Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cigarettes and Coffee, Cigars and Cognac

Blackmarket, The Elephant in the Room, No Office Records [11/11/08]

Lake Havisu's Blackmarket have produced a perfectly serviceable, but unremarkable debut. I don't doubt their sincerity, but feel like I've heard this CD before, and would argue that working with producers like Sean Slade (Radio-
head) and Matthew Ellard (Weezer) wasn't to their benefit. A few unruly idiosyncrasies would be preferable to such a safe sound.

Click here for my review of their self-titled EP.

The Coral Sea, Firelight, self-released [10/7/08]

Your soul is your true self and cannot be wounded.
-- From their MySpace Page

Like Jeff Hanson, Rey Villalobos wields an androgonous
voice (I thought he was a woman at first), but Villalobos
replaces Hanson's intimacy with layers of keyboards.

On the Coral Sea's second record
(after 2006's Volcano and Heart),
Villalobos and Cali colleagues take
the same kind of quasi-operatic ap-
proach as Mercury Prize winners El-
bow. If that's your scene, Firelight
offers a particularly pillowy variant.

The Singhs, Supersaturated, Redstar

On their third disc, this Boston quintet
produces slick danceable anthems in the mode of U2,
New Order, and Chic. Eighties inspirations aside, the
multi-layered production has a contemporary feel.

Packaged like a precious gift (the gatefold digipak swims in
images of gold wrapping paper) and recorded in the West In-
dies, Supersaturated offers music to background cognac-
and-cigar soirées. In other words: it's above my pay grade.

We Are the Mystery Tramps, self-titled, Queue Records

What do I know anyway? I'm just some dumb kid.
-- "A World Like This"

We Are the Mystery Tramps raise a mighty ruckus on the follow-up
to 2007's Cure for the Common Misconception.

Judging by their photos, this Boston-by-way-of-Lynnfield, MA quartet hasn't left their teens far behind (in "Last in Line," Eric Grava even suggests he has ADD).

That doesn't make their third release immature. On the con-
trary, the foursome sounds wise for their years as they com-
bine introspective lyrics with professional musicianship.

Endnote: For more information about Blackmarket,
please click here; for the Coral Sea, here; for the Singhs,
here or here; and for We Are the Mystery Tramps, here.
Images from the MySpage Pages of Blackmarket (photo by
Bryan Sheffield) and the Coral Sea (poster image). We Are
the Mystery Tramps portrait from their official website.

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