MUSIC REVIEWS: The Dears, Parts & Labor, The High Dials

The Dears
(Dangerbird Records)

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The Dears 2008 release, Missiles should be sure to be on top of many best of 2008 lists at the end of the year. Mixing the whimsical, lofty nature of bands like Anathallo with the dark, ambient sounds of Radiohead, the Dears album is best listened to with headphones. Standout tracks such as “Lights Off” even border on being b-sides from the Radiohead collection. The noises move from ear to ear and there is no room for dancing. The album is more experimental. You will not be singing along to every word. There’s no need to clap. Just listen, breathe and enjoy. Title track, “Missiles” is a key example of this; melodic and slow-paced, the song drags the listener into it. The guitar solo at the end is a welcomed retreat back to 80’s rock and not at all what one would think to expect. “Dream Job” is the closest thing to an ‘upbeat’ song on the album and calls some folk references to it. Overall, the album is more than worth a detailed listen by anyone who’s a fan of slowed, down rock with a conscious.

Tania Katherine

Parts & Labor

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Give me some nice beeps and electrical farts, some feedback guitars, droning vocals and nice off-beats and I’ll be yours forever…or at least for the time it takes me to listen to this new CD from Parts and Labor, Receivers. The CD’s an amalgamation of interesting tunes, maybe some a little longer then they need be, still this four-piece delivers some good stuff, part Talking Heads, part Sisters of Mercy, and a little bit of Missing Persons thrown-in for good measure (I even hear some Men Without Hats here).

Of the eight tunes, I think the shorter ones work best for me. I really like all the beeps and burps, especially in the first song “Satellites” but I get behind the second half of the CD best. “Wedding in a Wasteland” (with a nice organ part pushing the whole thing), “Prefix Free” with Joseph Wong’s cool drums and the last tune “Solemn Show World” are my faves. There are a ton of people who made this record work (Matthew Welch’s bagpipes are duly credited on “Little Ones” and they really are a nice addition) but the band is Dan Friel-electronics/vocals, BJ Warshaw-bass, electronics/vocals and sax, Sarah Lipstate-guitar/electronics/tapes (reminds me of the old credits given to Floyd members on “Dark Side Of The Moon”, all the electronics-which could mean anything really, from keys to plugging in a table lamp!-and tape credits) and the best player for my money here, Joseph Wong-drums and percussion.

Receivers is a nice little package from this quartet. There are some good obscure lyrics here (thankfully provided in the booklet) and deep thick aural landscapes, even at times with a beat you can dance to.

Ralph Greco, Jr.

The High Dials
Moon Country

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The British and Canadian music press have already blown their wads over Montreal-based The High Dials’ latest album, Moon Country, helping Anton Newcombe’s favorite band make back some of the front end they pumped into making sure every wankish guitar arpeggio and trite vocal in their self-released third LP was thoroughly drowned in uninspired, unnecessary reverb. The Moon Country-inites have branded the sound “psychedelic,” justifying this groundless assertion by affixing a “neo-” or “post-” thus misinforming a new crop of music listeners. Make no mistake: this is nothing more than commercial rock too lacking in star power to send to MTV, instead packaged as psychedelia for the same people who think The Strokes are “garage rock” and who sincerely use the term “alt-country.” If you like the idea of an identity-crisis-afflicted Spoon playing dress-up as Blur and the Verve, then the High Dials may be for you. But if you haven’t quite made your way to the blossoming “post-original” movement yet, just dust off your ’90’s Britpop CDs–or even better, an actual psychedelic rock record.

Toney Palumbo

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