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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

June 30, 2005
Rating: 9/10

As I sit here and listen to my very openly gay neighbors blare Evanescence and disco-friendly remixes of Evita from their home stereo into their backyard, I am more thankful than usual that I was lucky enough to discover underground music. For if it were not for the music created left of the mainstream, cursed I would be to the same fate. Though I can safely say I would not be listening to Evita remixes (or at least I hope I wouldn't), the watered-down, commercialized rock that infects radio, MTV and my neighbors' collections would surely have infiltrated my CD collection. How any person can spend an entire afternoon listening to such musical white bread, intermingled with a good amount of Elton John, Cher, and eighties' pop hits, is completely beyond me. Since the start of summer, I have been on a steady dose of aspirin, earplugs and frequent cigarette breaks up and down the block.

As all of us Lost At Sea readers know, outside the mainstream realm of predicable, grating pop, the more creative can flourish. Kill Rock Stars has been a patron of this very creativity in its many forms for many years-from supporting cornerstones of indie rock like Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, and Bikini Kill to underwriting numerous, more obscure artists and bands. After five years, KRS has released its third video, this time moving away from the archaic VHS format and releasing video fanzine #3 in glorious DVD. Although the format has changed this time around, the concept remains on course with the first two video compilations with the inclusion of live footage, music videos, and short films from heavily cemented KRS bands such as Unwound, Sleater-Kinney and Deerhoof alongside filmmakers Sadie Shaw and Juliana Luecking. Also, not surprisingly, there are no extras on the DVD, no Slim Moon commentary or "funny outtakes." KRS keeps it real and true to their initial tape format. That isn't to say that there are no improvements; this time around the quality of videos has gone up - the Decemberists' mini-film for Her Majesty's "The Soldiering Life" goes so far as to require giving grip, makeup, and set decoration credits. Videos from Xiu Xiu, The Paper Chase, and Stereo Total also serve to raise the proverbial bar above the standards set by earlier videos.

For me, nothing can match Jem Cohen's portrait of Elliott Smith, "Lucky Three," from the first video fanzine, but this third installment has a greater number of good bands with high-quality, creative videos, and is more entertaining from beginning to end. Deerhoof, Gravy Train!!!, Amps For Christ and Hella contribute videos that range from disturbing erotic imagery (Xiu Xiu's "20,000 Deaths For Eidelyn Gonzales, 20,000 Deaths For Jamie Peterson") to an always entertaining junk food-tinged rainbow of trash (Gravy Train!!!'s "Ghost Boobs"). The live footage in this release is especially noteworthy, Quix*o*tic's quiet, smoldering performance of "The Breeze" from Mortal Mirror and Unwound's classic opening video for "Valentine Card" being among the best. These live performances come across as the most natural sounding, in-the-moment recordings, juxtaposed with footage of the Gossip and Sleater-Kinney, bands who could never hope to duplicate the excitement of their actual live shows. The Gossip performs "Don't (Make Waves)," one of their best songs from 2004's Movement. Considering they have a tendency to muddily record their live tracks (example: Undead In NYC), which does them little justice, this footage takes the opposite approach and cleans things up to a fault. Really, they are a band better seen in the flesh. Likewise, the distorted meld of Sleater-Kinney's live show is a bit lost in the clarity of their recorded performance here of "Turn In On" from 1998's Dig Me Out. Regardless, it is nice to actually see Corin Tucker's expressiveness in her delivery. A detail often lost at a live show, unless, of course, you're young, lively and punctual.

Some of the most challenging, volatile and expressive videos come from bands on KRS's sister-label, 5 Rue Christine. A live video of the matching-outfitted spazz-metal group xbxrx winds up being the most memorable footage on the compilation, but whether for any other reason than the sheer shock value is yet to be determined. I don't know what it is about self-destruction, instrument-smashing and all-out wailing that is so attractive, but the process is definitely cause for momentary infatuation. Stepping away from chaos, Semiautomatic's "Wolfcentric" is, plainly put, a really good song, and their video is both playful and depressing at times. Videos from Amps For Christ, Hella, and the Mae Shi likewise contribute memorably good songs and video combinations-from a montage of surrealistic grainy film clips to politically charged puppetry to animation.

After a decade and a half, Kill Rock Stars (and 5RC, which has really taken hold of the riskily creative output) is still consistently releasing good music by distinctive and definitive bands, and their third video fanzine documents this in dramatic fashion. With the recent signing of former 4 Non Blondes front-woman and pop-princess spinstress Linda Perry, and the inevitable Internet shit-talking that followed, may are fearfully bursting at the seams with thoughts of their dear KRS being deflowered by such a corporate rock inside-player. Who knows, those naysayers may prove to be prophetic, but from the weight of this video release it seems absurd to think that one out-of-step signing could ruin KRS' status as an interesting label with unique (yet accessible) musicians and artists. I think it is safe to say that I won't hear a KRS release bursting through the speakers of my neighbor's stereo, elbowing for sound waves with Cher and Celine Dion, providing the soundtrack for another pop-music-fueled late-night pool party, anytime soon.

SEE ALSO: www.killrockstars.com

--
Abbie Amadio
The last we heard Abbie Amadio, a former contributor to LAS, was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

See other articles by Abbie Amadio.

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