An Interview with Safety First Records

Once upon a time, the term ‘indie’ described a philosophy rather than a genre and an indie label meant a way of doing things, not an identifiable sound. Xanthi Barker meets the people behind Safety First Records, a passionate attempt to live up to the ideals that come with independence The night before Guy Fawkes’, […]

Gauge: Hustler on the Move (Aqua Boogie Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Texas rapper Gauge knows how to compact syllables, but that won’t separate anyone from the current pack, especially given all the dried-up roto-tom-filled beats on this docket, the worst of which is Beat It Up, an Usher-blingy makeout number with a feat. by Miss Myke. Chicago-house (and tenuously Tupac-connected) producer Mr. […]

Kiyomi: Child in Me (self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Interesting little vanity release here in that it stars a Japanese-American chick from New Yawk doing an unintentional Forrest Gump routine. I’d expected jazz, but this is straight piano pop, open-hearted, almost like something you’d hear during lovey-dovey scenes in an anime cartoon, ie, believe it or not, there’s a market […]

Reverse The Curse: Hither and Yon (Paper+Plastic Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Take a bunch of Cleveland-burb kids who wish they were in either Airborne Toxic Event, Unsane or Thursday, let them yell, holler and flog themselves in a studio and it’d sound like this. If I’m reading their blurb sheet right they’re moving away from the indie-punk that was their original formative […]

Benji Kaplan: Meditacoes no Violao (Circo Mistico Productions)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger New York-bred Brazil-o-phile Kaplan provides a sort of life-travelogue here, soloing nonchalantly throughout the entire album on his nylon-stringed unplugged guitar. It’s so relaxed and unhurried that it can come off as improv, and reading some of the blurbage here I believe that’s the case with some of it. No matter, […]

Abyssal Creatures: Social Awkwardness (Independent Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger A vanity release in more than one sense. Colorado kid Ian Garrett Fellerman is a lonely geek with a score to settle with jocks, chicks who read Dostoevsky, pretty much everyone of his generation, so he’s attached his own Hoobastank emo bleating to his own Postal Service-like cheese, beat it with […]

The Chocolate Horse: Beasts (Stable Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Specializing in the wispy, sparse and non-commital zen that defined 70s chill-folk-rock, this Cincy band makes elevator music for bongpackers old and young. They rarely deviate from a formula that nestles Blind Melon between Mountain and Belle & Sebastian – wait, I’m lying, there’s some Warlocks fuzz-rock in there too. What […]

Regurgitator: SuperHappyFunTimesFriends (Valve Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Their seventh full-length finds these anti-Wiggles Aussie punks floating an endless supply of quite listenable joke tunes powered by (very appropriate) bones to pick. All Fake Everything is just awesome, singer Quan Yeomans taking aim at modern rap with a grenade launcher, the first half a poetic apology from an interchangeable […]

Lowe: Evolver (WTII Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger The rate at which Chicago indie WTII has been wailing on Metropolis Records in the fight for the goth dollar has been noticeable lately, and now it’s even happening in the 80s-pop sideshow that’s becoming more and more a part of the action. The third album from this Swedish band is […]

Freddy V: Easier Than It Looks (Watersign Productions)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Okay, okay, about four songs in I get where this is going, basic Weatherscan background jazz à la Kenny G, born from Freddy’s artistic turpitude developed during hack stints with Average White Band, Michael McDonald, need I say more. The ideas, though lovingly rendered by Freddy and co-producer Mo Pleasure (am […]

Ghost Knife: Kill Shelter Yes (End Sounds)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger There may be much unfortunate confusion when people buy this LP expecting “pop-punk,” one of the main categories into which this stuff’s been lumped. This stuff has nothing to do with the oversaturated emo market, as fans of Austin-based singer Mike Weibe (on leave from Riverboat Gamblers) would instinctively know. But […]

Intensus: Intensus (Metal Blade Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Journeyman multi-instrumentalist Eli Litwin is from Philly, where he latched on to the extreme-metal scene at first before growing to dig math-metal and basically anything else that makes guitars sound utterly nuts. Even an eclectic snob like me can appreciate this project, which, simplistically enough, comprises a collection of off-the-cuff drum […]

