Sights and Sounds
by Mike Evans
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS — Ghostory
THE GOOD: New York indie dream poppers School of Seven Bells shimmer on their third album.
THE BAD: Nah!
THE NITTY GRITTY: The band is down to two core members — guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis (formerly of Secret Machines) and vocalist Alejandra Deheza. Ghostory is their most focused effort to date. Yeah, there’s a pesky “concept” lyrically; a story about a girl and an actual ghost. But you can ignore all that and just enjoy the tunes on their own merits.
And what “otherworldy” music it is! The album begins on a reserved note; the first couple of tracks harkening back to the Cocteau Twins pop-friendly period (remember 1993’s Four Calendar Café?). But then bigger beats kick in, Curtis perhaps flashing back to the punchy rhythms of his Secret Machines days. Tracks like “Lafaye” and “Scavenger” are seductive on a number of levels, drawing us in with both Deheza’s sweet siren song above and delicate yet steady thumps below.
It’s a heady mix of the electronic and the organic; a cascading hypnotic combination of shoegaze, rock and ambient elements that blend harmoniously and seamlessly.
BUY IT?: Definitely.
THE TING-TINGS — Sounds from Nowheresville
THE GOOD: English indie pop duo Ting Tings finally deliver a sophomore effort.
THE BAD: Was it worth the wait?
THE NITTY GRITTY: Over the past few years, the Ting Tings’ music has been everywhere— in commercials, movie trailers, your nearest location of the Limited or Victoria’s Secret. And why not? It’s damn catchy, the songs possess rock solid backbeats, and most of their tunes can happily coexist in the realms of both “alternative” and crappy Top 40 radio. Upon listening to one of their albums though, you come to the painful conclusion that Ting Tings are a singles band — better taken in small doses and coming up with two lackluster ideas for every genuinely good one. This time the good ideas include funky lead single “Hang It Up,” island-flavored “Soul Killing” and super syrupy “Day to Day.”
Too bad you also have to sit through the misguided rant “Guggenheim,” overly dramatic “Help,” and dead-in-the-water closer “In Your Life.” The duo set out to make a varied album this time, and they succeeded. But it’s also split right down the middle — half inspired, half inconsistent.
BUY IT?: Your call.
SANTIGOLD — Master of My Make Believe
THE GOOD: After four years of touring and collaborations, producer/singer/songwriter Santi White (aka Santigold) returns with her sophomore effort.
THE BAD: Make Believe is tight, but does it break new ground?
THE NITTY GRITTY: The album’s cover is a bold painting of the woman displaying three different personas — brave warrior, egotistical businessman, sexual being. They’re all here musically too; Santigold a myriad of split personalities. Sometimes she’s tough, as with the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O on opening stomper “Go” or the confrontational “Look at Those Hoes.” Other tracks find Santi in a quieter place; steady indifferent single “The Keepers” for example.
Make Believe also boasts a bevy of producers — everyone from Q-Tip to Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Bird and the Bee) to Switch (Major Lazer) to the star herself. It all makes for some eclectic listening, but we really don’t hear anything we haven’t already visited on the woman’s first record or her various collaborations released since the turn of the decade. You can take that one of two ways. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke” or “she’s capable of so much more.”
BUY IT?: Still – YES!
NEW RELEASES — CD
HOT CHIP — In Our Heads
MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK — Go
RUSH — Clockwork Angels
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH —ng> There’s No Leaving Now
USHER — Looking 4 Myself
NEW RELEASES — DVD
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE
with Nicholas Cage
SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law
THIN ICE with Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin