Sunday, June 27, 2010

Album Briefs: The Raveonettes, jj, Iron & Wine

The Raveonettes: In and Out of Control
[Fierce Panda, Vice 2009]


The shoegaze-pop (heavier on the pop) of the Raveonettes bares strong resemblance to the Jesus and Mary Chain but with a more feminine aura courtesy of Sune Rose Wagner handling most of the vocals.  The duo certainly knows how to craft catchy and innocent melodies, but In and Out of Control is ultimately let down by its lyrics.  Unlike JMC's signature sound, Wagner's words are clear and often weighed down by awkward pretentiousness.  The band wants to be as suave and winking as the music, and ultimately comes up with cringing lines like "lick your lips and fuck suicide" and seeking base attention-getting with the spelled out "D.R.U.G.S".  Such attempts at street-cred don't pass as authentic, and instead suggest the hipper-than-thou duo are singing down to us about their fascinating urban lives  But nevertheless, if you're not hung up on the words, the sinister plots/bubblegum pop hooks of songs like "Bang!", "Last Dance", and "Breaking Into Cars" are cool sounding tunes.

 jj: jj nÂș 3
[Sincerely Yours 2010]


jj's "winter" album, ay? Okay, but whatever you call it, it's very similar stuff to the mysterious Swedes' first album jj n° 2, just not as memorable.  They still embrace a lighter-than-air breeziness as Elin Kastlander sings pristine over soft Balearic beats, delicate guitar plucks and piano, and the occasionally hip hop beat and broadcast sound effects.  But the charm of their debut is missing here, particularly due to jj n°3's lack of graceful, memorable melodies.  As pleasantly as it flies by, jj n°3 has minimal lasting impact outside of the attention placed on the enigmatic duo that created it.

"My Life"
Iron & Wine: The Shepherd's Dog
[Sub Pop 2007]


The Shepherd's Dog is an excellent success story of Sam Beam showing he could expand outside of his quiet bedroom guitar folk and incorporate true studio breadth with awe-inspiring results.  Our Endless Summer Days glistened with a lush production polish, but Shepherd's Dog brings in a plethora of new instruments that lend the tracks symphonic and yet still organic and intimate settings. The broader palette suits Iron & Wine incredibly well.

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