Clearing Out The Mailroom: Monday, July 12, 2010

We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.

Giving Tree Band (Yorkville, Illinois)         
The Joke, The Threat, The Obvious (Crooked Creek)

Given the name of this eco-friendly band, it's fitting that a ripe, rootsy, mélange of banjo, mandolin and assorted stringed instrumentation greets anyone popping onto the opening track, "Red Leaves." The Tom Petty-like vocals of the Brothers Fink are agreeable, but not really the high and lonesome howl that never fails when it comes to bluegrass. Thing is, through a couple of tracks, the record is decent enough, but the sleepy, lazy river of strings that this group employs, well, isn't suited for this type of exercise, to be truthful. Perhaps another time.
I made it: 2:54 into Track No. 3, "Which One."  

Soulfly (Los Angeles)     
Omen (Roadrunner)

In a hellishly good case of a band sticking to its machine guns and aiming to only be themselves without bending to trend, Soulfly straight-up kicks out the jams with their seventh album. Max Cavalera, the former lead-screamer of Sepultura, no doubt wields the chief, primal yell of all Metal middle-earth. In fact, it's likely that simply labeling the pummel-riffic opening track, "Bloodbath & Beyond " as merely "metal" isn't serving the song justice. Head-banging to this propulsive torch of an album will quickly turn to neck brace-wearing, if done in lock-step with the songs' racing rhythms. While thrashing is prevalent, of course, the grooves are as well. Which is nice, since it's not uncommon for bands to implement the former at the expense of the latter. After the nightmarish "Jeffrey Dahmer," it's tough to imagine many people being able to even cry themselves to sleep.
I made it to: 42 seconds into Track No. 8, "Off With Their Heads."

Carissa's Wierd (Seattle)
They Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996-2003 (Hardly Art)

This bygone band was the former home for members of Band of Horses, Grand Archives and for Sera Cahoun. This hypnotic collection effectively serves as a triumphant goodbye letter, indeed. Listen: In the current climate of so many hipster, he/she indie duos, the interplay between the folk-inflected vocals of Matt Brooke and Jenn Ghetto beats just about anything that the freaking Ting Ting's will shout out anytime soon. Truthfully, the mystique that comes along with a posthumous release is also compelling, and gives each tune an extra bit of cryptic gravity. To be sure, this is some solid freak-folk, combined with chamber pop. Similar to the movie, Lost in Translation, there isn't any climactic, easily satisfying ending contained in any of the songs, yet once a tune ends, it's impossible to not feel as though you have enjoyed the journey to that point--kind of like when Bill Murray whispered those quiet words into the crazy hot ears of pre-Ryan Reynolds Scarlett Johansson.
I made it to: 1:05 into Track No. 12, "Blue Champagne Glass."

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