Red Bedroom

(Kemado Records)


The Fever's debut EP, Pink on Pink, was a firecracker. Its rapid tempo burned through the fuse of their skinny-tie, new-wave rock, projecting them through a short list of songs with the bluster and brilliance of golden sparks stinging stilettos into action. The New York band's follow-up, Red Bedroom, is much of the same--detonated, syncopated art pop paired with preening dance punk--with a couple of boozy, organ-driven ballads and sharp robodisco tracks thrown in for good measure. The Fever's angular tic beats in all the songs, providing a rhythm and attitude that jets between the '70s, '80s, and naughties with elegant skill, cherry-picking the best of everything to end up with a sound as playful as anything the Electric Shtick's Dick Valentine could hiccup up. Red Bedroom does drag a little in places--compared to the leave-you-wanting-more of Pink --but it's still got the Fever spark that burns a hole in your dancing pants. JENNIFER MAERZ


On the Block


If the hairy dude on the cover of Pixies' Come On Pilgrim had made a singer/songwriter move after years of exposure to cracked-genius balladeers like Skip Spence and Black Francis, his music might sound like On the Block. Not since those first two enigmatic Red House Painters discs has 4AD released anything as bewilderingly brilliant as Vinny Miller's debut album. Vocally, Miller can swerve from somber breathiness to trilling nonsense to nauseated soul shouting a la Polly Jean Harvey without sounding contrived. While his music's not as dynamic as his oddly soulful pipes, it does maintain a tremulous tension between soothing and nerve shattering. On the Block's unpredictability assures you can never prepare for the next sonic shock Miller delivers with devious perversity. DAVE SEGAL


John Weinland

(Wood Phone Records)


According to his website, local singer/songwriter Weinland recorded his self-titled 12" "in any room that people would let me set up my stuff." He often had to "sneak tracks" after people were asleep, singing and playing quietly to not wake anyone. The resulting effort is a record of beautiful lo-fi intimacy. Clearly a disciple of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, Weinland plucks lilting guitar chords over tender lyrics of yearning and loss. His voice is hushed, but belies an impressive range. On the album's best song, Scene 30, the chorus is a single line: "I'm here for now, but maybe not for long," fleshed out with perfectly placed piano chimes. Weinland is only selling his album on vinyl because "people actually have relationships with their records," and because "records are neat." You can order it at JUSTIN SANDERS