wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: october 2009 (iv)

In the final part of this month’s roundup, we take a look at Canadian trio Magneta Lane’s latest album, the intriguing return of Swedish duo Midaircondo and the murky, droning new release from America’s To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie.

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Magneta Lane
Gambling With God •••
Last Gang

Three years on from their debut full-length, Torontonian power-pop trio Magneta Lane return with their risky-sounding second album Gambling With God, only to show that they have taken no such chances with the actual music. Exhibiting little in the way of artistic growth from 2006’s Dancing With Daggers, these 10 tracks suffer a similar fate to that album in that they simply don’t possess enough variety. Singer/guitarist Lexi Valentine, bassist French and drummer Nadia King have stuck fairly rigidly to the pop-noir formula that has served them moderately well in the past, with only a few glimpses of something different.

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sounding off: october 2009 (iii)
October 19, 2009, 12:49 pm
Filed under: album, EP, review | Tags: , , , , , , ,

In part three of this month’s roundup, we take a look at the new EP from Leeds band The Kiara Elles, the latest album from longrunning metal group Kittie and immerse ourselves in the brilliantly twisted world of Listen With Sarah.

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The Kiara Elles
Odio EP •••
Vandal

This spiky five-piece band from Leeds takes its unusual handle from a corruption of the name of lead singer Chiara Lucchini. Produced by Choque Hosein (formerly of Black Star Liner, now boss of Leeds label Vandal), the Odio EP delivers a straight up new-wave sound buoyed by Lucchini’s distinctive Yorkshire-accented vocals and a Slits-punk attitude. These qualities are best personified on the title track, its insistent beat and “shouting at the stereo” refrain making it a non-ska little sister of The Selecter’s ‘On My Radio’.

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sounding off: august 2009 (v)
September 10, 2009, 9:05 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , , , ,

In August’s fifth and final batch of mini-reviews, we take a look at new releases from Ember Schrag, Starnes&Shah and Wisdom Tooth.

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Ember Schrag
A Cruel, Cruel Woman ••••
Lone Prairie

After eleven (!) self-released efforts, Ember Schrag’s latest album is coming at us through a record deal with Lone Prairie Records, a Nebraskan-faithful imprint that’s slowly building a roster to rival that of local champions Saddle Creek. At just 24 years old, Schrag has certainly been busy. Between writing songs, she’s a mum to an 18-month old daughter and keeps an open house that serves as meeting place, rehearsal room and concert venue for the steady flow of entertainers and music lovers who pop by the city of Lincoln. A singer-songwriter with a poetry degree might induce winces in certain circles, but A Cruel, Cruel Woman demands an open mind.

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sounding off: august 2009 (ii)

Part 2 of the August roundup looks at releases from Cabinet Of Natural Curiosities, Colbie Caillat and Catie Curtis.

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Cabinet Of Natural Curiosities
Searchlight Needles •••
For Arbors

Already a Free Music Friday veteran, it’s only right that Jasmine Dreame Wagner (aka Cabinet Of Natural Curiosities) receives a Wears The Trousers review for her first album, albeit already her fifth release. Searchlight Needles is a sort of Americana meets psych-folk poetry amalgamation that, as you can probably detect from this possibly futile descriptive attempt, does not sit easily within any one category. Instead, Wagner’s concoctions happily and gently float through a complex Venn diagram of musical genres, leaving trails of wisdom behind along the way. Opener ‘Little Ice Age’ sets the scene, quietly but freakily, accompanied by densely layered, organic instrumentation. “Little one, are you coming?” sings Wagner eerily, as if waking us up from a really bad dream…in a dark forest, in the middle of the night. Thanks.

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sounding off: august 2009 (i)

In this first part of our monthly roundup of releases we didn’t get time to review in full over the last four weeks, we take a look at some great releases from All The Fires, Amiina and Annie & The Beekeepers.

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All The Fires
‘The Map’ EP ••••
Hobo 

Orchestral folk-pop may not be one of music’s most recognisably innovative forms, but don’t equate that with an inability to stir and provoke. Mirroring the famous Korzybski philosophy from which this EP derives its name – “the map is not the territory” – this six-piece band from Falmouth in Cornwall arrive with this debut release to prove once again that genre abstractions can be sorely misleading. All The Fires are a talented bunch who construct often mysterious tales rich in layered three-part harmonies from singers Rosalie James, Kathryn Williams (not the one from Newcastle) and Matthew Dixon, scattering vibrant natural imagery and literary references among them. The Cornish air has clearly got into their heads and blown away any cobwebs as these five tracks all display an impressive clarity and uncommon grace.

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sounding off: july 2009 (iv)
August 4, 2009, 12:31 pm
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , , , ,

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Miss Derringer
Winter Hill •••½
Nickel & Dime

Miss Derringer are on to a winner from the outset, because bands with names as brilliantly evocative as theirs are rare. The LA outfit’s third album, Winter Hill, is suitably crammed with stories of classy and tough-talking dames berating or lamenting the men who’ve Done Them Wrong. Vocalist Elizabeth McGrath has attracted comparisons to Debbie Harry, but more convincing echoes can be heard here of Gwen Stefani’s strut-and-sass and the Detroit Cobras’ full-throated blues and country twists.

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sounding off: july 2009 (iii)

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Kissing Cousins
Pillar Of Salt •••½
Velvet Blue Music

Tantalizingly self-described as “all female sepulchral counter-pop”, the Kissing Cousins quintet took their name as a sarcastic nod to preconceived notions about the Deep South, with lead singer Heather Heywood’s very unusual childhood informing their music. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama with her charismatic Pentecostal preacher father leading a largely poor, black congregation meant an education in “soulful and woeful music”, not to mention the trauma of regular exorcisms, these unusual experiences left Heywood with a “wounded spirituality” and a certain amount of disillusionment that she funnels passionately into Kissing Cousins.

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