TRACHTENBURG FAMILY SLIDESHOW PLAYERS
Vintage Slide Collections from Seattle Volume 1
(Orange Recordings)
****

Support The Stranger

"Believing in You," the final song on Vintage Slide Collections from Seattle Volume 1, has Jason Trachtenburg giving a "shout-out" up to the rock and roll heavens. He thanks the local music scene for supporting his family's band. He confesses to being full of himself. The piano line sounds like an anthemic "My Best Friend's Girl" by the Cars. Trachtenburg goes as far as asking the press to write about his band. As I fulfill his request I am unable to find a valid criticism. While referential, this bizarre local family affair is a unique project unto itself. And yes, the idea that Trachtenburg's eight-year-old daughter, Rachel, plays drums is precious, until one actually hears her play. She's excellent. The songs recall the Beatles, Camper Van Beethoven, and even the Dead Milkmen at times. On "Eggs," Jason and Rachel sing together, his voice adult and assured, hers childlike and infectious. The guitar-playing is propulsive: "Vietnam and Watergate and eggs," they sing. "Agent Orange blue and red and eggs--legs/You're gonna have to watch/for a kick in the crotch." The refrain on the proletarian "What Will the Corporation Do?" is "What will the corporation do?/It-schmit!" It's a tongue-in-cheek manifesto for the entire family. All is silly here. Vintage Slide Collections is something small and perfect and brilliant. JEFF DeROCHE


FRANÇOIZ BREUT
Vingt à Trente Mille Jours

(Bella Union)
****

On the outside I may be hard as stone--sturdy, solid, damn near impenetrable--but inside, in my heart, there is a little butterfly (I have named her "Jessica") who flutters with the rages of passion. She feeds on love, as well as the occasional raisin, and nothing brings out the love inside her like pretty music. Okay, this is a crock, but my admiration for Françoiz Breut, quite possibly the best thing to come out of France since Le Car (if Le Car did, in fact, come out of France), is not. Vingt à Trente Mille Jours, which is Breut's second record, hits me square in that gooey spot I rarely enjoy making public. Equal parts yé-yé, techno, and absurd easy listening (which, if divided equally into parts, would equal 33.333333333... thereby making the above statement completely ridiculous), Vingt à Trente... is one of the most beautiful concoctions to cross my stereo in years. Listen to it and let your little butterfly flutter. BRADLEY STEINBACHER


EDITH FROST
Wonder Wonder
(Drag City)
***

Since departing American-trad territory as a member of the Holler Sisters and Edith and Her Roadhouse Romeos, Chicago transplant Edith Frost has explored moody, contemplative songs with whispery aplomb. Her debut, Calling over Time, showcased her cool, clear, dulcet-voiced take on Americana shaded with minor-key melodies reminiscent of an earthier early-'70s Joni Mitchell. Its follow-up, Telescopic, was an atmospheric affair that displayed a bleary-eyed, introverted psychedelia similar to Syd Barrett and Skip Spence. With Wonder Wonder, Frost finds the balancing act between the sounds of those albums, more in league with her 1999 single "Love Is Real." The dozen songs are subtly powerful, implying emotional depth rather than spelling it out. By the finale, "You're Decided," the strange hypnosis of the album has opened up matrices of memory and emotion, offering dusky refuge from troubling loves and losses in the lilt of Frost's voice. NATE LIPPENS


THE SCREWS

Shake Your Monkey

(In the Red)
***1/2

The garage punk scene is so incestuous it's amazing the songs don't all come out whistling "Dueling Banjos." Detroit garage-father Mick Collins continually shows up with multiple musical offspring (the Dirtbombs, Blacktop, and the Gories, to name a few). The Screws is just one of Collins' amazing little runts, and like his other projects, it grabs the blues, soul, and R&B by the belt buckle and flings them on a dirty, freaky, punk roller coaster without brakes. On Shake Your Monkey, frontman Collins and company tweak over a dozen classics, from the Rolling Stones to Ike Turner, Smokey Robinson, and John Lee Hooker. There's even a lo-fi cover of Groove Armada's "I See You Baby" that's so fucked out of its original form it walks with swinging, honky-tonk hips. The Screws live up to their name here, turning everything they rub up against into a sweaty rock and roll heaven, heavy on the bump and grind. JENNIFER MAERZ


SHANNON WRIGHT

Dyed in the Wool

(Quarterstick)
***

Shot through with her thick, gorgeous voice, Shannon Wright's Dyed in the Wool is her most rock and roll record to date. Few solo female singer-songwriters who channel this much emotion into their music transcend being either divas supported by an army of extra musicians and producers, or just precious. (There are exceptions--PJ Harvey, genius; and Diamanda Galas, brilliant nightmare; among them.) Dyed in the Wool is refreshing. The atmospheric "Method of Sleeping" recalls Björk's "Come to Me," minus all the electronics. Wright plays a synthesizer to imbue the song with a spacy, dreamlike quality (which lends the otherwise rock and pop album a fine, moody dynamic), but the sound remains happily organic and original. The opener, "Less Than a Moment," sets the tone: It's dissonant, aggressive, and scathing, with Wright belting, "This ugly state/I shall not answer/This nausea." Lyrically, the record is often cryptic to a fault, bordering on the Nine Inch Nails school of associative screed. But the compositions are superior, and Wright's voice is a thing of terrible beauty. Her dark, goopy vision is transporting, and any fan of moody, cathartic rock will find plenty to chew on here. JEFF DeROCHE

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