Sunday, January 28, 2007

Audiofile: Can't Stop Wincing the Night Away

The Week:
The Broken West, I Can't Go On I'll Go On
Clinic, Visitations
The Good The Bad and the Queen, s/t
Menomena, Friend and Foe
Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer
The Shins, Wincing the Night Away

Well, the Shins have put out the year's first great record. That's the short answer. And while their SNL performance basically revealed that they aren't exactly the most exciting or charismatic live band in the world, they have got crazy, indelible, sunshot melodies pouring out of their assholes like some summer dappled, cotton-candy flavored diarrhea. Freels. There will be those who complain that the muscular production is a sell-out move. Don't believe them. There's too much to miss. The gentle, intimate tug of "A Comet Appears," the rollicking "Australia,"--when I first heard "Turn On Me", I couldn't wait to play it for somebody else. This record should really garner the band a whole lot more attention. Last year, it often seemed like months would go by with only meh sounding releases. Wincing is such a strong way to start the year, you can't help but hope it sets the tone for the rest of 2007.

SPIN seems to hate The Broken West, citing them as unoriginal. Weird thing for the magazine that's dutifully propped up every Gang Of Four knockoff for the past three years to say about a band that's largely blazing its own trail in the marketplace, but, fair enough: The Broken West are VERY reminiscent of the Pernice Brothers. Okay. Now that I've said that--if you like the Pernice Brothers, you are really going to like The Broken West. I Can't Go On I'll Go On is this L.A. bands first release, and makes for a nice Americana flipside--full of frolicking piano and gorgeous vocal harmonies--to the pure pop coin minted by The Shins. I'm not the only one to think so--Amazon's pairing both records up as a companion sale. For once, I have to say, you should listen to Amazon.

I'll readily admit that I only really jack in to what Of Montreal is smoking, like, every other record. They are an essential component of every DJ set DCSOBLoop lays down, so trust me, I'm aware of their vital cultural importance. Still, I often find their twee stylings too clever by half. For whatever reason, however, they've got me with Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer. There's a restless range at work on Fauna that's too enjoyable to pass up--the funky jaunt of "Gronlandic Edit", the sweetly caustic froth of "She's a Rejecter"...there are a lot of hairpin turns to take, each more interesting than the last.

There's plenty of interesting turns on Damon Albarn's new joint, The Good, The Bad, and the Queen--a band he won't admit to being a band, making songs that are oddly billed as some sort of Brit-pop/Afrobeat mashup that actually comes off like very well constructed chamber-rock. It's delicate and tres moderne and it really rewards the listener who is going to sit down and stare at it awhile. In short, nothing at all like the semi-disposable pomo hustle of Gorillaz. Good stuff: but I wonder what context most anyone will have to listen to the record.

Menomena has, thus far, failed to leave an impression on me. Clinic, has, and not a good one. Bunch of arty wankers treading the line between the uninteresting and the unlistenable. I'm guessing though, there will be some pretentious clowns out there who think it's the bee's kneps.

The Shins::MySpace::Download, "Turn On Me" (Plus more at Sound Gymnastics)
The Broken West
::MySpace:: Download, "Down In The Valley" (Plus more at I Am Fuel You Are Friends)
Of Montreal::Download, "Faberge Falls For Shuggie" (Plus more at Feed Me Good Tunes)

THE COLOSTOMY: Collecting Your Leaked Material

At some point last year, a lot of people got the impression that I was some sort of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah hater. I imagine this began when I basically panned their first performance in DC. What can I say? They didn't play well. But, I was never some sort of CYHSY hater and, as always, I largely don't give a crap about your fashionable blog-based backlashes. What mattered to me was this: their record was really fucking good. Face it: between "By The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away," and "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood," we are talking about three cherry tunes that if you don't wish you'd written yourself, then you're a fucking fool.

It's fair, I think, to evaluate the band's next move by asking, "Do any of their new songs yank you back to how you felt when you first heard the best of their debut?" From what I've heard of the forthcoming Some Loud Thunder...the thrills aren't nearly in as much abundance. I love the title track and the crowd pleasing "Satan Said Dance", but the band really abandons its greatest strength--the frenetic appeal of the rhythm section, on such vibrant-and-yet-understated display on their debut record--in favor of the unmoored murk found in "Love Song No. 7" and "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles In the Air and Burning." (And, by the way, enough with the too-too precious song titles...do you think you're Fall Out Boy or something?) I look forward to hearing the rest of the record, and hope the songs break the former way, rather than the latter.

Also out there that I've heard and like enough to recommend:

Air: Pocket Symphony, coming out March 6, is a much needed return to form after Talkie Walkie left me feeling I'd been led off the road to someplace vague and unpleasant. The crisp, cinematic feel is back on songs like "Mer Du Japon".

LCD Soundsystem: Me likey, so far...BUT: "New York I Love You" is, without a doubt, the most insipid song I've heard not written by Morningwood. Jesus.

Bracken: Coming out Tuesday is Bracken's debut, We Know About The Need, and I recommend it like crazy. Here is where we see the seeds sown by Radiohead and TV On the Radio start to bear some fruit--like those bands, Bracken makes epochal sounding rock landscapes that draw you down into their depths, somehow finding a beauty among all the pure products going crazy. Fucking great.

!!!--My one criticism of the kee-razy fun and otherwise unGoogleable outfit known as !!!, is that I wondered how long they could get by on turn-of-the-century indie-funk drum circles before everything just sounded the same. What's coming on Myth Takes, are some frankly much needed doses of variety: "Yadnus" sounds a little bit scarred and slutty, "Infinifold" a little bit more revealing, "Sweet Life" a little bit hungry. Not big new tricks, but some unfamiliar flavors that are more than welcome.

!!!::MySpace
Air::MySpace::Download, "Mer Du Japon" [from Red Blondehead]
Bracken::MySpace::Download, "Safe Safe Safe"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah::MySpace::Download, "Some Loud Thunder"


THE LOCAL

This Saturday, if you, for some reason can't get tickets to or have already seen Rough Magic, that is, you should head on out to the Black Cat, where local act Telograph will be celebrating the release of their new CD, Little Bits Of Plastic. Telograph really have a great feel for that sweepy sturm und drang that bands like the Doves get across so well--massive in scope yet warm. Their music soars, and they have one of the District's better vocalists in the studied baritone of Andy Boliek. They'll be playing with Two If By Sea and Cedars, so, bonus.

Telograph::MySpace::Download, "An Eye For An Eye"

1 comment:

wharman said...

Holy music DCeiver.

I'm with you on the Shins and Of Montreal and Broken West. Also enjoying Ghost Stories' Quixoticism.

I can't wait for you to hear Emergency Music's "You'll Be the Death of Us All, Honey."

Uh-oh. My pure enthusiasm sounds like spam.