Friday, February 15, 2008

Recent Musical Adventures

Everyone Else Said Something, Now It's My Turn

...and we're not taking it out of the tree until you come up with a better point of comparison than Graceland

Vampire Weekend has kinda exploded, in the way that I love to rail against. Which I will do here: the next lazy motherfucker who drops Paul Simon's fucking name, as if HE had invented Afro-pop, gets diamonds cut into the soles of his shoes. (Or hers.) That shit is weak. The guitar sounds are very much like those found on Graceland. But that's a matter of timbre, and mixing, not songwriting. The music is nothing like it. Please stop.

But that's where the anger ends. Because their album's awfully good.

I'm puzzled (well, not really) by the need to wrap them up into one package, because the album all but begs us not to. The Afro-Pop correlation does indeed stand up on their strongest tracks, notably "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," "Walcott" and "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance." But there are just as many songs where they seem as obsessed with faux-harpsichords and string sections ("M79") or paint-by-numbers indie rock (the tired-before-it-broke "A-Punk") as they do with African rhythms.

In fact, on an album so rife with unique musical influences, the track you are most likely to find on Hype Machine et al is... "A-Punk." Setting aside the disservice that song's popularity does their work, that's proof positive that they need to be described in less digestible terms.

And not for nothing, but if you want to draw an analogy to an album we've already heard of, please use Naked by Talking Heads. Again, very little in common on the songwriting front, but at least there's a conceptual similarity between the two bands. Naked actually fuses sounds; Graceland, good as it is, was a commandeering and repurposing more than a melting pot.

(Just to be clear, that was a recommendation. I've been enjoying them, and so should you... with tempered expectations.)

Is This The Five O'Clock Free Track Giveaway?

Druuuuuugs... and a-ca-hol... have ruined my life!!!

A new song from Tapes 'n Tapes started bouncing around the tubes today. It's a good song, but what really has me amped is how great it sounds. It's the same basic formula as found on The Loon: frenetic rhythm guitar, hyperactive bass line, random brass or woodwind, pounding drums. But "Hang Them All" sounds crisper, cleaner... more professional.

Based on this one song, it would seem they've taken a huge step upward in quality, without changing anything else about themselves. That's a good thing. It's no guarantee that the rest of Walk It Off will be this good, but it's encouraging to say the least.

OK, Fine, Even The Sky Looks Like Wine

...the fucking MANIAC!

Dan Bejar's new Destroyer album, Trouble in Dreams is pretty good too. I haven't got as much to say about it, except to mention that it's worthwhile. First impressions are that it's a little less lilting and energetic than Destroyer's Rubies, placing it more along the lines of Your Blues (but without the synthesizers). Centerpiece "Shooting Rockets" is particularly compelling... for all his weird idiosyncracies, Bejar does an excellent job of keeping your attention on long tracks like this.

What Is The Sound Of Five Casiotones Clapping?

Hot Chip will break your legs

I'm gonna have to chew on Hot Chip's new one a little more. There are some really worthwhile songs on Made In The Dark ("Shake A Fist" and "Ready For The Floor" stand out right away) but on the whole, it's kind of a lot to process. The Warning took a while to drill its way into my head too, though, so I don't expect this to be any different.

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