wears the trousers magazine

thus:owls: cardiac malformations (2010)
March 1, 2010, 11:20 am
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Cardiac Malformations ••••
Almost Musique

On ‘Climbing The Fjelds Of Norway’, the third track on this debut album by Swedish five-piece Thus:Owls, vocalist Erika Alexandersson sings, “When I was a child I climbed the fjields of Norway / I could never reach the peak of the mountain / there was always another one behind it”. As it happens, this description of her formative mountaineering experiences also serves as a pretty accurate allegory for the Cardiac Malformations listening experience. Songs take their own sweet time to develop and the few discernible hooks are delivered slowly and deliberately so you never feel able to quite get the measure of its eleven tracks. Put simply, it’s hard work. But, give it a fair hearing and you’ll find that your efforts pay handsome dividends in the form of some truly beautiful musical vistas. A bit like climbing a mountain, then.

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get back guinozzi!: carpet madness (2009)
October 6, 2009, 9:00 am
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Get Back Guinozzi!
Carpet Madness •••

Carpet Madness – the debut full-length from French duo Get Back Guinozzi! – includes a cover of the Junior Murvin reggae classic ‘Police & Thieves’, famously interpreted by The Clash, who doubtlessly saw parallels between the anarchic situation described in the lyrics and the societal unrest of late-’70s Britain. Get Back Guinozzi!’s approach strips away any such seriousness, restyling the song as brisk, summery indie-pop that makes the appearance of the coppers’ “guns and ammunition” seem like a cause for celebration. It’s an odd thing to do, but it’s by far the sanest moment on Carpet Madness.

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visqueen: message to garcia (2009)
September 28, 2009, 9:32 am
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Message To Garcia •••½
Local 638

Message To Garcia – the third album from Seattle trio Visqueen – is billed as “a rock and roll epitaph to frontwoman Rachel Flotard’s father”. Continuing through the accompanying press release, we discover that ‘A Message To Garcia’ is an 1899 essay by American philosopher Elbert Hubbard celebrating the bravery of a soldier who accomplished a mission with an ascetic degree discipline. Flotard’s dad compelled his daughter to read Hubbard’s essay as he lay on his deathbed, hoping its message would inspire her to continue performing and songwriting in the face of immense stress and, later, a deep period of grief. But the essay also represents the no-nonsense approach exhibited by Visqueen. Much like the protagonist of ‘A Message To Garcia’, their music doesn’t ask any questions of the listener; it simply gets on with the task in hand.

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sounding off: july 2009 (v)


Reverie Sound Revue
Reverie Sound Revue •••½

The career path of Reverie Sound Revue doesn’t speak of a band intent on world domination. They released a self-titled EP in 2003 and then promptly split up. But six years later, here they are again, releasing an album which is, confusingly, also self-titled. Their latest Wikipedia entry states, somewhat tersely, that the band “have no plans to play live”. Oh well. The music of Reverie Sound Revue is in keeping with their skittish image. Lisa Lobsinger (who, like most Canadians, is an occasional member of Broken Social Scene) coos serenely over undulating, vaguely Krautrock-y basslines, twinkly, unobtrusive guitar arpeggios and the occasional vibraphone. Imagine School Of Seven Bells with the noisier shoegaze influences shorn off.

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bowerbirds: upper air (2009)
June 29, 2009, 10:17 am
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Upper Air ••½
Dead Oceans 

The accordionist and co-vocalist for North Carolina’s Bowerbirds boasts a truly amazing stage name: Beth Tacular. This by itself suggests that her band might possess a trashy, pop culture-obsessed aesthetic, or, at the very least, some semblance of a sense of humour. Sadly, both these things are absent from Bowerbirds’ second album, Upper Air. A more serious and resolutely tasteful album is unlikely to be released this year. Each track is centred around a slowly strummed acoustic guitar, embellished but never overwhelmed by complementary instrumentation: a waft of accordion here, a parp of organ there. At least they are consistent.

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we rock like girls don’t: how did it get to this (2009)
March 19, 2009, 3:00 pm
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


We Rock Like Girls Don’t
How Did It Get To This ••

It’s always seemed a little unfair to use a band’s name to evaluate their music. That’s because a band’s choice of title is arbitrary at best, facetious at worst. Despite this, music writers (this one included) insist on using the name of the artist at hand for some sort of comedic pay-off in the review’s summarising sentence. But Glasgow-based duo We Rock Like Girls Don’t have such a declamatory name that they are, frankly, asking for it. This band rocks, they tell us. This therefore begs the question: do they really? 

The answer: We Rock Like Girls Don’t don’t rock, because they do rock. Or rather, they “ROCK” – in big capital letters, with inverted commas around them. And because they are so eager to draw attention to their music’s rockiness, its impact is minimal. It’s a bit like watching a horror movie with the caption “THIS IS REALLY SCARY ISN’T IT?” positioned on the screen throughout.

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julie doiron: i can wonder what you did with your day (2009)
March 13, 2009, 8:55 am
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Julie Doiron
I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day ••½

In 2007, Guardian columnist and professional grump Charlie Brooker discussed the trend of ‘tweetronising’ television commercials. “You can spot a tweetronising commercial a mile off ,” he wrote. “It’ll have a modern folk music backing track, a cast of non-threatening urban hippy replicants, and a drowsy hello-birds-hello-sky overall attitude that makes you want to chase it down an alleyway and kick it until the police arrive.” But we can be tweetronised by media other than television. If you dare to read the horribly facetious blurb on the label of an Innocent smoothie, for example, you’ll be given a potentially toxic dose of tweetronisation.

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