In the spirit of Andy Kaufman, the Ex Models are having a huge private laugh with this joke's-on-us-EP as we stare on dumbfounded—wondering what has become of our favorite sex-saturated dance noise rock band.
I can't say I wasn't warned, but I remained reverently hopeful—until now. An anonymous source who toured with the band recently reported that they had been practically clearing out floors, ever since they began shaving off bandmates.
The new noisy two-piece, with remaining member Shahin Motia (vocals/guitar) and the Seconds' Zach Lehrhoff (bass), have joined Kid Millions of Oneida (drums) to bestow this sloppy misstep of a departure from the engaging sound that once was. Say good-bye to the typically brilliant two-to-three minute tracks on the two previous extraordinary full-lengths—a cathartic sound that once transformed from screeching vocals over danceable bass drum to thrashing noise interludes and back again, have been completely abandoned (R.I.P).
"Buy American" wanders atmospherically along like a dying electrical circuit for three yawn-inducing minutes, topped with a biting, emu-like yelp. Just as quickly as it redeems itself when Motia's dynamic vocals kick in, it coldly shuts off. The last track, "Chrome Hearts," is a welcome relief that opens with a danceable chant and moves into Millions' brilliant and agile thrashing—the only track exemplary of engaged passion.
Clocking in at 27 minutes, these six tracks are mostly atonal repetitive noise and puerile guitar-looped chatter—leaving the listener at hypnotic inattention. It's like having to act as a reluctant audience member for a drunk Tony Clifton while he bangs on an out-of-tune keyboard. Ha ha ha. JENNA ROADMAN
Ex Models play Tues Nov 8 at Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd
Bells Break Their Towers
(Strange Attractors Audio House)
Bright and Landing have always struck me as mid-level practitioners of shoegazery space rock: pleasant sub-planetarium soundtracks for people who don't like to get too far out of their mundane mindsets. These new albums pulverize my heretofore mild assessment of them; they contain by far the best music of their lengthy careers.
Brocade, Landing's sixth album, elevates this Connecticut quartet from Terrastock hanger-on status into something much grander. "Loft" is an impressive opening sally: a trance-inducing Faustian romp of rudimentary tom-tom thumps, wah-wah guitar whimpers, and reverbed synth zaps. The pensively tranquil pulsations of "Yon" place it in the realm of Neu!'s more contemplative moments (which are summits of bliss; if you didn't know, now you do), Fripp/Eno's soaring sonorities on "Evening Star," and Manuel Göttsching's concentrically rippling guitar fractals. Full of exquisitely beautiful tone paintings for the long-attention spanned, Brocade is a revelation.
Recently relocated to Brooklyn, Bright (Mark Dwinell and Joe LaBrecque, plus auxiliary psychonauts) have always been about balancing cosmic drift with cool-browed locomotion, like many a commendable '70s Kraut-rock outfit before them. Spontaneously composed in the studio, Bells Break Their Towers is the band's crowning achievement. "Flood" and "Receiver" possess a waning-acid-trip gorgeousness, with acoustic-guitar picking that falls somewhere between Led Zeppelin's III and Six Organs of Admittance. The rest of Bells evokes Spiritualized's translucent, pulsating guitar figures, Terry Riley's mantric minimalist classic In C, and Harmonia's undulating motorik rhythms. Overall, this is a heavenly brew of psychedelic grace and hypnosis. DAVE SEGAL
If Mick Collins and his Dirtbombs infantries led the Detroit garage scene into battle throughout the last decade, the Detroit Cobras were the house band the boys could come home to. Dispensing with any pretensions to alternative-nation building, the Cobras were content to mine their considerable record collections for '50s and '60s R&B obscurities to cover. Though offhandedly hipping the kids to "where it all came from," the Cobras were basically a party band helping to make doing the waddle with your favorite gal just a tad post-mo' dangerous. A few cool Sympathy for the Record Industry releases, the "big in England" tag, and trend hype did the rest, sweeping the Cobras up into slimy A&R free-lunch fallacies.
The thing is, the band—always armed with the Motor City's best players—kept having to shift members. And it seemed Nagy didn't expect to pass beyond party status, her stage presence becoming more confused and bored.
So the usual major-label backslaps/stabs ensued, and it's taken a while for this third long-player to finally appear. Landing on Bloodshot puts them in more of the roots-rock context they probably belonged in all along—and this CD follows suit. Nagy's voice is strong as ever, but sounds subtler. They still pound out the floor-rattling stomps ("Everybody's Going Wild," "Cha Cha Twist," "Hot Dog"), but the groovy, soul-strolling ballads stick out ("Weak Spot," "I Wanna Holler," "It's Raining"). The band grind along scruffily enough, but it's tentative at times, with fewer spilled-out lead licks or rusty production surprises than before. The 2004 EP, Seven Easy Pieces, added here, shows the somewhat sleazier slink from which they've moved on. Literally. Nagy fell in love, moved to San Diego, and is happier than ever. It seems the Detroit Cobras are back from the front, playing for the boys again. ERIC DAVIDSON
The Detroit Cobras perform Mon Nov 7 at Sabala's Mt. Tabor, 4811 SE Hawthorne
The Iron Giant