CD Reviews


Weird Owl Build Your Beast a Fire (Tee Pee)

For me, the phrase “Brooklyn rock band” is almost a turn off, since many borough-born acts (Yeasayer, MGMT) come with abundant hype and little in the way of life-changing music. Still, I find myself warming my indie-rock mitts on Weird Owl’s sophomore Build Your Beast a Fire, a psychedelic album that rocks like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and blows minds like the Flaming Lips. Weird Owl is a brave quintet, unafraid to sound progressive and pastoral, relying on a natural interaction among musicians to propel their music into uncharted terrain. Fire begins quietly with “No Time Nor No Space,” an acoustic folk tune setting the stage for man’s cosmic reunion with nature, and gathers momentum with earthy rocker “Up From the Root.“ But it’s galaxy-spanning, Krautrock-kissed “Skin the Dawn”—think Tangerine Dream meets Nazareth—that conjures unforgettable atmosphere. Fans of Modest Mouse and Pink Floyd will find a shared spirit animal in Weird Owl. ★★★☆☆


Wavepool Abortion Wavepool Abortion (DZ Tapes)

Fractured pop-punk made by 17-year-olds—Pyotr Reznikov (guitar/vocals) and Matvei Solovyov (guitar/vocals/drums)—in Moscow may not sound, on the surface, like something you need to explore. But given the popularity of noise-pop artists Animal Collective and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, it may behoove you to check out the healthy (and often head-scratching) racket created by Wavepool Abortion. The duo has a knack for embedding catchy pop melodies into cavernous, crepuscular guitar riffs—case in point: “I Want To Die,” a rock ’n’ roll Frankenstein made from scraps of Ramones, Velvet Underground and Buddy Holly. No, “Splish Splash” isn’t a Bobby Darin cover, but a grittily textured, murky drum machine-slamming, post-punk number, while “Real Blood” sounds like an escape anthem the Warlocks might have composed in one of Stalin’s prison camps. With 14 songs clocking in at 30 minutes, this odd gem will intrigue if you give it a chance. Available digitally or on cassette via or stream at ★★★☆☆


Active Child You Are All I See (Vagrant)

The revenge of the nerds continues, if the nearly unanimous acclaim bestowed upon harpists Joanna Newsom and Active Child is any indication. The latter’s full-length debut for punk label Vagrant is one of the most consistently beautiful indie-pop releases I’ve heard all year. In case you don’t know, Active Child is Pat Grossi, a hardcore rap fan with a choirboy background (seriously!) who pulls harp strings and sings in a gorgeous, spectral falsetto. The title track alone is a full-on odyssey, borrowing bits of Vangelis and Kate Bush to generate tones and emotions that defy the analytical brain and speak directly to the human heart. Half the time, Grossi’s lyrics are indecipherable, at least to my ears, but his voice is divine, clear as a bell, a welcome ghost lying down in one’s bed at midnight. Until the new M83 drops in two months, You Are All I See is all you need to hear. Exquisite to its luminous core. ★★★★☆

Suggested Next Read

Hideouts, satanic breath, iron men


Hideouts, satanic breath, iron men

By Jarret Keene

Breaking news, yo: Famed producer/engineer Kevin Churko, who has worked with everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Shania Twain, has finally got his Vegas studio, called the Hideout, up and running. The Canadian Juno-award winner called me on his third day in the building, where he’d just wrapped up the new Five Finger Death Punch album (which he began recording at his home studio, a.k.a. Wolf’s Den).