A BETTER VERSION OF ME
This emo trio wear their hearts on their frilled, Elizabethan sleeves. And though they claim they chose their moniker at random, their musings share the reflective melancholy of their namesake, German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Solitude, uncertainty and slight disillusionment circle the mystery of their own psyches and the world at large, yet Rainer Maria seem to prefer pondering life's locked doors than trying to pry them open—as Rilke suggested once, they "live the questions now." But their literate, antique style and subjects ("The Contents of Lincoln's Pockets" is a collage of Walt Whitman, linen, newspaper clippings and Lincoln's death, brimming with phrases like "trajectory of a common crowd, simmering") are punctuated with a thrashing of cymbals and the dissonant crunch of assorted indie-rock archetypes. Bridging the two are swells of luxuriant, glimmering guitars and empty expanses; hovering above it all is the sometimes-strident, sometimes-sonorous wailing of singer Caithlin De Marrais, which seems to defy and lament our own mortality. A Better Version of Me is a record that comes on like a long, cool, contented sigh. (Kristin Fiore)
Who's gonna buy this new BS2000 CD? Nobody! It's brilliant, and it's ahead of its time—too damn esoteric to succeed commercially. Simply Mortified is a collection of beats and drum samples swapped between Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz and Amery "AWOL" Smith, more lo-fi than beat-boy, with a Hula-Hoop/international-swinger vibe filtered in for extra weirdness. Horovitz drops more beats than lyrics, though, making it sound sometimes like an instructional dance record—think a sweaty go-go aerobics session as led by Belle and Sebastian, peppered with swaths of keyboards and nifty, original dance steps. There are some swinging songs here, such as "Wait a Minute," a rollercoaster romp spattered with lame-yet-elegiacal lyrics like "Sorry I had to go and throw up on your shirt." "Side-to-Side" blows up into a hokey-pokey-style workout, with Horovitz not needing any sucka MCs to call him sire as he busts slow, drawling, square-dance directions: "Move to the person on the left/Move to the person on the right/We're doing the side-to-side/It feels good, outta sight." Somehow, for some otherworldly reason, it all seems visionary. (Arrissia Owen)
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