Posted by: Ryan Allen on August 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Benji Hughes, A Love Extreme (New*West, 2008)

MP3: “Neighbor Down The Hall”

Whoever decided that an unknown former house painter from Charlotte, North Carolina who looks like he escaped from an Allman Brothers cover band — or perhaps My Morning Jacket — should release a double disc debut album, should totally get a raise. How the hell Benji Hughes managed to compile 25 tracks of charming, genre hopping pop brilliance without once missing the mark is anybody’s guess, but A Love Extreme plays effortlessly and has no filler. Hughes’ wit and writing style evoke indie savants like the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt and Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett. The man’s got the skills of Beck, but with more facial hair and less Scientology. Whether he’s lamenting the fact that his neighbor would rather call and complain to the landlord than knock on his door to ask him to turn down his jambox, reminiscing about a night spent with friends at a Flaming Lips concert, or tenderly convincing a girl that falling in love with him is all she needs to do (“And everyday you don’t gets wasted, and every night alone is your fault…”), his charm is completely infectious. Before you know it, you’ve listened to both discs and are ready to start the whole thing over again. — Laura Witkowski

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Posted by: Johnny Loftus on June 26, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Head Like a Kite, There is Loud Laughter Everywhere (Mush, 2008)

Listen: “We Were So Entangled”

Seattle-area musician Dave Einmo’s second effort as Head Like a Kite follows the formula of 2006’s Random Portraits of the Home Movie, marrying easily digested electronic rhythms and production niceties to the beat of conventional indie rock. If you’re thinking that the result of that marriage might sound like a listenable, yet underwhelming blend of Eels, Beck, and LCD Soundsystem, you’re right. There’s nothing wrong with There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere, necessarily. Einmo and his collaborators usually locate a phrase to hang a scraggly guitar line on, which is then matched to looped live drums or processed electronic percussion; other times, they come up with what amounts to a typical indie rock song with a bit of electronic flair added. This album’s “Big FM Radio Hit,” for example, is a ringer for the last album’s Smoosh-guesting “Noise at the Circus.” But there’s nothing that really stands out on this record, either. Smoosh vocalist Asya even returns for “Daydream Vacation.” “Six Bags of Confetti” features the familiar “Wee-ooh Wee-ohh” keyboard setup, the blatant LCD-lite of “Listen Young Stunners” doesn’t live up to its cool name, and “Letting it Go on the Ohio Turnpike” helps fulfill the album’s non sequitur-sample-meets-swirling electronic figure quotient. It’s all passable, even listenable. But Loud Laughter rarely if ever causes question, curiosity, or even a sense of cool. — Johnny Loftus

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Posted by: Ryan Allen on June 24, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Ever wander into your favorite bar, order up a Budweiser or a Redheaded Slut, or whatever you people drink these days, and think to yourself, “Man, I could really go for some 60s-influenced pop, preferably produced by that Danger Mouse guy, with Beck singing all the songs”? Well, thanks to TouchTunes — the “largest out Read more

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