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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: The Ataris, Jill Cunniff and more

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, February 18, 2007

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The Ataris, “Welcome the Night” (Isola Recordings/ Sanctuary) **1/2

Four years ago, the Ataris went gold with their major label album, “So Long, Astoria,” and launched a couple of radio hits with “The Boys of Summer” and “The Saddest Song.” Then the Indiana group disappeared, effectively breaking up before frontman Kristopher Roe and guitarist John Collura brought it back together, fleeing the major ranks and dramatically restructuring and reinventing the sound. The new Ataris are a sevenpiece outfit with keyboards and cello bolstering the guitar attack to create a dense, textured sonic blanket that has more in common with Radiohead, the Cure, My Bloody Valentine and Echo & the Bunnymen than it does with the prototypical nuevo punk sounds of the Warped Tour — the upshot being an album that’s more sonically accomplished than its predecessors but doesn’t have quite the same distinguishable character. And while song titles such as “Confessions are More Dangerous Than Lies” and “Act V, Scene IV: And So It Ends Like It Begins” sound like perfect fi ts for Fall Out Boy or Panic! At the Disco albums, they — and “Welcome the Night’s” other 11 tracks — are unrelentingly sober ruminations on romantic loss, spiritual longing and, in “From the Last, Last all,” suicidal despair, albeit with anthemic choruses that keep you pumping your fist while Roe is tearing out his heart. The fuzzed-out guitar and bass opening “Not Capable of Love” steeps the album in the garage, but “Cardiff-bythe-Sea,” “The Cheyenne Line” and “When All Else Fails It Fails” are arena-sized anthems, while “And We All Become Like Smoke” is a richly ambient and even exotic piece that speaks more of ambition than abandon. A mixed bag, to be sure, but with moments that make it worth stepping into this “Night.”


Jill Cunniff, “City Beach” (The Militia Group)***

Luscious Jackson< “Greatest Hits” (Capitol/EMI)***1/2

The four members of the allfemale ’90s group Luscious Jackson have been disappointingly quiet since the group disbanded at the end of that decade, but it’s good news that bassist/guitarist Jill Cunniff surfaces with her solo debut at the same time the group’s “Greatest Hits” are celebrated. Cunniff introduces “Blackout at Sunrise” as “music for lazy girls and laid-back boys,” and its 12 tracks are indeed soulful mood music driven by trippy grooves and soulful melodies. Rocking out only on the saxophonepumped “Future Call,” Cunniff instead offers a relaxing day at the “Beach,” with Emmylou Harris pulling up a chaise longue to harmonize on the album-closing “Disconnection.”

New and noteworthy:

Anberlin, “Cities” (Tooth & Nail) — The Florida modern rockers hope their third album continues the strong sales momentum of 2005’s “Never Take Friendship Personal.”

Dir en Grey, “Marrow of a Bone” (Warcon) — The Japanese headbangers bring the noise with only the second of their six albums to be released on these shores.

Dolorean, “You Can’t Win” (Yep Roc) — The fourth album, and fi rst since 2004, from the folk project turned rock band.

Everlife, “Everlife”

(Buena Vista) — The Nash villeby-way-of-Pittsburgh sister trio debuts after building a buzz on the Disney Channel circuit.

Tim Fite, “Over the Counter Culture” (Anti-) — The Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s new rap release is actually available for free via his Web site, www.timfi te.com.

The Frames, “The Cost”

(Anti-) — The Irish quintet has built a steady buss on these shores over the course of its previous fi ve albums.

Fu Manchu, “We Must Obey” (Century Media) — The California stoner rock quartet delivers its first set of fresh material in three years.

JJ Grey & Mofro, “Country Ghetto” (Alligator) — The third album from the Florida singer-songwriter and his down-home jam band.

Peter Himmelman, “My Green Kite” (Rounder) — The fourth album of family songs from the veteran rock singer-songwriter (and Bob Dylan son-in-law).

Kittie, “Funeral For Yesterday” (Kiss of Infamy) — The all-female metal quartet from Canada launches its own label with its fourth release.

k-os, “Atlantis: Hymns for Disco” (Virgin) — The long-awaited U.S. release of the Canadian MC’s latest album, which took his homeland by storm in 2006.

Charlie Louvin, “Charlie Louvin” (Tompkins Square) — One of the legendary Louvin Brothers steps out on his own with help from Elvis Costello, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Marty Stuart, George Jones and others.

Money Mark, “Brand New Tomorrow” (Brushfi re) — The well-credentialed Beastie Boys and Beck collaborator takes a more pensive, songwriterly approach on his latest solo album.

Ennio Morricone, “We All Love Ennio Morricone”

(Sony Classical) — Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Metallica and others pay tribute to the legendary Italian composer, who contributes a few tracks himself.

Southern Culture on the Skids, “Countrypolitan Favorites” (Yep Rock) — The rockin’ North Carolina trio offers up a set of covers ranging from Wanda Jackson and Don Gibson to The Who, the Kinks and “Tobacco Road.”

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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