Music

CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Friends of Yours, Django Django, and Black Atlass

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Friends of Yours
What You’re After
(Senselessly Complicated Music)

This exceptionally original Northampton duo seems to have added a bass player named Kate since its last full-length release, Contagious. Her parts blend so well into the overall sound that the addition is only an improvement to the band’s bottom end. The group continues to channel a bizarre blend of progressive blues-rock, grunge and folky psychedelia, occasionally gentle, sometimes serrated with distortion pedals and impassioned screams. Singer/guitarist Lynn Simonds drives the sound, slathering a sometimes sweet, sometimes noise-flayed layer of guitar over drummer Brian DiPippo’s tribal percussion tracks and telling heart- and head-processed stories that observe and react in a voice both relaxed and genuine, though at times it instills a vague feeling of uneasiness. The album’s best feature: great use of picked guitar arpeggios, harmonics and simple, well-crafted bass lines. —Tom Sturm

*

Django Django
Hail Bop—The Remix EP
(Ribbon Music)

 “Our name has absolutely nothing to do with Django Reinhardt,” writes British psychedelic quartet Django Django online. True enough. Instead of resembling the work of the late Gypsy-jazz guitarist, the band’s sound has more in common with fellow Scottish group The Beta Band. And that’s no coincidence either. Django bandleader David Maclean is actually the younger brother of Beta keyboardist John Maclean. However, where The Beta Band tended to tread in more shuffling rhythms, Django Django dances to a different beat. On this remix release, listeners are treated to five different versions of album track “Hail Bop,” including the original cut (also available on the band’s self-titled debut), as well as a take on the number “Skies Over Cairo” by DJ Bullion. The revamped songs work well with Django’s already echo-laden vocals and eclectic instrumentation contributing to a surprising, non-repetitive listen, but all the same, this record is strictly for hardcore fans only. —Michael Cimaomo

*

Black Atlass
Black Atlass EP
(independent)

This is a startling debut, a smooth-voiced haze of sophisticated electronic rhythms and weird sound trips accompanying oddly canted vocals. Acoustic instrumentation combines with vinyl-esque hisses and pops and sludgy, synth-driven drones to create a mood somewhere between that of a romantic ballad and a sense of dread. The confident embrace of such unusual sounds would be remarkable from any musician; that it’s the product of an 18-year-old from Ontario who cobbled these sounds together in his spare time during high school makes it all the more impressive. Black Atlass (aka Alex Fleming) annihilates preconceptions about the sophistication young musicians are capable of. This recording is as bold a personal vision as you’re likely to find, full of complex textures, unexpected moves and rhythms that manage to work despite feeling almost at odds with the instrumentation. The results may or may not be your cup of tea, but the distinctive vision ought to dazzle your ears all the same. —James Heflin

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