Ojos de Brujo Bari: Remezclas de la Casa (World Village)
Barcelona's Ojos de Brujo's international debut, Bari, very nearly made my 2004 Top 20 list. This EP, featuring six remixed tracks from said record, probably won't make the 2005 list, but it's still a worthy, eclectic adventure through rumba catalana dressed as coked-up club music for steely eyed corporate sluts who like to cut loose after-hours. Almost all of the sincerity and traditional feel that made Bari so accessible has been effectively torched off by breakbeats and trippy loops, but Remezclas ... still manages to sound exotic and ready-made for the next Matrix-like film Hollywood is bound to churn out momentarily.
Bernadette Seacrest & Her Yes Men No More Music by the Suckers (self-released)
Not since the heyday of Austin's 8 1/2 Souvenirs has torch jazz sounded as authentic as it does delivered courtesy of Bernadette Seacrest's formidable set of pipes atop the torrid haze served up by her Yes Men. The whole affair resembles a hand-cranked big screen romance circa 1930s, in which our heroine—as was often the case during the era—beguiles her male counterpart with sleight of sexual innuendo, the blink of a carefully attended eye and an ever-so-slightly liquor-lubricated melody. Standards and originals alike are given the same naughty treatment here, all to tummy tingling effect. Careful, boys.
Interpol Antics (Matador)
After Interpol's multilayered debut Turn on the Bright Lights, their followup, last fall's Antics, completely confounded me until I began hearing echoes of The Fixx and The Pixies throughout the record. Interpol are a new band here—the production is sparse (à la Pixies) and Paul Banks' matter-of-fact vocal presence is the focal point (à la The Fixx's Cy Curnin). Furthermore, Daniel Kessler appears here as a guitarist proudly carrying the torch lit 20-odd years ago by Jamie West-Oram. Antics is anything but the average sophomore release by an ultra-hyped 21st century band, and that's why it's an ass-kicker.