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Album Review: Birds & Batteries’ Up To No Good

Birds & BatteriesUp To No Good is a complex blend of creepy and dance-y.

Hard to categorize throughout, Michael Sempert’s disaffected and sliding vocals hold this 2009 EP together through five eclectic tracks that bring ominous bass together with psychedelic guitar, creepy keyboard chimes, and distorted whistles. They only break from the task of making the listener feel like he’s lost in the dark by occasionally turning on their dance party floor lights.

This EP is intricate, and lends itself to multiple listening sessions. “The Villain” starts you off feeling alone and confused, with plenty of well-placed synth noise to bolster the freaky guitars and dark lyrics. The excellent harmonies are the lightest part of the song, with the backup voices sounding downright cheery compared to the lead vocalist’s slow drawl. The eerie theme developed in this first track sticks around for most of Up To No Good. Though the short “Lonely Guns” elevates the tone into something more upbeat in preparation for the jaunty third track, “Out in the Woods,” you still hear plenty of those whistling keyboard runs in both tracks (complete with a sudden tempo change or two) to keep you tripping out about the whole experience. There’s even judicious use of that slide whistle sound that makes me think I’ve spotted a UFO, X-Files style.

You know the sound I’m talking about.

“Lightning (UTNC Version)” is their get-up-and-dance track, switching the beat over to a drum machine (or just a well-emulated drum machine feel) that occasionally drops out to leave the vocalist and keyboard on their own. Once I’m reminded to be freaked out, they turn the beat back on. This track is great but it is a partial break from the resonating feel of the rest of the EP. It’s their dark synth-pop moment punctuating the EP’s crescendo before they drop it back down for the final track. If Up To No Good was longer than 20 minutes (and I truly wish it was) I’d expect one or two more songs in this vein, and as it is I’m left wanting more.

Concluding with “Sneaky Times,” they finish up with some compelling vocals that alternately stretch out and rush through the lyrics in between really phenomenal bass lines, bringing us back down from “Lightning” into a slower groove. This is a great final track on a great EP, a good mixture of a funky feel with the unhinged hollowness that I came to expect by the end Up To No Good.

Birds & Batteries never commit themselves completely to any particular genre here, but still end up with a bizarrely cohesive feel that you should definitely experience for yourself. For the San Franciscan with a vehicle, they’ll be playing in Davis on April 10th. I on the other hand, will eagerly wait for a San Francisco show date to materialize.

-Kyle Wheat

Editors Note:  Birds and Batteries Up To No Good can be purchased digitally at iTunes.  For a hard copy contact Birds and Batteries here.

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New Video by MGMT: "Flash Delirium"

Enjoy!

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The Last Emperor LIVE at Silk City March 30

Philly’s superhero of hip hop and former Deli Tunes Wiz Wit showcase performer, The Last Emperor, returns from the Red Planet to save the day or should we say the evening when he celebrates tonight at Silk City the release of Science Team…Go!, a 20-song album mixed by DJ Mickey Knox and DJ Concept. It’s full of intelligent lyrical gymnastics that makes our underground warrior a hidden gem among the crappy manufactured hip hop polluting our airwaves. You can download a FREE copy for yourself here, and this is also a link to the artwork. Enjoy! Silk City, 435 Spring Garden St., 9pm, $5, 21+ myspace.com/redplanetmusic - Q.D. Tran

 

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This is Versailles @ Bottom Lounge

There is a forcefulness in the vocals of Caitlin Garibaldi. For the band This is Versailles she trades off shouting lyrics with guitar player Jaisen Ehas. Together they are propelling the band into the realm of high-power dance punk. Yet their dance is more of slam dance than anything else. Picture The Killers mashed with Minor Threat or maybe Fugazi, and you may come close to the sound of This is Versailles.

This is Versailles will be performing on April 1st at The Bottom Lounge with Light Pollution and Woodhands.

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Wilco on La Blogotheque

La Blogotheque has finally posted a new take away show and it just happens to be with Wilco. The track they performed is “County Disappeared”, and the production quality is outstanding.

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