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The latest independent release roundup

Adam Spektor

Issue date: 9/25/09 Section: Focus
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Girls- Album/True Panther Sounds
Girls- Album/True Panther Sounds
[Click to enlarge]
Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown/Merge Records
Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown/Merge Records
[Click to enlarge]
Times New Viking - Born Again Revisited/Metador Records
Times New Viking - Born Again Revisited/Metador Records
[Click to enlarge]
Any hype-driven band is subsequently met with its fair share of skeptics, and more often than not, the skeptics win and the hype flutters from group to group. Every now and then, a young band manages to live past the hype, and judging from the strengths of this debut, the androgynously named Girls (a band consisting of two guys who start the album by singing, "I wish I had a boyfriend") should be sticking around for a while.

The album is easily one of the best works of modern indie pop released this year, and its range of emotion and relentless attention to pop hooks should endear it to an audience far beyond the hipster set. Songs like "Morning Light" and "Big Bad Mean Motherf***er" are up-tempo bursts of fuzzy rock while "Laura" and "Darling" admirably channel sunshiny, infectious '60s pop. The album's centerpiece, however, the lofty "Hellhole Ratrace," is an affecting torch song for the wistful pop geek inside all (or at least most) of us.

For what it's worth, the current resurgence of scuzzy, no-budget garage rock has become a reputable force in the current independent rock scene, and Columbus trio Times New Viking have been one of this aesthetic's most visible bands. Regrettably, the band hardly moves beyond this aesthetic, producing a sound that amounts to little more than all-style, no-substance, and Born Again Revisited barely follows through on the band's promise of 25 percent higher fidelity than their first Matador release, Rip It Off.

Even so, there are glimpses of true songwriting talent hidden underneath the feedback, and tracks like the relatively understated "Those Days" and the powerful rushes of "No Time, No Hope" and "Hustler, Psycho, Son" justify much of the hype that persistently surrounds the band. It's a shame then that the rest of the album uses an avoidable lo-fi sound to bury these song snippets and prevent whatever hooks (which may or may not actually exist) from flourishing. That may be part of the point, but even the experimental, filler tracks on Guided By Voices' best albums were catchy.

Lou Barlow is one of the most unquestionably prolific songwriters in independent music history, having released massive albums of material under several different monikers. Apart from his contributions to the Dinosaur Jr. reunion, he's been working steadily under his own name, casting off much of the rough, lo-fi sounds that he helped revolutionize and showing proof of graceful aging.

It is impressive that after so much material, Barlow is still able to craft unique melodies, and strong tracks like opener "Sharing," "Don't Apologize," and "One Machine, One Long Flight" bolster a collection of fine tunes. Perhaps even more notable is the manner in which Barlow, one-third of one of the loudest bands in alternative music history and one of the men most responsible for the noisy lo-fi movement, is able to pen songs like the Elliott Smith-esque "Thinking…" and love song "The One I Call" and still come out sounding more earnest than most balladeers.
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In This Issue

News

  • Case EMS 'saves the day' at mass casualty drill
  • Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum to auction $1 million in cars
  • CWRU celebrates Constitution Day
  • Have you heard about women in liberal arts?
  • Reality star's "One-for-One" business model inspires mtvU to seek out "Movers & Shakers"
  • Sigma Nu fire ruled unintentional, sparks housing inspections
  • Speaker continues debate about legal drinking age
  • The new Kindle on campus: CWRU and Amazon partner to test the Kindle DX
  • Can you name this place?

Sports

  • Close wins on crooked river
  • Hard work paying off as conference play nears
  • Spartan Spotlight: Mike Vaughn
  • What if Browns were subject to a blackout?

Fun Page

  • Crossword Solution
  • Sudoku Solution

Opinion

  • Editorial: Doc Oc memorial needs identification, context
  • Genocide rape should be treated as weapon of mass destruction
  • Large debates over drinking age missing the point
  • Legalizing drugs: a practical solution
  • Lifestyle changes for a green campus
  • Observer fails to acknowledge event programmers
  • State your case: What do you do with your favorite textbook?

Focus

  • Case Swing Club dances the night away with jazz quartet
  • Finding ways around being broke
  • Hitting the Spot: The Jackie Warren Trio
  • Jolly Scholar hosts weekly live music for CWRU musicians
  • Overheard at Case
  • Phish herald triumphant return with Joy-ful new album
  • Rising alternative hip-hop artist Kid Cudi to headline UPB Fall Concert
  • Shoes: strut your way to comfortable, fashion-forward style
  • The Buzz
  • The latest independent release roundup
  • Zombies take over Lakewood for bi-annual Cleveland Charity Zombie Walk

Cross Country

  • Simpson gets win at Calvin

Football

  • Spartans jump out to 41-0 lead against Yeomen, improve to 3-0

Sex and Dating

  • Handling the aftermath

Soccer

  • Spartans come out fast, but Lions escape with win
  • Team jelling after slow start

Worst Case Scenario

  • The Worst Case Scenario
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