Beautiful New Born Children
Signed on the basis of an unsolicited CD-R, the Beautiful New Born Children arrive on fire and proceed to knock out nine cheeky garage numbers in rapid succession. How cheeky? They quote Nirvana-"Hey/ wait/ I've got a new complaint"-on the opening "Do the Do." A slipshod debut single, it makes a Libertines tune seem clean-cut by comparison. The rest of Hey People! is no less bracing, with frontman Michael Beckett howling into cheap microphones and ravaging his guitar with equal relish. The songs are short and same-y, which isn't a dig. (Portland, Ore.'s scrappy Thermals do something very comparable, cascading their teenage riots in endless feedback and contagious brio.) And as much as they can resemble the Libertines, it's refreshing to think there's no chance of the BNBC becoming tabloid fodder. For all their noisiness, each of the four members is a parent and seems at ease with clean living. If anything Hey People! evolves from a would-be piss-take into an urgent gem. Wherever they're headed, the Beautiful New Born Children are in a hurry, and they're having the time of their lives. B+
City Fallen Leaves
Kill Rock Stars
On Comet Gain's fifth album, leader David Christian continues to sling eternally cool cliches. Channeling influences from the French New Wave and Motown to Sam Peckinpah and Television Personalities, the bedraggled Brit has turned his band into a fascinating mess that'll bowl over some and piss off others. Yet it's hard not to admire the man's knack for poignant language. "But I'm miles from the smiles/ And I've nowhere to sleep/ If I don't grow old/ I can't become an antique/ So I'll just stay a freak/ For someone to keep," he sings on "Days I Forgot to Write Down," which feels almost fey sitting beside the distortion-caked "Daydream Scars." Then there's the sweet-voiced Rachel Evans, and Christian's penchant for brittle spoken-word, to further muddle the 14-song smear of sweetness and ire. City Fallen Leaves is more palatable than Comet Gain's last two albums-Tigertown Pictures and Realistes!-but not as cohesive as Casino Classics and Sneaky, before Christian restarted the band from scratch. Asking Christian to tone down his erratic aesthetic, however, would rob Comet Gain of their most indelible moments. And so he'll just stay a freak. A-
The Man Who Ate the Man
As twitchy and surreal as Magn�to-phone's first album was, it contained ample evidence of human warmth, beginning with the title: I Guess Sometimes I Need to Be Reminded of How Much You Love Me. Yes, the headphones-inhabiting duo of Matt Huish Saunders and John Hanson always could find the heartstrings amid some robotic dance-a-thon. (Go download "Californium," which tinkers with synth-pop in a tidy two minutes and 23 seconds). Birthed by the same Birmingham, England, scene as Plone and Broadcast, Magn�tophone vanished for a few years following I Guess Sometimes, returning last month with a new album and a slightly different approach. No longer limited to instrumentals, the boys now coax vocals from their esoteric friends-ever heard of King Creosote or HMS Ginafore?-but also enlist the Breeders' Kim and Kelley Deal, of all people. Kim drums while Kelley plays violin and guitar on "Kel's Vintage Thought," a Daft Punkish gem that's refreshingly straightforward. Scottish folkie James Yorkston then lends his usual traditionalism to the ghostly "I've Been Looking Around Me." Elsewhere we hear overblown fuzz, twinkling laptop-folk, gauzy ambience and jarring glitch-hop, delivered with calming consistency throughout. Magn�tophone may tease new boundaries with each track, but seldom do they overextend themselves. A-
Horses: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition
If Patti Smith's 1975 debut had blown rotten monkey chunks, it'd still be worth having for the Robert Mapplethorpe cover alone. It's the whole Baudelaire N.Y. prepunk rock aesthetic-youth, violence, pretension, rebellion, heroin, androgyny, spitefulness, absinthe and speed-distilled into one clinically disheveled snapshot.
Mining dykery and faggery, smack-chic, jazz cool and Regency boho swagger, tapeworm thin patrician rent-boy features stare from underneath Struwwelpeter hair; the titless torso is covered in a white duelist's shirt, a man's jacket hangs over a bony shoulder.
This was black-and-white gender blasphemy in an America terrorized by fluorescent-pink tube-top-wearing Barbie clones and ruled over by the tyrannical deodorized eunuch goddess Farrah Fawcett-Majors.
The music does not blow rotten monkey chunks. Which is amazing. Part autoproctological tone poem, part prepunk proto-karaoke, Horses is a stew of pretension. Smith was a poet, for god's sake, only one notch up from mimes and artists on the fuck-off-and-die meter. She weaves notebook scribblings around three-chord doodlings. And yet it rocks.
It'd rock even harder later on, notably on '78's Easter. But Horses (along with the 1974 Piss Factory EP) is the blueprint-Patti Smith raw. There are hints-on "Free Money" and "Kimberly"-of the sleek Springsteen-like rock beast Smith would become.
And there are tracks-like the nine bleeding minutes and 14 seconds of "Birdland," and the three-part art-wank "Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De)"-that fly in the face of the short/fast/unpretentious punk doctrine so flagrantly that they come out the other side. The title track is Smith at her most insanely breathless, and it still kills. Whatever these sweat-steaming and foam-flecked beasts are a metaphor for (I've yet to work it out), it's something utterly terrifying.
This being a wallet-milking exercise in dead-horse flogging (ba-dum-tish!), there are lots of redundant extra tracks and bits of paper that you don't need to read. But the main thing is they've kept the "bonus" live recording of the Who's "My Generation" in which John Cale's guitar sounds like a mad man smacking a garbage can with a spanner. (Steven Wells)