Sunday, September 09, 2007

SOME REVIEWS: Loto Ball Show, Opposite Sex, Teenage Talking Cars, Red Voice Choir

Here's some notes on a few recent recordings that have caught my ear that I'd like to recommend. Still making the rounds in my stereo are CDs that were sent to me by Monozid from Leipzig and the Pussy Pirates from Chicago, who I hope to share some thoughts about soon.

Red Voice Choir- A Thousand Reflections CD EP
The Red Voice Choir might have an unfair advantage with me. I'm a fan of all three of the other members' bands; namely Black Ice, Death of a Party, and the Holy Kiss. Naturally, I'd be predisposed to listening to this with a prejudiced ear, but might I not have unfairly high expectations? Probably. I've certainly listened to the recorded output by these four musicians with enough scrutiny to have a very discerning ear for them. But if this is the work of a new band, it's surely recognizable only from the restlessness of the music than by faults in the performances. In fact, their ability to play together so seamlessly is quite impressive. While it does bear distinctive marks of some of their previous bands, Red Voice Choir doesn't come off sounding like a side-project at all. Kevin Brown's drumming is always impressive; using his beat-up drumset to his advantage, he continually pounds out rhythms unorthodox beats hounded by Kelly's church organs and crashing into Adam's guitar while Dawn's bass slinks along to provide the groundwork. The six songs on this EP leave a good hope these guys will pull together great full length in some time to come.
Atakra Records
Red Voice Choir on myspace

Loto Ball Show demo CDR
The second song on this 5 track demo CDR is called "Poseidon Waltz," and it's actually a good point of reference for ex-Phantom Limbs' vocalist Loto Ball's newest effort. Loto has some good experience in circus acts and marching bands, so perhaps it's no surprise to find his current outing putting him in the position of deranged Master of Ceremonies-- not uncharming, but quite comfortable to tell a little story about driving with your eyes closed. Loto alternates between vocals, trumpet and keys alongside a host of other instruments like guitar, bass, drums and saxophones (and the likes of Centimeters and Indian Jewelry members, I believe). But unlike circus and cabaret shows, the music doesn't play second fiddle to the spectacle, as the 4 songs on here (one track is an introduction by Chicago's MC Kenny), stand on their own quite well. The demo sounds as though it had been recorded live and but is still very effective. A studio recording might put a little more pop in the horns, but for a demo this works quite nicely. I guess I could have expected as much.
Loto Ball Show on myspace

Teenage Talking Cars CDep
I've said elsewhere that Teenage Talking Cars remind me a bit of early Mika Miko, but perhaps more experimental in the composition and delivery. They have a similar kinetic quality to their songs, sounding like they'd be more at home at a party than at a club, and the instruments are played with a frenetic "let's-see-who-can-get-there-first" kind of attitude. But if Mika Miko has that early Redd Kross vibe I see attributed to them often, then Teenage Talking Cars has a bit more of a Bags thing going on. They virtually play with their songs as much as through them, and the results can sound at driving and off-kilter. Singer Ammo wails, squeaks, and rages through the 5 songs. Seeing as this CD EP is self-released and limited to 500 copies, I can see them going on to some good things, letting this starting point become a sought-after commodity years later.
Teenage Talking Cars on myspace

the Opposite Sex- Violent Heartstrings CD
It figures that no sooner do I leave New York for Montreal that a bunch of high-quality bands on the eastern seaboard start discovering each other, start playing shows together, and something akin to a scene starts developing whose "darker" qualities lead them to start garnering the "goth" tag. And even better, whereas in years prior, this would be a pejorative term and a kiss of death in the larger independent music scene at large, it's not meant in a derogatory way. Could this be the east coast counterpart to what's been going on on the west coast for a few years between cities like San Francisco and Portland? I still maintain that most of these bands are not "goth" at all, but I'm also not eager to engage in quibbles about genre. DC's the Opposite Sex is a band I'd throw in the lot-- they've been around for a while, but are recently starting to make more of a name for themselves with their releases and through trekking up and down the coast. I liked the brooding and drawn-out quality of some of the songs on their previous EP a lot, but they tighten up the compositions a little bit to go for a bit more of a more straight forward dark-rock sound on "Violent Heartstrings" with dreamy keyboards and jarring saxophones accompanying them on some songs with convincing effect. Having said all of that, I realize more of this "review" was dedicated to the band's circumstances than their actual music, but my enthusiasm should testify a bit for the music, shouldn't it??
the Opposite Sex on myspace

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