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August 7th, 2002 Zach Dundas (editor) | Sonic Reducer
 

Biblical Fear and COCO, too

Reviews: K Records' lo-fi action, 16 HP's loathing, Green Day's homage, more.

     
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COCO

The COCO Sound
(K)

COCO's analog drum-and-bass picks up where Dub Narcotic Sound System starts to get boring (i.e., after the first two minutes of any DNSS song) and offers some heady respite. DNSS bassist Chris Sutton takes his trademark repetitive but bouncy bass lines and puts them to good use in fantastically danceable R&B tunes. The other half of the duo, Olivia Ness, sings like a loungey Corin Tucker from behind the drum kit. Sometimes they trade instruments, but the music never seems to stop moving. Eleven separate tracks flow by, and you're so busy nodding your head along, you don't even notice. (Godfre Leung)

 

Dennis Driscoll

Voices in the Fog
(K)

For some reason, a line from an old CMJ record review has stuck with me for three years: "File under faux naïf la-la-la." Those words weren't written about Dennis Driscoll, but they sum up his new disc perfectly. A longtime K Records konspirator--he's released numerous records on K's Anacortes, Wash.-based sister label Knw-Yr-Own--Driscoll makes the jump to the big (relatively speaking) label and takes full advantage. He borrows Dub Narcotic Sound System's rhythm section from Calvin Johnson for a few numbers, while Northwest indie chanteuses Mirah, Khaela Maricich (a.k.a. the Blow) and Dear Nora's Katy Davidson make cameos. If you like your indie pop low-key with the mistakes left in, you'll fall in love with Driscoll's lo-fi acoustic version. Portland pop enthusiasts are sure to enjoy his cover of Dear Nora's "Secondhand." (Godfre Leung)

(Note: Release just delayed until early October.)

 

Green Day

Shenanigans
(Reprise)

Now that Audiogalaxy is dead and Shawn "Napster" Fanning is well on his way to becoming the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question, maybe people will be willing to shell out for B-sides and rarities compilations again. Shenanigans collects less well-known artifacts from Green Day's mid-'90s ascent to pop-culture phenomenon and late-'90s descent back to just being a really good band. You get the bad (the band's disposable spy tune from Austin Powers 2) with the good ("Do Da Da," from a hard-to-find human-rights benefit comp on long-forgotten label ark21). Mostly, Shenanigans consists of faster, quirkier songs that didn't quite fit on the band's full-length albums. (Thankfully, though, there are no songs by the drummer.) For those eagerly awaiting the in-the-works Dee Dee Ramone tribute albums (have those Joey tribs even come out yet?), Green Day's take on the Dee Dee-penned Ramones song "Outsider" won't disappoint. The album's other standout song is a cover of the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You." It's nice to see--and hear--Green Day paying homage to arguably the two biggest influences on their work. (Godfre Leung)

 

Reclinerland

Self-titled EP
(Lelp)

Damn good thing Reclinerland's Mike Johnson moved back to PDX after some time in NYC--his latest album gets underway with a track full of clever, made-in-Portland lyrics about bike riding and drive-through espresso stands. Would they have gotten it in Gotham? Who cares? Most of the EP's odd-numbered cuts are well-crafted acoustic pieces à la Magnetic Fields or Beck in his early, serious pseudo-folk mode. The even-numbered ones are pure, plugged-in pop songs proving that "pop" doesn't need to mean musical or emotional simplicity. Johnson gets the happy/sad, boppy/brainy mix just right; you may find yourself tapping your toes and brooding over bittersweet memories simultaneously. (Katherine Sharpe)

 

Sixteen Horsepower

Folklore
(Jetset Records)

"It is no mystery, I know my way from here," sings David Eugene Edwards on the first track of Sixteen Horsepower's latest (and apparently last), a mix of covers and four new songs. This Denver preacher's son has never seemed in doubt about his destination. Edwards is sufficiently intimate with his demons to fear for his soul. Though Folklore is so restrained it sounds like a solo album, it still has 16 HP's apocalyptic edge; the warnings now come in a whisper, not a bellow. "Run to the mountain, the mountain won't hide you/ Run to your grave, your grave will not hold you," Edwards chants on "Sinnerman." The Carter Family's "Single Girl" is the only "country" song per se. Hank Williams' "Alone and Forsaken" sounds like Nick Cave with a banjo. "Horse Head Fiddle," a traditional song from the forsaken Russian republic of Tuva, is the strangest song here, with a background drone like a cross between Tuvan throat singers and a church choir humming the final syllable of a psalm. On the last track, "La Robe a Parasol," a loping mazurka with French lyrics about girls with big hips, Edwards seems like he's almost...having fun. As you might expect, it sounds a bit painful. Not a lighthearted fellow, this one. (Becky Ohlsen)

 
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