Alibi V.17 No.12 • March 20-26, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

The Presidents of the United States of America These Are The Good Times People (Tooth & Nail Records)

The last time you heard The Presidents of the United States of America (POTUSA) was probably an election year—1996, in fact, before they were dropped and shoved under the rug by Columbia Records. Between then and now, the band broke up, released a few independent albums, partially regrouped in 2000 and finally reunited in 2004. These Are The Good Times People tackles just about every genre, including swing, punk, folk and even a twangy touch of country. This album has its moments of quirky lyricism, but the overall content matches the music exceptionally. Labeling POTUSA as a novelty band would be misguided. (JH)

Zen Boy & Karma Girl Who They Are and How They Came To Be (Self-Released)

It's not neo-folk, prog-folk or post-folk, it's just plain old cut-and-dry folk. Zen Boy & Karma Girl's new release cuts through the hyphens to deliver 10 clean and gentle vocal harmony-laced tracks. If these two are superheroes as they purport to be, Zen Boy and Karma Girl are one of the most low-key crime fighting duos to ever pick up a guitar. Could it be livelier without losing its retro charm? Sure, but for all of its sleepy acoustic and electric moments, Who They Are and How They Came To Be is ear-catching and built on a solid, time-tested frame. (SM)

Beach House Devotion (Carpack)

Baltimore's Beach House is back with a new array of slow-tempoed, low-fi, dizzy, spell-inducing tracks. Devotion slowly saunters through ballad after bittersweet ballad with enough oozing percussion and organ sounds to fill the Atlantic Ocean (or, at the very least, the Chesapeake Bay). Due in part to the album's rather mellow qualities, at times the sound becomes slightly tedious (a phenomenon reminiscent of Low). Nonetheless, with their shadowy take on Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last a Long Time," and the album's overall shimmer, it receives four out of five stars—pulsars. (JCC)

(JH) Justin Hood, (SM) Simon McCormack, (JCC) Jessica Cassyle Carr