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Stories by Andrew Hamlin

OMD: History of Modern

OMD's first album since 1996. The first classic-lineup album since 1986. "New Babies: New Toys" comes in clean like a virtual world sunrise then fuzz-rubbers the bass, toughs up the drums, throws words like "shit" ...

The Slider

It's 1972. Marc Bolan, born Mark Feld, son of a truck driver, sits on top of the fricking world. Or, at least, on top of as much of the world as matters to him — ...

Meat Loaf's Hang Cool Teddy Bear

Top ten reasons why Meat Loaf made the best album of 2010 bar none with his latest (last?) (and, yeah, I'm squinting at you Kanye West):• Meat sings "I put my pants on" and• "I ...

Sonny Simmons's Staying on the Watch

At 5:19 into the first cut, Simmons’s alto and Barbara Donald's trumpet hit a huge skidding smear — a show-off driver on a slick road, hopped up maybe, hits the brake and the gas at ...

Paula Carino's Open on Sunday

A song cycle, as I hear it, about an aspiring Jersey Girl — aspirant to Jersey City, at least, and Anything With Capital Letters Above All (Even If She Hasn't Thought That Through). She runs ...

Elizabeth Cook's Welder

On Elizabeth Cook's last album, Balls, she sang "Sometimes it takes balls/to be a woman" — the record's only good joke — and the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning," the record's only earworm melody, and it's ...

Gary Wilson on Ducks, Porn, and Flour

Longtime San Diego resident Gary Wilson, conceptual artist and second-generation lounge musician, has been an underground legend since his 1977 lounge/soul/freakout debut LP You Think You Really Know Me. His new album, Electric Endicott (named ...

William Hooker Trio's Yearn for Certainty

"Everything that rises must converge" — so wrote paleontologist and priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), who envisioned an "Omega Point" right before Christ turns on his light and we all fly unto it. I'm ...

Rasputina's Sister Kinderhook

On their sixth studio set, Rasputina’s dropped the cello-femmes-trio bit. A lot of the cello here comes from Daniel DeJesus, who doubles on a two-stringed Chinese instrument called an erhu. The three-cellos bit was fine ...

Yaz's Reconnected Live

Vince Clarke, modern-day Bach? For those of you not tuned when Yaz (Yazoo in the U.K.) did this the first time around, I figured I'd get your attention. Realistically, Vince Clarke (the half that doesn't ...

Downtown Church

I've loved Patty Griffin since 1996's Living With Ghosts, where she premiered a voice that could purr and whisper and insinuate on its own successful terms, but rose to quick, sharp stabs, as if the ...

Lost in a Dream

Seventy-nine-year-old drummer Paul Motian makes his intentions known 15 seconds into the opener, "Mode IV," one brush slap on one drum head repeated, re-repeated, then the whole pseudo-echo empties out into a burbling cymbal brook. ...

The Giuseppi Logan Quintet

In a word: soapy. That's Giuseppi Logan's saxophone tone in one word, although soap, when you think on it, can do so much. His intonation, indeed, squirts away from notes like a bar of Irish ...

Valleys of Neptune

Like he's never been away. That simple. That gobsmacking. Which is why I can't get, along the subject of gobs, with all this lukewarm mumbling about "pretty good for outtakes," which of course means pretty ...

Why Not?

Float like a butterfly, abrade like sandpaper. Thus, the curious and fascinating dichotomy between band and bandleader on this, Marion Brown's second album for ESP-Disk as a leader. Originally released 42 years ago in '68, ...

IRM

Charlotte Gainsbourg put forth 5:55 with some help from her French compatriots (electroduo Air) and her U.K. ones to boot (Nigel Godrich at the board, Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannnon on lyrics). She brought forth ...

Ghosts

The Smoke Fairies had me at "Frozen Heart." Actually, on more comprehensive listening to their collection of bits ’n’ pieces, they had me at "When You Grow Old." Will you remember me, the singer wonders. ...

Ratt 'n' Roll

Ratt left San Diego in the ’80s and scrabbled to the big prize in L.A. with their triple-platinum debut LP. After years of decadence, a few more albums, and the eventual drug death of guitarist ...

I Dreamed a Dream

Susan Boyle's victory is Revenge of the Nerds writ large. Writ gloriously large. If you've ever been ditched by your "best friend" on a cold, rainy night with no easy way to get home; ever ...

Raw, Raw, Rough

"This 'stereo' recording," states the back cover of Barrence Whitfield's comeback album, "is suitable for playback on today's hi-fidelity systems without adverse effect to the stylus." Good thing most of us aren't (I hope) stupid ...

Let the Night Fall

The mighty Tris McCall. Straight out of Jersey (City). Track one clarifies (as in butter) the narrator's inability to portray himself in life as he feels with the ultimate college radio station (which eventually lost ...

Indie-pendent

Kristin Gundred, late of America’s Finest City, got her showbiz start singing and banging drums with San Diego hopefuls Grand Ole Party, although she refuses any party or scene affiliation now (see below). Moving to ...

Malaikat Dan Singa

"Dammit people, I am NOT up here casting spells!" my band teacher often brayed when rehearsals got stuck. Arrington de Dionyso, though, just might be casting spells. Sure sounds like it. He sings everything on ...

The Mercury Albums Anthology

So maybe manager Kim Fowley did want to sheath them in transparent togs and call the whole thing statutory rape. That's one of many myths you won't find addressed in Bud Scoppa's liner notes, settling ...

