Lyrics launch ‘Hotel Choir’

“Heresy and the Hotel Choir”
4 out of 5 stars

If Davey Von Bohlen and the rest of Maritime continue putting up efforts like this one, people are soon going to forget that Von Bohlen used to be the frontman for the seminal indie/emo outfit the Promise Ring. The band’s last album, 2006’s “We, The Vehicles,” was one of the most pleasantly enjoyable records of the year and a major improvement over its debut, 2004’s “Glass Floor.”

Its latest effort finds a band that is continuing to expand upon itself. The most noticeable change for this album is that the production is not as slick. There are some rough edges, but this actually allows the record to breathe more and play into Von Bohlen’s ever-improving songwriting.

His lyrics really stand this time around as they invoke a sinisterly soothing yet contemplatively wry sense of humor. Meanwhile the music is consistently effective with its chiming guitars, bouncy rhythms and occasional synth embellishments. It’s not the surprising redefinition that “We, The Vehicles” was, but rather more like an announcement that this is one of the best indie outfits out there right now.

Key Tracks: “Guns of Navarone,” “Science Fiction,” “Pearl”

Saul Williams
“The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust”
2.5 out of 5 stars

Saul Williams is an incredibly talented individual. His writings, whether they be through his poetry or his lyrics, are moving and poignant and have the ability to exude raw emotion like few artists can in this day and age. The biggest flaw, if you can really call it that, with Williams’ music is that he’s never seemed to find a sound that truly fits his unique musical persona.

His third LP comes to us as a free Internet download, though you can pay for it a la Radiohead. Oh yeah, and it’s produced by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (NIN). This record finds Williams moving further and further away from the straight hip-hop of his first album and the hip-rock amalgamation of his second. Basically it sounds in large part like a NIN rock album with Williams’ vitriolic sung vocals. It certainly stands as the most effective album in the Saul Williams catalogue, though it is still a harsh listen in places.

Key Tracks: “Break,” “Banged and Blown Out”