Lyrics like “bring on the broken she-males, all hopped up on meth” notwithstanding, Mature Themes likely ranks among Ariel Pink's more straight releases. The top-notch production quality here is not an indication of an artist who's gone mainstream, but rather one who's mellowed into his role as a fine—if completely out-there—songwriter. Pink's lullaby vocals, ’80s synthesizers, plunky Vox/Hofner bass and some Robert Fripp-style guitar make Mature Themes sound like the aftermath of a car crash: a wreck involving the A-ha reunion tour bus, a time-traveling '60s psych band and a round of encephalitic blood transfusions administered by Eno's swastika girls. Maybe this is what rabies sounds like.
What a dumb band name. This annoyingly titled pop group (whose singer goes by the bold moniker of Yoni Wolf) sounds quite a bit like geek-rock kings They Might Be Giants, and I'd wager fans of TMBG will probably like WHY? There's clever and impressively intricate nerd-rapping on some of these tunes that will please the fixie-riding, Whole Foods-shopping twentysomething who grooms the bong water out of his handlebar mustache in the mother-in-law quarters behind your house. But many music fans will probably have a hard time listening to this twice. It's just too cute. If you liked WHY?'s previous records, you'll like the “Sod in the Seed” EP. The full-length Mumps, etc. comes out in October.
Joe Martinez "I Wanna be With You / Dynamite" (Twilight Records)
The nifty sleeve for the latest Joe Martinez (of The Seeing Things) single is a send-up of the old Sub Pop singles club artwork and features a picture of Joe that girls will pin up on their bedroom walls. The man has dreamy eyes. Side A is a straightforward ’70s style punk tune that reminds me of The Zeros. Side B brings a garage rock sing-along and ode to man's ruin with a lot of yelling and floor toms. It's 99 percent certain these are actually remixed 2008 recordings by Martinez' old band The Ashes, which would mean Ben Adams is playing drums and Scott Meyers is playing bass. Buy this single at La Montañita Co-op in Albuquerque from cashier Joe Martinez himself. Recommended.