Joseph Coscarelli

  • Meredith Bragg's 'Plinian' Eruption

    Singer/songwriter Meredith Braggis incontestably well read, but his greatest gift is the conversationalsubtlety with which he weaves an educational tale. Like hishyper-literate contemporaries the Decemberists and their frontman ColinMeloy, Bragg would rather pour over history books than his own personaldiary. But instead of Meloy's theatricality, Bragg adopts theearnestness of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, with only acousticguitar strums and his steady voice -- a stipulation of his entire LP Silver Sonya -- to communicate chronicles of times past. On"Plinian" Bragg tells the tragic story of the legendary volcaniceruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 through the eyes of Pliny theYounger, an Ancient Roman writer whose famed uncle and namesake Plinythe Elder died in the explosions.

  • Hand on 'Heart,' the Whigs Pledge Allegiance to Rock

    Last time out, the Whigs landed a blow with the barroom brawler Give 'Em All a Fat Lip.Now, fans of the "swing first, ask questions later" scufflin' Southernethos will be glad to know the Athens, GA trio are back with the chipstill on their shoulder. The Whigs hail from onetime indie-rock haventhe University of Georgia, but with their alt-country twist, all oftheir roots bleed through, sounding stuck between the stations ofcollege radio and classic rock. On "Right Hand on My Heart," the Whigs'Parker Gispert channels My Morning Jacket's Jim James and takes hissatin tone to a sandpaper surface. The kick-drum jabs and the cymbalssting, but the sucker punch is the wall of guitars -- bright,triumphant, and yet still growling.

  • Rafter Dreams of 'Drugs'

    Patience is apparently not a virtue in the world of singer/songwriter Rafter Roberts. With his second full-length, Sex Death Cassette,locked and loaded for release on Jan. 22 via Asthmatic Kitty, Rafterhas already moved on -- and with a purpose. "I'm trying to write andrecord a full song every day," he tells SPIN.com. "I finished Sex Death Cassette a while ago, and even though it's not out yet, I'm just really feeling like making new stuff." Ona particularly mischievous day, Rafter honed in on his would-be viceand wrote "Drugs," a slinking and hazy number where kid-like laser gunelectronics are challenged by thorny lyrical admissions. "I wish I diddrugs," Roberts confesses in a quick murmur.

  • Rademacher Make 'Friends,' Then 'Magic'

    Favorites of the Fresno, CA underground, Rademacher pridethemselves on small band values that seem almost archaic in theInternet age. Cross-country tours in a van helped propagate threehomemade EPs and earned the band a shot at studio time with a realproducer. Now with Earlimart's Aaron Espinoza (Kim Deal, Elliot Smith) spotting them, Rademacher have attempted Stunts,their first LP. Luckily, quite practiced compared to today's crop ofindie rock newcomers, broader first impressions bode well for thequartet. Exhibit A is a non-album demo exclusive, "WhatHappened to Yr Friends," that displays Rademacher's breadth as theycraft a truly earnest and epic track. Meanwhile, Stunts sample"If U Got Some Magic" displays an astute wit when asking, "If you knowthe city, then why can't you find a place to get your hair cut?" Noticethe growth without surrender.

  • Hey Willpower Make You Wanna 'Uh Uh Uh'

    Justin Timberlake may have initially brought sexy back, but thenhe had to go and get all preoccupied with his so-called "love."Luckily, Hey Willpower -- the electronic dirty duo featuring WillSchwartz of Imperial Teenand Tomo Yasuda of Tussle -- pick up the sleazy slack. Here on"Uh-Uh-Uh," the beat rolls over a simple snare count andinnocent-enough synthesized chimes, but at the first entrance ofSchwartz's evocative voice the song's G-rating goes out the window.Chock full of double entendres and crass come-ons, all executed over adance track in a J.T.-esque sex voice, "Uh-Uh-Uh" leaves little to theimagination, exuding confidence in its sexual sound effects. Packing in as many pop culture references as potential late-night partners, Schwartz drops pun-master gems about 28 Days Later,Chips Ahoy!, Tonka trucks and even Bambi's buddy Thumper (if you knowwhat I mean).

