Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I won't say where these were supposed to run, but I will say that assigning reviews and then acting like you never got 'em when they're submitted is bullshit. Needless to say, my days of scribing for NAME REDACTED are pretty much over. Not even a frickin' killfee! Or an email wondering where the reviews are or anything. Come on.

Beach House
Two years removed from its captivatingly cozy epymonous debut, there's something slightly different about Baltimore's Beach House. To be sure, the duo hasn't altered its core tactics: those lobotomized organs and guitars coast along on stoned cruise-control, those rattles and tambourines jangle blithely on occasion, and sombulant vocalist Victoria Legrand eks out dreamy relationship complaints and concerns as though she's on the verge of passing out on some opium-den couch. Yet Devotion feels slightly less passive, less drift-like in execution, more assertive: Legrand means it now, pushing up on figurative elbows to set her voice above the langourous fray, while the slo-mo drums hit harder and the woozy-snoozy melodies pop in the mix. For all its Sergio Morrocine overtones, "Gila" lives and dies on a sweet, loop-de-loop keyboard hook - not to mention Legrand's stretched, unsexualized "oh-oh-oh-oh" refrain. On "Wedding Bell," Alex Scally's ax figures register as dull buzz-saw roars as Legrand uncoils kalediscopic organ spools, drops. light-gobule keybs, and comes across as, well, happy. Creamy, reverb-soaked organ-balm "D.A.R.L.I.N.G." even deigns to ramp the Beach House pace up to a weak trot and indulge in a multi-tracked chorus that spells out the song's title; who'd have thought these two would ever have anything in common with Fergie?--Ray Cummings

The Whitsundays
The Whitsundays
(Friendly Fire)
You wouldn't believe it to listen to them, but the Whitsundays hail from Edmonton, Alberta - not the United Kingdom. That's somewhat surprising considering the influences this group's self-titled debut brings to bear: Clinic's sterile-yet-gritty garage revival chic and the Zombies' gloomy British-invasiveness. Whitsundays frontman Paul Arnusch - on leave from his drumming gig with post-rockers Faunts - clearly digs on the Walkmen and the Strokes, too: guitars jab gamely or stagger like a hungover sailor on Sunday morning, romantic quandries are drolly dissected and reassembled, warm vintage organs abound, and Arnusch maintains a practiced, above-it-all disinterest throughout. "Falling Over" is the sort of protracted, please-don't-dump-me appeal to some lovely young thing that inspires restraining orders in real life; as a pair of pealing guitars tease out a lightly grooving, retro melody, he wonders "If your feelings of love have truly gone, gone/and you can't find the strength to carry on, on/Or what to do, or what to say, say/Just tell me where to go/I gotta know." "The Ways of the Sweet Talking Boys" fairly bubbles over with gleaming strands of Fender Rhodes as multitracked gangs of Arnusch surf a darkly jealous wave. Given the mood here, "Antisocial" makes for a leftfield shock - tasteful, three-chord punk ala early Blur. As bygone, earnest pastiche goes these days, the Whitsundays are moderately enjoyable, at best; maybe, given the myriad options available, that's enough for now. Originality can wait. --Ray Cummings

Monday, March 10, 2008


1. Pulling packing boxes, pillows, and Mr. Blankie off of Dad's head when Dad has hidden beneath them in a silly attempt to, in the process, amuse or startle Nodin.

2. Losing his pacifiers while sleeping, causing him to half-awaken in a whiny huff.

3. Being chased around the house by Dad, who is grunting "DUR! DUR! DUR!" is a comic-threatening manner. (Mom's variation on this theme: "Gonna GETCHA! Gonna GETCHA!")

4. Eating breakfast sausage! This kid loves him some breakfast sausage. Like, if there's sausage on the scene, those bits of pancake or biscuit or whatever aren't gettin' eaten, no sirree.

5. Having books read to him, sometimes the same books several times per day. Nodin's especially partial to On The Day You Were Born, The Very Hungry Catepillar, and one about the Wiggles that's supposed to teach kids about reading and setting clocks. It's rewarding beyond words to watch his face light up when he's handed you a book and you've opened it and started reading; he doesn't totally understand what's being read yet, of course, but something about the combination of familiar sound constructions and familiar voices just seems to invigorate and temporarily fascinate this eternally curious/mobile little boy.

6. Trying so, so very hard to talk and sing. He's almost there, and none of us can wait for him to arrive and start shouting out statements at the least opportune moments possible.

7. Climbing stairs! (with adult supervision, of course)

8. Grabbing, toying with, and breaking everything he can.

9. Opening and closing doors. Cabinet doors, oven doors, and closet doors - but not front doors or refrigerator doors (yet). He isn't supposed to open any doors, of course, but it's fun to pretend that no-one's telling him not to do this stuff.

10. Absconding with Mom and Dad's waterbottles and dropping them into the living room waste basket, because he can.

Friday, March 07, 2008


BECAUSE, on American Idol:

1. She no longer seems to have any idea where she is while appearing on national television.
(On this show, the expectant tension is supposed to center on the performers, but more likely it's centered on the camera operators and control room staff who have to decide how much attention should be directed towards the judges' table where Paula Abdul's getting her loon on and Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell are pretending conditions aren't being created for a complete Courtney Love-esque trainwreck.)

2. Following contestant performances, she rambles on longwindedly, incoherently, and disjointedly, as though the sounds coming out of her mouth bear little or no relation to whatever positive den-mother kudos she's thought up; thus, dear Paula comes across as deranged or mentally disabled at best, totally smacked-out at worst.

3. She keeps threatening to fall, sideways, out of her chair; only arrogant Simon Cowell stands between Miss Opposites Attract and certain concussive disaster.

4. She dances to songs - both sitting and standing - really, really badly. Now, I understand that this world is full of bad dancers; I'm one of them, admittedly. But Paula Abdul doesn't even come close to matching the beat of whatever Danny or David or Carly or whoever's belting out; it's like she's hearing a totally different song and swaying or bopping to that. Again: on national television.

5. That glassy, out-to-lunch grin. It's ever-present and totally fucking scary. You know the one.

6. Sort of a corrolary to #2, I guess, but the woman can't seem to finish saying words most of the time, managing, like, a first syllable before skipping to the first syllable of a different word. It's like she's having a perpetual heart attack that never becomes fatal or requires a trip to the ER.

7. Paula, you know we all love you, right?

8. Those hats. Those outfits. That hair! Viva fashion, and all that, but expensive and questionable couture and heavy, heavy makeup only serves to make crazy folks seem crazier.

9. Tears! Tears, tears, tears. Nothing wrong with a good cry, but so many tears when no-one's died or anything. Paula, they're just going home, and home's a good place!

10. Or maybe all of this is tied into promotion for her comeback record later this year and I'm just a big ole all-day sucker.