Things Keep Falling Down EP
The isolation and repetition of the ecstatic peak of a song has long been a guiding principle of hip-hop (think of the looping of the funkiest part of classic cuts—the breakbeat), but it's relatively underutilized in house and techno. Released in February, this misleadingly credited 12-inch (two sides with one song per is a single, not an EP, people) by someone apparently named Axel (his Web site, www.garmonbozia.se/thefield, is as intriguingly obtuse as his music) is a major exception. The A-side, "Love vs. Distance," is the most unapologetically majestic dance record of the year; it starts out cresting, and keeps on doing it until about two-thirds in, when it shifts into a more contemplative phase. But there are enough variations on that crest and that comedown to keep you attentive. The flip, "Thought vs. Action," is more of the same, and nearly as good. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
(Heavy Trash album track, Yep Roc)
In a sane world, ducktailed duo Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray would have already nailed 2005's Grammy for "best taboo-busters"; instead, "Gatorade" is the only tune on their rootsy debut widely fingered for calumny. Fools upset about what they think is cunnilingus are too repressed to realize that the acoustically propelled finger-popper actually extols the virtues of imbibing urine straight from a living vessel. "It tastes so good/I'm amazed," Spencer hiccups on the chorus, also claiming the tonic is "Kinda like honey/Kinda like candy." Finally, rockabilly duck-walks out of the water closet and into the light of a fountain worth putting its mouth on. ROD SMITH
(City Lights Vol. 1.5 album track, BBE)
A Dutch hip-hop producer who gained prominence in indie-rap circles for his work with the Foreign Exchange, Nicolay's solo album is appealingly audio-movie-like and every bit as uneven as you might fear. In isolation, "Sunshine Life" is obviously part of a bigger entity (it opens and closes pretty abruptly), but the phased vocals (a sole man singsonging something barely understandable while at least a couple women offer some sha-las) and happy beat let it stand on its own. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
NOTHING BUT TREBLE
"Cry Me a River"
(Last One Standing album track, Nothing but Treble)
On their latest album, the all-female a cappella group Nothing but Treble gorgeously adapt the best song from Justified, a layered, hymnlike tirade about heartbreak, lyrically merciless but musically refined. Soloist Deshaun Snead, who also penned the haunting arrangement, imbues lines like "You were my sun/You were my Earth" with much more soul than they deserve. At the bridge, the impossibly deep-voiced Elizabeth Tigar takes over, nailing the song's pained admission of defeat ("The damage is done/So I guess I be leaving"). The final breakdown is a burst of vocal percussion, bad attitude, and heavenly harmony that earns the group what sounds, on the live recording, like a standing ovation. NEAL SCHINDLER
(That Was Me 1994–1998 album track, Hip-O)
Kicking off a best-of that needs pruning (one of those Millennium Collections would have been perfect), Nashville singer- songwriter Snider's early work shows its best hand with this first-person portrait of an uncomprehending jerk—a woman friend sneers at him while he slobbers over Madonna's Sex book, for instance. The highlight comes when Snider gets arrested: "I was only kidding when I called 'em a couple of dicks/But still they made me do the stupid human tricks/Now I'm stuck in this jail with a bunch of dumb hicks/And I still don't know why/I think I'm an alright guy." MICHAELANGELO MATOS
SHE WANTS REVENGE
"Sister"/"Out of Control"
Ever wondered what Interpol-lite would sound like? Then feast your ears on this L.A. band's two-song doozy. Side B, "Out of Control," starts by openly ripping off the guitar riff of the Rapture's "Sister Saviour," over which the resident Paul Banks sing- alike mouths words like, "She likes disco and tastes like a tear/Tells me, 'Don't stop dancing,' as she's pulling me near." If this isn't a parody, it certainly sounds like one. The band's press-kit quotes are the real cinch, though: "We're going to be huge. Seriously. And it's not by accident, we want to be successful, it's not a bad thing, and I'd be lying if I told you we didn't want that." Then, after a big ol' early-'80s N.Y.C. name-check list (Madonna, Basquiat, Blondie, John Lurie, Liquid Liquid, James Black, ESG), we're informed that that particular era and its music are "unheralded." Actually, it's become a little too fucking heralded of late, and therein lies the problem. Even better are the band member's names: Adam 12, apparently of TV cop-show fame, and Justin Warfield, a failed rapper whose 1993 album, My Field Trip to Planet 9, is widely available in better dollar bins everywhere. Something tells me it's gonna have company real soon.
Heavy Trash play the Crocodile Cafe at 9:30 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 27. $10 adv.