Monday, June 18, 2007

More and More

When I'm drivin' in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can't get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that's what I say.
-- The Rolling Stones, "Satisfaction"

Begushkin, Nightly Things, Locust Music [6/19/07]

If folk and pop go together like milk chocolate and caramel, folk and goth go together like dark chocolate and chilies. Personally,
I find the combination irresistible, but the contrast isn't for everyone. Then again, sweet plus sweet gets old real fast.

Brooklyn one-man band Begushkin's music is folk-oriented—instruments include mandolin, accordion, saw, and violin—but Dan Smith makes Richard Thompson sound like Lou Christie. Smith isn't a basso profundo or anything like that. His style is conversational, but he sounds like he's making grave pronouncements about dark doings in bleak places.

Nightly ThingsBegushkin
"Nightly Things" (mp3)
from "Nightly Things"
(Locust Music)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

He captured my attention instantly, but I wouldn't want to get too close. And with lines like "You would be my monkey girl / and I would be the dude," Begushkin come within a hair's breadth of self-parody. To keep my culinary analogy going, Nightly Things tastes good, but too much at one time could cause indigestion.

Benzos, Branches, Stinky Records [8/7/07]

When a record fails to fire my imagination, it's hard to find anything interesting to write about it. So it goes with the second
full-length from this New York quartet. Branches isn't terrible,
but all I can really say is that it's mid-tempo alternative rock. While the press notes cite Doves, Explosions in the Sky, and Aphex Twin, the All Music Guide references Radiohead and Travis.

Short for Benzodiazepines, Benzos produce a smooth post-rock sound that could fit just as easily on KEXP as KNDD, although chances are good the former wouldn't find it distinct enough,
while the latter wouldn't find it catchy enough. On the plus side, this foursome is hardly inept and lead vocalist Christian Celaya has a decent voice. I don't dislike it, but I prefer artists who take more chances—even when those chances don't completely pay off.

KJ Sawka, Cyclonic Steel, Wax Orchard [6/26/07]

Local drummer/producer Kevin Sawka's sophomore release showcases various strains of electronica, like
trip hop and drum 'n' bass. Some tracks are instrumental, others feature vocals. For the most part, it's dance—as opposed to trance—music, although there are a few chillout moments here and there. Cyclonic Steel brings to mind modern mixmasters like the Chemical Brothers and DJ Shadow.

For the most part, I found it quite pleasing. Towards the end, my mind started to wander both times I listened to it, but I think that has more to do with me than the recording, i.e. I don't mind electronic music, but it's never been one of my favorite genres. Granted, I did catch both Wax Tailor and Various in concert this year, but they're among the select few that have managed to break through my resistance. As for KJ Sawka, he's off to a great start.

Endnote: Click here for KJ Sawka's video for "Montreal." For more information: Begushkin's MySpace Page, Benzos' official website or MySpace Page, and Sawka's official website or MySpace Page. Sawka and Nightly Things images from their sites. Red
Fire Exotic Candy Bar image from Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

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