The sing-song poppiness of the enemies ep lends itself to pleasant shuffling in place, a gauzy sense of bright lights and pretty people making genuine music with emotional import. The sopping shroud of well-being that envelopes the Champaign, Ill., trio, however, seems to have deceived them into believing that deftly tuned distortion and well-timed breaks can excuse profoundly banal lyrics. The consequence is a passable art-rock album choking on indigestible lyrical gristle.
Crushingly mundane phrases—“you can’t believe your eyes,” “another broken heart,” “home is where the heart is,” “swallowing your pride,” “the joke is up,” “put my mind at ease,” etc.—pepper the album. The strained breathiness (or alternately girlish sincerity) with which these clichés are delivered aims at seriousness but achieves only comedy, particularly when nearly novel phrases surface only to be strangled: the almost imaginative “looking for the sun in England,” for instance, gets garroted by the non sequitur “Throw him a lifeline ’cause he’s sinking.”
The enemies ep is competent but careless music, thoughtlessly tossed off under the pretense of profundity. And while profundity is no requirement in pop, neither should earnest tone belie insipid content. (Jason Wiener)
Headlights plays The Raven Cafe Friday, April 14, at 9 PM. Raise Your Hands and This is a Process of a Still Life open. $5.
Boogdish Ruined My Life
Hairy Chested Records
How the hell does one connect William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 with a fairly sexual love song about the North Carolina state line? It’s a stretch to compare excitement about geographical location to poetry about immortal love, but Texas-based Boogdish (really just one guy named Michael Barton) makes exactly such a leap and does so with humor so charming it’s hard not to fall for it.
Boogdish Ruined My Life is a homegrown album with the punk-preacher qualities of formerly local rockers No-Fi Soul Rebellion. The music itself doesn’t much stand out beyond the novelty of hearing Barton’s chaotic singing amid the sped-up disco beats, but what makes this recording a jewel is the supplementary zine-style liner notes that give background to each song. “Fight the Band War, Not Wars,” for instance, is about (the band) War’s inane party song “Lowrider,” and “Cry Stamos Cry” is about a “Full House” episode. These songs may not be quite Shakespearean in quality, but Boogdish certainly plays cleverly with love and tragedy, which is in the same sort of spirit. Sort of. (Erika Fredrickson)
Boogdish plays at Higgins Alley Upstairs Saturday, April 15, at 9 PM, with Scatterbox, 10mt40s, Grand Tour and Old Shoes. $5.Anne & Pete Sibley
Will You Walk With Me
On the covers of each of the three albums so far released by Anne & Pete Sibley, a husband-wife folk combo who have been singing together since meeting in their high school choir, there are Christmas card-like photos of the two lovebirds in a field or prancing through the snow. It’s sweet imagery, I suppose, and that same cuddly Hallmark vibe carries over to Will You Walk With Me. Anne Sibley’s vocals are at the forefront—capable, dulcet and occasionally evocative, especially set against the clean clawhammer banjo or acoustic guitar of her husband. Within the confines of this album, it’s a traditional old-time sound that’s well-crafted and hard to nitpick. It’s all very nice.
But when lined up against outside influences, the effort comes across as watered-down Gillian Welch and David Rawlins, running through a listener without leaving a lasting impression or much to digest. Take Anne’s attempt to mimic Emmylou Harris’ heartbreaking a capella “Calling My Children Home”: In the liner notes, Anne admits being inspired by Harris’ version—as would anyone who’s ever heard it—and then predictably falls far short of the target. The song, like the album, shows that Anne is talented, but not near top tier, making the Sibleys’ latest better suited for display on a friend’s refrigerator than in a stereo. (Skylar Browning)
Anne & Pete Sibley open for Broken Valley Roadshow at the Crystal Theatre Saturday, April 15, at 8 PM. $10.
In all their maudlin glory, reality shows like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” provide the certain comforts of a fairy tale ending. Stories about families whose dilapidated shacks are rebuilt as mansions leave you with that do-gooder warmth, even if you’re just sitting on your ass. But what sort of pain relief does watching those “real” stories and their happy endings provide when more pressing true-life events, like the Iraq War, are also ongoing?
Coeur d’Alene-based Scatterbox likes to examine—as many punk groups tend to do—issues of social anxiety and politically induced malaise without ever providing an easy solution for the listener. Sudden Movements is an album of defiance bathed in double-time guitar riffs and feisty drums. Tom White’s gruff, craggy vocals are well suited to skateboarding anthems and songs about what freedom really means. “Siren Song” is a punk-lathered sea shanty in the style of Murder City Devils, and a handful of other tracks stir up ghostly threads of the Accused. It’s a strong combination, even if it’s not terribly unusual, and at Sudden Movements’ end, when White sings “No, it’s not gonna be all right,” the rousing gang vocals in reply seem so sincere. And, compared to cheap TV exploitations, far more heartening. (Erika Fredrickson)
Scatterbox plays Higgins Alley Upstairs Saturday, April 14, at 9 PM. Boogdish, 10mt40s, Grand Tour, and Old Shoes open. $5.