Destroy All Music-Just Waiting For the Next J-Lo CD

Destroy All Music-Just Waiting For the Next J-Lo CD

Taylor Reed Vecchio

By Taylor Reed VecchioContributing Writer

Beep BeepBusiness Casual2004 Saddle Creek(

Sometimes a band’s name will be so appropriate that you can’t imagine them being called anything else. Kraftwerk sounds exactly like their name; German styled “robot pop,” while bands like Skavoovie, the Skadfathers, and Mephaskapheles let the listener know that they are in store for some of the lamest music ever created. Nebraska’s Beep Beep instantly brings to mind images of Bright Eyes fans dancing in their apartments, hair cuts bouncing while the cheap beer flows.

Their first release, Business Casual, is an irony-laced work of pure cliché. The artwork, drawn with pastel pencils, depicts what appears to be a gay love triangle. This awkward moment is one part tender touch, one part dripping water cooler, and two parts black cowboy. The imagery coupled with the album title is supposed to reflect the “office culture” influence in their work. They’ve played heavily on the “Wire mixed with Gang of Four” stencil and in their bio they celebrate the music’s “effeminate textures.”

If Business Casual came out two or three years ago, things could be different. The songs really aren’t bad, the formula is just old. Singer Eric Bemberger screeches like Nick Cave on the opening track “I Am the Secretary” while other songs like “Vertical Cougar” bounce around like Q and Not U beats. A lot of songs sound like more recent Blood Brothers tunes watered down with indy exaggerated art-school emotion. Despite their predictability, Beep Beep delivers a concise well-written load of pop songs that you can dance to. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then check them out when they tour with Saddle Creek favs The Faint. I am sure their audiences will embrace them with much love.

British Sea PowerOpen Season 2005 Rough Trade(

What is it about the taste of the British Rock press that alludes us Americans? Why have some of America’s best bands been hugely popular in England while our press remained clueless? Is it fair that quality British magazines are so expensive at Borders and Trident? This must have been why British Sea Power remained somewhat unknown to American audiences when their 2003 release The Decline of British Sea Power was released. The album was an excellent mix of gentle pop songs, guitar noise, and perfectly placed howls. The small following they did receive in the United States was strengthened by their impressive live show. While they may consist of some of the skinniest white boys that England has to offer, they would often strip their civil war uniforms and frolic among the foliage and plastic owls that decorated their stage sets.

Americans, who got a chance to see the band, highly anticipated the release of their second album Open Season. Although the furry bear on the cover looks promising, the direction of the band turned completely away from any guitar distortion and moved swiftly into floating pop melodies. While The Decline of British Sea Power featured an array of two-minute scream jams, gentle poetic numbers, and edgy guitar-based tunes; Open Season completely abandons any brash coating that gave the band their edge. Much of the new material sounds like the low points of Decline: sissy slow songs.

While the music remains original and unique the success of Open Season will entirely depend on the listener. The first single “It Ended On An Oily Stage” is far different from 2003’s “Fear Of Drowning” and represents the softer more subtle direction of Open Season. British Sea Power is one of the best and most original bands to come out the past few years and although their latest is a departure from some of the grittier aspects of their last album, they are still an important band to keep an eye on and a truly original live experience.

British Sea Power plays the Middle East Downstairs with The Bon Savants on May 16.

Crooked Fingers Dignity and Shame 2005 Merge(

Crooked fingers were born out of the ashes of North Carolina indie favorite Archers of Loaf. Dignity of Shame is respected songwriter Eric Bachmann’s fourth release under the Crooked Fingers project. Breaking from Loaf-esq material, Bachmann’s new band has focused on themes visited by country artists: shame, drunkenness, and a few too many broken hearts.

This record will appeal to fans of Springsteen, Silver Jews, Bob Dylan, and Mermaid Avenue-era Wilco. Inspired by Latin sounds from their album Red Devil Dawn, Dignity and Shame uses turn of the century Spain to inspire many aspects of the project. The opening track “Islero” hints at Spanish style guitar while “Andalusia” sets the mood of romance in 1917. Many of the songs and lyrics play on the idealized Spanish bullfighter and Flamenco dancers.

While the songs and arrangements are thoughtful and reflect exceptional musicianship, one still gets the impression that Bachmann is out of place in the world of country-inspired songwriting. Much like Built to Spill’s Doug March discovering the steel guitar for his solo record, Dignity and Shame sounds like an extended vacation from the indie rock world that Bachmann belongs to.