Ariel Pink, Belong, Slovak Republic

With more and more albums being released with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, it's refreshing to hear something like Los Angeles's Ariel Pink every once in a while. In the three albums he's put out for the Animal Collective-backed Paw Tracks label, he's mastered the art of ultra lo-fidelity by creating a weird mix of what schoolteacher Robert Pollard or the mischievous Gene and Dean Ween were probably doing back in the mid to late '80s figuring out the ins and outs of the guitar and drum machine, and suffering the trials that come with self-recording on a Tascam 4-track while under the influence of one substance or another. This is pop music that's rough on its edges recorded on a tape that has seen better days (and a good amount of overdubs). On the recently re-issued House Arrest, there's plenty of that nostalgic hiss from the cassette tape decks (obviously, none of these tracks were re-recorded or remastered). But no matter if these songs were recorded in a digital studio or on top of somebody's backyard junkpile they are good songs either way.

For Ariel's current tour, he's enlisted one band from each stop to be his backing band for the night, Chuck Berry-style (see Wack). Since there will only be a brief run-through of the songs during soundcheck, you should probably count on loose interpretations of the originals, though the songs will likely be taking on whole new dimensions of spontaneity and sloppiness.

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