Martin Moretto: Martin Moretto Quintet (self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Sometimes you’re just looking for a little dinner-jazz and lots of subtlety. Moretto, an Argentine jazz guitarist based in New York, explores the sublime in his debut LP as a leader, pulling off some barely-there genius (the runs toward the end of ‘Imagenes’ almost sound electronically altered). His agility in the […]

Keb Mo: The Reflection (Yolabelle International Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Very few people have the right musical DNA to pull off bedroom-soul the way this guy does. Most attempts fall a little short, either too sexed-up, or not chill enough, though mostly it’s a problem with cartoonish vocals, not at issue here. ‘Unadorned’ is the most common adjective used to describe […]

Boba Flex: Hell in My Heart (Megaforce Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger In some-things-never-change news, Megaforce continues its domination over all uber-tight speed-metal bands with this one, which fits in perfectly with what Al Jourgensen and Ministry have been doing within the confines of the label. Like Ministry, the deal here is a southern-fried Texas Chainsaw death-punk approach, although these West Virginian guys […]

The Devil Wears Prada: Dead Throne (Ferret Music)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger This Dayton-based six-some never sounded much like the Christian band they are, and now that they’ve decided they hate screamo (save for ‘My Questions’ here) they sound even more… what am I supposed to say, ferocious. They readily admit that their earlier stuff was kind of stupid, and they’re right; nothing […]

Evidence: Cats and Dogs (Rhymesayer Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger I can definitely sort-of recommend this with a hearty “Eh, this is, you know, OK.” A real-life graffiti artist who’s been around the block enough to be convincing, Evidence is pure LA hiphop, boasting whatever level of cred comes with being part of the Dilated Peoples collective. I’d hate to be […]

Jmaxx: Born To Be Famous (Jmaxx Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger It’s not just the self-release aspect of this annoying little bling-house record that screams vanity from the mountaintop. Judging by the lyrics, this Situation-lookalike is all about boning one Kardashian or the other, and matter of fact, if Kim put out something this disposable she might never live it down. It’s […]

Uh Huh Her: Nocturnes (Plaid Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger I can’t imagine why anyone would have actually disliked this LA chick-electropop band’s first album Common Reaction. But by the same token, it almost seemed a second-thought vanity vehicle for Leisha Hailey, who’s been a little too flighty flipping between music and acting – the latter career’s most notable bullet her […]

Polar Bear Club: Clash Battle Guilt Pride (Bridge Nine Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Lots of start-stop goes on here, nullifying the adrenaline effect an all-out barnburner song might have accomplished, but that’s really the only negative, if you want to call it that. This Rochester punk-pop crew flirts with ’70s-arena ideas, their emo angst given a steroid boost from the vocals of Jimmy Stadt, […]

Neil Leonard: Marcel’s Window (self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Leonard is a jazz sax player out of Philly, bragging a list of associated acts and commissions that numbers in the many dozens, including Boston Ballet and the BBC. He can afford to be generous to a fault with his quintet: after some dinner-patter formalities are out of the way (‘Uritorco’), […]

Ponykiller: The Wilderness (Housecore Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger A for-dummies compaction of King Crimson, Doors and Amboy Dukes, oddly enough from New Orleans. What I mean by “for-dummies” is that the meandering experimentation has been largely removed from the prog aspects, a point that won’t set the world on fire. King Crimson was enough of a drag to listen […]

Patrizio Buanne: Patrizio (Concord Jazz)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger With millions of units sold, this Naples, Italy-born baritone is at a crossroads, crooning in English on his fifth album after relocating to LA in what would appear to be a logical career move. This release has been widely flogged, mostly for a perceived lack of passion that was inherent when […]

The Veda Rays: Gamma Rays Galaxy Rays Veda Rays (Alleged Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger It’s nice when your average everyday rock band doesn’t just patch together some influences but actually demonstrates shared ground between sounds. These Brooklynites, when not time-sharing between Hives and Kaiser Chiefs, are shoegazers with purpose and obvious deep reserves of listening experience – perhaps the proudest achievement here is when they […]

Pallers: The Sea of Memories (Labrador Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Johan Angergård may run Labrador Records, but this project, comprised of him as half of an electronica duo, isn’t a sloppy vanity release. I don’t know if I agree with other critics that this is all that “blissed out”, since after some shoegazey rinsing-down in opener ‘Another Heaven’, the pair settles […]