Posted by: Ryan Allen on October 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Deerhoof, Offend Maggie (Kil Rock Stars, 2008)

MP3: “Offend Maggie”

Unlike that totally undeserving-of-the-title crappy boxed rice side-dish, Deerhoof is the ultimate San Francisco treat. On their 10th full length, Offend Maggie, the band continues their tradition of making erratically melodic yet angularly discordant pop music. A lesser outfit could never get away with putting a voice as plaintive as Satomi Matsuzaki’s front and center, but Deerhoof have spent their career cultivating the perfect blend of brash and simple beauty. Of course, being amazingly good musicians certainly helps. Last year’s acclaimed Friend Opportunity showed that even down one member, they lost no ground as a three piece, but with the addition of new guitarist Ed Rodriguez, Offend Maggie ups the sonics to blissful proportions. What’s most surprising about Offend Maggie is the euphoric cognitive dissonance of listening to something that’s both challenging and additively catchy at the same time. “Chandelier Searchlight” showcases their mastery of quirky pop perfection, whereas “Eaguru Guru” has a jarring sense of urgency and build that’s more exhaustively rewarding. It’s like Chutes and Ladders for your ears — Deerhoof’s melodic bliss will send you climbing to new heights, and just when it looks like you’re about to over indulge your musical sweet tooth, down the cacophonous chute you go to start the ascent all over again. – Laura Witkowski

Deerhoof play the Crofoot w/ Experimental Dental School and Flying on 10/18

Bonus: The foot-tappin’ video for “Fresh Born”

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Posted by: Ryan Allen on September 10, 2008 at 10:00 am

The Shaky Hands, Lunglight (Kill Rock Stars/Holocene Music, 2008)

MP3: “We Are Young”

It was only last year that the Shaky Hands released their debut album and became Portland indie-darlings. Phrases like, “jangle pop” and “summertime music” were thrown around, affirmative nods were sent their way, and many a “you’ve got to see these guys live” blog entries were written. Now just one year later, the band is back with Lunglight — an album that shows the 2007 buzz was on target. But the Shaky Hands have added an edge and a weight to their sound that is highlighted on their second offering. Sure this is music that jangles, but it’s also jagged and jarring in all the right places. Bands like Vampire Weekend and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have a similar style and early buzz story, but both have the relatively harmless bite of a newborn tiger. Time will tell, but the Shaky Hands may very well be the momma tiger that lunges and rips out your jugular as you’re coo cooing over her unattended cub. “When your shots ring loud, it’s just a sound ‘cause we took your bullets out,” front man Nick Delffs sings on album opener “A New Parade,” but he’s not singing about his band’s sound. The Shaky Hands are fully loaded and the safety is off. — Laura Witkowski

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Posted by: Ryan Allen on August 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

Over the years, Portland, Oregon by-way-of Olympia, Washington label Kill Rock Stars has housed some legendary shit. At one point or another, Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, the Decemberists, Bikini Kill, and Bratmobile have all called the label home. Nowadays, the likes of Deerhoof, Erase Errata, New Bloods, Shy Child, and Xiu Xiu proudly hang their hats there. So when we sent KRS an email almost a year ago asking them to fill out a little survey of ours, never to hear anything in return, we had to chock it up to the fact that, shit, homeys must be busy putting out records and stuff. So, it came as quite a surprise when, low and behold, newish label owner (and wife of former honcho Slim Moon) Portia Sabine sent us an email, answering all of our silly little questions. Read on, and discover that despite being a label called Kill Rock Stars, it’s still apparently Okay to Read more

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Posted by: Ryan Allen on July 31, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Horse Feathers, House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars, 2008)

MP3: “Working Poor ”

Recently, Canadian folk acts such as Great Lakes Swimmers, Sunparlour Players, and the Hidden Cameras have gained a fairly decent amount of success by combining traditional folk music with a contemporary sound. You would figure that Portland, Oregon is close enough to the Land of the Free (health care, that is) that a band would be able to gain access to that formula simply through osmosis. Not the case with Horse Feathers. While too symphonic to be considered bluegrass, and too easy-listening to be folk, House With No Home still tries its hardest to worm its way in there somewhere. The follow-up to 2006’s Words Are Dead (which somehow managed to make it onto NPR’s Top 10 Albums of 2006), the album fails to step forward from the sleepytime sound that was initially introduced by the band. Lead vocalist Justin Ringle may have a voice of pure gold (imagine Iron & Wine’s Samuel Beam minus the creepy fucking beard), and Peter Broderick seems to be very talented on the banjo and violin (“Working Poor” is a shining example) and can play one mean cello (has that ever been said in the history of music?), but by the time it’s all put together, not a single track on the album reaches any sort of climax. While fans of Starbucks, Volkswagen, and Gary Jules may systematically fall in love with the album at first listen, it leaves the rest of the population wanting. — Adam O’Connor

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Posted by: Ryan Allen on June 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Child Bite, Fantastic Gusts of Blood (Suburban Sprawl Music/Quack! Media, 2008)

Listen: “Never-Ending Mountain Slammer”

Is it allowed for a scrappy post-punk band weaned on Mr. Bungle, Kill Rock Stars, and Mountain Dew to issue a concept album based on various stories of Greek mythology, set to the tune of a bunch of mad scientists sticking light sabers inside the pickups of their guitars? Take one spin through Child Bite‘s relentless new Read more

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Posted by: Johnny Loftus on June 6, 2008 at 9:00 am

Shy Child, Noise Won’t Stop (Kill Rock Stars, 2008)

Listen: “Pressure to Come”

Your enjoyment of Shy Child hinges on how much you love to wiggle and shake to the sound of two men attacking. The New York City duo’s latest, cheekily titled Noise Won’t Stop, often churns in an agitated half-time. Jerky, disjointed stabs of synth bang ricochet off the thump of the drums, and patterns, not songs, emerge from the onslaught. Vocalist/keytarist Pete Carafella’s “kick it like a kick drum” call in the Read more

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