Let Us Never Speak of It Again
Question No. 1: Are my headphones broken? I just bought the damn things. Question No. 2: If not, then is "micro-post-punk" a feasible genre? For a band that shares bassist Nic Offer and guitarist Tyler Pope with bombastic indie-funkers !!!, Out Hud's approach is surprisingly restrained—imagine their dance-punk as digital waveforms with the peaks sheared off into a level, clipped crew cut. Most tracks build their rhythm from a terse series of fractional drum-machine kicks and a bass that rattles off muted lines from inside a straitjacket, and while this doesn't restrain the songs from hurtling forward, it all resonates in a 2-foot radius, leaving enough empty space between and beneath the beats to dissipate all the energy into a warm glow. Percussionist Phyllis Forbes and cellist Molly Schnick sing in hushed timbres, harmonizing Tom-Tom Club lullabies with so subtle an emphasis that the question of what the vague phrases they're saying are supposed to indicate—a dub-spiraling whisper, "If you don't believe/Then you'll never be" ("Old Nude"); a drawn-out and curious "She's . . . up to something" ("It's for You")—is eventually superseded by the question of whether they're even meant to be heard. Not that the album isn't intense at points; there's a powerful sense of propulsion and numerous alarm-call synth lines in tracks like "The Song So Good They Named It Thrice" and "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words for Shit and Only One for Music. Fuck You, Out Hud" (I got paid $4 for typing those two song titles). I just can't picture the club sound system small enough to contain it. NATE PATRIN
Out Hud play Chop Suey with Tussle, Synth Club, and DJ Fucking in the Streets at 9 p.m. Wed., June 8. $10 adv.
Let It Die
How Let It Die became half covers is anyone's guess. Surely, the five years hanging between Leslie Feist's solo debut, Monarch, and its successor's 2004 release in Canada provided time enough to write an album's worth of material, frontperson duties for indie rockers By Divine Right and guest appearances with Broken Social Scene notwithstanding. The natural thing to do is blame collaborator Jason Peck, best known as the Chilly Gonzales who played Dean Martin to Peaches' Jerry Lewis during electroclash's glory day. Hell, you think, Feist is lucky to have made it out of the sessions with more than a permed mullet, a bad bustier collection, and some beats. Thank goodness it wasn't Har Mar Superstar. But either living in Paris (where the album was recorded) has altered Peck's sensibilities for the better, or Feist knew what she wanted from the get-go; Let It Die's half-dozen folk-funk originals shimmer hard enough to bedazzle postteen collectivists and Dockers dads alike. Floating on understated acoustic guitar and vibraphone, lambent opener "Gatekeeper" finds the singer heralding spring's onset like an improved version of the season's first nightingale, while Hammond-and-conga-driven "Leisure Suite" marries the most desirable traits of Jerry Leiber and Carole King on a floor-through water bed. It's the depth and muscle of Feist's songwriting that makes the abundance of previously recorded stuff puzzling. Some of the songs, too— Francois Hardy's "Tout Doucement," for instance. The entire album makes ducky Starbuck's bait; does Feist really need leftovers from a latter-day French Doris Day, minus the fascinating kinky streak the latter displayed in Please Don't Eat the Daisies? Luckily, the allure of her lissome, butterscotch-and-cream delivery is such that Feist could make the "Star-Spangled Banner" sound positively come-hither. ROD SMITH
Feist plays the Showbox with Rilo Kiley and Brunettes at 8 p.m. Wed., June 15. $14 adv./$16. All ages.
Whatever your opinion of Weezer's earlier work, Make Believe—too long by 12 songs and weighted with hooks more like anchors—should have haters and fans linking hands like a goddamned Benetton ad. Weezer finally get to be the VH1 Metal Mania tribute band they always threatened, with a wink, to become, having transformed here into a living, churning horror of joyless Def Lep claptrap. The guitars on "This Is Such a Pity" are such a dead ringer for Europe's "The Final Countdown" that I briefly entertained a fantasy that it was a secret commentary on our renewed arms race. (It is not.) In fact, let's forget about music for a minute. What tips Make Believe from leaden to excruciating is the utter vacuousness of the lyrics and their soaring, irony-free delivery. After some poisonous cocktail of EST retreats and too much chai, Rivers Cuomo's brain sent his wit out for coffee and penned a quick Dear John before splitting the scene for good. He certainly doesn't have to worry about people reading too much into lines like, "You're my best friend/And I loooove yooooou," other than perhaps a newfound love of Raffi. Or how's about "So I apologize to you/And anyone else that I've hurt, too/I may not be a perfect soul/But I can learn self-control" as a chorus? Do we miss Staind yet? Look at him in the press photos: Those dead shark eyes never lie. He's been duped, brainwashed. Sure, unlike Cobain, he's survived becoming a millionaire and his fan base turning into the same neckless tools that whaled on him in high school. But at what cost? JESS HARVELL