CD Reviews

Made in Germany, Six Sik Sisters and Stage Whisper


Rammstein Made in Germany 1995-2011 (Vagrant)

These Industrial-metal maniacs finally get a proper retrospective with Made in Germany, a 16-track, completely re-mastered collection of the pyro-obsessed band’s best studio material, from the straight-up Ministry-indebted debut (Herzeleid) to the most recent release (last year’s darkly erotic Liebe Ist Für Alle Da). Named after the 1988 air-show disaster at a U.S. base in Ramstein, West Germany, this theatrical group presents songs out of chronological order, which reveals a surprising consistency in terms of the quality of these recordings. The whole affair is crisp, the lyrics feel even more mysteriously menacing (especially for the German language-challenged), and the dancefloor-crushing drums, razored synths and jackhammer guitars are relentless. If all you know of Rammstein is MTV breakout “Du Hast,” you should dig in here. If you’re a longtime admirer, the fresh sonic take on, say, “Amerika” will delight. Only one never-before-released track: “Mein Land.” ★★★☆☆


Racebannon Six Sik Sisters (Tizona)

Taking their name from the super-tough Jonny Quest cartoon character that bodyguarded the young protagonist’s scientist father, the Bloomington, Ind., trio known as Racebannon is hardly cartoonish. But they’re definitely animated as far as giving punk a real and much-needed kick in the ass. Racebannon’s sixth release (this time on Chicago label Tizona), Sisters, is nine tracks of highly volatile punk boasting all kinds of flourishes—grindcore, thrash, power violence. Makes perfect sense, of course, since the record is produced by the hottest name in underground metal right now, Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who always laces his unique recordings with what I can only (and oxymoronically) describe as “frenzied precision.” If there was a soundtrack needed to demolish the Getty in L.A., this arty-yet-lacerating band could supply it. From prog-rock drum solos (“Thee Interlude”) to Sabbath deconstructions (“Thee Brother”) to thrash-metal hiccups (“Thee Challenge”), Racebannon—who enjoy goofing around with titles—never give listeners what we want; we get the unexpected. A wicked, worthwhile jolt. ★★★☆☆


Charlotte Gainsbourg Stage Whisper (Elektra)

French movie star Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter of famous French pop composer Serge) last year released a surprisingly amazing and deep album, essentially about having barely survived a near-death skiing accident. Although Whisper is an odd-and-ends affair, it’s rewarding to hear outtakes and live renditions of material she composed alongside such talents as Beck and Jarvis Cocker. Some of these efforts needed to be left off the (by comparison) darkly meditative IRM, including the wonderfully naïve dance-pop of “Paradisco”; it’s a great tune that, fortunately, finds a home here. The live versions of “IRM” and “The Operation” are refreshingly raucous and rocked-up, while the sweaty, sensual take on “Jamais” draws even closer to pure R&B terrain. To hear these songs performed live is to hear them for the first time, a rare feat in today’s polished, by-the-numbers pop game. An accomplished release from an accomplished actor and musician. ★★★★☆

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By Jarret Keene