The Robot Ate Me
Carousel Waltz
5 Rue Christine

Ryland Bouchard recorded Carousel Waltz—with all its trumpets, clarinets, cellos, trombones, accordions, drums, guitars, and cracked vocal harmonies—almost entirely alone in his bedroom in San Diego, Calif. That’s fitting, because this eclectic collection of lullabies and sweetly melodic tunes is best listened to in those quiet, contemplative moments before bedtime.

Bouchard, aka The Robot Ate Me, is just waiting to be snatched up for a Wes Anderson soundtrack. His high tenor hits notes somewhere between Ron Sexsmith and Morrissey, and the textured production evokes the delicacy of early Elliott Smith. Three perfect examples are “Come Together,” “Regret” and “Where Love Goes”—all start off as simple acoustic strums (and hold their own as such), but Bouchard touches them up ever so slightly with orchestral arrangements and soft backing vocals that add depth with a hint of melancholy and wistfulness.

Carousel Waltz is definitely of the mellow variety. It’s neither boring nor lethargic, but a hopeful and promising sendoff before your head hits the pillow. (Skylar Browning)

The Robot Ate Me opens for No-Fi Soul Rebellion at the Boys & Girls Club Saturday, May 14. The show starts at 7:30 PM and tickets cost $8 at the door.

Haiku D’Etat
Coup de Theatre
Basement Records

Attempting to write a grabber as corny as Haiku D’Etat’s moniker, I finally settled on one that elicited groans of dismay from even the most notorious punsters of my acquaintance. Here it goes: If verbiage were roughage, Haiku D’Etat would be excellent for your colon. There. Now that that’s out of my system, we can proceed to the meat of the review.

It’s been five years since the trio of Aceyalone, Abstract Rude and Micah 9 dropped the first Haiku D’Etat album. This, the group’s sophomore release, proves well worth the wait. The complex wordplay present on Coup de Theatre is simultaneously funny, bizarre and at times a bit pretentious. There’s nothing wrong with posturing if you have the skills to back it up, however, and after a few minutes of listening, it’s obvious these three have mad amounts of talent.

With little effort they spit stuttering rhymes, outlandish cadence and esoteric subject matter into a mosaic of flow that will leave even the most dedicated hip-hop head gasping for air. That said, this is not mindless party music and probably not the disc to throw on at your next “Girls Gone Wild” shoot. For lovers of language, though, Coup de Theatre deserves, and rewards, heavy rotation. (Adam Fangsrud)

The Project Blowed Tour, featuring Aceyalone and Abstract Rude, plays The Other Side Saturday, May 14, at 10 PM. Tickets cost $15 at the door ($12 in advance from Ear Candy), and there’s a $2 surcharge for those under 21.

Abstract Rude
Making More Tracks
Basement Records

The laid-back, soul-inspired music of Southern California hip-hop artist Abstract Rude’s latest album, Making More Tracks, conjures images of summer barbecues and backyard parties under a sweltering sun. Simply put, this is party music.

Abstract Rude is a member of L.A.’s Project Blowed collective, an assortment of MCs, producers and DJs. Two collective regulars, Fat Jack and Daddy Kev, handle most of the production on Making More Tracks, and while the beats can sound repetitive at times, there’s just enough variation to keep the listener engaged and hopping.

Ab Rude has a lyrical style all his own, but listeners will hear echoes of early Mos Def and De La Soul in his casual cadence. The best thing about Rude’s latest effort is his ability to use that easy drawl to talk about subjects a hip-hop fan in Montana can relate to. Whether it’s chilling with a glass of wine (“Don’t Talk”) or contemplating the motivations behind the war in Iraq (“Rebel”), it’s refreshing that he doesn’t limit himself to any particular subject.

Overall, Making More Tracks is less polished than Ab Rude’s previous solo album, Showtyme, but still attests to his distinctive voice and stylistic diversity. (Ira Sather-Olson)

Abstract Rude plays with the Project Blowed Tour at The Other Side Saturday, May 14.

Saul Kaye
Doctor’s Orders
Cool Water Records

There were warning signs about Saul Kaye’s music even before his CD made it to the stereo.

First warning: Every bit of promotional material references his similarities to the Dave Matthews Band (and no one else).

Second warning: A call from Kaye’s publicist recommends a story pitch along the lines of He moved here from South Africa to help save the world with his music. Matthews, by the way, is also from South Africa.

Third warning: The CD’s back cover shows Kaye lying in a field; he even looks a little like Matthews.

Kaye’s music, biography and appearance are comparable enough to his apparent idol to make one wonder if he’s paying Matthews royalties. There are parts of Doctor’s Orders too entrenched in the DMB sound: “Leave It All Behind” and “The News” both have vocal deliveries and acoustic progressions startlingly similar to much of Matthews’ early work on Remember Two Things.

It’s not until later in the CD that Kaye trades his guitar for a piano and breaks out into a refreshing bayou rhythm. These rare departures aren’t thrilling, but at least they’re not blatant carbon copies of a pop star.

Fans of DMB may eye Kaye as a nice find, but others should heed the warnings. (Skylar Browning)

Saul Kaye plays The Top Hat Friday, May 13, at 10 PM. Cover $5.

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