Music to Your Ears
If you like your punk rock with a generous side of pretentiousness, then Austin's—by way of Paris according to the band's bio—Les Messieurs du Rock will more than please you on Friday night, July 16, at the Atomic Cantina. Other Austin bands like And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and Those Peabodys are well-known for their asshole-ish swagger, but Les Messieurs make both of those bands seem as polite and down-to-Earth as Hootie and the Blowfish.
When I first began to play this disc of centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist chant by monks praying in the pine-forested foothills of northern India's Kangra Valley, I naively thought I could use it as background music. Forget it. These chants are too powerful. The reason this disc won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album is simple: It's the real thing.
Communiqué Poison Arrows (Lookout)
Like so few musicians today, San Francisco rockers Communiqué remember the nonpejorative meaning of pop: buoyant melodies, clear, repetitive structures and a musical sense of humor. Granted, this group's roots still cling to emo sensibilities, which emerge occasionally as a hint of over-earnestness in the lyrics, but their sharp musicianship forgives all. New wave synths tastefully enhance the band's solid sound without feeling contrived or extraneous—a real feat—while the songwriting can bring a smile to your face long after the record's stopped playing. This is the true essence of pop.