Bargain Town’s latest credits local scene

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bargain Town

Bargain Town

Crash Landing Records

Bargain Town. A town where psychedelic wine runs like water, the Replacements never stopped rocking, and where Chris Morrison sits on the edge of his bed writing incredible songs.

Morrison’s 30-songs-in-50-minutes whirlwind is easily the best local release so far this year, mixing blistering, flange-heavy psychedelic rock pieces with Billy Braggesque singer/songwriter folk in a decidedly lo-fi setting.

While the album gives a serious nod to fellow lo-fi rockers Guided By Voices, Morrison elevates his songs to another level. Morrison’s lyrics are filled with twenty-something angst — apprehension of what the future holds, the search for new identity, and, of course, girl problems —and Shel Silverstein carefree abandon (the childlike observation of food in “Thanksgiving”).

The only thing more incredible than the force of Morrison’s well thought out songs, is his seemingly bottomless reservoir of ideas. Like Guided By Voices, Morrison fleshes out bare skeletons of songs, most of them shorter than two minutes, that effortlessly hint at the songwriting mastery that they contain. The album exudes a sense of light playfulness — the songs about lost love and self deprecation are tempered by the instrumentals that surround them (titles include “Flying Through Space With Juliette Binoche” and “My TV Theme for SWAT ’95").

Buy this album and see just how creative local music can be.

Laika

Silver Apples of the Moon

Too Pure

There seems to be a lot of rehashing of old sounds going on in England these days —ambient music that borrows heavily from 1970s electronic experimentation, the new jungle techno that strangely sounds like the breakbeat techno that was popular in 1991. The “new” trip-hop movement that sounds largely like the acid jazz movement that refuses to go away. The incorporation of Jamaican dub beats into everything from Massive Attack to the Orb. And, at first listen, the debut album of Laika sounds more like a new and improved take on what Curve and My Bloody Valentine were venturing into three years ago.

As the album goes on, however, it becomes increasingly clear that Laika rises above the standard retread crap. In fact it’s hard to believe that this band is related in any way to Moonshake, one of the most boring bands of the past few years. Former members Margaret Fiedler and Guy Fixsen appear to have been keeping all their creative energy to themselves, saving it for the expanses of Laika rather than the stilted guitar base of Moonshake.

As a result, Silver Apples of the Moon is a sound bombast that catapults Laika into the same heralded league of innovation as Public Enemy, My Bloody Valentine and the Aphex Twin. Indeed at times Silver Apples sounds like one or all of these sound technicians, yet never stoops to mere copycatting. If anything, Laika takes these influences and leads them into new horizons. The album’s music consists of thick layers of sound overlaps, samples and sounds gurgling to the surface as melody. While birds and bells can be heard echoing through at various times in the album’s mix, they never stand out as separate samples or elements, instead appearing as part of the cohesive gel of noise.

On top of this exquisite amalgamation of sound lie Fiedler’s breathless, understated vocals. Lyrics run the ethereal gamut of nonsense, dream world and cloudscapes, but never dip into the trite Cranberries/Sundays void.

This is a fantastic album, one that will be looked back on as an example of sheer innovation.

Read Next Article