Elevate Difference

Reviews of Thrill Jockey

Old Punch Card

Over the past few years, Chicago-based singer, songwriter, photographer, and painter Sam Prekop has dabbled in all sorts of music. He’s collaborated with Broken Social Scene, Prefuse 73, and even had his work sampled in a toilet paper commercial. Most well known as frontman for The Sea and Cake, he set out to make a brand new kind of record, in no way resembling anything he’s ever done.

In Evening Air

Synthpop is my steeze. I like to dance, I like to daydream staring out of train windows, and I’m a woman-child passing for an adult on the days that I’m forced to leave the house. This sappy, manufactured genre could have been created just for me and my wild ideas about the big world in which I am so small. I don’t care in which decade it was produced; I’ve been known to adore anything from Modern Talking to Pet Shop Boys to Freezepop. Are there multi-layered keyboards involved in the making of the music?

Masks EP

At best, the EP is a misunderstood, wondrous short form sampling of a band’s experimentation between full-length albums. At worst, it’s a disc of cutting room floor material that should have stayed in the waste bin.

What Day Is It Tonight? (Live 1993-2008)

Hipster culture exists and sustains itself on a continuous loop, a vicious never-ending cycle, like a Möbius strip or an Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. Take something once mainstream and now uncool, adopt it with tongue planted firmly in cheek as “so bad it's good,” deem said sound/product/style “cool,” and watch as it is co-opted by a broader audience and becomes mainstream. Later, rinse and repeat. Every once in a while such a revival of the old dredges up some long-lost gem, but most of the time it's just masturbatory.

Arminico Hewa

When I was twenty, I flew off to Japan one spring with a stated mission “to be alone.” While this may sound more glamorous than it actually was, I did accomplish my goal. Unable to speak to anyone, wandering between cities and sights in dazed confusion, I was undeniably alone. It was either the best ten days of my life or the strangest—and really, it was probably both. Japanese band OOIOO recreate the strangeness of that experience.

High Places

The experimental, lo-fi, Brooklyn-based duo High Places could be considered an acquired taste. The vocals are whimsically distorted and much of the percussion sounds as though it were made in someone’s kitchen by rattling a silverware drawer (since their self-titled album was made in their home studio, this may actually be the case). High Places starts off awkwardly slow, and on first listen, the short tunes and chanting rhythms may fail to draw you in.

Car Alarm

The Sea and Cake are much as their name suggests: soothing and a bit sugary.


I have to admit, I was a bit concerned when I hit play on the first song of OOIOO’s album, Taiga. I’m not one to discredit noise as a musical form; I even own an album or two by Agoraphobic Nosebleed. However, there’s only so much “noise as art” that I can take at a time, and as the droning and incoherent screams of “UMA” came rushing into my headphones, I was seriously contemplating the ibuprofen in the bathroom cabinet. Luckily, the repetitive yelps of the first song are not present throughout, and there are some good moments.

King for a Day

King for a Day is the soundtrack of my last bittersweet hangover, the series of samplings leading to brie and pernod, unfortunately topped with a chile beer. This means that you should get the CD, even if it does not always inspire happy thoughts. Bobby Conn is not a minimalist, and that’s why I adore him. Rock opera, ornate orchestration filigrees with pretty raw – and raw, pretty – lyrics.