Table for One
Table for One is not at all like DJ Jester the Filipino Fist's previous CDs River Walk Riots and Heavily Booted, which were energetic, groove-driven mixes of '70s rock, country, and old-school hiphop. Instead, Table for One is heavy, introspective, and sad--with that sense of implosion or exhaustion that post-rock perfected in the '90s. Banished from this record is the sun, the life of a party, and the playfulness implied by the DJ's name--save for a hidden track that meshes 50 Cent's "In da Club" with an old country tune (fellow editor Sean Nelson informs me that it's not country, but a rock/jazz piece by Les Paul). Table for One, which DJ Jester mixed/made with fellow San Antonio native Quad Rod, is about the pain of breaking up, of being dumped, of loving someone who no longer loves you. Some tracks, like "Oh God Kill Me," express some anger, but the feeling that dominates Table for One is the misery of an affection whose light is not reflected, but which glows alone in the endless night ("Without Nobody," "We All Want to Be Loved," and "Still Without Nobody"). Table for One is a lovely record for those who are suffering from lovesickness. CHARLES MUDEDE
A Few Steps More
The most interesting side projects deviate from the artists' main creative outlet. So it's puzzling why Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier has hewed so closely to her primary ensemble's sound. Playing guitar, Moog, trombone, and percussion here, Sadier leads a newly formed unit of mostly French musicians through some very familiar Stereolab-esque paces. Whereas Monade's last album, 2003's Socialisme ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings, reveled in intimate boudoir-studio fidelity and odd song structures, A Few Steps More follows in the 'Lab tradition of sang-froid tunes shot through with mild regret and blissful yearning, though Monade tend toward the lollygagging rather than bustling end of the Stereolab style spectrum. Although it forgoes their twin Kraut-rock and bossa-nova obsessions, A Few Steps More mostly cruises on Stereolab's trademark buoyant guitar jangle and sonorous Moog drone. Sadier's voice, one of the most recognizable in rock, hasn't deteriorated an iota over the past 15 years, but that sameness induces as much monotony as it does admiration. With Stereolab's future uncertain--a new four-disc retrospective, Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, suggests the end may be near--perhaps Monade will carry on that group's sound indefinitely. It's a living. DAVE SEGAL
Monade perform Mon May 9 at Chop Suey, 9 pm, $10 adv.
A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005
Pop-rock fans stuck on the south side of the Peace Arch aren't completely blameless if they've never heard of Sloan. At home, this Halifax quartet have been huge for almost 15 years, but their Stateside history is spotty: After their acclaimed 1993 debut, Smeared, their U.S. label, Geffen, was too busy promoting Weezer and Kurt Cobain's corpse to properly support its follow-up, Twice Removed (which one major Canadian rock rag recently anointed the #1 Canadian Album of All Time). But with Rivers Cuomo's output growing increasingly erratic, there couldn't be a better time to investigate the uninterrupted delights proffered on Sloan's career-spanning A Sides Win. From their initial offering, "Underwhelmed" ("She was underwhelmed if that's a word/I know it's not 'cause I looked it up"), to "The Other Man," a brooding tale of infidelity told from an unlikely point of view (plucked from 2001's Pretty Together), the band's four sterling songwriters deliver consistently. Yet Sloan also change tack more frequently than colleagues like Fountains of Wayne, veering from "Everything You've Done Wrong," with its sunny, Chicago-style horns, to distortion-laden power pop ("The Good in Everyone") and borderline bubblegum ("The Lines You Amend"). Bolstered with the ubiquitous two new tracks--the better of which is the radio-friendly "All Used Up," which reflects the influence of their 2004 tourmates Jet--this 16-song set is the finest introductory package to a criminally underrated act since Four Thousand Six Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds: A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub. KURT B. REIGHLEY
Sloan perform Fri May 6 at Crocodile, 9 pm, $12.
Pretty in Black
Regardless of whether KEXP is planning an intimate "500 club-members" show with the Raveonettes at the Triple Door, they should. Like the Concrete's performance at the Seattle supper club, this Danish duo's fascination with wall-of-sound pop and forlorn twang would be perfectly set against the venue's stage lit with twinkling stars. Both groups have a subtly cinematic approach to music--but for the Raveonettes that's a more recent development. It's worked in the band's favor that Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner dropped the three chords/three minutes/one sound format of the band's debut in favor of a fuller, more fulfilling songwriting approach on the group's latest and third release, Pretty in Black.
Black pulls the band back once again to bygone eras, both stylistically (you can sometimes hear the crackle of vinyl behind songs) and in the musical guests Wagner and compatriot Sharin Foo have included here. Their influences come to the forefront as Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker and Suicide's Martin Rev step in on a couple tracks--but it's the iconic Ronnie Spector who creates the perfect bridge between past and present on "Ode to L.A.," a stunning original and complement to the Raveonettes' cover of "My Boyfriend's Back." The Ronettes crooner's appearance leaves no question of Raveonettes' fascination with the '60s girl-group sound, and the song is the most Phil Spector-esque and best song overall. If only the rest of Black's pop noir was that dynamic. While the songs are tender odes to days when you could call a lover your "valentine," a few more confidently ebullient tracks would further pull the Raveonettes out of their pop stupor and into something truly compelling. JENNIFER MAERZ
The Raveonettes perform Sat May 7 at Neumo's, 9 pm, $10.77/$12.
**** Cervezas y limon
*** Tacos de pescados
** Arroz con frijoles
* Montezuma's revenge