Saturday, February 03, 2007

putting the spine back into electronic music.

This is what the Prairie Cartel advertises in their jokey bio, and being a cursory dilettante into most forms of music that involve drum machines and keyboard programming (although the Chicago-based group does involve a serious dose of electric guitar), I couldn't tell you if they were successful, or if electronic music needed a spine to begin with.

Does anyone call it "electronic music" as a catch-all? I presume it dates you to the mid-90s, when the Prodigy and Roni Size got a lot of ink and press over in the U.S. over a supposed "takeover." I mention the mid-90s intentionally, since one of the group's members is Local H brain-trust Scott Lucas (the band that got yours truly through middle and high school and also inspired me to pick up a guitar), who has a guitar with a "FUCK THE D.J." sticker on it (at right, if you click on the photo), so let's say this is a bit of a 180 for a traditionalist whose main band takes pride in straddling the line of big rock riffage and alt-rock alienation. I didn't even fucking know he had another group until I saw them in photos in the latest issue of Spin (not actually featured, but in one of the myriad adverts of magazine sponsored parties.)

Then again, if you've seen Local H live in the past couple years, you probably noticed the extraneous electronic noise that seems to come out of Lucas' walls of amplifiers (produced by a phalanx of guitar pedals, most likely). And if you bought Local H's No Fun EP, the ten-minute version of Primal Scream's "Fuck Yeah, That Wide" would have been an obvious tip-off to what the Cartel is doing (and the Cartel has its own version of that song up on the site, which is mostly just sped up a few beats, and still works better as a live song than it does through your headphones.) "Burning Down the Other Side" just builds on basic sounds, adding guitar riffs, vocal layers, etc. It's more impressive as experiment than an actual song. There's hope in "No Light," "Keep Everybody Warm," and especially "Cracktown," the best of the five tunes -- the guitars, bass, and electronic treatments pop in and out to give the tune propulsion when the chorus hits again. The problem with Primal Scream revivalism is that LCD Soundsystem does it better, but it's not a bad place to start.

Of course, you can go judge for yourself.

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