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for August 8, 2005

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The Altrok Listener 7:
A Surprising Discovery

Cool Tunes To Cock Your Ear To
by Bill Stella

Art Brut "Good Weekend" (Identifying lyric: "I've got a brand new girlfriend."..."I've seen her naked...TWICE!")
Architecture In Helsinki "Maybe You Can Owe Me"
New Order "Krafty"
One of the fun slash frustrating things about Altrok Radio is that Sean Carolan programs it like a radio station instead of a personal jukebox. "Fun" because of the Altrok Sound: I'm certain Mr. Carolan enjoys other music, but he has a real sense of an Altrok Sound and an Altrok Playlist that makes for a specific but broad-based musical experience. And if the songs aren't Altrok Worthy, then they don't get on Altrok. "Frustrating" because, well, it's programmed like a radio station duh and if the songs aren't Altrok Worthy, then they don't get on Altrok double duh. Album tracks are culled carefully, over time Adding entire albums (nor nearly) to the playlist almost instantaneously upon release is unheard of here.
It's also frustrating because it's just me, I guess, who rarely ran right out and bought new albums on the basis of one or two great tracks (or "I just have to have it."), even when I had a "real" income. I'm so used to / lucky / spoiled by working (for no money) at a college radio station, to be able to listen to lots of tracks on an album before deciding what's purchase-worthy. But despite its vast library, WRSU-FM doesn't get *everything*. Of the three titles above, only the New Order made it to WRSU, and I'm swamped with so many other great albums to play (and new albums to listen to) that I just haven't heard any more of Waiting for the Sirens Call than what Altrok has played. Art Brut and Architecture In Helsinki have neat websites, but not much more music to sample.
For months I depended on Altrok for what I've heard from the trio. Two songs from each for awhile. Loved them. But recently Altrok's added a few more tracks. Just enough to make a difference, and get a good handle on each album's character.
Art Brut begin the latest Altrok add, "Good Weekend", like "Cool Jerk" begins. Recognizing their similarity was the "Aha!" moment when I recognized Art Brut has more to do with updating the summery California Beach sound, as did the B-52's, then they have to do with deliberate and taut art-rock understatement (think Devo; think Art Brut's surface similarities to Devo).
Architecture in Helsinki gives me the same Rock and Roll Carnival-feel that Queen gave me for a great many years, complete with aspirations toward light opera. But instead of purposefully proscribing all but a classic set of rocker's instruments, they've raided the band room (and the hall closet), (and the pantry), much like Brian Wilson's quest to find unique sounds for the Beach Boys.
New Order has come around, like awakening from a self-imposed coma, to a fun but mature place, where they fully embrace the joy of living, uncynically, sunshine permeating the sound as frequently as the album is filled with walls of new bright shiny strummed guitars. They're into the power of love and, uhm, rockets, and the joy of life, love and engines (metaphor for energy and power itself), which reminds me of the Girls, Cars and Surf formula of you know! Does anyone else see a pattern here?
Together with Louis XIV's "The Best Little Secrets Are Kept" (which I've personally dubbed the Summer Album of 2005, but Louis XIV owe their hugest debt to Marc Bolan and T-Rex), Art Brut's Bang Band Rock & Roll, Architecture In Helsinki's In Case We Die and New Order's Waiting For The Siren's Call point to the huge influence of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys on pop music, lasting over 40 years until now.
Some of the best music of 2005. All great, Brian Wilson-influenced music, all have arrived the year after "Smile" was finally released in a form something like what was originally intended. Co-incidence?


©2005 Bill Stella

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


Today's NY/NJ Shows That Matter

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit and Strand Of Oaks at The Met, Philly (POSTPONED)
The Wailers at Brooklyn Bowl (POSTPONED)
Hollis Brown at The Loft at City Winery (POSTPONED)
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ALTROK Ordinals

ALTROK recommends music once a week; here's our most recent choices. Most links will take you to a place where you can buy the music; if there's no link, and you own a record company, consider releasing it yourself...

A Place To Bury Strangers - It Is Nothing
The Boxer Rebellion - Semi-Automatic
The Cribs - Cheat On Me
Datarock - True Stories
Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome
HEALTH - Die Slow
Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls - Catching More Than We Miss
Julian Plenti - Games For Days
Los Campesinos - The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future (Free download!)
Miike Snow - Black & Blue

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