The Dodos: World Beaters

On first inspection, there’s nothing that unusual about Meric Long when he sloshes in from a rainstorm to take shelter in his neighborhood taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District. Look closely, however, and you’ll spy huge, pointy talons jutting out from his fingerless gloves.

“They’re my dragon nails—fake but really strong,” explains Long, who employs them in plucking a tinny old National guitar in his anachronistic folk/punk duo the Dodos. “I used my real nails for a while, then we left on tour; after two shows, they just broke. So now I even have a manicurist, but I poke through everything.” He claws the air for emphasis. “I can’t help it! I’m dangerous, I tell ya!”

Look even closer, beneath the ash-pale 27-year-old’s shaggy black bangs, and some subtly exotic features become evident. “My mom is from Tahiti, but she’s Chinese,” says Long. “And my dad’s from Oakland, but he’s white as snow.” For an entire summer, Long relocated to Tahiti, worked at his uncle’s bread shop and soaked up as much culture as he coud, which could account for the far-off, tribal feel of Visiter (Frenchkiss), the Dodos’ second album.

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Adam Green: Anyone Else But Him

Juno brought worldwide attention to his former band, the Moldy Peaches, but Adam Green isn’t in a cute, folk-pop mood anymore. By Kory Grow

“I was walking down 14th Street the other day and just realized that I was full of shit and that I’ve never done anything close to what I wanted to do in my life,” says New York City resident Adam Green. “Time to take some more acid, I guess.”

Green, who turned 27 in May, has had a lot to consider over the past few years. Since the age of 18, he’s been a professional musician constantly on the verge of mainstream success. Having cofounded quirky, anti-folk ensemble the Moldy Peaches with singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson in 2000, Green launched a concurrent solo career two years later. While the Moldy Peaches enjoyed critics’-darling status, Green’s solo albums, which have traversed folk, country and indie rock, have received mixed reviews at best. Whereas the Moldy Peaches played endearing, if sickeningly cute, tongue-in-cheek ditties like “Who’s Got The Crack,” Green’s solo songs were more mature, aiming for grandiosity. (Not to mention his Tourette-like river of expletive-laced lyrics: “There’s no wrong way to fuck a bitch with no face,” Green sang on his second album, 2003’s Friends Of Mine.) Though Green is accustomed to putting out an album a year, his label, Rough Trade, applied the brakes after 2006’s Jacket Full Of Danger, barring him from releasing an album last year. This is when things began to go awry.

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THE COATHANGERS: Shake Shake [Suicide Squeeze]

White vinyl, brightly colored sleeve art, ragged vocals, two short, sharp songs: What’s not to love about this seven-inch? An up-and-coming act in Atlanta’s pop/punk scene, the Coathangers take giddy pleasure in knocking swoony girl-group conventions on their backs. As befits a band that once recorded a song called “Nestle In My Boobies,” the Coathangers’ playful approach to pop forms is at full throttle here; b-side “Dreamboat” is the funnier track, but “Shake Shake” is a small, hard gem of a tune, its roughly mixed sound wedded perfectly to the plaintive grouse of the chorus. [www.suicidesqueeze.net]

—Eric Waggoner

JARBOE/JUSTIN K BROADRICK: J2 [The End]

In Swans, singer Jarboe was always the spooky bit of beauty that accentuated and made human the sheer terror of multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira’s sonic holocaust. Post-Swans, whether collaborating or on her own, Jarboe is a sonic counterpoint to the doomy squall that generally accompanies her. Her voice, with all its raw expressiveness, is seldom “pretty.” On J2, Jarboe teams up with the ambient metallurgy of guitarist Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh). The amorphous spaciousness of Broadrick’s style allows her to almost completely dispense with song-like structures and indulge her most glossolalian tendencies; “Tribal Limo,” for instance, verges on a doom-metal version of Okinawan choral music. The two alternate between hinting at melodies, and on “Romp” and “Magick Girl,” the listener is teased with shards of semi-accessible structure. But for the bulk of J2, Broadrick’s glacial tones and Jarboe’s near-wordless singing evoke a dark heaviness that’s as beautiful as it is scary. [www.theendrecords.com]

—Jason Ferguson

TOMMY JAY: Tom’s Tall Tales Of Trauma [Columbus Discount]

In the ‘80s, long before mp3s or MySpace, bands hunkered down with cheap gear, cranked out demos, dubbed them onto shitty-bias cassettes and passed them around to friends and fan-zines. Sometimes they saved up enough scratch to press an LP, but more often than not a group would poke its head out of the primordial soup just long enough to blurt, “We’re here,” then sink back into obscurity. Case in point: the artifact at hand, originally issued in 1986 on the Old Age/New Age cassette label. Ohio’s Tommy Jay worked with musicians such as Mike Rep (whose fuzzy production and tape manipulation appears on albums by Guided By Voices and Times New Viking) and underground bands such as Nudge Squidfish, Ego Summit and the (Ohioan) True Believers. Jay cut most of Tom’s Tall Tales Of Trauma’s 21 songs in the early ‘80s, and as a compelling, lo-fi documents of Buckeye State ingenuity, they’re profound. You get everything from chugging garage rock (“Accept It”), twisted folk (“The Bugmen”) and Bevis Frond-like jangle (“I Was There”) to a guitar/flute/congas take on Joni Mitchell’s “Dreamland” and a sensual version of Lou Reed’s “Ocean.” Bonus Material: Eight tracks, including 1979 True Believers single “Accept It.” [www.columbusdiscountrecords.com]

—Fred Mills