Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition
Back in the mid 90s when indie was still independent and Napster was just a glimmer in some preteen’s eye, a band named Pavement ruled the indie airwaves with a lazy-sounding, deliberately eccentric rock that embodied the ingenious apathy of the times (the attitude somebody summed up in that movie Slackers). Anyway, originally released in 1995, this re-mastered re-issue (that’s a lot of “re”s) contains a walloping 50 Pavement songs, including eighteen unreleased recordings, nine B-sides, four tracks off compilations, five BBC recordings, and a whole lot more.
Some of the best moments are slow and wandering, with jaunty guitar injections and a little country-hearted twang. Ever fond of screwing around, Pavement’s lyrics are never heartfelt-they have a jokey language all their own that frees up the songs to be the chaotic pieces of sound they are. It’s a refreshing look back at a highly influential, highly acclaimed indie band’s oft-considered “best album.” The songs are not the fleshed-out pop operas you might be used to these days, but since when has genius been fleshed out or poppy-and anyway, that’s what’s so endearing about them.-Jennifer Sherowski
The Exploding Hearts
In the same way that The White Stripes embody the spirit of good ol’ Zepp-inspired rawk instead of ripping it off, The Exploding Hearts are a nod to the essence of the kind of power-pop-punk you can’t help but love. Don’t think blink-182-think something earlier and way better, like The Undertones or The Buzzcocks. Anyhoo, this here is actually a collection of singles and other non-album material. That it can’t be a fresh, new album is actually heartbreaking-the singer, bassist, and drummer of this Portland, Oregon band all died in a car crash outside Eugene, Oregon in 2003 just a few months after the release of their ingenious debut album Guitar Romantic. So if the only new material we have to go on is really old material we’ve never heard before, then so be it.
This stuff has true heart-it’s melodic and punkish, with tough yet tender vocals and some ultra-catchy riffin’ that’ll win over rockers and punkers alike. Oh, and if you’re into Shattered, definitely take a gander at Guitar Romantic-it’s just one of those albums that’s almost perfect, ya know?-Jennifer Sherowski
Hymns For Disco
Epic lines at Whistler/Blackcomb, Molson beer, hockey-now you can add underground hip-hop innovator k-os to your list of things from Canada that rule. Hailing from outside Toronto, this acclaimed rapper/vocalist has built a real rep in hip-hop circles over the past decade with his eclectically influenced style. Not afraid to belt it out, k-os delivers more than just raps and rhymes-he infuses songs with smooth vocals and weaves rhythmic and soulful melodies into every track.
The first few songs on the album feature a totally original sound and share a genre-blending style, but just when you think you’ve put your finger on where things are headed, the script gets completely flipped. Everything from soul, rock, 50s swinging bebop, reggae, 80s rock, acoustic folk, and straight-up B-boying old-school hip-hop are thrown into the mix as the album rolls on. In “Ballad Of Noah,” k-os cleverly blends an acoustic guitar riff and harmonica over an incredibly nice break beat and produces a sound you could describe as Bob Dylan meets Run DMC. Arguably the most impressive cut on the record is “CatDiesel,” a more straightforward hip-hop banger featuring k-os at his finest busting out with incredibly smooth flow. This latest, and what most will agree is the greatest, offering to date will no doubt blow the minds of both his loyal fans and anyone else with an ear for raw, emerging talent.-Jack Spilberg
Darrell Mathes’ “Ten Songs For Gettin’ Yer Shred On” Playlist
1. The Sword, “Barael’s Bladee”
2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, “Lost And Found”
3. DJ Shadow, “Organ Donor”
4. Nellie McKay, “David”
5. Faces, “Ooh La La”
6. The Rakes, “Retreat”
7. Sacred Hoop, “Bartender”
8. The Velvet Underground, “Beginning To See Light”
9. The White Stripes, “Cannon”
10. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Way Out”