Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Listens: Real Estate; Puscifer

Read more reviews and music articles on my Arts page.
NOTE: Unlike “First Impressions,” which are full reviews based on a minimum three listens, “New Listens” are quick reviews based on one or two listens at most. Keep that in mind!

Days by Real Estate

Real Estate is a four-piece from New Jersey (now relocated to Brooklyn, that center of musical hipness) but the sound on this, their second album, is Californian. It’s is an almost impossibly jangly and cheerful album, lazy and lush, the kind of music you’d listen to on a sunny day under a tree on a beach. The guitars are forward in the mix, arpeggiating like Peter Buck in early-R.E.M. or jangling in a surf-rock way. Vocals have a slightly druggy mellow feeling. Added to the relatively lack of variation in the songs and you’ve got an album that’s very much of a mood.

“It’s Real” is a highlight, a bit of pop chime driven by a rapid snare drum and the aforementioned jangly guitar with a lovely soaring chorus. The quiet instrumental “Kinder Blumen” (German for child flowers) is a pretty acoustic-electric track. “Out of Tune” contains a great minor key middle with lines about “watching cars on the 95.” “Wonder Years” contains a slightly deeper vocal that stands out from the rest of the tracks.

I love the mood and feel of this album, a very well executed slice of guitar pop.

The Conditions of My Parole by Puscifer

One of the advantages of reviewing new music weekly is that there are weeks with no releases from anyone I know, leaving me with no choice but to listen to artists I’ve never heard of. That led me to Puscifer, a side project of Maynard James Keenan from Tool (and A Perfect Circle, another side project, it seems).

I don’t know WHAT to write about this record, other than saying I like it! The album art features a convict (hard to tell with the makeup and wig but I suspect it’s Keenan himself) in a series of photos that with their cheesy ‘70s flavor and adolescent humor seem like a joke. But this lightheartedness doesn’t extend into the music, which is dark, heavy, and industrial. And the lyrics read like a concept album, with a protagonist wandering the world facing his mistakes and his demons.

Musically it’s mellow at first but then starts crunching around the middle of the second song (“Green Valley”) as he chants “Weigh your worth before her majesty, the Verde River.” It really starts grinding in the fourth song, “Telling Ghosts,” a slice of pure industrial noise rock. There’s lots of drama here, such as on “The Rapture (Fear Is a Mind Killa Mix)” with its “I’m going to drop you like Cain dropped Abel.” It mostly seems serious, although the title track seems a little…err…tongue-in-cheek.

If you’re up for a little adventure, a little drama, and a lot of industrial grinding, you’ll love this album!

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