El Perro Del Mar, Pale Fire (Memphis Industries Records)
Back in 2006 my CD reviews were always looking for trouble.   Any fight I could pick with slack-jawed tastemakers was an opportunity for me to add a scalp to my snark-pelt, thereby inadvertently exposing how awesome I was, which, looking back, wasn’t very.   Even then, though, I knew you didn’t insult massively popular new artists you actually liked just because they were suddenly massively popular, such as this Swedish girl, Sarah Assbring, who is all there is to El Perro del Mar.   Pale Fire, her fifth LP, is as awesome as the first thing I’d heard from her, namely her self-titled sophomore dealie of ’06, made of the same intoxicatingly chilly, sexually healed triphop as this.   Think a bee-stung Portishead, pretty much, although grown-up lovers of Shakira could absolutely relate to this.   “Hold Off the Dawn” takes its new-age yuppie-yearning cues from Sting circa his macrobiotic diet; “Walk On By”’s highly refined bling beat may seem as if it’s begging for half-interested indie-rap flows, but it works just as nicely as a daybed for the swooning and pouting she settles on top of it.   Velvet-rope chill-house decorates “Love In Vain.”
Grade: A [release date 11/13/2012]

Deftones, Koi No Yokan (Reprise Records)
Buy this, buy this, buy this (actually, does anyone buy music anymore, honest question?).   Any band playing slowbie drugged-up-tyrannosaur metal that sounds fresh and maniacally aggressive and doesn’t suck, especially now that it’s nigh on what, 42 years since Sabbath first appeared, has earned some of your ear-time, particularly if you’re still stubbornly listening to nothing but albums that came out when Republicans were still allowed to propose tax increases.   The riffage here, especially for the first few songs, is on par with Crowbar, and although singer Chino Moreno is a little too far into Papa Roach territory on bonehead-ballad “Entombed,” he’s all up in early Korn for most of the LP, about one banshee wail for every five lines of nu-metal cleanliness.   Those are really about the only two comparisons I can come up with, Korn and Crowbar — cruising with this guy blasting out of your car would absolutely justify keeping that super-weird skinny-hillbilly beard your girlfriend keeps nagging you about.
Grade: A [release date 11/13/2012]

Big Dipper, Big Dipper Crashes on the Platinum Planet (Almost Ready Records)
After the Big Bang, the earth cooled down a bit, and shortly after that came the mid-80s Boston scene, with bands like Volcano Suns and Dumptruck ruling over all those intolerable 5-band-nights at The Channel and whatnot.   Members of those two aforementioned bands went on to form Big Dipper, who attempted to ply the country with the chintzy garage-pop that was popular locally, not realizing that Boston’s was the only scene that really took that stuff seriously.   Sounding like They Might Be Giants after hanging around with Versus for way too long, Big Dipper made a small splash and then promptly sank like a flatcar hauling a load of jersey barriers.   It’s been over 20 years since you’ve heard anything new from these guys, and there’s no change at all with this album, so the question is: Will the world embrace a band doing jangly, meandering 80s rock made of melodies that sound like a bunch of blind guys trying to find tiny juicy hooks in a 2000-mile-square stretch of Saharan desert?   Answer: don’t we already have The Walkmen?
Grade: B- [release date 11/27/2012]

My Radio, Starts in the East Falls in the West (Redeye Distribution)
Advertised as a “love letter to indie rock’s roots,” the 2nd album from this Virginia foursome does have a lot of Phoenix-style beat-age underneath the distinctly 80s-white-soul vocals, which are remindful of, if anyone, Michael Hutchence.   Since INXS isn’t widely considered to be an “indie rock band,” you might now be writing this off as an emo-pop commercial thing like Dashboard Confessional, but that’s not what this is either — think Coldplay acting more like rock stars instead of confused ponces, and with a lower budget and a dabbler’s taste in quirk-rock.   Don’t feel confused — the bottom line is that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear one of these (quite decent) songs blasting from the speakers at a fake-hip chain restaurant, since the pomp-punk neo-AOR element is definitely there.   But by the same token, they’re obviously sympathetic to the legion of Bloc Party wannabes that were too creative and weird to make it, in which this band will probably number if they run out of steam.
Grade: B- [release date 11/27/2012]

Kate Earl, Stronger (Downtown Records)
Some albums — even some music careers, come to think of it — are like hastily Sharpied Post-It notes submitted as legal briefs putting forth the Artist’s Intent To Posture.   Blowing-dandelion-seeds quirk-quirk alt-folk was invented by Joni Mitchell, modernized by Tori Amos, shrinkwrapped for mass marketing by Lisa Loeb and everyone else, and then comes this pretty, lilting lummox, who hasn’t met an AM radio riff she didn’t want to rip off, like “Something to Talk About,” which is the soup-broth base for the title tune here on Earl’s third album.   You can’t help but feel like you’re being sold a bill of goods with this record, full of nice but ultimately uninspiring hookless fluff meant to cup a little runoff from the record sales of Tristan Prettyman (I refuse to even mention Norah Jones in this sentence).   Nothing on here hurts the ear, no, but it won’t teach it anything either — might I suggest you instead purchase a New Girl tee shirt with a graphic of Zooey looking typically excitedly uninterested if you’re of desperate mind to advertise cute 20something brunette-ness?
Grade: C- [release date 11/19/2012]

Rez Abbasi Trio, Continuous Beat (Enja Records)
Really amazing little jazz-guitar album here, the ninth from Pakistan-born Abbasi, teamed up here for the first time both with Japanese drummer Satoshi Takeishi and impulse-driven bassplayer John Hebert.   The songs are placid and breezy in their way, fascinating backgrounds that just sort of swirl around the listener in their unique Indian-influenced splendor, even becoming slightly guitar-tronica when he’s working out with the echo-back effect.   The short version might be “Keith Jarrett in an opium den, with occasional bursts of Mingus,” the latter bit referencing Takeishi’s stubborn, discordant but very fitting drumming, which is the only thing that’s actually noisy here.   Casual listeners will find this a drowsy, nicely immersive relaxation disk, and wonks will be amazed at some of Abbasi’s technical moves.   A great one.
Grade: A+ [Release Date: 10/23/2012]

Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome.   Email esaeger@cyberontix.com.

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