Moby Live (Mute)
Moby gets something about pop, about plastic, about what his audience is looking for. It's big sound, never too dark, never too bright. Moby gets it. Rarely is this more clear than on his latest release, a DVD-CD combo, that comes with footage of his Hotel tour. The guy is unobtrusive. After watching the DVD all the way through, I have a feeling that I still wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup. Not that he'd ever be in one. The songs are good, moderately tempoed, a bit repetitive. The crowd politely rocks out to all their old favorites, not mussing the fans around them. The remix CD that comes with the package is worth checking out. But don't expect anything heart-shattering, new or avant-garde. Instead, it's clean and otherwise nondescript.
Jason Frondorf Car Bomb Opera (self-released)
This disc came to us in a folded paper case, likely printed off someone's computer. I suspect it was Frondorf's. The guy wrote and recorded his whole album in Garage Band, the music program that comes with most new Macs. And it's awesome. It sounds like the inside of a head. Experimental rock that came straight from the guy's brain, through the easy-to-use program and onto a handmade CD. Even if the thing had come with all the frills--the press kit, the army of publicists assembling a pretty bio--it would still be one of the best CDs we've heard lately. I highly recommend going to ackackack.com, Frondorf's website, and giving it a listen.
Tim Easton Ammunition (New West Records)
Stripped and spare, this folk disc splashes around in some lyrically obscure waters, periodically coming up for less cryptic air. Maybe this guy's super deep, and your lazy critic just isn’t participating. Easton's voice, though--its hoarse, whispery quality--makes it all worthwhile. This pleasant folk singer's also got a way with pairing words and melody, never forcing awkward phrases. Harmonies and backup vocal work are tastefully done, not overpowering the sparse guitar, piano or occasional drum line.