  • The Clientele Score 'Your' Three-Ring Circus

    Sixties pop revivalists the Clientele have always channeled theera's most whimsical and languid numbers, drenching GeorgeHarrison-style guitar phrases in plenty of tremolo and reverb. On "YourSong," the wobbly, bubbling effects are in full tilt as the six-stringdrips with echo and the bass does a soft dance. A violin kisses thesong's water-like surface, the gentle ripples creating a welcomedmelodic effect. A piano trickles in the distance as Clientele vocalistAlasdair MacLean washes in, his calm coo only adding to the song'sfluidity. Clocking in at only a minute-and-a-half, the chorus-less piece is structured like a docile Bee Thousandtrack, if Guided By Voices cleaned up and took a Vicodin. Ideal for anunderwater dream sequence, the song's succinctness raises its cinematicvalue for any scene, tightly packed for maximum sentimentality.

  • Dan Wilson Fills the 'Easy Silence'

    "Pregnancy," singer/ songwriter Dan Wilson remarked, "is the worstthing that can happen to a band." You see, first time fathers with apenchant for song have a tendency to pen an ode to their spawn -- ababy ballad quick to become a favorite in their catalog. So afterteasing with one that began, "I'm so in love with you 'cause you looklike me," the now-solo Wilson, playing to a select crowd at the MusicHall of Williamsburg last night (Nov.

  • The Hard Lessons Teach the 'Scene'

    Like taking a ruler to the knuckles of obnoxious students, theHard Lessons play disciplinarian on their latest cut, "See or BeScene." Too old to be swept away by hype and too self-respecting toconform to trends, the Detroit-based trio takes this opportunity tospin a tight yarn condemning the MySpace generation and their penchantfor gender-bending. "Now the boys, the boys are wearing girls clothes,"sing the Hard Lessons' songwriters Augie and Ko Ko Louise in unison.The girls, though, are not free of fault as they flaunt their "makeupand curls" -- also part of the dastardly equation. All of this in hopesto "see or be scene" leaves the Lessons truly aghast and provides astirring subject for some sharp songwriting cynics. Butinstead of stinging lacerations the Hard Lessons take the sweet road,wrapping their tough love in a cuddly exterior, successfully softeningthe blow.

  • NOFX Cross the 'Line'

    NOFX has survived nearly a quarter-century of music, including upwardsof 30 releases, by constantly spicing up the state of punk rock -- agenre no stranger to taking itself too seriously -- with persistentblasts of self-deprecating humor. Their first live album warned I Heard They Suck Live!!tongue firmly in cheek, and here the sarcasm returns in truckloads. Onthis cut, the band takes a two-minute opportunity to kill the crowdlike a stand-up comedian. Recorded over three nights at Slim's in San Francisco, the disc ispacked with rare fan favorites including pun-packed "The Longest Line,"from the 1992 twelve-inch EP of the same name. Celebrating his firstappearance with the band, guitarist El Hefe crunches power chords andbreezes through swift leads while Fat Mike plays humorist.

  • Bloc Party Put Your Feet In 'Flux'

    On A Weekend in the City, the follow up to their much-hyped debut Silent Alarm,Bloc Party took their spunky indie rock deep into the London streetswith glossy, nightclub numbers. Now the band is back with the Flux digital EP, which coincides with the special digital reissue of Weekend, complete with a fresh single in the vein of the LP's thumping midnight pulse -- the sparkling beat-backed ballad "Flux." Thetrack once again pairs the band with Grammy Award-winning producerJacknife Lee (Snow Patrol, U2) for a colossal club track overflowingwith electronic textures. While the live version -- which Bloc Partyrecently premiered on Late Night with Conan O'Brien -- had theband's neo-new wave guitars at the forefront, the studio take favorshypnotic hisses and the atmospherics of a MicroKorg synthesizer,inviting a frantic strobe light and a pair of quick feet.

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