Even two years later, the bliss-pop on The Scientifics' Green Wave holds up--and if you get the feeling he made the record while playing with toys, well, you're kind of right. The surrealist solo project of ex-Portlander Eliot Rose, simple, airy Casio piles atop AM radio and walkie talkies, making interpretive, cartoony sounds for percussion and atmosphere. It's lo-fi but sensual, very much a la Young Marble Giants. Along intimate, church-choir hums, Rose is tactile with his looped static; radios grind like factories and Bunsen burners. JS
Curling Pond Woods
Arbor, Greg Davis' urbane, idyllic 2002 album, is a cornerstone of the burgeoning folktronica movement. Folktronica combines laptop glitchery with acoustic instrumentation (or, rather, its practitioners commonly feed data from "organic" instruments into software programs for mutational purposes) in an attempt to bring warmth and "humanity" to what are typically considered cold, sterile productions. In skilled hands (Boards of Canada, Four Tet), the music comes off as a perfect fusion of silicon and psilocybin inspiration. Curling Pond Woods finds Davis delving even deeper into folkiness. It's doubtful Curling will set anyone's world on fire (there's too much rain and burbling water on it for that), but every delicately plucked kalimba, acoustic guitar and harmonium will ease your troubled mind. DAVE SEGAL
LIFE AT THESE SPEEDS
(Grey Sky Records)
Portland punk impresarios Life at these Speeds are proficient at their emocore, balancing heavy momentum with tight, quick instrumental changes; in many instances you feel like you're chasing to keep up with them. My only complaint about Life at These Speeds is that they skimp out on the requisite dramatic crescendos, steadily building speed and layering on the screaming, rather than collapsing into a cathartic meltdown. But in the samey, early '90s punk-worshipping world of basement screamo, that means this band has something unique to offer. KATIE SHIMER
Obey The Cattle!
Faster than your grandpa can whip out his old Joe Pass records, Arizonan Rajiv Patel folds the standard acoustic-guitar-virtuoso-dude stuff--pained-yet-rugged melodies, über-fingerpicking--into a weirdly working combo of desert twang, tape loops, eerie distant screams, field sounds, and Middle Eastern percussion. It ain't bhangra or nothing, but it's nice to see pop's boulliabaise of genre/approach/world-music glue-gunning take hold of the indierock oeuvre. JULIANNE SHEPHERD