CD Reviews

Strange Weekend, No One Can Ever Know and Let’s Go Eat the Factory


Porcelain Raft Strange Weekend (Secretly Canadian)

Any band that tours Europe with M83 gets my attention. And Porcelain Raft, a.k.a. Mauro Remiddi (a Brooklynite by way of Italy), is on the road with the French synth-rockers. But Remiddi is a miniaturist by comparison; his sonic canvases are elegant. His music’s ethereal beauty derives from his feminine voice, an effects-processed alto that casts soft focus on the hooks he buries under keyboards, drum loops and reverb-kissed guitars. “Drifting In and Out” is a perfect two-chord tune. The title of “Shapeless and Gone,” however, is perhaps a manifesto, as Remiddi lapses into an acoustic guitar-driven, goth-pop groove. Remiddi keeps himself and listeners wide awake with minimally constructed, lushly arranged pop. ★★★☆☆


The Twilight Sad No One Can Ever Know (FatCat)

Scottish neo-shoegazers The Twilight Sad have gone in a darker direction with a third full-length, produced by Andrew Weatherall (Primal Scream). Indeed, the band’s indie-rock foundation buckles under the weight of expansive, yet unnerving, vintage analog synthesizers, which give tunes such as “Alphabet” a joyless, Joy Division-ed shroud. Singer James Graham’s accent is so stressed, with rolling Rs aplenty, it seems that the Sad seeks to sound as alien as possible. It works, especially in drum kit-cracking “Dead City,” a dance floor-friendly gloom-rock song the Killers might’ve created after a shot of testosterone/heroine. But it’s the eerie guitar arpeggios and smeared keyboard waves of “Sick” that make the Sad the ideal band to spin while watching night fall. ★★★☆☆


Guided by Voices Let’s Go Eat the Factory (Self-Released)

Is that a fipple-flute recorder kicking off folk-rock confection “Doughnut for a Snowman” on Guided by Voices’ first album in seven years? It is—a sure sign the playful lo-fi Ohio rock band is really back and done trying to score radio hits. After a revolving door of musicians, GBV frontman Robert Pollard reconvenes the “classic ’93-’96 lineup.” The result is simply the best album Pollard’s done since Bee Thousand. From the startling “Spiderfighter,” it transforms from grinding garage-rock to the loveliest piano ballad, to ’70s-style classic-rock nugget “The Unsinkable Fats Domino.” Recorded quickly, roughly, loosely, Factory marks a return to the gnarly yet showroom-worthy pop that people like me thought Pollard was no longer capable of making. ★★★★☆