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Discs by The Fashionistas, Neil Young, India.Arie, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet KEYWORDS: The Fashionistas|Neil Young|India.Arie|Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Music reviews - 7.26.06 

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THE FASHIONISTAS
Faux Couture
Jargon

You get Dave Anderson behind the board and you know it’s gonna come out sounding sweet. The spastic pop cranked out by The Fashionistas on their Jargon debut dives into the angrier side of what once was called new wave. With a little of that neckbreak boogaloo induced a few years back by bands like At The Drive In and a disaffected pseudo-post-garage drone (thanks to The Strokes --- and now The Fashionistas --- you know what that means), the band keeps it catchy while still issuing a musical challenge to themselves and listeners. Sit still if you dare. Dance if you dare. It’s angry and simple and fun. I really like when you can hear the room in the recordings, especially when the band clearly sounds like they’re trying to break out. Vocals on the edge, repetitive guitar riffs reverberating amidst the drums hammering to and fro make this a great record.

--- Frank De Blase

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NEIL YOUNG
Living With War
Reprise/WEA

Neil Young has been mixing music and social activism at least since 1971, when he wrote “ Ohio ” to decry the massacre of student protestors at Kent State . But his political agitation has never been more screamingly blunt than with his latest CD, Living with War, on which Young unloads his frustration and disgust with the Iraq War and the White House that started it. In song after song, from the fiery sarcasm of “Shock and Awe” to the point-blank directive of “Let’s Impeach the President,” Young paints a picture of an America fed up with distortion and death. When, on “The Restless Consumer,” Young shouts “don’t need no more lives” over and over again, the listener receives the message loud and clear: Neil is pissed, and he’s not alone. With his brilliant, trademark guitar squall as an aural canvas, Young does away with metaphor and symbolism and aims straight for the soul. Things are fucked up, he sings, and that has to change.

--- Ryan Whirty

 

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LOS ANGELES GUITAR QUARTET
Spin
Telarc

You know how it is when you hear the line of a song that resonates? When guitarist Andrew York read words in a poem by a friend, “Let love spin you around and around,” he became suddenly and intensely aware of the word “spin.” The awareness sharpened the focus for the newest release from York and other members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ).

Spin is a free-flowing, complex album whirling with diverse influences and featuring guitarists York, John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and percussionist Colin Currie. The four LAGQ members have been together for 25 years. These guys know what they’re about.

Spin begins with Kanengiser’s gentle, rollicking “Turn to the Sea” in 5/4 meter. It moves into the delicate, energetic “Hidden Realms of Light,” a tune York wrote just a few days before LAGQ went into the studio. The title track weaves a bluesy thread through a Spanish tapestry. My current favorite, “Freaky Dancer,” begins in dreamy vibraphone mode and then shifts through a complex, mathematical kaleidoscope of meters and rhythms.

In Spin I hear J.S. Bach, Philip Glass, John Lennon, joy, discord, and momentum. You may hear something else. Let Spin spin you around and around.

--- Brenda Tremblay

 

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INDIA.ARIE
Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship
UMVD

If you’re not a touchy-feely person who believes in self-realization through catharsis, then Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, India.Arie’s third CD, probably isn’t for you. Arie essentially uses the album as a way to work through a painful break-up, and the disc is filled with what some would call life-affirming self-help and others would call pointless psychobabble. But the fact is, it would be hard for anyone to listen to the CD without feeling a little better by the end of it, if not about oneself, then at least about the ability of music to uplift the spirits of the musician. Musically, Arie mixes R&B, folk, rock, and even blues (Bonnie Raitt plays guitar on one cut) and country (Rascal Flatts appears on another). While not as groundbreaking and refreshing as her 2001 debut, Acoustic Soul, Testimony is a feel-good album that generally does just that: makes people feel, you know, good.

--- Ryan Whirty

 

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