The art inside the Dt's album Hard Fixed is meant to replicate the famous cover work by R. Crumb for Big Brother and Holding Company's classic album Cheap Thrills. Big mistake. Perhaps it was only meant as an homage, but it comes off as wishful thinking. While singer Diana Young-Blanchard has a powerful voice, she certainly doesn't have Janis Joplin's range of emotion and wild-child energy, let alone her vocal nodes. That aside, the Dt's do have a great R & B/rock sound -- songs like "On the Ground" and "The Hurt Is Over" showcase driving guitars and drumbeats simply designed for booty shakin'. I bet the Dt's would make an amazing bar band -- they have the energy and sound that makes live appearances outstanding. Unfortunately, we're talking about a CD, and here it quickly gets repetitive. There was nothing noteworthy to differentiate between the tracks, and by the time the shrill "Chopper" rolled around, my mind was already deciding which CD to play next.
-- Kara Luger
The Milk-Eyed Mender
After a few bars of Joanna Newsom's The Milk-Eyed Mender, you'll know why she's on tour right now with Devendra Banhart. Perhaps you will wonder, if the two weren't struck from the same spooky, old-timey crazy quilt of the universe from whence came gnomes and Blarney stones.
A virtuoso harp player, Newsom defies the easy post-hippie dismissals now being lobbed at her ilk. A throwback she may be on many levels, but take it all the way back to Mother Maybelle Carter if you wanna splice hair weaves.
With a nasal, warbling mewl, Newsom tra-la-las through fairy dust lines like, "When you go away, / I am big-boned and fey/ in the dust of the day, / in the dirt of the day." No wonder she's been championed by the king of lyrical caboodle, Bonnie Prince Billy (aka Will Oldham). Oldham's label, Drag City, is, not surprisingly, home to Newsom on this, her first major label release.
There is, at times, a feeling of novelty about Newsom's sound -- as though the quirk of it is all-too-quaintly affected. But that would imply some kind of submalignant design behind what is merely what it is: a beautiful little sonic brook to sit by and admire while you while away your mind.
Newsom, Banhart and Vetiver play Revoluciones at 719 W. 8th Ave. in Denver on June 8. Call 303/825-3845.
-- Noel Black
When I first heard The Thermals' Sub Pop debut, More Parts Per Million, last year, I was swept away by the pure, mono-rhythmic singularity of its indie-punk insistence. The Thermals sounded like they would all but certainly be a perfect, one-album band. Like a "strike anywhere match," More Parts seemed to have just enough tinder to light the fire and blow out.
With their latest, Fuckin A, that one perfect album seems even more completely spent. Too bad. Sure, there are a few catchy hooks on songs like "How We Know" and "God and Country." But experiments too often become formulas. And what once was a spark is now just dark.
-- Noel Black