THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN WITH MIKE PATTON
Irony Is a Dead Scene
****On their latest EP, the Dillinger Escape Plan hand you the loaded weapon of 18 minutes of pure skull-fucking material, spray four rounds of industrial-thrash-hardcore violence, and disappear into the wake of their own smoking gun. DEP have never taken sides between metal and hardcore, and this release continues to elevate the band above the confines of both genres, with guest Mike Patton heightening the freak factor, as usual. Between squirming, Locust-like sci-fi theatrics, Patton's suave-psychopath vocals, and lightning strikes of electronic noise, DEP map out a catastrophic outlook on subjects as varied as Hollywood Squares and evil canines. Although all four songs are equally ferocious, the best thing on this disc has to be the band's cover of Aphex Twin's twisted track "Come to Daddy." In the hands of this perfectly deranged DEP/Patton pairing, Twin's classic becomes a delirious, demonic call to devour the innocent (the vocals repeatedly threaten, "I want your soul/I will eat your soul") and then erupts into hellacious screaming and dark, fuzzy noise. Irony Is a Dead Scene is the kind of nightmare soundtrack DEP fans should enjoy not waking up from--as long as the CD stays on repeat. AND the band has just been listed as the opening act for the Queens of the Stone Age show on October 9 (if that tour doesn't keep getting postponed). Hell yes. JENNIFER MAERZ
Light & Magic
****Like RoboCop, Ladytron's got fragile flesh and submerged emotions lurking under a detached, mechanized exoskeleton. And it's precisely this man/woman-as-machine aesthetic that sets the Euro electro-pop quartet apart from their grim nü-wave brethren on this splendid sophomore disc. Sure, a few tracks find vocalists Mira Aroyo and Helena Marnie waxing icy about cracked LCD screens and the like. But more often, the duo rises to a more human league--whether through the breezy harmonies of "Blue Jeans" or the contemplation of lost lovers in the urgent "Cease2xist." Beneath their voices, effects-drenched '80s keyboards and house rhythms are reworked into consistently clever and affecting new forms that belie their synthetic roots. It all comes together best, perhaps, during the bouncy "Seventeen," Ladytron's waggish swipe at their Kraftwerk lineage: "They only want you when you're 17/when you're 21, you're no fun," goes the breathy response to "The Model." Arise, robot-people, and revolt! MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG
Kill the Moonlight
***Spoon's plan thus far has been to make each record a quantum leap over the last. Witness: the promising Pixies derivations of Telephono yielding to the wholly original Soft Effects EP, which was then trumped by A Series of Sneaks, the unsung no-wave glitter-noise-pop masterpiece of the '90s, and then Girls Can Tell, which is still the best indie rock/white soul album of this young century. Both Spoon trends are reversed somewhat with Kill the Moonlight, the band's latest. It should go without saying that the record isn't bad. Several songs--"Small Stakes," "Jonathon Fisk"--leap out like tigers, and the overall aesthetic, artwork, instrumentation, and sounds are outstanding. If there's a problem, it's that the band's aesthetic tends to stand in for songs that have endings, that go places, that are done. Ultimately, Kill the Moonlight is a worthy effort by a better-than-worthy band. It sounds like a first draft for a much better LP (the one called Girls Can Tell). SEAN NELSON
Spoon plays at Graceland Sat Oct 19.
***Even in 2002, some still insist that electronic music is cold and soulless. Albums like Zoomer argue to the contrary. Whereas Schneider TM's 1998 debut album, Moist, aimed to make you dance and mess with your equilibrium, Zoomer is a well-crafted electro-pop album that fellates your funny bone and makes your ass wiggle at weird angles.
Schneider TM (German producer Dirk Dresselhaus) cites Shuggie Otis' 1974 avant-soul classic Inspiration Information as crucial to the creation of Zoomer. The influence definitely prevails in the first half of this eight-track disc. Tracks like "Frogtoise" and "Abyss" evoke giddy never-never lands where sugary Beach Boys melodies and harmonies waft above warped Gary Numan-esque synth tones. But with the playfully surreal hiphop of "Turn On," things get seriously (and cheekily) weird. The final three cuts reconcile Schneider TM's experimental and pop instincts, inspiring goofy smiles and dilated pupils in equal measure. DAVE SEGAL