Buy These Records

By Doug Wallen
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 14, 2005

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Orange Juice
The Glasgow School
Domino

It's about time. Americans have always had to rely on luck or eBay to track down Orange Juice's import-only catalog. (I happily found a long-forgotten copy of The Esteemed Orange Juice in a tiny Delaware record shop.) The Glasgow School hits our shores not a moment too soon, ushered in by the same label that got frat boys pogoing to Franz Ferdinand. In fact, FF's admitted debt to Orange Juice's funky jangle, sexy sophistication and fey leanings has sparked renewed interest in OJ, not to mention frontman Edwyn Collins and Glasgow's near mythical Postcard Records. From their debut single in 1980, Orange Juice were the weirdest of creatures, sporting an ambitious blend of Buzzcocks propulsion, Velvets clatter, disco abandon and Motown soul. Collins' wistful coo and bookish smarts inspired both the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian, and put Scottish indie pop on the map. As much fun as the early A-sides "Falling and Laughing" and "Blue Boy" remain, more endearing are the slow-to-build ballads "(To Put It in a) Nutshell" and "Consolation Prize." Each is a thousand-watt reminder that guitar pop can be wise and witty, sincere and sultry. Oh yeah, and you can dance to it. A

 

Warlocks
Surgery
Mute

Though their name conjures images of sinister Detroit garage rockers, the Warlocks turn out to be sleepy L.A. shoegazers. There are seven of them, insanely, which means three guitarists, two drummers and other Wall of Sound-style indulgence. The leader through it all is plaintive soul Bobby Hecksher, who cut his teeth playing with Beck and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. He's the beacon of calm at the maelstrom's center, revealing himself in daydreamy details while instruments bellow and screech around him. "Come save us from ourselves," he instructs near the start of Surgery, the band's breakout third album. Like Spiritualized's Jason Pierce-obviously a big influence-he tends toward celestial themes and cloudy moral questions. "Angels in Heaven, Angels in Hell" has both, rumbling with old-school reverb that smacks of the Ronettes and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Finally making proper use of that organ, the closing "Suicide Note" is an up-all-night surrender ("I'm so tired/ Lord knows I tried") that doesn't stray from the album's syrupy consistency. The Warlocks may lurk somewhat safely in the shadow of their heroes, but Hecksher's down-on-his-luck tunefulness shines through and gives us hope for something more. B

 

New Buffalo
The Last Beautiful Day
arts & crafts

Like Australia's answer to Solex, New Buffalo is the homegrown guise of Sally Seltmann, an Aussie pixie whose nifty creations wed bright brass and strings with glitchy electronics. As choppy as the music can be, it's sealed with Seltmann's angelic voice and unwavering optimism: "But your eyes never seem to open/ There's a whole world outside ... / See I'm trying to tell you/ It'll be alright." Even more self-assured is "I've Got You and You've Got Me," subtitled "Song of Contentment." While the bulk of the work is her own, Seltmann does get help from Dirty Three drummer Jim White and likeminded Beth Orton, who half-raps in the backdrop of "Inside." Seltmann's husband, a member of the Avalanches, works wonders on the production side. He knows, for example, to keep things skeletal on "Come Back" so that it's a soul-searching departure from the giddy clutter. If the New Buffalo formula shocks less with each listen-and honestly, those big band samples aren't so surprising by track 10-Seltmann's coolheaded delivery over all the instrumental acrobatics is a lasting treat. B+


from the vaults

Magnetic Fields
Get Lost
Merge

A few years before Stephin Merritt captured the hearts of critics everywhere with the Magnetic Fields' triple-album spectacle 69 Love Songs, there was Get Lost. The fifth album from Merritt's best-known project, it's got some of the sharpest and funniest songs ever to spill from his prolific pen. "Time provides the rope/ But love will tie the slipknot/ And I will be the chair you kick away," he deadpans in his low-register moan to start "The Desperate Things You Made Me Do." For good measure he adds, "I'd like to beat you black and blue." The grammar-minded "With Whom to Dance?" and the extra-spiteful "When You're Old and Lonely" are slow and instrumentally spare, whereas "Famous" and "You and Me and the Moon" bounce along to busy Eurocentric synth melodies and drum-machine beats. The most classic tune is "All the Umbrellas in London," about when things are so wrong that nothing in the world can make them right-"And all the dope in New York couldn't kill this pain/ And all the money in Tokyo couldn't make me stay." Merritt is exaggerating, of course, but not by much. (D.W.)

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