Damon Aaron: Ballast
Throwing hip-hop lovebeats into acoustic, folky music is a hip (pun
intended) thing to do these days. Damon Aaron is good at it. Fans of
Elliot Smith or Nick Drake might well like Aaron’s new CD, which also has a hint
of Elvis Costello’s torchy mode (in “Don’t Know How It Happens”) and,
on some tracks, a whiff of the softest side of Beck. In tracks like
“Over And Done With” the hip-hop side retreats so far into the
background it’s barely even implied. Overall the CD has a flattened,
lazy, relaxing atmosphere, great for the waning hours of a party, or
maybe even a late-night seduction in a tiny city apartment.
I’m not a fan of Aaron’s mopey style of singing, but given its
popularity, I guess there’s a good chance you are, so if you like the
aforementioned artists, or modern folk in general, give this a try.
Samples aren’t yet available online, but the label’s
website links to most of its releases at iTunes, so you can
probably expect this new release to appear at
Apple’s online store shortly. (It’s already available at Amazon, but
Powersolo: It’s Raceday… And Your Pussy is GUT!!
Powersolo mixes punk, rockabilly and psychedelia into a stew of pure
fun. Their distorted-twang mentality encompasses psychobilly numbers
like “Nascar” and “Mr. Suit,” which race by in frantic madness, along
with the stoner ode “Hillbilly Child” which takes its languorous time,
the Mexican-style “Juanito” (sung in Spanish), and the sweet C&W waltz
“Broken Wings” which shows that these English-singing Danes can do a
serious song once in a while too. But goofy creativity rules the day.
“Be Witcha” with its nasal chant recalls the Residents, while “Don’t
Hate Me Baby” is the Spice Girls on hormone treatments and crack.
Crank this one up and take a road trip through the silly cities of
Epo-555: Dexter Fox
In an entirely different vein, Epo-555, also from Denmark, makes
frenetic shimmery pop with a post-punk sensibility. The band combines
synth-aided wall-of-sound attacks, jangly guitars and soothing vocals
to create trancelike soundscapes with a cool PJ Harvey tension. The
individual songs aren’t terribly memorable, so the whole CD tends to
run together despite its varied moods and beats, which is not
altogether a bad thing, but the band could probably reach a higher
level if it aimed for more solid hooks. Still, within their somewhat
narrowly defined sonic palette, there are some tracks that stand out,
like “Cha Cha When They’re Young,” which sounds like surf music for
robots, the dramatic “Sugar For The War Machine,” and the Hypnotic
closer “So Long Cowboy.” And the lyrics often read like cryptic
poems, even in the songs where the music feels less inspired.
But this music is more about mood than words or melodies, and as
such Epo-555 achieves in their best songs a certain transcendent quality.