CD review for Oct. 24, 2008
October 24, 2008
For most of “Life Like,” husband-and-wife, dance-pop duo the Rosebuds are subdued, drawing on a folksy lilt that has characterized so many of their lush, calm recordings.
Then “Bow to the Middle” smacks a drum fill between “Border Guards” and “Nice Fox” – both poetically down-key – offering a hand-clapping, step-shouting dance with the devil. This is the Rosebuds: ridiculously catchy, unexpectedly thoughtful and sometimes obsessed with evil.
More so than on the duo’s first three full-length albums, the Rosebuds find balance on “Life Like,” trading the upbeat tempo “Bow to the Middle” on the next track for the non-metaphorical beauty of “Nice Fox,” a song about a fox that lived and died in the couple’s backyard.
Even when Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp get dark with lyrics, the two hold on to some part of the Pixies drums, 1980s synthesizers or indie collective choruses that have, on past records, defined the Rosebuds sound.
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Parts & Labor
Parts & Labor is all about the build. And because of that – because it takes most of the band’s songs a solid two minutes of electronic tooling to get to the melody – it might be easy to dismiss Parts & Labor as too experimental for most tastes.
But if you put aside all the guitar glitches and fuzzy intros, Parts & Labor would be a straightforward rock band, a sort of less interesting HÃ¼sker DÃ¼. Founding members Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw hold on to their love for cacophony and chaos on “Receivers,” but the duo – with new drummer Joe Wong and supplemental guitarist Sarah Lipstate – has steadily and increasingly indulged an instinct for writing happily angstful rock songs.
“Receivers” uses “Satellites,” a seven-minute noisepunk odyssey, to introduce “Nowheres High,” a song that in some (not many) circles could be considered a single. The songs on “Receivers” are tied together with found sounds and samples submitted by the band’s fans, and that method comes through in the album’s seamless transitions.
Parts & Labor often is tagged for Friel and Warshaw’s noise backgrounds, and to a point, the musicians indulge that on “Receivers,” easing each track into the next with uncomfortable bits of static.
But for every unknown or unfamiliar sound, there’s a barebones post-punk chorus, as on “Nowheres High,” “Little Ones” and “Wedding in a Wasteland.” It might take forever for Parts & Labor to get to a melody, but it’s worth the wait.
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