Ace CD Reviews: Malachai

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Malachai
I Buy Alcohol For Minors
Direct Hit Records


On I Buy Alcohol For Minors, Lexington’s own Malachai defy all genres. They rock. They boogie. They swing. They throw down in a big ol’ ugly way. The only thing they don’t do is disappoint.

With a sound that incorporates skiffle, rockabilly, classic rock, and punk, along with an almost Vegas-like exuberance, Malachai tear through the four tracks here with unabandoned glee. And, with fancy production tricks kept at a minumum, I Buy Alcohol For Minors delivers a clean, crisp sound (think Lee Hazlewood without the gimmickry).

Both “Last Call” and “Propane” are driven and boisterous, and have a notable “garage” feel, as if they were recorded live, rather than mixed together after the fact. The instrumentalization is extemely tight throught the EP, which ultimately results in a “live” sound.

On the B-side (yes, this is a record, not a CD), things are more subdued than on the A-side, but only very slightly so. The vocals on “Zed Leppelin” sound like a vintage Elvis, perhaps drunk or on drugs. And it works.

Ultimately, Malachai have a sound that is both unique and derivative, which is no small feat. With the songs assembled here, Malachai would be equally at home perfoming with artists as diverse as the New Bomb Turks and Tom Jones. It’s highly appropriate that this EP was released on vinyl. It just wouldn’t work on CD, something that nearly any vinyl purist understands. -Matt Dacey

 


YO LA TENGO
And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Matador Records


When you’re told there’s a new album filled with moody, low-key meditations on romance, what do you expect? A torch singer doing cocktail jazz? Some new-age synth landscapes? Certainly not a collection of delicately bouncing art-rock from the not-quite-lo-fi masters Yo La Tengo. But somehow, this eternally eclectic trio has maintained focus for a thematic set that’s admirable and sometimes beautiful.

A remarkable variety of rhythms and echo treatments keep away any sense of sameness through more than an hour of hushed eccentricities like “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House.” Little metallic moments of electric guitar or warming glides of organ are sometimes all that’s needed to add edge to a track. The group-composed songs are built with impeccably chosen hooks lifted from rock and pop classics-with the most recognizable components kept just beneath the surface. You’ll likely feel that somehow, you heard these new songs a long long time ago.

Almost everything is quiet here. Love’s low points are the loneliest of times, marked by the slow running of tears. The high points are the simple breath and heartbeat of the one near you, as played out to an almost-grating degree in the 17-minute “Night Falls On Hoboken.” The only respite from total immersion in this toned-down exploration of love comes during an ear-candy chorale arrangement of “You Can Have It All” and soon after in Ira Kaplan’s feedback frenzy on “Cherry Chapstick.” -T.E. Lyons

 


SMALL FACES
The BBC Sessions
Fuel 2000 Records


Small Faces fans will certainly be pleased with the release of The BBC Sessions, a collection of live tracks culled from performances the legendary British rockers did for BBC Radio between 1965 and 1968. Boisterous and blaring, this disc will take you back to a time when this young band was heralded as the newest and wildest sound on record.

The Small Faces were at one time the mod band. Playing various styles ranging from soulful R&B to psychedelic rock, they imbued everything they did with energy and passion, as evidenced by the potent album opener “Watcha Gonna Do About It.” There are plenty of raw rockers, including a version of Sam Cooke’s “Shake,” as well as a few hits, like “Sha La La La Lee” and “Hey Girl.” One standout track is the rare delight and ultrasophisticated raveup “Lazy Sunday,” which features a barrage of kazoos and lead vocalist Steve Marriott solicitously asking his neighbor, “How’s your bird’s lumbago?”

Also included are some rare interviews with Marriott and Kenney Jones, touching on topics ranging from vacations to volume to unreceptive crowds. Capturing the youthful exuberance and sheer excitement of the time, this collection serves as a reminder that a few brazen young London mods were responsible for some of the finest and most entertaining hits of their time. The BBC Sessions is proof that they remain as vibrant and relevant today as they did back then. -Chris Webb




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