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Sound Check

September 13, 2012
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By Chad Taylor
soundcheck@dmcityview.com

Pet Shop Boys

‘Elysium’

Astralwerks

Eleven albums. One-hundred-million units sold. And counting. Pet Shop Boys are the most successful pop duo of all time, and yet the casual fan is hard-pressed to name a single Pet Shop Boys track outside of 1984’s “West End Girls.” Still the band is an integral part of the British musical identity with its soulful, introspective synth-pop. As the duo has aged, their music has become more nuanced, and “Elysium” is a culmination of sorts. With the help of Grammy-winning hip-hop producer Andrew Dawson, “Elysium” is wry, deadpan and a little kitschy. “Winner” is the closest thing the album has to a radio hit, but the album is strongest when it’s at its most nakedly self-referential — as in “Ego Music” and “Your Early Stuff.” For a band with nothing left to prove, “Elysium” is surprisingly daring. CV

North of Grand

‘A Farewell to Rockets’

Brolester

North of Grand’s first offering under the Brolester Records banner is noteworthy for two reasons: I never stopped nodding my head to the music, and I was always checking to see if the song had changed or not. There’s a uniformity of sound here — I shan’t call it monotony — and for those who aren’t completely picking up what North of Grand is putting down, it might limit the replay value. But, thankfully, that uniform sound is uniformly really damn good. The album is just poppy enough for broad appeal, and if the first 30 seconds of “Hey Man” don’t grab you, then you don’t have a soul. North of Grand has a reputation for producing solid work. “A Farewell to Rockets” is probably the best rock album out of central Iowa all year. CV

North of Grand CD release show at Gas Lamp on Friday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. $5

Want your new CD reviewed? Email us a link at soundcheck@dmcityview.com or mail a physical copy to: Cityview, 414 61st Street, Des Moines, IA 50312.



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