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Album Review: Made for Walking by Pink Punk Boots
Made for Walking, the new debut from Pink Punk Boots, opens sounding like Seattle-flavored John Oates on ditchweed, drawing influences from DJ Spooky and Radiohead, with a knowing nod to (the criminally underrated) Jandek.
Made for Walking is the avant-grunge-ers’ attempt at esoteric, haunting, art school sequencing rock.
Made for Walking tries too hard to break new ground—for good reason: Cristy Scoggins was writing this music in a tent. Thus, Made for Walking marks a musical turning point, á la the Beatles’ White Album (except if Ringo wrote every song).
“Hands off my Product” echoes strains of a MC5-esque epic, with a penchant for dazzling guitar epic and raw vocal vibe, while the more jaded ”Curly Girl” moves at cloud speed, reminiscent of Alex Chilton on beer. However, Pink Punk Boots speeds it up with ”Estrogen Rage”. But such lack of design has its own charm. The result? wounded, haunting, lissom. alt-folk. Perfect for contemplating oblivion during a breakup at an abandoned meat-packing plant.
3 stars. RIYL: Serge Gainsbourg.
Eels, End Times
Wunderkind Mark “E” Edwards has released six albums as Eels. E’s often-autobiographical songs are heartbreaking — he lost his father, mother, and sister in a relatively short time span — but he usually adorns them with experimental, beautiful sounds (see 1998’s Electro-Shock Blues). End Times is still lovely, but the instrumentation is sparse, which makes the songs even moodier. There are a few uptempo tunes: the funky garage of “Gone Man” and “Unhinged.” E’s voice has grown raspier over the years, so songs like “Line in the Dirt” and “I Need a Mother” are especially melancholy. Beware: Not recommended after breakups, rainy days, or more than three glasses of wine.
The Scruffs, Conquest
Supergroups—with few exceptions, they disappoint. It’s what I like to call “The Traveling Wilbury Syndrome,” where all rights make a wrong. The Scruffs is a Scottish supergroup that I had high hopes for, featuring members of Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian. I was expecting a gorgeous, distorted jangle-meets-twee masterpiece, but it’s just a bunch of dudes playing slick, straight-ahead rock (“Conquer Me,” the cheesy “iPod Girl”). The harmonies are decent, though, and the album has afew bright spots, including the pretty “Days of Silver and Gold.” For die-hard fans of Scot-rock only.
Woodpigeon, Die Stadt Muzikanten
This is a mellow, unassuming gem from Woodpigeon, an eight-member Calgary band led by singer-songwriter Mark Hamilton. It’s a sweet album, tailor-made for listening in the dawn of spring, with pleasant strings, bells, horns, and organ. Standouts include “My Denial in Argyle,” “Duck Duck Goose,” and the layered, 7-minute “Such a Lucky Girl.” At 16 tracks, Die Stadt Muzikanten‘s tinkling preciousness might get a bit repetitive for some, but if you’re into boy-girl orchestral harmonies reminiscent of the Decemberists or Sufjan Stevens, you’ll probably dig this.