MUSIC REVIEW: Little Joy, The Residents, and Ratatat

Little Joy
Little Joy
(Rough Trade)

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Fabrizio Moretti, mostly known as the drummer from The Strokes, is bringing a Little Joy into our lives. Little Joy, the name taken from a well known corner bar in Los Angeles, also consists of Moretti’s main gal, Binki Shapiro and Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos. The album is soft and somewhat rustic with a sleepy, mellow approach. Comparatively, it’s a very different sound than you’re used to with The Strokes. After taking a tour of messages boards and forums, it’s a difference hardcore fans are not taking too well. The sound is closely related to that of Devendra Banhart’s, and although the record lacks some of his charm and emotion, it does retain that laid back feeling which is quite nice after the third listen. The album does have it’s moments with tracks like, “The Next Time Around,” “Brand New Start,” “Shoulder to Shoulder,” and “Keep Me in Mind,” which should be a good listen to anyone, Stroke fan or more possibly, not.

DOWNLOAD – Little Joy – Keep Me in Mind.mp3

Dezzy Ramdeen

The Residents – Left: Duck Stab; Right: Eskimo

The Residents
Duck Stab

(Mute Records)

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Mute Records has reissued The Residents’ Eskimo and Duck Stab CDs in deluxe book packages. The only question is why. If the Wicked Witch of the West’s bodyguards recorded a concept album, it would sound like Eskimo. It’s not music; it’s a National Geographic soundtrack with incoherent chanting, blasts of arctic wind, and synthesized blips that sound like Eskimos breaking wind. It begins with “The Walrus Hunt,” blurted out in incoherent Eskimo esperanto alongside a keening Viking horn and the sounds of a walrus being capped. The liner notes offer miscellaneous facts about Eskimos, such as the classy tidbit that menstruating women aren’t allowed outside their igloo until they bath in the urine of a child. I am the walrus, indeed.

Duck Stab is comprised of minimalist industrial twaddle even Devo would reject, including the grating “Constantinople,” the barking distortion of “Sinister Exaggerator” and a heinous “Hee Haw” horror, “Laughing Song.” Even Frank Zappa would think this bizarre balderdash is too weird. Now I know why the Residents seldom appear on their CDs. You can’t track down a group of criminals if you don’t know what they look like.

Michael Jefferson

(XL Recordings)

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The sound of Ratatat’s new album LP3 might be best described as electronic world music meets Super Mario Brothers. The Brooklyn based duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast made a name for themselves in recent years with their unique instrumentals and hip-hop remixes and have continued to push the envelope with their new album LP3. Tracks like “Falcon Jab” and “Mirando” make an immediate impact with their textured beats, strange digital sound clips, and catchy percussion elements. This is contrasted with other more low-key tracks such as “Flynn” and “Imperials” which have a more subtle Portishead feel.

The biggest criticism of the album is that some of the songs feel incomplete alone as instrumentals and cry out for a vocal or some additional element. Much of the album works well without vocals thanks to the band’s dense instrumentality and the bands ability to mix it up. There are terrific narrative melodies that are created with eclectic sounds of electronic backbeats and drums but it would be fantastic to see the band team up with some vocals in the future. In all, the album is an easy listen that is varied musically- at times it’s upbeat and funky and there are songs that become more peripheral. The album is certainly perfect music for a party because it’s interesting and fun but still ambient without a lead vocal.

Tim Needles

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