of shimmering cymbal and subtle bass lines, which the band proceeds to build around with liquid keyboard drips and saxophone purrs that float just above the song's foundation. In this way, they are like Can; each song grows organically into something awkwardly suited for a dance party of sorts. Given that they are on the Social Registry label, it's only natural that they also have a significant trance element to their music. Like the best of its ilk, Cozy Endings is a major chill-out record. Now that I think of it, Beastie Boys songs like "Namaste" and Lighten Up" are also major reference points for this record. BRIAN J. BARR

My Sister Klaus

Chateau Rouge

(Tigersushi)

"I've got a brand-new tune/Here from the moon," says My Sister Klaus' Guillaume Teyssier. But he doesn't really. And it's all rather sad because he is such a fine musician. And French. But it is impossible to listen to this record without thinking of the artists it sounds like. And since the sounds are of the greats (Velvet Underground, Spiritualized, and Jesus and Mary Chain are the most obvious), it is very exciting on first listen. There is a raspy crooner, an echoing of electronic strings, treated keyboard, liberal cymbal use, and sometimes simple, repetitive tunes. But My Sister Klaus have resurrected a Frankenstein of sorts, and while its body can swagger competently, it's missing a distinct, individual personality. This makes forming a long-term relationship with Chateau Rouge impossible. Because, yes, albums are like people. Some of them you invite over for a dance party, and others you call when you can't leave bed. But because of the missing anima, My Sister Klaus will never be more than the person you meet because you want to get drunk and they are always at bars. Sure, very fashionable bars, but the mannerisms are too purposeful and you've seen them before. It's frustrating because they are obviously intelligent, but you know you will never take them home. LUCY MOREHOUSE

Jennifer Gentle

The Midnight Room

(Sub Pop)

Something happened between 2005's Valende and The Midnight Room: Jennifer Gentle went from Italian psych avant-pop duo to solo act. Drummer Alessio Gastaldello left the band, leaving the project entirely in the hands of founder and songwriter Marco Fasolo. So far, it's for the best. The Midnight Room is not only more personal than its predecessor, it's much creepier, experimental, and nocturnal. Each song seems to be set in a twisted alternate-universe carnival. There are whirls, stomps, kazoo zings, and melodies that go round and round like a carousel, all of which are topped off by Fasolo singing alongside, well, himself (what better way to portray insanity than harmonizing with yourself?) in that wicked-witch whine of his. Given the nightmarish thread running throughout The Midnight Room's musical arrangements, there might even be some lyrical theme binding it all together, but I have no idea what it is. All I know is it evokes bizarre, dizzying imagery of a Fellini/Gilliam-esque proportion. BRIAN J. BARR

 
comments powered by Disqus