July 13, 2010
Dear Comrade EP
2010 | Unsigned
I wanted deeply, in my heart of hearts, to not compare Dear Comrade to stellastarr*. But I truly think, even had I not known that Dear Comrade is the work of stellastarr* drummer/keyboardist Arthur Kremer (with the help of Emmett Aiello on lead guitar, bass by Dan Freeman, and backing and occasional lead vocals by Stefani Pekin – who also goes by Dex, and Dr. Dex, though I doubt she’s board certified), my mind would have immediately leapt to that conclusion.
Moody instrumentals, soaring female backing vocals behind almost-speaking-rather-than-singing post-punk male vocals (think almost Interpol), yeah, I could be describing either band. But while stellastarr* began reaching out toward what I would argue is a more gothic sound (in the literary sense of the word) with Harmonies for the Haunted, Dear Comrade is a little less flashy, more stripped down, and attempts to show a broader mix of influences.
“Badlands” opens the album, a semi-political track mostly about apathy. “Conflict of interests, clashing of faith / What would John Lennon fight for today? / Where’s the amber, where’s the glow / Where’s Black Panther, I just don’t know.” While I assume Kremer is referencing the 1960′s radical party, he could just as easily be asking for the Marvel Comics superhero. Oh, the joys of interpretation. The track itself is certainly enjoyable, but I think it lacks a certain spark, especially when compared to later tracks on the album.
November 13, 2009
Jonathan Richman | I’m So Confused
The album that came in the wake of Jonathan Richman’s appearance in There’s Something About Mary sees the songwriter’s formula tweaked just a bit: Richman and longtime drummer Tommy Larkin are joined by Bad Brain Daryl Jennifer on bass, and producer Ric Ocasek adds some vintage synth – giving Richman’s music some element of the original Modern Lovers for the first time since that band’s dissolution. The songs, and Jonathan’s wide-eyed-innocence-at-fifty vibe, remain the same. Highlights include opener “When I Dance,” “Love Me Like I Love,” and “Nineteen in Naples.” For a guy who has so many same-y sounding albums, it’s no small thing that this is my third or so favorite in his whole catalog.
by Brook Pridemore
Mac Dre | Young Black Brotha
To a certain generation from the San Francisco Bay Area, Mac Dre was a legend and a local icon. If people from outside the region know of him at all, it’s usually for his role as the Godfather of Hyphy, but my favorite Mac Dre album is his 1993 debut, Young Black Brotha. His voice sounds around an octave higher than in his hyphy days, and the beats don’t hit as hard and heavy, but that’s what I like about it – it’s classic ’93 West Coast. Plus, he’s already full of the awesome lyrical quirks that would mark his career, and as always, he reminds you party people to let loose “with a double-romp boogie in your behind.” A CLASSIC.
by Erin Sheehy