Music in Brief

Some people took Rancid to task for ripping off The Clash, but The Clash was a great band, and under-influential given the wide variety of its music. So there's plenty of room for another group of Clash-apers, The Ratchets, whose debut LP, Glory Bound (Pirates Press), offers 10 songs and 35 minutes of all-in choruses, buzzing guitars, and rhythms that lean on the rockabilly and island-hopping sides of UK punk. Glory Bound is at its stirring best on "Human Amplifiers," with its call-to-arms guitar riff and insistence that "We are the fist / At rallies / All through the night!" The song is a new rock classic, and a reminder that making music is primarily a personal endeavor, not a commercial one… B+

Songs Of Green Pheasant's not-quite-album-length Aerial Days (Fatcat) is so light and atmospheric that at times it's practically at room tone. Band mastermind Duncan Sumpner mostly keeps his vocals at a murmur, and his interest in choral coo and distant clacking sounds a lot like UK gloom-pop icon This Mortal Coil, dressed up with David Crosby's smoky mysticism. Sumpner is still fumbling toward a sound—maybe his upcoming full-length will reach it—but even in a nascent stage, Songs Of Green Pheasant's music is uncommonly beautiful… B+

The title of the new album from Portland avant-pop duo The Blow aptly describes the band's gonzo version of electronic music; Paper Television (K) is a low-tech version of high-tech. Songs like "The Big U" have the bored-cheerleader cadence of The Waitresses or Luscious Jackson, but stripped to the bone, and more ominous than joyful. Paper Television peaks with "The Long List Of Girls," with its martial electro-drums, double-dutch jump-rope chants, and fragments of a bigger sound trying to work its way through the thin cracks… B+

An album with a not-so-apt title, Bon Savants' debut Post Rock Defends The Nation (e to the i pi music), sounds more like "big music" European bands (think Big Country crossed with Pulp) than the insular instrumental sound that "post-rock" calls to mind. Bon Savants combines science-themed lyrics with room-filling deep twang, bouncing from poppy confections like "Mass Av & Broadway" to pulsing, resounding anthems like "I Am The Atom Bomb." It's mostly frivolous, but immensely likeable… B+

The Good Mornings is essentially a vehicle for singer-songwriter Carmen Paradise, whose relaxed confessionals recall the folky side of Joni Mitchell and bluesy side of Anne McCue, wrapped in an indie-rock fuzz provided by guitarist Jason Lantrip. The band's self-titled debut—on Thick Records, also the home of Paradise and Lantrip's other band, the lounge-y Calliope—range from shambling to sharp. Or both at once, as on "Daydreams," a relationship dissection that's as languid and dangerous as a sleepy lion. B

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