Time Without Consequence

(Zero Summer)


It's like one of those high-school relationships. He's cute and smart (enough), but so goddamned earnest it sometimes makes your skin crawl. And you're not sure how much you like him coming up to you after school and playing his sweet, sad, and sometimes unbearably sincere songs for you with that pained look on his face. Alexi Murdoch is that guy. You like him, sure—who wouldn't?—but you feel like he's just a little too much for you. He's singing all about how his "salvation lies in your love" and it sometimes makes you feel like running. You're only 16, for Chrissakes, and you're not sure you like it when he gets all "rock-and-roll" with a few of those extended guitar-and-feedback jams that punctuate the love letter that is his first full-length, Time Without Consequence. Still, he's sweet. And he's got a voice to die for. When he sings, "You think no one understands," you know that he does. He may be a bit genuine for these post-ironic times, but when he wraps you in the familiar blanket of acoustic guitar and Nick Drake–like strings, well, if you're honest with yourself, you kinda swoon a little. I say you turn a deaf ear to the cynics who claim that the only worthwhile music is both searingly original and aurally challenging; good music can also be as simple as comfort in these turbulent times. Alexi Murdoch wants your love. I say you give it to him. CHRIS McCANN


Peeping Tom



"Mainstream" and "commercial" are not terms easily applied to Mike Patton's music. Yes, it's true that Peeping Tom is the label owner (Ipecac), noise-rock vocalist (Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), and former Faith No More frontman's most accessible project since he costarred on producer Dan the Automator's Lovage album in 2001. However, save for a cheeky turn from Norah Jones, who plays the heartbreaker calling him "Sucker," most of Patton's guests aren't exactly household names: Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, and even Massive Attack are better known to underground-music fans than the general public.

More importantly, and despite Patton proclaiming it a "pop" album, Peeping Tom still sounds slippery and strange. Save for rap-oriented numbers like "Getaway" (with Kool Keith) and "How U Feelin?" (with Doseone), Patton keeps his voice front and center.

Peeping Tom is mostly produced by Patton. In a nod to Dan the Automator's various projects, his beats are slow and deliberate, creating a thick, hot, and moody atmosphere that doesn't evaporate until the end with "We're Not Alone," a crushing rock track with Dub Trio. Undeniably sensuous (in a sleazy way), Peeping Tom could still use a little Tomahawk to clear the air. MOSI REEVES


Double Death



A few years back, I was at the Funhouse to see some band I can't remember now (the Ponys?), and I hadn't heard much of the Coachwhips. Anyway, seconds after the hum died out of the previous band's amps, John Dwyer and crew launched into a blistering set of their shotgunned-beer, garage-blues-punk miasma from the opposite corner of the room. During some other forgettable band's performance, the Coachwhips had set up in the back corner of the club and became poised to unleash their din at the most unsuspecting moment. It was one of the most spontaneous, visceral things I've experienced in live music. That being said, this prick-tease of a CD/DVD release shows how much fun the now-defunct Coachwhips could be live, as evidenced by people in the front rows losing their shit. There's no way, though, that you could turn your stereo up loud enough to emulate a Coachwhips show in the flesh. But, hey, sound quality was never one of the their strong points anyhow, and if you want to know what it would've sounded like to record these guys in the basement with your roommate's boom box, you can listen to the CD part. If you want to see what it would have been like to record them in your basement with your parents' hand-me-down VHS cam, you can watch the DVD. Both seem hastily thrown together, but then again, so did the music, and that was the best part. GRANT BRISSEY


The Sun Awakens

(Drag City)


It once seemed like guitarist Ben Chasny (leader of Six Organs of Admittance) might never come out of the northern California redwood forests. Holed up with his four-track, he forged a legacy in the late '90s with a string of mystery-enshrouded lathe cuts and small-batch vinyl slabs that alchemically soldered Robbie Basho–type acoustics and Tibetan bell clangs to the searing sort of string-shredding so heavy in Japan at the time to create extended head buzzes. Come 2003's Compathia, he began to descend back into the world of man, the droning chants tempered by Chasny's flat singing and nontranscendental song lengths. On last year's breakout debut for Drag City, School of the Flower, he left the four-track in the closet and entered a studio with free-jazz drummer Chris Corsano to let the lava ooze and thunder roll. Such elemental and unstructured urges are tempered somewhat on The Sun Awakens. Having signed on to provide Santa Cruz's Comets on Fire with extra plasma, Chasny lets it flow back here. Fellow Comets Ethan Miller and Noel Von Harmonson lend vocals and drums, making this the most rock-oriented Six Organs record yet. There are still gentle acoustic strums ("Wolves' Pup"), but the deft fingerpicked start of "Black Wall" gets scorched by song's end. The album's second half, "River of Transfiguration," is a return to the dirge. Over 20 minutes, slow-breath chants and tone generators accumulate like thunderstorm clouds, with release or abatement never forthcoming; the song blocks out the sun with great mystical dread. ANDY BETA