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Dec 14, 2018







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The Used, The Canyon (Hopeless Records)




Shanghai Restoration Project, R.U.R. (Undercover Culture Music)

The startlingly pretty EDM output of this duo still inspires nostalgic goosebumps to form on people who remember the Sansa Fuze portable media player; “Babylon of the Orient,” the Chinese-flute-festooned staple backgrounding tune that was heard frequently during NBC’s 2008 Olympic broadcast coverage, was one of two sample songs that came with the Fuze. This was all back when you could get a ton of mileage from your average everyday not-quite-gangsta techno beat and have an accidental hit on your hands, never even mind the advantage this boy-girl pair had, what with the Chinese government supporting them, up to and including inviting them to play at the Great Wall. That was then, and R.U.R. is now, a record focused on the current world, which, in the eyes of these two, is so messed up that their artistic dreams have wandered to a vision of a land run by robots, where vanity and materialism don’t compute. Short version: these kids have gotten even better, believe it or not. “Alpha Go” is robotic, yes, but only toward its brilliant use of vocal sampling; it’s like an aural answer to watching flowers sprout their buds in fast-motion. The whole set is wildly innovative, from the Caribbean steel-drum-emulation of “Expedition Voronya” to the sexy rush-hour steez of “Supermega Cosmomall.” Essential if you’re wanting to get inspired to take your sample work to the next level. A+ — Eric W. Saeger




The Used, The Canyon (Hopeless Records)
CD Reviews: 12/21/17

12/21/17
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



The Used, The Canyon (Hopeless Records)

This Utah band has insisted for a long time that they’re not an emo or screamo band, even while they were playing a lot of emo and screamo songs. Hey, it’s fine, nobody likes being lumped into some category, but these guys may have earned a lumping into the generic rawk category after this one, which opens with the unplugged, maudlin jangle-fest “For You,” which revolves around the suicide of singer Bert McCracken’s best friend since childhood. McCracken is heard breaking down emotionally through the first minute, an unnecessary sharing but not completely unwanted. This is the band’s first recording with ex-Saosin guitarist Justin Shekoski taking over from Quinn Allman, and the chemistry is both energized and surprisingly non-screamo, more like a My Chemical Romance deal, especially with regard to single “Over and Over Again,” a stripped-down, next-gen … well, emo song, but wait, it’s pretty awesome, and there’s cowbell! “The Quiet War” is the only real misfit here; I’m not sure if they were trying to be the Amboy Jukes, but old-school psychedelica isn’t a good look on this band. A- — Eric W. Saeger
 





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