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Playlist, July 2011

July 1, 2011

Gomez Whatever''s On Your Mind (ATO Records)
Remember the House episode when the good doctor takes an LSD-enhanced shower to the spaced-out strains of “Get Miles” by Gomez? This album, resplendent in its summery indie-pop sheen, isn''t anything like the band''s 1998 debut, but there''s a lot going on in the background to appeal to the acid dreamer in all of us. From the scratchy programmed percussion of “Just As Lost As You” to the bouncing synth stabs of “The Place and the People” and the sweeping Mellotron-like textures of “That Wolf” and “X-Rays,” atmosphere here is king. 

—Bill Murphy

Various Rave On Buddy Holly (Fantasy/Concord)
Forget any pre- conceptions: The remakes on this eclectic 75th-birthday tribute to Buddy Holly are as visionary as the originals. The vibe is fresh and experimental, while remaining reverent. Plenty of ear candy here: Patti Smith''s “Words Of Love” is breathtaking with its dreamy synth tones, while Kid Rock''s “Well…All Right” features delightful Stax horn section grooves and classy backing vocals. You won''t find formulation, with artists as varied as Modest Mouse to Lou Reed checking in with their own spirited interpretations. It''s definitely a fun romp through some of the best songs ever written.
—Craig Dalton

Blackfield Welcome to My DNA (Kscope)
What do prog rockers do when the notes become too much? If you''re Porcupine Tree''s Steven Wilson, you chill out, slow the beats, and dust off the string synths. Blackfield is as established as PT these days, Wilson ensuring his brand''s viability as his fans grow old and gray. But there''s plenty here for those seeking their Floyd/Crimson fix. “Go To Hell” plays word games over a 7/4 groove, undulating guitar riffs, and Hans Zimmer-worthy strings; “Rising of the Tide” recalls Yes'' Jon Anderson collaborating with Nile Rodgers.
—Ken Micallef

Dave Alvin Eleven Eleven (Yeproc)
The latest from Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Alvin reunites him with a couple of former Blasters bandmates—pianist Gene Taylor and his brother, singer Phil Alvin, who duets with Dave on the humorous “What''s Up With Your Brother”—but the musical style on Eleven Eleven is more electric blues than rockabilly. Gritty, bleak, evocative—the world of Dave Alvin''s songs is dark, but his magical playing and sultry voice elevate the mood.
—Barbara Schultz

The Bo-Keys Got to Get Back (Electraphonic)
The Bo-Keys carry the torch for Memphis soul with surprising success. The record scans like a collection of vintage Stax singles, combining funky instrumentals like the lead track, “Hi Roller” (the name says a lot), and powerful performances by legendary vocalists William Bell, Percy Wiggins, Charlie Musselwhite, and Otis Clay. There''s also a spoken vocal (on “Work That Sucker”) by former Isaac Hayes guitarist Charles “Skip” Pitts, who''s now a member of this superb retro group.
—Barbara Schultz

The Horror The Horror Wilderness (Tapete)
Popular Swedish indie rockers hit their stride on their third release, tacking sweet vocals and bittersweet moods to choogling guitars and driving club beats. Lost in a haze of escaped loves and lost chances, their music penetrates your groove spot while achieving wistfulness. “Believe In Magic” pans stereo guitars over an effervescent chorus; “The Forest” recalls The Police''s “Walking On the Moon,” all low-end rumble and itchy electric strumming.
—Ken Micallef

When Saints Go Machine Konkylie (!K7)
This Danish quartet mines a lot of the quirky synth-pop moves that have become de rigueur for Scandinavian artists—minimalist beats, coldly Kraftwerkian effects, and elasticized vocals—but they do it with a compositional flair that recalls Brit trance and trip-hop mainstays like Massive Attack, Way Out West, and Zero 7. This isn''t to say that Konkylie (literally, “conch shell”) sounds unoriginal; the jittery textures of “Parix” and the sci-fi tribal pulse of “Jets,” for starters, help bend Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild''s already otherworldly voice into even more unusual and alien shapes.
—Bill Murphy

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