Power Pop, World Music, Electronica, Quirky Folk and Modern Minstrels

Los Lantzmun
Lantzville
Los Lantzmun Records

Landing somewhere between The Red Violin and a hootenanny, Los Lantzmun kick up a folk-tinged sound that’s hard to peg though very pleasing. Singing songs of celebration, suffering, love and prayer, the group spotlights on Lantzville the world cultures that have given rise to Jewish music. The Lantzmun borrow their special sound from traditional Israeli music, Gypsy culture and even mystic poetry, playing with an engaging blend of violin, flute, guitar, oboe, cello, recorder, pennywhistle, button accordion and diverse percussion. Los Lantzmun, a name derived from a Yiddish word meaning “someone from your town,” embodies the spirit of ancient cultures while pushing the acoustic envelope toward the new age.

See www.loslantzmun.com.

Marc Copeley
Limited Lifetime Guarantee
RCA Records

Prepare for power pop from young idol rocker Marc Copeley. The provocatively titled Limited Lifetime Guarantee swirls with digital compression, punchy guitar hooks and intriguing lyrics. Copeley’s sound falls somewhere between early ’90s Brit phenoms The La’s and the lyrically inventive Marcy’s Playground, with a little Lenny Kravitz thrown in for good measure.

Track 6, “Magic Box” is a radio-ready number that begins with the words, “Thumbin’ through the fancy pages turning up the low-fi rage, listening for a newfound frequency/happiness is dissonance ‘cuz all the rest is obvious, satisfied with superficial scenes,” then follows up with the sticky vocal hook “YOU look inside your magic box, this is where the day comes from . . . YOU hide behind your hangin’ locks, scared you down a new direction to follow, just one more thing for you to swallow down.” With that kind of word masonry, we can expect to hear more from Copeley. The disc also includes some slow and ambient ballad-like numbers. Check out www.macrcopely.com.for more on this minstrel.

Cassius
Au Reve
Virgin Records (France)

French house music?! Yep, this is electronica taken to fresh heights by a bunch of frogs who know how to mix. The pulsating lead track “Hi Water,” contorts with whorling keys, sharp break beats and cutting-edge samples. And they sing in English. Check out “The Sound of Violence,” which contains the refrain, “Feel like I wanna be inside of you when the sun goes down, oh yeah . . . everybody around the world understands what makes a child a man.” Hard to say whether these guys actually know what they are singing, or if they’re just putting together words in another language, but it mostly works.

The group moves from dance-beat-driven numbers to compositions that explore just how far a keyboard can be pushed, then on to ambient and thought-provoking soundscapes. Fully bizarre and absolutely French in its interpretation of pop music, Cassius will keep you guessing. Check out the group’s very interesting Web site at www.cassius.fm .

Eddie from Ohio
Quick
Virginia Soul Records

The CD’s title cut is probably best known for a few words from its memorable chorus: “Albert Einstein was never good at math.” Though after listening to the deft guitar work and tight percussion that propel the tune, you might wonder if the band needs to be so lyrically cute to be noticed.

Suffice to say, the disc’s second track, “Let’s Get Mesolithic,” takes Eddie’s quirky wordsmithing to even greater heights: “It’s BC vs. PC, it’s Darwin vs. God/It’s rubble vs. Redford I wanna hairy bod/ Let’s get Mesolithic you can pull me my by hair/ call this girl old fashioned but I say a cave is where/ you’ll find a loving Cromag who’ll hunt and gather fare/let’s get Mesolithic tonight.” Right.

The disc’s third track , “The Best of Me,” takes a turn towards country music, complete with a plaintiff pedal steel guitar accompaniment, though the lyrics are entirely tongue-in-cheek. “Loving couples, they’re trying sushi, they’re riding bikes, they dress the same way they look alike/they have purpose and harmony . . . They’re makin’ babies that turn out nice, grow up with manners they’re so damned nice/. . . compromises are never hard, they’re life reads like a Hallmark card/ . . . loving couples get away, please go underground ’til Ground Hog Day.”
The album goes on in this mocking and laughable vein, with other thoroughly offbeat ditties that feature grabby titles such as “Tommy the Canexican” and “One Thousand Sarahs.” Parody is clearly the name of this game on Quick, and the results are clever and amusing. Eddie from Ohio is like a subversive incarnation of the bubbly performance group Up With People, though with actual musical talent.

Jake Armerding
Self titled
Compass Records

www.compassrecords.com

Blending alt-country and folk with skilled songwriting and a touch of bluegrass, Jake Armerding establishes himself as an artist capable of sweet vocal harmonies, poignant lyrics and some top-notch fiddle and mandolin playing. While some of his woe-is-me ballads, “You Took Me In” and “Unsaveable,” might make you want to reach for a straight-edge or a loaded revolver, other of his ditties, such as the peppy “Peace of Mind (Lost in Back Bay),” the countrified “Little Boy Blue (North of North Dakota),” or the straight-on musical drive and emotional certainty of “Adonai,” will leave you thinking “damn this guy’s good.” Hey, no one said musicians had to be stable or consistent. His influences bleed through in different places: a little Beatles appreciation in the form of a harmony line here, a Dylan homage by way of an old-time folk arrangement there. He draws from established and timeworn, if well-appreciated sources. Though he might want to re-think his album cover, a romping tune like “Too Many People,” helps redeem his transgressions. Did I mention that the listeners of Boston’s folk radio station WUMB voted him Best New Artist of 2001? Well there you have it.

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