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Mar 26, 2017







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 Operator Music Band, Puzzlephonics I&II (New Professor Music)

I shouldn’t minimize the effort of this coed New York band’s debut by saying “Devo lives” in an Urkel voice, even if that very description might actually float someone’s boat. Fact is, the foundation is krautrock, and no, they don’t sing in funny nerd voices, and neither do they bury the listener in quirk for its own sake. The core consists of guitarist-singer Dara Hirsch and audio-tinkerer-singer Jared Hiller, and they do, as advertised, have an odd dynamic, with Hirsch’s jazz-chord-obsessed guitar often playing straight-man to Hiller’s wobbly, sometimes soaring-wingnut experimentation. All the way around, the sum feels like a record that came out in 1986, from the Scary Monsters-ish Bowie-isms of “Mr. Director” to the next-gen Joy Division of “Trauma.” Beyond that, though, is a fresh depth to the whole neo-80s approach, sounds and patterns that vibe-check underground record stores from both the past and present. Oh, and the tunes are very good. AEric W. Saeger





Sono Oto, Inheritance (self-released)
CD Reviews: March 23, 2017

03/23/17



 Sono Oto, Inheritance (self-released)

Sometimes evolution requires an unpleasant push or two. People kept asking 35-year-old New York-based composer Mark Henry Phillips if he made music anymore, even after he’d successfully moved into the field of sound design (he’s done a bunch of corporate commercials, a few TV-movie things, and the Serial and Homecoming podcasts), but it was the death of his dad in 2015 that forced him to finish this thing once and for all, a debut solo album of actual “song-songs.” The final result is an upbeat-chill soul-pop amalgam of Jamie Liddell, Beatles and Amos Lee that forks off into technical brilliance, Figurine-ish medium-tech and faraway Bon Iver choruses (“A Way to Stay Away,” the best on board here). Sounds like a lot to process, but it’s altogether a friendly, very pretty set of stuff; it’s good that he was finally able to get this off his chest. A





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