Introducing

In case you're confused (I was too), this album is called Introducing and then the band is called Brilliant Colors. I hope that clears everything up. They look a little out-of-focus on the cover. They ...

Sisterworld

So the new Liars album sounds exactly right whilst reading about a 12-year-old Indiana girl tortured and killed by an impromptu gang of female teens. But that's not the surprising part. No, the surprising part ...

Rock n' Proverbs

Hard-rocking, Christian, and proud, Thieves & Liars pulled no punches on their debut, When Dreams Become Reality, a concept album based on the Old Testament story of Joseph. Now they’re back with a more straightforward ...

The Life of the World to Come

Yes, the new Mountain Goats revolves around Bible verses, and no, you don't need to run away. The Mountain Goats remain the Mountain Goats. Main mountaineer John Darnielle apparently bought an Amy Grant box set, ...

Thunder Hips and Saddle Bags

A few lifetimes ago. I sit listening to the local college radio station. I've heard of Human Skab but never heard him. I phone in a request. The DJ with the confident, sexy voice tells ...

Chomp

More, indeed, than any other American band of their era, Pylon (the amazing-est Athens, GA act you never heard of) sounded like semaphore, like ordinary communications forced into a code and forced upon you without ...

Under Stellar Stream

Communion. That's the one-word take I settled on for Richard Youngs's latest. Not without some mental struggle -- "prayer" covers the feel of the thing, but prayer is usually private. "Meditation" comes closer, but the ...

Normal as Blueberry Pie

First off, how normal is blueberry pie? Serious question. As far as Zen koans go, I'm sticking it right up there with “Why has Bhodi-Dharma left for the East?” or “Why are those car wheels ...

Bleach Deluxe

Some noise, yes, very nice. And that was my only thought on this white-vinyl Sub Pop thingy my brother dragged home. I wish I could tell you I was hip to the game from the ...

Frank Fairfield

Frank Fairfield wants nobody to know much about Frank Fairfield, which is his right, up to a point. His debut contains no bio, no liner notes, and damn few credits. From an online article I've ...

Plastic Guitar

Genial Sacramento eccentric Anton Barbeau travels to England for this one, and writes about same for his first song, no less. Other selections highlight the thin line between Esperanto and joyous gibberish, with backwards- and ...

The Boy Who Knew Too Much

Mika's second album dials down excess (just a few hairs) to prove that nothing succeeds like forthrightness. Even more than his three-strip Technicolor debut Life In Cartoon Motion, Boy works best as an Original Cast ...

How Great Is Your Love

Sean Ardoin, heir to the Zydeco throne of Bois Sec Ardoin, calls this the first Christian Zydeco album, and indeed (at least) I can't think of any others. As one of the several rappers dropping ...

The Good Earth

The Feelies’ second album was released in 1986, six years after their Crazy Rhythms debut, a gap mystifying a lot of people but not bandleaders Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, who said, long story short, ...

Crazy Rhythms

The Feelies sure look like geeks against the ocean-blue on their debut album cover (yes, Weezer ripped it off), and Glenn Mercer’s lightly clogged intonation suggests Jonathan Richman’s taking the lonely boy in the corner ...

Only Life

Only Life, the Feelies' third album from 1988, finds Bill Million wandering away from the songwriting, and Glenn Mercer, possibly to fill that gap, pondering more on concrete matters. "Got a ways to go/and so ...

The Incident

Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, itching to create a prog-metal masterwork with the audacity of Tales From Topographic Oceans or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, at last materializes his wish. The Incident takes up 55 ...

Break Up

First bold and underlined rule when approaching the new Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn duo disc: forget Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. I mean, remember Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin if you want to. They ...

Pieces of Jade

A novice bassist at 17, a professional bassist at 18, sideman to legendary trumpeter Chet Baker at 20, sideman to legendary pianist Bill Evans at 23, dead in a car wreck at 25: Scott LaFaro ...

God Is Good

Wikipedia calls the two-man bass-and-drums OM a “stoner metal band,” but as the Good God is my witness, they don’t sound that stupid. Trying and esoteric, yes — if you’re looking for rough noisy explosions, ...

Welcome Joy

For sophomore set Welcome Joy, I wondered if Seattle trio the Cave Singers’d stick with the electro-folk of 2007’s Invitation Songs. Turns out they need the beeps and warbles like Kojak needs aftershave. Some lady ...

Live at the Folklore

A few months before the Summer of Love (a long way from San Francisco, though) in a living-room-sized space above Sixth Avenue, Tim Buckley is 8 years, 3 months, and 23 days away from the ...

Won't It Be Joyful

You probably knew Sam Hinton’s voice without knowing his name. Our grade-school teachers played his records. Hinton was the jocular guy avowing, “Whoever shall have some good peanuts and giveth his neighbor none/ Then he ...

Eskimo Snow

First thought on this latest from Why? How the hell did they clone They Might Be Giants? No, wait, I don't believe in human cloning. Okay, how did they get They Might Be Giants to ...

Childish Prodigy

Kurt Vile wants you to believe that's his real name, and it certainly provides a hook to hang the heavy hype this disc, his first for Matador, gets. Confidentially, though, a guy writing lines like ...

Watch Me Fall

Jay Reatard's got one of the stupidest handles in what we call pop. Of course, he also has one of the sharper minds in what we call pop. Singing, arranging, playing many instruments, the self-dubbed ...