City vs. Country
Thank goodness Mobius Band is finally set to release a full-length album. This relatively unknown trio from the relatively remote town of Shutesbury, Mass., has been the sonic equivalent of a teenage tease with the successive release of three fully independent EPs, and now this increasingly addictive and too-short five-song effort—20 minutes of tantalizing electronic rock that’s more drumkit than drum machine, more guitar saturation than sampled beats.
Over the last three years the band has developed and refined an infectious, intelligent, sweeping sound of rock textures. There’s an urge to attach lofty comparisons to what they’ve produced here: a lightweight collision of the layered compositions of Beck and the dramatic electro-rock scope of Radiohead. But that’s heady stuff for a band that still hasn’t released a full-length album (look for their first later this summer). Maybe a fairer assessment would have a Yo La Tengo jam meeting the ambience of The Postal Service.
Either way, this is rich stuff, an appetizer portion that could be consumed as a meal. Take “Multiply,” which showcases Ben Sterling’s unobtrusively apathetic vocals and emerges as a reverberating ballad with crackling drums from Noam Schatz and all manner of synthetic strata from Peter Sax. If only there was more. (Skylar Browning)
Mobius Band plays at The Other Side Sunday, June 5, at 10 PM. $3.
Scientifically speaking, capillary action is the phenomenon allowing water to crawl up a paper towel as if defying gravity. This peculiarity doesn’t quite describe the band Capillary Action and its new album, Fragments, but the two parallel each other in weirdness.
Fragments is a purely instrumental mass of experimentation (with sparse voice samples) from a sextet whose founder, Jonathan Pfeffer, is, not surprisingly, a music student at Oberlin College. The shreds of free jazz, ambient noise, hard rock and lounge supply an innovative array that plays like a short film collection. The synthesized drama and melodic strumming take you from smoky piano bars to lonely Midwestern highways to the lime-in-the-coconut cool of a tiki hut. “Constant Steady Collapse” is kitschy in a James Bond way, and “Architecture Would Fall” feels straight out of The Fucking Champs’ heavy-rock set list. Want music to accompany a space battle? Check. Rainy sidewalk café? Check. Industrial warehouse rhumba? Got that, too. And these mood changes aren’t cued by song; they occur within songs, so while Fragments is fragmented, its various styles are remarkably adhesive. Capillary Action is no wet towel, but Pfeffer and the band’s innovative talent is certainly absorbing. (Erika Fredrickson)
Capillary Action joins Iron Lung, Ohuzaru, Bullet Train to Vegas and Ass-End Offend at the Elk’s Lodge Thursday, June 2. $6.
The backstory is as good (and diverse) as the music with ThaMuseMeant: Three-quarters of this now strictly stringed act met while busking in Austin, Texas. After investing two years trying to make it as a singer/songwriter in a town of beatboxers and punk rockers, guitarist Nathan Moore stumbled upon mandolin player David Tiller and bassist Aimee Curl playing old-time music on Austin’s venerable 6th Street.
Moore, a Virginia native, exchanged phone numbers with Curl and Tiller—who both happened to be from Virginia, too. The three formed ThaMuseMeant, picked up drummer Jeff Sussmann and moved to Santa Fe. But after touring successfully for eight years, the band split in 2000. In 2003 the group reunited sans drummer and welcomed fiddler/violinist Enion Petra to the fold.
On Silver Seed, Petra’s sultry gypsy-style fiddling brings fresh perspective to the image-driven lyrics of veteran members Moore and Curl. Curl stands out on this latest effort with vocals making her seem like the love child of Björk and Reeltime Traveler Martha Scanlan.
ThaMuseMeant tastefully channel swing, jazz and old-time styles in their original acoustic folk material. Given the geographical meandering of this now Portland-based troupe of musicians, it is astounding that their mesmerizing new album comes across absolutely focused and grounded. (Caroline Keys)
The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
Stones Throw Records
After five years of reclusiveness, Quasimoto, the alter ego of rapper/producer Madlib, has returned once again to amaze hip-hop heads with The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, a heavy dose of ganja-fueled funk and soul-powered hip-hop.
Madlib turns himself into Quasimoto by shifting the pitch of his voice up a few semitones; think of a stoned rapper who ingested too much helium and you’ll get the idea. The two personalities trade rhymes throughout the album, talking about everything from their affinity for weed (“Greenery”) to their dislike of wack rappers (“Another Demo Tape”) to their obsession with the shape of the female booty (“Fatbacks”). Much of the album is laced with hilarious sound samples, the funniest of them dealing with the use of marijuana and its effect on creativity. The samples blend perfectly with Madlib’s evolving production techniques, which include liberal use of stereo panning and digital effects processing.
While this isn’t as groundbreaking lyrically as his first album under the Quasimoto alias, The Unseen, fans of quality underground hip-hop will still want to check out this new release from one of the most sought-after producers and rappers of 2005. (Ira Sather-Olson)